The Hechinger Report is a national nonprofit newsroom that reports on one topic: education. Sign up for our weekly newsletters to get stories like this delivered directly to your inbox.

It’s back to school today for students at four high schools and five middle schools in Houston. These students won’t only have an extra five days tacked on to their school year compared to their peers who start next Monday — they’ll also have a school day that lasts from 7:45 am to 4:45 pm Monday through Thursday, and from 7:45 am to 3:15 pm on Fridays.

Sounds like the winning formula of many charter schools, but these are all traditional public schools. They’ve just been targeted to undergo extensive reforms through Apollo 20, a new program of the Houston Independent School District. The program’s name was initially inspired by Apollo 13′s famous “Houston, we have a problem,” although Superintendent Terry Grier prefers to frame it as “Houston, we have an opportunity.”

The Hechinger Report provides in-depth, fact-based, unbiased reporting on education that is free to all readers. But that doesn't mean it's free to produce. Our work keeps educators and the public informed about pressing issues at schools and on campuses throughout the country. We tell the whole story, even when the details are inconvenient. Help us keep doing that.

Join us today.

Sarah Butrymowicz oversees and contributes to The Hechinger Report’s investigative and data work covering all levels of education, from early childhood to K-12 to higher education. She has worked at...

Letters to the Editor

At The Hechinger Report, we publish thoughtful letters from readers that contribute to the ongoing discussion about the education topics we cover. Please read our guidelines for more information.

By submitting your name, you grant us permission to publish it with your letter. We will never publish your email. You must fill out all fields to submit a letter.

Your email address will not be published.