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Archive for the tag “Austin”

QUESTION FOR TAX PAYERS, WHY WORK?

Why should anyone go to school, study and graduate, serve their country, find a job, when they can sit home and draw money for doing nothing? 

Even though you may not wish to listen to this entire interview you will miss some improtant reasons why we have a government gone mad with welfare power and your money! 

 WELFARE ABUSE: 32 years old Austin, TX welfare recipient says
working is stupid. – Safeshare.TV
 

We, the gray headed straights, the non-Liberal, non Socialist/Marxist, tax payers, are the stupid ones!   

We allow young, healthy, able bodied, American citizens to marry (or not), procreate and draw various government transfer payments, as an alternative to performing gainful employment. 

Here’s a young woman who admits to being a “pot head”, a Welfare Cheat, a tax cheat, and a drag on society and thinks nothing of it. There is nothing wrong about what she’s doing, according to her way of thinking.  She and her family receive, from actual, working, tax-paying Americans, monetary assistance, which helps pay for their food and housing, receive medical and educational benefits and allows them to buy drugs and liquor, out of the leftover or “spare” cash. It would seem she is not a rare example, but is more representative of the way our society is moving, ideologically, and has been shifting, for the last fifty years.

The first 150 years of our historical test of a “Representative Democracy” underwent significant assault at the hands of the Progressives, under President Wilson, picked up steam under the “New Deal” of FDR, found new direction with LBJ’s “Great Society”, and totally erupted under the tutelage of President Obama. 

Those of us that got up every day, got an education, went to work, paid taxes and subsidized her and her family of leeches, are just plain stupid!! 

Listen and think about what this means for our country.

Is this what we want for our future generations?

In the history of the world, no other country has had the positive impact upon the rest of the world as the USA!! The engine of that success has been Capitalism, the antithesis of Socialism/Marxism, dare I say Communism, which have never worked.  The answer to the foibles inherent in Free Market Capitalism is not to scrap it in favor of its economic & social opposite, but to repair the cracks in the bulwark, as necessary, and not through fundamental changes, accompanied by total revolution.

Thanks for sharing this Ron, we should also thank radio station KLBJ for being brave enough to broadcast this in Austin, Texas. Thankfully most of the Progressive/Liberal extremist in Texas live in Austin or they should. Texas would be better off if they would move to California where everyone would be happy.

Please send a copy of this to every Congressman, Senator in Washington and Austin. Hillary will make sure that this will never appear in the NY Times or  broadcast on MSNBC for sure.

C Brewer

EDUCATION TEXAS- HELPING TEACHERS HELP THEMSELVES

 

 

 

I just read an interesting article in the NY Times, by Michael Winerip that makes more sense than anything I have ever seen regarding teacher improvement. I would like to paraphrase some of the highlights to share with others.

The Montgomery County, Maryland, Public School system has a program for evaluating teachers that is the closest thing to common sense I have ever seen. They provide teachers professional support if they are performing poorly and dismiss those who can’t or won’t improve.

Peer Assistance and Review (PAR) uses successful teachers to mentor new teachers as well as veterans having problems. If unsuccessful, the PAR panel — made up of eight teachers and eight principals — can vote to fire the teacher. 

In one recent case, 11 of the 12 panel members present voted to follow a principal’s recommendation and discipline the teacher; in  a second case, they decided in a 10-to-2 vote to reject a principal’s recommendation and support the teacher.

Since the PAR concept was introduced 11 years ago, 200 teachers have been dismissed, and 300 chose to leave rather than go through the PAR process. The superintendent of the Montgomery County system, which enrolls 145,000 students, stated that in the ten years before PAR five teachers were fired. “It took three to five years to build the trust to get PAR in place,” he explained. “Teachers had to see we weren’t playing gotcha.”

Maryland’s state superintendent of schools stated that PAR was an excellent system for professional development. The United States Department of Education has studied the program, and Montgomery County officials have gone to Washington to explain how it works.

Unfortunately, federal dollars from the Obama administration’s Race to the Top program are not going where they need to go. Montgomery County schools were entitled to $12 million from Race to the Top, but the superintendent said he would not take the money because the grant required districts to include students’ state test results as a measure of teacher quality. He does not believe the tests are reliable. He said. “You don’t want to turn your system into a test factory.” This is exactly what Governor Perry and the Texas Legislature are imposing on our teachers, which are not only sad, but a big waste of money. Sadly everyone is ignoring the students.

Race to the Top was designed to improve our student’s education by improving teacher quality. That is exactly what Montgomery County is doing. Sad to say, the district is getting the right results the wrong way. Common sense moved out of Washington D.C. and now it is moving out of Austin Texas.

84 percent of Montgomery County students go on to college and 63 percent receives degrees. This is what President Obama said was a true measure of academic success. 2.5 percent of all black children in America who pass an Advanced Placement test live in Montgomery County, more than five times its share of the nation’s black population.

12 states that were awarded the billions of dollars in Race to the Top grants are using student scores as a measure of teachers’ worth. The US Department of Education appears gratified that Race to the Top money has pressured states to adopt this senseless approach to measure anything. The Maryland state superintendent said the administration made it clear that if a state wanted to win a grant, the proposal had to include a formula for calculating student growth. Maryland toed the line and was awarded $250 million.

The state requested an exception for Montgomery because of the PAR program’s history of success and was told that no modifications were allowed. Districts are not permitted to appeal to federal officials, said the director of the Implementation and Support Unit at the U.S. Department of Education.

