The HISD District of Innovation (DOI) proposal is a dangerous and unnecessary distraction from facing the problems laid bare by Coronavirus.
We should be talking about how to respond to the Pandemic-how to open our schools safely for students and teachers, how to increase public wifi access across the city, how to reduce the equity gap and invest fully in our schools, and how to connect poor and vulnerable students with resources and personalization. Instead we are talking about DOI.
Will you email the HISD Board and tell that now is not the time to foist DOI on an exhausted public? You can email them directly by clicking on this LINK.
Their emails are here along with a sample letter (see bottom of this email.)
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Here is a sample letter:
I'm writing to ask you to vote against the proposal to make HISD a District of Innovation.
I have seen other school districts use DOI to undermine the rights of professional educators, families and students. For instance, a DOI designation can be used to abolish class size limits, due process rights of parents and students, teacher planning periods, and parental rights to student transfer due to bullying or sexual assault. It can also be used to hire teachers without the protection of a contract, hire uncertified teachers, and deny parents the right to be informed that their child's teacher is uncertified.
In nearby Cy-Fair ISD, Superintendent Mark Henry decided that while it would be better to start the school year earlier, a DOI plan was not worth the potential loss of safeguards for students, families, and teachers. HISD should do the same.
The District of Innovation designation is a Pandora's box that allows school districts to subvert the law. Families, students, and teachers need you to oppose this and any future DOI plan.
HISD's DOI proposal offers no real solutions for recovery in our schools in the aftermath of Coronavirus. This pandemic has dramatically impacted the lives of students, teachers, and families, particularly for the poor and the vulnerable. In fact, any changes would not go into effect until 2021-22, not the upcoming school year. DOI will undermine the rights of teachers, students and parents without addressing our most urgent problems.
This is not the time to foist DOI on an exhausted public. Instead, HISD must focus its public meetings on solutions to the problems we face in the aftermath of this pandemic- a widening equity gap, insufficient wraparound services, and inequitable educational and digital access for so many neighborhoods and communities.
Please vote against the DOI plan on May 14—no single exemption is worth putting student, parent, and teacher protections on the line.
HISD's current proposal may only consider four exemptions, but as recently as last week the interim superintendent implied that there could be more exemptions sought.
So keep up the pressure!
Even the wording of these initial proposals can open a Pandora's box of unintended consequences. Were the district to word a provision with language like "hire uncertified teachers in career and technology(CTE) and other "hard to fill" positions," the exemption could be used to designate any position as 'hard to fill', staffing our classrooms with untrained and uncertified teachers. HISD already has at its disposal various provisions to hire CTE teachers like welders. DOI is not necessary.
We should be razor-sharp focused on how to open our schools safely for students and teachers, how to fully invest in our schools in the face of potential budget cuts, and how to reduce the ever-widening equity gap.
Our students deserve more than from us.