Orwell Award Announcement SusanOhanian.Org Home

NCLB Outrages

HISD unable to find spots for 56 out-of-work teachers

Teachers working at "low-performing" schools are dismissed. There are undoubtedly good and poor teachers in the group, just as there are at every school. But the quality of teachers at a "high-performing" school is never questioned because they are (mistakenly) credited with the high test scores of their students, just as the other teachers are blamed.

For a really depressing experience, read the public comments at the end of the article. Of course, such comments are ugly no matter what the topic is.

By Ericka Mellon

All Houston ISD teachers were supposed to report for work on Monday, but about five dozen of them had no place to go.

District officials have been unable to find new jobs for 56 teachers who used to work at Sam Houston High School and Ryan Middle School. The principals of the campuses were ordered to get rid of most of last year's teachers based on the schools' poor academic track records.

Under HISD's decentralized administration, school principals have the final say on whom they hire, and so far they have not nabbed all the former Sam Houston and Ryan teachers, said Houston Independent School District spokesman Terry Abbott.

Deciding whether to hire a teacher from a school notorious for subpar test scores can be tricky for principals, said Kate Walsh, who is president of the National Council on Teacher Quality, a research and advocacy nonprofit based in Washington, D.C.

"If I were a principal, and a teacher had been in a dysfunctional school for 10 or 15 years, given human nature, I would probably be more careful about an interview than if that teacher had only been there a couple of years," Walsh said.

"You can imagine that a good teacher would not be willing to tolerate complete dysfunction," she added. "On the other hand, you could have the true saints in the world who stick it out because they love the kids."

Ray Reiner, who represents principals in HISD, said he expects them not to treat applicants differently if they come from a school that has been reconstituted, or forced to change its staff.

"I would be very cautious in labeling people, because of a reconstitution, as unqualified teachers or teachers that aren't worth considering," said Reiner, the executive director of the Houston Association of School Administrators. "I would hope that everyone is fair and equitable in trying to fill their positions."

The Sam Houston and Ryan teachers who don't get permanent teaching jobs will remain on the payroll in substitute positions, Abbott said. It's unclear whether there are enough open positions in the district.

"We just don't know yet, as far as how many might be hired," Abbott said. "We don't place anyone. Schools are still hiring so there's a good chance many of them will get a spot."

If the district cannot find appropriate jobs for the teachers, Gayle Fallon, president of the Houston Federation of Teachers, said she is prepared to file a grievance against HISD ΓΆ€” demanding that the teachers be placed in jobs or perhaps be given the option of a buyout package.

Fallon said the district has not been aggressive enough in asking principals to hire teachers from the Sam Houston and Ryan pool. Not all principals attended the district's job fairs, she said.

"I don't think the district made at all a good-faith effort," she said.

— Ericka Mellon
Houston Chronicle


This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of education issues vital to a democracy. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information click here. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.