Supporting Pedro Martinez and San Antonio’s Inner-City Public Schools

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SAISD Superintendent Pedro Martinez.

Scott Ball / Rivard Report

SAISD Superintendent Pedro Martinez speaks during a breakfast with the San Antonio business community.

Earthquake tremors in California are not uncommon, but one that struck in Los Angeles on April 2 was felt in San Antonio days later. It was an article in the Los Angeles Times exploring potential candidates to fill the vacant position for superintendent of the city’s big public school district.

A photo of Pedro Martinez, superintendent of the San Antonio Independent School District, greeted online readers, and he was named as one of several potential candidates for the Los Angeles job. That set off alarms among supporters throughout San Antonio, and rightly so. Martinez was hired on a five-year contract, three years ago next month. His work is only beginning.

Martinez told me last week that he is not a candidate and intends to stay in Texas. Still, this is a wake-up call for San Antonio. City and district leaders wanted a great superintendent and they certainly found one. Yet Martinez is not getting the high level of community-wide support he needs to succeed.

Martinez is proving to be a once-in-a-generation change agent in the highly challenging realm of transforming San Antonio’s inner city public schools – designing new in-district charters, partnering with other charters, setting ambitious graduation and college-bound goals, and identifying a new generation of ambitious school principals.

The challenges are huge: More than 90 percent of SAISD’s students are socio-economically disadvantaged minorities. The district’s shrinking population of students now hovers around 50,000, down 3,000 from two years ago. That is an unsustainable enrollment decline of 6 percent.

The district’s students come from families mired in poverty and suffer from toxic stress,  higher incidences of obesity, diabetes, and other chronic diseases, and higher levels of domestic abuse, food insecurity, and lower life expectancy. Try educating children who come to school hungry and traumatized.

Yet the whole city needs to own SAISD’s problems as we look to San Antonio’s future and come to terms with the consequences of a city that developed with such pronounced economic segregation. Undereducated individuals enjoy few choices in life, face compounding problems as they age, and often become a burden all taxpayers bear.

Despite what some might say is a Sisyphean task, Martinez is making a real difference. Fixing public schools is not a hopeless problem. Martinez is leading significant change in the district, inspiring administrators, principals and teachers to embrace risk and higher expectations. He is confronting those defending the status quo, and creating new choices in schools and programs for district families, and for families outside the district drawn to the innovative in-district charters and magnet schools. Click here to survey the district’s most impressive choice schools.

Digital Art and Animation teacher Ms. Medellin welcomes students to CAST Tech.

Scott Ball / Rivard Report

Digital Art and Animation teacher Ms. Medellin welcomes the first-ever students to CAST Tech.

Some criticize the practice of recruiting out-of-district students for taking slots away from local students, yet it’s a proven way of diversifying the socio-economic mix in classrooms and adds students back to the district, thus increasing state funding.

Martinez is the first superintendent in the urban core’s biggest school district to energetically engage the business community. He has been welcomed with respect and enthusiasm, but over time with far less material support than needed. I do not believe in shaming businesses or wealthy individuals, but I don’t see a lot of money flowing into the nonprofit SAISD Foundation given that the district includes the downtown business district.

I do see significant private philanthropy flowing into the city’s fast-growing network of public charters organized under the Choose to Succeed umbrella, which includes BASIS Schools, Great Heart Academies, IDEA Public Schools, and  KIPP San Antonio.

Martinez and other area superintendents, notably North East Independent School District Superintendent Brian Gottardy, are seeing thousands of students leaving their districts for the expanding public charter system as more and more families shop for what they believe is the best option for their children right now.

As Emily Donaldson, our education reporter, wrote on March 26, Martinez told school board members that his district faces a looming $31 million shortfall due to a sharp decline in enrollment. A few weeks earlier, Gottardy told his school board members that the loss of 2,000 students, many to the charters, has led to a dire financial crisis.

An article written by a mother named Inga Cotton published here in November 2012 could have been written yesterday, and illustrates the dilemma for all those who believe well-funded public school districts are essential to the state’s future. Good schools are not just for the lucky few who can gain entry into a charter school. Yet what choice do  impatient parents have when they live near low-performing, underfunded district schools?

