Past Issues

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.

2020-2021 Fall

  1. No STAAR testing during COVID. Force the state to eliminate STAAR testing during COVID and stop using STAAR for graduation or promotion.
  2. Keep students, teachers and communities safe during COVID.
    • Cancel in-person instruction in high risk regions. The governor must allow school districts in communities at highest risk of COVID transmission to return to 100% virtual instruction without loss of funding. The Texas Education Agency currently cuts funding in half to any school district that does not make face-to-face instruction available to any parent who wants it. 
    • Teachers and school staff are essential workers and should be first in line to be vaccinated. The governor must reverse course and allow teachers and other staff to receive vaccines in the first round (Category 1A or 1B.)
Coronavirus Demands for Spring-Summer 2020

Invest in our schools

  • Immediately release the $1.2 billion CARES Act School Funds earmarked to local school districts for unexpected costs due to COVID. The governor is holding the funds hostage to balance the state budget. 

  • Use the TX Rainy Day Fund to provide a massive influx of funding for our schools in 2020-21 to help our children and communities recover from the global Coronavirus pandemic. 

  • Invest in counselors, nurses and librarians in every school, tutors, smaller class size and expanded mental health services to address the physical and socio-emotional needs of students. 

  • Fund citywide universal free wifi  starting with all public housing projects. While schooling is so much more than wifi and computer access, this crisis lays bare the huge equity connectivity divide. 

  • Implement a moratorium on school closures which are almost exclusively in poor neighborhoods.

Do not rate our schools 

  • No accountability rating should be assigned to schools for the upcoming 2020-2021 school year. We know what our children need and it is not more accountability ratings. Evaluating learning based on pre-crisis measures is completely unreasonable and unfair.

20110-20 Campaigns

Suspend STAAR testing   We won!

  • To recover lost learning time, the federal government should suspend high stakes testing (STAAR in Texas.) The poor and the vulnerable have been hit hardest by this pandemic and many have limited or no access to wifi or computer devices.

Real Support for Our Schools

  • Full, equitable funding & wraparound services
  • Strong schools in every neighborhood
  • Small class size, meaningful instruction, less STAAR
  • Teachers are supported, fairly paid & their input valued.
  • Address inequality and poverty outside schools

Oppose State Takeover

  • Takeovers have harmed students all over the country.
  • States target brown & black school districts.
  • HISD has a B+ (88) rating-better than most urban ISDs.

Democracy Matters

  • We elected a new school board in Nov. 2019.
  • An appointed board is not accountable to voters.

Stop Endless STAAR Testing

  • Don't use it to shame kids, fire teachers & close schools.
  • Texas is 1 of only 11 states to require a test to graduate. While federal law requires 17 standardized tests, it is the state's decision to use standardized tests as promotion or graduation requirements. The 2021 State Legislature should end the use of STAAR as a graduation requirement. 
2018-19 Campaigns

Sign the resolution against state takeover here.

Oppose state takeover of HISD. State takeovers make a mockery of democracy and have not improved schools when they were implemented around the country. Join a coalition of parents, students, teachers, elected officials and organizations.

Legislative Agenda 2019:

    • Repeal HB 1842 (State Takeover)
      • This 2015 law requires state takeover (or closure) if only 1 school does not meet the state's arbitrary bar 5 years in a row.
      • There is no evidence across the country that state takeover would improve student learning. If the state takes over HISD, it will be the first time in US History that a state takes over a school district based on standardized test scores.
    • Public School Finance
      • Clean teacher raise. Oppose tying teacher raises to STAAR performance. 
      • Adjust the school funding formulas to increase the state share so that we put more money into public education
      • Oppose "outcome-based" school funding that ties funding to student performance. This is a "persecute the poor" plan and should be opposed in all of its forms.
      • Oppose the governor's plan that caps property tax values and does not provide a source of revenue for public school funding.
      • Support Robin Hood (Chapter 41) revisions to cost of education index last revised in 1992. This should positively impact property rich districts with large numbers of students in poverty and still provide a safety net for property poor school districts with large numbers of students in poverty.
      • Increase the weights (adjustment above basic allotment) for students who are at risk, socio-economically disadvantaged, Sp Ed,  and ELL whose cost of education is higher than the allotment.
    • Support a two year charter expansion moratorium. 
      • It’s time for the Texas Legislature to enact a two-year TIME OUT on charter school expansion so that Texas can address the financial impact of charter schools on traditional public schools and develop a thoughtful, fair, and equitable plan that ensures the future of public education for all Texas children and levels the playing field for all public schools.
    • High Stakes Testing
      • Support HB 736 which eliminates the use of STAAR as a promotion standard in elementary and middle school grades and eliminates the use of STAAR as a graduation standard.
      • Oppose the A-F School Accountability System as discriminatory against brown and black schools and schools in poverty.
      • Reduce the number of standardized tests to no more than are required by the federal government and end the high stakes associated with the tests
    • Support legislation that reduces the school to prison pipeline.
2017-18 Campaigns
  1. Fight HB 1842- School Closures and the Takeover of HISD and other Districts
  2. Demand a 1 year reprieve of all school closures (HB 1842) and to help Houston recover after Harvey.  Hurricane Harvey cost Houston students weeks of classroom time and many families were displaced from their homes. It is unfair to use STAAR scores to penalize students, teachers and school districts. Houston needs support, not school closures and a state takeover.Postcard LINK2. CVPE Meeting Powerpoint on School Closures-Feb 3, 2018 [LINK]
  3. Elect CVPE endorsed school board candidates to the HISD School Board
  4. Support rich, meaningful curriculum for all of our students and oppose high stakes testing.

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2016-17 Campaigns

    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 including ending preK-2 student suspensions
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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