Texas Ed: Comments on Education from Texas

September 29, 2007

Petition for the National Education Association

Filed under: Homeschooling — texased @ 2:42 pm

Care2 : The Petition Site : Homeschoolers against NEA Philosophy

The National Educational Association in their 2007-2008 Resolutions has taken a stand against homeschooling.

Don’t teacher unions have better things to do? When they take the time to include it as a resolution, you have to wonder what are they worried about?

Do they really think that enough parents will pull their kids out of public school to homeschool that it will effect their ability to be gainfully employed?

Maybe their worried about religious conservatives pulling their kids out of school and brainwashing them. Hate to tell you but simply the fact that parents might consider this means that brainwashing is going on despite the school’s best efforts.

I think it has more to do with some teachers feeling threatened by the “success” of homeschoolers. Right now “success” is homeschoolers winning the Geobee and spelling bee. Well, they want to change it so that “success” is documenting students being able to pass a public school test. Notice that doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with learning or problem solving ability.

Given all of the “challenges” teachers face in the classroom, I think the NEA would be better off looking for ways to support teachers in the classroom. But I guess it’s easier to pick on homeschoolers than accomplish meaningful change in the classroom.

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September 26, 2007

San Antonio Science Fair Planning Seminar

Filed under: education, San Antonio — texased @ 6:54 pm

 

Science Fair Planning Seminar

The Alamo Regional Academy of Science& Engineering (ARASE) is holding a planning a seminar on Saturday, September 29th 2007 to discuss with teachers, parents, and students the steps necessary fordoing a science fair project. This will be a great opportunity to get some great tips to gear up for the Science Fair which will be held sometime early 2008.

The seminar will be held at the UT Health Science Center in the Briscoe Library Foyer. Registration begins at 7:30 am and the sessions will be conducted throughout theday from 8:303:00. If you are interested in attending, you must complete a registration form which can bedownloading off our local website at:

http://hackberry.chem.trinity.edu/SAACS/

You may also contact BobFanick at rfanick@swri.org

San Antonio Chapter of the American Chemical Society

Alamo Regional Science & Engineering Fair Seminar Registration Form

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Homeschooling and Harry Potter

Filed under: Homeschooling — texased @ 2:16 pm

I’ve always thought that J. K. Rowling did an excellent job of critiquing the school bureaucracy in the fifth Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Her last book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, includes a justification for homeschooling. Once Voldemort takes over the Ministry of Magic, he makes some changes in education policy.

 

“Attendance is now compulsory for every young witch and wizard,” he replied. That was announced yesterday. It’s a change, because it was never obligatory before. Of course, nearly every witch and wizard in Britain has been educated at Hogwarts, but their parents had the right to teach them at home or send them abroad if they preferred. This way, Voldemort will have the whole Wizarding population under his eye from a young age. pg 210

Homeschooling is a sort of canary in the coal mine. When the right to homeschool disappears, we are well on our way to an authoritarian state.

September 24, 2007

PSAT Info for San Antonio Homeschool Students

Filed under: education, Homeschooling, San Antonio — texased @ 6:45 pm

Calendars : Northside Independent School District – San Antonio, TX 78238

October 17, 2007 7:45 am to 12:30 pm PSAT Testing Opportunity for Home School Students

Home school students whose instructional level is either Grade 10 or 11 are eligible to take the PSAT at Northside ISD schools if they live inside the Northside boundary.

The PSAT test date for 2007 is Wednesday October 17 with all home school students testing at one central site in Northside, the Patrick Teicher Student Services Building located at 5651 Grissom Road, 78238.

Interested parents should complete the registration form attached to this notice making special note of the requirements for this testing opportunity. Please contact the Testing and Evaluation Department at 210-397-8726 for more information.

For NEISD area

NEISD Press Release — PSAT for Home Schooled

Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test

PSAT/NMSQT stands for Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. It’s a standardized test that provides firsthand practice for the SAT Reasoning Test™. It also gives you a chance to enter National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) scholarship programs.

Registration:

The 2007 PSAT/NMSQT test date for North East ISD is Wednesday, October 17. You must sign up for the PSAT/NMSQT at the North East department of Guidance Services.

This test will be administered by North East ISD. If you are a home-schooled student, please contact Guidance Services at 804-7139 to find out about registration, time, and location for testing.

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September 23, 2007

Just because they go to a competitive doesn’t mean they have been taught to think

Filed under: Top Ten Percent Rule — texased @ 1:44 pm

Comment from a high schooler on one of my top 10% posts.

Public policy in Texas–I’ve got mine « Texas Ed: Comments on Education from Texas

 

# the top 10% rule is may very well promote diversity at the tier schools but at what cost? A kid taking advanced classes in a harder school with better test scores may be rejected strictly because he/she is not in the top 10% where as some with a much lower gpa and worse test scores may be admitted because they did not attend a very competitive school. As i go to the most competitive public school in the state and find myself only in the to 14%, i am outraged to hear that i will most likely not make it, and someone who has not worked as hard as me will automatically make it because they went to a less competitive school, regardless of how much higher my marks and test scores are. The top 10% rule is reverse discrimination at its finest.

