Texas Gov. Greg Abbott today blasted the leadership of the state’s largest school district, calling them a “disaster.” The governor’s criticism comes after calls from other state and local officials for the state to take over the district at the end of this year.

“HISD leadership is a disaster. Their self-centered ineptitude has failed the children they are supposed to educate,” said Abbott in a tweet. Attached was an article published in the Houston Chronicle authored by some prominent Houston education activists who have been fighting against state intervention for some time.

The op-ed was written by Kandice Webber, a lead organizer for Houston’s Black Lives Matter; Travis McGee, an activist and HISD parent; and Sarah Becker, co-founder of HISD Parent Advocates. In it, the trio claim in order to save the district, they need to fight off the Texas Education Agency.

After decades of poor results, there is a looming takeover of HISD by the TEA. Should the district fail to bring nine campuses out of “improvement required” status this school year, the state will intervene and can appoint a board of managers to oversee the district’s operations. The takeover was set for last year, however the district was granted a waiver because of Hurricane Harvey.

State Sen. Paul Bettencourt (R-Houston) has also voiced concerns over the district and is actively supporting TEA intervention. Former County Treasurer Orlando Sanchez recently held a press conference across the street from HISD’s administrative building calling on the state to intervene. He was met with protestors who questioned his intentions. The situation got so hostile that one protestor poured water on Sanchez’s head. Former mayor Annise Park has also voiced her support for the state taking over HISD saying, “How many years of chaos does it take before someone acts for our kids?”

Opponents of intervention are calling for state lawmakers to repeal the enabling legislation this session and allow the problem to be fixed locally. While that’s unlikely to happen, this is just the beginning of the rocky road of repair for HISD.

Charles Blain

Charles Blain is the president of Urban Reform and Urban Reform Institute. A native of New Jersey, he is based in Houston and writes on municipal finance and other urban issues.