Early voting is underway NOW for the November 6 elections, so we’re taking a look at some of the reasons why it’s so important that educators vote TODAY! In this post, we’re taking a closer look at the “A through F” accountability system.
When lawmakers were debating the idea of moving Texas schools from an accountability system in which schools either “met standard” or were designated “improvement required” to one that would great districts and campuses on an A through F scale, ATPE warned that they may not get the outcomes they were hoping for.
Now that the first round of A through F grades have come out for school districts, it’s hard not to say “we told you so.”
Consider this lede from the Beaumont Enterprise‘s editorial board:
“It could be time for a re-test. A recent review of Texas public schools by Hearst Newspapers revealed serious discrepancies between the rankings given to state schools and the actual performance of their students in college.”
What Hearst found is that a majority of students from A-rated and B-rated districts were likely to need remedial classes once they got to the college level. The article summarized:
“The study suggests that public school districts are placing too much emphasis on things like improving their scores on the STAAR test (the state’s standardized exam) and high school graduation rates. Under the state’s A through F ratings system, schools that do well on those criteria will get higher rankings.
Those categories are important, but the bottom line should always be the same: How much are the students actually learning? Do they truly have the skills needed for their next stage in life, or are school districts simply passing them along the assembly line to get regulators and parents off their backs?”
It’s exactly the argument teachers have been making for years. Furthermore, teachers warned that giving F labels to struggling schools — mostly those with high levels of economically disadvantaged children — would unfairly stigmatize the students themselves as “failures.” Sure enough, the Texas Tribune noted that districts with high numbers of poor kids received the brunt of F labels in the accountability system’s first year.
It all plays into the narrative pushed by those who want to defund and privatize our schools: That our neighborhood schools are failures, and the money should be handed over to private contractors who promise to educate our kids on the cheap.
The truth is Texas schools are doing well. In most Texas towns, the local high school is the heart of the community. Yet there is certainly room for improvement. Our schools are becoming overcrowded at the same time lawmakers are underfunding them.
The bottom line: There are better ways to hold schools accountable. Educators must be a part of crafting that process, but they will only be invited to the table if Texans send pro-public education legislators to Austin.
Go to the CANDIDATES section of our Teach the Vote website to find out where officeholders and candidates in your area stand on this and other public education issues.
Remind your colleagues also about the importance of voting and making informed choices at the polls. While it is illegal to use school district resources (like your work e-mail) to communicate information that supports or opposes specific candidates or ballot measures, there is NO prohibition on sharing nonpartisan resources and general “get out of the vote” reminders about the election.
Early voting in the 2018 general election runs Monday, October 22, through Friday, November 2. Election Day is November 6, but there’s no reason to wait. Get out there and use your educator voice by casting your vote TODAY!