Protesters Rally Against Houston ISD’s Decision to Convert Libraries into Disciplinary Centers
Community members and elected officials gathered outside Houston Independent School District (HISD) headquarters on Saturday morning to protest Superintendent Mike Miles’ controversial decision to turn libraries into what critics are calling disciplinary centers. This move is part of the New Education System (NES) plan to restructure the Houston ISD, with more than 60 campuses set to shift to the proposed education system.
The Restructuring Plan
Under the new system, some schools in the HISD system will no longer have librarians and media specialists. Instead, the libraries will be transformed into what Miles refers to as “team centers.” Students placed in these centers for disciplinary actions will watch their classes on Zoom and complete individual assignments. However, protesters argue that the district does not need to eliminate libraries in order to implement this disciplinary approach.
“If they can do this to Houston, then what’s stopping them from doing it anywhere else?” said Sareah Fremont, who works in a nearby district but joined the protest to support the local community.
Former HISD librarian Cheryl Hensley spoke at the rally and expressed her concerns about the dismantling of libraries. With over three decades of experience in education, Hensley believes that this decision will negatively impact students who rely on these resources outside of school.
“I feel for those kids when they come in and see it dismantled, and I use that word because it’s the heart of the school. Some of them have been taking books off the shelves,” Hensley said.
The rally was led by Congressman Al Green, elected state officials, the Houston Federation of Teachers, and the local NAACP chapter. Congressman Green called on the governor and the state legislature to intervene and prevent this transformation from happening.
“The governor is in charge of this, the superintendent is his minister, but he gets all of his vision from the governor. This is the governor’s vision,” Congressman Green emphasized.
Controversy and Opposition
The decision to convert libraries into disciplinary centers has faced significant opposition from parents, educators, and community members. Some schools will still have libraries, but students will need to follow an honor code when checking books in and out.
During a media briefing earlier this week, frustrated parents expressed their concerns and asked Superintendent Miles to reconsider his approach. However, Miles has defended the change since announcing it publicly in late June.
In response to the decision, the community plans to host a read-in at 4:00 p.m. before the next school board meeting. This event aims to highlight the importance of libraries and reading in education and to further protest the conversion of these spaces into disciplinary centers.
The controversy surrounding the conversion of libraries into disciplinary centers in the Houston ISD continues to escalate. As community members, parents, and educators voice their concerns, it remains to be seen whether Superintendent Miles will reconsider his decision or if further actions will be taken to challenge this restructuring plan.
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