By Ashleigh Costello
HOUSTON – Several hundred Houston Independent School District teachers have quit their jobs this year as administrators have increased performance expectations.
The teachers union calls the resignations a tragedy. Others see it as a natural way for the district to shed many of its weakest instructors.
More than 300 teachers have resigned so far this year, according to KHOU 11. That’s a 28 percent increase from last year.
Houston Federation of Teachers President Gayle Fallon said she has never seen anything like this in her 30 years’ experience.
“It’s a very serious indicator of a morale problem among the teachers. Which tied in to what we found earlier this month which is a significant number of teachers feel they’re being bullied on their campuses,” said Fallon.
School officials told KHOU 11 they are not surprised by the numbers. They said the increase in resignations is the result of higher expectations for teachers, which Fallon unsurprisingly describes as “bullying.”
“We are holding teachers accountable,” said HISD spokesman Jason Spencer. “We knew we had to ratchet things up.”
HISD recently launched a new teacher evaluation system based largely on student test scores. Teachers who perform poorly can be fired based on their ratings.
“Principals and assistant principals are having tough conversations with teachers who are not making the progress parents expect them to make, and those conversations are not comfortable,” said Spencer.
Spencer said the most recent data shows a 92 percent retention rate among the district’s highly effective teachers. Comparatively, 55 percent of teachers whose students had the least academic progress did not return for another year, and some are obviously leaving in the middle of the current academic year.
This should come as good news to parents.
Every student deserves to have an effective teacher in the classroom. Teachers who are unable to meet certain standards should step aside to make room for those who can.
School officials have said the number of educators leaving the classroom represents less than one percent of all of all teachers in the district.