A Superintendent Writes… I’m Not Buying What The State Is Selling
A Texas Superintendent shares the following…
Why Lone Star Governance isn’t THE answer.
First, I suppose I can start with why Lone Star Governance is OK. It’s not a bad model for governance. Having the school board adhere to norms and letting the superintendent do the job she was hired to do has merits. However, that is not how Lone Star Governance is sold to a school district.
Lone Star Governance is sold as a method to improve student outcomes. The state especially leans hard on struggling school districts, pushing Lone Star Governance as THE answer to their performance concerns. This is a problem.
The idea is that schools fail because local governance (school boards) fail. Ok, got it. Bad governance leads to chronically failing schools. Therefore, good governance will lead to non-failing schools. Logical, linear sales… thinking.
Given this premise, failing schools are the blame of bad school board governance. It follows that non-failing schools are to the credit of good school board governance. So, let’s look at Houston ISD. HISD has approximately 200 campuses, serving over 200,000 students. This past year, HISD had an accountability rating of B+, 88 overall, just 2 points away from an A.
Yet the state also claims that the HISD school board is a failure because one HISD high school meets the legal definition of chronically failing. Under the state accountability system, the HISD board gets full blame for one chronically failing campus and ZERO credit for 199+ passing schools. That is a ridiculous standard on its face. If the HISD board is responsible for failure, it is therefore responsible for success. Afterall, the premise of Lone Star Governance: Good governance leads to passing student outcomes.
Lone Star Governance fails the logic test. The more obvious solution is this: School board governance has marginal and tangential impact on student outcomes. Yes, a dysfunctional school board can have an overwhelming number of passing schools. But also true is the fact that a perfectly functional school board can have a number of failing schools.
Until we as a society and as professional educators are willing to discuss the real reasons for chronically failing schools, no progress will be made. Unfortunately many of those reasons are taboo and not permitted for open discussion, especially if they relate to funding, taxation and an accountability system that punishes the poor and rewards the affluent.
None the less, QED: Lone Star Governance is not THE answer.
Think. Work. Achieve.
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