So, Montgomery’s PAR program, which has worked beautifully for 11 years, is not acceptable. But the Maryland plan — which does not exist yet — meets federal standards. This is irresponsible leadership and a waste of education funding. Who loses the students?

The major fallacy of Race to the Top’s teacher-evaluation system is that it is being imposed from above rather than being developed by the teachers and administrators who will use it. People don’t tear down what they help build.

Governor Perry and the hand full of legislators who are micromanaging Texas education should visit a PAR meeting. That would be a common sense approach, long ago ignored by politicians.

Clyde Brewer

EDUCATION TEXAS-SALARY FACTS AND FIGURES

 

Over the past several weeks I have posted a series of articles about the proposed reduction of state funds for educating our children. At this juncture I can make one solid statement that our Governor and Legislature are so wrapped up in politics; they have no concept of the real Texas education administrative costs. Most of the blame expressed by the politicians is waste at the local school district level and action at that level certainly needs focused attention. 

I have spent several hours on the internet collecting some actual facts that are available for public review. Although all of the actual figures are not directly related to education, you should find some of the numbers interesting, I did. I found most of these facts at THE TEXAS TRIBUNE website.

The 25 highest paid state employees are all education related. The highest paid is Mack Brown, University of Texas (UT) head football coach, whose annual salary is $2,511,667.00 (ESPN’s website shows his salary to be over $5,000,000.00). Second place go’s to another UT coach, Richard D. Barnes at $2,916,667.00. Fourth place is Texas Tech coach, Thomas Tuberville, at $1,500,000.00. Thirteenth place is UT coach, Gail A. Goestenkors, at $930,834.00. Eighteenth place is UT coach, August E. Garndo, at $760,000.00 and at 25th place is Clarence Byme, Texas A&M athletic director at $711,434.00. The other eighteen individuals on the highest 25 paid state employees are all professors at various medical schools. Their salaries ranged from $700,000.00 to $$1,750,000.00.

The Texas Education Agency (TEA) has a total of 1054 employees doing something. The highest salary is $480,000.00, lowest is $21,015.00 and the average is $60,875.00. This produces a total salary only expense for the TEA of $64,162,250.00. Do they actually teach the student anything?

I found another state agency I was not aware of, the Texas Teacher Retirement System. This agency has 511 employees with the highest salary being $480,000.00; the lowest is $20,217.00 and the average of $56,116.00. This amounts to an annual salary only expense of $28,675,276.00.

The Tribune reports that there are 1154 school superintendents in Texas. Apparently some of the 1265 districts do not have any superintendents. Many of the school districts are charter schools. A review reveals that the Beaumont ISD superintendent, Carrol Thomas has the highest salary of $347,834.00. There are 78 that make more than $200,000.00; 511 earn between $100-200,000.00; 475 earn between $50-100,000.00 and 90 that make less than $50,000.00. Other than the outlandish salary in Beaumont, school superintendents are not overpaid. When you compare most to business leaders they are underpaid. The University of Texas alone has 190 positions that pay salaries over $200,000.00. The President, William Powers, salary is $511,491.00. The wide separation between the pay for a college professor and a K-12 school superintendent is another concern that Austin and the TEA have priority problems.

Wow, it would be nice to really know the true costs of education at the state level. If I had a staff to research this I would. It would be interesting to know if our Governor or Legislators had even a foggy idea of what a business would call overhead. At most only 25 of the above would ever come face to face with a student. Can you imagine what these costs would be if fringe benefits were available to review?

While I was accumulating these facts I decided to look at the entire State of Texas salary structure. The Tribune reports that the state currently has 660,000 employees. They report that we have 434,210 who have a salary up to $50,000.00; 203,795 with a salary from $50-100,000.00; 14,728 with a salary from $100-150,000.00; 2,783 with a salary from $150-200,000.00; 1,404 with a salary from 200-250,000.00; 786 with a salary from $250-300,000.00 and 2,294 with salaries from $300,000.000 to the $2,511,667.00.

By the way we pay Governor Perry $150,000.00 a year plus fringes. If every student in our universities had the brains to accumulate this knowledge, they would be idiots if they did not pursue a career in public service. You can’t blame this situation on the republicans now in power as the roots of these systems were created during democratic majority years. When you multiply this by all 50 states and throw in the education waste generated in Washington, it should tell the common folks that it is time to demand change.

What we all can do is blame the current republican leadership in Austin if they fail to understand and correct the problems that are so evident. Shifting the burden to the next generation to fix this is unacceptable to me. Are you satisfied? Please send me your comments and send your questions to your state Senator and/or Representative.

The sad part is the K-12 children are at the bottom of the priorities in Austin. That is probably because they can’t vote.

Clyde Brewer

EDUCATION- IS THE TAXPAYER RESPONSIBLE FOR FRILLS?

 

I just read an article in today’s (5-25-11) Wall Street Journal (WSJ) that every tax payer in America should read; “Public Schools Charge Kids for Basics, Frills” by Stephanie Simon. I personally have some problems with every fact exposed, but I find some refreshing ways to even the burden on what I feel are pure frills. The facts I use are quoted from this article. 

Fact; “After adjusting for inflation, average spending per pupil has increased 44% over the past two decades, according to the U.S. Department of Education.” The WSJ article states; “The average salary for a public school teacher nationally has jumped 26% since 2001, though that growth didn’t quite keep pace with inflation.”

