Longview ISD board members heard from State Rep. Jay Dean on Saturday, Feb. 11 during their annual "state of the district" meeting.

Rep. Jay Dean seeks input from LISD community

Sat Feb 11, 2017

Longview ISD board members heard from State Rep. Jay Dean on Saturday, Feb. 11 during their annual "state of the district" meeting.

Trustees were reviewing 2016 goals and plans for the coming year. Dean provided board members with his perspective on how legislative issues might impact Texas school districts.

"You can read about all the things going around Austin right now, and it can be a little concerning," he said. "But the main thing I want to express to you all is the importance of communicating with your elected officials, especially those of you who work in education. Because those advocating (for privatization of education) are not being shy about it."

Citing how the movement hindered schools in his home state of Louisiana, Dean described himself as "anti-voucher all the way," adding that he is skeptical of the new A-F rating system.

"It seems like something that got pushed through without proper vetting," he said. "Keep in mind, this is about the sixth different rating system for Texas school districts since 1985. Seems like just about every time schools start to get a sense of the expectations, they get the rug pulled out from under them."

Board members weighed in, encouraging Dean to pass along the frustration of teachers and administrators in trying to make sense of the controversial new system.

Place 6 trustee Ted Beard said the A-F system "serves no practical educational purpose."

"The agenda behind it is clear," he said. "It's just a big game ... a game where so many of our kids stand to lose so much."

Board president Dr. Chris Mack said A-F appears to be another means to paint districts with a broad brush, creating a distrust for public schools in order to ease the way for vouchers.

"Ultimately, if we continue to move in this direction, all we're going to create is a new form of segregation," he said. "Those of means will be able to utilize these vouchers to move on, but what about the countless economically disadvantaged and special needs children?"

Place 4 trustee Virginia Northcutt questioned the ultimate practicality.

"If the goal (of education) is to have the most resourceful population and workforce, what would the goal of vouchers be?" she asked.

Dean said advocating within their local communities and in the open forum of public dialogue as one way to get the message across.

"One important thing is to keep doing what you're doing: serving on the school board, talking with concerned parents and members of the community, and empower your staff to deliver on the promises of public education for our young people" he said. "Longview ISD is a highly successful school district. You've got a good guy here running things. The results speak for themselves."

Since the A-F system may not be going anywhere, Dean said it's important that the public weigh in on what can be done to repair its evident flaws.

"At the end of the day, we (in the legislature) are a liaison for you," he said. "We are supposed to represent your voice in legislation, not impose policy against your will. Always remember that ... so be sure your voice and your vote holds us accountable."