It’s a conundrum: No parent with choices is going to defer a child’s good education while waiting for a district to improve, yet each student departing the public school system reduces the state’s funding and accelerates the district’s decline.

Martinez is creating lots of in-district choices, but he is fighting decades of perception that the district is failing and it is true that many of the district’s 90 campuses are not producing acceptable results. If anyone can navigate this dilemma, Martinez can. But he can’t do it alone. He needs community-wide support, especially from business leaders.

Pedro Martinez bows his head along with colleagues and SAISD board members. Photo by Scott Ball.

Superintendent Pedro Martinez (center) sits with colleagues and SAISD board members.

Even if Choose to Succeed achieves its stated goal of enrolling 80,000 students by 2026, in a fast-growing city with hundreds of thousands of public school students today, that “lifeboat” strategy leaves most students to somehow survive on reduced funding.

San Antonio needs a public education strategy that works for everyone, and that requires giving the superintendent the resources needed to put a strong principal and well-trained, well-paid teachers in every school.

Los Angeles’ public schools are not exactly the Promised Land – the problems there are not small. Yet San Antonio is at risk of losing Martinez if demoralizing enrollment declines and budget cuts are not reversed. Republicans and Democrats alike must press the Texas Legislature to reverse the trend of reducing per-capita student spending. More innovation should be funded. Private philanthropy for public schools isn’t the solution, but it can make a big difference.

It’s a rainy day in Texas and San Antonio, and elected officials must commit to investing in all our children, especially our big cities’ growing populations of disadvantaged minority children. They deserve the exact same education opportunities afforded the states’ middle- and upper-class white students. Nothing less is acceptable.

Coming next Sunday: Why Texas will never be a leader in educating its students with underfunded, competing public school systems.

48 thoughts on “Supporting Pedro Martinez and San Antonio’s Inner-City Public Schools

    • It’s about money and power and Martinez and the SAISD Board are complicit, him probably knowingly and at least some Board members unknowingly. Powerful corporations and foundations want to control our low-income Black and Brown children. They want them to comply to authority. They don’t want critical thinkers.

    • It’s a Farce! Public Schools belong to the Public. Making decisions for everyone including educators, faculty, and staff is not what we should be demonstrating to our students and communities. The only reason the budget is messed up is Pedro is getting a raise, these “Charter schools” are taking THOUSANDS of students from SAISD in return for $$$$. Instead of supporting the existing schools, classrooms, and educators, giving them what they need to have success in the classroom, Pedro is selling off parts of SAISD to make more $. Decline in enrollment is because these charter school are demanding so many of SAISD’’s youth, which is why SAISD decided its was a brilliant idea to FIRE AMAZING EDUCATORS through a RIF and RIP, beginning on Teacher Appreciation day and through the week.Its not over either. Through the grapevine, staff are hearing that the firing is not over. After the May 14th Board meeting, from what we understand there will still be layoff’s.
      If a school has a deaf population of students, why get rid of ALL Special ed. And sign language Certified interpreters! Teaching the language of Spanish, the online course is being offered instead of a class, with an actual person teaching. How many more corners must be cut?
      Principals were asked in January 2018 to make a list of the staff on their campus and Rank them. The bottom number of teachers were let go. How did they come up with these people? What was the process, step by step for all of this?
      When at Board meetings and people are speaking, watch… Board members are playing on electronic devices or checking emails. Also, certain companies will be putting quite a bit of ones into the next SAISD Board elections. Having people on the board who are easily swayed and complacent is what is now deemed acceptable. Even employees of the district have been told, “they have to much will”. Its our job to ask questions, seek out better ways of doing things, yet we are being asked or terminated if our ‘will’ is to much or strong. Where is the accountability? Where is the transparency? Was there ever any consultation with anyone, to include ALL SAISD personell, staff, educators, and employees from across the district. I can confidently say, NO! So so many things that are now happening within SAISD as a result of ‘jumping the gun’ without thinking of logistics, doing things behind closed doors, and without the consideration of so many things. Pedro Martinez is BAD for San Antonio. If he had maybe been an educator himself instead of just a businessman, maybe he would understand better what actually happens in the classroom and why Thousands of employees of the district are against what he is doing and planning. Democrazy Prep will have two teachers per classroom, why not take the idea and implement it in our own schools with our own educators, instead of tossing Valueable people aside and bringing in something totally new that will Not help our students, but only give them more stress and strain in their young lives as well as the parents who cannot get them to these schools, want neighborhood Public schools, and cannot register their children for next year! Pedro wants it all done online… Many people don’t have access to a computer #1, the site doesn’t work and if/when it does is takes at least 35-45 minutes to register ONE student #2, and with the populations we have, instead of doing what’s best for our children and fighting to give them the very best, SAISD will have an influx of students in September. The district is looking at hiring NEW people… but they just let so many go. I fear for the students. If things continue the way they are, SAISD will not be what it could. Selling schools off so Charter from NY can come in??? $31 Billion Dollars. Let’s look at Pedro’s, all Board and asst superintendents, and the Upper administrations salaries and benefits.