I can’t say that I’m impressed with the quality of education this students has received based on the comments. Let’s see, she (or he) is “outraged” because others who have not worked as had as she will automatically be admitted since they attended a less competitive school.

Let’s start with “worked as hard.” Apparently the student hasn’t realized that there are people, probably within her own school, that work just as hard and have an even lower class ranking. For all she knows, the people at the less competitive schools could be working twice as hard as she does to make the top 10 percent at their schools. So students should be admitted to UT based on how many hours of homework they do?

And on what basis do you judge a school competitive? Let me guess, the commenter skipped over the data showing that the SAT was not a predictor of college success. Probably because she and her classmates have already shelled out $1000 SAT tutoring.

Maybe the number of AP classes taken and passed? We’ll how do you account for the number of students who have cheated their way to their grades?

Everybody Does It / Academic cheating is at an all-time high. Can anything be done to stop it?

 

Everybody Does It Academic cheating is at an all-time high. Can anything be done to stop it?

Ultimately, the commenter missed the point. Why is there only one state school that everyone wants to get into? Why haven’t we created a system of top tier schools to meet the obvious demand in Texas? I guess the commenter missed this because it involves thinking beyond your own immediate needs and goals.

So just for your information, even the Ivy League schools admit people with lower SATs and gpas in the name of geographic and ethnic diversity. For some silly reason, they think it contributes to the over education experience.

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September 19, 2007

Who’s cheating now?

Remember all the controversy around TAKS scores and the Caveon analysis about possible cheating in 2006?

Everybody Does It / Academic cheating is at an all-time high. Can anything be done to stop it?

It used to be that cheating was done by the few, and most often they were the weaker students who couldn’t get good grades on their own. There was fear of reprisal and shame if apprehended. Today, there is no stigma left. It is accepted as a normal part of school life, and is more likely to be done by the good students, who are fully capable of getting high marks without cheating. “It’s not the dumb kids who cheat,” one Bay Area prep school student told me. “It’s the kids with a 4.6 grade-point average who are under so much pressure to keep their grades up and get into the best colleges. They’re the ones who are smart enough to figure out how to cheat without getting caught.”

This sounds a lot like the kids at the schools the our former TEA commissioner, Dr. Neeley, said wouldn’t have to cheat to get good TAKS scores.

Money makes you honest « Texas Ed: Comments on Education from Texas

Dr. Neeley said the wealthy districts on the list – including many considering self-investigations – are unlikely to cheat.

“You look at Highland Park, Richardson, Eanes,” she said, naming some of the state’s wealthiest districts in the Dallas and Austin areas. “Do they have to cheat to have good scores? I gave a talk in Eanes not long ago and said, ‘Do you people think Westlake High School had to cheat to get good scores?’ “

But I’m sure things are different in Texas, right?

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September 18, 2007

Because it will improve academics

Filed under: education priorities, sports — texased @ 7:29 pm

MySA.com: Editorials

Still, while the vote is a merely a first step, it is a significant first step, one that could have ramifications beyond the football field.

Academics represent the foundation of a university, but athletic programs add prestige, and prestige, in turn, enhances academics, creating a positive, vibrant cycle.

Football programs also help attract students from beyond the area, a phenomenon that could help UTSA grow from a commuter school to a higher tier university.

Yup, all those kids want to get into Rice because of its football team. And everyone knows what the football team has done for Harvard’s prestige and it’s ability to attract students from across the country.

Certainly a football team can help strengthen the sense of community among the student body. That, in of itself, is a good thing. But as far as growing into a “higher tier university,” the students could have taken the same money and spent it on National Merit Scholars and really reached a higher tier in the ways that matter.

But no one pays to watch National Merit Scholars work, do they? If a school wants a football team, fine. Just spare us the academic justifications for the program. Oh wait, I forget, we’re in Texas. Never mind.

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September 17, 2007

The Homeschooling Community

Filed under: Homeschooling — texased @ 7:02 pm

I subscribe to several homeschool groups on yahoo and periodically there is a “discussion” on what it means to be a homeschooler. There was one recent discussion I decided not to join for several reasons but the principle one being that I don’t need to be yelled at and called some sort of subversive in email. It has been my experience that any remarks by an individual contrary to establish doctrine results in said individual being tagged a troll or flamer or a creator of “shinies” and told that she isn’t being attacked but just informed of the truth. I keep telling myself that I’m going to unsubscribe but don’t because every once in a great while (and it keeps getting greater) I gleam a nugget of information from the discussion.

Before I go on, I just want to state for the record that I do know the difference between a “homeschooler” and someone who does “public school at home.” That said, I wonder about the nature of the discussion and why it seems such an “either or” proposition.

One of the recent discussions was about how people who homeschool today (or at least ask about homeschooling) aren’t like people who homeschooled in the past. It was while following the conversation that I realized why this discussion will never be settled no matter what either side believes.

It comes down to “everything changes” over time, sometimes for good, sometimes for bad. I see the defenders (and definers) of the meaning of homeschooling like the residents of a small town not too far from some metropolitan area.

