Activists Express Concerns About Future Of Harris County Department Of Education

They’re asking the board to rehire a consulting firm that lobbies for the agency in the Texas Legislature and commit to funding certain programs.

Public education activists are asking the Harris County Department of Education’s (HCDE) board to rehire a consulting firm that lobbies for the agency in the Texas Legislature and commit to funding special education and early childhood education programs.

Andrea Duhon is one of the activists and spoke to Houston Matters on Wednesday. She said the board’s recent decision to cancel the HCDE’s contract with HillCo Partners “left the entire department of education vulnerable to shutting down.”

Duhon referenced three bills that State Representative Paul Bettencourt filed in 2017. One of the proposed bills would have analyzed a potential shutdown of the HCDE, while the other two aimed at preventing the agency from collecting property taxes and eliminating the department outright, as reported by the Houston Chronicle. Bettencourt has said he has concerns about the HCDE’s financial accountability.

“We’re going there today to tell them to bring back our representation in Austin,” said Duhon.

The Harris County Department of Education is the only one of its kind left in the state of Texas. It manages a budget of about $100 million, mostly generated from grants and fees, that support early education, adult ed and other services for 25 school districts in the county.

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