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.
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:
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:
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.
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.