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Archive for January, 2009

Cash infusion controversy and more

Posted by Texas Education on January 27, 2009

I recently had some people talking about my blog on-line. I won’t say how I was able to access their conversation, suffice it to say…technology!! They were talking about some of the things on my blog, that I’m a teacher “waaaa more money,” and I was for TFN (Texas Freedom Network) and RYHT (Raise your hand Texas). Now, I won’t go into those, right now, suffice it to say, I’m all for both organizations and I’m also for Texas Parent PAC. Just like President Obama, not everyone is going to agree with what they do and say, not 100% of the time. The group talking about me were parents for Autism and homeschooling. Saying I was making fun of homeschoolers on this post. I posted this because I received it as an email (I’ve received it before) but posted it because it’s puppies, who doesn’t like puppies? I thought it was cute, that’s all, just cute. Not making fun of homeschooling. I’m all for homeschooling, but I do have concerns, which I won’t get into now. That’s for another time and another post. I’m also concerned about Autism and neurobiological disorders.

Back to my purpose of this particular post. Looks like, per our new president, we may be getting more money for schools. I sure hope so. Yeah, me, teacher, “more money”! I honestly don’t think (even some educators, parents, and especially the general public) understand how some of our schools are functioning. I was quoted in the chronicle when I was at North Forest,

Take supplies, for example. Patty Pinkley, a first-year teacher at Oak Village Middle School, began teaching a course called “technology applications” in August. The only problem: The district didn’t give her computers that worked until last week – eight months into the school year.

“I’ve been teaching a lot of vocabulary,” Pinkley said. “But unfortunately it’s hard for (the students) to grasp it, just seeing it on paper.”

It can be found under “wikipedia”. Only place I’m in wikipedia…so far!

Others have commented about the conditions of their schools:

Judi Caddick, a middle school math teacher in blue-collar Lansing, Ill., just south of Chicago, said in the older part of her World War II-era school, classrooms had just two power outlets, forcing teachers to string multiple extension cords into the rafters or to unplug a TV power point presentation in order to plug in a computer for a child.

This certainly reminds me of my classroom. They did put the computers in, but never got the internet connected to them. So I never really got to use them. Unfortunately, that never made the paper. Another teacher was teaching science, towards the end of the year, she lost power in her classroom so she didn’t even have an overhead projector. Most of the overhead’s bulbs would burn out and they were never replaced.

I always would say that by studying technology I would never be a floater. Well, never say never (I WAS a walking cliché that year!) I floated for the first semester. The second semester I had a room (no computers) but a room. I even got a laptop because I was making the badges for the school. I’m not complaining, well, maybe just a little, but the conditions were deplorable. Don’t get me wrong, one of the first things I say about teaching is we learn from our mistakes and our problems. I learned a ton, and I also made friends with teachers, learned from them when I was floating, that I never would have been able to do had I had a classroom from the beginning.

Ms. Craddick went on to say:

“It looked like a spaghetti bowl.”

Special-education classrooms flooded when plumbing backed up, leaving an unmistakable smell on hot days, not to mention allergy and asthma problems, despite efforts to clean the carpet, she said. And hallways were so dark and crowded, teachers often couldn’t see shoving and bumping among students in time to stop fights.

A new building to replace that old school is now almost complete. The last group of students, the eighth-graders, moved in earlier this year.

“It’s a huge difference,” Caddick said. “We don’t have to have necessarily state-of-the-art and fluffy stuff. But at least when you don’t have mold problems, and you don’t have things that are broken, and you don’t have an inability to use the technology, it’s an investment.”

These types of upgrades can also make kids healthier. Measures to prevent mold can decrease asthma. I suffer from asthma. It has gotten much worse for me now. I had an attack just recently, and I don’t even remember having attacks when I was a child. I had to call my dad and ask him how old I was when I was having attacks. I was about one year old. The school I was at, at North Forest, often flooded too and talk about yer mold.

