“The ideas of reform and innovation have been tearing apart public education”

Subcontracting out our schools is not a quality answer to any of the difficulties our district faces or to the pedagogy of public education in which all students and all communities matter.

Yon Hui Bell


Educator and SAISD parent Yon Hui Bell addressed the SAISD school board on Monday as they prepared to vote on charter management agreements that handed over day-to-day operations at 18 SAISD schools to charter management companies.


She agreed to let us publish her remarks, which are reproduced in full below.


Before I begin, I would like to say thank you to each of you for all of the work that you do. I believe, I hope, that all of you are well-intentioned and have the best interest of our students at heart. That we have different information and different strategies is a separate issue, but we are all here united in a common goal to educate the children of our district as best as we can, and I would like to acknowledge that first.


I question the use of the term “innovation” and the logic of “redesigning campuses” and “partnering” with outside organizations to improve education for our students.

I’m here tonight as an educator and an SAISD parent to speak about the management contracts for 19 SAISD schools. That Senate Bill 1882 offers greater funding per student for schools engaged in partnerships with outside organizations has undoubtedly influenced the district -- as it was meant to.


As an educator, I have been appalled at how over the past decade the ideas of reform and innovation have been tearing apart public education. The “reform” of accountability and standardized testing has twisted and tortured the curriculum and the profession to the point that many teachers feel like they are not allowed to teach and many students feel like they are not learning. These same tests are then used to market new curriculum and technology, and in more and more instances, these tests are also used to target schools for educational management company takeovers.


Related: SAISD School Board Waives Its Own Community Voice Policy To Push Through “Community-Driven” Charters

I question the use of the term “innovation” and the logic of “redesigning campuses” and “partnering” with outside organizations to improve education for our students.


Subcontracting out our schools is not a quality answer to any of the difficulties our district faces or to the pedagogy of public education in which all students and all communities matter. Subcontracting out our schools only increases the number of administrators and bureaucrats and takes away control from teachers, students, and families.



I have always wished that SAISD could become a progressive, forward thinking urban school district and reinvigorate the pedagogy of public education, instead of eviscerate it, especially in this city with its long history of fragmented, unequal education.


All of this networking, rebranding, and subcontracting is not an educational vision. I hope that the board will vote against the proposals to subcontract out our schools. I hope that all of you will go back to the boardroom and re-envision what a progressive, community-oriented inner city school district can be and work towards creating a school district that is rooted in its communities and that respects its teachers, students, and families.

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