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Opponents of Texas' school district takeover get funds for grassroots mobilization

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Roz Brown

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(Texas News Service) Parents and educators in the Houston Independent School District (HISE) have new funds to keep up pressure over the controversial takeover of the state's largest school district. 

Earlier this year, the Texas Education Agency took the reins of Houston's ISD, citing its inability to meet state standards. Now, the American Federation of Teachers is providing grant money to support Community Voices for Public Education, a grassroots group that's engaging others to keep the issue in the spotlight. 

Dee Arellano, is the group's co-director, is also a parent in the district.

"We can't not address how the Texas Education Agency is using the HISE takeover to dismantle public education and also force out hardworking teachers," Arellano insisted.

Some believe the takeover is an attempt to promote charter schools over public schools. A ruling from the state Supreme Court cleared the path despite a "B" grade the district received in the most recent state school ratings.

Houston ISD includes 28 campuses, which have experienced controversial changes since the school year started. Arellano said one big issue for parents and educators is the lack of transparency about what's happening and what's next.

As she put it, "Just the very fact that we are not getting an update. Regardless of where you are on the issue, you should get an update. You should get a report on 'how is your money being spent?' We're not even getting that."

After the takeover, the Texas Education Agency named Mike Miles as HISD superintendent. In a previous position, Miles founded a public network of charter schools. 

HISD is Texas' largest public school district, with more than 200,000 students.