Lewisville ISD is scrambling to accommodate a new Texas law that requires school districts to document students’ cliques instead of their ethnicity.
Districts currently classify students as white, black, Hispanic, American Indian, Asian or Pacific Islander for purposes of the Texas Education Agency’s PEIMS system. The system allows districts and the public to confirm that students of all racial and socio-economic classes are performing at similar levels or improving at similar rates. The measures feed into school accountability.
LISD and districts across the state will now be required to categorize students as nerds, jocks, preps, basket cases, thugs, great kids who made mistakes, princesses, burnouts, poors, plastics and sexually active band geeks.
“With this legislation, the Texas legislature proudly states that we don’t see race,” Gov. Greg Abbott said as he signed the bill into law. “It’s what’s on the inside that matters, and now our schools will reflect that.”
LISD is completely at a loss on how to implement this change, with the key problem being that students often change how they identify as they grow older.
“How am I supposed to project the social status of a group of kids that hasn’t hit puberty yet?” fumed a Hedrick Middle School teacher, who spoke to us under condition of anonymity. “I’ve got a student who checks every box as a princess, but he might come back from summer break seven feet tall. Now, suddenly, he’s a shoo-in for the basketball team and has to be categorized as a jock!”
Under the All Students Matter Act, if the new jock then got in trouble and was suspended, he would then need to be re-categorized again as a thug or a great kid who made a mistake. The state gives no guidance on which students are thugs and which are great kids.
“This is no way to track a population over time!” the teacher yelled.
A Lakeland Elementary teacher, who also preferred not to be named because of LISD’s consistent “loose lips sink ships” philosophy when it comes to dealing with the media, agreed.
“There are no burnouts in elementary school!” She yelled, nearly tearing her hair out.
A Lewisville High School teacher, who also did not want to be named because seriously LISD might fire them for any moment of transparency, noted that holes in the list of cliques mean it doesn’t get much easier even when the students are mostly grown.
“Where are the gleeks? Where are the goths? Those are the ones that it would actually be easy to identify!” the teacher said. “Instead we need to identify which students are plastics? What the f*** is a plastic?!”
LISD is particularly hamstrung by some of the requirements on how schools divide students in their cliques, specifically the “nerd” category. Under the All Students Matter Act, every student pursuing advanced placement courses or early college credit must be classified as nerds, but at the same time, the legislature has capped the number of students who can be classified as nerds at 8.5 percent, a decision that upon investigation seems to be based on no research whatsoever.
This creates an impossible situation for schools that offer extra opportunities like Donald Elementary, which is gearing up to become one of the first STEM elementary schools in the country, and The Colony High School, which offers a collegiate academy in partnership with Collin County College.
“These kids are going to graduate high school with associate’s degrees,” a teacher from the school said. “They’re all nerds!”