The massive economic-stimulus package unveiled by House Democrats this week and President Barack Obama includes more than $100 billion for K-12 and higher education — for building repairs, technology upgrades, (music to my ears) financial aid, and programs to help special education and at-risk students.

I see a lot of negativity concerning our schools, our districts needing more money. Not just Texas, but the nation as a whole. I once remember seeing a bumper sticker saying, “It will be a great day when our schools have all the money they need and NASA will have to hold a bake sale to build spaceships.” Imagine that! You can’t, can you?

“It’s not only economic recovery, but it’s investing in kids,” said Jeff Simering, Legislative Director of the Council of the Great City Schools.

Dr. Guy Sconzo, Superintendent of Humble ISD, foresees an increase in teachers, lower class sizes and more tutorials if the district receives the estimated $11 million earmarked under the Democrats proposal.

In North Forest ISD, where voters recently rejected the proposal to raise the property tax rate, Superintendent Adrain Johnson said he would welcome the estimated $20 million stimulus payout.  Johnson said he would like to expand after-school programs — to introduce more students to musical instruments, for example — and his schools could use millions of dollars to fix leaky roofs and persistent drainage problems.

I can relate to that! And, I’d like to see that too!

President Obama has given few specifics about the economic recovery plan, which could cost as much as $850 billion over the next two years. But, there is no way to know how much of that will go to our schools. The only dollar figure from President Obama so far, is that schools would share with roads in an immediate infusion of $25 billion for repairs and rebuilding.

I only hope we do see some relief, and soon. I would like there to be more money for technology, not only for the kids and the teachers, but it might just open some new doors for me too!!!

More on this subject here.

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More on SBOE sessions

Posted by Texas Education on January 26, 2009

From Laura Ewing~

SBOE Actions Continue to Reinforce Concerns:

As I observed the SBOE sessions on January 22 and 23, 2009, my concern continued to increase over the members’ disregard for process and fair play. The actions simply add fuel to the reasons that Ellis introduced a bill to remove all legislatively given powers to the SBOE.

1. Why did the majority of the board vote on a substitute statement for the biology TEKS when that statement simply re-introduced the original evolution issue?
The original biology TEKS wording states:
Scientific processes. The student uses critical thinking and scientific problem solving to make informed decisions. The student is expected to:
(A) Analyze, review, and critique scientific explanations, including hypotheses and theories, as to their strengths and weaknesses using scientific evidence and information; “

The majority of SBOE members voted against the above statement on Thursday. Yet, the majority voted to add several amendments to the TEKS, including, (2) Scientific processes. The student uses scientific methods and equipment during field and laboratory investigations. The student is expected to:
A. know the definition of science and understand its limitations. (7) Science concepts. The student knows evolutionary theory is a scientific explanation for the unity and diversity of life. The student is expected to:
B. describe the sufficiency or insufficiency of common ancestry to explain the sudden appearance, stasis and sequential nature of groups in the fossil record.

My three concerns are that (1) “sufficiency and insufficiency” is simply a substitute statement for “strengths and weaknesses.” (2) The new student expectations apply directly to evolution. (3) Several noted scientists in attendance expressed concern that this statement does not really make sense.

The second reading and final vote for the Science TEKS will be in March.

2. Why did 4/5 of the Committee on School Finance/Permanent School Fund vote to hire a company that charged twice as much as the others?
Agenda item: Approval of the Selection of a Firm to Provide Investment Counsel Services for the Permanent School Fund and Authorization for Contract Execution by the Commissioner of Education.

There were three firms brought forward for consideration.
• Kuhns, with the highest rating, requested an annual fee of approximately $430,000. They currently hold the contract with TEA.
• Kenupp, with the middle rating, requested an annual fee of approximately $418,000.
• New England Trust, with the lowest rating of the three, requested an annual fee of approximately $1,000,000.

The newly appointed committee, which included members who had no prior experience working directly with these issues, voted 4 to 1 to recommend hiring New England Trust. Bradley, Nunez, Agosto, and Dunbar voted for. Lowe voted against.
On Friday, the full SBOE voted to postpone the decision till the March meeting.

