HOUSTON — The Houston Federation of Teachers calls for community support to save the Houston Independent School District.
HISD is at risk of being taken over by the state if test scores for ten low performing schools don't improve dramatically.
In order to pressure the Texas Education Agency to give HISD a one-year waiver from this requirement, the HFT, is playing this ad on Houston’s radios.
“Less than a year since the tragedy of Harvey, the state is threatening to take over schools and shut down others. Go to HoustonUnitedForSchools.com and sign the petition to support a local plan for our kids,” the ad reads.
“We are hoping we can get enough of the community involved that the governor will intervene and tell the commissioner this waiver needs to be given, for at least one year. Two would be better,” says HFT Vice President Andrew Dewey.
The advertisement invokes Hurricane Harvey as cause to validate the need for the waiver.
“School didn't start until late everybody's lives were disrupted everybody's lives are still being disrupted we still have kids living in shelters we have teachers that have been relocated it was a massive, massive trauma to everybody,” Dewey says.
But there's no way to be sure that had Harvey not hit Houston so hard, that improvements would have been made at the schools in question.
“There have been programs put in place at each one of these ten schools, that focus on raising those test scores [...] so we're going to see improvement, I have no doubt we're going to see improvement at everyone of those schools, will they get over the cut line? I don't know,” explains Dewey.
Either way, the teacher’s federation says the state taking over the state's largest school district won't be good for anybody.
“A takeover effects everybody, not only the students and families at those ten schools. In general, no school district that the state has become involved in has had any great gains if any gains at all,” Dewey warns.
TEA Commissioner Mike Morath plans to announce in June, whether or not to grant the reprieve from accountability ratings to districts affected by Hurricane Harvey. Until then, the future control of HISD remains cloudy at best.