A Conservative View

Praying that Donald Trump can save Americas freedoms!

Archive for the tag “Governor Perry”

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 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.

EDUCATION IN TEXAS-WHO IS RESPONSIBLE?

 

Our illustrious Governor, Rick Perry, has exposed his analysis of the education problems with a bomb shell statement. The reason we will have to lay off 100,000 Texas teachers is each local school district’s fault.

He rejected the charge that the $9,000,000,000.00 cut in state funds over the next two years would lead to the mass layoff of teachers. Quote, “The lieutenant governor, the speaker and their colleagues are not going to lay off one teacher, as best I can tell, Perry said.” “That would be the task of the local school districts figuring out how to do the same with less.”

Texas now provides 37 percent of funding for public schools. A little over 10 years ago the state provided 50 percent of the funding for public education. The difference has been made up with increased property taxes.

Perry suggested that the local school districts should just trim the administrative ranks to make up for the cuts of funds. He added, “Over the past decade, we’ve seen a rather extraordinary amount of non-classroom employees added to the school rolls.”

Perry, Lt. Governor David Dewhurst and republican members of the legislature have also blamed this on the federal government involvement. What a bunch of hogwash to place a smokescreen in front of them to hide behind.

According to the latest figures I have obtained, Texas spends an average of $7561.00 per student annually to provide K-12 education. The average for all 50 states and Washington D.C. is nearly $10,000.00 per student. Vermont ranks first with $15,139.00 per student. Utah was fifty first with $5,963.00. When you compare this with our miserable ranking of how Texas students are ranked with the same 51 entities academically, something is rotten in Austin, not Denmark.

As a benchmark locally, the annual money provided per student in the Hemphill Independent School District is less than $5000.00. Compared to as much as $12,000 that some other Texas districts receive, someone should be ashamed. I will provide a look at these variations in a later article that will hopefully excite everyone to contact their representatives in Austin. I doubt our State Representative and State Senator even know this disparity exists? I do not question their honesty, just their concerns for our children.

If the school districts are the only ones responsible for the academic performance and spending state money, as Perry stated, I have some real concerns with education in Texas. This means that the State of Texas has questionable oversight on how the 1265 school districts spend their money or educate the children. If this is true, then Texas needs an agency or appointed citizens group to improve any audit of financial and academic performance elements of each district that is currently performed. When parameters are out of accepted range, they would assess the specific causes of any variable. This would require a plan from the district to correct the situation. Follow up would result in an acceptable condition or the state would take over the school district. For those who are not familiar, this is what a private business would do if they had similar conditions.

I feel certain that the some of the 1265 school districts deserve to be challenged. Our Governor and his band of “Pretenders” have declared that all 1265 school boards are equally guilty of incompetence. Without an intense study they have sentenced every Texas child in grades K-12 equal suffering. Action to approve any across the board 20 plus percent education budget reduction for the next two years is irresponsible. Texas leaders have learned how to utilize the Congressional democrats and Obama tactics to just kick the can down the road for someone else to fix someday.

You may have read this past week that Perry and his “Posse” are about to take over $3 billion from the state “Rainy Day Fund” to ease the pain of the budget cuts. I have not found any details of how this affects the proposed $9 billion in education cuts. Sadly this will have no impact on the state ignoring total fiscal and academic performance, they just do not seem to care.

“Someday” is now, we must demand the republicans who have a super majority to stop pointing the finger and do their job. To say the state does not care if the school districts are good or bad is nothing but cowardice. Defaulting their responsibility is about as stupid as a band of criminals breaking into a prison to rob the inmates. Speaking of prisons wait until you see what Texas spends to educate prisoners. Maybe if we educated them during K-12, they would not be in prison?                 

