Texas Ed: Comments on Education from Texas

June 30, 2006

Out of control

Filed under: Accountability, common sense, Socialization, Teacher issues, Texas — texased @ 4:51 pm

Control-freak principal ruining people’s lives but won’t admit she’s wrong. Long story, worth reading.
houstonpress.com | News | Cut Short | 2006-06-29 | Printable:

It marked the first time in at least five years that the Fort Bend ISD’s board of trustees had overturned a principal’s decision to expel a student.

At what point do they fire people like this? Who are they helping out by keeping her?


Surprise-Northside ISD needs bus drivers!

Filed under: common sense, San Antonio — texased @ 4:23 pm

MySA.com: KENS 5: Education:

The district would like 200 additional bus drivers but can make do with 80, said Elvia Palmer, human resources staffing specialist. Northside currently employs more than 650 drivers, but the district is growing by 4,000 students a year.

Theoretically, making kids walk more than 0.2 miles for the bus wouldn’t make a difference in the number of drivers or buses required. However, it should reduce the time required to pick up the same amount students, the amount of fuel required, and possible maintenance costs.

June 29, 2006

UIW demonstrates commitment to blind faith

Filed under: censorship, common sense, Higher Education — texased @ 5:51 pm

Nice to know that an institution of higher learning has taken the time to carefully consider the issue and encourages all sides of the story.

MySA.com: KENS 5: Education:

The Dean of Library Services at University of the Incarnate Word canceled the library’s subscription to the New York Times Wednesday to protest recent stories exposing a secret government program that monitors international financial transactions in the hunt for terrorists.

What about the LA Times or the other newspapers that broke the story at the same time? And I guess the library doesn’t get the Boston Globe.

Terrorist funds-tracking no secret, some say – The Boston Globe:

But a search of public records — government documents posted on the Internet, congressional testimony, guidelines for bank examiners, and even an executive order President Bush signed in September 2001 — describe how US authorities have openly sought new tools to track terrorist financing since 2001. That includes getting access to information about terrorist-linked wire transfers and other transactions, including those that travel through SWIFT.“There have been public references to SWIFT before,” said Roger Cressey, a senior White House counterterrorism official until 2003. “The White House is overreaching when they say [The New York Times committed] a crime against the war on terror. It has been in the public domain before.”

So where is censorship mentioned in the mission statement?

University of the Incarnate Word – Office of Mission Effectiveness:

The faculty and students support one another in the search for and the communication of truth . The university is open to thoughtful innovation that serves ever more effectively the spiritual and material needs of people.

So much for the search for truth. I guess this is an example of “thoughtful innovation.” Or maybe this is under the “faith” part–didn’t know it was blind.

It’s not MySpace’s fault

Filed under: common sense, cultural values, education, High School, Socialization — texased @ 3:09 pm

17 year old girl was trying to meet up with a guy in Jordan. Amazing, her father doesn’t seem interested is suing my space?

ABC News: ‘MySpace’ Teen’s Trip Leads to Family Court:

Her father has declined requests from The Associated Press to interview his daughter but says her story should serve as a warning to families not about the dangers of the Internet, but about the importance of good family communication.

The following I thought was even more interesting:

ABC News: ‘MySpace’ Teen’s Trip Leads to Family Court:

The teen is a member of the National Honor Society at Akron-Fairgrove Junior/Senior High School and was an intern at the radio station where her older sister worked. “It was a little shocking,” said Joseph Candela, the school principal and district superintendent. “Katherine is a very good student, an excellent student. … You would have never known it.”

So maybe success in school has little correlation with success in real life?

June 28, 2006

But are they college ready?

Texas Students Win Ford/AAA National Auto Repair Crown @ SYS-CON Media:

Racing against the clock and 49 other two-person, student teams from around the country, aspiring auto technicians Bradley J. Bolton and Aaron Clay, seniors at Paris High School, in Paris, Texas, needed 29 minutes and 34 seconds to accurately diagnose and fix their Ford Mustang Convertible to win the 2006 FORD/AAA STUDENT AUTO SKILLS national finals this morning in Henry Ford’s hometown.

But have they taken four years of science to be ready for college and have they passed the TAKS?

Homeschooling Boy Scouts are always Christian

Filed under: cultural values, Homeschooling, Religious Right — texased @ 7:25 am

Chris O’Donnell posted the following and since he doesn’t link to HSB blogger, I’ll link to him rather than the original source:

O’DonnellWeb – The weblog of a homeschooling / technology / baseball geek in Fredericksburg VA:

Here is today’s entry.

Since last year, some scout units have been bantering about having a National Christian Homeschool Scouts Camporee somewhere in or around Washington DC during 2008. This would be a great way for Christian Homeschool Scouts to meet and connect with each other and might give our little movement an identity. Would your unit be interested in participating?

I think they are sort of missing the point of Boy Scouts.

I did go read the original along with other related posts and I have a little bit of a different take on the situation. I don’t think they are interested in making Boy Scouts an exclusively Christian organization. Rather, I think they see homeschoolers as exclusively Christian. An earlier post on the blog states the following:

Are you a member of a homeschool scout family? If so, would you or anyone in your scout unit be interested in helping to promote scouting among other homeschool families?