  1. Community wide support is not given, it’s earned. Pedro has a track record of ignoring the community. He continues to make decisions for the community, not with us. As a voter and tax payer in District 1, I find your commentary insulting. Why does Pedro need you asking for community support on his behalf? Why can’t Pedro seek this himself? Why hasn’t he sought this himself? He’s been here for a couple years, if he has not earned community support that’s on him. He chose to invest in behind closed door desicion making tactics. He did not invest in the community. There’s no point in asking us to support him now. He’s a liar. He’s not a public school supporter. He’s not collaborative. No matter how many puff pieces you write, this will not change.

  2. Thank you for this article. As a parent of a pre-schooler living in the SAISD area, we have desperately searched for the right fit for our daughter this next year. I’m the product of public schools (Northside ISD) and want to support SAISD, but obviously giving my kids the best start comes first. We applied to Twain Dual Language Academy, which I think is a great model and shows a lot of promise. However, when my daughter didn’t get I was truly dismayed to find out that the district saves around 25% of the seats in its choice schools for out-of-district students. At Twain, that means 3 out of the total 11 seats for English-speaking pre-k this year. That’s a lot when you’ve got families lining up to get in within your own district. I appreciate that they are trying to bring in students to increase revenue, but the argument that the district needs more diversity is misguided. Our district has plenty of diversity and we need to take care of the kids inside the district to keep families from leaving, because that’s what will happen. And I don’t mean just sending my kids to a private school or charter. For us, it would mean moving to an area where our (currently very high) taxes mean schools that aren’t failing our kids. We want to support SAISD, but not at the expense of our kids’ futures.

    • Agreed. Our in district schools should be for the students of the community first and then if slots cannot be filled seek students from outside the district.

  3. Elected officials and community leaders do not automatically receive my support; they must earn it. Pedro’s paternalistic practices have all but eliminated community voices from the process. The opinions of teachers, parents, and students are swept aside and the SAISD Board remains complacent, content to believe that he knows what’s best.

    I support leaders who consult those they lead. I support leaders who conduct their business in the open, who support communication, and who embrace transparency. I support leaders who are truthful, who treat their employees and staff with dignity and respect, and who are working to eliminate the structural barriers that exist in one of the most segregated cities in the nation. Pedro does not behave in this manner and thus does not have my support, nor will he ever receive it.

  4. Thanks but no thanks. I have raised my children, and they are stellar citizens with strong Christian values and their children are in Christ based schools! We struggled to make ends meet as my children were growing up, but they still turned out to be well educated with strong morals. So dont tell me to help save your schools from disaster due to low socio economic families. Get the parents involved in their day to day lives, attend Christ based services, take away the free phones and ipads and take away the drugs. It will take God in their lives to “save” the schools. Amen.

    • This is ridiculous. I think it’s madness to insinuate that it takes “Christ” to teach morals. The opposite is often the case. All these folks hammering the superintendent for taking control and doing things on his own – good! For decades, the input that so many are seeking, have led to a pathetically under-performing district.

