HISD Looking to Teachers for Program Ideas

Teachers in the Houston Independent School District are being asked to submit ideas for how to improve student performance. The district plans to select as many as ten of those ideas for pilot programs. Houston Public Radio's Laurie Johnson has more.

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As many as ten HISD teachers could receive hefty bonuses for submitting and implementing ideas for better teaching practices. HISD Superintendent Dr. Abe Saavedra says on April 18th the district contacted all 12,500 teachers seeking input.

"Back in February during the State of the Schools address, I made the case that our schools could be better if we did a better job of listening to our teachers. I said at that time that we would ask educators to submit proposals for innovative instructional practices that are designed to improve achievement and that we would reward our teachers that come up with these great ideas."

A committee of teachers and administrators will review the ideas and select up to ten to serve as pilots. The district has set aside about $250,000 as incentive money for these ideas. The teachers are expected to submit budget proposals and guidelines on how they think the incentives should be paid. Collete Sayer with the Houston Classroom Teachers Association says teachers need to feel involved in the system.

"When we have ownership of what we do, you cannot have accountability without control, and this is something that gives us more control."

A recent HISD survey showed the majority of teachers feel they don't have an adequate opportunity to voice their opinions. Gayle Fallon is the president of the Houston Federation of Teachers and is a frequent critic of the district. She says the district is going to the right place to get input.

"What teachers really want to do is be innovative and no one has better ideas than the people that are in the classroom every day dealing with a specific group of students. So we're very excited about this, we've talked to some of the members, we've encouraged them to participate because, I think, the best consultants they've got are the people working for them every day. And they're going to get some tremendous ideas from these teachers."

The pilots will be tested on individual campuses and Saavedra says the ideas may be implemented throughout the district if they are successful. Depending on the response from teachers, the district may seek this kind of input on an annual basis. Teachers have to submit their ideas by May 12th and the final selections will be announced on May 29th. Laurie Johnson Houston Public Radio News.

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