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Archive for July, 2008

Clothing Sales Tax Holiday

Posted by Texas Education on July 30, 2008

Hey All–

Thought I would pass this along. Received this in an email from a good friend. With gas prices so high this might help on cost for some. I’ve not been one to much take advantage of this, used to be not much was actually tax deductible, but times — they are a changin’. And I’ve not been one to go out and splurge (even for school stuff) on much of anything, saving $8 per $100, um, with gas prices, be careful where to ‘drive to,’ that savings might just get eaten up in gas.

Three-Day Sales Tax Holiday for Clothing and Footwear

August 15-17, 2008

Texas shoppers get a break from state and local sales taxes on August 15, 16 and 17 – the state’s annual tax holiday. Lay-away plans can be used again this year to take advantage of the sales tax holiday.

The law exempts most clothing and footwear priced under $100 from sales and use taxes, which could save shoppers about $8 on every $100 they spend.

Backpacks under $100 and used by elementary and secondary students are also exempt. A backpack is a pack with straps one wears on the back. The exemption during the sales tax holiday includes backpacks with wheels, provided they can also be worn on the back like a traditional backpack, and messenger bags. The exemption does not include items that are reasonably defined as luggage, briefcases, athletic/duffle/gym bags, computer bags, purses or framed backpacks. Ten or fewer backpacks can be purchased tax-free at one time without providing an exemption certificate to the seller.

A word of caution: If you sell items that do not qualify for the exemption, you may not advertise or promise that you will pay your customers� sales tax. Additionally, you are prohibited from advertising that you will not collect sales tax on items that do not qualify. You may advertise that tax is included in the sales price of the taxable items that you sell, however.

For information on how to report tax on these sales, please visit Reporting Sales Tax on Tax-Free Items or call us toll free at (800) 252-5555.

List of Items and Their Exempton Status

TAX-FREE

TAXED

  • Baby clothes
  • Backpacks for use by elementary and secondary students
  • Belts with attached buckles
  • Boots – cowboy, hiking
  • Caps/hats – baseball, fishing, golf, knitted
  • Coats and wraps
  • Diapers – adult and baby
  • Dresses
  • Gloves (generally)
  • Gym suits and uniforms
  • Hooded shirts and hooded sweatshirts
  • Hosiery
  • Jackets
  • Jeans
  • Jerseys – baseball and football
  • Jogging apparel
  • Neckwear and ties
  • Pajamas
  • Pants and trousers
  • Raincoats and ponchos
  • Robes
  • Shirts
  • Shoes – sandals, slippers, sneakers, tennis, walking
  • Socks (including athletic)
  • Shorts
  • Suits, slacks, and jackets
  • Sweatshirts
  • Sweat suits
  • Sweaters
  • Swimsuits
  • Underclothes
  • Work clothes and uniforms
  • Accessories (generally) – barrettes, elastic ponytail holders, wallets, watches
  • Backpacks – unless for use by elementary and secondary students
  • Baseball cleats and pants
  • Belt buckles (without belt)
  • Boots – climbing, fishing, rubber work boots, ski, waders
  • Buttons and zippers
  • Cloth and lace, knitting yarns, and other fabrics
  • Dry cleaning services
  • Football pants
  • Golf gloves
  • Handbags and purses
  • Handkerchiefs
  • Hard hats
  • Helmets – bike, baseball, football, hockey, motorcycle, sports
  • Ice skates
  • Jewelry
  • Laundering services
  • Leather goods – except belts with buckles and wearing apparel
  • Pads – football, hockey, soccer, elbow, knee, shoulder
  • Personal flotation devices
  • Rented clothing (including uniforms, formal wear, and costumes)
  • Roller blades and skates
  • Safety clothing, glasses
  • Shoes – bicycle (cleated), bowling, golf

[ (T) = Taxable; (E) = Exempt ]

Download a Print Version of this List (PDF file)

A

B

C

D

E

F

G

H

I-J

K

L

M

N

O-P

R

S

T

U

V-W

This list provides examples only. It does not include all items that may qualify for exemption during the sales tax holiday. If you have questions, please call us toll free at (800) 252-5555.

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I’m on Vaca

Posted by Texas Education on July 29, 2008

Ok, I’m going to go off topic today, ’cause I have not been in the right frame of mind to do any serious blogging here. Thought I’d share with all my avid viewers (all two or three of you) what I’ve been doing for the last two days. First of all, my son, Bennett, now works for Continental and I get to fly for free. Of course you have to fly stand by, but there were plenty of seats around me. And yes, most say, it’s not really free, you pay a fee, well it only amounts to $25 big ones, or $12.50 both ways. (Which we are paying that much for parking our car, each day, which by the way, is a convertible, way cool!.) Now, for the good stuff. We are across the street from the Marina Del Ray and down the street from Venice beach. We walked the pier last night. I’ve been to Hollywood, saw Gauman’s Chinese Theater, and the Kodak Theater – that was so not what I expected. It’s got shops and restaurants and 5 levels.

