Failure to Consolidate Hurts San Antonio’s Public Education Outcomes

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Composite / Bonnie Arbittier and Scott Ball / Rivard Report ; Courtesy

The 15 superintendents in Bexar County (from top row, left): Dana Bashara, Alamo Heights; Roland Toscano, East Central; Eduardo Hernandez, Edgewood; Gary Bates, Fort Sam Houston; Rey Madrigal, Harlandale; (Row 2): Jeannette Ball, Judson; Burnie Roper, Lackland; Brian Gottardy, North East; Brian Woods, Northside; Lance Johnson, Randolph Field; (Row 3): Pedro Martinez, San Antonio; Saul Hinojosa, Somerset; Alexandro Flores, South San; Mark Eads, Southside; Lloyd Verstuyft, Southwest.

Education Reporter Emily Donaldson’s byline has appeared on 13 articles over 25 days in January, with more to come. Add my recent column on the issue of arming teachers in East Central Independent School District and the work of four other staff reporters, and we have published 18 education articles so far this month.

No other media in San Antonio can match that level of production, yet it’s not enough to keep up. Last week alone, there were more than 10 meetings held by school boards among Bexar County’s 15 independent school districts.

On Tuesday, the Edgewood ISD school board replaced a school board trustee who recently resigned without any public accounting. On Wednesday, North East ISD’s board also replaced a trustee. That same night, trustees in South San ISD voted on a resolution to reopen three shuttered schools by next school year.

On Thursday, East Central ISD trustees deliberated in closed session about a proposal to arm teachers, while Harlandale ISD trustees decided to extend the contract of Superintendent Rey Madrigal, who is implicated in allegations made by the Texas Education Agency in a preliminary investigative report. Should Madrigal be dismissed, taxpayers in the district could be stuck with Madrigal’s six-figure severance package.

While all this was going on, other boards also were meeting on less consequential but still important matters. Not to mention life in the classrooms for teachers and students.

Can you even name the 15 districts? They are: Alamo Heights * East Central * Edgewood * Fort Sam Houston * Harlandale * Judson * Lackland * North East * Northside * Randolph Field * San Antonio * Somerset * South San Antonio * Southside * Southwest.

The poor academic performance and the politics of personal self-interest at four of the districts has led to recent state intervention or investigations. Edgewood has a board of managers governing the district. South San had a conservator appointed and pulled from the district. Southside also has a board of managers. Harlandale has been the subject of a TEA investigation that likely will result in sanctions.

Is this any way to educate Bexar County’s 323,000 public school district students? Put another way, if we were designing a public school system today, would it look like the current system of geographically defined districts of varying sizes, resources and leadership? I can’t imagine anyone nodding their head yes.

Some readers will dig into other Texas metro areas to search for data showing big school districts have their own set of problems. True, but here is what you cannot argue: San Antonio is the poorest big city in the state with the highest degree of economic segregation; school districts play a significant role in perpetuating the inequities that were centuries in the making.

The organization 100 Black Men host a community forum to discuss the future of vital education in San Antonio communities.

Scott Ball / Rivard Report

100 Black Men, a nonprofit organization, hosts a community forum last June on the future of vital education in San Antonio.

There are more than 100 school board trustees in Bexar County, most elected by a few thousand or fewer voters in a county of 2 million people, with 21 of the seats to be decided in the next election cycle. Trustees wield enormous economic and political power, voting on billions of dollars of spending. Some districts are models of prudent fiscal management, while others have deep legacies of cronyism, machine politics, inside dealing, and corruption. Some fall in the middle.

Bexar County’s 15 different district superintendents earned a little less than $3.5 million in 2017-18. In comparison, the superintendent of Texas’ largest school district, Houston ISD, which educated about 215,000 students that same year, was paid $345,000.

Superintendent pay, of course, is not the only issue. The economies of scale that could be had with single contract purchasing power surely would amount to far greater savings on a number of fronts.

Barring miracles in the Texas Legislature to address public school finance as the very serious and pressing matter it is, school district consolidation is the only local path to equalizing education opportunities throughout the county’s network of more than 500 school campuses. And yes, the number of physical schools would shrink under consolidation.  It is now very difficult for individual superintendents and school boards to stand up to neighborhood resistance. No matter how poorly a school performs, not matter how badly it fails its students, neighbors will fight to preserve that school.

Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath is a change agent who wants to see Texas public schools perform better. Yet the state is a big part of the problem: policies that mandate teaching to the test, grading schools on an A-F system, politicizing the selection and content of textbooks, and above all, the Texas Legislature’s diversion of tax revenues away from schools and into other pots.

Morath or legislators could lead efforts to force failing, mismanaged districts to merge with other districts. Such reform would be met with howls, but the hue and cry eventually would give way if the process were managed properly.

Consolidation would require enormous political resolve and considerable time and planning, but it would put Bexar County on a more promising path to better and more equitable education outcomes.

51 thoughts on “Failure to Consolidate Hurts San Antonio’s Public Education Outcomes

  1. I have often wondered about the number of independent school districts in Bexar County. I agree wholeheartedly with the author’s sentiments. Consolidation is an idea worthy of implmentation and the sooner the better. The reasons have already been clearly laid out in this well-written article and I support all of them. Though I don’t presently live in San Antonio, I grew up there and I will return some day, hopefully soon.

  2. Bob,

    Great article and very true. We should look at consolidation of school districts. We should always keep in mind “What is best for our kids education”?

  3. Keep writing! Thanks for this information. Unfortunately, it’s not an issue until it becomes personal. Please keep reminding everyone how important this is for the entire community.

  4. Before you jump on the band wagon about consolidating all districts look at other large city wide districts and see if anything has changed
    Even in those large consolidated districts you find inequality for the students, mismanagement at the local level is easier to coverup and in many cases the schools in poor sections still do not perform to the level of others within the district. The question is why and how do you correct that problem.

  5. For once I am in agreement with you Mr. Rivard.
    The basis for so many school districts lies in certain areas of town wishing to retain what amounts to de facto segregation. Alamo Heights, North side, Northeast and maybe a couple of other districts are better funded, better equipped than the districts serving predominately Black or Brown children.
    I fully support consolidation of the area school districts with strict enforcement of equal funding, equal provision of school equipment and a ban on granting superintendents from severance pay if fired or forced to resign due to misconduct!

  6. Although this is crazy, it’s a very true reality that this city doesn’t wish to face. NO WAY should 1 municipality have so many school districts. It divides money, resources and allows some districts to remain poor while other districts flourish.

    To make San Antonio better, this MUST BE SOLVED!!!

  7. Interpretation: Loss of intimate, diverse communities/ paving the way for gentrification/using the lack of will to fund diverse neighborhoods educational needs with equity as an excuse (camouflage) to set the stage for acceptance of the loss of diverse communities due to the drive for gentrification.

    It is time for critical thinking…….” the best for our children” translates as the “best for economic development of city stakeholders”

    • Why should a community be in charge of their neighborhood schools? There are many “thought partners” out there that have better ideas about how a school should be run. The community voice is something that scares these folks because it isn’t something they’ll easily be able to profit off of and control.

  8. I agree. However, I am unsure who has the authority to mandate ISD consolidation-I assume the state? If not, a local campaign to do so should begin immediately. My hope is that it would be up to the taxpayers to decide and not the state legislature.

    • This was the question I was left asking at the end of the article as well. It had tremendous momentum and then kind of teetered off when it got to what needs to be done to fix the issue. I’d appreciate any additional coverage asking these questions of those responsible.

  9. 100% correct on consolidation of SA’s 15 school districts!
    Please keep supporting this concept… Per LBJ “Education is the only valid passport out of poverty”..
    Education (understanding facts and critical thinking) is the key to our future success globally and it starts locally.

    • When the cycle of wealth is broken, the cycle of poverty will be broken. LB J is long gone and so is that failed thinking of the 60s. I know many people who have several graduate degrees and fall into the poverty threshold that was set in the 1960s. Critical thinking begins with understanding the complexities of our time and the overarching forces of capitalism (buttressed by tax dollars).

      Pat, patterned,recycled stereotypes will not lead to understanding of the underlying agenda here….. which is not really about the education of our children.

