Last Updated on August 27, 2023 by Robert C. Hoopes
Title: Houston School Superintendent Reverses Gag Order Amidst Legal Threats
In a surprising turn of events, Superintendent Mike Miles has swiftly withdrawn his controversial gag order that prohibited employees from criticizing the Houston Independent School District (HISD) on social media. The move comes as the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), the Houston Federation of Teachers (HFT), and Texas AFT considered a potential lawsuit against Miles, citing violations of First and Fourteenth Amendment rights.
Initially, the gag order instructed employees to refrain from sharing any damaging information about an HISD school or the district’s reputation on social media platforms. This quickly drew significant backlash from teachers and union representatives, who argued that the order hindered their right to speak out on issues that directly affected them and their students.
News of the potential legal action against Miles seemed to have the desired effect, forcing the superintendent to backtrack on his directive. Houston Federation of Teachers President, Jackie Anderson, hailed this development as a significant triumph for teachers’ rights. Anderson stated, “This is a win for teachers who should have the ability to speak out on issues affecting their work environment and the education of their students.”
Critics compared the gag order to the tactics employed during the McCarthy era, with AFT President Randi Weingarten condemning the policy for stifling open dialogue and exchange of ideas. Houston Federation of Teachers’ Anderson echoed these sentiments, asserting that the order appeared to be another arbitrary change that did nothing to improve student performance.
Adding to the chorus of opposition, Texas AFT President Zeph Capo expressed concerns that the policy changes were more likely to cause harm than benefit students and educators. Capo emphasized the importance of dialogue and open communication in addressing systemic issues within the education system, rather than attempting to silence employee opinions.
As the controversy surrounding Superintendent Miles’ gag order continues to unfold, the swift reversal highlights the power of collective action and the importance of protecting free speech within educational institutions. While the employees of the Houston Independent School District can once again express their views freely on social media, it remains to be seen how this incident will influence future policies aimed at governing social media use among educational professionals.