Jim Bardwell, publisher of The Gladewater Mirror, wrote
the following editorial about House Bill 2.
Once again the Texas State Legislature is trying to give
teachers the shaft with the introduction of House Bill 2. And they will succeed if everyone doesn’t
rally around these hard working, dedicated professionals who have been treated unfairly for decades.
House Bill 2 contains no salary increase for teachers. Instead it calls for unspecified increases for a very small percentage of
teachers based on student performance on standardized test scores. Each district must develop an incentive plan, to be approved
by the commissioner of education. The plan may provide incentives for other personnel, grade levels or departments. Decisions
of the local school board are final and may not be appealed. Incentive bonuses don’t count for TRS
The bill also provides that local districts may pay above
the state minimum. Provides that if a local district is going to pay above the minimum it should be based on the teacher’s ability to improve student performance; the importance of the grade level or subject being
taught; the skills required beyond basic teaching; and whether that teacher is assigned to a subject or campus that is hard
House Bill 2 also requires each district to spend 1% of its
state and local revenue on incentives or mentoring. It makes mentors for beginning teachers optional rather than required.
The bill also deletes the escalator clause that automatically
increased the state minimum salary schedule.
It deletes the requirement that all school employees get $1000
to help fund health insurance. Only teachers get the $1000 in this bill. It takes money away from the educational support
staff that need it the most.
The Texas State Legislature seems to care more for state
highway workers than they do for the people who help shape our future leaders. While state highway workers have state health
insurance, a state pension and retirement plan, and various other state benefits –
teachers, most of whom have at least two college degrees, in Texas are left to fend for themselves.
That isn’t right – and the Legislature should know that.
House Bill 2 also includes the following:
Creates another incentive plan for campuses that have
more than 50% economically disadvantaged students and are rated academically acceptable. Caps the amount given at $100 million
and requires that at least 75% of the money be used to give at least a $7,500 bonus for each teacher on a campus receiving
the bonus. The system must be set up by the Commissioner by September 1, 2006.
Allows districts or campuses that are rated exemplary to be
exempt from almost all the state standards that helped them achieve that status, including class size limits, contracts, minimum
salaries, teacher certification requirements, etc.
provide enough new money to adequately fund the schools. Requires a vote in order to raise local property taxes by any amount.
Requires the Commissioner to develop a system to create a value
added rating for teachers using standardized test scores.
Requires the SBOE to add eight new indicators for the
purpose of assigning a district an exemplary rating.
Sets up new sanctions for public schools that are rated
in the bottom 10% for performance and also do not meet AYP. For the bottom 5% the commissioner shall assign a team to assist
the campus to improve. The second year the commissioner shall establish an alternative management system for that campus.
Creates a new instant certification for administrators. After
three years the district can either give the person permanent certification or fire him/her.
Mandates new norm referenced test(s) to be given. Gives the
Commissioner the authority to determine the test(s) and grade levels at which they are given.
Replaces funding formulas for special population programs
(special education, bilingual, etc.) with designated dollar amounts. Any future increase in these programs could be endangered
because they would have to compete with other priorities and be approved by a vote of the legislature.
Dictates that all school board elections will be held
Requires all schools to start on the Tuesday after Labor
Day and end by June 7 unless they are year round schools.
Requires that student performance by graduates of various
colleges of education will be used as an accountability measure for that program.
The Texas State Legislature again has missed the mark and they
should be called on the carpet by all voters in Texas.
Why should we pay our teachers less than and demand more?
Why should we expect teachers to buy many of their own supplies?
Most teachers spend at least $1,000 each year out of their own pockets for educational material not supplied by the school
district. This is a fact and if any school district administrator says differently, he or she is not telling the truth.
Why shouldn’t teachers –
who are governed by state guidelines and mandates – be included in the state’s insurance plan?
More people in the state insurance plan should generate a lower premium for the state, take the expenditure burden off local
districts and taxpayers, and teachers would finally have affordable healthcare for their families.
Rep. Bryan Hughes was asked to introduce such a bill – but so far no such bill has surfaced. You asked for teachers to re-elect you, and they did. Where’s the bill Rep. Hughes?
In fact, the only bills that have surfaced have been bills
that hurt teachers – thus hurting our future.
legally strike in Texas, but they could certainly all call in sick for 3-5 days. Then, who would babysit all the children
One state legislator reportedly said he didn’t care what teachers thought about any legislation because he didn’t consider them
a threat. He said teachers will never fight as a unified force, so they are a non-issue.
It is time to give back to those who have given so much for
so long. Call you state senator and representative today and ask them to give teachers a fair shake and throw out House Bill
Then ask them to treat teachers like the professionals that
they are. Ask them if they remember former Gov. Mark White?
Teachers joined forces and put him in office and then
when he betrayed their trust and didn’t fulfill his promises – they booted
Republican or Democrat – it
doesn’t matter. Right is right and wrong is wrong – and House Bill 2 is wrong.