Texas Ed: Comments on Education from Texas

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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October 31, 2007

We have vouchers for higher education

Filed under: Accountability, education — texased @ 1:14 pm

This is from one of my favorite blogs about an argument for school vouchers.

The Washington Monthly

And yet, despite its thoroughness, it somehow fails to address the single biggest problem with school vouchers: oversight. If you’re going to receive taxpayer dollars, then you have to agree to taxpayer oversight. That means that NCLB applies to you. It means that minimum state curriculum requirements apply to you. It means that teacher union rules apply to you. It means you have a lot less authority to pick and choose which kids you’re willing to accept.

Well, what Kevin Drum says would appear to be true except that it doesn’t seem to apply to higher education. Right now, the federal government will give you money to attend a private college, perhaps even run by a religious organization with no oversight in terms of graduation rates, teacher qualifications, or curriculum. Basically, the colleges have say they don’t discriminate and that they’re accredited by one of a number of accrediting agencies.

Individuals have to take a certain number of hours but I’m not even sure they have to pass all of their classes to receive the grant. But there’s no guarantee that they will be admitted to selective schools and if the money you get from the government isn’t enough to pay for some schools, too bad.

Of course, the higher education system could probably use some more accountability but it is an example of government financing private schools with minimal oversight.

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October 26, 2007

Teaching them to think right

MySA.com: Metro | State

Writing research papers with citations, explaining plate tectonics and probing why historians have competing versions of the past.

Such high level skills could become part of the statewide K-12 public school curriculum if state education officials adopt a draft of college readiness standards released Thursday by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

You mean that the Texas State Board of Education is willing to give it’s emphasis on indoctrination for the development of actual thinking skills? You can read more on the Board’s attempt to control “doctrine” here.

I can already see it though. McLeroy and his fellow conservatives could use this as the springboard for “teaching the controversy” about evolution and intelligent design. Somehow, it wouldn’t be appropriate to “teach the controversy” over the role of slavery in the US or something like the internment of Japanese Americans in World War II. Nor, I suspect, would he be eager to teach the different approaches to reducing teenage pregnancy.

And what does he mean by the following:

MySA.com: Metro | State

“We really don’t need to do any of this for our advantaged (youth) and high achievers,” said Don McLeroy, chairman of the State Board of Education. “I look at it from the aspect of what do the disadvantaged, low achievers need? Those are the ones we want to pull up.”

Does he have evidence that students from well-to-do districts aren’t showing up in any of the colleges remedial classes? If he does, he better show it otherwise he has made the same sort of assumption about the value of money that got our former TEA commissioner to leave office.

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October 3, 2007

San Antonio School District College Nights

Filed under: education, San Antonio — texased @ 7:17 pm

Announcements

Judson ISD College Fair

The 21st annual Judson ISD College Fair is Oct. 9 at Wagner High School from 7-8:30 p.m. The fair is designed to help families begin planning for college. Ninth through twelfth grade students—and their parents–can visit with representatives from dozens of state and national colleges and universities.

“College representatives will provide educational information about their campuses and share helpful tools to plan for college,” said Blanca Muniz, Wagner High School college counselor.

“All area high school students are welcome to attend,” Muniz said. For more information, contact Ms. Muniz at 662-5000, ext. 1594.

San Antonio Homeschool Event

NISD College Night at UTSA

10/9/2007 Tuesday

6:00:00 PM

Northside ISD will hold its annual College Night at the University of Texas at San Antonio Loop 1604 campus from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Oct. 9. Please refer to the publicity flyer (More Info link) for recommended times. Please plan to park at the Farris Athletic Complex on Loop 1604. Buses will shuttle participants to and from UTSA every 15 minutes from 5:45 to 9 p.m. http://www.nisd.net/calendar/eve/2556

San Antonio Homeschool Event

NEISD Hosts College Night

10/10/2007 Wednesday

6:00:00 PM

Students and parents are invited to attend College Night on October 10, 2007 from 6-9 p.m. at the Piper Bass Student Center and Littleton Gym at Blossom Athletic Center. College Night is an annual event that brings more than 100 colleges from around the United States directly to North East ISD students and their parents. Local-area colleges will have representatives in the Piper Bass student center, and out-of-area colleges will be in Littleton Gym. For more information on College Night, contact Linda Pratt at collegenight@neisd.net.

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October 1, 2007

San Antonio SAT Prep

Filed under: Homeschooling, San Antonio — texased @ 7:07 pm

Announcements

SAT Prep Class

Offered by: Pauline Bauml (math) and Cayce Yarbrough (language)

Both of these teachers are well known, respected and valued in the home school community. Studies have shown that prep courses will boost students’ test scores significantly and, with these two teachers, your student will look forward to these beneficial classes.

Location: Our Lady of the Lake University, Metz Building

Dates: Oct. 27, Nov. 3, Nov. 10 and Nov. 17, 2007

Time: 9:00 am – 12:00 noon

On-time fee: $150 plus $20 registration fee

Walk-in fee: $150 plus $40 registration fee

All material provided.

To register: mail $20 registration fee to Pauline Bauml. Must be postmarked by Oct. 17, 2007 to be “on-time.” Please do not mail after this date.

For questions or to register, please contact Pauline Bauml:

9130 Oak Downs

San Antonio, TX 78230

(210) 287-1898

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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