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Archive for the tag “school boards”

EDUCATION TEXAS- IS TOP DOWN THE ANSWER?

 

Recently I read an article on chron.com, headed “Texas Politics” that got my attention. This article announced that a diverse group of Texas business, philanthropic and community leaders have formed a group named the “Texas Coalition for Excellence in Higher Education”. It was described as a “nonpartisan group” of more than 200 founding members, innovators, job creators, former office holders and education advocates. Their mission was for Texas to lead the nation in higher education. It noted that this was done in support of governance proposed by Rick Perry.

The article went on to say that they were alarmed about the cuts in funding of research and professors. It was predicted as a prescription for mediocrity for Texas. I commend this group of concerned citizens for forming this movement.

It is a shame that our Governor, the legislature, these distinguished business leaders and scholars have no time or desire to improve our K-12 basic education. With all of the interest in higher education Texas has decimated the primary education programs. With no facts to support the spending of billions of dollars by adding more testing in lieu of discipline and better teachers is idiotic at best. Adding additional math and science courses with no foundation or preparation will be another disaster. Creating new testing programs appear designed as a way to evaluate teachers rather than improve our children’s knowledge.

We can’t afford to downgrade education in Texas as our current standing in 43rd place out of 50 states in K-12 schools is unacceptable. Testing does not improve knowledge, teachers do.

This new higher education drive does not even follow the laws of nature. To get an pecan tree we plant, water andFertilize a pecan. We do not wait until it reaches adult life to nourish its growth.

Most of the people who formed this new group, our academics, legislators, business leaders and Governor Perry were educated in another era like myself. We did not have discipline problems, aliens, and a welfare society to distract K-12 education. We also had fewer one parent children and parents who shared education responsibilities. Now we expect a teacher in K-12, who is responsible to teach, to also provide nurturing and discipline that is a parental obligation. Teachers spend an enormous amount of time defending their actions with parents.

Common sense will prevail that not every teacher is perfect and some will need guidance and some removed from education. If anyone believes that every K-12 child is 100% angel, they need an awakening. Our Texas leaders have decided, without any facts that the solution will be to use outside testing agencies to evaluate teacher and administrator performance.

We now live in a technological era where the entire problem could be isolated and corrected at a fraction of the costs of the STAAR testing program.

All that needs to be done is to install a digital sound camera in every classroom, office and board room from kindergarten to graduate school. This would provide the facts necessary to know exactly what to do to improve education at every level. This would pinpoint teacher, administrator, student and school board performance evaluation. Parents could witness discipline problems; administrators could review teacher performance; school boards could evaluate administrators and the state could evaluate school boards. This is what a business would do if their costs keep increasing and the performance diminished. Doing the right thing right, every time, is called success and common sense. Unfortunately politicians have little business or common sense.

How many teachers, administrators, school boards, university/college professors and trustees will fight these suggestions? All of them will. Unfortunately politicians will just ignore them.

Hoping that a child will be smarter with testing, so the professors in college task will be easier is a pipe dream. From my perspective our leadership in Texas has their education priorities bassackwards. Pardon my east Texas vocabulary.

Clyde Brewer

EDUCATION TRAIN WRECK-TEXAS STYLE

I posted a letter I received from my State Representative, Wayne Christian, a few days ago. The following is my response to his message. I have also requested a chance to meet face to face and discuss the train wreck Texas is headed for if someone can’t bring common sense into the equation.  C Brewer 

March 25, 2011Wayne Christian, State Representative, Texas District 9

Dear Sir,

Thank you for the time you took to reply to my concerns related to education in Texas. Your response indicates that you have an interest in education.

How much money the state provides to educate our children is the Legislature’s responsibility. How we spend whatever is provided is also the Legislatures responsibility. If taxpayers ignore the way we waste money with expanded administrative programs we deserve the horrible results we have in Texas schools. Texas rankings nationwide related to reading and math scores are totally unacceptable. With all of the money we spend, that your letter emphasizes, why is performance so poor? Surely someone in the bloated Texas Education Agency (TEA) bureaucracy has an answer. They would never respond to me but they should respond to you if you asked!

I take issue with some of your stated facts. The Comptroller may be accurate that the spending for education has nearly doubled in the last ten years. The statement that Texas schools receive nearly $12,000 per pupil funding is not accurate or even close to being correct. It is true that some Texas school districts get that much funding. I actually found 3 school districts, out of 1265, that received over $12,000 per student from the state. Sabine County, in your district where I reside, has three school districts. None of these three received as much as $5,000 per student, why?

It appears you have used data from expenditures in the Comptrollers FAST Report? Those numbers are total expenditures that include capital expenses such as football stadiums, gyms, debt service and what appears to be a myriad of state agencies like the TEA.

