Teachers, or big business-backed “reformers”. That's the only choice you have.
Over the past few weeks, the May 4 SAISD School Board Elections have been described, repeatedly, as a referendum on Superintendent Martinez and his board’s attempts to reform the urban school district.
But that’s not the real story.
This is an election about who a community chooses to support: the teachers who teach their children - those closest to the reality in SAISD schools - or the board members who have so obviously lost their support over the last two years.
SAISD teachers, through their democratic voice - their union - have overwhelmingly rejected each of the incumbents, and most of the challengers.
Both incumbents running for reelection sought the union’s endorsement. Both failed to secure it. Not because, as they have taken so much trouble to claim again and again, the union stands in the way of their brave reforms. But because, again and again they have voted against the wishes of the educators who work in classrooms throughout the district, parents whose children attend SAISD schools, and communities opposed to the superintendent’s plans for their neighborhood schools.
Voters have a clear choice, but it’s not the one that they’re being told they have in the local press: vote to support the teachers who work in SAISD schools. Or vote against them. It’s as simple as that.
Patti Radle and Christina Martinez have voted in favor of handing-over control of 18 SAISD campuses to outside management organizations.They voted against raising teacher pay for the 2018-2019 school year, even as they voted to increase teachers’ work hours - effectively cutting teacher pay across the district. They voted to hand-over control of two Westside campuses to a charter company that has since been called-out for its discipline practices with elementary-age students, and for its enormous over-reliance on district police.
Radle and Martinez voted to give New York-based charter company Democracy Prep control of Stewart Elementary, even as it escaped “Improvement Required” status and finished the 2017-2018 school year as one of SAISD’s highest performing campuses. They failed to consult with community members, and made, as they always do, vital decisions for, rather than with, the local community.
Finally, both incumbents voted for the reduction in force (RIF) that cost over 130 SAISD educators their jobs and livelihoods last year - a decision that led directly to a huge increase in vacant teaching positions for the start of the 2018-2019 school year - students throughout the district spending much of the first semester learning from substitutes rather than highly-qualified teachers.
As we reported in August, SAISD leaders have overwhelmingly lost the support of the teachers and support workers who work in classrooms across the district.
So voters have to ask who they trust to make the right choices for the students in SAISD schools. Voters have to ask themselves whether they think that the overwhelming majority of SAISD educators are wrong. Voters have to decide who is best placed to understand what this district’s students really need - the teachers who work with them in the classroom, or a school board that rubber stamps everything a non-educator superintendent with zero classroom experience, and close ties to big business privatizers asks for.
Voters have a clear choice, but it’s not the one that they’re being told they have in the local press:
Vote to support the teachers who work in SAISD schools. Or vote against them.
It’s as simple as that.