      • The cycle of poverty can be broken. What is the difference between kids in your cycle of wealth and your cycle of poverty? My guess is a stable family life. Parents who don’t have children before they have finished high school, have a skill/degree (in a marketable major)/trade, are working and can support a child financially without depending on schools to raise their children; parents who start educating their children from birth, socializing them, getting them ready for school; once in school parents who have routine and discipline in their home, including respect for teachers, checking on schoolwork, attend parent conferences, volunteer in any capacity in their child’s school.

        Every statistic shows the surest way to have a life of poverty -and to perpetuate it-is to have a child before you finish high school. The ‘cycle of wealth’ begins with finishing your education, not having children before you can take care of them and being willing to be selfless for your child.

        I do agree there are too many districts in this county–take the smaller ones (not affiliated with DOD schools) and consolidate them. Start city initiatives/education to reduce teen pregnancy…it seems to be a major problem in this city…and is perpetuating the cycle of poverty. Schools cannot replace parents…help them, yes, replace them, no.

        • Where’d you get that? He wasn’t saying that at all. The problem is illegitimate kids and parents who do not value education and fail to provide a stable home life.

  10. I too used to think this pyramid organizational thinking dominated by one good superintendent was the answer to this city’s multiple school districts. The downside of that thinking is that the worst scenario, as is being witnessed and documented by your news organization in some districts, is that this bottom standard could be the scenario for all students if the districts were corralled into one…a real disaster!

    I’ve changed my mind re this discussion. Certainly the residents of the individual school districts …the voters…know what district the’re in…many choose to live where they do because of the school district!

    If that isn’t school choice, I don’t know what is!

    “Your vote is your voice” in any language…thank you Willie Velazquez! It may be the issue of promoting voting after effective public engagement and education with the voters is the real issue to be addressed. Still a democracy when I last checked (thank God), and school boards are still elected!

    • I do not argue for a single, county-wide district. For starters, I would leave the high performing and improving districts alone, and force closure of the smaller, poorly performing districts that have demonstrated again and again over the years an inability or unwillingness to adopt the necessary standards and practices to improve, starting at the school board level and extending into the administrations. Every single comment dismissing my column sidesteps the issue of the continuing failure of these districts and the generations of students they are cheating. I wholeheartedly agree that the path out of poverty is a good education, but students who attend these districts start out with a huge disadvantage, one that most will not overcome. -RR

      • I agree completely. But what disadvantages are you referring to, because my guess is they could be addressed by the district, city, county, and businesses for one generation and the next generation will improve. No one is ever bold enough to take this step. (i.e.: Like it or not, speaking English is necessary for success in school. Instead of offering English classes for parents in places they have to travel to, often during the day, have classes for the parents at their child’s school at convenient hours, help the kid by helping the parent. Put non-English speakers in immersion classes asap because many students do not have literacy skills in their native language-and current ESL type classes are not working efficiently enough to get kids integrated quickly. Provide extra-curricular activities for these schools that includes the equipment necessary for the activity. Fund libraries. Open schools on weekends for students to use computer labs, libraries, get academic help…and have parents volunteer to help!) There are too many good kids being short-changed by the status quo and the failure to say unpopular things that, once discussed could lead to solutions. Dysfunctional districts that are consolidated could address the needs of these kids-and being a larger district would have access to more resources.

        • Why are the legislature issues regarding local issues not directed by naming the local legislators who have done nothing about this since Rodriguez v. SAISD in 1968. We speak of thw legislators as if Austin is Mars and they are not from here. Good points made but where is the accountability bu the Report from those responsible for not proposing bills to correct the obvious excess administration amd wealth discrimination in years past and present?

      • Bob, I completely agree with you. Change on a scale you are recommending takes leadership. It takes a leader to make it important, and a leader – maybe the same person – to drive the change and make it happen. Who in your opinion will take it on?

  11. Bob – This opens up a political “can of worms” so venomous one can’t get ones head around the same. Surely, the best (most insulated) avenue of change is through the State Board of Education and the Legislature. But I wholly endorse the thesis and have for years. Education is the foundation of opportunity and jobs. Without the same, San Antonio will never be able to rise to the level economic competitiveness it should already be at. This is a generational endeavor.

