Houston recruited NC teachers; now the state is taking over the district

In 2014, education activists, teachers, and politicians in North Carolina were ranting about efforts to recruit educators away from the Tar Heel State. We were bombarded with media reports describing how these recruitment efforts were proof that the Republicans in control of the NC General Assembly had forsaken education, generally - and teachers, specifically.

It was clear evidence that the GOP - shut out of power for more than a century but in power for three years and working on their second budget - hated teachers and children.

The efforts of the Houston Independent School District garnered the most attention. Here's a partial list of the coverage:

WFMY

My Fox 8

WSOC-TV

Education Week

Charlotte Observer

These stories were picked up by other media outlets across North Carolina - creating an echo chamber for the narrative that NC lawmakers were treating teachers so poorly that other states were able to come in and woo away our best educators.

Naturally, all of this was in service to Democrats' PR that promotes themselves as champions of education (despite opposition to charters, vouchers, merit pay, and a recent history of freezing teacher pay while furloughing thousands of educators).

Here's Progress NC quoting a Houston TV report:

Why is HISD targeting North Carolina teachers? The answer might lie within the walls of the State Capitol Building. 
After years with no raises, earlier this month North Carolina legislators approved an increase in salary for teachers effective this year. But critics of the budget plan say it's not enough.
"I would say we are in crisis mode right now," Mark Jewell tells Eyewitness News.
Jewell is with the North Carolina Association of Educators. He says HISD Superintendent Terry Grier, who used to work with Jewell in North Carolina, knows teachers are ripe for the picking because of low pay and lack of funding. 

The message is clear - Republicans aren't funding education or teacher salaries enough, so vote for Democrats -- who will. The message hasn't changed, even though the funding levels and teacher pay has.

So, why bring all of this back up today - five years later?

Well...

In a move that is unprecedented in scope, Texas state officials announced Wednesday they plan on taking over the state’s largest school district, yanking power from Houston Independent School District’s elected school board members to “prevent imminent and substantial harm to the welfare of the district’s students.”

One of the reasons why Houston was in such dire need of teachers that they were recruiting from NC was rapid population growth - the same reason North Carolina districts have also recruited teachers from out of state for decades.

But Houston was also trying to staff schools because they had a massive turnover problem:

During the 2012-13 school year, HISD teacher turnover was nearly 19 percent, and it has increased 5.6 percent over the last five years (See Facts and Stats below). Moreover, the HISD turnover rate was 3.4 percent higher than the Texas state average last year. In other words, the district’s extremely high turnover rate has forced them to be more aggressive in recruiting teachers. Raleigh is one among many recruiting trips coordinated by HISD human resources staff.
(Just in case you were wondering, North Carolina’s teacher turnover rate was 14.3 percent or one percentage point lower than the Texas state average last year.)

Perhaps it might be worth checking in with some of the NC teachers who left for Texas - to see if they're sticking around in their greener pasture.

Too often in our current media environment

Pete Kaliner

Pete Kaliner

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