  5. He’s privatizing our public school district without the public’s consent . He Hires a lawyer to protect his emails , then buys himself a couple weeks to delete emails before releasing them to the public , everywhere he goes a private school follows , San Antonio doesn’t want anymore private schools , they don’t hire certified teachers , they aren’t required to teach to Texas standards , why would any Texas school choose privatization, look at the prison system , so many needs and issues being slipped through the cracks , Pedro needs to leave before he signs a 10 year contract to turn this city into a privatized nightmare , oh wait he’s already signed 4 schools over for privatizing.

  6. Your article answers it’s own question. Why doesn’t the community support the Superintendent? Because the superintendent doesn’t support the community. He is a tourist supperintendent building up his resume. He’s just passing through and doing a lot of damage along the way. How can he outsource 2,400 students to Democracy Prep and 200 students to Texas Can one week and than turn around next week and act confused on why the district projects a lose of 3,000 students, for next school, the very next week. SAISD is not losing students, the superintendent under this board of trustees is giving them away. Your correct about the result of this – even less funding for our already underfunded schools. Our schools are not failing, this district is failing our schools. The superintendent is leading the charge.

    • Example: On March 19th of this year – over 200 students, parents, teachers, and community members attended the Board of Trustees meeting to speak out against the Stewart Elementary sellout to Democracy Prep. The board voted unanimously against their constituents requests and followed the misguided leadership of Martinez. Now, you’re asking the community to support him when he refused to the same?

    • He’ll have to leave sometime soon. So much of what is going on is smoke and mirrors. He’s trying to build a name for himself. He’ll have to leave before it all collapses or he won’t be able to move to the next position he wants.

  7. SAISD has had many excellent schools for years, since before Mr. Martinez came. The question I have is will we have any left by the time he leaves? He has continually made changes that are not in the best interest of OUR students and OUR community. He doesn’t listen to the community, why should we support him? Maybe if I had gone to a charter school like Democracy Prep, where conformity is the goal, I would agree. But I did not, not only did I graduate from SAISD, I stayed! Mr. Martinez makes these changes under the auspicious guise of innovation, when in reality he has been undermining public education. Public school belong to the public! Look at New Orleans, look at Detroit, see what the charter school invasion has done for those cities! As for inspiring educators, I have not seen that at all. If anything I feel less valued. How would you feel if your principal/supervisor was asked to rate you as replaceable or irreplaceable, with only 20% allowed to be designated irreplaceable? We are not going to solve our problems by bringing in outside forces to tell us what needs to change. We have the talent and motivation to make it happen, but when we’re not treated as partners, it is extremely discouraging. Our students deserve the best education possible and the best way to ensure that is to listen to the community and what we need, which Mr. Martinez has continually failed to do.

  8. Giving credit where credit is due, several of the innovative successful schools listed and seemingly referenced were in place before Martinez arrived–Bonham Academy, Young Women’s Leadership Academy, Magnet schools focused on law, health and international baccalaureate, Early College High School. Change does not happen overnight or in a year or two as the superintendents and board members who were involved in these innovative programs could attest. Perhaps the Rivard Report could give more stories about the ongoing success of these programs which would make more parents look into these programs instead of going to Great Heart, Kipp etc. YWLA gets a fair amount of coverage and is blessed to have been adopted by a number of entities such as the SA Women’s Hall of Fame. IE it is OK to give the bad news and to support Martinez if you want to but please deal with some of the problems that are not helping people enroll their kids in public schools in their areas–such as Monte Vista Mom. And please provide coverage about Bonham Academy, about IB program, about magnet programs etc . People read the Rivard report and look for good news. Last but not least, please explain more about businesses contributing funds to the SA Education Foundation—where does the money go etc.

      • I’m glad you pointed out some of the limited examples of great programs in SAISD. I think the Rivard Report has done a pretty good job of covering these programs (like Bonham, Twain and ALA), but I was very disappointed in the tone of this article supporting SAISD’s weak “diversity” claim to bring in out-of-district students. Luckily, our family has the means to go somewhere else if we need to, and I know my daughters will get a good education in Alamo Heights or NISD if we end up there, but many families in the district don’t have that opportunity.