    • Hey Socrates….
      Socrates, of all philosophers, would fervently disagree that the mark of a societal achievement should be “rising to a level of economic competitiveness.” As a wiser mind, he would say that success on this front rests on a society that has achieved the freedom of expression, the ability for a reasoned critique of government, and dignity of human worth (often excludes monetary success… Socrates critics, the sophists–now developers- would have you believe).
      We have a long way to g to achieve Scorates vision of society in SA. Why not work on this vision first?

  12. There is so much to disagree with in this column.

    First, there would be little or no economies of scale. All districts in Texas have the opportunity to use competed unit prices through the ESCs and other buy boards.

    Second, the number of schools will not shrink. No matter how big the district is the board will cower to neighborhoods and keep schools open. Large districts all over Texas and the US continue to demonstrate this point.

    Third, Commissioner Morath HAS led efforts to force consolidation. The TEA site lists 70 or so events since the 80’s.

    Fourth, ISDs may teach to the test but I don’t think that is a state mandate. Some may consider it a de facto mandate but it is mostly common sense. What Mr. Rivard leaves out is that educational bureaucracy does not want to be evaluated in any sort of independent fashion.

    Fifth is the incredible irony that grading schools and districts is a problem. Parents and taxpayers have vested interest in some sort of objective system to evaluate such a large part of public responsibility.

    Consolidating districts will solve no problems. It will, however, amount to a redistribution of school funding in Bexar county and elimination of self-determination that current districts enjoy.

    • There is so much to disagree with in this comment. Your arguments are not supported by facts. You have had very little experience dealing with the administrations of the many districts to argue there would be no economies of scale. Elimination of insider dealing and corruption alone would save a significant sum of money. Take a look at how crony districts manage their bond programs compared to the higher performing administrations and tell me there are not millions of dollars to be saved. Look at the expense of maintaining campuses that can no longer justify their operations due to declining student populations. I could go on. -RR

      • Touche’ RR

        I completely agree there is likely money to be saved by eliminating insider dealing and corruption (aka waste, fraud and abuse). But that is not an issue related to economies of scale that would come through consolidation.

        Insider dealing and corruption is related to bad management and empowered through school boards and their hired administrators. Is consolidation the best route to get rid of this problem? When John Sharpe was comptroller he initiated the Texas School Performance Reviews. Those studies continue under the LBB. Interesting that no Bexar County districts have seen the need for one since SAISD in 2011. The ISDs also have external audits. If we do not have enough eyeballs on these governmental entities I don’t see consolidation solving that problem.

        Good point on bond programs. Well run programs feature independent citizen oversight committees. In many large cities these committees are populated with A-list community members who hold the administration and contractors to their responsibilities.

        I support saving every penny of bond money we can. But money saved on bond programs cannot be put into O&M funds that pay for school operations like teachers. Facilities might help student outcomes but not nearly as much as good teachers. Consolidation only solves this issue if the resulting district manages these programs well.

        I completely agree that shuttering underenrolled schools makes a lot of sense. My point is that these are board level decisions and boards wimp out of these decisions.

  13. From the comments, it looks like you hit a nerve. I hope you keep applying pressure so we can work toward a solution. This city needs its citizens to be better educated so they can be better employees, better bosses, better voters and better overall partners for the city. This city won’t Rise if we don’t bring everyone else up too.

  14. Why not think outside the box? Consolidation of purchasing is mentioned. What about consolidation of the 16 security forces, of school bus transportation, of custodians and food service staff? There would certainly be economies of scale that would provide more funds for the class rooms. And if one system is too large, why not four districts, one for each quadrant, again consolidating some of the administrative costs and the need for so many Boards?

  15. I agree that school district consolidation for many of our local public school districts would be a serious improvement over the 15 fiefdoms that currently exist. It is obvious that an economy of scale will benefit any new public educational organization, its students and the voters.
    But let’s not ignore the most serious impediment to a more equitable and successful public educational system, that is the equitable distribution of educational resources, funding, qualified teachers, and state support.
    It appears to me that the latter is sorely lacking, limiting the former.

  16. excellent article, as usual.

    the city of SA lags behind Dallas Ft Worth Austin and Houston due to its 15 school districts.

    the small, non SA ones should be left alone.. the others should all be merged. there should be city wide academic consistency and high quality administrative leadership, which cannot accomplished with so many districts.

    all people who oppose consolidation should just look at the facts : in Austin the Austin ISD covers close to 90% of the city proper’s population. Likewise for Houston and Dallas and Ft Worth :in those cities the largest school districts cover between 85-90 percent of the city proper population, hence their names: Dallas, Houston, Ft Worth ISDs. (sometimes you have to state tbe obvious).

