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The Texas legislature is starting a new session and once again Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (former rightwing talk show host) will lead a fight for vouchers.
Once again, legislators from rural and urban districts–Republicans and Democrats–will combine to defend their community’s public schools. This year, the state launched the failed policy of giving every school a single letter grade, and now educators realize that these measures are invalid and are setting them up for privatization.
Imagine if your child came home from school with a report card and it contained only a single letter grade. As a parent, you would be furious. No child is only one dimension; no child can be reduced to an or B or C or D or F. How much more absurd it is to attach a single letter grade to a complex institution like a school, staffed by many people, and subject to decisions made by the superintendent, the state education department, and the legislature.
Educators in North Texas see that the letter grades stigmatize their schools, damage their communities, and are intended to create demand for vouchers. There is zero validity, zero research, zero evidence for letter grades for schools.
“With the new legislative session starting Tuesday, educators from 60 North Texas districts united Monday to fight school vouchers and a new statewide grading system they say serves only to vilify public schools.
Frustration among school leaders has been mounting since provisional A-F grades were released Friday.
On Monday, area superintendents and trustees gathered in Garland to tell lawmakers that the grading system is flawed and that they are worried it is just a gimmick to get support for school vouchers or similar options.
“Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has said school choice, which could include voucher-like tax credits or similar options, is among his top priorities for this session so families have the ability to leave failing schools.
But the area’s school leaders said such efforts would only siphon money from public schools and hurt children most in need because they don’t have the transportation and other means to take advantage of such options. Only affluent families, many of whom aren’t in public schools now, would benefit, they said.
“This is subsidies for the rich. … A equals affluent. F equals free and reduced,” Terrell ISD Superintendent Micheal French said, referring to the likelihood of poor students remaining in struggling schools that would be labeled failures.
“The provisional grades released last week were a first look at the state’s new school accountability system that takes effect in 2018. Lawmakers required the Texas Education Agency to release a sneak peek of how schools would have scored, just before they returned to Austin for the legislative session.
“That timing only reinforced educators’ fears that the new A-F system is politically motivated.
“Monday’s group represented 60 of the 80 districts in the TEA’s Region X, which includes Collin, Dallas, Ellis, Kaufman and Rockwall among its 10 counties. Combined, the districts represent 15.5 percent of Texas’ public school students.”
Pastors for Texas Children–an extraordinary group of religious leaders from across the state–is in the thick of the fight on behalf of public schools, fighting vouchers.