For the past few weeks I have posted many articles about education and it appears that Public Schools across America are facing significant reductions in state funding for education. Increasing personnel costs and lower tax revenues are shifting costs to students and their parents by new and increased fees in several parts of the country.

Some public schools have charged for extras such as driver’s education and field trips. Many school districts are now charging for supplies needed to take core classes. In some schools each class has a price tag. One interesting area that should get some specific attention is the costs of sports and other non-core education subjects like band, debate, drama, arts etc.

Some examples extracted from the WSJ article; Fees in Medina, Ohio of $200 for Band, $200 for Concert Choir, $50 to act in a school play and $660 to participate in a high school sport; A 52% increase this year in the Blue Valley ISD in Overland Park Kansas for enrollment and supplies that are typically $235; Next year the Wheaton (Illinois) North High School will charge $221 for baseline registration, $150 for each sport and class fees as much as $50 each. In addition Medina charges $75 for generic school fees, $118.50 for materials used in Biology, physics and other academic courses and $263 for Advanced Placement Exams. Other non-core cost examples included in the article were parking, struggling readers, advanced math, foreign languages and Chess Club.

All American children should receive a tax supported core public education that I had many years ago. The general public seems to agree that this is an American value. Each state has a constitutional requirement to educate our children, but it appears that the variables are significant from state to state. Each state should define “suitable” or “adequate” education that is to be funded with public money. If you feel that charging special fees like the examples included, then contact your State Representative or Senator.

I urge my state, Texas, to call a special legislative session, to define the tax payer’s education responsibilities. They should also force smaller school districts to consolidate. 1265 different school districts is an irresponsible legislative oversight to control spending. School boards refuse to consolidate because they are forced to give up sport nicknames such as “Bulldogs”, etc. This is as asinine as the ego trip for some to attain power of serving on a School Board. If a local school district desires extra benefits involving sports, academic enhancements, clubs etc., let them fund it with local tax increases.

It is time for the people to stand up and force the legislatures to do their job with fiscal responsibility. We have 254 counties and only two have County School Superintendents, Dallas and Harris counties, why? The State of Texas “IS” responsible for every child to receive the same educational opportunity. When will the Governor and Legislature stop blaming the local school boards and make sure all Texas children have equal and adequate opportunities?  

If you agree then pass this around, I would appreciate your comments.

CB

EDUCATION TEXAS- HOW TO WASTE MORE MONEY- A SECOND LOOK!

The following article was posted on this site on May 22, 2011. As predicted the STAAR program has been another dismal failure wasting billions of dollars everyone knew would not work. Texas attempt to force teachers to just make sure students can pass a test will never work and our Governor and State Education Committee all hopefully know that by now. We need teachers to teach basic education like I had in the 1030/40’s.

When will educators and politicians admit that every child is not equipped to be a doctor, lawyer or rocket scientists? Likely never, as we will now look for a new magic test that will also fail. We need occupational education for those children that will be welders, technicians, salesperson, beauty operators, etc. Although some programs exist they are funded by outside donations except our prison system schools. If we train some of these young people, trades they may not have to go to prison to get qualified? If interested I posted other articles about this during the same time frame you can find searching my site

Except for some minor changes in the first paragraph the following was posted some 19 months ago.

The new STAAR testing program will be just another untested wild goose chase. After wasting millions on the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) testing program some Texas school districts have captured the costs for TAKS. Based on the factual costs the STAAR program will double the costs of TAKS. Taxpayers will face increased waste of state funds and no improved knowledge for the majority of students.

An article by Hawley Kappes in The Daily News on May 15 revealed some significant facts I wish to share. Teachers now have to teach to pass a test or face possible discipline. With all of the 1265 Texas school districts facing budget cuts, the Clear Creek ISD decided to review all expenditures including the TAKS costs.

The review revealed that $1.3 million costs associated with TAKS, which includes paying substitute teachers who support administering the test, tutoring for students who need additional help and supplies — including sharpened pencils, highlighters, dictionaries and graphing calculators.

This included the salaries of testing coordinators at each high school and deans of instruction at all campuses that ensure teachers are following curriculum guidelines.

Texas provides no funding to cover these costs.

Clear Creek ISD did not capture all cost because some testing aspects were difficult to quantify. Assistant principals at elementary and intermediate schools are responsible for implementing state assessments on their campuses, and it was difficult to assign a dollar amount for the time associated with that work.

The Dickinson ISD reported that the TAKS costs of about $430,000 this year. This includes the salaries of the district’s director of assessment, evaluation and compliance and the testing coordinator at Dickinson High School, plus 30 percent of the salary for an assistant principal at each campus.

The district spends $50,000 a year on extra tutoring for students who need it.

Testing protocol has strict rules that govern the handling of test materials from the time school districts receive the packets until the items are shipped off after testing is finished. Staff members spend time counting test booklets, ensuring no seals have been prematurely broken, keeping the tests locked after hours and training for hypothetical situations that could occur in the testing environment.

Substitutes are needed on testing days to monitor bathrooms and hallways and watch over students if a teacher needs to step out of the classroom. Counselors and testing coordinators spend time identifying if certain students require special test environments, including linguistically assisted testing, which requires a teacher to read questions for students. Most preparation for assessments happens after hours during nights and weekends.