    Meanwhile within SA city limits you have 12 districts contained within in wholly or overlapping into the county but outside the city limits.

    This is no way to educate children and expect academic excellence county wide.

    The legislature and the school board need to break up these districts immediately with the goal of only one in the city, as currently is done in all the large cities.

  17. Full disclosure, I am speaking on this as an employee of Northside ISD.

    I have not been here as long as many others (since 2002), but I have seen the various districts in their efforts to improve the education of our future. The differences in the neighborhoods that each district represents is so diverse that we need this diversity in the districts to reflect. Yes, some districts are more prosperous and affluent than others, and some are not as ethnically/racially/politically diverse as well. I am aware that this issue comes up for discussion often and many people are very passionate about consolidating the fifteen districts to make one large district serving a large chunk of San Antonio.

    But have any of you given any thought as to how difficult and expensive that process would be? And the ramifications if it were to happen? If the one large district would fail, then it would be the headache of ALL of San Antonio. The success of our students depends not only on the efforts of our teachers, staff, admins and board, but also PARENTS. I see many kiddos who have little to no parental support at home, yet they are very quick to place blame on the school, from the teachers all the way up to the principal and superintendent if their child fails a class.

    In San Antonio, it is too easy for a family to simply move to another district if the one that they are in is not performing to standards. Yes, some districts need state interference…that their own superintendents, staff and admin have caused. Don’t like South San? Move to Northside. Taxes too high in NISD? Move to NEISD. THINK About this before you want one huge school district. Even Houston has several within the Metro area. So does DFW, Austin and other major cities. We are not alone in this matter.

    It may take a village to raise a child, but it takes BOTH PARENTS to educate that child for success.

    Let’s keep the independent school

  18. I would suggest you look to Austin to see how the remnants of institutionalized segregation, gentrification, exurbinization and recapture create problems for a single school district serving an entire city. Consolidation on the scale you envision may simply be an impossibility for good reason. Having grown up in and graduated from NEISD, and having had children grow up in and graduate from Austin ISD, I can see the pros and cons of both. But there are pros and cons inherent in both.

  19. School choice may be an important part of the solution for better education and less inefficiencies?

    Charter schools for special needs students appears to be working with less disruption in regular classes and better education in the special needs classes.

    The money now follows the student, which allows a special needs student to attend a different school district without having to move.

    Regular students leaving a bad school district is now an important incentive to improve that bad school district.

    Let’s look a school choice as part of the solution for all students.

  20. RR- You bring up some excellent points. I want the community to understand that many of the “poor districts” are doing some AMAZING things for students. The programs they offer, the help they give kids and the programs they offer parents outshine some of the bigger districts. Unfortunately, lately much of this work has been overshadowed by board antics. All I ask is to ensure staff has the true story before publishing some of these and not go with “assumptions”. I also ask, for your staff to dig a bit into whose quotes they are using. Several have been given by people who have a rap sheet, yet she is getting into your articles.
    Finally, I ask what about the consolidation for charter schools? I appreciate your efforts to cover education, let’s just be sure we look at all aspects including charters and the flexibility they have versus a public school.
    Bottom line, for the majority of educators all we want to do is EDUCATE!

  21. Consolidation is a great idea on paper…and one could certainly point to successful single-district entities, if one looked hard enough.

    But when we look at successful school districts across our state, we see a pattern. Even in our own city…Alamo Heights…Northside…military base schools…have a high degree of family wealth per capita. Allen ISD, Plano ISD, Spring Branch…all of these districts above could conceivably be merged within a monolithic district to save money, economy of scale, etc. Why don’t they?

