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Archive for the tag “Texas Education Agency”

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- 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 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 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- A TOTAL DISASTER

Just when I thought no one could outspend Obama, this article was sent to me by a daughter who gets a newspaper. Living in rural Texas limits ones access to daily newsprint. Can anyone with any common sense explain to me the logic associated with this unbelievable fiasco, other than stupidity? The Texas education program is beyond stupid. Our Governor, legislature and the Texas Education Agency have created so many unfunded programs to require more teachers, then cut the budgets so success is impossible. I am now convinced that Washington D.C. may have more incompetents but Austin Texas has to have more per capita. I hope this reaches as many Texans as possible. CB

Texas Taxpayers Finance Formula One Auto Races as Schools Dismiss Teachers

By Darrell Preston and Aaron Kuriloff

Texas, which may balance its budget by firing thousands of teachers, plans to commit $25 million in state funds to Formula One auto racing each year for a decade.

Four years after motorsports’ most popular series left the U.S., Texas investors including Clear Channel Communications Inc. co-founder B.J. “Red” McCombs are building a 3.4-mile (5.5-kilometer) track to bring the event to Austin. Comptroller Susan Combs has agreed to pay $25 million for races through 2022, a subsidy questioned by critics and lawmakers as the state cuts costs to close an estimated $15 billion two-year deficit.

“I don’t understand why 25 people in Austin could not put up $1 million each if they thought this was a good opportunity instead of the state making a $25 million commitment,” said Senator Dan Patrick, a Houston Republican. “The developers should find the money through private sources.”

As many as 100,000 teachers in Texas may be fired because of spending cuts to cope with the state’s budget crisis, according to Moak Casey & Associates, an Austin-based education consultant. For $25 million a year, the state could pay more than 500 teachers an average salary of $48,000.

“I have to wonder why the state of Texas is all over funding for this racetrack and not the school-funding crisis,” said Ewa Siwak, 44, who teaches German in the Austin Independent School District and whose job at Bowie High School is being cut. “Tax dollars for education should be a higher priority.”

No Traction

Formula One races have failed to gain traction previously in the U.S. Since the 1970s, the series has been hosted by Long Beach, California, as well as Las Vegas, Detroit, Dallas, Phoenix and, most recently, Indianapolis. The races there ended in 2007 on declining attendance.

With 20 million Texans within 250 miles of Austin and a growing Formula One fan base in Mexico, the city’s annual race will be successful, Steve Sexton, president of track developer Circuit of the Americas LLC, said in a telephone interview.

By building the Circuit of the Americas track, backers aim to attract automakers such as Fiat SpA (F)’s Ferrari Group, Renault SA (RNO) and Daimler AG (DAI)’s Mercedes that compete in Catalonia, Shanghai and Istanbul. Racing-team owners include U.K. billionaire Richard Branson and Indian liquor magnate Vijay Mallya. Races from Montreal to Sao Paulo draw thousands of fans, including those paying $1,200 apiece for a seat in Monaco’s grandstands.

Each race in Austin is projected to generate enough tax revenue to recoup the $25 million from a state Event Trust Fund pool, according to Allen Spelce, a spokesman for Combs, a Republican. He said the plan calls for putting the $25 million into a revolving account for paying annual event-related costs.

$250 Million Subsidy

If the financing works as projected, the decision will use $250 million in state tax revenue for the races over 10 years.

“With places struggling, spending that much money on an essentially one-off event is tough to do,” said Michael Cramer, a former president of baseball’s Texas Rangers and hockey’s Dallas Stars who runs the sports and media program at the University of Texas at Austin. “It’s a very high cost of entry.”

Texas, like other states cutting budgets for schools, nursing homes and basic services, uses economic-development spending to bring in jobs and seed growth. That often involves giving up tax revenue generated by a project to pay part of the cost. New Jersey is providing $200 million of tax-increment financing to help develop the American Dream in the Meadowlands, which will be the biggest mall in the U.S. when it opens.

“I’m not sure of the wisdom of using tax dollars to fund a racetrack,” said Siwak, the Austin teacher. “They’re giving so much tax dollars away I don’t think they could make it up with the racetrack.”

Economic Outlook

Combs’s office estimates a Formula One race in Austin next year will spur $300 million of spending, Spelce said in an e- mailed statement. Construction of the $242 million track, which has begun, is projected to add 1,300 temporary jobs and pump $400 million into the economy. The venue will seat 120,000 fans.