Goodbye TAKS, Hello STAAR

Next year, the state will implement a new State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, or STAAR, which will replace the TAKS as a measure of student performance.

Changes include a four-hour limit on testing periods, expanded accommodations for students with dyslexia and makeup days for all tests. Legislators in Austin still are hashing out details of the STAAR, but the tests will include 12 end-of-course assessments mandated by Senate Bill 1031 in 2007 and new assessments for grades three through eight as required by House Bill 3 in 2009.

STAAR is more individualized to what classes a high school student is taking that year. A student’s course load, instead of his grade level, will determine which tests he will take. The test will measure more of the thinking involved and ability to do more processing of information and divergent thinking.

School district officials are grappling with the increased test days the new state assessment will require. Total testing days will increase from 25 under TAKS to 45 under STAAR.

Freshmen this year were tested for reading and math, but next year will take assessments in English, math, social studies and science. Major curriculum revisions will finish this summer to adjust for the more specialized end-of-course exams. New textbooks also will be necessary for school districts.

Some think it would be better to test students in alternating grades or perhaps staggering subjects for different grades at the elementary level. The amount of testing that’s going to happen is encroaching so much on teachers instruction time with students they do not have time to go that deep into curriculum before the test comes.

A Breakdown of Clear Creek ISD’s TAKS Costs were; High school testing coordinator salaries — $216,310; Deans of instruction — $357,066; Substitutes to help administer the tests — $120,000; Target assistance tutoring — $500,000; Graphing calculators — $83,468; Supplies — $25,000 Dictionaries — $1,600.

STAAR is also unfunded, untested and with budget cuts another method for the state to intensify teacher responsibilities to approach the level of “Kamikaze Pilots.” No wonder Texas has some 60 vacancies for K-12 Superintendents. I recommend that many more update their resumes or look into retirement packages.

The Texas Education Agency and the legislature do not have a clue on the damage and waste they have enacted by law. If someone would capture the costs for all 1265 Texas school districts, it might attract attention for the voters to care? The largest Texas school district, Windom, is exempted from TAKS and STAAR as it covers the Texas prison system.   CB

EDUCATION TEXAS- A TOTAL DISASTER

Just when I thought no one could outspend Obama, this article was sent to me by a daughter who gets a newspaper. Living in rural Texas limits ones access to daily newsprint. Can anyone with any common sense explain to me the logic associated with this unbelievable fiasco, other than stupidity? The Texas education program is beyond stupid. Our Governor, legislature and the Texas Education Agency have created so many unfunded programs to require more teachers, then cut the budgets so success is impossible. I am now convinced that Washington D.C. may have more incompetents but Austin Texas has to have more per capita. I hope this reaches as many Texans as possible. CB

Texas Taxpayers Finance Formula One Auto Races as Schools Dismiss Teachers

By Darrell Preston and Aaron Kuriloff

Texas, which may balance its budget by firing thousands of teachers, plans to commit $25 million in state funds to Formula One auto racing each year for a decade.

Four years after motorsports’ most popular series left the U.S., Texas investors including Clear Channel Communications Inc. co-founder B.J. “Red” McCombs are building a 3.4-mile (5.5-kilometer) track to bring the event to Austin. Comptroller Susan Combs has agreed to pay $25 million for races through 2022, a subsidy questioned by critics and lawmakers as the state cuts costs to close an estimated $15 billion two-year deficit.

“I don’t understand why 25 people in Austin could not put up $1 million each if they thought this was a good opportunity instead of the state making a $25 million commitment,” said Senator Dan Patrick, a Houston Republican. “The developers should find the money through private sources.”

As many as 100,000 teachers in Texas may be fired because of spending cuts to cope with the state’s budget crisis, according to Moak Casey & Associates, an Austin-based education consultant. For $25 million a year, the state could pay more than 500 teachers an average salary of $48,000.

“I have to wonder why the state of Texas is all over funding for this racetrack and not the school-funding crisis,” said Ewa Siwak, 44, who teaches German in the Austin Independent School District and whose job at Bowie High School is being cut. “Tax dollars for education should be a higher priority.”

No Traction

Formula One races have failed to gain traction previously in the U.S. Since the 1970s, the series has been hosted by Long Beach, California, as well as Las Vegas, Detroit, Dallas, Phoenix and, most recently, Indianapolis. The races there ended in 2007 on declining attendance.

With 20 million Texans within 250 miles of Austin and a growing Formula One fan base in Mexico, the city’s annual race will be successful, Steve Sexton, president of track developer Circuit of the Americas LLC, said in a telephone interview.

By building the Circuit of the Americas track, backers aim to attract automakers such as Fiat SpA (F)’s Ferrari Group, Renault SA (RNO) and Daimler AG (DAI)’s Mercedes that compete in Catalonia, Shanghai and Istanbul. Racing-team owners include U.K. billionaire Richard Branson and Indian liquor magnate Vijay Mallya. Races from Montreal to Sao Paulo draw thousands of fans, including those paying $1,200 apiece for a seat in Monaco’s grandstands.

Each race in Austin is projected to generate enough tax revenue to recoup the $25 million from a state Event Trust Fund pool, according to Allen Spelce, a spokesman for Combs, a Republican. He said the plan calls for putting the $25 million into a revolving account for paying annual event-related costs.

$250 Million Subsidy

If the financing works as projected, the decision will use $250 million in state tax revenue for the races over 10 years.

