Texas Ed: Comments on Education from Texas

January 16, 2007

Why we have ineffective teachers–petty school board politicking?

Filed under: Education reform, Teacher issues — texased @ 10:43 am

The latest report on the importance of “teacher effectiveness” by the Governor’s Business Council has really got me thinking. Not about reading the report, I can’t imagine that it states anything new under the sun. But rather about why we seem to hold teachers up as the barrier to education reform in Texas. Any district in Texas can get rid of any teacher (with the possible exception of a winning football coach) at any time by simply not renewing his or her contract. If you come across an ineffective teacher, it’s not the teachers’ unions fault (in Texas.)

I think it’s time we start looking elsewhere for explanations of poor education performance. Why do ineffective teachers remain in the classroom when it is so easy to get rid of them–not enough administrative positions to move them to? Okay, low blow but I couldn’t help it.

So this story from Houston is my first example of why Texas has ineffective teachers in the classroom.

Battle likely over Houston school board chief post | Chron.com – Houston Chronicle:

Next week’s selection of a new Houston school board president is threatening to produce an acrimonious showdown between the body’s current No. 2 officer and a high-energy neophyte.

Both Manuel Rodríguez, Jr., the board’s first vice president, and Natasha Kamrani, who was elected in late 2005, want to replace trustee Diana Dávila as president.

An unwritten rule of sorts dictates that the president hold the office for just one year. What’s not as clear is whether the board will follow its recent protocol of promoting the first vice president to the higher office.

Don’t you just love “unwritten rules?” Do you think anyone could say why this “unwritten rule” exists? Theoretically, you would think it somehow improves the functioning of the school board but who knows? Now, its purpose is certainly more along the lines of “that’s the way we’ve always done it.” And who would want to go against protocol?

Let’s listen to the voice of the status quo:

Battle likely over Houston school board chief post | Chron.com – Houston Chronicle:

Veteran board member Arthur M. Gaines Jr. said he thinks Rodríguez has earned the post.

“He’s been a good vice president. He relates well to everybody. He’s a leader in his community. He’s a successful businessman,” the 81-year-old said. “We have every reason in the world to make him president.”

How exactly has he earned his post? He’s been a good vice president. What did he do? What is it that the vice president does anyway?

He relates well to everybody. And he has used this skill how? Has he brought consensus to the board, been a key member in getting reform accepted by the community, teachers, or administration?

He’s a leader in his community and he’s a successful business man. So he knows how to get himself elected and he brings “business sense” to the running of the district. Kind of like the Governor’s Business Council members?

Then there is the question as to what has Arthur Gains contributed in his 16 years to the district. If anyone should be answerable as to why there are still ineffective teachers in H.I.S.D., it should be him.

The story gets better:

Battle likely over Houston school board chief post | Chron.com – Houston Chronicle:

Kamrani and Rodríguez have been at odds since she announced her candidacy.Rodríguez and Dávila campaigned for Kamrani’s opponents leading up to the November 2005 election. It was a contentious race in which some in Kamrani’s main challenger’s camp — though not Rodríguez and Dávila — publicly called on voters to elect one of their own in the predominantly Hispanic district. Kamrani was born in Ohio to an Iranian father and an Anglo mother.

If this is an example of Rodriguez’s leadership and relating to the community, no wonder Houston has problems.

Battle likely over Houston school board chief post | Chron.com – Houston Chronicle:

Rodríguez said he thinks he’s earned his turn during more than three years on the board. He said he’s championed teacher quality, technology improvements and middle school reform. He’s represented the district at a number of national conferences and on state and local boards.Serving as president would allow him to continue the initiatives already under way, Rodríguez said.

It sounds like this basically comes down to “I played by the rules and now it’s my turn” rational. Isn’t this what everyone accuses teachers doing with claims of tenure (in other states, not in Texas!)

I think it’s time to ask what exactly makes an effective board member? For all I know, Rodriguez may be the best person for the job but how would you know? All I can say is that acrimonious showdown” for school board doesn’t inspire confidence.



  1. I always assume ineffective teaching (as opposed to teachers) is a result of teaching to the test and NCLB.
    Ineffective school boards, and their members, are another story. They are elected. Which is always a popularity race. I have yet to see a truly qualified person to run and sit on the board in my town. My understanding is that school boards are a joke to every one but themselves.

    Comment by christy — January 16, 2007 @ 3:36 pm

  2. Well if real change starts at the top, I guess that would make the situation hopeless.

    Comment by texased — January 16, 2007 @ 7:59 pm

  3. Mark Twain quipped, “First God invented idiots. That was for practice. Then he invented school boards.” Rodriguez is an intellectual fly weight who eeked by in Junior College. Oh wow, I am so impressed. He owns a company that provides depending on where you read his bio and who he is trying to impress, tax services. One teeny problem, his corporation, MARVAA is in arrears according to the State Comptroller’s Office.
    Like the Budweiser commercial, he is a real man of genius. He is completely outclassed, dominated and intimidated by Larry Marshall who is openly contemptuous of this pandering sycophant.

    Comment by wesearch — September 7, 2007 @ 11:36 pm

  4. Nothing seems to be easier than seeing someone whom you can help but not helping.
    I suggest we start giving it a try. Give love to the ones that need it.
    God will appreciate it.

    Comment by Bourotuscoums — January 21, 2009 @ 7:32 pm

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