Two notes of concern: 1. The PSF investments were not found to be tainted by the Madoff Scandal. However, New England had made investments with Madoff. Does this bode well for their decision-making process? 2. Why did the committee vote to end a contractual agreement with a firm (Kuhns) that has a strong reputation for integrity and knowledge and enter into a contract with a company (New England) that will charge twice as much?

One last note: the committee on School Finance/Permanent School Fund does have long agendas to discuss at every meeting. So, they are going to meet during the off months in Austin so they have more time to deliberate. While I agree that they need more time, will this reduce the transparency of their deliberations and decisions?

3. Why did one PSF committee member not recuse himself from the votes when he had a conflict of interest?
Mr. Agosto, SBOE District 3, held a meeting with New England Trust. He stated that this meeting had to do with his personal business and not that of the SBOE. An internal audit was conducted, and it was recommended that because of his business dealings with the firm that Mr. Agosto recuse himself from the discussions and votes. He did not do so. Furthermore, when Geraldine Miller attempted to raise concerns about his participating in the process, Mr. McLeroy told her that her comments were not pertinent to the discussion on the selection of a firm to provide investment counsel services. I believe her discussion was very pertinent.

4. Why does the greater metropolitan Houston area have only 6 teachers on the social studies TEKS committee?
The social studies TEKS are the next ones to undergo the refinement process. Educators, parents and community members were encouraged to apply to serve the refinement committees. Each member of the SBOE pulls from those applications and makes his/her own nominations. However, only 6 people (all from Conroe) have been included from Houston and its suburbs. The region with the largest population was not included because its representatives (Dunbar, Leo and Allen) did not appoint anyone. Bradley only appointed two community members from Lumberton, which is not even in the district he represents, District 7. So, our district has NO representation in the TEKS refinement process.

5. What are some possible changes to the SBOE?
Six of us met with Representative Howard on January 22 to recommend possible changes to the SBOE. Those suggestions are here here.

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Breaking News from TFN: A Big Win, but…

Posted by Texas Education on January 22, 2009

Just two days ago, President Barack Obama spoke of the need to “restore science to its rightful place” and promised to “transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age.”

Texas took a big step toward this new age of science today. But some new obstacles have appeared along the path.

Just hours ago, the State Board of Education (SBOE) voted 8-7 to reject efforts by creationists to reinsert into draft curriculum standards sweeping language — “strengths and weaknesses” — used to undermine sound science education. If this vote stands, a key weapon creationists have used to attack evolution will be swept from the standards.

But creationists on the board managed to sneak through other changes that complicate important parts of the standards. One change would have students question a core concept of evolutionary biology, common descent. It was a stunning display of arrogance, with the board’s far-right faction pretending to know more about science than the teachers and scientists who crafted the standards draft.

Clearly, then, this is not a time to be complacent. The Texas Freedom Network is redoubling our critical efforts. In fact, we’re working around the clock to fight off the radical right’s dangerous attempts to undermine our children’s science education and their chances to succeed in college and the jobs of the future.

The final vote on the science curriculum standards is slated for March — only a few weeks away! So the battle is not over and we can not succeed without your urgently needed help.

Today, I urge you to take 2 actions:

  1. Make a special donation to TFN in honor of educators, innovators, researchers and all those committed to teaching sound science over political ideology.
  2. Sign the Stand Up for Science petition and forward this message to friends and family so that they can lend their names to this important cause.

Thank you for all you do for TFN. You are a critical partner in our work, and together we can Stand Up for Science!

Sincerely,
kmillersig2
Kathy Miller
President

P.S. Don’t forget to forward the Stand Up for Science petition to your friends and family so that they may add their name to our efforts. Click here to forward this important message.

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Texas Freedom Network advances a mainstream agenda of religious freedom and individual liberties to counter the radical right.

Make a donation to support the work of TFN.

