Texas State Senator Mario Gallegos, Jr. has gone on the attack against Houston ISD Superintendent Terry Grier and his reform efforts, sending out letters to the school board and state legislators, in which he says his office has been investigating Grier's claims of prior accomplishments and found them not to be true.
In a letter dated May 4, Gallegos writes that "Dr. Grier has repeatedly touted that during his eight-year tenure in Guilford County Schools in North Carolina his accomplishments included: closing the achievement gap, increased the number of students who took Advanced Placement tests, as well as the overall noted improvement to test scores and graduation rates."
But the review of Guilford County academics during those years by Gallegos' office staff revealed the following according to the District 6 state senator:
-- reading scores trailed the state average during all eight years, math in seven of the eight years
-- the achievement gap widened as African American graduation rates went from being 2 percent lower than whites in 2003 to 13 percent lower in 2007
-- Hispanic graduation rates went from 8 percent in 2002-3 to 22 percent lower than their white counterparts by 2007
-- Advanced Placement tests' pass rates were also among the lowest among North Carolina's six major districts
And in San Diego:
-- After a reorganization of the cental administration replaced area superintendents with school improvement officers and reassigned many responsibilities to different positions, the school PTA's "complained that there was very little public input...and his [Grier's] relationship with the board was characterized as tense at best."
Gallegos goes on to say that recently the San Diego school board voted to reverse the organizational changes and estimates it will save that district an estimated $2 million a year.
The state senator writes that Grier has the following pattern:
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He convinces the board that changes will be hard, the community will push back and they must stay the course.
He demands that the board give him the authority to make the change he prescribes regardless of the lack of buy-in from a community that has been removed from meaningful input.
When the parents and community begin to voice their concerns about his changes he uses the media to make his case and to pressure the school board; too often, the school board learns about his programs when they open their morning newspaper.
He attempts to publicly marginalize political, business, or community figures who question his approach by labeling them as against school reform -- he has used this to marginalize every school board that has ever employed him.
When the fire gets hot like it did in San Diego, Amarillo and Sacramento, he leaves for greener pastures with a buy-out that has been pre-negotiated. If that doesn't work -- he sues the board, like he did in Sacramento.
Gallegos concludes with: "There is a considerable difference between the myth that Terry Grier spins about his successful reform efforts and the verifiable facts that my staff found in Guilford County Schools and San Diego. This much we can say -- he has a strategy, a predictable pattern, and is a great salesman ...my core concern is the education and welfare of our students, staff and protecting the general public -- the taxpayers. If Dr. Grier's past track record is any indication of what is to be expected from the changes he is putting in place at HISD, then I must say there is reason for great concern.
"It is time for all of us to start thinkIng about what is in the best interest of our children. it is time to start looking for new effective leadership for HISD before it is too late."
Hair Balls will be glad to print a response from Superintendent Grier once we reach him.