Texas Laws Forces School Districts Into Privatization & Holds Democracy Hostage
Under HB 1842, if the district has a single school that is on the Improvement Required (IR) list for five consecutive years (IR5), the Texas Education Agency (TEA) can replace the democratically elected board with appointed managers or shut down the school.
The escape hatch? Use SB 1882 to partner IR5 schools with charters, surrendering governance of staff and curriculum, and TEA won’t replace the democratically elected board with appointed managers.
Let’s be clear about what this means…
The ultimatum: Under HB 1842, improve your test scores or TEA will replace your democratically elected board with appointed managers or close the school permanently. Don’t want to give up democracy? Under SB 1882, privatize your failing schools and TEA will leave your district’s democratically elected board alone.
The benefits of SB 1882 include two years off of accountability for the school district, still get ratings but it is not counted against the district, and the school gets extra money for the kids. These are short-term benefits that sound lovely for the price of long-term partnership/charter/privatization of a school.
To no surprise, HB 1842, made into law in 2015, is bipartisan bill sponsored by three Democrats and four Republicans. And SB 1882, made into law in 2017, is a bipartisan bill sponsored by three Democrats and four Republicans.
If the democratically elected board is replaced with appointed managers, this would be the first time TEA has taken over a district solely on the basis of test scores.
Parents, teachers, students, and community members in Houston Independent School District (HISD) are currently feeling the threatening ultimatum of HB 1842 and SB 1882 as they fight the closures of 10 public schools.
All 10 public schools are in black communities — one is in a Latinx community. This is not happening to public schools in white communities. Why? Because vital programs and resources have been systematically transferred to them leaving black students behind. They lack the resources to pass State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR)let alone be college ready. Learn more about it from community members and education activists, Travis McGee and Tahir Charles, here.
Of those 10, HISD board members are facing pressure to partner six schools or face their replacement with appointed managers. The other four schools may face a closure/restart instituted by HISD in order to take care of it before TEA not only closes the schools but also replaces HISD board officials with appointed managers.
The closure/restart of these six schools would displace students and staff, and it would re-open one grade level at a time. Students that will be displaced from this will be provided district transportation to non-IR schools. This is ignoring the district’s inability to maintain a bus schedule.
The staff? They would have to find jobs.
The end game of closure/restart would be to acquire a new County District Campus Number (CDCN) for the schools in IR5. What does a new CDCN mean for a school under HISD’s closure/restart? A new number means a clean slate on ratings for the next five years. However this is at the cost of the displacement of students and teachers.
Then to top it all off, HISD’s superintendent, Richard Carranza, has resigned and is now working in NYC school system. This is a huge blow for the future of HISD.
As students gear up for STAAR, little do they and most parents know that TEA does not decide the final passing score until after student scores are released. It is mandatory that TEA fails five percent of students taking the test putting them at a direct disadvantage [UPDATE: this is no longer in effect].
The bottom five percent are the schools in poor and black communities that don’t stand a chance against HB 1842 or SB 1882.
It’s almost like it’s systematic.
To join the fight, link up with HISD Parent Advocates.