Texas Ed: Comments on Education from Texas

January 19, 2008

If They’re Allowed to do Whatever They Want, Then They Didn’t Break the Law

Texas Ed Spectator » Blog Archive » If they’re allowed to do whatever they want, then they didn’t break the law
More on the Texas SBOE’s rejection of a third grade math book. Now the majority has voted to strike the minority reports from the official record of the board’s minutes. It seems that while our San Antonio representative couldn’t bring himself to vote on the original matter, he has joined the majority in censoring the minority.
See the complete post at my new website www.texasedspectator.com.

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January 17, 2008

Because they don’t like it

Texas Ed Spectator » Blog Archive » Because they don’t like it
Rejection of math textbook sparks debate on state board’s authority | Dallas Morning News | News for Dallas, Texas | Latest News

The state Board of Education’s unusual decision to reject a math textbook used by Dallas and 70 other Texas school districts has evolved into a power struggle over the approval of classroom materials used across the state.

At issue is whether the 15-member state board can reject any book it wants for any reason it wants. That’s what some conservative board members, led by board president Don McLeroy, say they are allowed to do.

So much for local control.

See the complete post at my new website www.texasedspectator.com.

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January 5, 2008

Top Websites on Homeschooling Legality in Texas

Filed under: Homeschooling, Texas — texased @ 7:54 pm
 This is on my new website www.texasedspectator.com.
Texas Ed Spectator
These websites are provide you with information on the legal aspects of homeschooling. They list relevant education code, legislation, and court cases as well as the basic steps to start homeschooling in Texas (how to withdraw your child from public school.) Many other websites present this information as well but those listed here have proved themselves reliable and enduring. If you come across information at other websites that seems inconsistent or contradicts information from the websites below, I suggest you go with the information from the websites below.

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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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September 5, 2007

McLeroy accepting the standard for teaching evolution?

Filed under: Don McLeroy, evolution, Texas, Texas State Board of Education — texased @ 7:58 pm

Education board opposes intelligent design in curricula | Dallas Morning News | News for Dallas, Texas | Texas Southwest

Interviews with 11 of the 15 members of the board – including seven Republicans and four Democrats – found little support for requiring that intelligent design be taught in biology and other science classes. Only one board member said she was open to the idea of placing the theory into the curriculum standards.

“Creationism and intelligent design don’t belong in our science classes,” said Board of Education Chairman Don McLeroy, who described himself as a creationist. “Anything taught in science has to have consensus in the science community – and intelligent design does not.”

Mr. McLeroy, R-College Station, noted that the current curriculum requires that evolution be taught in high school biology classes, and he has no desire to change that standard.

What can I say, I don’t believe him for a moment. I don’t know what his plan is but given his public record, I believe that he would never miss an opportunity to promote “intelligent design” in the science classroom.

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August 2, 2007

No more dropping college courses

Filed under: education, Texas, Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board — texased @ 11:56 am

I don’t get it.

Legislation limits college courses that may be dropped

The 80th Texas Legislature passed Senate Bill 1231 limiting the number of courses an institution of higher learning may allow an undergraduate student to drop. SB 1231 will affect any student enrolled as a first-time freshman at Lamar University and all other Texas universities and colleges, beginning in the fall 2007 semester.

The bill requires the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to adopt and enforce new rules established in the bill. The coordinating board defines a “dropped course” as a course an undergraduate student at an institution of higher education has enrolled in for credit but did not complete.

The new rules prohibit an institution of higher education from allowing a student to drop more than six courses during their undergraduate program, including any courses a transfer student has dropped at another university.

Is the only consequence that the student get a failing grade? What’s the purpose? Force students to fail more classes, lowering their gpa so that they drop out and don’t use anymore state resources? Now I know that there are students that will drop a class to preserve a gpa so that they can get into graduate school but surely they must be a minority?

Don’t most students have to maintain a certain number of hours to keep their financial aid or full-time student status? I know one semester I dropped both government classes after the first day of class and added two English instead. Would that have counted?

