HOUSTON—Preliminary test results released Wednesday indicate that the Texas Education Agency will not replace the Houston Independent School District’s locally elected school board in the coming months or close the four campuses that were slated for closure based on low test scores. Houston Federation of Teachers President Zeph Capo and American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten issued the following statement:
HFT President Zeph Capo said:
“Here in Houston, our public schools faced a yearslong slow march toward privatization, with catastrophic effects for teachers and students, including a decline in test scores. When the tide began to change in 2014 and the Board of Education shifted its focus toward helping us build equitable community schools, the results were clear: Students achieved more when educators, administrators and parents could work together to help them succeed. Despite a broken school finance system and a wholly inadequate school accountability system, HISD today has the lowest number of ‘improvement required’ schools in years.
“Today’s results indicate that our policies are working, and that our teachers are making Houston’s schools a place where kids can learn and thrive, despite these challenges. We will continue to fight for equitable public education funding, appropriate teacher training and professional development, and wraparound services that make our schools sanctuaries of teaching and learning.”
AFT President Randi Weingarten said:
“We know that student and teacher success is measured by far more than test scores, but today, the scores represent a huge turning point for Houston’s teachers, parents and students. Despite the devastation of Hurricane Harvey, and a strategy of austerity and sanctions by state officials, HISD schools and their elected school board have adopted education strategies embraced by teachers, parents and students. That has enabled them to make progress. But make no mistake, the investment needs are real: Texas would need to hire 11,000 more teachers to have the per-pupil staffing it had a decade ago.
“So there’s still plenty of work to be done, but it starts with giving Houston’s teachers—the professionals who know their neighborhoods, their students and their classrooms best—the latitude to do their job.”