“With places struggling, spending that much money on an essentially one-off event is tough to do,” said Michael Cramer, a former president of baseball’s Texas Rangers and hockey’s Dallas Stars who runs the sports and media program at the University of Texas at Austin. “It’s a very high cost of entry.”

Texas, like other states cutting budgets for schools, nursing homes and basic services, uses economic-development spending to bring in jobs and seed growth. That often involves giving up tax revenue generated by a project to pay part of the cost. New Jersey is providing $200 million of tax-increment financing to help develop the American Dream in the Meadowlands, which will be the biggest mall in the U.S. when it opens.

“I’m not sure of the wisdom of using tax dollars to fund a racetrack,” said Siwak, the Austin teacher. “They’re giving so much tax dollars away I don’t think they could make it up with the racetrack.”

Economic Outlook

Combs’s office estimates a Formula One race in Austin next year will spur $300 million of spending, Spelce said in an e- mailed statement. Construction of the $242 million track, which has begun, is projected to add 1,300 temporary jobs and pump $400 million into the economy. The venue will seat 120,000 fans.

The state isn’t investing in the track development, Spelce said in the e-mail. He said the Legislature authorized the use of the money from the Major Events Trust Fund in 2009.

“The funding generated by the activity offsets the state’s investment,” Spelce said. “It is important that the state continue to generate new economic activity to ensure that Texas continues to grow.”

Formula One racing attracts the wealthy who sponsor teams and draws fans from around the world, said Zak Brown, chief executive officer of Just Marketing Inc., an agency based in Zionsville, Indiana. JMI, as it’s known, focuses on motorsports.

Sport for Wealthy

“It’s a lifestyle of the rich and famous,” Brown said in a telephone interview. “The whole industry has a lot of wealth around it, a lot of politics.”

The cost of holding races has made it too expensive for sponsors without a public subsidy, said Mark Cipolloni, president of AutoRacing1 Inc. in Robbinsville, New Jersey. The company runs a website that covers motorsports.

“It isn’t cost-effective for an independent race,” Cipolloni said. “Most races in major cities wouldn’t be held without public support.”

The state’s $25 million is being paid to London-based Formula One Management Ltd. to hold the race in Austin, Sexton said. Formula One, owned by London-based CVC Capital Partners Ltd., a private-equity firm, is run by Bernie Ecclestone, the chief executive officer of the series.

“It’s going to Mr. Ecclestone and Formula One to get them to bring the event here,” Sexton said.

Outside Intended Use

Paying such a fee goes beyond the intended use of the state fund, which was set up to support bringing annual events to Texas by rebating increased taxes they generate to cover costs including security and traffic control, said Richard Viktorin, an accountant with Audits in the Public Interest. The Austin- based group opposes government support for the races.

In the past, the event fund has been used to subsidize professional football’s Super Bowl championship game, college basketball’s Final Four tournament and business meetings such as a Chick-fil-A Inc. convention.

“It’s off-balance-sheet financing for a rich man’s sport,” Viktorin said. Combs is “supposed to be a fiscal officer for the state. She’s not controlling that fund.”

Formula One participants and sponsors have wanted to return to the U.S. since 2007, when the last race was run in Indianapolis, Ecclestone said in a telephone interview. Indianapolis began hosting the event in 2000. Interest waned after defective tires led most entrants to withdraw in 2005.

U.S. Venue

“No one wanted to hold it,” Ecclestone said, until the Austin promoters stepped in. “Carmakers and team sponsors are also keen to have a race in the U.S. to help leverage their backing of teams.”

Formula One’s popularity has declined in the U.S., partly because there haven’t been any races in the country in recent years and partly from a lack of successful American drivers since Eddie Cheever and Mario Andretti, JMI’s Brown said.

“It’s moved around,” said Brown, who praised the Austin track’s design. “There was a 10-year period where there was no Grand Prix,” or Formula One race, in the U.S, he said.

The Austin event is expected to benefit from its proximity to Mexico and South America, where the series has grown in popularity, said Ecclestone. Austin’s city government also may invest $4 million a year in tax revenue to facilitate the event, the Austin-American Statesman reported. The city hasn’t been asked to provide any incentives, said Matt Curtis, a spokesman for Mayor Lee Leffingwell.

Tourism ‘Booster’

“It’s going to be a major booster in our convention and tourism industry,” Curtis said. The “return is very significant.”

Formula One races won’t be the track’s only use. Developers have booked international championship motorcycle races, called MotoGP, starting in 2013, Sexton said. He said they’re also trying to bring in concerts, conferences and other events.

Austin and the state are unlikely to recover their investment directly, Cipolloni said. However, the race will expose the city to a wide audience of tourists and executives that could help recruit companies and create jobs, he said.

“They won’t collect tax money equal to the $25 million” from the state, Cipolloni said. “It’s just a way to get exposure for the city.”

Sexton, a former president of Churchill Downs Inc. (CHDN)’s horse track in Louisville, Kentucky, which hosts the Kentucky Derby, agreed that events at the Austin circuit will do more than just generate new tax revenue.

“It will bring in an affluent audience that has never been to the city,” Sexton said. “It should have a substantial economic impact.”

To contact the reporters on this story: Darrell Preston in Dallas at dpreston@bloomberg.net; Aaron Kuriloff in New York at akuriloff@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Tannenbaum at mtannen@bloomberg.net

Thanks Lisa

EDUCATION TEXAS-“WADA” A POLITICALLY CHARGED SOCIAL PROGRAM

 

What I do wish to expand on is how the State of Texas funds education and why the disparity I revealed in the article I posted on April 14, 2011.

