Houston Teacher Says ‘2035 Will Not Exist’ If New Superintendent Makes Kids Use More Paper

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Nick Pope Contributor
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Michelle Williams, president of the Houston Education Association (HEA), suggested this week that the world may no longer exist in 2035 if the Houston Independent School District (HISD) buys much more paper to use to instruct students in reading and writing.

Williams made the remarks at a community meeting with newly-appointed HISD Superintendent Mike Miles. The meeting was held so that Miles could answer questions about his plans for the district in his new capacity as superintendent, as seen in footage of the meeting streamed Thursday on YouTube by local outlet Fox 26.

Some HISD teachers reported that “their classes are going to be 80% paper-based,” Williams said to Miles. “You said, and I’m going to take your words, you said that children don’t have time and then we’re preparing them for 2035. It is fiscally irresponsible to pay $100 per box of paper, and it is environmentally destructive for us to use that amount of paper for 20,000 children in District 2 … 2035 will not exist if you continue to support the deforestation, because it’s going to release too much carbon dioxide, it causes soil erosion, all of those things.” (RELATED: Colleges Plot More Ways To Discriminate After Supreme Court Strikes Down Race-Based Admissions)

“You want to take the largest school district in the state of Texas and add to our environmental issues and this glorious heat that we have in Houston,” she continued. “I am asking you to reverse that because it’s destructive and it’s a poor model for those children that you’re trying to change student outcomes wrong for.”

“I guess now I’m responsible for the environment,” Miles said in response.

“That’s kind of giving me a little bit too much power,” he continued as the assembled crowd clamored. “There is some research, and there’s a lot of parents who think we spend too much time looking at a screen,” Miles said.

Less than half of HISD’s students in grades one through three were reading at or above grade level as of December 2022, according to a report by the Houston Chronicle.

“You will see and feel things change, we will be aligning our resources – especially our most effective teachers and principals – to better serve students in underserved communities,” Miles said in a statement shared with the Daily Caller News Foundation.  “For students who need to catch up and in schools that have failed for years, we will be offering more instructional time.”

Performance and accountability at HISD’s high schools became so lackluster in recent years that the Texas Education Agency (TEA) has assumed control of the district, appointing Miles to the superintendent post in an attempt to turn around the district’s poor academic performance, according to Texas Monthly.

“No, I don’t think the world will end by 2035 if the district uses more paper in teaching students how to read and write,” Williams told the DCNF. “I made that statement because prior to Mr. Miles coming to HISD the district has made efforts to reduce its paper consumption and to teach the students to be good stewards of the environment,” she continued, adding that “this is in line with the district’s 2012 partnership with the National Wildlife Federation and Eco-Schools.”

“There’s not any educational research that supports the use of 80% of worksheets in reading that will close learning gaps,” Williams told the DCNF. However, studies show that children tend to score worse on reading comprehension tests after reading text on a digital medium than they do when they read from a printed page, according to Education Weekly.

“I’m not saying paper shouldn’t be used in a reading class, what I’m saying is there should be a balance” of “40% paper and 60% technology,” Williams concluded. HEA is an affiliate union of the National Education Association, according to HEA’s Twitter profile.

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