Save the Teachers
Dukes amends HB 3 so re-purposed schools can keep their strongest asset
By Richard Whittaker,
6:58PM, Wed. Apr. 29, 2009
So imagine you're trying to save a failing steelworks, and you hire all the best steelworkers you can, and they start edging towards a profit, but suddenly your investors say, "Hey, we like the idea of a profit, but you've got to sack 75% of all those really talented steelworkers you've hired."
Replace "steelworks" with "school", "steelworkers" with "teachers", and "profit" with "academically acceptable status" and you've got the Texas school accountability system. So Rep. Dawnna Dukes, D-Austin, got an amendment added to House Bill 3 that dumps the requirement that when a school is re-purposed, no matter what the current staff have achieved, 75% of the teachers must go, removing an incentive for good staff to stay. "They did not want to be the last man standing, God forbid, if that school closed," Dukes said. The new version gives principals leeway to keep their qualified staff.
So how does she feel about the bill? "This was a good day for us," she said. With both House and Senate having some variant of language making the reforms effective immediately, there's definitely some hope for Pearce Middle School, which risks closure this year. "This bill is definitely not a dark cloud," she added.