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.
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.