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Archive for August 28th, 2008

Humble ISD Education Foundation has new members

Posted by Texas Education on August 28, 2008

This just in from the Chron.com website. Six new members have been added to the Humble school district’s Education Foundation board of directors for the 2008-09 school year.

The new executive board is being lead by Chair Corinn Price. Mrs. Price is entering her third year as chair. Also on the executive board are Lupe Lopez as vice-chair, Paul Saunders, treasurer, school district superintendent Guy Sconzo, Secretary, and Keith Lapeze serving as the appointed trustee to the Education Foundation. Serving the executive board in at-large positions are Tracy Stunja and Kim Riley.

The other new members to the board are Tom Broad of Memorial Hermann Northeast Hospital, Beth Cipriani an area volunteer; Marietta Winters of Green Oaks Diagnostic; Nancy Williams, a local motivational speaker and writer; and Cheryl Burnett who represents the Humble school district’s council of PTA’s.

“I can’t think of a more exciting or challenging time to be a part of the Foundation than right now when our kids, their teachers and our schools need us the most,” said Tom Broad. “That’s why I agreed to be a part of the Humble ISD Education Foundation. And I want to be able to say that I didn’t just talk about what our schools need but that I actually helped to do something about it.”

Also joining the Education Foundation is Jeanette Ramirez, who comes from the Hayes school district. She holds the position of fund development associate.

Directors serve three-year terms and also serve on subcommittees to oversee fundraising, long-range planning and development, community relations and administration. The education foundation is a non-profit charity that raises funds to award to Humble school teachers through the Innovative Education Grant Program. For more information about the education foundation, visit www.humbleisdfoundation.org.


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Voting on “rollback” elections

Posted by Texas Education on August 28, 2008

Things certainly are gearing up, educational wise. And I’m not just talking about school starting. Much abuzz with budgets (or should I say cuts) going on, on an ongoing basis (say that three times fast,) gun toting teachers, drumming up dollars by advertising on buses and the like, building and opening of new schools (major growth,) and of course, the dreaded “rollback” elections that are about to commence. The decision to increase the tax will go to voters most likely after the November general elections because the districts did not receive their certified tax values from the county appraisal district in time for the deadline. There is still no firm commitment by our district, and some others, as to whether or not it will be become an issue, but everything sure seems to point to that happening.

I’m hearing a lot of buzz that it might not pass. I too have struggled with this. I’m seeing a lot of funds misappropriated, clubs and organizations being funded by the district that should not have been funded by the district, and more. But, and considering I lost my job because of budget cuts, many more will go by the wayside due to more cuts. Our district is not the same as it was when we moved here almost to the day, 10 years ago.

It’s being reported that we, Alief and North Forest are expected to vote this week on whether or not to hold the elections. Austin, Corpus Christi have already made the decision this week, and Galena Park is the only district that sought an increase last year, and it passed, which is surprising to me.

Here is an editorial to help understanding of the school roll-back elections.

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Education falling through the cracks

Posted by Texas Education on August 28, 2008

This is more national than Texas, but technically, anything national is certainly Texas, at least for the time being. Again, reasons I’m here (blogging) – not enough emphasis is being put on educating our future leaders (or lack there of.) Kathleen McCartney, a dean at Harvard says we all must share the blame for the current state of education in America. I agree, in part, only because I feel there have been steps taken, laws made, and major neglect on those in charge, making the rules.

Kathleen McCartney is the Dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Education and the Gerald S. Lesser Professor in Early Childhood Development. She is a developmental psychologist whose research informs theoretical questions on early experience and development as well as policy questions on child care, early childhood education, poverty and parenting.

Kathleen McCartney

“All must share the blame for the current state of education in America,” says Kathleen McCartney, a dean at Harvard.

Ms. McCartney has some pretty valid points in her piece for CNN, below. I too feel compelled to voice my concerns as to why this is not even an issue in the presidential elections. I supposed we will always battle the who’s, why’s and wherefore’s when it comes to educating our young.

As we enter the final months of the longest presidential campaign in American history, it seems clear that the issue of the education of our nation’s children is virtually absent from John McCain and Barack Obama’s rhetoric.

During the primary season, throughout the stump speeches, the daily press opportunities and the countless television and print ads, I have wondered about the lack of attention to education. National polls reflect Americans’ priorities: the war, the economy and escalating energy costs. There is no question that these are critical issues.