Posted in Good Stuff, Higher Ed, In-the-news, teaching | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

The latest from TFN – Texas Freedom Network

Posted by Texas Education on January 20, 2009

Our campaign for a 21st-century science education in Texas public schools has entered a crucial phase. Your help in this campaign can make a real difference this week.

This Wednesday the State Board of Education will hear public testimony on proposed science curriculum standards. The new draft standards reject efforts by creationists to undermine instruction on evolution. They also make it clear that supernatural explanations like creationism/“intelligent design” have no place in public school science classes. But creationists who control the state board are insisting that the standards require students to learn phony “weaknesses” of evolution. They want to force publishers to include those bogus arguments in new biology textbooks.

Take Action!

Help us turn back efforts to sabotage the education of Texas schoolchildren by standing up for science this week!SUFS

  • Click here to sign up to testify before the State Board of Education IN SUPPORT OF THE DRAFT STANDARDS at the public hearing on Wednesday. The board will hear only four hours of testimony. But even if you don’t get a chance to speak, adding your name in support of the draft standards is very important. Also, supporters of the draft standards will WEAR GREEN at the hearing to show their support for a sound science education.
  • Tell your state board member that you SUPPORT the draft science standards and OPPOSE efforts to water down the curriculum by opening the door to phony attacks against evolution. Click here to find the name and contact information for your State Board of Education member. Once you have the name of your board member, you can also click here to send an e-mail to him or her in care of the Texas Education Agency.
  • Donate to the Texas Freedom Networks’ Stand Up for Science campaign. Your contribution will help ensure that the next generation of Texas schoolchildren gets a 21st-century science education that helps them succeed in college and the jobs of the future.

Stay Informed!

We want to keep you informed about action at the State Board of Education on this critical issue.

  • TFN Insider will live-blog from State Board of Education on Wednesday. TFN Insider will also post updates throughout the week.
  • Click here to subscribe to TFN News Clips and stay informed on this and other important issues.

Thank you for all you do to support a sound science education for Texas schoolchildren.

Sincerely,
kmillersig2
Kathy Miller
President

Posted in leadership, teaching, Texas schools | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Is no child left behind finally on the way out?

Posted by Texas Education on January 19, 2009

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NCLB gave us grade schoolers literally throwing up under the pressure of high stakes testing. It gave us a cottage industry
of prep books filled with multiple choice exercises. It gave us the discontinuation of art and music classes to provide time for TAKS practice ( i.e.) teaching to the test.

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Could it be on the way out?

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A writer named Margaret Downing tells a story about her experiences as a tutor a few years ago:

School test scores rise as more low-scoring students drop out

…I signed on as a volunteer tutor at my local elementary. I was matched with a student – I’ll call him Eddie – who was failing miserably at both the math and English portions of the TAAS (Texas Assessment of Academic Skills), a statewide minimal skills test that was the precursor to today’s TAKS (Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills).

I took him on in math, it being the worst of all his subjects, and began a series of one-on-one weekly meetings. It soon became apparent that while Eddie’s multiplication and division skills were very shaky, his ability to subtract once we got into double digits was no better. Asked to compute 25 minus 17, Eddie’s eyes darted around the room looking for an escape hatch. There were too many numbers to count on his fingers.

Word problems only ramped up the agony.

We continued meeting. I took him back to subtraction and then up to multiplication and division. I talked with his teacher, who’d show me more failed papers, and then Eddie and I would go over them.

He began to improve. I wasn’t the perfect teacher but I was someone paying extra attention. The grades on his class math tests weren’t stellar, but better.

The week after the TAAS, I showed up for my session with Eddie. Of course the scores wouldn’t be reported for a while, but we were optimistic. Then the teacher asked what I was doing there. The TAAS is done, she said. You’re through.

There were several weeks still to go in the school year. Eddie was still Eddie. He still needed a lot of extra help with his math and his English and probably other subjects as well.

As I walked out of the school after being dismissed, I realized I hadn’t been helping a kid. I’d been helping a kid prepare for the state test, which really meant that I’d been helping that school toward a higher accountability rating so the teacher and the principal could be sure of their jobs.

