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Archive for the tag “TEA”

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 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   

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