For some reason, this small town has been “discovered.” Maybe it started attracting people during it’s hometown fair. Maybe the media finally ran out of human interest stories closer to home and ran something about its residents. Maybe enough people started commuting to jobs in the city and people just found out about it through their co-workers. No matter how it was “discovered,” the town residents now find themselves living with an ever increasing number of new arrivals and things just aren’t the same.

Initially, the presence of the newcomers brought some welcomed changes to the town. Maybe there were now enough kids to form a baseball league or even keep the local school from closing. Maybe it meant enough new subscribers to allow the local paper to publish more frequently. Maybe it meant more money for the local library or made it a little easier to attract new health care professionals to town. For many small towns, the initial influx of new comers is a revitalizing change.

For a while.

And then the old timers find that the newcomers aren’t interested in contributing a turkey dinner to fund the volunteer fire department–they would just rather raise taxes and pay for a full time department. Enough people are interested in the town that some housing developers are starting to build cookie-cutter neighborhoods that could be found in any suburb. And the next thing you know, the town has a referendum on whether or not Walmart should be allowed to build a store downtown.

The old timers wonder why the newcomers want to destroy the very nature of what attracted them to the town in the first place. The newcomers wonder what’s wrong with wanting to buy a house that has modern conveniences.

And so there you are, the town has changed and there’s no going back to the way it was before. The old timers who jump all over the person asking directions to the nearest Starbucks and telling them that Dairy Queen does the town just fine doesn’t help the situation. The newcomers do need to be reminded about the values that attracted them to the town in the first place. But the fact remains the newcomers are there and they get to vote just like everyone else in the next election. So instead of alienating them with a “like us or leave us” attitude, it might be better to try to educate them.

Of course, some people aren’t interested in being educated and some people are still going to want Walmart to open shop in town. Then you will have to gather up as many supporters as possible to keep Walmart from building. Its going to be a whole lot easier to find supporters if you didn’t start off the relationship by calling them idiots.

Obviously, the newcomers are going to differ from the old timers regarding some issues. It’s to be expected since there was something different about the old timers that made them willing to live in the town long before the newcomers came. Therefore, things aren’t going to be the same. And how ever things are going to turn out isn’t going to be determined strictly by the old timers. They may be able to run off some of the more clueless newcomers, but not all of them. So it’s time for all the people in the town to figure out where it’s going rather than just remembering where it’s been.

I see myself definitely as one of the newcomers to homeschooling. I was one of the people who wouldn’t move to the town until I could get high speed internet. I’m also one of the newcomers that is sticking around.

What can I say, I’ve stopped referring new homeschoolers to some of the national lists because I’ve seen them jumped on for asking the wrong question. I don’t need to be spending my time explaining to them what happen when I’ve got plenty to look after locally.

I’m not that egotistical to think that my lack of participation in the national lists or refusal to recommend them to other homeschoolers spells doom for the lists. I’m sure they will continue on fine without me. But when they continue on without a lot of other homeschoolers as well, what becomes of their relevancy to homeschooling in general? Ultimately, I think it would be a loss to all homeschoolers, even those that never heard about the lists.

September 11, 2007

As long as you’re on the varsity, who cares about overcrowding?

Filed under: education — texased @ 3:05 pm

Students Forced to Swap Schools | WOAI.COM: San Antonio News

Overcrowding is forcing a student shuffle in the city’s biggest school district.

Some parents got to voice their concerns over the big school swap in the Northside School District.

Students Forced to Swap Schools | WOAI.COM: San Antonio News

The concern isn’t the school itself. Many just want their children to stay put especially for those with extracurricular activities.

“I was actually elected to an office in theater which was a really big deal for me,” Clark Sophomore Alyssa Sedillo said. “It meant so much and it sort of feels like that would be taken away from me because I’ve worked so hard to get where I am.”

No worries about the quality of the education experience suffering from overcrowding?

Students Forced to Swap Schools | WOAI.COM: San Antonio News

Athletics is a top concern as well.

“We’re a little concerned about the need for her to move or if there will be a grandfather clause for varsity athletes that are not seniors,” Richard Reeves said. Reeves has a sophomore daughter at O’Conner High School.

So what’s the problem? Don’t schools have new students transferring in the middle of their sophomore, junior, or even senior year all the time? You mean that transfer students don’t enjoy all the extracurricular benefits of students who have been at the school longer?

This reminds me of a friend who was getting ready to move after having lived in the same place for all of her daughter’s school “career.” I think she was in upper elementary school. Her daughter was completely distraught over the prospect of moving. When the mother asked for her specific concerns, she said she was worried about how she would be treated since she and her friends had always been so mean to new students at their school.

Guess what? There would be a lot fewer concerned parents if the schools weren’t the dominate, if not the only provider of extracurricular activities and participation in these activities wasn’t based on some competitive system.

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September 10, 2007

Texas College Open House/Information Days

Filed under: education, Higher Education — texased @ 2:30 pm

A listing of campus visit days for prospective students at San Antonio and Austin area colleges.

Texas College Open House/Information Days

Upcoming College Visit Days

Austin Area

San Antonio Area

Some events are restricted to high school juniors(j) or seniors(s). These are often overnight visits and you must register early. Some events may also have fees. Check their website for more information.

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