News from the Equity Center of Texas about the state’s unjust accountability system:

The EC Xpress

January 22, 2013 • An Equity Center Publication • Volume 4, Number 3

Take Two Kids…

Take two children. Dress one in street clothes and work boots. Dress the other child in competition track gear with the finest track shoes; give him starting blocks, more coaching; put him on a fast all- weather lane to run his race. Give the first child a lane that is uneven and difficult to navigate; then move him 10 yards behind the starting line. Start the race with a gunshot, photograph the finish, and publish the photo in the newspaper for everyone to see.

This is exactly what our state accountability system has always done and continues to do today. Grades are being assigned to school districts all across the state and anti-public school people are pointing to the child with all of the disadvantages and saying, “See, our public schools are failing.”

The truth is no race can be competitively run, nor accurately called, when the race is not fair to begin with. We would never tolerate such things at a district track meet, yet we do tolerate it when it comes to the most important thing schools do. And it is time for it to stop.

Legislators must either level the playing field with the same revenue at the same tax rates so all children have an equal chance to rise to their fullest academic potential—or change the accountability system to account for the disparity in funding.

We learned last week that one school district has set out to make a change. John Kuhn, Superintendent Perrin-Whitt CISD, shared a resolution that was recently adopted by his Board. The resolution points out that no matter if a school is high-funded or low-funded, they are all held to the same academic standards in the accountability system and the system fails to acknowledge the funding differences that exist among the school systems.

It also states, “Texas citizens deserve not only an honest accounting of schools’ performance but also an honest accounting of the Legislature’s fiscal support of schools as schools strive toward the state’s own goals.”

The resolutions calls on the Legislature to “tie the school funding system in Texas directly and transparently to the school accountability system in Texas, in order to develop a shared accountability system that holds funders no less accountable for their actions than it holds teachers and students for theirs. It also resolves that schools with scarcer resources achieve identical levels of academic performance as schools blessed by the state with disproportionate funding.

We are reminded of Margaret Mead, who once said, “A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” We could not agree more. We want to encourage all of you to be a part of the change movement and take a moment to view the sample resolution (based on PWCISD’s) that we have attached to the original email. This is yet another step in a very long process, but it is certainly a step in the right direction.