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By Craig Malisow
Great article: My sister, who was a kindergarten Gifted and Talented teacher, was initially told her contract would not be renewed for the coming year ["Let the Record Reflect," by Margaret Downing, June 4]. Apparently, when a school in HISD doesn't renew your contract, it means you are black-listed from every school in the district. The reason she was given was that she did not use enough technology in the classroom. This explanation came after an assistant principal, who had approved the lesson plans, made three unscheduled classroom visits at the same time on different days.
Unfortunately, during the time she was there, the class was already scheduled to review the class calendar (date, day of the week, weather, etc.). This activity did not require the use of the technology in my sister's classroom, including the SMART Board, which she used daily. Fortunately, she joined the union and was able to resign her position and not have the nonrenewal go on her record.
Your article further confirms what many already knew: Cathryn White is unfit to be an administrator in HISD. Thank you again for looking deeper than some would care to. Keep up the good work.
Online readers weigh in:
Missing the "real" Rogers: I have been at Rogers for many years and, unfortunately, I have witnessed this radical change firsthand. Although I have never been targeted by White, I share the fear and unease of my colleagues. "Will I be next?" is not what you want to be asking yourself on your way to work each day. The teachers who were fired have been reinstated in HISD, but they will not be coming back to Rogers next year. That is a real loss to the school. An even greater loss is the many other (four? five?) elementary teachers who are, or will be, leaving. That is nearly half of the elementary staff. Yes, the school can and will eventually recover, but it will never be the same without their dynamic teaching abilities. We'll miss you all.
HISD: What are you going to do to help us? A plan of action was not developed at the "Retreat," and many of us fear that things will not change. The new survey results confirmed what the Houston Federation of Teachers survey already brought to light; will you take this seriously now?
I miss the "real" Rogers. I still love teaching, but it has been the worst year of my professional life. I need some assurance that next year will be better.
Comment by HISD Teacher from Houston
Change careers: Too bad that this principal should ruin the stellar reputation of a school like T.H. Rogers. Teachers had stayed at this school for years and loved it. It is, or was, the Shangri-la of HISD, in terms of academic and personal growth.
Shame on you, Dr. White — you need to change careers. How about managing a sheep farm in Idaho?
Comment by Jane Smith from Houston
Nonsense: I'm a teacher in HISD at a different school. I hate to say it, but this story really doesn't surprise me. I have witnessed firsthand the incredible amount of political nonsense that goes on at the administrative level. I've seen excellent principals get pushed out because the higher-ups didn't personally care for them, and I've seen terrible principals who ruled by personal biases and ignored serious problems. It bothers me, because I do believe teachers should be held accountable for what we do; but if these are the kinds of people who have the power to make these decisions, it doesn't do anybody any good. The unfortunate truth is that many administrators are career bureaucrats with little concern for what actually happens in the classroom; they're too busy looking for the next promotion.
Comment by Anse from Houston
Save the sheep: Anse from Houston said, "The unfortunate truth is that many administrators are career bureaucrats with little concern for what actually happens in the classroom; they're too busy looking for the next promotion."
Jane Smith from Houston said, "Shame on you Dr. White — you need to change careers. How about managing a sheep farm in Idaho?"
Regarding Anse's comment: I teach at a school (not the one Dr. White came from) in SBISD, but I offer T.H. Rogers my heartfelt empathy in its struggle, because I know people directly affected by this woman's behavior in SBISD. I cannot offer any definitive proof, as it would be hearsay and I'm not willing to bet the farm on 17 years in education — I value and love my job. I make the choice to return to the classroom each year with new hopes, aspirations and expectations for my students. My job allows me to give back to the community in a unique way in doing what is "right for kids." I take my job and the influence I have on kids as an honor and a privilege. I'm with you in spirit and hope it all turns out for the best and HISD does right by you all.
Regarding Jane Smith's comment: I'm not certain she could even manage a sheep farm in Idaho. Should the sheep be subjected to such behaviors from this human being?