By Ben Velderman
HOUSTON – The longstanding American principle of locally controlled schools is being stretched to new lengths in one Texas school district located in a Houston suburb.
On Monday, the North Forest Independent School District board unanimously voted to ignore a state order to fire all its teachers in preparation for annexation by the Houston Independent School District for the 2013-14 school year, reports the Houston Chronicle.
The board members said they refused to fire their teachers en masse because the state’s order was “awful” and “immoral.”
“Community members at the packed meeting seemed to agree, calling out, ‘Don’t do it. Stand up to them,’” the Houston Chronicle reports.
If parents and board members are truly concerned about “immoral” and “awful” behavior, they should consider how the school district and its current staff haves failed so many students – most of them African-American and Hispanic – over the years.
According to The Texas Tribune, “fewer than a quarter” of North Forest students have the math and English skills to survive in college.
Considering that North Forest students’ average SAT score is 233 points lower than their Texas peers, college might not even be an option for many of them.
Instead of worrying about what will happen to North Forest teachers, taxpayers should be concerned about the dismal economic future that awaits so many of their students.
North Forest graduates are entering an increasingly global job market, armed with a third-rate education. That’s the real scandal happening in the North Forest district – not the fact that a (mostly) incompetent teaching staff will be out of work in June.
It’s expected that North Forest educators will be allowed to apply for positions with the Houston district.
Debbie Ratcliffe, a spokeswoman for the state education department, isn’t sure which step state officials will take next, but expects the North Forest teachers will be fired soon – primarily so the Houston school district isn’t forced to pay millions of dollars honoring the teacher’s contracts.
“It’s a really difficult situation for everybody,” Ratcliffe told the Chronicle. “I have a feeling it’s going to get worked out. But how quickly that happens, I don’t know.”