Woods' Weekly

Woods' Weekly

Woods' Weekly is written by Superintendent Brian T. Woods and is sent to Northside ISD staff every Monday to keep them updated on local and state education issues.

January 26, 2015     
Good morning! Recently we held our annual luncheon to honor former trustees and superintendents. As I often say, in Northside we stand on the shoulders of the great leaders who came before us. We do this as a part of Board recognition month that gives a small measure of thanks to the consummate volunteers that are our school board trustees. While it has become popular in the media to trash the work of certain school boards, what gets lost is the selfless volunteerism of most board members. Obviously, we continue to be blessed in Northside to have leaders in our community who care deeply about students and staff as our trustees. The word “trustee” is well chosen in describing Northside Board members.
 
You may have seen recently that the first true voucher bill of the session was filed. The concept used in the bill to take public funds and allow parents to use them where they choose is called a “Taxpayer Savings Grant.” Not surprisingly, the bill is supported by some groups who are regular critics of traditional public schools. The bill would give roughly 60% of the cost of educating a student directly to the parent and the other 40% is counted as “savings” to the state which would supposedly generate a windfall of $1.7 billion over five years.
 
Not surprisingly, there are significant problems with the math in this calculation. First, the cost of running a school does not decline in a linear fashion if small numbers of students choose to leave. In other words, a class with 24 students enrolled costs exactly the same as a class with 25 students. These “savings” also ignore the negative impact to public schools that I wrote about recently with regard to charters. For most districts in the state, the loss of enrollment increases the district’s wealth per student which translates to a decline in state per pupil funding for those who stay in the public school.
This does not even mention the fact that the bill specifically excludes the institutions where this “grant” money would go from the financial or student performance accountability that traditional public schools operate under. This would be another
example of a fiscally conservative state giving away public funds without any oversight.
 
An article written by a teacher and published in the Huffington Post speaks to the notion of school choice when is it used to encourage an exodus from public schools. The author makes the point that school choice actually disenfranchises the public. He states, “School choice treats parents as if they are the only stakeholders in education. They are not. We all depend on a society in which people are reasonably well-educated. This is why everybody votes for school board members -- not just the people who have kids in school.” The article can be found at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/peter-greene/
 
This message that the general public should have no interest or say in the schools is a dangerous one and seems to support the notion that I often hear that goes something like, “I don’t have kids in schoolanymore so why should I pay taxes to support schools?” Obviously, we want parents engaged in our schools and their child’s education, but education is the responsibility of an entire society – not just parents.
 
Finally, I want to point you to something done really well in Northside. For the last couple of years we have been associated with a group called Game Changer that helps coaches work with student athletes on the challenges they face off the field. It works well with our overall character development goals and programs in NISD. A while back we saw a video they did for another Texas school district that was extremely well done and served as a call to excellence for all of the adults in the community.
 
Our own Northside TV group took that idea and developed our own video with a similar message. I encourage you to take a couple of minutes to see it – it will be well worth your time. Feel free to share. The video can be found at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QHANhMXpwN4
   
    BTW