Overview of Windham School District

The Windham School District (WSD) was established by the Texas Legislature as an entity separate and distinct from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ), with the Texas Board of Criminal Justice (TBCJ) serving as the Board of Trustees for the WSD. It is the policy of the Board that the WSD shall provide academic, as well as career and technology education, to eligible offenders incarcerated within the TDCJ.

Mission and Goals

The mission of the WSD is to provide appropriate educational programming and services to meet the needs of the eligible offender population in the TDCJ and reduce recidivism by assisting offenders in becoming responsible, productive members of their communities.

The goals of the WSD shall include educating offenders to:

  1. Reduce recidivism
  2. Reduce the cost of confinement or imprisonment
  3. Increase the success of former inmates in obtaining and maintaining
    employment
  4. Provide an incentive to inmates to behave in positive ways during
    confinement or imprisonment.

Philosophy

Adults in the United States face the challenges of life in an ever-changing technological age. Successfully coping with these challenges requires adults to employ educational processes that are the basic tools of human growth and development. Incarcerated adults, as a group, lack the basic educational tools needed to adjust successfully to the economic, sociological and cultural dimensions of today's society. Confined persons need to develop the academic skills that will allow them to process knowledge and information. They need vocational competencies that will enable them to contribute to a productive society. They need the social skills that will provide them with self-confidence and the ability to interact successfully with their fellow man.

History

Named by the Texas Board of Corrections for the late James M. Windham, a 24-year member of the Board, Windham School District (WSD) was created in 1969 to provide adult education in Texas prisons. Windham School District was the first school system of its scope to be established within a statewide prison system. Though it began with a staff of only eight instructors, Windham is now one of the largest correctional education systems in the nation, providing educational programs and services in most Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) facilities.

General Information

Windham School District provides appropriate educational programs to meet the needs of the eligible offender population, thus reducing recidivism by assisting offenders in becoming productive members of society. Studies show that education and employment reduce recidivism and save tax dollars. According to a study conducted by the Texas Criminal Justice Policy Council (CJPC) in 2000, offenders with higher levels of education have lower recidivism rates, and releasees who are employed have a lower recidivism rate than those not employed.

Many of the offenders in the TDCJ lack the educational background and basic skills necessary for attaining employment upon release. The typical Windham student functions below the sixth grade level.

According to a recent study (“Survey of Texas Employers 2002” by L. Jean Walker, Ph.D.), employers have difficulty hiring employees because applicants lack specific job skills. Employers also stress the importance of employability skills such as teamwork, problem solving, and dependability. Windham’s academic and vocational programs are designed to provide offenders with the skills they need to obtain employment upon release.

Windham provides a variety of academic classes and Career and Technology Education (CTE) to offenders incarcerated in the TDCJ. In addition to WSD programs, the Division of Continuing Education offers offenders the opportunity to participate in college courses, Project Re-Integration of Offenders (RIO), and recreational activities.

WSD operates over 80 school serving the Institutional Division (ID) and State Jail Division (SJD) of TDCJ. Most literacy program participants attended classes 15 hours per week, and most of those participating in CTE programs attended 30 hours per week.

Organization

The Texas Board of Criminal Justice (TBCJ) serves as the school board for Windham School District. The authority to administer, organize, manage, and supervise the daily operations of WSD is delegated by TBCJ to the Superintendent, who may further delegate this authority to staff as appropriate. Reporting to the Superintendent are the Public Information Officer, the Administrator for Human Resources, and Division Directors.

Delegation of authority from the TBCJ to the Superintendent
includes:

The Superintendent is responsible for implementing measures to evaluate the effectiveness of WSD programs, maintaining relations with TBCJ and TDCJ, and interacting with state offender family organizations. The Superintendent also serves as the governmental liaison for the District and is responsible for all contacts with the Governor's office, the Legislature, and other state agencies.

The Public Information Officer is responsible for press releases, media relations, and providing current news to all Windham staff. The PIO publishes the Windham newsletter, provides photographs for WSD publications, updates the website calendar and bulletin board, and provides supervision for the offender newspaper staff. Windham School District has also acquired responsibility for the publication of the offender newspaper, The Echo, from the TDCJ.

 

Organizational Contact Information
Regional Operations

 

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