To refresh your memory, the 1265 school districts in Texas receive somewhere between $4,000 and $13,000 per student per year. Trying to understand the reasons completely would take the rest of my time on earth. For years each school district received state money based on average daily attendance. If the state forced consolidation of the unnecessary small school districts, and duplication of expenses, there would not be a budget crisis in Texas.

Somewhere in time the Texas Education Agency “T.E.A” and the Texas legislature created and passed a myriad of House and Senate bills that created “WADA”. This was likely promoted by Austin’s progressive lobbyist as another share the wealth adventure. The last try failed miserably. I am sure WADA caused the rapid retirement of several school superintendents with due cause.

“WADA” is Weighted Average Daily Attendance. The word weighted resulted in a nightmare of formulas that I suggest you review yourself. The T.E.A. website has enough information that it was impossible to find the document. I filed a request for public information and in no time was advised how to locate the formula. What I found was a 50 page document that would require hundreds of hours to possibly understand. I am certain that the state had to hire an army of bureaucrats just to answer questions. There is no way to find out how many new business managers had to be hired by the 1265 districts to administer the program.

Some of the terms include; enrichment tax rate, recapture, equalized wealth, compressed tax rate, American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, golden pennies, copper pennies, and terms I never encountered in a Graduate degree program and 44 years of business experience.

If there is one State Representative or State Senator that can honestly tell you he completely understands WADA, then ask him to explain it to you. I encourage you to use the following link the T.E.A. provided me and forward it to your Austin legislators.

http://www.tea.state.tx.us/index2.aspx?id=7022&menu_id=645

I will share some features in understandable language of this abysmal abyss. For every pregnant girl you multiply by 2.41. For home bound students you multiply by 5. For students who require speech therapy you multiply by 3. For special education or medically fragile students you multiply by 3. Those needing help with English you multiply by 0.1. For gifted students you multiply by 0.12. There are many more categories included. Just imagine if you had a pregnant student who required home bound help and suffered speech problems you would get average funding multiplied by 10.41. Our local Hemphill Independent School District (HISD) has some 930 students and receive funding for over 1300 if everyone is there every day. I was awed to review their special education and medically fragile program. I will expand on this later.

When you add the other weighted features, it is no wonder the inner-city school districts and the districts in sparsely populated areas like the Big Bend get more money per student. The opportunity for fraud, duplication and misrepresentation is abundant and an army of auditors could not guarantee ethical conduct statewide.

As a business man, I can read this document and shiver with fear in thinking I had to forecast state revenue and produce budgets for a school board to approve. I have been invited to visit the HISD business manager. I hope to make this visit as soon as possible and see the program from the user standpoint.

Clyde Brewer

EDUCATION TEXAS- A LOCAL ADVANTAGE?

For those who have children or grand children in K-12 schools, let me encourage you to find out if your if this described advantage exist where you live. It is obvious to me that the Texas Legislature uses politics to provide educational variables to pacify themselves and the appointed and elected Boards to favor certain school districts. Nationally the US Department of Education uses 90% of their billions to provide social justice for the minorities and aliens. Just read the itemized 92 page budget if you doubt my words. If the states and the federal governments would admit that a local program like the one described below would find the right path for aligning children’s capability with a mixture of academics and vocational programs necessary to prepare them for their place in society. We may all be created equally but we all do not fit into society equally. It is time for the people to stop this waste of money and demand change. CB

Article

“First let me apologize to Dr. Lana Comeaux, whose name I misspelled in the last article. I have lived in Sabine county, very close to Louisiana, for nearly 20 years. When Dr. Pearson suggested I meet Ms. Como, my age drove me to associate the name to Perry when I took notes.”

I had the pleasure to visit with Dr. Comeaux on Monday April 11th at the Sabine Area Career Center in Pineland, Texas. I had no conception of what a great advantage was available to the citizens of Sabine and San Augustine counties.

The center has several specialized classrooms to conduct classes and a welding facility with modern equipment and seven individually vented weld stations. The computer classroom is well equipped and is available for students use in searching the internet for assignments. Classrooms are available to permit students to participate and interact by video with some specialty classes being conducted at Angelina College in Lufkin.

The Career Center also has a large meeting room that is available for community meetings and special events. Currently this room is utilized for programs like Dance, Taekwondo, Photography, Flower Arranging and Computer classes. Another program available is support meetings for parents with autistic children.

In addition to the Angelina campus, some of the classes are conducted at Hemphill ISD and Jasper ISD where science labs or other specialty facilities exist. I have another meeting scheduled this April 21st with Dr. Pearson and Dr. Comeaux to view the Hemphill laboratories and other specialized facilities.

Some of the two year college credit courses are; English, World History, US History, Texas History, Sociology, Algebra, Chemistry, Biology etc. The Career Center also provides Community Service Programs that include; Phlebotomy, Certified Nurse Asst., Medical Asst., GED Preparation, and Welding. Future planning includes courses for EMT, LVN, Police and Fire careers, Automotive and A/C & Repair.

All of the programs are available to students at Hemphill, West Sabine, Brookland, Broadus and San Augustine school districts.