I thought of Eddie when I was talking with Rice professor Linda McSpadden McNeil, who has co-authored a study showing that the increase in Texas’s statewide test scores directly correlates to lower graduation rates.

In fact, it contributes to them, she believes.

Scores have been rising, not because all these students have suddenly mastered the TAKS, but because low-scoring students have been forced out by administrators whose own job success depends on good student scores.

After all, who wants to carry an Eddie on his record?

And thus it has been over the last seven plus years. High stakes testing has been a special disaster for minority students, a group we will need to maintain our economic prosperity as he population demographics tip inevitable toward these groups.

A Harvard educational report put it this way:

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in accountability, leadership, learning, national education, say what???, teaching, texas education, Texas schools | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Humble ISD District Legislative Committee

Posted by Texas Education on January 16, 2009

I attended last nights 2nd meeting of the Humble ISD District Legislative Committee. Of course, the purpose of this meeting is to bring awareness to the general public and the Texas Legislature, the concerns of the district (as well as all other districts in Texas) concerning funding (or lack thereof) for the school districts of Texas. Since my main purpose of blogging is educating those on Texas education, my reasons for working with such a group. Last nights attendance was not nearly a great as the first meeting, but I must say, for those in attendance, a great group of people determined to help our children get the education deserving of each and every child in the state of Texas, especially those in Humble.

Last night, the Board Legislative Committee Chair Charles Cunningham and board member Dan Huberty briefed the committee on legislative happenings since the first meeting of the District Legislative Committee.

Members met in combined sub-committees and generated the following action plans:

Targeted Message/Written Message

Margaret Fraissinet and sub-committee members reported:

  • The targeted message will be articulated around WADA (weighted daily average attendance) inequity.
  • Over the next week, he committee will develop a simple slogan and a summary of concerns regarding the broken state funding system.
  • The reality of no new revenue for local school district from any new local taxes due to new properties on the tax roll or higher appraised property values will be included.

The targeted message will define what the broken state funding system “means to me.”

Community Communications/Partnerships

Nancy Morrison and sub-committee members reported:

On a monthly basis,

  • The committee will take the targeted message and publish editorials in the newspapers.
  • Identify and compile a contact listing of community organizations for communication purposes.
  • Communicate and provide community organizations with draft communications and contact information that can be used for communicating to state elected officials.
  • Develop and establish a blog

Austin Visits

Allan Griffin and sub-committee members reported:

  • The committee will attempt to get high school(s) Government classes, Student Council representatives, etc. to organize a learning field trip to Austin during this legislative session. Before going to Austin, students will be informed about Education issues and problems facing the Legislature, especially targeting school finance.
  • Work with Karen Collier to prepare and share a talking points and information packet to be used when in Austin visiting with legislators and their education aides/chiefs of staff.
  • Identify “freshman” legislators and Education and Finance/Appropriations committee member legislators as key contacts for communications, in addition to our local state senators and representatives.

Upcoming events:

The North Houston Chambers of Commerce Day at the Capital
Tuesday, February 10th

The Humble Area Chamber of Commerce has reserved a small block of rooms for February 9th and those going up then will convene for dinner. On February 10th, there will be a luncheon for all with legislators at a cost of $37.50.

The State PTA Day at the Capital
Thursday, February 26th

There will be a rally on the south steps of the Capital at 11 am that morning and at approximately 1:30 pm, we will host a reception for our legislators and all from Humble ISD there.

Finally, please mark your calendar for our next District Legislative Committee meeting.

Thursday, February 12th 6:30 pm
Administration Building – Board Room

If you are interested in joining this group, you can contact; guy.sconzo@humble.k12.tx.us, or for updates here, or the school website.

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Raise Your Hand Texas – 2009 Legislative Agenda

Posted by Texas Education on January 15, 2009

2009 Legislative Agenda

Full-Day Voluntary Four Year Old Pre-Kindergarten

Texas should offer full-day, high quality pre-k to eligible children who currently attend half-day programs. Raise Your Hand Texas supports a funding increase for the 2010-2011 biennium to provide full-day, quality pre-k to approximately 120,000 children.