I’ve been assisting BSA National in an effort to reach out and network with the homeschool community. The plan includes developing recruiting materials for homeschool families that can be used by professional and volunteer scouters. These recruiting materials would list the benefits of scouting for homeschool familes, and would include fact sheets about the educational and spiritual benefits of scouting, and personal testimonials from scouts and their families.

Given that they aren’t talking about “Christian” homeschooling Boy Scouts at this point, I think the focus of the “movement” is homeschooling. Then again, it could just be that he’s being politically correct when dealing with the official BSA organization. In any case, I see this more as a problem for homeschoolers since he obviously believes that “homeschooling” and “Christian homeschooling” are one and the same. Adding “Christian” to homeschooling is probably the equivalent of prefacing “Catholic” to the Pope.

June 27, 2006

THSC Brain Fart?

Filed under: Homeschooling — texased @ 6:47 pm

Tim Lambert of THSC usually does a good job on writing letters to public schools on behalf of homeschoolers but what was he thinking on this one? The family was applying to a private school.

THSC Letter to Father Yermo:

According to them, officials at your school told them they must present an official transcript with a seal from an accredited school.

The private school has established it’s requirements but Tim is telling them that the state doesn’t get to regulate private schools?

THSC Letter to Father Yermo:

the state of Texas has determined that home schools are unaccredited private schools and that students in home schools are, therefore, exempt from the compulsory attendance statute. In addition, the state does not regulate, monitor, or have oversight of private schools—including home schools. Therefore, the parents are the officials of the home school, and you should accept the transcript from their school as the official document for the student.

The only explanation that I can think of is that this is a form letter that is generated whenever they enter a complaint about a school into a database. Of course, I wonder what the TEA officials and SBOE member are going to think of THSC upon receiving this letter.

The Value of Science Labs, continued

Filed under: Education reform, High School, standards, Teacher issues — texased @ 4:50 pm

Just to get some idea if my opinion of science labs was totally off-base or not, I skimmed the executive summary of America’s Lab Report: Investigations in High School Science (2005) from The National Academies. The short version is that I probably didn’t. While the research isn’t definitive, the Board does conclude that labs aren’t necessary for subject mastery.

High School Science Laboratories: Role and Vision Home Page:

The earlier body of research on typical laboratory experiences and the emerging research on integrated instructional units yield different findings about the effectiveness of laboratory experiences in advancing the goals identified by the committee. Research on typical laboratory experiences is methodologically weak and fragmented, making it difficult to draw precise conclusions. The weight of the evidence from research focused on the goals of developing scientific reasoning and cultivating student interest in science shows slight improvements in both after students participated in typical laboratory experiences. Research focused on the goal of student mastery of subject matter indicates that typical laboratory experiences are no more or less effective than other forms of science instruction (such as reading, lectures, or discussion).

Executive Summary pg 5

A few other observations by the board:

…many laboratory experiences involve students in carrying out carefully specified procedures to verify established scientific knowledge…

Executive Summary pg. 2

This is what I have a problem with, verifying that gravity really exists. And what about the following?

This definition includes student interaction with astronomical databases, genome databases, databases of climatic events over long time periods, and other large data sets derived directly from the material world. It does not include student manipulation or analysis of data created by a teacher to simulate direct interaction with the material world. For example, if a physics teacher presented students with a constructed data set on the weight and required pulling force for boxes pulled across desks with different surfaces and asked them to analyze these data, the students’ problem-solving activity would not constitute a laboratory experience in the committee’s definition.

Executive Summary pg.3

What does this say about the Board’s respect for science teachers? It’s okay for “real” scientists to collect data to be used by students but not the teacher? I realize that the teacher doing it denies the students the opportunity to discover the “ambiguity of empirical work” but that’s not the point of the labs. Remember? It’s to verify existing scientific principals which means you’re supposed to get the same answer as the book.

I know, I know. If I was a good homeschool parent, I would take it upon myself to design a lab that would integrate the labs with the science priniciples my son is studying in biology. But the fact is that I don’t want to mess with it and that’s what I thought I was paying UT to do. For all I know, the lab they came up with is a perfect example of such integration. So, this isn’t really about teaching/learning biology–it’s about jumping through hoops and trade-offs. If only I was an unschooler.

No College Left Behind?

Panel’s Draft Report Calls for an Overhaul of Higher Education Nationwide – New York Times:

The report by the panel appointed last year by Education Secretary Margaret Spellings was highly critical of the nation’s institutions of higher education. It said there was a lack of accountability to show that students were learning, that college costs have risen too high, and that “unacceptable numbers of college graduates” were entering the workforce without skills that employers say they need.

Does this mean that they have been so successful with NCLB that they’re ready to do for colleges what they’ve done for public education?

June 26, 2006

TAKS tutoring for adults?

Filed under: Education reform, High School, High Stakes Testing, TAKS — texased @ 9:25 pm

Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas – TAKS retest for diploma:

Maria Garay, 18, of Corsicana, will return for the test. Maria passed three of the four sections of the TAKS, but hasn’t been able to get past the science portion. She wanted to go to summer school for remedial help, but her family couldn’t afford for her to be away from her job at McDonald’s that much.

Aren’t they allowed to find their own tutors if necessary?

Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas – TAKS retest for diploma:

“We’ve had numerous children take it three times,” Phillips said.

We need another word. At 18, or even 17 or 16, I don’t think they’re children. Again, I think it’s an indicator of the problem of dealing with high school students, personal responsibility, and authority.

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