Editor's Note: Story has been updated to reflect statement from Houston ISD.
With the Texas Education Agency takeover just months away, Houston ISD teachers returning from spring break will have the rest of the school year until the new state-appointed board managers will oversee the eighth-largest school district in the country.
How we got here: After a long-running legal battle between the state and HISD, the Texas Supreme Court ruled Jan. 13 that TEA Commissioner Mike Morath has the authority to appoint a board under the Texas Education Code.
HISD board members said in a statement that they will work alongside the TEA and schools will remain upon.
"The board, in partnership with district administration, will work with the commissioner of education to create a smooth transition for the sake of all HISD students, staff, and families," they said in the statement.
New board members will oversee the academic future of nearly 200,000 students with an overwhelmingly large population of Hispanic students, according to HISD. The district noted in its report that more than 79% of that population is considered economically disadvantaged.
Understanding the lack of resources in some HISD classrooms is not a new concept for Sherrie Matula, a former board member at Clear Creek ISD, who has also worked in 28 schools within HISD as an educational consultant. When Matula commutes three times a week to Houston, she said she makes sure she brings school supplies for the students who ask her in her classroom.
“Are the students valuable enough to educate and to fund? Why do we keep investing money in what is not going to work because the students don’t amount to anything?” Matula said.
HISD elementary school teacher Coco Roman teaches at Northline Elementary School, which is located north of the Heights. She said she is worried about the district.
“A lot of things are going to change for sure. Many schools are going to close due to low enrollment. Honestly, I don’t think is the appropriate way to handle this situation,” Roman said.
Diana Nguyen used to teach at Patrick Henry Middle School in North Houston and said she knows a lot of teachers and families who are upset about the change.
“I’m nervous how it’ll affect the teachers, administration, students and their families who go there. It’s such a drastic change. There needs to be positive changes in the school system, period, but I don’t think the TEA taking over is the answer,” Nguyen said.
Mallory Matson teaches English at DeBakey High School for Health Professions, which is a magnet HISD school near the Texas Medical Center that specializes in health science and STEM. She said she strives to ensure her classroom is engaging and relatable.
“I face challenges with how my students might prioritize other contents over the humanities, so I am consistently charged with making sure my classroom is engaging, relatable and full,” Matson said. “I do this by choosing pieces that my students are able to identify with, feel seen in and have the space to create an empathetic perspective for others.”
Matson said the biggest impact she sees in her classroom is how her curriculum could change or be swayed by the new state-appointed managers.
“I worry that this takeover might introduce a lockstep curriculum that expects anti-critical race theory and anti-LGBTQIA+ rhetoric in our classrooms,” Matson said. “My students are wonderful, whole people, and I will advocate for them in as many ways as I can, but I will feel less capable if the texts that provide them the representation they deserve are no longer allowed in my classroom.”
Read the new measures and procedures that will affect HISD by June here.