Bonham ISD Joins Group of North Texas Districts Petitioning Legislature
Hundreds of school boards are joining ranks to oppose a state plan to rank every school against each other regardless of resources.
This week, Bonham ISD added its name to the list of https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JjD8tZf4bgA" style="font-family: Helvetica; font-size: 11px; -webkit-text-stroke-color: rgb(0, 0, 0); -webkit-text-stroke-width: initial;">a group of several dozen north Texas districts uniting to promote a legislative agenda that would repeal that plan.
They are also seeking changes to school finance distribution and to block any moves toward establishing a voucher system.
"It is unprecedented for school districts to unite on three common legislative goals," said Bonham superintendent Marvin Beaty, in a statement.
The state's A-F ranking system was released in a preview version late last year. It will become official at the start of the academic year in 2018, if efforts opposing it fail.
Bonham's announcement came days after Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick urged education officials to back off efforts to change or scrap the rankings plan this legislative session.
Patrick told the Texas Tribune the rankings would stay, like it or not.
"Our A-through-F system is not going away. So, I can save the education community money for paying their lobbyists," he said.
“The parents get it … If we can grade our students, and their futures are impacted by that, our schools should be under those same grades.”
Public school officials say the system is not similar to how students are graded.
Bonham ISD assistant superintendent Faith Ann Cheek, who is training employees on the new system, says parents are going to be more confused than ever.
“The state used the defense, or the reasoning, to go to a letter grading system because parents would understand it,” Cheek said.
“But in a grading system, an A is usually a 90 or above, B is 80 and above, C is 70 and above. And that is not the case with these letter grades. They do not equate to the same kind of system that parents understand.”
The school boards are also hoping to oppose any legislative moves toward a voucher system, which has strong backing from Patrick.
Greenville ISD superintendent Don Jeffries says the rankings are a first step.
“If you discredit the people delivering the service now, then that lays the way to present another service format — i.e., vouchers,” Jeffries said.
“So, yeah, it absolutely is part of the political agenda and it has been for a while. And that’s not any real big secret either.”
He and principal Heath Jarvis said an F that Greenville High School received in one category was due to a now-corrected clerical error.
But Jarvis conceded that even with the correct data, the high school’s preliminary post-secondary readiness score would likely have been a D.
“What we’re going to concentrate on is what our official rating is, which is that we met standards,” Jarvis said during a visit to KETR.
He also said he was optimistic that the State Education Agency would tweak the system by August 2018 so that rural schools were being judged on a level playing field.
Patrick has promised to listen to concerns about the plan from the public education community.
But education leaders across Northeast Texas say little is likely to change without an overhaul on how the state funds its schools.
At Paris ISD headquarters last week, superintendent Paul Jones said the state should focus on funding first.
“We need to work on improvement, not blame,” Jones said. “We have 5.3 million kids that we’re accountable for to educate in this state. But we’re still at the 44th (state) funding level.
Jones added: "If we want to blame, look at every national survey that ranks Texas an F on how the state helps in education. … We’re not getting As.”