As year ends, more Texas schools are ‘unacceptable’

Published 1:42 pm Saturday, December 31, 2016

By Kenric Ward

Texas families hope 2017 will be a good school year for their children. But the odds are against thousands of pupils stuck at failing campuses across the Lone Star State.

Some 241 campuses and 39 school districts were designated “improvement required/academically unacceptable” by the Texas Education Agency in 2016.

What’s worse, 204 campuses and 18 districts — including some charter schools and academies — have been on the failing list for two or more consecutive years.

Kashmere High School in Houston has flunked TEA’s minimum scholastic standards for seven straight years, the longest stretch of any campus. Among its shortcomings, the campus hasn’t had a single certified math teacher on staff.

Crockett Elementary School in the Midland Independent School District has been on the unacceptable list for six consecutive years.

Marlin ISD, a half hour southeast of Waco, scored a failing grade for the fifth straight year. TEA said Marlin is in the process of installing a board of managers to oversee the district.

All told, flunking school systems represent 6 percent of the state’s K-12 campuses.

“We know that for far too long in Texas there have been schools perpetually failing to meet the needs of our students,” noted Randan Steinhauser, Texas adviser to EdChoice, formally the Milton Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice.

“A failing school designation means that students in that school are not given the opportunity to succeed, let alone achieve their full potential,” added Peggy Venable, a Texas education advocate.

“No student should be forced to attend a failing school for a single year, let alone multiple years,” Venable said.

Watchdog previously reported on the floundering La Marque ISD, which was taken over by neighboring Texas City ISD in July.

The growing list of academically deficient schools is sure to intensify the biennial push for greater school choice when the 2017 Legislature convenes in January.

For families stuck in non-performing neighborhood campuses, Steinhauser said expanded options and competition offer a lifeline.

“It’s time we remove the barriers to school choice in Texas and allow parents the opportunity to remove their child from a failing school to ensure they’re in an educational environment that prepares them for academic and lifelong success,” Steinhauser said.

While other states, most recently Nevada, institute robust school-choice programs, reform efforts have stalled in Texas. Marshaling a coalition of big-city Democrats and small-town Republicans, House Speaker Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, has blocked choice bills coming from the Senate.

Kenric Ward writes for the Texas Bureau of Contact him at and follow him on Twitter @Kenricward.