    Because consolidation doesn’t solve your inherent problems. Consolidation WOULD save a certain amount of money…fewer high-paying education jobs for upper-level district management, which pulls a lot of otherwise strongly qualified educators into other private or government positions. Better negotiating power for things like instructional materials, buses, employee insurance, and so forth…and a greater loss if corrupt officials get their hands into the negotiating process for their own personal gain. Sure, you’ll save some cash…

    …but will kids be better educated for it? Will South San kids still go to South San, or can they now transfer to Alamo Heights? If they can easily transfer, what will Heights look like and provide? Will folks in Alamo Heights still want to send their kids to public school, or will they send their kids and cash to Saint Mary’s Hall? What will South San look like when enrollment drops? As schools close, other schools bulge with the additional enrollment. That creates its OWN set of problems. Doesn’t make education any better, doesn’t make it any easier on families.

    Consolidation is a great idea on paper, just like the Affordable Care Act was (well, ok, maybe that one didn’t look so great on paper either)…but the devil is in the details. Once we really dig into the human side of the issue, one finds that consolidation simply trades one set of problems for another.

  22. RN’s comments on making school choice a possibility to eliminate bad schools begs the question: why are bad schools bad? Are the educators unmotivated? Are the administrators disengaged? Could it be because higher levels of special needs children attend those schools? Are other socioeconomic factors at work? Do things like outside academic tutors, safer neighborhoods, increased access to shopping and professional work areas, and family food and resource vulnerability contribute to student success?

    School choice means that all those kids who struggle in “those” schools will now be YOUR students. Are you ready for that? Are you ready for those problems that may follow them? What will those “choice” schools look like later? Will schools start to turn away “voucher” kids at every opportunity, create a lottery system to mitigate the flood of students, or something else?

    The statement about charter schools is a bit disingenous as well. When special needs students cause behavior issues, the charter can simply expel them to the public school district of record. Public school districts do not have that option, and must exercise a significant amount of restraint, investigation and follow-up for those things to occur. Charters operate with a large degree of public funding, but are not accountable in all the same ways as public schools are. Charter schools tend to be the voucher/school choice folks’ sideways run around the repeated squashing by Texas voters of the “school choice” argument to defund public schools.

    School choice is a great idea in theory, but practically speaking, it’s simply a way some folks would like to pull dollars out of public education without really working on the education problem.

  23. My friend works for SAISD and the stories he tells me are insane. Extremely rude, disrespectful and downright horrible students who do not understand that he is simply tying to educate them.

    I understand this article and I agree, but at some point it doesn’t matter how much $$$ you pour into something. The PARENTS of these children are usually bad role models for these kids and may be using drugs etc.

    More money and consolidation will not stop an underlying cause of our children’s lack of success. I believe the parents of these “bad kids” have no idea how important an education is and until that changes, you will not see a difference in the education system here.

    • Research supports your comments. Results in school are correlated to home life, yes family, much more than money spent, class size, etc. My wife volunteers st a charitable institution, and ever week she comes home with stories of unwed mothers with kids from different fathers. Those kids have little chance in life. Someone wrote about the cycle of poverty, well there it is. He also mentioned the cycle of wealth as it was something bad. I’d like to get on it, anyway

  24. While not 100% in Bexar County, the # of districts would be 18 if Boerne ISD, Comal ISD and Schertz-Cibolo-Universal City ISD were included as I believe their boundaries and taxing authority extend into Bexar County.

  25. Multiple school districts is a primary driver of continued racial and economic segregation by neighborhood. White flight to the Hill Country continues to be the primary force shaping our city. The problem of gentrification is also a symptom of the loss of economic power by working people in our segregated neighborhoods school districts.

    • It’s not the schools. The 50% of kids born in SA to unwed mothers are, except for those few who manage to break the mold, are destined to a life in poverty. It won’t make any difference which district they are in. Look at the stats.

      • With all due respect, you and others are trafficking in stereotypes. Of course, the inner city schools have the highest rates of teen pregnancy, but it’s also true these numbers are down from historic highs. It’s also true that few of the students enrolled in these districts are the product of unwed teen moms whose fathers have refused to take responsibility. Most students come from working class families that face incredible challenges overcoming systematic poverty. Just look at the relative stagnation of the minimum wage over the last three decades and you get an idea of what people face. It’s hard to work two jobs and come home to fix a healthy dinner and then read to your kids when you can’t even begin to afford books, internet, or the time and luxury of a branch library experience. Empathy and understanding are the keys, in my view, to pursuing improved public education outcomes. The good news is we are seeing these improved outcomes every day in SAISD, for example, the inner city’s largest school district, despite the fact it’s 50,000 students are largely Latino and poor. Innovative principals and teachers, backed by visionary, reform-minded administrators, are making a real difference. Let’s support them with time, legislative funding, energy, and political support. There is nothing hopeless about the situation. –RR

