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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-SHOULD TESTING BE MORE IMPORTANT THAN TEACHING?

 

 

The good news for teachers is that the ill-fated Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) testing will be given a well deserved funeral in 2011. This was an unfunded mandate that never deserved a breath and actually replaced valuable teacher time. Teachers were forced to teach for the test rather than teach to have students gain knowledge.

The bad news is our illustrious Legislature mandated 12 end-of–course assessments for high school students in Senate Bill 1031 in 2007 and created new graduation requirements for an additional year of math and science plus grade 3-8 assessments in House Bill 3 in 2009. This resulted in a new State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness or STAAR test to replace TAKS. Wow!

So STAAR grades 3-8 test will include:

Grade 3 Reading and Math

Grade 4 Reading, Math and Writing

Grade 5 Reading, Math and Science

Grade 6 Reading and Math

Grade 7 Reading, Math and Writing

Grade 8 Reading, Math, Science and Social Studies.

STAAR High School tests will include:

English I, English II, English III, Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, World Geography, World History, and United States History. 

In plain language the new tests will be used beginning in the 2011-2012 school year. Students entering ninth grade next year will be the first who must meet the extra course in math and science and be subjected to the end-of-course testing requirements. By the way they must also pass their classes, in order to earn a diploma.

Another tidbit you have to search for is what does all of this STAAR surprise cost? A concerned citizen, using the open record law found the answer. The STAAR testing program has been awarded to a for-profit company in the amount of $468,382,617.00 that will cover the period from 2010-2015.

By the way, there has been no additional training developed for the K-12 administrators or teachers and they face not having textbooks or any preparatory classes to prepare students for the additional science/math requirements. Like the TAKS program teachers will be forced to teach to the STAAR requirements. Any failure of students to pass the tests will be blamed on the teachers like happened when TAKS produced negative results.

If our Superintendents and teachers were allowed to demand discipline there would be no need for a testing program. It is criminal that teachers must have liability insurance to protect their personal property. No wonder we have a broken system. It should be no surprise that our Texas education system in our prisons is highly successful, why? There is no discipline problem with prisoners. Why can’t educators accept that until teachers and administrators are allowed to demand discipline, wasting money with testing is irresponsible! They do not care.

Texas current academic performance measured with all states has diminished over the past few years and we are planning to slash the state funding as much as 20%. It appears that someone in Austin is back to smoking weeds. Only dreamers like the State Board of Education and the legislature can develop these pie-in-the-sky grandiose programs. They believe that they can cut spending and snap their fingers and all Texas students will be ready for the universities and we will have thousands of Academics and Rocket Scientists, available to find unemployment?

When will someone in America wake up and admit that every child will not attend a college or university. We spend billions year after year preparing all children to go to a place of higher learning, knowing full well most will never go.

America is the only industrialized nation on the planet that has little or no trades education for those who will eventually be policemen, firefighters, plumbers, carpenters, cosmetologists, small business owners, etc. Maybe if we could have courses to prepare some students for a political future, we could reduce the costs of our Congress and Legislatures. Most politicians are lawyers and they could be free to return to doing the legal work they were educated to perform. The way they have screwed up America, I suspect some would have to be re-educated on how to chase ambulances again!

For those who read my article on education in the Texas prisons, providing free trades education in high school might help the ones who are lost or drop out of school. Knowledge that would help them find jobs might keep some from joining gangs, selling drugs or other criminal activity. They would fit into society at graduation. Now, if they desire to learn a trade after high school, it is not free and the ones who can’t afford higher education certainly can’t afford the trade school fees.

The only way to get a free education today without grants is to go to prison. It would be nice if the U.S. Department of Education could provide PELL grants for a trade’s education initiative. They spend billions annually to send the under-privileged and the ill-prepared to a college or university with little or no hope that the majority will graduate. They try to make the shoe fit even if it is impossible and accomplish a ten percent result. If we would evaluate every child after the eighth grade and have two courses of opportunity, trades versus academics, we would have the right shoe on the right foot.

What I have outlined is nothing more than common sense. Sadly the academics and politicians that design and fund education were never subjected to a course in common sense and most have never had to make a payroll every week. The really sad part is they really do not care about our children as they just want power and prestige.

For those who wish to keep up with education in Texas, you will find a lot of information on the Texas Education Agency website. I enjoy reading material at TexasISD.com which is the Homepage for Texas School Officials.

Clyde Brewer

EDUCATION OR “SOCIAL JUSTICE”?

 

 

Over the past few weeks I have spent many hours reading about the education situation in America. Over the past few days, I have posted several interesting articles regarding abuses and failures of our current educational systems. One thing is certain to me, the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) has done more in recent years to destroy the education system than improve it. What they have accomplished is “Social Justice” that President promised he would expand. He may not get credit for starting this “change”, but he deserves 90% of the credit for putting it in overdrive with twin afterburners wide open.

