HISD Magnets Get One More Week to Plead Their Case, Teachers to Get a New Set of Evaluation Rules

Categories: Education

Photo by Margaret Downing
Members of Terry Grier's administration explaining their new and better teacher evaluation plan to HISD trustees Monday
Members of the Houston ISD community upset about proposed changes in funding for magnet programs throughout the district will have one more week to marshal their persuasive skills and move trustees away from the changes proposed by Superintendent Terry Grier.

Board President Juliet Stipeche on Monday morning pulled the item from the agenda for Thursday night's board meeting. It will still be up for discussion - and it's anticipated there will be a lot of it from the public Thursday - but it won't be voted on until June 19.

Trustee Paula Harris hosted a community meeting on the issue for her district at the Hattie Mae White administration building right before the board met for agenda review in preparation for the meeting.

Under the proposed redistribution of wealth, schools like T.H. Rogers would lose thousands of dollars while other magnet schools, previously not so well funded, would gain thousands. Opponents to the change argue that their programs have accomplished a lot in terms of student achievement and recognition for the school district and want to know why what they consider a very successful formula is being jettisoned.

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If It's True, UT Austin Nursing Students Can't Show Too Much This Summer [Updated]

Categories: Education

Dress codes in nursing school, it's a matter of life and death.
Update 5p.m.: We did hear back from UT Austin officials who had to send out a statement on the matter. An update post follows.

After the feminist website Jezebel broke news of a sign hung up around the UT Austin's school of nursing sometime between Tuesday and Wednesday, university officials were quick to respond.

The sign. which called revealing summer attire (mostly women's clothing items) a "distraction" to the learning environment that must not be worn, was taken down by Wednesday afternoon, according to the school's Assistant Dean, Gayle Timmerman. "We're focusing on students portraying a professional image, regardless of where they're at," she told Hair Balls.

She said a part-time staffer created four signs that were meant as "friendly reminders" about the school's dress code. Yes, there is a dress code and it does say "Revealing clothing must not be worn," Timmerman told us. However, it's not a gender-specific guide. So the part about cleavage that's in the original signage that drew the attention, she said, isn't really in the actual student handbook.

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UT System Won't Raise In-State Tuition, So Now What?

Categories: Education

Photo by Phil Roeder from Flickr
The Eyes of Texas are Upon Students' Financial Statements.

Students in the University of Texas system can get their education and keep (some of) their money, too.

The UT System Board of Regents unanimously voted Tuesday not to raise in-state tuition at any of the system's nine institutions.

According to UT spokesperson Karen Adler, the proposed tuition hikes varied at each institution, but would've raised tuition for in-state undergraduates by 2 to 3 percent at each UT school.

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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.houstonclassmates.com
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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