House Bill 2 Draws Criticism from Local Educators - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

3/16/05

House Bill 2 Draws Criticism from Local Educators

Governor Perry calls education an emergency issue this legislative session. Lawmakers must find a way to restructure education in Texas and even harder... to pay for it. House legislators passed their plan two days ago. Now, local educators are concerned a provision of the bill would allow private companies to run public schools if certain standards aren't met. They tell NewsChannel 11 those standards are virtually unattainable.

Every school's success is judged by something called "AYP" (Annual Yearly Progress). AYP is largely based on TAKS test scores, but it's the sheer volume of students required to pass that make teacher's fear the consequences of this bill. Cherie Jenkins, President of the Lubbock Educators Association says, "You're setting us up for failure with this and this House Bill says if a school doesn't meet AYP for two years, a private management company will be sent in to run public schools. We don't believe the public really wants that."

Jenkins says for schools to meet annual yearly progress requirements, the legislature would have to ease up on another requirement: that only one percent of special education students are exempt from the TAKS test. She explains, "There's no way the large amount of special education students we serve are going to be able to take and pass that TAKS test."

Under House Bill 2, schools not meeting their yearly progress report could be subject to new management, as decided on by the education commissioner. Representative Carl Isett says, "It allows the commissioner to take bids from either regional service centers or charter schools or private concerns, entities that have a record of proven success in turning schools around."

Isett says public schools would still be public, but outside management is their last option to ensure no child is left behind. He says, "We believe when we have a child, any child, in a failing school, we need to be aggressive making sure that child still can have an education."

Cherie Jenkins doesn't buy it. She thinks this is just a ploy by the authors of the bill to turn public school into big business. She says of private management, "They're doing it for profit. So many times what happens is they're looking at the bottom line, so all the creative programs and things children enjoy doing in school and make academic learning more eventful and creative will be taken out."

The house gave its final approval to house bill two this week. The senate must now come up with its own version of school finance reform. Local educators urge parents and members of the community to contact Senator Duncan with their thoughts on this issue.

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