‘Predominately White’: AP Blames Racism for State Takeover of Houston School District
After Texas officials announced earlier this week that the state would be taking over the Houston public school district due to underperforming schools and state and federal law violations committed by the school board, reports from the Associated Press and other outlets pointed to race and political affiliation as driving factors in the decision. Local school board members, however, are insisting that the state action was needed to help underserved students.
In a letter, the Texas Education Agency announced that it would replace Superintendent Millard House II and the district’s board of trustees “with an appointed board of managers made of residents from within the district’s boundaries.” The announcement cited a “seven-year record of poor academic performance” by Wheatley High School along with a number of other schools, as well as the school board conducting “chaotic” board meetings that violated state laws. In addition, the letter noted that the district had failed to provide adequate special education services and of “violating state and federal laws with its approach to supporting students with disabilities.”
Similar efforts by other state governments to save underperforming schools in large cities have been made in recent decades, including in Philadelphia, New Orleans, and Detroit. Texas’s move comes amid widespread concerns over historically low test scores across the U.S.
Dr. Kendall Baker, a current member of the Houston Independent School Board, voiced his approval of Texas’s takeover of Houston’s public school district on Thursday’s edition of “Washington Watch with Tony Perkins.”
“If you look at Psalms 8:2, the Bible says ‘out of the mouth of babes, when the babes cry out,’” he underscored. “We have 190,000 students — before COVID, we had 200,000. We’re the seventh largest school district in the nation out of 14,000 school districts. And we are the largest in Texas. Their babies are crying out because of poor education, because of poor reading, because of poor math, and they were focusing on transgender[ism]. … They were reading nasty books in schools. I mean, language that was violent in our days … I have a seven-year-old, and there’s no way … I [would] have her exposed to that.”
In response to an AP story that insinuated that race was a motivating factor in the state’s school district takeover, Baker expressed vigorous disagreement.
“It’s about children and education, and the city of Houston,” he emphasized. “I’ve been here all my life, 57 years. It’s predominantly Democrat. And so the Democratic leaders take joy in causing unnecessary riots and unnecessary protests and so forth and so on to get their name out there … to hang on to whatever power they have. It is absolutely not about race. I am African American. I know what it’s about. It is about 30 years of corruption at the Houston Independent School District at every level.”
Baker went on to describe a Houston school board member who was indicted by the FBI for taking a bribe, as well as other board members holding illegal quorum meetings and engaging in unprofessional conduct, including using profanity during televised meetings.
“Mike Morath and the Texas Education Agency, I view them as the extermination team,” he observed. “The lights came on, the roaches got caught playing around. The takeover is like an extermination where they come in anywhere from two to six years, clean house, and hand it back over to whoever is still elected at that time.”
Dan Hart is senior editor at The Washington Stand.