Thursday, June 05, 2008

State Closes Sam Houston High School (HISD)

Citing the poor academic record of Sam Houston High School, which has received an AEIS rating of “Unacceptable” for the sixth straight year, the Texas Education Agency has ordered this North Houston school’s doors closed and 75% of its teachers were told that they would not have jobs there next year.

The school will be reopened in August, possibly with a new name, definitely with some new teachers, and, it is said, with “new programs.”

Now looking at the school’s AEIS report on the TEA website I concede the point that the school has had some academic hard knocks. Scoring below the Texas average in all areas, with a dismal 36% of students passing all TAKS tests, yes I can see their point. And a 12% dropout rate, yes I can see their point (it’s probably much higher than that – they usually are no matter what school we are talking about).

Obviously things are broken at Houston’s Sam Houston High School. This is a real shame. This is one of Texas’ oldest continuous secondary schools having been organized in 1878 and having had several name changes and locations since then. The last time the name changed, from Central High School to Sam Houston, was 1955, so I guess it is time for a new name.

But here are the questions I have. Are we going to see a 75% turnover in teachers because they were a) failures at teaching these students enough to pass the TAKS test, or b) not the kind of teachers they will need next year when they reopen the school with “new programs.” Or maybe some combination of the two?

This is getting back to a very sore subject with me. The rating of the worth of teachers, or their skills as teachers, based on their students’ test scores. Based on the culture and economic composition of the community.

It’s like rating the performance of a dentist based on the oral health of their patients. That sounds reasonable but what if you rate dentists from rural areas whose patients do not have dental insurance and make appointments only when there’s something wrong, versus rating dentists in an urban area whose insured clientele comes in twice a year for a cleaning and examination?

Clearly there is more to this than poorly performing teachers.

Now from what I can glean, which is precious little, these "new programs" should by all rights more properly address the needs of the community. It’s obvious that there is very little community buy-in to the state’s academic curriculum by community members. Community members who are parents of failing students.

I think that is reasonable.

However, if HISD emplaces “new programs” and this no more serves the community than the state academic curriculum, I have to ask when are we finally going to realize that we have in this state students who don’t want to learn, who have parents who are unconcerned with their children’s academic failures?

Bottom line: A child’s failure to learn is not necessarily the effect of their teacher’s failure to teach. It can and does, in many cases, reflect back on the students or their parents.

I wonder what will happen at that point. What will the state finally do if it discovers that there are no “new programs” that will cater to that special community that doesn’t value education of any kind?

My best guess is absolutely nothing. It’s better (and I might add, cheaper) just to stick your head in the sand and ignore the problem. Or if not nothing, then school vouchers will rear its ugly head once again. Give school vouchers to these families so they can find better schools for their children to attend, because the problem lies with the schools, not the students, parents or community. And therein lies the rub. Give vouchers, and only those who are concerned about their education will take the time and trouble to find better schools. For the rest it will be business as usual.

Only now, instead of having 36% pass all TAKS tests, none of them will. Because those students in that 36% category will all be attending other schools.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

we passed.