Billions of our tax dollars, in reality, have been used to make sure minorities and illegal aliens are provided a superior quality education opportunity than the remaining children. Money has been lavishly provided without equality in the staffing and equipping of what are called “Title One schools”. They have the finest and most expensive modern equipment available. They also have what are called “Re-starts” that are not provided to other schools equally. “Re-Starts” are specialists in subjects like reading, science, math etc., that the teacher has available to help with a single student if they have a problem in a particular subject. The costs for these programs are provided by the “DOE” and several other federal agencies with your money. If you doubt my facts I challenge you to go visit a “Title One” school in your district and ask questions and observe. Next go visit what is supposed to be an equal opportunity school, without this special designation. Review the 92 page DOE budget breakdown like I did and previously reported on. This is blatant discrimination specifically designed to share the wealth of others and deny equal opportunity for every child to have equal rights. 

If you doubt my facts then go prove me wrong. I actually observed this in a large Texas school district a couple of years ago. The teachers in the regular school had to spend many after hour’s time in preparing and copying study and work plans as they had to use critically limited equipment. There were no “Re-Starts” available to help with children who needed special attention. In the Title One school each teacher had the necessary equipment in their classroom. They could work on future study and work plans while the students were at work, at lunch and on the playgrounds. In addition the teachers and the principal in the Title One school were paid extra for having to teach mostly minority or illegal students. Even though the work environments were drastically different and the pay was uneven, I did not observe any difference in a teacher’s professionalism at either school.

Any “normal” American, by now, should agree that discrimination is wrong. Everyone should agree that discrimination in the past was terribly wrong. Regardless of anyones belief, penalizing any childs chance to get an equal education opportunity using “Social Justice” as a reason, is wrong. Our government for the past several years decided that revenge for what happened in 1700’s, 1800’s and early 19oo’s will be paid back in the 2000’s. We have been in a second civil war in America for the last 50 years. Sad but true, instead of the north against the south we have the government against the people and the people against each other. Thank God we are using words and printing money as ammunition instead of bullets. It is time to stop this self-destruction and we need a leader instead of a community organizer. Has anyone seen a leader emerge, I have not so far.

The primary reasons we have a decline in education in America has never been admitted or addressed by the DOE. Later I will share with you what are the prime reasons we have let educating our children erode and offer some specific recommendations.

C Brewer

U.S. EDUCATION GONE WILD

 

Last week there were two articles written by Kyle Olson and published on http://biggovernment.com . I encourage everyone to read the articles in this publication daily. You will find a link on this blog-site with every issue. I will share and paraphrase some of the highlights that will reveal some disturbing facts that our education system is broken. We the people must force Congress to eliminate the US Department of Education. In addition it is beyond too late to stop the runaway waste caused by the teacher unions. If we don’t we are destined to see our 2009 position of 22nd in Science, 27th in Math and 32nd in reading out of the top 32 industrialized nations. This is sick. 

Take a look at some facts. In too many places school districts have no funds for text books, laying off teachers and increasing class sizes beyond common sense.

One public school superintendent in Wayne Township, Indiana recently retired with a $1,000,000.00 golden parachute provided by the local school board. This consisted of a lump sum payout of $817,000.00 plus an additional $200,000.00 for 150 day assignment as Superintendent Emeritus. No one is sure what he was supposed to do for the $1300 per day expense to be paid by the taxpayers.

Kyle cites another example in Central Falls, Rhode Island where the school system and the city are on the edge of financial ruin. The Wall Street Journal reported that the district’s teachers are paid four times as much as the US median household income.

It is not over as last month the US Department of Education awarded a $1,300,000.00 grant to the Central Falls School District as part of our government’s effort to help improve the nation’s worst schools.

Kyle said; “The second realization I had was that taxpayers have been played for a bunch of dopes. Teacher unions and their political surrogates continually tell us we need to “invest” more and more in education. The reality is that while education spending has skyrocketed, student achievement has flattened. Taxpayers are getting a rotten return on their investment.” I think Kyle is too kind in his assessment!

In my blog last week, I mentioned a new film released named “Kids Aren’t Cars”. Kyle noted the following; “For teachers unions, it’s all about the money. A protester we encountered at a pro-tax increase rally last year in Springfield, Illinois underscored the point.” “Where is the money?” she asked as she rubbed her fingers together. “Save our children! Give us the bucks! Where’s the cash? We need it fast,” she said. Of course she does, or she may need to take a pay freeze or start contributing to her pension plan. She was savvy enough to work children into her demand.”

From 1980 to 2007 the U.S. increased K-12 education spending 571%. It was $101 billion in 2000 and $581 billion in 2007. That is $10,000 per student per year.

I bet you think that we had a big increase in learning for all of that expense? Wrong, every year our high school seniors take the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT’s) to assess readiness for college. The average score for critical reading in 1980 was 502. The average score in 2007 for critical reading was 502. Not much bang for the buck. There was some improvement in math. The 1980 score was 492 and in 2007 it was 515, a modest 4.6% improvement in 27 years. I suppose this is why our world ranking in math was 27th in 2009. Our standing at 32nd place in reading out of the 32 nations measured should tell someone something other than money must be necessary to solve the problem. When kids can’t read they can’t learn. With our new texting language they can at least communicate with each other.

I am dedicated to reporting on our education problems until Congress has the courage to bite the union hands that feed them. I do not expect this to happen soon. I pray that the people will keep throwing them out until we find some who will serve our needs rather than get re-elected.

C Brewer

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