Tuesday, October 13, 2009

GOVERNANCE, TRUSTEE, BISD - IT IS TIME TO END THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES- BUT FIRST A WORD ON MAYOR AHUMADA’S TRIAL

Justice is not a game to be used as a political weapon or to settle scores. It was an outrageous decision on the part of the Herald to reprint the findings of the Brownsville police on the day the trial begins with evidence. The intent was clear - to influence the jury. The jury needs to limit any decision it makes to the admissible evidence and nothing more. If the jury decides to consider evidence outside that which the court deems admissible justice will not be served. A mistrial serves no one.

During the course of the trial I will not accept comments related to the trial or evidence. It is important the jury limits its decision to admissible evidence.

BISD - IT IS TIME TO END THAT WHICH DOES NOT WORK

In theory a school board exists to protect the local interests of the community. Every community may have different standards concerning what it wants its children to learn. Further the local community has an interest in deciding how the money is spent, so long as they are being taxed to run the schools.

This so called theoretical basis for a school board is no longer reality. It is based in a different world than we have today. Today because of a Texas Supreme Court decision the primary responsibility for a public education remains with the state. The TEA effectively by its mere existence has removed local control over what is and what is not taught. The TEA sets out what is to be taught.

While there is still some local control over which text books are used, the State Board of Education decides on a list of acceptable textbooks, with their mistakes and all. While it is true a local school board can opt out of the State sanctioned textbooks, such a decision is costly and not a meaningful option for most school districts.

Policy as to what is taught, the textbooks, and the rights of the students is all decided outside the local school board. All the local school board does is oversee spending of taxpayer’s money, which should never be political but it is, and the contract of the superintendent. Yes, they do a bit more, but this has become their primary function.

Education - a meaningful education - is not even on the agenda of a school board like BISD’s. Teachers are under pressure to make sure the students pass TAKS. TAKS in my view has become a total failure and actually hurts our children. The problem is, without some measure of student learning schools will simply pass on the children who are struggling.

BISD will never move forward so long as it is governed by a school board. Further, so long as superintendents are hired and fired by school boards, politics will play an overwhelming role in the decision making.

While I can understand BISD’s decision to ask the AG to issue a ruling on the Rodriguez report, once they lost that battle they should have released the report. By failing to release the report they only created more doubt in the trustworthiness of the Board Members. When you couple this with the firing of Hector Gonzales under the guise of the misdeeds in Special Services, the Board’s actions only served to hang itself.

None of this is governance as envisioned by the term. I would like to call the board a clan of snollygosters, but in this case the term does not fit. While they are unethical, they certainly have not been very clever in their approach to corrupt, incompetent, and unethical government.

An example would be the Board’s decision to hire Eileen Leeds to prepare the death warrant for Art Rendon’s career in Special Services, while refusing to take action against Kathleen Jimenez. In the end evidence Art Rendon failed at the job is all it will take for BISD to prevail. But there is some case law which will allow a competent attorney in the area of civil RICO claims to use the evidence Kathleen Jimenez’s incompetence as evidence the true motivation of the Board was to use Art Rendon as a scapegoat to get rid of Hector Gonzales who was no longer playing the game of dirty politics. Hector Gonzales would do well for himself to seek competent counsel on this issue.

So if the theoretical purpose behind a school board is no longer a reality what is our alternative? I think a reconfigured PTA can act as a meaningful voice for the community to the TEA. I believe that putting schools under the control of professional managers hired by the regional offices of the TEA would help our schools a lot. Large school districts all over the country have abandoned the hiring of state certified superintendents in favor of highly qualified managers or former company CEOs.

Finally, spending can be handled by the regional offices of the TEA. The local PTA’s should have a place at the table concerning spending. In the end the success or failure of any school will depend on the teachers and parents. Under today’s system of school governance neither the parents nor the teachers have any meaningful voice in the process. It is time to rethink governance of our schools.

Tomorrow, something very special from the Bedlam which is the Brownsville City Attorney’s Office. Who is in charge? No one knows

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Very insightful! You are absolutely correct, the current governance structure is ineffective and hurtful to children. I wish your voice could be heard in Austin. If people really believe that children are our future and that education is a key to student success then everyone will demand a change in how schools are governed. Scary thing though, no one in Austin is even talking about a change. Maybe "they" believe an ineffective governance model will keep the poor Mexican kids uneducated. What a shame.

Anonymous said...

It is a good thing that TEA has lots of protection for school employees or no one would be able to do their job. People who have not been in the system like you would have everyone fired that doesn't believe that things should be done their way. School boards only have the power to approve or not those items presented by the administration. They can not make motions to change what is presented to them. Any changes must come from the admisitration. The only person they can fire is the superintendent. The only other power they have is to approve the budget.

Anonymous said...

TEA is not for the children. They are for the big shot bearucrats that keep big checks in their pockets.
TAKS is a test created to make certain people VERY rich at the expense of students and teachers.
Teachers are being held hostage to teach the test and all fun and creativity has gone out the window.

I feel soooo sorry for teachers because they have to enter the classroom in handcuffs,shackles,walking on thin ice. STUDENTS AND TEACHERS EXIST IN A PRESSURE COOKER CALLED TAKS.
HEAVEN HELP THE EDUCATOR WHO VERBALIZES THIS BECAUSE IT IS TABOO TO EVEN QUESTION TAKS.

THIS IS WHY PARENTS SHOULD DEMAND THAT THIS TEST BE ELIMINATED!!!!!!

BobbyWC said...

TAKs is actually being phased out. I am not sure when but very soon we will start with end of year tests

Bobby WC

The Merovingian said...

I think a reconfigured PTA can act as a meaningful voice for the community to the TEA.

In many areas the PTA is in effect who the school board answers to. The PTA being the audience in school board meetings, with liberal discussion and comment rules and requiring almost an "Act of God" before an executive session were even allowed, would go a long way toward openness and accountability.

I believe that putting schools under the control of professional managers hired by the regional offices of the TEA would help our schools a lot.

I can't agree with you here. The loons from NEA would be running the asylum. We would be overloaded with "educators" using Sharon Wells to "teach math" (which should be a criminal offense)

Large school districts all over the country have abandoned the hiring of state certified superintendents in favor of highly qualified managers or former company CEOs.

This is something I can agree with, but the logic of this way of thinking contradicts more the direct control from Region 1 and the TEA as mentioned above. TEA mandates certified superintendents. This would not change.

Finally, spending can be handled by the regional offices of the TEA. The local PTA’s should have a place at the table concerning spending. In the end the success or failure of any school will depend on the teachers and parents. Under today’s system of school governance neither the parents nor the teachers have any meaningful voice in the process. It is time to rethink governance of our schools.

A resounding "no" to the first sentence, for reasons previously stated, as to the rest, I absolutely agree.

M.