Mar 24, 2023 - News

Biden briefed on Texas takeover of Houston ISD

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, wearing a red jacket and black scarf, looks up toward President Joe Biden as the two speak with one another.

Photo courtesy of Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee's office

The Texas Education Agency's takeover of Houston ISD now has the attention of the White House.

Driving the news: Democratic Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee briefly spoke with President Joe Biden on Wednesday about the takeover.

Of note: Jackson Lee did not return a request for comment.

Catch up quick: TEA last week announced its takeover of the district, which includes appointing a new board of managers and superintendent.

  • Though a takeover is largely a bureaucratic move at the highest levels of the district, the move could affect the 187,000 students and staff if schools are closed or turned into charters, critics say.

The big picture: TEA has said the takeover is necessary to get the district, and Wheatley High School in particular, back on track after years of poor test scores.

Reality check: Wheatley received a passing accountability rating from TEA after the first takeover attempt in 2019, and HISD received a B rating from the agency last school year, per Houston Public Media.

  • "There is no need to take over the Houston Independent School District," Jackson Lee said in a video posted to Twitter on Thursday. "Those children are working hard. They are excellent. What we need is the state to put in more funding to improve their reading, their arithmetic and their writing. That's what we need. We need resources."

Between the lines: Jackson Lee's conversation with the president followed a raucous community meeting hosted by TEA on Tuesday, where she showed up and helped calm the crowd.

The other side: TEA maintains that HISD is in need of saving and that it will be managing the district for at least two years, according to TEA deputy commissioner Alejandro Delgado, who spoke at the community meeting on behalf of the agency.

The bottom line: The wheels are in motion, but that's not stopping education advocates and Jackson Lee from fighting the takeover.


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