Citizens of the area are fortunate to have this facility. It does require the five school districts to work closely with Dr. Comeaux. This includes a student’s needs assessment and scheduling classes to permit the students to be able to take the Angelina programs. Each of the five school districts provide either the superintendent or a principal to serve on the on the Board of Directors.

The program is totally funded by grants, donations and private foundations. Currently the Beaumont and TLL Foundations provide significant funding for the Center. No state or local taxes are appropriated for the center. This is an unusual advantage for both the students and parents of Sabine and San Augustine counties.

A student can take up to twenty classes which can result in roughly 60 credit hours if they take full advantage of the program. Students are eligible after their sophomore year to start in that summer and can take 2 courses each semester. There are two summer sessions in addition to the regular fall and spring school semesters. This means that if a student is academically driven, they can start their college or university education as a junior. For those families with funding limitations, a high school student can obtain an Associate’s Degree in the summer after they graduate from high school.

Every parent should be aware of this advantage. The economic distress and the mystery of what the politicians in Austin and Washington D.C. will dream up next, demands that we prepare today’s students who will have to pay for the debacle.

Clyde Brewer

TEACHERS or POLITICANS- WHO BEST SERVES EDUCATION?

I sincerely hope that everyone who reads this posting will forward it to everyone they know. It is time to recognize that all teachers are not greedy like the examples we have seen in Wisconsin, Iowa and Michigan over the past few weeks. I would like to thank Mr. Joe Smith of TexasISD.com who gave me permission to use this letter of my blog. It is ironic that the Mineral Wells (Texas) Index printed this letter. I was born there in 1930 and my mother worked for the Index before I arrived.  Thanks Joe.  CB

Subject: Stop Labeling Teachers

TexasISD General News


http://www.texasisd.com/article

by John Kuhn as printed in the Minerals Wells Index

Dear Editor,

The age of accountability should be renamed the age of blame, when teachers wear the scarlet letter for the failings of a nation. We send teachers into pockets of poverty that our leaders can’t or won’t eradicate, and when those teachers fail to work miracles among devastated children, we stamp ‘unacceptable’ on their foreheads.

I ask you, where is the label for the lawmaker whose policies fail to clean up the poorest neighborhoods? Why do we not demand that our leaders make “Adequate Yearly Progress”? We have data about poverty, health care, crime, and drug abuse in every legislative district. We know that those factors directly impact our ability to teach kids. Why have we not established annual targets for our legislators to meet? Why do they not join us beneath these vinyl banners that read “exemplary” in the suburbs and “unacceptable” in the slums?

Let us label lawmakers like we label teachers, and we can eliminate 100 percent of poverty, crime, drug abuse, and preventable illness by 2014! It is easy for elected officials to tell teachers to “Race to the top” when no one has a stopwatch on them! Lace up your sneakers, Senators! Come race with us!

Teachers are surrounded by armchair quarterbacks who won’t lift a finger to help, only to point. Congressmen, come down out of those bleachers and strive with us against the pernicious ravages of poverty. We need more from you than blame. America’s education problem is actually a poverty problem.

If labels fix schools, let us use labels to fix our congresses! Let lawmakers show the courage of a teacher! Hold hands with us and let us march together into the teeth of this blame machine you have built. Let us hold this congressman up against that congressman and compare them just as we compare our schools. Congressmen, do not fear this accountability you have given us. Like us, you will learn to love it.

Or maybe lawmakers do such a wonderful job that we don’t need to hold them accountable?

Did you know that over the next five years, Texas lawmakers will send half a billion dollars to London, to line the pockets of Pearson’s stakeholders. That’s 15,000 teacher salaries, sacrificed at the altar of standardized testing. $500,000,000 for a test! I’m sure it’s a nice test, but it’s just a test. I’ve never seen a test change a kid’s life or dry a kid’s tear. Tests don’t show up at family funerals or junior high basketball games. They don’t chip in to buy a poor girl a prom dress. Only teachers do those things.

If times are desperate enough to slash local schools’ operating funds, then surely they are desperate enough to slash Pearson’s profits. Lawmakers, get your priorities straight. Put a moratorium on testing until we can afford it. Teachers are our treasure – let’s not lose the house just so we can keep our subscription to Pearson’s Test-of-the-Month Club. We have heard Texas senators often talk about the teacher-to-non-teacher ratio in our schools. Lawmakers, they are ALL non-teachers at Pearson. Don’t spend half a billion dollars that we don’t have on some test that is made in England.

Parents are so fed up with standardized testing that hundreds are now refusing to let their children test. They do not want their children run through this terrible punch press. They do not want standardized children. They want exceptional children!

Let me tell you Texas’s other dirty secret – some schools get three times the funding of other schools. Some schools get $12,000 per student, while others get $4,000. Did you know that every single child in Austin is worth $1,000 more than every single child in Fort Worth? Do you agree with that valuation? Congress does. They spend billions to fund this imbalance.

Now the architects of this inequity point at the salaries and staff sizes at the schools they have enriched to justify cuts at schools that have never been given enough. State Sen. Florence Shapiro, of Plano, says, essentially, yes, but we’re cutting the poor schools by less. Senator, you don’t take bread away from people in a soup line! Not even one crumb. And you should not take funds away from schools that you have already underfunded for years. It may be politically right to bring home the bacon, but ain’t right right.

