HISD superintendent says he will pay ‘teacher experts’ to review curriculum after inappropriate lesson appears online

The lesson plan was deemed for 8th-grade students attending NES-aligned schools

HOUSTON – The Houston Independent School District is responding to an inappropriate lesson plan circulating on social media that was supposed to be taught to middle school students at the district’s New Education System-aligned campuses.

The image of the lesson plan sent to KPRC 2′s tip line instructed students to read a paragraph from a book published by author and civil rights activist Maya Angelou. The particular paragraph in question describes an encounter between a man and a woman in a hotel room. The lesson then asks students to summarize what happened.

“I didn’t want him to think of me as a d*** teaser. A cheat. But my body wouldn’t obey. He bent and took both hands and pulled me upright,” the paragraph read, in part.

Some words have been blurred due to the graphic nature of the topic (Copyright 2023 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

KPRC 2 immediately reached out to Houston ISD for a response. Newly-appointed superintendent Mike Miles sent us a written statement saying that the lessons given to students moving forward will be “age-appropriate” and meet his “high standards.”

Miles told KPRC 2 that this lesson was never presented to 8th-grade students and ensured the issue had been corrected on all campuses.

A spokesperson told KPRC 2′s Rilwan Balogun the district has hired 25 of the 32 teachers needed to review lesson plans. These are teachers who will teach half-time and “work on curriculum” the other half.

The spokesperson added that later this month, the district will launch “opportunities for teachers in each division to partner with district leaders and provide feedback to make our curriculum stronger.”

“The Academics team continues to review the development of these lesson plans but at this time we believe the inappropriate passages were due to isolated human error. The curriculum team will continue to meet throughout the week to align on expectations and quality control for lesson plans moving forward,” the spokesperson said.

Read Miles’ full statement on the incident below:

“Let me begin by assuring parents and families that the curriculum and lessons given to our students tomorrow will be age-appropriate and meet the high standards that I set when I was appointed in June. The issue with the 8th grade curriculum was discovered, corrected, and all campuses have been directed to ensure the right lessons are shared with children tomorrow. While this issue was identified and corrected before it impacted students or instruction, this does not meet the standards I set for the HISD team, and it does not meet the commitment we made to our educators and students. I have directed the Chief Academic Officer to review all the systems and processes related to curriculum creation to ensure that inappropriate content never gets to classrooms. In addition, I have already begun taking steps to strengthen our curriculum development and review processes. We are paying a team of HISD teacher-experts from each grade level and content area to review curriculum half time. They will make our lessons better and I’m grateful they will be joining the team. Next, we will be reaching out to engage our teachers district-wide and in our divisions to get feedback on the curricular resources we provide. This will help us strengthen lessons, catch errors more quickly so teachers don’t have to, and give teachers the support we promised them.”

KPRC 2 took to the streets of Houston to ask viewers their thoughts on the lesson plan.

This comes after Miles’ implemented several new changes to the district’s curriculum since the TEA takeover. Under the superintendent’s new reform model, NES, which is implemented at 28 schools in the district, there is a standardized curriculum with prepared lesson plans, reading instructions rooted in phonics and a different learning structure set out to improve student’s learning ability.