Past Issues

2016-17 Campaigns

Community Voices for Public Education (CVPE) unites Houston parents, educators, students, and community members to advocate for policies that strengthen Houston’s public school system. Public education is a gateway to opportunity, social and economic justice, and the democratic promise of our country. We believe that all children deserve great public schools. Our goals for 2016-17 include-

    1. ELECT HISD SCHOOL BOARD TRUSTEES in 2016 (WE WON) and in Nov 2017 who support our agenda
    2. ELIMINATE STAAR FOR PROMOTION in non state-required grades (3rd, 4th, 6th, 7th)- WE WON for the 2015-17 school years!
    3. FIGHT FOR OUR PUBLIC SCHOOLS at the STATE LEVEL
      • Oppose SB3 (Vouchers by other name)
      • Oppose SB13 (no automatic payroll deduction for union dues for teachers but leaves police and firefighter unions alone, anti teacher, anti public school)
      • Oppose SB14 (sanctuary city bill that will deny our children the right to be safe in our schools and will force children into the shadows)
      • Support HB 1333 (teach not test bill) that will reduce reliance on standardized testing in our schools
    4. PROMOTE A RICH, MEANINGFUL CURRICULUM FOR OUR STUDENTS; OPPOSE HIGH STAKES TESTING
      • At the local HISD level-
        • Permanently end the use of standardized test scores to evaluate teachers [HISD]
        • End the use of STAAR as the primary measure for evaluating principals
        • Permanently end the use of STAAR as a promotion standard in non state-required grades (3rd, 4th, 6th, 7th)
        • Reduce the number of district-created (or required) benchmarks (practice tests for the STAAR) so there is more opportunity for real learning. Assessments are best when created by those closest to the students-their teachers
      • At the state level-
        • End the use of Grade A-F System for School Accountability
        • Limit the use of STAAR to those grades and subjects required by federal law
        • Abolish the state requirement using STAAR for promotion at grades 5 and 8
    5. SUPPORT QUALITY NEIGHBORHOOD SCHOOLS; don’t close them. Support the community schools model. Magnet programs, if any, should be located in high need under-resourced communities to promote equity and access.
    6. KEEP STRONG TEACHERS AND PRINCIPALS IN HISD. High faculty turnover destabilizes schools and hurts children. Abolish the Haberman instrument. It is a flawed mechanism for identifying potential school leaders. Return extra pay for post graduate education by teachers (masters and beyond).

2015-16 Campaigns

In 2015-16, CVPE promoted opt out in an effort to promote meaningful instruction and to end the reliance on high stakes testing in our schools. Almost 500 Greater Houston Area parents opted out of STAAR testing at grades 3-8 and in high school.

Our goals were to

  • Eliminate the use of STAAR as a promotion standard in non required grades (3rd, 4th, 6th, 7th)- WE WON!
  • Hire a superintendent who is committed to supporting parents, teachers and students- HOPEFUL!
  • Stop using test scores (EVAAS) to evaluate teachers-WE WON at least through 2016-17
  • Reduce the number of district-created benchmarks (practice tests for the STAAR) so there is more opportunity for real learning. Tests are best when created by those closest to the students-their teachers.
  • Support quality neighborhood schools; don’t close them. Support the community schools model.
  • Restore extra pay for teachers with masters’ degrees.
  • Keep strong teachers and principals in HISD. High faculty turnover destabilizes schools and hurts children.
  • Provide nurses, librarians, counselors and social workers in all schools
  • Support Universal pre-K.
  • Support the use of Restorative Justice practices in schools.

2014- 15 Campaigns

In 2014-15, CVPE worked to convince HISD and other districts to restore a rich curriculum instead of test prep; to support quality open-enrollment neighborhood schools in every neighborhood; to use a community schools model, to limit class size and to eliminate the use high stakes standardized tests and EVAAS to evaluate teachers.

Alternative State of the Schools: CVPE held an alternative state of the schools in February to highlight an alternative to the test and punish model prevalent in public schools today. Over 100 people participated; CVPE developed an infographic and wrote an op ed for the Houston Chronicle to spur change.

Opt out: Almost 80 parents opted out of STAAR testing at grades 3-8 in an effort to promote meaningful instruction and to end the over reliance on high stakes testing in our schools.

Spring 2014 Campaigns:

CHILDREN ARE MORE THAN MERE TEST SCORES:  Read about our efforts to restore a rich curriculum instead of test prepRead more about opting out here and here. Read about a Houston area parent who opted out of STAAR testing.

TEACHER EVALUATION IS MORE THAN A TEST SCORE:  To this end, CVPE believes that HISD should replace the current teacher appraisal model with one based on multiple measures of teaching practice and student learning. HISD's current test-based model is unstable and biased, misidentifies strong and weak teachers, narrows the curriculum, encourages test-prep rather than meaningful instruction, and discourages teachers from collaborating and serving our highest-need students.

CVPE parents, students and teachers recently shared research and personal stories at the May 8 HISD School Board meeting this year and on several occasions last year.  You can listen to CVPE testimony here (min 5.40-on) and read CVPE op-ed here. On June12, as a result of the efforts of CVPE, HFT and other organizations, HISD reduced the weight of test scores for teacher evaluation from 50 to 30%.

SCHOOL CLOSURES: This past spring, CVPE worked actively with other local organizations including TOP, SEIU and HFT to support renewed investment in neighborhood schools and to fix HISD's process for school closures.  One does not make schools better by closing them and one does not improve neighborhoods by abandoning them.  Read CVPE op-eds here and here.  As a result of the combined efforts of many communities, HISD closed two schools instead of five.  CVPE supports a transparent process developed by HISD Administration and the School Board that includes the community as full partners and not as an afterthought.

2013 Postcard Campaign Results:

Earlier this year, CVPE asked community members to join us in signing the following plea to reduce the overemphasis on standardized testing: http://chn.ge/UfPH8V

  • We delivered 1,600 signed postcards to the HISD board meeting in May.
  • 15 CVPE members eloquently shared stories of the real effects of over-testing in HISD.
  • Close to 100 CVPE students, parents, teachers and community members stood together to support our cause – we truly were a sea of navy blue!

2012 TASA Resolution Concerning High Stakes Testing:

In Spring 2012, CVPE parents, teachers and students met with seven of the nine HISD board members to convince the school board to adopt the TASA resolution as a first step toward ending the over-reliance on high stakes testing and to promote an emphasis on learning.  80 CVPE members attended the May 11, 2012 school board meeting to speak poignantly about the negative consequences of high stakes testing and accountability on the lives of children, particularly children in poverty.  The HISD School Board then voted unanimously to adopt the anti-high stakes testing resolution.

HISD adopted the resolution concerning high stakes testing approved by over 55% of Texas school districts  that says in part that  “an over-reliance on standardized, high stakes testing ... is strangling our public schools and undermining any chance that educators have to transform a traditional system of schooling into a broad range of learning experiences that better prepares our students to live successfully and be competitive on a global stage.”

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