Texas Ed: Comments on Education from Texas

November 29, 2006

Legislature Knows Best

Filed under: Legislature, Parental Involvement — texased @ 10:47 am

The next session of the Texas Legislature doesn’t begin until January but members can and are already filling bills. And thanks to the internet, you can now track all legislation online. Now my natural inclination would be to say that this is a good thing, open government, accountability and all. But sometimes, you have to wonder. Take the following bill for example:

80(R) HB 314 – Introduced version – Bill Text:

relating to the classroom placement of multiple birth siblings in public schools.
�������SECTION�1.��Subchapter B, Chapter 25, Education Code, is amended by adding Section 25.043 to read as follows:
�������Sec.�25.043.��CLASSROOM PLACEMENT OF MULTIPLE BIRTH SIBLINGS. �(a) �In this section:�������������(1)��”Multiple birth sibling”�means a twin, triplet, quadruplet, or other sibling resulting from a multiple birth.
�������������(2)��”Parent”�includes a parent standing in parental relation.
�������(b)��The parent of multiple birth siblings who are assigned to the same grade level and school may request that the school place the siblings in the same classroom or in separate classrooms.

Apparently Rep. Eissler wants to give parents the authority to decide if their “multiple birth siblings” should be in a class together. This bill would allow them to do so with the school only being able to override the decision if it causes classroom disruptions.

When I see bill like this I have to wonder why are they necessary. My guess would be that some schools have denied the parents’ requests for their children to be in the same class because they presumed they knew what was better for the children than the parents. What arrogance!

Now I know there are some flaky parents out there who perhaps aren’t serving their children’s best interests when they insist they be in the same classroom. But don’t they deserve the benefit of the doubt? Maybe, just maybe, they know what is in the emotional best interest of their children?

Because of some imperious administrator, (I’m assuming that the final decision is such cases would be made at this level) a representative has filed a bill so that the problem can be resolved by the legislature. You would think that the legislature would have better things to do in it’s limited time but otherwise the situation may not be rectified.

Unfortunately, we will probably see a number of similar bills throughout the session. Rather than the legislature having to make rules to prevent administrators from making bone-headed decisions, maybe they should work on holding administrators more accountable for the decisions they make.


November 27, 2006

Imagine That!

MySA.com: Metro | State:

Rep. Harold Dutton, D-Houston, a longtime member of the House Public Education Committee, is not optimistic lawmakers will significantly improve public education.”We’ll probably talk about facility funds, but when you talk about facility funding, you’re talking about money, and who’s going to put more money into public education?” Dutton said.

MySA.com: Metro | State:

Lawmakers won’t do much beyond “talking around the edges of improving public education,” Dutton said, “and at the end of the day, we’ll pat ourselves on the back and talk about what a good job we did.”

If you want to get beyond solutions like “4 by 4,” it will take something called “leadership.”

November 26, 2006

If they build it, will the legislature care?

Project Will Tell High Schools How Well They’re Preparing Students for College Success:

Texas educators will soon have a place to go for concrete answers to whether their students go on to college and how well they do there.

Great. But then that means that the legislature didn’t have a clue as to high school students were doing once they got to college with or without four years of math and science.

Project Will Tell High Schools How Well They’re Preparing Students for College Success:

Four Texas school districts have agreed to participate in planning the database and testing and critiquing the reports during the nine-month development process. The districts are Plano, Garland, Fort Worth and Houston.

Hmmmm, and apparently if people had been willing to wait for a year or so, they could have made decisions based on real information.

Project Will Tell High Schools How Well They’re Preparing Students for College Success:

The project is made possible in part by an $83,500 grant from the Indianapolis-based Lumina Foundation for Education

Well, if it would cost the state the salary of an average high school football coach, there’s no way the legislature would make that kind of investment in education decision making when it’s much easier to say “4 by 4” and be done with the matter. Okay, I’m guessing about the high school coach football salary part but not the investment part.

November 25, 2006

More Feel good legislation

Filed under: education priorities, Legislature — texased @ 9:42 pm

Proposed HB 122:

80(R) HB 122 – Introduced version – Bill Text:

1-7 Sec. 29.911. ” EDUCATION GO GET IT” WEEK. (a) To educate 1-8 middle school, junior high school, and high school students about 1-9 the importance of higher education , each school district and each 1-10 open-enrollment charter school offering any of those grade levels 1-11 shall designate one week during the school year as “Go 1-12 Get It” Week.

