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Archive for January 4th, 2019

In December, the Houston Independent School District (HISD) school board members voted against a proposal to seek partnerships with charters to take over education at four schools. The four schools in question are Highland Heights Elementary School, Patrick Henry Middle School, Kashmere High School, and Wheatley High School. These schools are in historic communities of color. The schools have suffered for years from systemic racism and a lack of investment. Now the Texas Education Association (TEA) wants to take over control of the school district because they say that these schools are failing, when in reality, they have been failed by the system.

Public Citizen supports the school board’s decision not to move forward with partnerships.

We support Houston-based advocates who are calling for public education to remain firmly within the hands of democratically elected school boards. We support retaining community control of schools and ensuring that the remedies to support Houston children’s education come from the wisdom of the community and educators, not from disconnected state officials who lack community context and connection.

Why is a partnership a bad idea for schools?

The partnership plan comes out of the 85th Legislature through SB 1882. The legislation allows school boards to partner with charters to control low performing schools. The school board will then receive an exemption from intervention as well as additional funding for students. While this seems like a good idea on the surface – avoid state takeover, get more money – SB1882 can do great harm. Any partnership stemming from this bill effectively charters the schools in consideration. It removes the schools from the oversight and accountability of the democratically-elected school board. SB 1882 has already been the subject of a lawsuit in Travis County District Court over weakened protections for school teachers.

I spoke at public session the HISD’s board meeting in December to oppose partnering and chartering schools which are considered underperforming by TEA. You can read my statement here.

Who should be leading the vision for schools?

Educators and Community Members.

Wealthy, corporate board members have no business partnering with schools. School board trustees must ensure that educators with K-12 instructional experience drive the vision for these schools. Chartering is no solution, either. Chartering only enhances the possibility for privatization. School board members rightly denied opportunities for these historic schools to be chartered.

What can you do?

Groups in Houston are developing community-oriented solutions for the schools to ensure every student has equal access to quality education. On January 5th, there will be an Education Town Hall at Kashmere Gardens Multi-Purpose Center from 2 – 4 pm to discuss community-driven alternatives to privatization of schools, put on by Black Lives Matter Houston, Houston RisingHISD Parent Advocates, and Indivisible Houston.

Support our schools and take part in this important event.

Learn more about this issue. See: To save Houston’s schools, fight the TEA by Kandice Webber, Travis McGee and Sarah Becker.

Contact your state representatives to demand change to the laws that put corporate interests above students. School finance issues will feature prominently in the 86th Legislative Session (January – May) in Austin. Keep an eye on your representatives and call on them to stop promoting school privatization and to keep democracy alive in our school boards.

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