School Libraries Under Threat in Houston

School libraries are being eliminated in Houston, Texas’s largest public school district, focusing on Black, Latino, and low-income areas. The Houston Independent School District superintendent, Mike Miles, has fired librarians across 28 schools and intends to convert the libraries into student discipline centers. Miles and other local politicians are sending a clear message: poor and minority communities deserve punishment rather than support when they don’t follow the system’s rules.

As things stand, public schools for the working class are already severely underfunded, and Houston’s decisions will worsen school conditions. Taking away libraries and books from the most oppressed will intensify the education disparities between white and nonwhite students. But the government does not care about the burdens that students face. It is interested in reducing public spending while ensuring schools can efficiently train young people to be obedient workers.

Houston is part of a broader trend of districts and states threatening public services. Another recent example is Arkansas officials pushing to criminalize libraries for providing books that the state deems appealing “to a prurient interest in sex.” The brutal priorities of this capitalist government are exposed as a nation that last year had a record $886 billion war budget certainly has the means to fund schools and libraries without imposing rules based on forms of oppression by race, age, gender, sexuality, and other characteristics. But the system itself encourages such oppression to continue.