        • Bob, you betray yourself when you start talking about minimum wage. Everyone knows, or should know, that minimum wage legislation was enacted to protect union labor. During the Depression, blacks, in great numbers, migrated from the South to the North. Cheaper to hire, they started taking jobs from whites. Unions fought back and got minimum wage instituted at a level that made it uneconomic for employers to hire blacks who, generally, were less-skilled than union members. Everytime you increase the minimum wage you kill jobs; it’s basic economics. Politicians know this, but they don’t want to look like meanies, so they increase it anyway. And you are right there with them.

  26. We all know that most of the problems with bad schools are due to bad parenting. My sister teaches at a Title 1 school. The stories she tells me have greatly influenced me to support school vouchers. Most of her students are the children of teenage parents. Almost all of her students don’t have a college educated pattern. And the bad behavior is off the charts. One student shoved a heavily pregnant teacher and was not punished. Why? Because that would be racist. Since Obama decided that punishing minority students is racist, her heavily Latino school has very little discipline. And the students know that no matter how bad they behave, there will be no negative consequences for bad behavior.
    Also is anyone really shocked that a teenage mom with a GED doesn’t have a salary of $150,000 and a home in Alamo Heights? Is that racism? No that is just bad decision making on the part of teenage mom. Most white collar middle class jobs require a college degrees. What percentage of parents in Harlandale or South San ISD have a college degree?
    You can’t fix education until you fix the bad parents who don’t value education .

    As for my sister, she is looking for a job outside of education. The #1 reason for her planning to leave education is the bad behavior of her students. It is frustrating trying to teach students who don’t respect you and don’t want to learn.

  27. A pithy article filled with critical facts but lacking in one essential reality; that is, the social capital that will be required to create an environment where consolidation is not only necessary but viable as well. In the end Forced Consolidation will be the tactic most employed in order to effect many of the advantages presented by Mr. Rivard. However, this will not capture the hearts of the many citizens who are very content to live with the current shortcomings of districts simply to ensure that “their school,” “their school district,” their school history” doesn’t get trampled in the march toward the advantages of consolidation. Until this aspect is honored, no other arguments–even the cost-effective arguments–will hold sway leaving others who possess or steal the power to force consolidation to make mandates, laws, charters et cetera that lead to it. This issue is NOT a matter of economics. It is a matter of the Heart and until we fashion a strategy of change that honors this reality, nothing will move communities forward on its resolution short of the bullying nature of political leaders. God forbid!

  28. Bob: I think you can see that your article (which I agree with all of your points) has started a conversation we MUST have in San Antonio! You & I have been volunteering and contributing in the education arena since the early 80’s. For what it’s worth, I believe we have to start with the leadership in every district. Having minimum qualifications and standards to run for school board is a place to start. TEA should be able to initiate this change immediately. I would propose the following as a good start:
    1) You must have a minimum of a High School Degree from a certified High School.
    2) You must be financially solvent.
    3) You cannot have a criminal record and/or have served time in jail.
    4) You must have a minimum of 5 community leaders who will vouch for your integrity.
    5) You must agree that you cannot hire any of your relatives by blood or marriage for employment in the school district where you serve. This means zero nepotism!

    Leadership starts at the top and that doesn’t matter whether it’s the Public or Private Sectors. School Boards, Superintendents and Administrative leadership must set good examples and be good role models.

    Some consolidations must take place and we can start with the worst of the worst and clean house. We should also applaud the efforts of SAISD and their Trustees and Superintendent, Pedro Martinez. By working together and doing what’s right for their students, they are making amazing progress in spite of the many self-centered special interests opposing them. It took a lot of guts for Pedro to admit the district had a whopping 66% of the teachers that were not certified.
    And………. that’s a whole other topic for you to write about next!

    Keep charging my friend!

  29. Children deserve equal education. Districts divided into poor and reach and all of this is about poverty, and how have been said before, about the “circle of wealth”. The future will meet us whether we prepared for it or not, this must be solved soon enough for the best.

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