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HISD Loses Thousands Of Students After State Takeover

Since the Texas Education Agency took over Houston ISD, thousands of students have left the district, raising concerns about possible school closures.

According to a Houston Chronicle report, HISD enrollment has been declining for the past five years, but the TEA takeover has exacerbated the decline. In the 2022-23 school year, HISD had 189.9 K students, but this year it reported 183.9 K students, a decline of nearly 3 percent from the previous year. In five years, HISD’s enrollment has declined by about 12 percent.

There are different factors that could contribute to this number, such as the lower birth rates and population changes over different regions, but also families are fleeing to private and charter schools over dissatisfaction with the HISD’s New Education System.

The NES was implemented by state-appointed Superintendent Mike Miles in 85 schools that serve mostly low-income students. The system includes a standardized curriculum, timed instruction, and daily quizzes in core classes. The NES has been criticized for its focus on discipline and its low tolerance for interruptions, such as going to the bathroom during class. NES schools also have closed libraries to turn them into “Team Centers.”

NES “is a very different model, and so not every parent wants their child in that model,” Duncan Klussmann, an assistant clinical professor at the University of Houston told the Houston Chronicle. “There are many parents who are very happy with the model, but there may be parents who do not want their children in that type of model, and I think those parents are questioning if they stay in the system or if they should seek out alternatives.”

Enrollment declines at the 85 NES and NES-affiliated schools are greater than at other HISD schools. Enrollment at NES schools dropped 5 percent last year, while enrollment at non-NES schools dropped only 1 percent. Overall, NES schools have experienced an average enrollment decline of 15% over the past 10 years.

While HISD is losing students, more people are applying to charter schools as families look for options that work best for them, rather than having a fixed system for their children.

Miles, for his part, has not expressed concern about the district’s enrollment decline, saying he is making sure HISD is providing the best education possible.

But declining enrollment poses other challenges, because fewer students means less money from the state to operate schools. School maintenance is often a fixed cost, so fewer students and less money could mean closing schools.

Miles said he won’t close any schools in the 2024-25 school year, but it’s unclear if there will be any school closures after that year.

Miles plans to save money by eliminating non-teaching positions and eliminating wasteful purchases and unnecessary contracts, but he hasn’t given an estimate of how much he plans to save through these measures.

Written by RA News staff.


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