Why do teachers and administrators need the legislature to tell them to promote higher education? Maybe the districts can’t take it hint from the 4 by 4 requirements.

November 24, 2006

Floresville Teen is Working to Stop Genocide

Filed under: Homeschooling — texased @ 8:42 pm

Why wait for the adults?

Wilson County News, Floresville, Texas: South Texas News, South Texas, Newspaper, Wilson, La Vernia, Poth, Sutherland Springs, Falls City, Stockdale, Eagle Creek, San Antonio, news, classifieds, Texas, Floresville news, La Vernia news, Stockdale news:

“If I were a 14-year-old girl in Darfur, I’d want someone to have worried about me, to have carried me in their heart,” Ellen “Ellie” Pavliska passionately stated when asked why she’s trying to raise awareness about events taking place half a world away from her home in Floresville.

Ellie recently approached the Ministerial Alliance of Floresville in an effort to raise awareness in the local community. She hopes to interest them in a die-in or other event in Floresville in the near future. Those present were very receptive, Ellie said. She’s willing to speak to churches and youth groups to get the message across.

Passionate plea
Why does Ellie continue?

“Because it’s a modern-day genocide. This is our chance to stop it,” she said. “If this were happening to us, you’d hope people would help.”

“Everyone tells me: You’re just one,” she said. “But I’m talking to you, and now we’re two. That’s how all good things start.”

November 21, 2006

Will 4 by 4 Solve Ysleta’s Problems?

El Paso Times – 90% of YISD students need remedial college math:

Students in the 12th grade will take the Accuplacer test and administrators hope to improve on past performances.According to Ysleta records, more than 90 percent of the students taking the Accuplacer would need to take remedial classes in math before enrolling in college level courses. The figures are better in English and reading, but the percentages are still high.

So does this mean that only 10% of Ysleta students are taking advanced post Algebra II math? According to the advocates of the 4 by 4 plan for Texas high school graduation, all those students would be ready if only they had taken a fourth year of advanced math. Do you think anyone is interested in finding what percentage of students who took the fourth year of math fall into the 90%?

El Paso Times – 90% of YISD students need remedial college math:

District officials said theAccuplacer will help them gauge readiness and develop intervention plans.

Silly Ysleta officials. Don’t they know that defining a problem is so not the Texas approach to education issues?

El Paso Times – 90% of YISD students need remedial college math:

Ysleta this year developed an Accuplacer Academy with the help of the University of Texas at El Paso. It also started other partnerships with El Paso Community College that officials hope will help improve scores.The academy provides training for teachers, counselors and other administrators to help students be ready to take on the exam and have the knowledge necessary to tackle college-level courses.

Now this is a waste of money since we all know all they have to do is require a fourth year of math for the students.

November 20, 2006

Dr. Phil Disses Homeschoolers on the biggest shopping day of the year

Filed under: Homeschooling — texased @ 12:06 pm

Friday, November 24th. Maybe he’s hoping people will be too busy shopping or with football games to watch the show? See previous post for more info.

Dr. Phil.com – Shows This Week:

Great School Debate Parents want the best for their children, but what’s the best way to educate them? Dr. Phil’s guests face off in a debate about whether to school, homeschool or unschool. Dana and her husband, Joe, call themselves radical unschoolers. They say education happens as a side effect of life, and they don’t believe in tests, curriculums or grades. Are their three kids learning what they need to know? Then, RaeAnn says public schools are death traps and wants to homeschool her children. Her husband, Steve, says their kids are safer at school than they are at home. Can this couple reach a compromise? Plus, Nicole feels like an outcast at 26. She says she hated being homeschooled, and couldn’t relate to other kids. Dr. Phil weighs in on this important discussion.

CC Texas Legislature, SBOE

Worth a read by some Texas Legislators and State Board of Education Members as well.

An Open Letter to Margaret Spellings and Congress:

“Human history,” said H. G. Wells, is “a race between education and catastrophe.” If we stay the course with No Child Left Behind, catastrophe is a sure bet. You’ll soon be deciding the fate of this well-meant but appallingly simplistic piece of legislation. Continued failure to answer the legitimate questions of those you expect to carry out your mandates will further erode trust in your leadership.

Alternatives to Texas 4 by 4

Here’s a guess at what Texas’ 4 by 4 will lead to.