California is way too cool. I love the little buildings where everyone lives, and would move in a heartbeat (can’t beat the weather here – I think the high was around 83 and the low around 61-without humidity) but most of those little ‘shacks’ probably cost around a quarter of a mil or more. All the waiters here are sooo pretty and the people are very impatient, we have been honked at at least a half a dozen times for not turning left sooner on a red light, because they don’t have arrows, so you wait for the cars to clear and you turn on red.

I’m out here to watch my daughter, Laurel, play water polo. She played for the National team this past week up in northern Cal, and will be headed down here to L.A. on Thursday to play in the Junior Olympics.

I highly suggest getting a convertable when you are here (that is soo cool,) eat at the Cheesecake Factory, I had a drink called a Pineapple Mojioto, wow, I could have gotten plastered on that drink, especially since we walked there, and The Ivy, didn’t see any stars, but I did see some paparazzi with a camera in wait.

Tomorrow we plan on seeing where O.J. used to live. I believe the person who bought the property was one of the owners of Perry’s company Quest Software, and then tore the house down to build a new one. We shall see.

I promise I will put something actually worth reading soon! Oh, and I’ve been using Perry’s Mac this week and I don’t like it, it doesn’t send my email and lots of other junk.

For your amusement:

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Randy Pausch – ‘the last lecture’ – died Friday

Posted by Texas Education on July 27, 2008

Randy Pausch, the Carnegie Mellon University computer scientist whose “last lecture” about facing terminal cancer became an Internet sensation and a best-selling book, died Friday. He was 47. He died at his home in Chesapeake, Va. Randy was diagnosed with incurable pancreatic cancer in September 2006. His popular last lecture at Carnegie Mellon in September 2007 garnered international attention and was viewed by millions on the Internet. In it, he celebrated living the life he had always dreamed of instead of concentrating on impending death.

“The lecture was for my kids, but if others are finding value in it, that is wonderful,” Pausch wrote on his Web site. “But rest assured; I’m hardly unique.”

What a great, great guy, he is going to be sorely missed, so missed. I knew this day would come, I just didn’t want it to. To appreciate life, you have to view his ‘last lecture.’ My favorite part is the part about his ‘new’ car! And being a ‘tigger.’ I consider myself a tigger, surprised?

Please, please check out this fantastic video. This is the video I liked, it’s only 11 minutes long, not over an hour (the original lecture.) This is the one where Randy was on Oprah. I love this video and have fewed it over and over again. I showed it to my classes. This was an amazing guy. The world has lost a truly, truly great person. He was the epitome of education. Please do comment on this video after you watch it.

more on this story.

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The trouble with abstinence in Texas Schools

Posted by Texas Education on July 26, 2008

From statesman.com a plethora of sex education articles of the abstinence vs. comprehensive sex – ed.

Austin High School student Candice Briggins, 17, teaches life skills to teens at the Rosewood Recreation Center as part of her summer internship with Planned Parenthood. Girls need to know ‘that we have stuff we can protect ourselves with,’ Briggins says. The following video is interesting, to say the least. Here is just a sampling of the article, that I found veeerrrryyyy interesting.

Twenty-two states have rejected money from Title V — one of three abstinence education programs funded by the federal government — opting instead for a more comprehensive approach to sex education.

Yet the money keeps coming from Washington. In December, Congress voted to continue funding Community-Based Abstinence Education, which has given more than $519.6 million to public and private abstinence providers since 2001. Last year alone, Texas received $6.2 million from the program.

Another $50 million in Title V funding was scheduled to end June 30 but was extended by Congress last week.

All told, the programs have cost the federal government more than $1.1 billion since 1982, when the first funding for abstinence began, according to federal officials. Texas has spent more than any other state: almost $117 million, including $32.4 million of its own money. New York, the second biggest recipient of Title V funds, directed $13.5 million to abstinence programs in 2007, compared with Texas’ $17 million.

“We have been spending a significant amount of money for a number of years on abstinence-only programs,” said Sarah Wheat, a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood of the Texas Capital Region. “I think you really have to question why our politicians continue to spend money on programs that are ineffective.”