One such agency I encourage you to review is the “Regional Education Service Centers” (RESC). The Legislature authorized the State Board of Education (SBOE) to establish this group in 1965. In 1967 the Legislature expanded the RESC role and created 20 separate regional centers. In 1984 the legislature directed the RESC to work closer with the TEA to raise the quality of district programs and enhance uniformity and consistency in school districts operations. In 1992 the SBOE revised the RESC rules to involve annual evaluations of each director’s performance and approve all 20 annual operating budgets. In 1997 the Legislature reauthorized the existence of the RESC’s. It produced a mandate that the RESC’s perform the following services;

*Assist school districts in improving student performance,

*Enable school districts to operate more efficiently and economically,

*Implement initiatives as assigned by the Texas Legislature and the Commissioner of Education.

RESC’s receive state funding and then charge the districts for all services. They are funded by the state from two different sources. Last year the RESC’s had more than $42,000,000.00 in profit. The current budget debate in Austin has proposed to cut the RESC state funding by only $2 million, why? The RESC should be totally eliminated.

Local districts have their own people to do the same functions as the RESC’s. Many of these positions are unnecessary and the majority of the money is expended to comply with a myriad of state unfunded mandates. Why?

Please have your staff evaluate the entire RESC program if you really desire to reduce wasted tax money. In addition to the above fiasco you will discover that the 20 RESC’s employ at least “4,046” non-instructional positions across the state. The number is approximate as many adjunct employees such as custodial staff were not included. I have spent two days trying to discover exactly how many dollars are actually spent by the RESC’s with no success.

It appears that you obtained some misleading figures from the Texas Conservative Coalition Research Institute (TCCRI)

The Governor placed the blame on the school districts for the administrative growth. What he failed to tell us is that 90% of the growth in administrative personnel was created by the Legislature passing unfunded mandates. The staffing ratios you reference in 1975 compared to today is misleading at best. In 1975 the TEA did not code many non-instructional positions, so people like custodians, bus drivers, school nurses, librarians and cafeteria workers were not included. Also not included is the massive staff required to comply with federal regulations for Special Education students that did not exist in 1975. School districts now have to employ non-instructional positions such as speech therapists, occupational therapists, etc. School districts are also mandated by the state to hire testing coordinators to comply with state testing programs. Like the federal government the Texas Legislature creates these mandates but they have never funded the testing programs, why? 

If you truly wish to help the children of Texas with an education, stop the unbelievable waste of our tax money on these bureaucratic boondoggles.

If can find this many questions in less than 48 hours, your staff should have a field day with the power you have to obtain hidden education waste. If you agree with Governor Perry that the entire problem of educating our children with less money is the responsibility of each School Board, I have wasted a lot of time compiling this message. Senator Nichols did not even acknowledge receipt of my letter and the Governor does not really care. Texas could privatize education, reduce the costs by 50% just eliminating waste, and provide our children a real education. The State Board of Education (SBOE) is as worthless as the U.S. Department of Education by using children as pawns to amass political power. Both of these agencies should be eliminated.

Sincerely yours,

Clyde W. Brewer

Http://cb75948.wordpress.com

Copies to:  State Senator Robert Nichols, Sabine County Reporter, Governor Rick Perry, SBOE, Barbara Cargill   

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

Education Update

Last month I wrote a series on “Education” in the USA. In my first article I mentioned a program “Kids Aren’t Cars” that was being produced to hopefully wake up enough people to stop the madness. The following is an article by Kyle Olson about this program that will hopefully get you involved? This will be available today and I urge you to get involved.  CB 

Americans are beginning to understand that the government-run assembly-line education system is not working.  As I point out in the upcoming “Kids Aren’t Cars” [1] film series, thousands, of not millions of kids are being failed by a system that is geared more towards satisfying adults than educating children.

How else can a recent Detroit Public Schools graduate be unable to read her own diploma? How else can tenure – the job security law for unfit teachers – be explained?  How else can budget busting pension systems be explained?

When collective bargaining was brought into American schools in the 1960s, it was a revenue stream and power base for Big Labor.  Suddenly, union bosses became more interested in building political muscle than educating children.

At that point the battle between unions and school boards became more focusing on salary, benefits,  pensions and working conditions for adults, and less about students.

Kids are only pawns in the self-serving union game.

As we point out in “Kids Aren’t Cars,” [1] this has poisoned the education environment.  We witness ugly fights in communities during union contract negotiations.  Unions lead recall campaigns against school board members who don’t vote the union way. Teachers throw up their hands because the union will take their money by hook or by crook, while showing no interest in their input.

Read more…

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