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.
May 13, 2013
Good morning! The legislative session is finally starting to wind down. However, just like the end of our school year, there is still quite a bit to be done. Not much has changed in a week. We still have testing reductions/graduation requirements, the state budget, charter school expansion and Teacher Retirement among the issues to be addressed.
A couple of weeks ago I mentioned charter school expansion. I want to reiterate that I don’t believe that there is no place for charters in a healthy system of public schools. The notion behind the creation of charter schools was that they would be free of many of the rules and regulations that govern traditional public schools and could serve as a laboratory for innovation. To the degree that this is possible and actually happening, I support charter schools.
However, to hear some talk, charters are universally a better solution for children than traditional public schools and with that I certainly disagree! There is no doubt that there are highly effective charter schools. However, there are also charters that have operated in a completely ineffective manner and even those that have misappropriated state funds. Charter campuses are twice as likely as a traditional campus to be rated Academically Unacceptable. Charter operators were six times more likely to fail the state’s financial accountability standards.
The push behind charter expansion at the state level seems to be that the state’s cap on charters keeps out those that would serve students well. My question is this – why not close down charters that do a poor job? This would leave plenty of room under the cap for any new “high performing” charters. While everyone agrees that ineffective charters should be closed, the state has shown little ability to do this. That begs the question, why expand to more charters when we clearly can’t manage the ones we have?
I feel that we need to do more to educate the people of our city and state about what charter schools can and cannot do well. Again, there is
a place for charter schools, but I don’t believe they should compete with traditional public schools for funding and I fear that this is increasingly the direction we are heading. More to come on this issue...
Last Wednesday we held one of my favorite annual events. The Retirement and Recognition ceremony honors those who have served 20, 30, 35, 40 and even 50 years in NISD as well as those who are retiring. The service pin recipients honored this year represent over 6,200 years of service to NISD. The retiree group represents over 5,000 years. That’s more than 11,000 years of service to Northside children – what an amazing number!
Participating in the ceremony were representatives of every division and almost every school. I told the group that no matter what their job in NISD they have a crucial role in our success. We are all educators – whether we teach students directly or facilitate that work. When we graduate over 6,000 students in June they will have been positively impacted by every one of you!
On Friday afternoon we held another important event. The Child Nutrition awards luncheon recognizes the accomplishments of outstanding cafeteria managers and assistant managers. Under the leadership of Director Thomas Wherry, Child Nutrition serves over 100,000 meals per day to NISD students and staff. For many of our students, the meals they consume at school are their best source of nutrition. I want to express my appreciation to the roughly 1,000 employees in this department for their dedication to our students and staff. Without them many of our students would not be ready to learn each day.
It’s hard to imagine that there are less than four weeks of school left. The year seems to have absolutely flown by and yet I feel like there is still much to be accomplished. For those of you who are looking to June 7 as “the last day” I know that this is an exciting time of year and one in which it is challenging to keep students engaged. Please encourage your students and colleagues to “finish strong” and stay focused on the learning time we have remaining.
|Have a great week! BTW|