BONUS: The Takeover of Houston ISD w/ Karina Quesada-León

September 18, 2023
We talk to a parent, activist, & former teacher about what is happening with the state takeover of Houston ISD.

What you just heard were public comments from three community members of Houston Independent School District, the largest school district in Texas, at the center of a controversial state takeover by the Texas Education Agency. The bell you hear in the audio is a hard cut-off for speakers, whose mics were immediately turned off. After working its way through the legal system for several years, last winter, the Texas Supreme Court greenlit the replacement of district superintendent and the locally elected board of trustees by the head of the TEA, appointed directly by the governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, himself. And last month, school was back in session under the newly appointed superintendent, Mike Miles - former US State Department ambassador, charter school CEO, and Dallas ISD superintendent - amid dozens of pedagogical and policy changes that left teachers, parents, and students confused, frustrated, and afraid, as heard in the public comment at the beginning of this episode.

The takeover of Houston ISD sits at the intersection of so many issues impacting American education today - democratic backsliding and the rise of authoritarianism, the so-called parents’ rights movement, testing & accountability measures, poverty, race, and charter schools. On Friday, September 15th, the morning after another heated board meeting in Houston, I spoke with Karina Quesada-Leon, an Houston ISD parent, activist, and former teacher who has been intensely involved in HISD for a decade, and she was generous to speak with me for an hour about the recent history of the majority Hispanic/Latino district, the impact of the takeover on teachers, families, & students, and how they are experiencing the New Educational System of Superintendent Mike Miles, and what’s next for the movement opposed to these reactionary changes.

We are generally not a current-events podcast, but because this is a fast-moving story, we wanted to release it to listeners as soon and as lightly edited as possible. You can also find an overview of the story on our YouTube channel by searching Human Restoration Project. We hope to follow up with Karina and other affected teachers, parents, and students at Houston ISD. If you’d like to reach out to me directly, you can do so by emailing And of course you can always find more of our work and support us @


Karina Quesada-Leon is a Houston ISD parent, activist, and former teacher who has been intensely involved in HISD for a decade.


Video: The Houston ISD Takeover Punishes Poverty & Subverts Democracy

Twitter: Houston Education Association

Twitter: Karina Quesada-Leon

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