A change in Texas’ policy does not appear likely. Along with Eissler, the chairman of the House committee, “the governor is comfortable with the current law and supports abstinence programs,” said Allison Castle, a spokeswoman for Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

The conservatives just keep preaching and telling and the general public, students included, aren’t doing what they want them to do, so, you need to E-D-U-C-A-T-E. Bottom line. Kids are kids, adolescents are adolescents. Much better to educate, along with explaining “JUST DON’T DO IT.” And, you have done the best you can. Any kid who has the facts, has self-worth, has goals, hopefully will make the right decisions. Give them the tools they need to make informed decisions. Conservatives don’t give kids enough credit. Tell them not to, hey, I was told by a very good friend (helping me with class management,) he said, “tell a kid NOT to do something…and that’s exactly what they WILL do.” Good advice!!!

Some interesting quotes from my friend Garnet Coleman:

A number of health professional organizations, from the American Academy of Pediatrics to the American Medical Association, urge that abstinence-only programs be abandoned for comprehensive sex education. The American Public Health Association recommends that such instruction begin in kindergarten.

The Texas education code does not require public schools to offer sex education. But if they do, it must be abstinence-focused, and instruction about contraceptives is couched in terms of how often they fail, according to language added to the code in 1995.

State Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston, said he co-authored the legislation in 1995 with Rep. Warren Chisum, R-Pampa, at a time when he feared conservative state officials would abandon sex education completely. It was not meant to eliminate comprehensive sex education in Texas schools, he said.

“I think the interpretation has morphed into abstinence-only, which is not our policy,” Coleman said. “If I could fix anything, it’d be to make the law more instructive to say, ‘This is what you can teach’ ” about contraceptives.

Here are more articles from statesman.com:

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Don’t forget – School Finance Summit

Posted by Texas Education on July 25, 2008

Don’t forget about the School Finance Summit. Looks like I won’t be able to go, I will be in sunny Cal. to watch my daughter play water polo. (I knew there’d be a time I could get that plug in.)

The Texas Education Agency has been planning a School Finance Summit to identify and explore financial issues important to school districts. This is in preparation of the upcoming 81st session of the Texas Legislature. Our hope is to have productive data and information gathering conversations with the field to offer some possibilities for both short-term and long-term solutions to school finance issues. The summit will be held in room 1-104 of the William B. Travis Building from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM on Tuesday, July 29, 2008. The participants will include a representative from each of the 20 education service centers, a representative from 12 education associations and 4 individuals in addition to the Commissioner of Education and our Deputy Associate Commissioner for School Finance. Each participant is encouraged to be familiar with the school finance system and larger concerns and issues of their region and/or association. In addition to the invited participants, interested educators and general public are welcome to observe the conversation. The agency will also make this discussion available to interested parties via live audio web streaming (on our website at www.tea.state.tx.us). We hope that this opportunity will result in field-based recommendations and priorities that will be present in the upcoming legislative session.

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Richard Simmons on Capitol Hill

Posted by Texas Education on July 24, 2008

From the Childhood Obesity hearing the Committee on Education and Labor U.S. House of Representatives. As crazy as Richard Simmons is, I like him. As he says, he has dedicated his life to this, he has heart, and he has a mission. As crazy as he puts it out there, many make fun of him, but…check this out! Go Richard!!! Very well put, I might add. (He looks good in a suit too 😉 )

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Texas waives penalty for schools with high drop out rates

Posted by Texas Education on July 24, 2008

I’m sorry, I’m all for our schools getting a break, ie: why I’m here. BUT, I’m also a realist, and I’m also for our schools being held accountable. Yes, I normally side with the schools, raw deals from the Lege, etc. But I’m not for them getting away with corruption, greed or laziness. This smacks of letting schools off the hook. This is how we get into some of the messes we are into. Letting things…slide. I’m hearing mixed signals here. I say to Commissioner Scott, stand up, keep schools accountable. Maybe I’m getting tougher in my old age, I don’t know. for full story

For the second year in a row, Texas schools with high dropout rates will escape landing on the state’s dreaded unacceptable list thanks to a free pass from state Education Commissioner Robert Scott.

Prompted by nervous school leaders, Scott said he is giving districts another year to adjust to the state’s tougher dropout standard before labeling them “academically unacceptable” for falling short.

Scott’s waiver — which pleased some school superintendents — prompted frustration Wednesday from the state’s two key education lawmakers, who said districts need to be held accountable for dropouts.

“I’m disappointed,” said Sen. Florence Shapiro, R-Plano, who chairs the Senate Education Committee. “Right now we are studying accountability, and as we put a waiver in at this moment in time, we are lessening the rigor and effectiveness of our accountability system.”

I like what Bob Sanborn, a Houston education activist and researcher, says:

“The graduation rate is probably one of the clearest forms of rating performance,” said Sanborn, who heads the non-profit Children at Risk. “And the longer that we hide behind this facade of graduation rates don’t need to count, the longer it will take for us to start reforming our schools.”