C Brewer

EDUCATION IN TEXAS PART 1-A SAD TALE OF FAILURE

 

For the past few weeks I have been posting the sad state of education in America, using Wisconsin as a benchmark. When you see what has happened in Wisconsin, California, New York, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan and other states that have closed shop laws, it is terrible. I think that somewhere back in time when the Unions took over leadership of public employees and introduced strikes, money making insurance schemes, etc., everyone forgot the taxpayer. Apparently the taxpayer did not care and in regards to education, everyone forgot the children.

Well, in Texas we do not have closed shops. We do not have the unionization of public employees. We do not have strikes. We do not provide adequate funding for our children’s education. We have no idea whether funding, greed, graft, capability or leadership is the reason our education system is inadequate.

Let me share some facts:

Texas has 254 counties.

Texas has 1265 school districts.

Texas has 4,331,751 K-12 students.

Texas has 289,480 full time teachers.

Texas has 33,630 ungraded teachers. 

These figures along with myriads of facts and statistics are available on the internet and I feel sure this will be figures that our state legislatures and Governor have never seen. When you finish reading this posting, you will likely wonder if the Texas State leadership should meet in Rusk rather than Austin. For the unaware Rusk, Texas is the location of the most recognized mental institution, “Funny Farm”, in Texas. 

This post will be the first in a series about education in Texas. I sincerely hope you will contact your local State Representative and State Senator to explain their position. There is no use in wasting your time with contacting the Governor, Rick Perry, as he has done more to destroy education in Texas than the federal government. He will likely be trying to succeed Obama next year and as far as education is concerned, he will try to make all states as bad as Texas.

Let me provide you with some questions to ask the politicians who represent you. This includes your local Mayor, School Board President and the loons in Austin, or maybe in Rusk. The ones in Rusk are at least incapable of spending your tax money. I was able to find one State Senator, Florence Shapiro, who represents District 8, I will exempt from my list of loons. She has challenged the proposed madness in writing and is a strong supporter for assuring our children are not education and political pawns for her entire career. If anyone else in Austin feels slighted, show me what you have written to support the kids.  

Unfortunately some of the facts that follow are as late as I can find for you to evaluate. If you find any pertinent information, please forward me a copy.

Facts of Texas rankings out of all 50 states (not Obama’s 57) including Washington D.C. which makes 51 positions to rank;

Expenditure per student in 2008, Texas ranked 43rd.

Student poverty rate in 2008, Texas ranked 8th.

Fourth grade students in math in 2009, Texas ranked 32nd.

Fourth grade students in reading in 2009, Texas ranked 41st.

Eighth grade students in math in 2009, Texas ranked 21st.

Eighth grade students in reading in 2009, Texas ranked 40th.

Nationally defined graduation rates, Texas ranked 35th.

*School finance inequity, Texas ranked 41st.

*School finance inequity – or the degree to which per pupil spending varies across districts within a state relative to the state’s average per pupil expenditure – is an important factor in determining educational equity. The U.S. Department of Education calculates school finance inequity for each state in accordance with the Education Finance Incentive Grant formula, assigning each state an “equity factor.” The more equitable the distribution of education funding across districts in a state, the lower the equity factor. For more detailed information on the funding formula and see No Child Left Behind Act – Title I School Funding Equity Factor.1

At this time you can digest this and ask two simple questions to anyone who will listen. Please ask the questions to your State Representative and State Senator. I will ask Robert Nichols and Wayne Christian to respond to this by sending them a copy, they supposedly represent me. Although I do not expect any written answer, if I get any response I will share it with you when received.

Question #1 Can anyone why we have 1265 school districts in Texas?

Question #2 What reasons justifies the over 20% reduction of next year’s education budget?

Wait until you see some more figures on what Texas spends for education and a wide disparity between the 1265 school districts. These figures will get you excited if you pay school taxes or have children enrolled in Texas schools.

The above sounds like I am a liberal democrat thumping the super majority republicans in Austin to fire up contempt. There is not a republican in the State of Texas more conservative than myself. I just can’t sit on my hands and watch the slashing of education with no thought concerning the negative impact on the children. That is not leadership.

C Brewer

Post Navigation