The state isn’t investing in the track development, Spelce said in the e-mail. He said the Legislature authorized the use of the money from the Major Events Trust Fund in 2009.

“The funding generated by the activity offsets the state’s investment,” Spelce said. “It is important that the state continue to generate new economic activity to ensure that Texas continues to grow.”

Formula One racing attracts the wealthy who sponsor teams and draws fans from around the world, said Zak Brown, chief executive officer of Just Marketing Inc., an agency based in Zionsville, Indiana. JMI, as it’s known, focuses on motorsports.

Sport for Wealthy

“It’s a lifestyle of the rich and famous,” Brown said in a telephone interview. “The whole industry has a lot of wealth around it, a lot of politics.”

The cost of holding races has made it too expensive for sponsors without a public subsidy, said Mark Cipolloni, president of AutoRacing1 Inc. in Robbinsville, New Jersey. The company runs a website that covers motorsports.

“It isn’t cost-effective for an independent race,” Cipolloni said. “Most races in major cities wouldn’t be held without public support.”

The state’s $25 million is being paid to London-based Formula One Management Ltd. to hold the race in Austin, Sexton said. Formula One, owned by London-based CVC Capital Partners Ltd., a private-equity firm, is run by Bernie Ecclestone, the chief executive officer of the series.

“It’s going to Mr. Ecclestone and Formula One to get them to bring the event here,” Sexton said.

Outside Intended Use

Paying such a fee goes beyond the intended use of the state fund, which was set up to support bringing annual events to Texas by rebating increased taxes they generate to cover costs including security and traffic control, said Richard Viktorin, an accountant with Audits in the Public Interest. The Austin- based group opposes government support for the races.

In the past, the event fund has been used to subsidize professional football’s Super Bowl championship game, college basketball’s Final Four tournament and business meetings such as a Chick-fil-A Inc. convention.

“It’s off-balance-sheet financing for a rich man’s sport,” Viktorin said. Combs is “supposed to be a fiscal officer for the state. She’s not controlling that fund.”

Formula One participants and sponsors have wanted to return to the U.S. since 2007, when the last race was run in Indianapolis, Ecclestone said in a telephone interview. Indianapolis began hosting the event in 2000. Interest waned after defective tires led most entrants to withdraw in 2005.

U.S. Venue

“No one wanted to hold it,” Ecclestone said, until the Austin promoters stepped in. “Carmakers and team sponsors are also keen to have a race in the U.S. to help leverage their backing of teams.”

Formula One’s popularity has declined in the U.S., partly because there haven’t been any races in the country in recent years and partly from a lack of successful American drivers since Eddie Cheever and Mario Andretti, JMI’s Brown said.

“It’s moved around,” said Brown, who praised the Austin track’s design. “There was a 10-year period where there was no Grand Prix,” or Formula One race, in the U.S, he said.

The Austin event is expected to benefit from its proximity to Mexico and South America, where the series has grown in popularity, said Ecclestone. Austin’s city government also may invest $4 million a year in tax revenue to facilitate the event, the Austin-American Statesman reported. The city hasn’t been asked to provide any incentives, said Matt Curtis, a spokesman for Mayor Lee Leffingwell.

Tourism ‘Booster’

“It’s going to be a major booster in our convention and tourism industry,” Curtis said. The “return is very significant.”

Formula One races won’t be the track’s only use. Developers have booked international championship motorcycle races, called MotoGP, starting in 2013, Sexton said. He said they’re also trying to bring in concerts, conferences and other events.

Austin and the state are unlikely to recover their investment directly, Cipolloni said. However, the race will expose the city to a wide audience of tourists and executives that could help recruit companies and create jobs, he said.

“They won’t collect tax money equal to the $25 million” from the state, Cipolloni said. “It’s just a way to get exposure for the city.”

Sexton, a former president of Churchill Downs Inc. (CHDN)’s horse track in Louisville, Kentucky, which hosts the Kentucky Derby, agreed that events at the Austin circuit will do more than just generate new tax revenue.

“It will bring in an affluent audience that has never been to the city,” Sexton said. “It should have a substantial economic impact.”