Is this supposed to save the state money somehow?

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July 12, 2007

Reprisals for Perry’s Community College Veto

Filed under: community colleges, Rick Perry, Texas — texased @ 2:58 pm

I’m not sure what they think they will accomplish.

MyWestTexas.com – Texas Democrats threaten retaliation for Perry’s veto

Meeting today in Washington, the Texas Democratic Congressional Delegation is so perturbed about Gov. Rick Perry’s veto of $154 million in community college funding that it may consider reprisals, spokesmen said.

The 12-member group sent an angry letter to Perry June 25 and will wait for an answer before deciding what to do, but Higher Education Act reauthorizations and federal grant funding are the obvious options, they said.

As far as I can tell, Republican members of the legislature aren’t happy with Perry’s veto. Why would he worry about what some Democrats think? They might cut funding to more college students? He’s already shown he doesn’t care.

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July 9, 2007

Language immersion is only for Spanish speakers

Filed under: education, Texas — texased @ 3:53 pm

There is going to be a pilot program that teaches classes in both English and Spanish to those who only speak one or the other language. Never mind that

MySA.com: Metro | State

Research shows children who learn two languages at an early age outscore students in traditional monolingual classrooms, she said.

Representative Debbie Riddle of Tomball doesn’t think it’s a good idea.

MySA.com: Metro | State

Under the program, half of each class where possible would consist of English-speaking children.

Riddle said children should study foreign languages in a separate course and that schools should not force them to learn academic subjects in two languages.

She also believes Spanish-speaking children should learn English by being immersed in English. Some believe that English immersion is the most effective approach.

So if English immersion is effective for Spanish-speaking children, wouldn’t Spanish immersion be effective for English-speaking students rather than learning Spanish as a separate course?

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June 28, 2007

Who knew board members were so sensitive?

Filed under: education, Texas — texased @ 1:15 pm

The Daily Times

Public school teachers and employees concerned about operations at their school districts now have added protection to voice those issues with elected members of their school boards.

But this isn’t “good business practice” according to the Ingram School Board president. Excuse me? If your boss is cooking the books you should first report to your boss so that he can fire you before you have a chance to go any further up the “chain of command?”

And then there is the superintendent who is just trying to protect the board members.

The Daily Times

Faust said board members may feel uncomfortable about listening to employees, and the change may require additional training. Contact information for board members is not available on the school district’s Web site, and Faust only provided contact information for Ingram board president Freddie Hawkins to respond to questions about this subject.

So why isn’t contact information available on the website? They are public officials who were voted into office by the public they serve, not the superintendent. If you don’t want voters to be able to contact you after you win office (and teachers are voters), then don’t run!

Given Faust’s attitude, it seems to me this law should have passed a long time ago.

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June 27, 2007

Wasteful spending in San Antonio, political investments in Midland

Filed under: education, Higher Education, Rick Perry, Texas — texased @ 9:16 am

Perry’s reasoning for vetoing the San Antonio Life Sciences Institute (SALSI) makes even less sense after reading the Express-News editorial.

MySA.com: Editorials

The governor said he doesn’t want to create more top research institutions before a new commission on higher education and global competitiveness comes up with a plan for the most effective use of funds.

This isn’t a new school. The institute was established by the legislature in 2001. It has already received $6.5 million in funding. It may or may not be deserving of the requested $6 million. It was at least as deserving as UT Permian Basin that received over $16 million dollars.

I think what bothers me more than anything else is that “he” -Perry- “doesn’t want to create more top research institutions” makes it sound like he is the sole authority of how many “top” research institutions Texas gets to have. I get the impression that this institute could not possibly exist without Perry’s blessing. The fact that it was created by a previous legislature is irrelevant.

All things considered, the SALSI is probably better off if it can develop without relying on the whims of state government. It’s just Perry’s political arrogance bugs me. How convenient to use the commission as an excuse to justify a veto in this case. What commission does he use to justify the cases he didn’t veto?

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