Senate Bill 893, co-authored by Senator Seliger and Senator Campbell, is creating quite a bit of conversation across the state about changes in teacher pay. When the bill was released, everyone quickly focused an the verbiage about the removal of the minimum pay scale for teachers and a starting pay not to go below $2,750 per month, which is the current minimum pay for a teacher at state step 0.
Do not be concerned with the minimum pay language in this bill. White Oak ISD eliminated the state minimum pay scale years ago when we adopted a pay scale that pays above state base. Only 11 school districts in the state still pay minimum scale. There will be zero school districts in the state that will operate without a pay scale that acknowledges years of service, including White Oak ISD. I do not know if SB 893 will pass the house and/or come out of conference committee to be presented for the Governor’s signature. I do know that White Oak ISD will have a pay scale that remains very similar to the one currently in place. I do know that none of our teachers will experience a decrease in pay based on any part of this piece of legislation.
The true “issue” of this bill is in the language about value added portions of the teacher appraisal process. This language is intended to promote the use of student’s assessments in the teacher appraisal process. I have been and will continue to be opposed to this data for the purpose of determining the job performance of an educator. If required by statute to implement some form of this process, we will use multiple assessments and rely heavily on locally developed assessments to ensure that our faculty gets credit for the outstanding efforts applied each day in meeting the needs of our students. I am open to the idea of rewarding outstanding educators. I have not seen the system that will do that in an acceptable manner as of yet.
Finally, when you are reading the posts on Facebook, tweets and comments in all media outlets, examine the level of trust implied by those contributing to the conversation. In my nearly eight years at White Oak ISD as Superintendent, the students, faculty, staff and leadership team have always been my highest priority. Programs are not preferred over people in White Oak ISD. That set of priorities will not change due to the passing of a piece of legislation. The strength of this district is in the people of this district. I know that and your Board of Trustees knows that as well. Slighting our personnel to put money in the bank has not been, is not and will not be the priority of anyone in leadership at White Oak ISD.
TACS requested that member schools prepare a one page letter with information about the district and the services provided to our students. This information will be complied and presented to legislators as they consider possible voucher bill in both chambers. White Oak’s response is as follows;
White Oak ISD
Pride, Tradition and Educational Excellence!
The White Oak Independent School District is located in East Texas about halfway between Dallas and Shreveport. We provide an educational home to just over 1400 students, Pre-K through 12th grade. WOISD provides a quality “this century” education with an emphasis on one instructional strategy: The Transformation of Instruction in the Classroom.
Instructionally, White Oak ISD provides our faculty and staff with up-to-date training to enhance the classroom experience for all students. The district has been recognized by TEA as a “Power On Texas” school for excellence in the embedding of technology into the learning process. We are one of 23 school districts selected by TEA as members of the Texas High Performance Schools Consortium, dedicated to leading the way to a 21st Century Education. Teachers are trained in Project Based Learning (PBL) allowing our students to learn in a collaborative environment where student voice and choice are encouraged. Our purpose is to focus on a learner centered educational environment for all students.
White Oak ISD has a long-standing tradition of excellence in UIL Academic Competition. Our high school has earned the honor of District Champions in UIL Academics 50 of the last 53 years. WOISD was Academic State Champions in 2012 and Over-all State 2-A Lone Star Cup Champions in 2012. We are currently the three time defending State Champion in Journalism.
White Oak High School has an enrollment of just over 400 students. We have well over 80 percent of our student body involved in extra-curricular activities. Our award winning Marching Band marches right at 200 members and we are still consistently successful in all UIL Athletic competitions. In the last five years we have been State Champions in Basketball, Volleyball, Tennis and Track. We have also qualified for the UIL playoffs in every team sport during that time with Baseball and Cross Country qualifying for State. Our football team was a State Semi-Finalist in 2013.
The message I am attempting convey is that students at White Oak ISD are exposed to the latest in research-based instructional strategies. They are afforded the opportunity to be a well-rounded student/athlete/citizen while attending our schools. We are good (excellent) stewards of the taxpayer’s dollars and see no reason to remove funding from our district to provide tax dollars for private/for profit educational institutions. Please support White Oak ISD and the Texas Public Schools and vote “no” to any form of voucher legislation presented for your approval.