To Partner or Not to Partner

HB 1842 is a draconian and racist example of how STAAR is being used to harm our students rather than help them, to close schools rather than work to end the effects of poverty that negatively impact student success.

HB 1842 should be repealed. However, it is unlikely in this session given the makeup of our Texas State Legislature. That leaves us with a partnership with someone, school closures or ending our access to a democratically elected school board.

The city partnership is a non-starter for anyone who understands the effect of similar privatization schemes in other cities like New Orleans, Philadelphia, Detroit and Washington, DC. These cities forked over students and schools in poor neighborhoods to people with no educational background and the results across numerous studies negatively impacted student learning.

Those promoting privatization efforts like HB 1842 and the City of Houston partnership think that they can simply replace the players and, in the flourish of a pen, end the negative effect of poverty on the lives of students. But there are no magic bullets. The work to improve the lives and learning of students requires a systematic and sustained effort at ending poverty and improving equity and access. Study after study show that “turnaround” schools including those in HISD (Apollo) do not show sustained gains even when you use only standardized testing results as the arbiter.

We do not support a city of Houston partnership because those involved have no educational experience and because the intentions appear to be directed to further privatize public education in Houston and to further diminish open access to schools for our students.

However, we think it is useful to consider a temporary partnership governed by experienced educators under the aegis of a public institution like HCC, Communities in Schools or a 510c3 collaborative of seasoned educators that is not a charter front. This would give the teachers and staff on the campuses that are on the chopping block sufficient hope so they would not flee the school due to the uncertainty that has perennially plagued many brown and black schools in high poverty.

Some say no closures, no partnerships and sue TEA. TEA certainly deserves to be sued given how fast and loose they play with the rules and with our children.  But what is the likelihood of winning the suit? We should sue TEA and we should also pursue a temporary partnership with a reasonable partner.

What is worse, a charter/partnership agreement for 4 schools with HCC or charterization of all 250+ schools in the district, which is essentially what state takeover will look like. Are we willing to roll the dice on the latter for a 20% chance of winning a lawsuit that grants relief from the HB 1842 sanctions?


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