Report Puts Houston Among Big Cities Closing Schools Serving Communities of Color

Categories: Education

Houston lost more than 30 public schools.
A coalition of grassroots community groups has included the Houston Independent School District in its report this month about school closings that disproportionately affect communities of color.

While Houston isn't among the cities with triple-digit closings like Detroit, New York and Chicago, it did make a list of districts that have shut more than 25 schools. Places that include Columbus (Ohio), Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Philadelphia, Washington. D.C., Kansas City, Milwaukee, and Baltimore.

Read: HISD Officially Unveils Its Proposed 2014-15 Budget, Which Changes the Magnet School Funding Equation

We left a message for an HISD spokesperson, but we haven't heard back from the district yet.

The report, titled "Death by a Thousand Cuts: Racism, School Closures, and Public School Sabotage," comes on the heels of recent events in Houston, which included the repurposing of Jones High School and an injunction filed against the district by the NAACP (a move later denied by the court).

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HISD Officially Unveils Its Proposed 2014-15 Budget, Which Changes the Magnet School Funding Equation

Categories: Education

Courtesy HISD press office
Here's the proposal, one that's already sparked public protest
At the last school board meeting on May 8, there was a long line of people protesting propsed changes in magnet and vanguard school program funding.

Basically, in testimonial after testimonial from students, parents and teachers, the message was: Why are you trying to destroy programs that have been working so well at some schools?

"I see nothing equitable in funding zero dollars for Vanguard students," said speaker Susan Dietrich. She called for a more equitable funding allocation instead of "giving a few programs ten times, 20 times, even a thousand times more than other programs.

Canegie Vanguard student Raquel Douglas said the budget cuts at her school would "incapacitate" it.

But as Superintendent Terry Grier sees it, and it's been how he's seen it since arriving here in 2009, the present magnet school funding method is inequitable and while dandy for some lucky kids, has meant others aren't getting a fair amount. He wants to spread the wealth, which means more for some and less for others.

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North Forest ISD Memorabila Ready for Auction

Categories: Education

Photos by Margaret Downing
Just resting up for the big event

Check out our slideshow of the NFISD memorabilia up for auction.

Critics might think this was a way to wring the last ounce of sweat out of the late North Forest ISD, but based upon the pricing, they would be wrong.

"It's not for profit; it's for peace of mind," says Veronica Ruiz, Houston ISD manager in the Furniture Service department, who explained HISD, which took in the former NFISD last year, wants to give people a chance to acquire a piece of history from schools no longer in operation.

So starting Monday, May 12, and continuing through Sunday, May 25, anyone who's interested will have a chance to take part in an online auction of material retrieved from former NFISD schools whose campuses were closed after HISD took over the troubled district.

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HFT Survey Says Houston ISD Teachers Will Bolt if Pay Is Based on Teacher Evaluations

Categories: Education

Gaphic courtesy Houston Federation of Teachers
We're outta here!
Continuing their criticism of the evaluation system used to determine teacher bonuses in the Houston ISD, the Houston branch of the American Federation of Teachers Thursday released survey results that clearly show a high level of front-line educator disgruntlement in the district.

On May 1, the HFT and seven HISD teachers filed a lawsuit against the district saying its appraisal system that ties teacher evaluations to student test score improvement is unfair.

Of the teachers who responded to the survey, 76 percent (the orange/red portion of the pie) said they would resign and look for work elsewhere. Another 15 percent (the yellow) would retire. Only 9 percent (green) said they would stay.

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Five More Houston ISD Teachers About to Be Canned for Alleged Test Cheating

Categories: Education

Who's getting it next?
Five more Houston ISD teachers are on the brink of being booted out after an investigation indicates they manipulated test scores in the spring 2013 State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness statewide exams, it was announced late Wednesday by HISD.

The teachers are all at Jefferson Elementary and no specifics were given out other than the fact that 11 other teachers are also under investigation. On Thursday night, trustees will vote on whether to fire the five at the district's monthly board meeting.

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Jones High School Repurposing Sparks Legal Fight With NAACP

Categories: Education

Screengrab via
Jones High is at the center of a legal fight.
Do you remember how things got really ugly at an HISD meeting in March?

Well, the Houston branch of the NAACP is taking up the fight started at that meeting, after it was announced that Jones High School was being turned into a vocational academy.

According to KTRK, James Douglas, a lawyer and vice president with the organization, and Taft Foley, a local attorney who is connected with the NAACP, filed a suit in civil court today that said the district broke state open-meetings rules.

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Are These the 10 Worst Houston High Schools? (UPDATED)

Categories: Education

Photo by Alberto G.
The school rankings relied heavily on STAAR test results.

Updated 5/5: Late last week the Houston Chronicle reported that the Children at Risk findings used flawed statistical analysis.
"The mistake involved a 'growth index' as part of each school's ranking. The measure of how much individual students improved on state exams in reading and math from 2012 to 2013 was based on an inaccurate formula. Some results may have been off by decimal places while others had a bigger variation.


This week the nonprofit group Children at Risk released their annual school rankings, which look at the Texas Education Agency to rank 7,000 schools. By their own admission, Children at Risk's analysis has its flaws.

"The limitations posed by TEA data are valid criticisms for the school ranking system. Any erroneous data reported to or by TEA may have an effect on the rankings," the group said in a statement accompanying the rankings.

So what does that mean? Take it all with a grain of salt. Here are the 10 worst schools that all received an F letter grade, according to Children at Risk.

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HISD May Leave City's Public TV Station Amid Fears That Nobody's Watching

Categories: Education

HISD TV archives
A view from the 1990s when HISD TV was funded to the max and people watched TV, not streaming videos.
What if you put on a show, with heart and soul, with pizzazz, with stretching your declining resources as far as they could go - and nobody showed up to watch it?

That's the situation the Houston ISD administration has reluctantly concluded it is in as regards the television channel it has been operating on one of the City of Houston's public access channels since 1986. As a result, the district will probably give notice this summer that it will not renew its contract in another year and a half.

"We know that the current staffing doesn't allow us to do the kind of content for production that would be needed to make it a viable channel and we're not even sure it's the way people watch today," said Tiffany Davila-Dunne, HISD's chief communications officer. "Viewership habits are changing."

Representatives of the city and HISD have met in recent days but were unable to come up with any additional funding sources that make it feasible for the district to continue its TV channel, according to Davila-Dunne.

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Katy Teacher Faces Charges After Sunday Night Incident With Student, Say Police

Categories: Crime, Education

Photo from ABC
There's no Sunday school in Katy ISD that we know of.
If reports are true, teachers today are scoring huge points in making bad decisions. Just days apart, reports are surfacing about teachers allegedly behaving badly with students. Maybe since it's the end of the year, these educators are losing their last bit of sanity just before summer break.

Last week, news came out that a Spring woman allegedly gave an Aldine middle school student a full-contact lap dance for his birthday.

Today, Katy school district parents were sent an email about a middle school teacher charged with a felony after the teacher allegedly had an inappropriate relationship with a student.

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Are Oil and Gas Just False Hope for Texas's Economic Glory?

Photo by Nicolas Henderson
If we dry up, then what do we have?
Texas' image has suffered a great deal over the past 20 years and for those who keep up with current events, it's not exactly breaking news.

From columnists to forum commenters, Texas is continually referred to as the "stupid state". If you Google "Texas as the stupid state", you receive 95 million results. It's downright embarrassing, because there are many brilliant academicians, writers, speakers, and public intellectuals who call Texas home.

But, our Conservative politicians?

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