To contact the reporters on this story: Darrell Preston in Dallas at dpreston@bloomberg.net; Aaron Kuriloff in New York at akuriloff@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Tannenbaum at mtannen@bloomberg.net

Thanks Lisa

EDUCATION- A SUMMARIZATION

 

For the past several weeks I have written and posted numerous articles on https://cb75948.wordpress.com . All of the articles on education in Texas have been printed in the Sabine County Reporter thanks to Stephanie Corley.

The surprises I have discovered from factual sources have been unbelievable. Unfortunately less than one percent of the source information has been found in the main stream media. Mountains of information are available on the internet and I wonder how much is read by the general public? Based on the feedback I have received, most people other than teachers; really do not care about children’s education. I suppose that parents today are too involved with other matters and expect teachers to formulate both education and discipline for their children.

For those of you who live in a state with unionized teachers and administrators, you have let the politicians destroy public education. Unions and liberal elected politicians have sold their soul at the expense of your children. It is sad to read about the waste of adequate education to feather the bed of supposed professional educators with retirement benefits that are outlandish at best. Teachers who are paid in excess of $100,000.00 a year to do nothing, because they can’t be terminated because of tenure, is stupid. Creation of Fraudulent insurance arrangements that line the pockets of the unionized teachers is shameful.

In Texas we do not suffer with unionized teachers, yet. Unfortunately a teacher must align with a teachers group if they desire to purchase liability insurance. In Texas our politicians have let the university level educators create so many shadow groups aligned with or part of the Texas Education Agency (TEA); K-12 education is being destroyed. Sadly these tenured professors and money hungry administrators have our Governor and legislators mesmerized with trying to make every student a rocket scientist, doctor, and God forbid a lawyer.

Spending time with administrators in our local K-12 district has awakened me to the fact that we have major problems in the future. Professionals at this level have not even been contacted regarding the impact of additional credits now required to graduate from high school. The majority of these children will never attend a college or university. The peer pressure of lower grade diplomas will create an increase in drop outs of academically limited students. I have not read one article in the media that has addressed this obvious train wreck. Texas politicians will never understand what they have allowed to happen if it ran over them in the parking lot.

Texas allocation of funds to local school districts is a mockery of common sense. Politicians created the mess when they screwed up the property tax system. Rather than admitting they blew it, they spent millions developing a system no one understands called WADA. This added more costs to the small school districts that I have already posted. The new STAAR testing program, that I previously reported will go down in flames but we will have wasted a billion dollars. By then the State Senators who allowed this to happen will be retired and care less. It would be nice to know if any of our legislators own stock in the testing contractor.

As the Texas legislature has yet to finalize the massive budget reductions for education, it is impossible to evaluate the impact locally for the children. I will continue to monitor the situations and report my findings.

Clyde Brewer

EDUCATION TEXAS-“WADA” A POLITICALLY CHARGED SOCIAL PROGRAM

 

What I do wish to expand on is how the State of Texas funds education and why the disparity I revealed in the article I posted on April 14, 2011.

To refresh your memory, the 1265 school districts in Texas receive somewhere between $4,000 and $13,000 per student per year. Trying to understand the reasons completely would take the rest of my time on earth. For years each school district received state money based on average daily attendance. If the state forced consolidation of the unnecessary small school districts, and duplication of expenses, there would not be a budget crisis in Texas.

Somewhere in time the Texas Education Agency “T.E.A” and the Texas legislature created and passed a myriad of House and Senate bills that created “WADA”. This was likely promoted by Austin’s progressive lobbyist as another share the wealth adventure. The last try failed miserably. I am sure WADA caused the rapid retirement of several school superintendents with due cause.

“WADA” is Weighted Average Daily Attendance. The word weighted resulted in a nightmare of formulas that I suggest you review yourself. The T.E.A. website has enough information that it was impossible to find the document. I filed a request for public information and in no time was advised how to locate the formula. What I found was a 50 page document that would require hundreds of hours to possibly understand. I am certain that the state had to hire an army of bureaucrats just to answer questions. There is no way to find out how many new business managers had to be hired by the 1265 districts to administer the program.

Some of the terms include; enrichment tax rate, recapture, equalized wealth, compressed tax rate, American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, golden pennies, copper pennies, and terms I never encountered in a Graduate degree program and 44 years of business experience.