        I’m all about giving everyone an opportunity for the best education possible, but I don’t know how SAISD can have this policy to bring in out-of-district students at the expense (literally) of the students within the district. I wouldn’t be upset that my daughter didn’t get into Twain, if the seats were being filled by others who are within SAISD and looking for the best for their kids, just like me. I am upset that this district has chosen trying to get more money from the state by bringing in out-of-district students over providing what’s best for its own students and families. Why don’t you try to stop the bleeding from within by supporting those of us who are trying to support you (both with tax dollars and involvement)? This practice doesn’t make me want to support Mr. Martinez or SAISD. Frankly, I just want to leave, and we probably will, along with other young professional families who’ve taken the same chance on SAISD and been let down.

        And the fact that the diversity argument even enters the fray as an excuse is a sham and is disgraceful. There is plenty of cultural and socioeconomic diversity within SAISD-just look around the SAISD neighborhoods. And if you want to invite more diversity, do so by making your schools great and making families want to move to SAISD, like what AH and the northside districts have done.

    • Nancy, I am responding to your request to explain where the funds go that are are contributed to the SAISD Foundation (our legal name is San Antonio Foundation for Excellence in Education Inc. operating under Tax ID 74-2861587). We are a 501 c 3 public charity with a Board of Directors and Advisors that supports schools and students in San Antonio ISD as well as District initiatives.

      We are best known for the 350+ grants we award to teachers each year to both encourage innovation and help ensure equitable and excellent classroom and program offerings. We are currently reviewing the 100 innovative grant applications we received across our schools for grants for exciting STEM programs like Cybersecurity, Makerspaces and Robotics and well as programs to enhance Fine Arts including new kilns to expand ceramics, Harmony Directors to enhance band programs, and supplies for new after school art clubs run by teachers volunteering their time. In enrichment, we are reviewing applications to start school based news stations and bring in movement programs like DrumFIT. Lastly we have applications in hand for lots of increased technology from Smart Boards to iPads, which we just do not have enough funding to support.

      We also fund over 120 students scholarships to support gap funding for higher education for our students. Much of that funding is in named and memorial scholarships from proud SAISD alumni, but we are also the fiscal agent for the wonderful investment of the SAWHOF scholarship funds for YWLA mentioned in comments above. We recently accepted our first memorial, endowed scholarship in memory of Frances M. Greiner, MD which will provide two scholarships for SAISD students in perpetuity.

      We support programs at the District level with support from businesses and philanthropy. HEB’s investment in creating a leadership pathway program for professional growth for internal future SAISD school leaders is a great example. This year is the second year of a 2M investment in that program which trains up current SAISD employees to create and internal pipeline for Principals, Associate Principals Assistant Principals, Instructional Specialists. Just last week, future school leaders in that program presented to the SAISD School Board on the depth and impact of that training.

      Another example is the Valero Energy Foundation’s five-year investment (8.4M in total) in adding two new College Bound Advisors this past school year in all of SAISD’s comprehensive high schools and expanding what was formerly a volunteer-based College Tour Program to support well over 250 students (up from 79 last year) in experiencing selective colleges across the nation and across Texas. Their investment also supports two new alumni staff and related software so SAISD can build on the work of the Gear Up program and continue to track and support SAISD alumni in their next educational journey. This staffing will all be sustainable after the five-year grant funded period through the voter approved TRE funds which demonstrates how strongly the Superintendent and the SAISD School Board feel about the importance of this program. It is exciting to see real student gains in this area already. We can’t wait for college signing day at Alamo Convocation Center later this week!

      The SAISD Foundation office is located in Mark Twain and we welcome the opportunity to share more with you, or anyone who is interested, about the work of the SAISD Foundation and how we support teachers, schools and SAISD to positively impact student success. There is much more to share. We are very proud of our 1,735 SAISD employee donors and 462 business and community donors to date this school year, but much more funding is needed to support SAISD and SAISD schools!

