HISD superintendant stands behind plan to fire teachers with under-performing students

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by Len Cannon / 11 News

khou.com

Posted on March 15, 2010 at 5:27 PM

Updated Monday, Mar 15 at 6:14 PM

HOUSTON -- HISD is one of the only school districts in the country that ties teacher evaluations to student performance.

What that means is when students perform poorly, teachers can lose their jobs.

Superintendant Terry Grier pushed hard for the idea when he took the helm at HISD.

Dr. Grier believes the key to improving public education is to hire good teachers.

"I can tell you this, the Texans, the Rockets, the Astros – they don’t try and win world championships with walk-on players. They don’t do it," Grier said.

So his plan for HISD is to recruit good teachers and weed out the bad ones.

"The people who will not or cannot meet children’s needs, they can’t stay. After we have helped and provided assistance and training, if they cannot or will not meet the needs, we are not a jobs program," Grier said.

The new plan recently approved by the school board that ties teachers’ jobs to students’ success applies to educators who’ve been with HISD for more than three years.

If their students routinely perform well below the district average on tests, they can be fired.

Critics of the plan – many of them teachers – point to matters beyond their control.

Among those, a lack of parental involvement that means they wind up with students who come to class unprepared and unmotivated.

The teachers say getting fired for that isn’t fair.

"Perhaps the people complaining about the unfairness of it, you have to question their values about children and their beliefs about all children being able to learn at high levels," Grier said.

Grier points to the success of Houston charter schools like KIPP Academy and Yes Preparatory – both of which serve low-income neighborhoods.

Currently, there are more than 12,000 teachers in HISD.

The new plan means in the next few years, as many as 500 could be let go.

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