The Texas Education Agency on Thursday named former Dallas Independent School District superintendent Mike Miles as superintendent of the Houston Independent School District, initiating the state’s takeover of Texas’ largest school district.
Miles begins working Thursday under a temporary 21-day contract until a board of managers, also newly-appointed by Education Commissioner Mike Morath, formally approves him.
“We were looking for people from a wide array of backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives who believe all children can learn and achieve at high levels when properly supported and who can work together,” Morath said in a news release. “I believe the governing team I am naming today will work as a unified team, dedicated to improving student outcomes and supporting educators.”
Superintendent selection process
The Texas Education Agency conducted interviews with candidates for superintendent from around the state and around the country.
In a news release, the agency said “primary consideration was given to candidates with a strong track record of improving outcomes for students in prior school system leadership roles, especially when outcomes were improved in schools with chronically low student achievement. Additionally, candidates were evaluated for competencies in several key areas, including curriculum and instructional leadership, student support services, talent management, performance management, systems leadership, and community engagement and communication.”
Miles led Texas’ second-largest school district
Miles led the Dallas Independent School District, the state’s second-largest district, from 2012 to 2015.
During his tenure, Miles oversaw the implementation of major programs, including the the Texas Excellence Initiative, a merit pay system which rates teachers on student feedback, observations of their classes, and student standardized test scores.
Miles also oversaw establishment of the Accelerating Campus Excellence initiative, a program to turn around chronically low-performing schools by supplying them with the district’s best resources, including the highest-rated teachers and principals. The measure improved numerous schools that were previously failing state ratings.
Miles resigned in 2015, citing a desire to rejoin his family in Colorado.
“While the transformation of a large, urban district takes time, with the support of the Board and the community, we were able to accomplish an incredible amount in just three years,” Miles said in a statement. “I know of no other district that has been able to accomplish as much in the same period of time. The vision has been drawn; the foundation has been set.”
Miles founded a charter network
After leaving the Dallas Independent School District, Miles founded Third Future Schools, a public network of charters with campuses in Texas and Colorado.
Miles on public education
In blog posts and publications, Miles often advocates for sweeping changes to the education system.
“Perhaps the biggest failure of the current education ecosystem is its inability to envision what the future holds for our students and to make systemic changes now to prepare them for that future,” Miles wrote in a column for The Catalyst, a quarterly publication of The Bush Institute. “Shackled to a monolithic, change-resistant system, school and district leaders continue to make incremental and piecemeal changes to a broken system expecting to get different outcomes.”
Miles continues: “Imagine if schools not only taught reading, math, and science, but also required different ‘experiences’ that students would have to complete in order to move from the early grades to the middle grades and then to the higher grades. And what if those experiences could be completed outside of school and with experts who are not teachers? Imagine if schools paid a professional wage in a teacher’s first year and also eliminated all non-instructional tasks from the teacher role. What if the teacher in such a school did not have to make lesson plans, make copies, grade papers, handle discipline, or do any work after 4:00 p.m.? None of these specific examples can be accomplished piecemeal, but all of them can be accomplished at the same time if a school or district underwent a wholescale systemic change.”
Miles’ military background
Miles also served as an Army officer and as a diplomat in Poland and Russia. Per his LinkedIn profile, he served as a Company Commander and in the Army’s elite Ranger Battalion. Later, he served in the U.S. State Department as a Soviet analyst and member of the Bureau of Intelligence and Research. He then served as a Diplomat to Poland and Russia at the end of the Cold War, finishing his state department work as the Special Assistant to the Ambassador to Russia.
Miles holds degrees from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, the University of California at Berkeley, and Columbia University.
View KPRC 2 Reporter Sabirah Rayford’s full interview with Miles in the video player below.