Community Voices for Education, an advocacy group, started “Block Walking,” a term used to refer to the action of parent and community advocates who go door-to-door informing residents about changes in the Houston Independent School District.
Mike Miles was appointed as the superintendent, and he quickly implemented the New Education System to reform the school district to improve low reading scores and standardized test scores. The schools largely affected by the new system, which will focus on increasing the rigor of instructional delivery, serve Black, Latino, and low-income populations.
“The reason we started knocking [on] doors and doing our block walking campaign is because we realized that a lot of people, especially people whose kids were no longer in the education system, did not realize what was going on,” Kourtney Revels, a parent who participated in knocking on residents’ doors, told NBC.
Several criticisms have been addressed regarding the new system. Concerns about the loss of special education contracting jobs and changes to dual language programs have been raised. An additional issue is the establishment of “team centers” that provide virtual learning for students exhibiting behavioral problems.
Members of the community, including Revels, have voiced their dissatisfaction at board meetings, protests, and through community engagement. At a previous meeting, Revels and others of the community were not allowed to sit in the boardroom. Instead, the concerned community members were placed in an overflow room and offered the chance to watch the meeting and ask questions virtually.
“When we upset them, they put us in a room and we had to speak to them virtually,” Revels said. “So we already know what’s gonna happen to our children. Because if they’ll do it to us, our children are not above reproach,” Revels continued.
“The parents’ frustration is “understandable,” Miles said in an interview with NBC News Nightly. “I’ve been pushing reform for a long time …”. The superintendent said, … I get the angst. I get the anxiety.”
Joseph Sam, the HISD spokesperson, told the outlet this month that special education contract jobs will be cut. This includes disability experts whose jobs are to seek employees who work full-time in special education. Critics say lacking these employees will prevent students with special needs from being diagnosed or obtaining the appropriate resources.
Sam said the school system “currently has an adequate number of district-employed diagnosticians” and will continue using independent contractors as needed. Parents and teachers have said this decision was made without their input.
The systems will also implement changes to library employment. Librarians will be placed in unspecified positions.
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Source: Black Enterprise