Fight For the Future Campaign 2013

Each week, we will feature an issue for STS members to write and call their legislators about.

Take 10 minutes to write your legislators, using the text below. You can also call them (which is very effective). Even if your legislators are strong public school supporters, they need to hear from you!

Click here for the names of your legislators and contact information.

April 29

Subject: We oppose State Takeover of Public Schools (SB 1718)

SB 1718 (West) proposes that a “Texas Achievement District” be created to take over struggling campuses. I am writing in opposition to this idea.

Currently, Texas has a reasonable, and usually effective, plan for improving struggling campuses. Contrary to what some groups are saying, strong action is mandated as soon as a campus misses academic standards for one year. If a campus misses standards for two years, the campus is reconstituted with anew principal, significant staff changes and a new academic plan. In most cases, schools move from an unacceptable to an acceptable rating within 1-3 years. If a campus is not able to do this by the 5th year, the state begins a process to close the campus or turn the campus over to alternative management.

SB1718 would greatly shorten this timeline. Groups like Texans for Education Reform are encouraging state takeover after two years of low performance. Senator West has proposed a three year timeline. This shortened timeline, with the threat of school closure, mass teacher firings, and a loss of local control of the school, would cause chaos on hundreds of campuses and would be counter-productive to school improvement, which should be the goal.

There is no magic bullet. The Louisiana experiment with state takeover and giving schools to charter entities has been a disaster. The department handling the program has been reconstituted itself three times over ten years. The Louisiana Recovery District is ranked 70th out of 70 district in the state. In our own state, there is little to no evidence that charters can take over a school and bring significant improvement.

Local schools should remain under the control of those people who paid for and are most connected to them. What we need are better school improvement strategies that help struggling students and communities, not disruptive take overs that are based on no evidence of success.

Please vote against Senate Bill 1718.

Sincerely,

Name

Address and contact information

 

Subject: Restore $5.4 Billion in School Funding Cuts Now!

On Saturday, Feb. 23, over 10,000 Texans gathered to say a strong NO! to continued underfunding and over-testing our our children. Texas can do better.

Recently, Judge John Dietz declared the current Texas school funding system unconstitutional. After months of testimony, the court found that we neither put enough funding into our schools, nor do we do it fairly across all districts.

In effect, the $5.4 billion cut from our schools in 2011 violates the state constitution, and it is your duty to put funding back into schools today! Start with the programs like pre-K, dropout prevention and the Student Success Initiative that showed strong results.

Texas kids can’t stand outside the courtroom door, waiting on an appeal judgement for an education.

Also, our governor is talking about funding infrastructure like water and roads from the “Rainy Day Fund.” Education is the economic infrastructure of our future. If the “Rainy Day Fund” can be used for the highways of today, it can be used to pave our children’s pathway to tomorrow.

We also reject other drains on funding for public schools, including “tax credit” and “voucher” plans. With funding levels 25% below what they were 10 years ago, this is not the time to propose a transfer, no matter how big or small, from public to unaccountable private schools.

Sincerely,

Name

Address and contact information