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Yesterday, the Houston Chronicle published a brave first year teacher’s op-ed about the takeover in  HISD teacher: State takeover is hurting my students | Opinion

Here is an excerpt.

“Since I started teaching seven months ago at Sharpstown High School, more than 30 teachers and staff have left. The vast majority resigned or were fired by Houston ISD Superintendent Mike Miles and his administration.

I was hired as a first-year high school chemistry teacher at Sharpstown, having just graduated from Texas A&M’s Biology Honors program. My parents were born in other countries, so I felt called to teach at Sharpstown, a welcoming school with a large immigrant student population. It’s estimated that Sharpstown students speak 60 different languages, and over half are classified as emergent bilingual/English learners. Many are refugees from war-torn nations. In a school where over 80% of the students qualify for free and reduced lunch, some are raising their brothers and sisters without adult support. I felt a strong connection to them….

“Before the takeover, it was rare for HISD teachers to leave mid-year. Now Sharpstown’s rate of teacher turnover is even higher than the district-wide teacher turnover so far this year. Among the teachers and staff who have left or been fired from Sharpstown since I started, one had worked at the school since the year I was born. So many special education teachers have been fired or quit that my students have not had in-class special education support since October.

Some of the new teachers have lasted less than a week. The students are so accustomed to a revolving door of substitute teachers that when I was sick one day, the students assumed I had been fired. As they walked into my class the next day, they were surprised to see that I was still their teacher. This cannot be considered a healthy learning environment.

…The scripted curriculum that the school district forces on teachers does not begin to cover the needs of the kids in our school. I have been told we cannot translate anything, including instructions, into another language….

…Teachers are often evaluated daily and chastised for everything, from not forcing students to respond with a multiple response strategy (MRS) every four minutes to playing classical music in class or even for reviewing the day before a test or on final exams. A teacher at my school was actually removed after he played chess with his students after everyone had finished their final exams.

Since the state takeover, Sharpstown High School resembles a prison more than a school. Over the course of this school year, I have witnessed my students’ growing resentment for authority figures, as well as their increasing apathy and loss of motivation — not only for school, but for their futures. 

In every single decision I make as a new teacher, I ask myself whether what I’m doing is morally correct. Of one thing I am certain: HISD schoolchildren need more adults standing up for them.

Read the entire op-ed by Kristina Samuel here.

Takeovers fail. Will you join the fight for public education and schoolchildren?

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