If there is one State Representative or State Senator that can honestly tell you he completely understands WADA, then ask him to explain it to you. I encourage you to use the following link the T.E.A. provided me and forward it to your Austin legislators.

http://www.tea.state.tx.us/index2.aspx?id=7022&menu_id=645

I will share some features in understandable language of this abysmal abyss. For every pregnant girl you multiply by 2.41. For home bound students you multiply by 5. For students who require speech therapy you multiply by 3. For special education or medically fragile students you multiply by 3. Those needing help with English you multiply by 0.1. For gifted students you multiply by 0.12. There are many more categories included. Just imagine if you had a pregnant student who required home bound help and suffered speech problems you would get average funding multiplied by 10.41. Our local Hemphill Independent School District (HISD) has some 930 students and receive funding for over 1300 if everyone is there every day. I was awed to review their special education and medically fragile program. I will expand on this later.

When you add the other weighted features, it is no wonder the inner-city school districts and the districts in sparsely populated areas like the Big Bend get more money per student. The opportunity for fraud, duplication and misrepresentation is abundant and an army of auditors could not guarantee ethical conduct statewide.

As a business man, I can read this document and shiver with fear in thinking I had to forecast state revenue and produce budgets for a school board to approve. I have been invited to visit the HISD business manager. I hope to make this visit as soon as possible and see the program from the user standpoint.

Clyde Brewer

EDUCATION TEXAS-IS STATE FUNDING ADEQUATE & FAIR?

 

I recently reported that we have 1265 school districts in the state. I have tried to understand the reason for this but there is none. Downsizing and digging deeper in an attempt to understand, I discovered that children in Sabine County where I reside, attend four different school districts. Even though the current census reported that we had surpassed 10,200 people, this makes no business sense.

While working at the local level, I wish to report some figures obtained from the Texas Education Association (TEA). The State of Texas appropriated $7,561 per student average across the state. The US state average is nearly $10,000 per student. The highest is Vermont that provides $15,139 per student. I asked our State Representative, Wayne Christian, in a letter last month why the two largest school districts in Sabine County received less than $5,000 per student. I have not received a response but he did have a press release issued on April 7th that addresses some of my questions. My two letters to Mr. Christian and his first response is on my blog should you desire to read them. I will post his news release soon.

Hemphill ISD received $4,806 and West Sabine ISD received $4,596 per student. For everyone’s information the Westbrook ISD received $13,121, Wink-Loving ISD received $12,526, Sundown ISD received $12,544 and Webb ISD received $11,057. It would be nice to see more people ask why! I hope I am not alone as a layman in trying to understand and improve education and equalizing the funding for all children in America.

My current focus is to visit with educators, administrators and school boards in east Texas. This will permit me to determine how to better understand how we can all help improve education. I will share the knowledge gained in future articles.

I had my first meeting with Mr. Glen Pearson April 7th and gained a much better understanding of the Hemphill ISD. I was surprised to find we do have some impressive vocational programs offered to the K-9-12 students in Sabine County. Mr. Pearson recommended that I meet with Ms. Lana Comeaux, at the Sabine Area Career Center, and let her provide me with the details of the various programs. These programs provide the area students with vocational opportunities and college credits. The Hemphill ISD pays for two courses each semester. These courses are offered in the evenings and on weekends. I will try to meet with Ms. Comeaux next week and write an article explaining the details as soon as possible.

Mr. Pearson was also concerned about the variations in state funding and it appears that Wayne Christian is also looking into the matter. My overall knowledge of Hemphill ISD was greatly expanded in the meeting. I will share some of the results of my meeting with Mr. Pearson in future articles. I hope to visit with Mr. Pearson again on April 21st.

One evening a few years ago, my closest neighbor, Dr. Michael Neal, told me an educational related story that I will never forget. He had a sixteen year old boy in for a physical. During the exam, he asked the boy how he was doing in school. The response was “OK”. He then asked him what he desired to be after his high school experience. The response was, “I just want to be a better hawg hunter than my daddy.” I will always respect this honesty and this is one example of education just wasting this young boy’s time.

Hopefully someday, we can find the right formula to educate the children and align them to their destined place in society. All children were not intended to be identical and some are not capable of being a doctor, lawyer, teacher or a rocket scientist.

Observing our political leaders in Washington D.C. and Austin over the past several years has me convinced that the education of all politicians has been an abysmal experience. As most of these politicians are lawyers, it is apparent that common sense is not a subject required or offered in our universities or law schools.

Clyde Brewer

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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