A coalition of grassroots community groups has included the Houston Independent School District in its report this month about school closings that disproportionately affect communities of color.
While Houston isn't among the cities with triple-digit closings like Detroit, New York and Chicago, it did make a list of districts that have shut more than 25 schools. Places that include Columbus (Ohio), Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Philadelphia, Washington. D.C., Kansas City, Milwaukee, and Baltimore.
We left a message for an HISD spokesperson, but we haven't heard back from the district yet.
The report, titled "Death by a Thousand Cuts: Racism, School Closures, and Public School Sabotage," comes on the heels of recent events in Houston, which included the repurposing of Jones High School and an injunction filed against the district by the NAACP (a move later denied by the court).
Though the school closures have been blamed on declining enrollment, the report points to a wider right-wing conspiracy as well as the Obama administration's push for charter schools.
"The real, underlying cause for these school closures is that there has been a realignment of political forces. Right-wing conservatives have long sought to eliminate public goods such as public education, and dismantle organized labor, especially teacher's unions. Thus, for decades they have advocated -- often successfully-- for cutting spending on public schools."
The report further points out that among HISD's students, 92 percent are of color (in the 2011-2012 school year), and there's been an overall decrease in public school enrollment of 11 percent between the school years 2005-2006 and 2012-2013. Charter-school enrollment during that period leaped 178 percent the report states.
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.