Texas Ed: Comments on Education from Texas

November 27, 2007

West Campus High School should stay open because?

Filed under: education — texased @ 4:57 pm

This seems to embody so much of what is wrong with public education.

MySA.com: KENS 5: Education

Attorney David Van Os, who is representing Save West Campus, the group formed to protest the closure, argued that district officials failed to specify on the Oct. 23 meeting agenda that trustees could take formal action to close the school.

Let’s see, the school is Academically Unacceptable and has low enrollment. How do you figure that, aren’t smaller schools supposed to generate better academic results? The school board voted do to do the fiscally responsible thing and shut the school down. Now the parents have gone to court to prevent it from happening.

How many of these parents voted in the last school board election? How many went storming to the school board when the high school was rated “academically unacceptable?” Are these the parents that advocates for privatizing the school system are talking about? Acting in their self interest would result in a better education for their children?

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November 26, 2007

The College Search: Colby-Sawyer College

Filed under: college admissions, college rankings — texased @ 8:16 pm

Just in case anyone is wondering what I’ve been doing instead of blogging, I’ve started the college search for my sophomore son. Notice, I didn’t say “assisting” him or “guiding” him, I’m the one doing it. He has absolutely no interest at this point.

So why bother? Why not just let him reach the point on his own and start looking himself? One, the way the college application process works now at days means that waiting may also close off opportunities you waited too long to find out about.

Two, after spending a lot of time on a homeschool to college yahoo group and wondering why everyone elses kids seem to care and mine doesn’t, someone pointed out that it seems to be more boys in the “don’t care” category. The group consensus was that boys generally take longer to mature and this is one area in which it shows. (I hope anyway)

Three, if I go from the premise that he’s not really a self-starter, then I had better find a college where he won’t get lost in the crowd.

Four, we aren’t going to qualify for any need aid and while my son isn’t a self-starter, he’s smart enough to qualify for some merit aid somewhere. I just need to figure out somewhere.

So how do you start looking? I’ve read the Colleges that Change Lives and looked at the Princeton Review top 20 lists and it’s a start. But there are over 1500 schools out there and that only scratches the surface.

I’ll tell you my current, evolving method. I start out at http://www.collegeresults.org. I do an institutional search for the following:

Size: 750-2500 (I think he’s going to need to be in a small school where people care if he shows up to class)

Student Related Expenditures per FTE: greater than $15,000. The most spent per student at any state school in Texas is less than $12,000. There are only 25 public schools nationally that spend more than $15,000 per student. There are 290 private schools that do. I figure if I’m going to shell out tuition for a private school, I want to see some of the money spent on the students whether on student organizations, dorms, athletic facilities (the one thing he does care about) or classrooms.

Graduation Rate: Ideally, it should be over 70%. However, I’m currently working with a search between 50% and 70%. This generally lowers the requirements for qualifying for full tuition scholarships at the school. If he can get a scholarship and in their honors program with less than a 1200 SAT, I’ll take the chance.

After I generate my list, I then plug the school in the Princeton Review’s website for more info on it’s acceptance rate, percentage of students living on campus, percentage going to graduate school, and does it have baseball and football (because that’s important to my son, it may not be important to yours).

Then I hit the school’s website to look for information on it’s history department, (if ds can’t be general manager of a pro football team, he wants to be a history professor), scholarships, and honors program.

And that’s how I cam across Colby-Sawyer College in New Hampshire. The fact that it doesn’t have a football team is made up by it’s Honor Scholarship program. 1150 is worth a look.

Wesson Honors and Presidential Scholarships

Wesson Honors Scholarship Students with a 3.5 GPA and 1150 SAT (combined critical reading and math sections)/25 ACT score are eligible for the Wesson Honors Scholarship. This $12,000 scholarship includes direct admission into the Wesson Honors Program. It is renewable annually for four years of study dependent upon good academic standing in the Wesson Honors Program.

I’m not sure about the history department since it’s history department is actually “History, Society and Culture” which they do a nice job of explaining. It doesn’t seem particularly strong in the Civil War but okay in modern European history. On the plus side, it has developed an “Apprentice Historian Project.”

Other notables about the school is it’s co-curricular transcript, Pathway program, and use of portfolios.

I’m not sure I want ds in New Hampshire; I’m not sure he would even want to go. But it’s saved to the Princeton Review profile and on my “watch” list. It seems a promising alternative for someone who is not going to make into UT under the top 10 percent rule.

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November 13, 2007

Vouchers are about choice, not quality

Filed under: Accountability, Education reform, Higher Education, Texas — texased @ 8:15 pm

MySA.com: Metro | State

In recent weeks, community members have rallied and pleaded with trustees, begging them to spare West Campus, which has about 600 students. But faced with a heart versus head dilemma, trustees voted to close the campus, which has had chronic low enrollment for years, operates at a deficit and has an “academically unacceptable” rating from the Texas Education Agency.

Now what is the point of school vouchers again? A way for poor parents to escape a failing school system? But what if parents are fine with their local schools no matter what its academic rating?

MySA.com: Metro | State

Parents, many of whom have their own memories of school days at West Campus, haven’t taken the decision lying down. On Friday, they filed a request for a temporary restraining order in U.S. District Court to challenge the school district’s effort to keep the dispute from bubbling up during the evening’s football game.

The latest legal challenge came after district officials announced that they would not tolerate any save-the-school fundraising efforts at the game or allow audience members to wear shirts or carry signs emblazoned with defamatory messages.

Despite the fact that their children will go a better rated high school, these parents aren’t happy. So how can you expect vouchers to “save” the school system if parents aren’t going to behave as voucher proponents expect them to? Let’s face it, “vouchers” at the higher education level, (grants and loans) don’t guarantee that students attend only schools with high graduation rates or job placement. It does allow quite a bit more diversity in education choice but it doesn’t mean that poorer quality schools shut down.

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