  9. Community support is lacking because Superintendent Martinez has chosen to disregard community voice in his decision making. The families of SAISD are not pawns to be used to advance his career and reputation as a reformer. The policy decisions made by the Superintendent and the Board of Trusteees have direct impact on our lives. We have a vested interest in making sure the schools work for all our kids and must be included in developing the vision for SAISD.

  10. Having so many school districts is part of the problem. If we had one big school district that served the entire city, the money could be used more equitably.

  11. Community members please share with your friends and more voices will be heard, go to school board meetings and share concerns with the board, email the board also. Thank you for wanting the best for our students!

  12. Another nice piece for your boy Bob. Interesting comments about LA Unified Bob. My brother stopped teaching chemistry at Brackenridge after Pedro’s first year at SAISD because he was being pressured to pass every failing student to bump up graduation rates. These “college ready” students were in for a nice surprise if and when they enter a college or university. But, they are not Pedro’s or SAISD’s problem anymore. Needless to say my brother now teaches under the STEMM program at Venice High School (Rydell High) and couldn’t be any happier. An LA school was the promised for my brother and Brackenridge lost one of the . A Teach for America member filled his spot and they fulfilled their two year commitment and left. Brackenridge lost one of the well-trained teachers you mention because of Pedro’s push to increase graduation rates no matter if the student completes the work or not.

  13. Pedro Martinez is part of the problem, he is not the solution. As stated in the article there has been a decline in enrollment since he took over. He is in the business of selling off the schools to corporate America while pretending there is no other solution. He has made many decisions in the district with no consultation of the community. He has put many programs in place that takes away money from the children and the teachers that work with the children, and given it to people who do administrative work, or no work at all. He has brought in testing that seems to be something that must be sold by someone that he is associated with to make some sort of profit for himself as well as the makers of the tests. If he had done a little research on some of these testing programs he would have seen that successful districts in other states have removed these expensive test programs from their districts. One of the programs cost over a half a million dollars a year to maintain. The cost of those programs are exorbitant and the validity and reliability of the testing is unproven . We can only hope that San Antonio businesses do not buy into this farce and give him any more money, and that he seek employment elsewhere and leaves SAISD to try and recover from the damage that he has already done.

  14. Knowing that there are great innovative schools in San Antonio, it saddens me to see that San Antonio ISD is being systematically dismantled. First our Texas legislature decreases funding per student. Now, Mr. Martinez and the current board members sell-off district real-estate, and hand over schools to private charters. This year Stewart is being outsourced and their teachers are displaced, and the message is that the Superintendent and the SAISD Board plan to let go of 10 more schools in the future. Many questions are being generated, and you should be concerned to.

    Mrs. Patti Raddle, why hasn’t the districted invested more in teacher resources, specifically in district 5? Why does the community find out about these decisions after the fact, in a newspaper column? Mr. Steve Lecholop, is the district being placed in a position for bankruptcy? If so, will the district merge will another district or will all campuses be outsourced? Mr. Ed Garza, how was selling off real-estate in the best interest of the district’s long-term needs? Ms. Debra Guerrero, why haven’t people like me, who live, work, and are products of the district been asked what we want are district to look like in the future. Why haven’t we had community meetings about matters that drastically change the face of SAISD?

    • I appreciate that Mr. Rivard identified the many challenges that our students face, because yes poverty and other outside factors affect the children we see every day. Yet it is seems that far too often those teachers and staff that are taking up the challenge to educate children that come to us tired, hungry, traumatized, etc that our voice is often lost in the background, or even worse our collective voice is portrayed as “defending the status quo” as if any educator does not have high expectations for their students and wants to see them master the TEKs. I know many colleagues that had high hopes for Mr. Martinez. I and other educators sat at a roundtable discussion that was held with our San Antonio Alliance and I too was impressed with what I heard from the superintendent, however three years later I and many other of my colleagues have had our hopes faded. The biggest reason being that Pedro Martinez has not listened to the people in the campuses who are there every day! Pedro Martinez has brought in many people to implement lots of “innovative” programs yet these people aren’t in the classroom so how can they have an impact. His “leadership” can best be described as disorganized to non existent at some levels. So it is disingenuous to have you try to appeal for community support when you don’t set foot in the community and LISTEN to their ideas for success. I didn’t see Mr. Rivard or Mr. Martinez engaging the communities they are lobbying for support from. I was at a meeting of the Lanier cluster where the community flat out told Mr. Martinez among other things that he isn’t present and he isn’t listening. That is all a result of his actions after three years. I without a doubt would love to have a partner to fight the inequalities that are being brought about at the state level, but within SAISD Mr. Rivard you are making the same mistake as Pedro. You’re doing all the talking and none of the listening.

