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Making the case for the HISD bonds

Bobby and Phoebe Tudor, the chairs of the Citizens for Better Schools campaign, lay out their case for the HISD bond referendum in this Chron op-ed.

Study after study has shown that children have more difficulty learning in inadequate school buildings. The 21st Century School Fund, a Washington, D.C., nonprofit organization, reports that these inadequate facilities may result in reduced learning time, distractions from learning, inability to provide specialized curricula, less supervision of students’ behavior and reduced ability to help students with special needs.

Teachers and other staff also suffer from these bad conditions, resulting in low staff morale and a high rate of teacher attrition. And everyone in a dilapidated school can experience health problems and safety hazards.

Research has shown that students in poor facilities perform more poorly on tests, have lower attendance and greater drop-out rates. Students in the oldest or worst buildings in their districts are more likely to score lower on standardized tests, more likely to skip classes or receive suspensions and to graduate at a lower rate.

Old facilities that have outlived their useful lives also affect property values for our homes and businesses. Research shows that attractive, up-to-date school facilities help to revitalize neighborhoods, enabling them to retain their property values and quality of life. Whether we have kids in school or not, all of us benefit from good school facilities.

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While we realize that shiny new schools are no substitute for high quality teachers and administrators, which are vital for our students’ success, we are impressed with the advances made by the superintendent and the HISD trustees. Houston is now a leader in education reform. But much work remains to be done and it can’t be done in schools that are crumbling, unsafe and a poor reflection of our community’s commitment to its children. Our schools must be rebuilt. And the time is now.

I said my piece about this a couple of weeks ago; suffice it to say that I agree completely about the need for modern, up to date facilities that can actually meet the needs of the student population. Unlike the HCC bond referendum, I expect this one to be high profile, with a decently funded campaign pushing for it. I’m not currently aware of an anti campaign, though as always there will be some high profile opponents. This issue will be easier to push if the HISD Board of Trustees does its job on ethics reform beforehand. That should be coming soon, and I’ll be keeping a close eye on it. In the meantime, I feel strongly that this referendum deserves support, and that HISD will be a better place if they can get all the work they propose to do done. I’ll be voting for this referendum.

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3 Comments

  1. Leslie Ball says:

    My wish is that they complete the work from the last HISD bond. There were a lot of schools listed on that bond and only a small portion have been completed. Hogg Middle School is one of those schools. Hamilton Middle School, too. Carnegie Vanguard was on there and was just finished right before school started last week. Alex now goes to an old middle school that has crowded classrooms and the classrooms look inadequate as far as storage and light. It’s a top 5 middle school. It’s not what the school looks like, it’s the teachers and administration inside. That being said, it’s nice to have a good looking building and up-to-code buildings. Is this bond something the city needs right now, or can it wait a couple more years. HISD needs a lot of internal work to do before I throw more money at them.

  2. Mainstream says:

    Where was the HISD PR team last night? Citizens for Better Schools was also AWOL.

    The Harris County Republican Party met last night, and Barry Klein led a successful effort to obtain near unanimous approval of a resolution opposing the HISD bonds, the HCC bonds, and the City of Houston bonds. Paul “the Tax Man” Bettencourt reported that HISD made no effort to reach out and build broader support with Republican leaders prior to passing the bond effort.

    No one even got up and argued for any of these proposals. So now if any GOP elected official or party leader supports the bonds, he will be viewed as acting contrary to the local party platform.

    Unless HISD and others campaign to these conservative voters, my prediction is that all three bonds are going to go down in flames.

  3. Mainstream says:

    Harris County GOP Chair Jared Woodfill is making robocalls to GOP voters urging them to defeat the bonds, noting that this the largest such request in Texas for the past two decades, will require a tax increase, and that not long ago voters approved $805 million in bonds, much of which has gone unspent.

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