But so, too, is public education, a system that serves as the very foundation of our democracy. In its present state, it is unclear how public education will shape today’s children into tomorrow’s workers — with the skills, knowledge and capacity to solve tomorrow’s problems.

Are we concerned enough about the next generation to invest today’s scarce resources in their success?

In my role, I am frequently called upon to speak about the state of U.S. education. I typically frame the problems by citing some well-known statistics, such as low high school graduation rates for large cities like Washington, where only 58 percent of students graduate in four years, or New York, where the number is 45 percent.

Then there is America’s disappointing international ranking on math and science tests, 25th and 21st respectively. In the Education Olympics, we’re nowhere near the medal stand.

Meanwhile, our international peers from Finland to Singapore have made significant strides, gaining ground where we have lost it. Somehow, such concerns — and the proposed policies to address them — have eluded the campaign platforms. iReport.com: What issues are important for you in Election 2008?

The people I speak with on both sides of the political aisle blame parents, teachers, school boards, school districts or schools of education. But in truth, the blame must be shared by all.

Public education has some powerful allies, including the Gates and Broad foundations. They have banded together to support ED in ’08, a nonpartisan awareness campaign that seeks to inform the public about the critical need to improve U.S. education. But this campaign has met with only limited success.

If we, the people, decide we are serious about supporting our public education system, what might we do?

We need to recognize that there isn’t a single solution, such as creating small schools or charter schools. We need to rely on good data and good judgment about what works. And we need to have the patience to support sustained efforts.

Here are three examples of worthwhile initiatives.

We know that early childhood education sets the stage for school success, especially for children living in poverty. We know that an extended day in school provides students with more time to learn, a lesson culled from other countries like China and India. And we know that children learn more when they are taught by qualified teachers. Public pre-kindergarten, longer school days and teacher work force development all make good sense. We must invest in good practice.

Still, we do not know everything, and serious investment in education will be required to conduct scientific research to get more of the answers we need.

Consider that the annual budget for the Institute for Education Sciences is $594 million, a small fraction of the $28 billion allocated in 2008 for the National Institutes of Health. It is little wonder that medical breakthroughs have outpaced advances in education. We must invest in rigorous research.

I know the power of education because I’ve lived it. Unlike my parents, who struggled to make ends meet, I profited from good public schools and access to higher education through financial aid and fellowships.

Sadly, not all American children are as fortunate as I was.

Much is a stake regarding the decisions we make for all our children, and it is nothing less than our democratic way of life. If we decide that we want to invest in education, the results for the country will be great: global competitiveness, scientific discoveries and productive citizens.

We, the people, must acknowledge our responsibility in driving the issues of this election cycle. And then needed presidential leadership will follow.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the writer.

All About EducationU.S. Presidential ElectionJohn McCainBarack Obama

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Permanent School Fund set to drop key overseer

Posted by Texas Education on August 28, 2008

State board’s adviser also bid to be its real estate consultant.
I’ve been following and learning about this Permanent School Fund. I think I’m beginning to understand what it is all about, here in Texas. But, now some disturbing news, looks like there has been some impropriety going on.

The State Board of Education appears ready to fire the investment consulting firm that is overseeing a major overhaul of the Permanent School Fund, the state’s $24 billion endowment for public education.

The education board voted 8-6 last month to start looking for a firm that could replace Portland, Ore.-based R.V. Kuhns & Associates Inc. The vote came after a sharply divided board argued about whether R.V. Kuhns acted improperly in trying to become the school fund’s real estate consultant as well as its general investment adviser.

If, we don’t have enough on our plates right now.

The school fund generates $716 million a year for public education in Texas.

“We’re wasting a lot of time and money and energy starting over with a different consultant,” board member Patricia Hardy, R-Weatherford, said in an interview Friday. “RVK was hired because it had an impeccable reputation, and I still stand by that reputation.”

Again, not liking what I’m hearing:

As part of its duties as investment strategy consultant, R.V. Kuhns in December reviewed the request for the real estate job at the request of school fund officials. Board member Rick Agosto, D-San Antonio, said R.V. Kuhns officials improperly helped the school fund write the request for proposals.

“They wrote an RFP suited to themselves,” he said. “They were not even supposed to touch this thing.”

Here for full story.

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