top of page
  • Writer's pictureSave SBISD

Who, exactly, wants election change? The Houston Federation of Teachers.

This update was originally posted on July 8, 2021. It was updated today with source documentation from our archives after the HFT chose to delete that information from its website.


Public support for a change to the system by which Spring Branch ISD elects its trustees is limited to special interest groups, public data and Save SBISD research shows. Leadership of the Houston Federation of Teachers (HFT) have been the only individuals to publicly support a change to they way Spring Branch ISD elects its Board of Trustees.


Save SBISD has yet to find a single disinterested party that supports a conversion to Single-Member District election structure for Spring Branch ISD. Save SBISD has reviewed the public comments portion of board meetings, meeting minutes, news reports, and our comments section in an attempt to find any grass roots support for a change to election procedures, and found none.


A conversion to Single-Member Districts would disenfranchise every voter in SBISD, and materially reduce each voters representation on the SBISD Board of Trustees.


From our search, the lone public supporters of a conversion to Single-Member District elections are:


Craig Adams, Vice President, Houston Federation of Teachers, Organizer - Spring Branch


Craig Adams addressed the SBISD Board of Trustees in January, 2020, moments before Thompson & Horton laid the groundwork for SBISD’s election process change, saying:


“I want to go on public record and say that I think the time has come for us to entertain having single-district board members” -Craig Adams, VP Houston Federation of Teachers

Mr. Adams provided no rationale for his desired change, and made no supporting statements in his 20-second commentary. He simply went on the record ‘in support’ of what Thompson & Horton was about to pitch to the Board.


Chris Tritico, General Counsel for the Houston Federation of Teachers


On July 2, 2021, Mr. Tritico appeared on Fox 26 and offered commentary on the lawsuit filed by Virginia Elizondo. According to that report, Mr. Tritico said:


“The remedy…lies in scrapping the at-large system and carving out so-called single member opportunity districts…” -Chris Tritico, General Counsel for Houston Federation of Teachers

Mr. Adams and the Houston Federation of Teachers have an abysmal track record when recommending policy to Spring Branch ISD. Most recently, Mr. Adams and the HFT blasted Spring Branch for re-opening schools to in-person learning in August 2020, saying that the district was “insanely irresponsible” in developing its plan. You can read his typo-riddled hysteria in the official HFT press release linked here.


UPDATE: HFT has removed Mr. Adams press release from their website; fortunately, Save SBISD maintains meticulous archives. Our archived copy of Mr.Adams press release is linked below.


Mr. Adams was specifically targeting the Learn SBISD plan with his criticisms. The Learn SBISD plan was painstakingly developed over months of work by SBISD staff and outside medical advisors, and repeatedly reviewed and approved by the Board of Trustees. Of course, Mr. Adams and the HFT figured they knew better, and got way over their skis in their press release.


Nine months later, the results were in, and the outcome irrefutable. The Learn SBISD plan was one of the most successful operational plans implemented by any school district in Texas, yielding a best-of-class 80+% attendance rate and standardized test scores well above comparable districts. Mr. Adams and the HFT could not have been more spectacularly WRONG in their recommendations to Spring Branch ISD.


When it comes to district policy, going against the grain of the HFT seems to reliably be the best move the district can make.

 

Save SBISD reads every comment we receive through our comment form, via text message, and via email. Not a single person contacting us through any channel, anonymously or not, has shown support for a change to SBISD election procedures. We have received many comments, however, from folks who agree this lawsuit should be fought with the strongest possible defense.


With our subscription list growing rapidly each day, and the balance of comments literally one-sided, we conclude that there is limited, if any, organic ‘grass-roots’ support for a change to SBISD election procedures. If you feel the same, please email the board of trustees and let them know you OPPOSE any change to our election procedures and wholeheartedly SUPPORT them in their fight against this lawsuit. Their contact information is available here.


Every comment matters, as the board has the sole power to make a change to our election procedures.


We at Save SBISD are growing increasingly concerned that our Board of Trustees is being influenced by lawsuits, employee federations, and fee-seeking firms. We cannot stress enough the importance of letting the Board know you OPPOSE any change to our election procedures. Please take the time to email them.

 

The only other parties who are on the record regarding a change to our voting procedures are listed below. Each has their own interest in a change to our procedures that does not align with the voters and taxpayers in SBISD. We have covered them in our prior reporting, but include some additional information and analysis below.


Other parties with interest in a change to our election procedures:


Virginia Elizondo, defeated candidate for SBISD Board of Trustees


Virginia Elizondo is suing SBISD attempting to force a change to our election procedures. Background is available here.


Barry Abrams, Counsel for the Plaintiff, Board member of the Spring Branch Education Foundation


Barry Abrams is representing Ms. Elizondo in her lawsuit. Mr. Abrams has deep connections to SBEF. You can read about them here.


At least superficially, Thompson & Horton, our own law firm.


You can read about their involvement here.


We have tried to remain neutral in our analysis of T&H on this matter, but have been unable to explain this slide presented at the Jan 2020 SBISD board meeting:



This slide categorizes, in great detail, the precise electoral system used by each of the 1,022 school districts in Texas. It’s a fascinating and very granular summary of difficult to aggregate information — trust me, we tried to compile it ourselves.


Before we even had a website, the Save SBISD team asked itself this question: “who else elects their leadership this way?” We looked everywhere for a report on the matter, and came up empty. We even requested a custom query of the Texas Education Agency database (which hosts nearly every fact on every school in Texas)—no luck. The TEA doesn’t maintain these records.


Thompson & Horton assembled this information on Texas school districts themselves, by hand. Lisa McBride says so in her presentation in January 2020, and adds that it took a great deal of time for her and her associates to pull together. We wholeheartedly believe that.


The question that has always bothered us is “why did Thompson & Horton spend all that time and money doing this analysis?” It would have taken at least 100 man hours to prepare. They definitely did not do all that work for a 29 minute presentation to Spring Branch ISD.


All we can conclude is that electoral system conversion is a product being peddled somewhat broadly by Thompson & Horton. Obviously, there would be advisory fees involved for districts during the conversion process, which may be incentive enough to warrant the work to pull this presentation together.


Conversion by a client district to a SMD electoral system comes with an even more enticing business benefit: the recurring fee revenue that comes with redistricting every ten years. Ms. McBride describes the complexity of this process that any SMD district must undertake in her January 2020 presentation.


Save SBISD has requested more information from Spring Branch ISD about the January 2020 Thompson & Horton presentation and how it came before the Board of Trustees.


If you would like to receive future updates from Save SBISD, please subscribe here.



Craig Adams - Statement from Spring Branch (Texas) HFT and Texas AFT on Spring Branch ISD'
.
Download • 173KB

Kommentare


Die Kommentarfunktion wurde abgeschaltet.
bottom of page