July 31, 2023 -- Mayor Sylvester Turner invited faith leaders to stand united at City Hall to denounce plans by the Houston Independent School District to close libraries on 28 campuses and convert them to disciplinary centers.
A plan announced by state-appointed Superintendent Mike Miles is a dramatic shift from the previous administration's goal to increase the number of school libraries and librarians to help boost student achievement.
"I do not want some schools to look like prisons," said Mayor Turner. "HISD is creating a school district of the haves and the have-nots. Some areas in the district are equipped with libraries full of books and technology. In contrast, others will resemble stark institutions with no place for students to go to their school library, study to check out a book, get the assistance of a librarian and expand their imagination."
Faith leaders standing with the mayor, included Dr. Max Miller, Baptist Ministers Association of Houston Vicinity, Pastor Byron Stevenson, Ft. Bend Church, Rev. M. Morrison Sr., Pastor Harvey Clemons, and Bishop Emeritus Shelton Bady.
Mayor Turner was joined by U.S. Rep. Al Green, U.S. Rep Sheila Jackson Lee, Harris County Precinct 2 County Commissioner Adrian Garcia, Councilmembers Karla Cisneros and Robert Gallegos, and other community leaders.
"I am serious about the learning and life outcomes of HISD students, and I have been serious before this superintendent ever stepped on Houston's ground. I have committed most of my professional life to improving the quality of education and the quality of life for students, not just in HISD, but across the state."
Speaker after speaker voiced concern about the state's largest school district dismantling libraries primarily serving Black and Brown children.
"Doing this with no input from local governments, local parents, local teachers, or local students puts HISD on a path to more problems," said Commissioner Garcia. "The priority we can all agree on is to work toward better student success."
"Skills learned in the library can help people for a lifetime. Through the exploration of books, learning of history, reading stories, developing perspective, researching skills, and so much more, one can expand their mindset, aspiration, dreams, and desires," said Dr. Mia K. Knight, the Co-Pastor and Executive Director of Ministry at The Fountain of Praise.
Mayor Turner has pledged to remain involved in working for what is best for students and teachers. He also has extended an open invitation to Superintendent Miles to meet with him at city hall to discuss the changes taking place in HISD.