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Archive for the tag “school districts”

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 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 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-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

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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