Press Release

AFT President Randi Weingarten Slams Houston School District’s Plan to Use Libraries as Discipline Centers, Eliminate Librarian Positions

For Release:


Oriana Korin

WASHINGTON—American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten issued the following statement in response to the announcement by Houston Independent School District Superintendent Mike Miles, who is the Texas Education Agency point person in its hostile takeover of the school system, that the school system will move ahead with the plan to eliminate school libraries and replace the space with discipline centers in certain schools in the new school year. Miles announced months ago that librarian and media-specialist positions in 28 schools will be eliminated.

“Our kids—especially those from low-income neighborhoods—need more access to books and opportunities to improve their literacy skills, not fewer. They need to be challenged by reading stories that expose them to different characters and perspectives, and they need to feel safe to explore the world through reading, which helps them discover what’s possible. What they don’t need is more discipline centers. This plan stops learning in its tracks and does nothing to address the real challenges kids are facing, from literacy to loneliness to learning loss.

“It’s exactly the wrong strategy, and the Houston community knows that. But it’s no surprise that outsiders like Superintendent Mike Miles, Commissioner Mike Morath and Gov. Greg Abbott would either be so tone deaf that they don’t see the implications of their actions, or worse, intentionally believe that implementing such a dystopian plan should be their priority. And it flies in the face of what families want and what kids need. Instead of solutions to continue Houston’s academic improvement, politicians are stripping away resources in favor of discipline centers, despite the fact that two-thirds of local voters agree that ‘Parents, teachers, and the leaders closest to the community are the best situated to make choices about our schools, not unelected state bureaucrats who aren’t accountable to the voters and don’t know our community.’

“According to the rating system developed by the Abbott administration itself, HISD was improving and making real strides, but this decadeslong assault on HISD has now gone too far, punishing educators and students for bureaucratic mismanagement and a lack of funding that denies Houston’s kids the ability to learn and succeed.”

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The AFT represents 1.7 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.