HISD parents raise concerns over fate of dual language programs, staff layoffs to Superintendent Miles

Superintendent Miles said some dual language programming can continue within the bounds of the NES schedule.


Mike Miles
Rebecca Noel/Houston Public Media
FILE: HISD Superintendent Mike Miles at the second community engagement event at Williams Middle School.

Houston ISD Superintendent Mike Miles hosted his third community engagement meeting of the summer at Pugh Elementary in East Houston Tuesday. The meeting was fuller than this summer’s previous meetings — and more tense over the takeover.

Around 300 people crowded into Pugh’s cafeteria, with some community members standing around its sides as folding chairs were brought in to accommodate more attendees.

While Miles has hosted two community engagement meetings so far this summer, this is the first since his announcement last Friday that nearly 600 positions would be cut from the district’s central office staff.

Pugh is one of 28 campuses originally designated as part of Miles’s controversial New Education System. However, the district announced Tuesday that 57 additional campuses have opted into the program, bringing the total number of schools undergoing reforms this school year to 85.

Schools in the program will see sweeping reforms in the coming school year, including premade lesson plans and class materials from the district, additional teacher support staff and higher teacher pay. Teachers and principals at the original 28 NES schools also had to reapply for their jobs for the coming school year.

Pugh itself received an A rating from the state last year and saw overall math and reading proficiency scores slightly better than district averages. The school's fifth graders showed dramatic improvement in 2022, with 80 percent scoring at or above grade-level in reading proficiency and 83 percent scoring at or above grade-level in math.

Though Miles acknowledged the progress, he said the shifts at the school this coming year are still warranted.

"One year is still not a pattern," said Miles. He emphasized that he is trying to reform whole feeder patterns rather than individual schools.

Parents at Tuesday's meeting voiced concern for the fate of the school’s dual language programs. Miles said, while his first priority is students reading English at grade-level, he said some dual language programming can continue within the bounds of the NES schedule.

“We're going to try to supplement," said Miles. "We’re going to try to give as much dual language time as we possibly can.”

Judith Cruz, an elected HISD trustee, attended the meeting. She said, while Miles said dual language instruction of some kind will likely be possible, the exact plan for the program is still unclear.

“I absolutely believe that our students must be able to learn to read and write in English in order to be successful in this country. However, I think they can learn to read and write in Spanish alongside that,” said Cruz.

Some parents also expressed concern for the upheaval in the school's staffing, as a result of it being reconstituted, claiming that many teachers at the school were leaving.

Some also complained that the school’s new principal, Keith Garcia, does not speak Spanish, while many parents at the school do not speak much English. The student body is 97 percent Hispanic.

Garcia said he has hired two assistant principals who speak Spanish.

"I want to make sure communication is always readily available," said Garcia. "My door is always open."

After the meeting, Garcia said he was excited to see the amount of community engagement at the meeting, even with a large amount of pushback against the changes at the school.

"We're all here for one reason: to make sure every child succeeds," he said. "I'm excited for the opportunity, but I wish I had the support from the community as well ... I hope to win everybody over eventually."

Rebecca Noel

Rebecca Noel


Rebecca Noel is a daily reporter at Houston Public Media. She covers a wide range of topics, including state and local government, public health and the Texas electrical grid. Rebecca has also covered Houston-area school districts, including Houston ISD and Katy ISD, some of the largest in the state.Rebecca is...

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