State Education Commissioner Mike Morath has been eagerly encouraging school districts to turn campuses over to outside partners – notably charters – and he has found a no more-avid partner in this effort than San Antonio ISD and its superintendent, Pedro Martinez.
Last year, Morath approved SAISD’s decision to turn over Stewart Elementary School to Democracy Prep, a New York-based charter chain, despite opposition from TSTA and the San Antonio Alliance of Teachers and Support Personnel, who believe the deal violated several provisions of state law, including a requirement that Stewart teachers and parents be given meaningful input into the decision. They weren’t.
Stewart teachers lost their district contracts and are now employed by Democracy Prep without the due process safeguards provided public school teachers under state law. But the district got some extra funding under another state law, SB1882, which encourages these partnerships for struggling schools, and it got two more years to bring Stewart up to state accountability standards. It remains to be seen if Democracy Prep will be able to do that, since charters have mixed, at best, records on overall student achievement. But turnover fever has taken hold in San Antonio ISD, where, according to the San Antonio Express-News, principals of as many as 10 other campuses are considering partnerships with outside organizations – charters, non-profits, higher education institutions or government agencies.
These schools aren’t necessarily struggling campuses, and teachers’ jobs and contractual rights may not be on the line, the newspaper reported. But what about the principals’ jobs?
The new partner organizations will be accountable to SAISD academically and financially, but the partner organizations will control staffing, curriculum and other decisions made at the campus level. The district, according to the newspaper, will require the outside partners to allow principals “equal say” in hiring decisions, but what else will the principals be doing?
Will the principals still have enough to do to justify the district keeping them on its payroll at their current salaries? Or would that be administrative overload? How many will go to work for the charter or other outside partner?