  15. When someone continually ingnores the community how to you expect them to support them. Martinez is more interested in bringing in families from outside the district. I’m curious to see if those schools with a high percentage of outside district familes have the same amount of resources or more. The Trinity University partnership is something he likes to brag about but the schools that he chose to have them in have a high percentage of outside the district students. Why not put those interns in school that have actual SAISD students? He doesn’t have the support because he hasn’t earned it.

  16. A new teacher, with no experience teaching the subject for which they were hired but handpicked by one of the Superintendent’s “stars”, stated soon after arrival that the district, school and teachers weren’t here to serve the community.

    Fortunately, all out other teachers not only say the opposite, but exemplify service to our community. Except, they’re starting to leave because they’re being treated so poorly by district administrators who protect the worst, and who repeat the philosophy that the district is not there to serve the community.

    What, then, is the purpose of public school?

  17. “Reserving a percentage of seats for out of district students will ensure consistency and continued Texas funding as well as increase the potential for a diverse socio-economic environment within SAISD ” while simultaneously denying those same seats to students who already live within the district with diverse socio-economic standing….. REALLY? How can you justify taking a full seat and calling it empty then filling it with inappropriate matter be justifiable. If at the end of a specified enrollment period there are still empty seats, then and only then should they be open to those residing outside of the district to eliminate state funding shortfalls. Additionally, do not have different grading policies for students enrolled at certain schools, while living within the school district but outside of the home school boundary to ensure a specific scoring benchmark. Discriminatory.

  18. Public schools belong to the public. It is beyond my understanding how Pedro is getting away with giving these public institutions to for-profit companies, especially without considering our community voices. It’s no wonder he’s in need of more community support, but he won’t be getting it from my family, with a home in the Jefferson area. I am a product of SAISD and work in one of the schools. I see the chaos created, thanks to our superintendent’s leadership. He has betrayed the trust that folks, like me, have put in him. He doesn’t need support; he needs to go!

    Giving away our public schools…without the voice and transparency mandated by the state…doesn’t sound innovative but instead unethical!

  19. Nothing new in this editorial! I think I read one just like it two or three Superintendents ago in one of the newspapers. SAISD continues to hire these Superintendents who cozy up with business community , come up with new “miracles” to save the schools, win endorsement from media publishers, then walk away to higher pay. Only thing new here is Martinez’ privatization boondoggle. Privatization schemes are ruining public services. Look at prisons, child welfare, HHSC, mental health, it just goes on. Cannot believe SAISD board gave unanimous consent to this privatization scheme.

  20. Hey, Rivard, you REALLY undershot this one. It is clear you are not in touch with the community of SAISD (I am one of them). It is also clear you you are NOT a teacher. (I have 40 years of teaching experience.) What I have just read is NOT journalism, it is a commercial for this “Diversity” scheme. For once, trust the intelligence, care, and genuine spirit of those who live here, have grown up here, teach here, and study here, to KNOW what needs to be accomplished in our own community.

      • Yes, and so is my reply. I must say that Rivard has an uncommon access to media in which to express his “opinion,” unlike the rest of us. Nonetheless, he is still held accountable for the premises on which his “opinion” is based.

  21. Bob, thank you for this thoughtful article. I agree that Pedro is a once-in-a-generation change agent. His reforms will start to have an impact, mostly because he is focusing on boosting the quality of instruction and school leadership–the key to academic success. One must hit the bureaucracy over the head pretty hard to get its attention and make change, and judging by the comments, this is exactly what is happening.

