The Houston Independent School District, the largest in Texas and the eighth-largest in the United States, will eliminate librarian positions in 28 schools and turn libraries into what are being called “discipline centers,” according to Click2Houston.
Mike Myles, the state-installed schools superintendent and former charter schools CEO, earlier this month announced cuts of up to 600 central office positions.
Texas has a $32 billion state surplus but rather than allocate needed funds to public schools, lawmakers in the majority-Republican state legislature, at the behest of Governor Greg Abbott, just delivered a massive property tax cut.
The move to gut librarians and massively reduce access to books and other material does not appear to be budget related, as librarians will be allowed to apply for other positions.
KHOU reports libraries at those 28 schools “will be repurposed into ‘team centers’ where students who had to be removed from class due to behavioral issues will be placed to watch their class virtually.”
Former HISD librarian and Manager of Library Services, Janice Newsum, says, “When students engage in reading as an activity of choice, they are not only building that reading muscle, but they are also developing their vocabulary they are understanding a bit about the world that exists outside their block radius.”
Mayor Sylvester Turner appeared to suggest the schools that are losing their librarians are already underserved.
“You don’t close libraries in some of the schools in your most underserved communities, and you’re keeping libraries open in other schools,” Turner said.
Watch Click2Houston’s report below or at this link.