Lexington Herald-Leader | 11/20/2006 | Educator works to reduce need for remedial courses

Joe Bagnoli graduated from Ashland Holy Family High School with a 3.7 grade-point average and with A’s in four years of college preparatory math courses — algebra I and II, geometry and trigonometry.So it didn’t add up when he took a placement exam as a Berea College freshman in 1984 and learned that he wasn’t quite prepared for college math. It took one hard week of work in a remedial math course for Bagnoli to get caught up.

Now, almost 22 years later, he is Berea’s associate provost for enrollment management and proof that Kentucky’s multimillion-dollar remedial education problem isn’t limited to slow learners.

It looks like Kentucky is facing the same problem.

Lexington Herald-Leader | 11/20/2006 | Educator works to reduce need for remedial courses

Currently, 53 percent of entering students at the state’s public universities and community and technical colleges need at least one remedial course, according to a recent report from the state Council on Postsecondary Education. The report also showed that 44 percent are not ready for college math, 32 percent are not prepared for college English and 25 percent do not have college-level reading skill.Overcoming these deficiencies costs $25 million a year, $11 million in state money and $14 million in student tuition for courses that are non-credit.

So is Kentucky mandating four years of science and four years of science as a solution like Texas? Nope.

Lexington Herald-Leader | 11/20/2006 | Educator works to reduce need for remedial courses

To try to better prepare students, the General Assembly passed legislation last winter that will require 11th-graders to take the ACT at state expense to diagnose remedial education needs while students are still in high school, as well as increase the number of students who go on to college.

Gosh, imagine that. They are going to attempt to diagnosis the problem before solving it. Furthermore, the state is actually going to pay for what it is mandating.

Lexington Herald-Leader | 11/20/2006 | Educator works to reduce need for remedial courses

Kentucky’s development education task force will make its proposals on Dec. 5. Some of those may require legislation in the 2007 General Assembly.Cain said some of her suggestions would most likely include:

• More communication throughout the K-12 and postsecondary systems so “there are clear expectations, very specific expectations” of the skills and content students must master to move to the next level, so that the “elementary schools know what the middle schools expect, the middle schools know what the junior high schools expect, the junior highs know what the high schools expect and the high schools know what the colleges and universities expect.”

• More instruction in college schools of education so that future teachers can more readily identify students with remedial needs and know better how to work with them.

• Making sure that the best teachers are teaching developmental education in college, and reduce what has become a heavy reliance on part-time and adjunct faculty.

Well, the problem with this solution is obvious to a Texas legislator. It’s too iffy, too touchy-feely, not enough commanding involved. Besides, with a name like 4 by 4, you know it’s just got be a good solution–for Texas.

November 19, 2006

4 by 4, a Solution in Search of a Problem

Looks like high school students are going to have to take more math and science in order to graduate. Now I’m not saying this is a bad thing, I just want to know why did the legislature require it?

Having not really paid attention to House Bill 1 at the time, I’m assuming it has something to do with “college readiness.” I figure some legislators got together and figured out that Texas students weren’t doing so well and that increasing the requirements would address the situation.

So just what was it that told the lawmakers that something had to be done, although as usual, they don’t seem that interested in paying for it? The number of high school students unable to graduate because they hadn’t pass the TAKS? Oh, wait, it couldn’t be that since according to recent newspaper reports, we don’t know how many students fall into that category.

Maybe it was the number of students requiring remediation when enrolling in college? But did anyone actually check to see what courses these students have taken?

It could be that they were reacting to a change in the admission requirements of Texas state colleges and universities. The colleges could have been demanding a more rigorous preparation and increased the number of credits required for admissions. Except, there hasn’t been any such increase. Texas A&M requires three science units and only two have to be Biology, Chemistry, or Physics. UT only requires two science credits although it recommends three. I couldn’t find the requirements for UTSA, apparently all they require is a certain SAT or ACT score.

In general, I would say that taking more math and science would be a good thing. But here’s my problem with this “solution,” I don’t think anyone can actually say what it is a solution to. In other words, nobody can say when we have 80% of high school students passing the science TAKS test, we have solved our problem. How many people are passing the test without taking the extra classes? As usual, the fact that the state has implemented a solution is more important than whether or not it actually solves anything.

It’s kind of like saying that if all basketball players practice free throw shots 30 minutes a day, they would have a 90% accuracy in making free throws. There are going to be some players who can achieve that with only five minutes a day and some that still wouldn’t make it even with a hour a day but still somehow make it to the NBA. And then there are those who will never play in the NBA anyway.

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