Down to the wire . . .
As the legislature ticks towards the finish, two key education bills are still in play: SB 2 (charter school reform) and HB 5 (testing). Both could be vehicles to carry bills that have already died in process, including SB 1718, the Texas Achievement District bill that would allow the state to takeover struggling schools after 2-3 years (depending on how the bill is written) of not making state standards. In most cases, these schools would likely be given to charters to manage. Current law implements school improvement interventions that turns the vast majority of schools around in 1-3 years. While the bill as currently written would be limited to 10 takeovers over the next two years, we could potentially see hundreds of schools taken away from local control.
For up to the minute information, go to the Save Texas Schools Facebook page.
In the meantime, you can contact the following House and Senate members of the conference committees that will be finalizing SB 2 and HB 2 to say NO to adding SB 1718 to those bills.
Here is some suggested language:
I am writing in opposition to the creation of the Texas Achievement District under SB 1718. It is my understanding that the legislation may be combined with other bills, including SB2 or HB 5.
I want to see great schools for ALL kids, and believe that the current system of strong interventions for struggling schools works for the vast majority of schools.
I am against SB 1718 for these reasons:
1. It can potentially force conversion of local schools into charters with no input from local school boards or communities.
2. The state is not equipped to take over local schools.
3. Conversion to charters, where the schools have to take all children from a community, have a poor record nationwide.
4. Our current system works for most schools. with schools turning around after 1-3 years. If a school still struggles after 5-6 years of interventions, we allow the state to take action through closure or alternative management.
5. Our testing system is currently under repair. Let’s fix that system first before we use it to close schools.
6. Most kids are not trapped in “failing” schools. Under NCLB, any school that has missed AYP requirements for two consecutive years MUST provide transfers and transportation to nearby schools that are meeting standards. Kids do have choices already.
The concepts in SB 1718 have been tried in Louisiana and have failed miserably. Their “Recovery School District” has been reorganized three times in 10 years, and is ranked the lowest-performing school district in the state.
Please keep SB 1718 out of other important legislation that needs to be passed in the closing days of the session.
Here is the contact information for conference committee members:
SB 2 (Charters)