Stripping teachers of work protections is not reform


Support Our Public Schools, the misnamed group that wants to hijack Dallas ISD, is opening up a bit more about what it may have in mind for Texas’ second largest school district and the teachers who work there.  And, some of those ideas aren’t really about improving schools. They are about bashing teachers and diminishing the local control Dallas voters have over their neighborhood schools.

According to a Dallas Morning News blog, the groups wants to achieve more “flexibility” with labor by removing all contractual guarantees and due process rights for school employees. This supposedly would be to put the “highest performing teachers” in classrooms more quickly, but, in truth, it would allow whoever was given control of the district to more easily replace the best, most experienced teachers with lower-paid newcomers.

Instead of benefitting students, which the group purports to want to do, this step would weaken the students’ learning environment.

The group also is tossing around the idea of requiring more qualifications for candidates who want to run for the school board and maybe including some appointed seats on the board to ensure the board has enough “specific expertise” to run such a large district.

That idea may have some appeal, but it would weaken the authority of local voters over their school board and replace it with the judgment of alleged education “reformers” who may be more interested in costly privatization experiments than in the best interests of students, educators and taxpayers. Remember, one of the major backers of this group is John Arnold, a wealthy, former Enron trader who wants to replace hard-earned, defined-benefit pensions for teachers and other public employees with risky 401(k)s.

Elections obviously are an imperfect process – just look at the some of the people who get elected – but elections provide taxpayers accountability that would be lost in a radical district takeover backed by individuals with a hidden agenda.

And, if we are going to require school board candidates to be better qualified, why not candidates for the Legislature? The biggest problem facing Texas school districts today is an underfunded and unfair school finance system that the legislative majority refuses to change and the Republican candidate for governor continues to defend. The only requirements they had to meet to run for office were age and residency. They don’t have to know anything about education, and education is state government’s greatest responsibility.




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