With Texas taking over the Houston Independent School District (HISD) and switching over to the New Education System (NES), libraries at 28 institutions will be converted to “team centers” for children with behavioral issues.
Former Librarians Chime In On The Houston Situation: “My Heart Is Just Broken”
Under the move, ABC13 reports that libraries at 28 of Houston’s 57 NES-affiliated schools will be “repurposed into team centers.” These facilities will be used so that children who are misbehaving can continue their schoolwork outside of their classroom.
Deborah Hall, co-founder of an organization called ‘Students Need Libraries,’ slammed the decision as “sending an entirely wrong message” and “increas[ing] inequity.”
“Five years from now, that student who was sent to the [Team Center] in the library, may associate reading and libraries with a punishment. Closing libraries will increase inequity. Looking at one school with a library and a school without a library, it’s not the same. These students with the library have a lot more advantage in their educational journey.”
While speaking with Click2Houston, former librarian Janice Newsum called the move “a significant disservice to the students of HISD.”
“Our less-fortunate students are the ones who suffer the most. Primarily because many of them live in situations that are reading deserts. They simply don’t have access [or choice] in the reading materials.”
Similarly, retired librarian Lisa Robinson added, “It was just such a joy to help them find that perfect book. … My heart is just broken for these children.”
Austin-based writer Alyssa Harad also pointed out on Twitter that the situation is “actually worse than it looks.” Specifically, she pointed out, “Houston is a Black and immigrant-majority city.”
It’s important to add that the libraries won’t close, but they’ll be used for different purposes during the school day. However, students can access reading materials early in the morning before school or at the very end of the day before heading home.
Educators Were Wary About Texas Taking Over HISD Earlier This Year
While on the library subject, we should add that people were worried about the Texas takeover resulting in such decisions.
According to the Austin American-Statesman, Rep. Alma Allen (D-Houston) remarked, “This is upsetting the whole city.”
Allen also called the matter a “national” issue, as “Republicans are planning to take over education in the United States.”
Rep. Ron Reynolds (D-Missouri City) similarly called the matter “an upfront power grab.” He also noted that the situation “promote[s] and push[es] the things Gov. Abbott cares about.”