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Elementary and Primary Education
HFT Rejects Energerized for Excellence to Run Schools
News Release
Monday, April 23, 2018

HOUSTON — Numerous troubling questions about the private nonprofit charter school operator Energized for Excellence Academy and the Texas for-profit Educational Learning and Enrichment Center Inc. make them a risky choice to operate 10 low-performing Houston public schools, the Houston Federation of Teachers said today.

At a news conference, HFT President Zeph Capo urged the school board to reject the Houston Independent School District’s selection of Energized for Excellence Academy to run the schools. Its founder and president, Lois Bullock, also owns Educational Learning and Enrichment Center, which leases space to Energized for Excellence schools in Houston.

“There are too many serious, unanswered questions about each of the two companies, their dubious track records on student performance, and their tangled web of financial arrangements to qualify them at this time to run our schools. It’s simply not fair to our students, families and taxpayers to take a chance on them,” Capo said. “The HFT is very sure of two things: We are neither energized by these companies nor remotely certain of their excellence.”

Capo said: “We need to put the students in these 10 low-performing schools on the best path for success. It would be rubbing salt in the wound to choose a charter firm with unanswered questions about its finances, payments to vendors, lease arrangements, student performance, and complaints from staff and parents. This choice could actually set these students back.”

The Houston Federation of Teachers has filed Freedom of Information Act requests to obtain answers on these issues—information that is needed to fully evaluate Energized for Excellence’s operations, financial stability, adherence to state and federal tax laws, and transparency.

Energized for Excellence runs early childhood centers, an elementary school, a middle school, a STEM middle school and a STEM high school in Houston.

Capo noted that Energized for Excellence schools in Houston have a worrisome track record when it comes to showing academic progress, making it an especially troubling choice since the goal of this takeover is to raise failing student performance.

For example, the GreatSchools website says of both Energized for Excellence Academy E, an elementary school, and Energized for STEM Academy Central, a middle school: “This school is rated below average in school quality compared to other schools in the state. Students here perform below average on state tests, are making below average year-over-year academic improvement, and this school has below average results in how well it’s serving disadvantaged students.”

GreatSchools also says, regarding the elementary school’s test scores: “Very concerning: Test scores at this school fall far below the state average. This suggests that students at this school are likely not performing at grade level.” It also found that just 11 percent of teachers at this school had three or more years of experience teaching.

With regard to the STEM middle school, GreatSchools says on the issue of equity: “Very concerning: Disadvantaged students at this school may be falling far behind other students in the state, and this school may have large achievement gaps.” It also found that no teacher at the school has three or more years of teaching experience.

Capo said he opposes the district’s inclusion in the charter firm’s management of former HISD trustees and principals who directly oversaw the 10 schools now labeled as needing improvement. “Why would people who were part of the decline of these schools be a part of a new effort intended for improvement and progress? There’s something fishy about that,” Capo said.

Energized for Excellence Academy leases buildings from Educational Learning and Enrichment Center. In its 2009 tax returns, Energized for Excellence disclosed a rental arrangement with Educational Learning and Enrichment Center and reported the for-profit as one of its top-five highest paid vendors, with payments more than $1 million. But in  subsequent filings, it’s curious, Capo said, that the charter operator did not report the for-profit as one of its top-paid vendors. Also in the years since 2009, Bullock’s reported salary does not reflect any payments from Energized that she received as sole owner of Educational Learning and Enrichment Center.

The HFT also is seeking compensation data of all officers and employees of both companies; the teacher and staff turnover rates, and number of licensed employees, at all Energized schools; and the number of parent-family complaints about Energized made to HISD staff and how they were resolved or addressed.

Ocean Star

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