Additional reading on this subject, AGENDA FOR STRENGTHENING URBAN EDUCATION

CHILDREN AT RISK has worked to improve graduation rates in Houston and throughout Texas. CHILDREN AT RISK in collaboration with stakeholders at the national, state, and local level share a sense of urgency to address the education crisis that continues to affect Texas. If Texans fail to act and strengthen public education we risk undermining the economic opportunity of the state.

To keep Texas strong, we must take action to reshape our educational system. The goal of CHILDREN AT RISK is straightforward – to create the opportunity for every child to improve the condition of their existence. Through strengthening education, CHILDREN AT RISK strives to cultivate an educated citizenry of self-sufficient individuals who are lifelong learners thriving in the workplace.

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TEA Investigates Charter School Expenses

Posted by Texas Education on July 23, 2008

A little hanky panky going on at a charter school in San Antonino, eh?

Your kids may not go to a charter school, but your tax dollars do. Now the News 4 Trouble Shooters have uncovered San Antonio’s largest charter school is under investigation. School’s out for summer but there’s still work going on at the School of Excellence. The Texas Education Agency confirms its auditors are examining school records after it received complaints that the superintendent is using school funds for his own personal use.

This super sounds extremely shady:

It’s how money is being spent here that has state auditors looking at credit card purchases and cell phone charges made by Superintendent Ricky Hooker, who makes $150,000 a year. The News 4 Trouble Shooters have also obtained those same records. We quickly discovered the superintendent has not turned in receipts for many of the charges on the school credit card. If I haven’t turned in receipts, it’s because I misplaced them, I’ve lost them. Those receipts are pretty nominal amounts. Almost every one of them has a story,” said Hooker. That’s the problem, they shouldn’t have stories. The state requires receipts showing the expenses were for school business.

and,

We questioned another $411 in plane tickets. Hooker told us he purchased the tickets so he and his wife could visit family in North Carolina last summer. The News 4 Trouble Shooters have confirmed auditors are also checking charges to see if Hooker has been using school funds for an outside business he is involved in called ACN, which is a Multilevel Marketing company that sells phone services. For example, he has bought more than $1,000 in books and other materials from get-rich-quick gurus that frequently speak at ACN events. They include topics on wealth-building and how to run a home business. Some of the products were even shipped to Hooker’s house. He claims they’re used at the School of Excellence, where they specialize in helping disadvantaged kids who he apparently thinks will one day get in trouble with the law. “I have a passion for entrepreneurship. No doubt in my mind.

Here for the full story.

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Texas School Receives First New Propane Buses in the Nation

Posted by Texas Education on July 23, 2008

I keep trying to find anything going on that would help our schools, all of our schools. So when one of us does something good, smart, saves money, it’s worth mentioning here. From the Texas Insider:

San Antonio, Texas – Record-high fuel prices are causing school districts to scrutinize their transportation budgets for ways to cut costs. San Antonio’s Northside Independent School District has found that alternative fuels are one way to keep their budget in check. For the first time since 2002, a major manufacturer has offered a factory-built propane bus.

Northside is the first school district in the nation to purchase and receive the new propane buses. And the district is already reaping the rewards. Today, Railroad Commission Chairman Michael L. Williams brought a check for $66,341.46 to Northside ISD. Full story here.

Here is some information on propane school busses. I wasn’t sure if these are safe, but according to the U.S. Department of Energy, they are, and there is help with funding.

For More Information
•National Clean Cities Program
http://www.ccities.doe.gov
•Natural Gas Vehicle Coalition
http://www.ngvc.org
•Propane Vehicle Council
http://www.propanevehicle.org
•National BiodieselBoard
http://www.nbb.org
•National Alternative Fuels Training Consortium
http://naftp.nrcce.wvu.edu
•“Alternative Fuel School Buses Earn High Marks”, Alternative Fuel News Volume 5 Number 3
http://www.ccities.doe.gov

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Results of “Mayor and Superintendent Partnerships in Education: Closing the Achievement Gap” Committee Meeting

Posted by Texas Education on July 22, 2008

Thursday, July 17, 2008 the Committee heard from mayors and school superintendents of major U.S. cities, including New York City, Washington, D.C., Chicago, and Atlanta, at a hearing on their challenges and successes in working to improve public schools.

Chairman Miller’s Opening Statements pdf
Chairman Miller’s Opening Statements video

Hear Witness Testimony:

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg » video
and here
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg » pdf
New York City

Chancellor Joel I. Klein »
New York City Public Schools

Mayor Adrian M. Fenty » video
Mayor Adrian M. Fenty » pdf
District of Columbia

Chancellor Michelle Rhee »
DC Public Schools

Arne Duncan »
Chief Executive Officer
Chicago Public Schools

Beverly L. Hall »
Superintendent
Atlanta Public Schools

Highlights of witness testimonies.

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