Legislators, take the energy you spend shifting blame and apply it toward fixing the funding mechanisms. We elected you to solve the state’s problems, not merely to blame them on local government. After all, you have mandated local decision-making for years. Your FIRST rating system tells school boards that their district’s administrative cost ratio can be no higher than 0.2 percent. And over 95 percent of school districts in Texas are in compliance with the standard you have set. At my school, our administrative cost ratio is 0.06 percent – so could you please stop blaming me?

If 95 percent of schools are compliant with the administrative cost ratio indicator in the state’s financial rating system for schools, then why are state officials saying we have too much administration? We have the amount of administration they told us to have! Either they gave us bad guidance and we all followed it, or they gave us good guidance and just need someone other than themselves to blame for these cuts.

Is this the best we can do in Texas? I wish they would worry about students half as much as they worry about getting re-elected.

These same senators have a catchy new slogan: “Protect the Classroom.” I ask you, senators: who are we protecting the classroom from? You, that’s who. You are swinging the ax; don’t blame us for bleeding wrong.

They know that their cuts are so drastic that school boards will have no choice but to let teachers go, and I can prove it: while they give press conferences telling superintendents not to fire teachers, at the same time they pass laws making it easier for … you guessed it …administrators to fire teachers. Which is it, senators?

If we don’t truly need to cut teachers, then don’t pass the laws that reduce their employment protections. And if we truly do need to cut teachers, then go ahead and pass those laws but quit saying teacher cuts are the superintendents’ fault. Here’s the deal: I can accept cuts, but I cannot do anything but forcefully reject deceit.

Politicians, save your buck-passing for another day. We need leadership. Get to work, congressmen. Do your jobs, and find the revenue to fund my child’s education.

Sincerely,

John Kuhn, father of three, Perrin

 

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EDUCATION IN TEXAS-ARE PRISONS THE PLACE TO PREPARE PEOPLE FOR THE FUTURE?

 

 

When “Perry’s Posse” announced a $9,000,000,000.00 cut in education funding for the next two years, they woke me up. The more I discover and read, the more problems both designed and ignored, rear their ugly heads. When they announced the possible elimination of $128 million in education funding for the prison system in mid-March, some people went ballistic.

Just discovering we had a prison educational program was news to me. After spending several hours reading some 600 pages of reports, charts, results and opinions, I will try to summarize my thoughts. Before I do, let me clearly state that I am not an enemy of educating anyone. I began my education experience at age 6, graduated high school at age 16, and finally completed my formal education with a Masters Degree at age 46, all in Texas. I have been a life member of the PTA for over 44 years and I love children.

Prison education is managed by the Windom School District. They have some 1300 employees at 90 prisons. They have existed for 41 years and the largest of Texas 1265 school districts. They currently have some 77,000 students. The district has 67 principals and librarians are paid $54,000 annually. Figures are from a March 17th article in the Austin American Statesman. I omitted their biased commentary.

Should you desire to pursue the following facts and figures, you can read the entire 2008-2009 Annual performance report and the 2010-2014 Strategic Plans on the Windom website.

Goals of the district include; (1) reduce recidivism; (2) reduce the costs of confinement or imprisonment; (3) increase the success of former inmates to behave in positive ways during confinement; and (4) provide an incentive to inmates to behave in positive ways during confinement or imprisonment.

I have previously written that the word “behave” is totally different today than when I was in K-12. If the 150,000 inmates in the Texas prisons were made to behave when in K-12 they possibly would not be in prison today?

The district provides 28 full-length Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs. I will summarize it with Automotive, Building Trades, Business, Computers, Culinary, Custodial, Heating/AC, Horticulture, Personal and Family Development, Truck Driving, Welding. They also offer advanced College Credit Vocational courses in 25 subjects, most in the same categories as the CTE programs.

Degrees and certificates awarded during the 2008-2009 academic year included the following

Associate Degrees…………………………………………………….382

Bachelor’s Degrees………………………………………………………36

Master’s Degrees…………………………………………………………11

2-year College Vocational Credit (CVC) Certificates.…. 1,717

2-year CVC Non-Credit Certificates………………………………198

2-year College Workforce Non-Credit………………………….1,310

In FY-2009 the Windom School District had revenues of $78,423,339.00 and expenditures of $76,136,551.00. The state provided $59,425,788 in revenue. The remaining revenue came from interest $91,294, Federal pass through $1,847,535, continuing education $2,694,308, Federal grant $2,020,618, contract $4,253,803, Project Rio $3,647,569, other $34,888, operating transfer-in $129,989, and carry forward $4,277,547. If you have questions, ask your State Senator or State Representative what these spooky descriptions mean. I was intrigued with “carry forward”. I asked them several questions two weeks ago and I did get a reply from my State Representative, Wayne Christian, on March 23. I have received no response from Robert Nichols my State Senator. I will share some interesting feedback from some educators on Mr. Christian’s response next week. Some of his figures are misleading and incorrect.

Our entire American education system is misdirected and one of the primary reasons we have so many people in our prisons. Most other industrialized nations have understood that education that prepares all students as equals in the language, arts, math, science, history and humanities is a disaster. They evaluate all students after the 8th grade and prepare the ones who struggle with options. Similar to the Texas prison program, they offer training in the trades during high school free. In America we force the disadvantaged, both academically and financially, to pay at a trade school or get it free in prison.

I am working on an article that will reveal the state financial inequity at the local level. I watch our Sabine County high school graduates forced to leave this rural area and their families as there are limited opportunities for any career.

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