Claudia Lorena Silva of El Paso Matters recently published a report on the dozens of Texas school districts that are suing the Commissioner of Education to prevent the release of new accountability ratings by the Texas Education Agency (TEA). Schools would be graded on a scale from “A” to “F” according to their test results, graduation rates, and post-graduation outcomes.
Among the plaintiffs are EPISD, Canutillo ISD, and San Elizario ISD.
Silva reports that “some El Paso school leaders said the TEA’s plan to change the system was a politically motivated attempt to push lawmakers to approve Gov. Greg Abbott’s ‘school choice’ or school voucher program that would allow parents to use taxpayer dollars to send their children to private and religious schools.”
Obviously there is fear the new ratings will drive students out of low-rated public schools and deprive school districts of state funds.
In the case of EPISD, student enrollment has already declined 23.5% since 2014 while the number of school campuses decreased from 92 to 76. At the same time, the number of employees dropped by 14.0%, with 11.9% of teachers leaving in 2021-22 and another 10% in 2022-23. Yet, we recently learned that Superintendent Sayavedra wants to go for a $600 million bond!
On September 12, EPISD voted 4-3 to join the lawsuit, including Trustee Josh Acevedo, who is now running for City District 2 to replace Alexsandra Annello.
The plaintiffs prevailed in a Travis County court but the TEA has already appealed the decision, contending the plaintiffs hope to prevent them from helping “millions of parents and educators improve the lives of our students.”
Silva delves into the technical reasons for the plaintiffs’ objections to the new ratings, but the bottom line is they will be applied evenly across all Texas school districts, enabling parents to understand which perform better and which perform worse.
Our local school districts consume more than 40% of our property tax and suffer from bloated bureaucracies that have taken on a life of their own.
We reported that among the top 472 wage earners at EPISD, there is not a single teacher!
If our school districts cannot streamline their administrations and improve their student outcomes soon, they will continue to shrink and decline while the charter and Catholic schools pick up the slack.
Maybe the new ratings system will compel them to take action.