The Beaumont ISD debacle has all the trappings of a Keystone Cops spectacle, except the comedy. There is a lot of absurd scrambling in high places but nothing funny about the district’s financial trouble, its mismanagement, its history of criminal administrators and the effort to fire more than 200 teachers and other school employees, who have been chosen to take the fall.
The Beaumont Teachers Association and TSTA have one overriding goal for BISD, and that is the opportunity for every child in the district to attend a great school. And, you don’t create or keep great schools by firing more than 200 teachers and support staff.
The elected BISD school board refused last night to proceed with the firings, despite being egged on by a state-appointed conservator who claimed, according to the Beaumont Enterprise, “You have more teachers than you need.”
We aren’t hearing any Beaumont parents make that preposterous claim. Very few, if any, Texas school districts have too many teachers. If they did, more than 600 districts wouldn’t be suing the state over inadequate and inequitable school funding.
The conservator obviously was hoping the departing board would fire the teachers so the incoming board, which will be appointed by State Education Commissioner Michael Williams, wouldn’t have to deal with that unpopular option.
So, the fight over jobs and great schools in Beaumont has only begun. Commissioner Williams must appoint a new board that truly represents all the stakeholders in the BISD community, including teachers and parents. And, the BISD community must demand a representative board that will advocate for the best interests of students, root out local mismanagement and be a strong advocate before a state government that has largely neglected the public schools and allowed BISD to become a crisis.