On the road to academic health

Image credit: Pixabay

Remember Gayle Fallon’s sneering reaction to Dr. Saavedra’s reform plans for three underachieving HISD high schools:

“They backed themselves into a corner on staffing and they don’t know how to fix it,” said Gayle Fallon, president of the Houston Federation of Teachers. She said she doubts Saavedra’s offer will lure many good teachers out of their current jobs and into the struggling schools. “I will bet the superintendent lunch, at the restaurant of his choice, that he opens the year with primarily first-year teachers or vacant positions.”


Gayle Fallon, president of the Houston Federation of Teachers, told trustees the bonus money will not attract better teachers. The union represents about half of HISD’s 12,000 teachers.

“Folks, it’s not an incentive,” Fallon said. “So far, we haven’t found a taker. … We’ve gotten remarks like, ‘You think I’m going to leave Lamar High School for $1,500 a year?’ “

Today, Jason Spencer writes a very interesting follow-up story:

English teacher Myron Greenfield says he’s never understood why his students at Houston’s Davis High School regularly manage to meet state academic standards, while kids from the same types of neighborhoods at Sam Houston High School have fallen short three years in a row.

That, Greenfield said, is why he left Davis this summer after 16 years to be part of the reinvention of Sam Houston, a school where 90 percent of the students are Hispanics from poor families.

“When I started seeing all the stuff about Sam Houston going to hell in a handbasket, I kept saying to myself, ‘These are the same demographics as Jeff Davis. Those kids can’t be much different from the kids we have,’ ” Greenfield said recently during a break from a two-day teacher training seminar at Sam Houston.

Teachers from Yates and Kashmere high schools, the other two Houston Independent School District schools undergoing teaching staff overhauls this year, also took part in the training.

Nearly half of them are new to their schools, replacing teachers who were let go in an effort to bring fresh faces onto campuses.

“This is like a blood transfusion,” Greenfield said. “What’s cool is the mix of people they hired: young kids — like 23 years old — and some veterans.”

Second-year Principal Aida Tello said she and her top assistants culled more than 60 new teachers from a stack of 500 applications. HISD is offering Sam Houston, Yates and Kashmere teachers bonuses of up to $3,000 a year if their students perform well on the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills, the test that helps determine whether a school meets state standards.

“We wanted some experience, but we also wanted some young, moldable minds that are passionate about working with kids,” she said while watching her teachers eat box lunches in the cafeteria. “Quite a few of them come from the same background as our students, and they feel like if they could do it, so could the kids. I come from the same background. That’s why I’m so determined.”

Lourdes Lopez, 22, said she had other job offers but chose to begin her teaching career at Sam Houston because she identifies with the students.

Best of luck to the staff and students of those three high schools.

(Old) Forum Comments (1)

About Anne Linehan 2323 Articles
Anne Linehan is a co-founder of blogHOUSTON.