    • This is perfect. The ONE pro-Martinez comment so far comes from Mr. Charter, Tom Torkelson. Your weighing in helps emphasize the point that Martinez is enamored with charters. He is in the process of charterizing the entire district, of taking schools away from the community without the community’s consent. As we look around the country we see which communities’ schools get closed and/or given away to charters. It’s the low-income Black and Brown communities. You, like Martinez, are not from this community. Not sure if you, Martinez, and Rivard are knowingly part of the plan to turn our kids into compliant, non-questioning, obedient adults who will be able to be controlled by authority or whether you are just unwitting participants. Either way, it’s sad.

    • The people commenting do not appear to be the “bureaucracy” but the community to whom the schools belong. Given that the definition of bureaucracy is “a system of government in which most of the important decisions are made by state officials rather than by elected representatives,” it would appear that Martinez and you are the ones who are part of the bureaucracy. Your charter board is not elected and the current SAISD school board seems to have completely abdicated its responsibilities.

  22. I would like to applaud Mr. Martinez and the SAISD board for their leadership and vision. They are making progress and will continue to do so with the help of community members.

    Much of the commentary provided is either antidotal experiences of conflating narratives, or misguided thinking or disinformation. The claims that SAISD enrollment decline is attributed to Pedro Martinez since it occurred upon his inception as Supt is preposterous. So is he also responsible for NEISD enrollment decline as well? The decline is a result of charter school inroads in our city. The idea that Martinez is selling off our public schools to charter is a gross oversimplification and false. First, Martinez cannot do such action without Board approval. Second, these schools are still SAISD. They haven’t gone any where. Third, the Board is using a variety of options to improve student performance. One of those options is charter management of a campus. Again such entities are contracted with the district with a finite amount of time. How long they persist in the district remains to be seen? We may even come to co-exist. Additionally, Martinez has implemented other programs that do not relate to charter schools at all, i.e. master teachers, implementation specialists, consulting teachers (in collaboration with the Alliance), New Leaders and others. In all, SAISD is facing a milieu of challenges that require innovative approaches. While disagreement exists on how we solve these challenges, I think such discourse would be better served by avoid mischaracterization and overgeneralization.

    Pedro Martinez is leading the way in SAISD. I hope he garners further community support, our children deserve it.

  23. My gosh! I have never seen so many comments from a RR article and have never heard a journalist praise someone like Bob has done regarding Pedro. There are many good superintendents and all could be much more successful with more money. I agree the Texas legislature needs to stop funding their pet projects and focus on funding education. Maybe it is time for Texas teachers and administrators to walk out and demand more funding.

  24. My grandson attends a faith based school. I now understand why parents send children to these schools. The students are well behaved, class sizes are small, teachers have aides, and students with behavioral problems are removed from the school. Having taught at an elementary school, I am now a strong supporter of private schools. It is not easy to financially support sending a child to these schools but the results are life-time results making the investment the best one a parent can make for their children.

    • I see a revealing contradiction here…a faith based school that removes students with “behavioral problems.” Hmmm. What would Jesus think about that. Ironically, In this regard, it is the public school that may best exemplify Christian values.

  25. One big difference between public and private schools is student behavior. When I taught elementary school in SAISD, a majority of my time was spent disciplining students versus teaching. In private schools teachers sped the majority of time teaching and not disciplining. If SAISD wants to excel, support its teachers by eliminating the discipline problems. Fixing that one problem will go along way in better educating its students.

    Bob, spend a few hours within a few classrooms within ISD then report on your findings.

    • And do what with them? Send them out onto the streets?

      That’s the challenge of public school – we have to educate every child, even the ones who are difficult. We don’t get to cherry pick our students. Every child deserves a good education and the opportunity to succeed.

      • Cherise, exactly. Looking at the underlying issues that may be causing a student’s behavior is vital to understanding what support is needed for that child. Social-emotional learning, trauma-informed teaching practices, building movement into learning, social workers, and counselors all can be helpful. When children are exhibiting behaviors that are disruptive, there’s something behind that.

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