The Bush School for Government and Public Service (A&M) states that for every $1 invested in pre-k we receive a return of $3.50. Pre-k saves taxpayers money, prepares children for school, reduces the dropout rate, and supports the Texas economy today and tomorrow.

Public School Accountability

During the 2007 Legislative session, Raise Your Hand Texas supported legislation requiring a comprehensive interim study of the current accountability system. The Legislature created the Select Committee on Public School Accountability, which has taken testimony over the past year.

Raise Your Hand Texas supports strengthening accountability to provide fair, accurate, and understandable information on the performance of our students and schools. Texas needs a new accountability system that will reward growth and is flexible for changes in the testing program.

Multiple Pathways to High School Graduation

Multiple pathways to graduation require a rigorous course of study that integrates foundation subjects with career and technology, humanities, and the arts. Students should be encouraged to go on to college preferably four years or to a community college program. Our state graduation requirements must reflect the knowledge and skills that colleges and employers expect for success.

Keeping students in school should be a major goal for the state. Multiple pathways to graduation will provide the relevancy students need to maintain their course of study to be career and workforce ready for the 21st Century.

Related Links:

PencilAccountability Overview

PencilTexas Public Education Facts

PencilWho We Are

Raise Your Hand Texas

Posted in accountability, Ethics, leadership, Texas schools | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

January is School Board Recognition Month!

Posted by Texas Education on January 13, 2009

Have you thanked a school board member lately? January is School Board Recognition Month, a recognition that coincides with a nationwide effort to honor and underscore the important role of elected school board members in public education.

On the national level, School Board Recognition Month began in the early 1990s with a proclamation by then-President Bill Clinton. A number of other states also dedicate a month to recognize the service of local school boards.

Such recognition can encourage veteran trustees to continue to make the commitment board service requires; other citizens might be encouraged to get involved in the schools and make positive change. A full month of activities allows local districts, PTAs, booster clubs, community leaders, and individual campuses to organize activities convenient and appropriate for them.

School board members exemplify local control and decision making in our educational system. They volunteer hundreds of hours and an immeasurable amount of energy to assure that our schools are providing the best education possible for the children of this community. Your local school board members ALWAYS have the best interest of the student in mind. The state organization, Texas Association of School Boards (TASB), has declared January as School Board Recognition Month. And, Governor Perry has also declared January School Board Member Recognition Month.

Here are some reasons that January has been declared School Board Recognition Month:

* School board members are local citizens, your friends and neighbors, whose decisions while serving on the school board affect all our children – what they learn, who will teach them, and what kinds of facilities will house their classrooms.

* These are men and women elected to establish the policies that provide the framework for our schools. They represent YOU, and they take this responsibility seriously by attending lengthy meetings; attending conferences where they can broaden their knowledge about education and educational issues; and by attending to numerous conversations about our schools.

* Our school board is one of many such boards across the state. These boards enable the citizens of Texas to have local control of our school, meaning that decisions on school programs are made by local people who understand the community’s unique problems, values, culture, and circumstances.

* With the advice and counsel of the educators they hire, our school board has an impact on virtually every aspect of our schools. It’s a huge responsibility and one that is not to be taken lightly by our members.

Too often we neglect to recognize the dedication and hard work of these men and women who represent all of us. Take a moment to tell a school board member “thanks for caring for our kids.”

So “thanks” to the dedicated men and women who make it possible for our community to have a say about education. We salute the public servants whose dedication and civic responsibility make local control of public schools in our community possible.

Take this opportunity to help acknowledge thousands of public servants who make the time to share their vision and voice about the future of Texas children. Our best wishes for a productive month of building awareness and support in your community.

“Throughout the month of January, an awareness campaign will be conducted to highlight the important role of school boards throughout the Lone Star State. At this time, therefore, I encourage all Texans to recognize the vital contributions of school boards, and the enduring legacy they continue to mold in furthering the best for the Texas of tomorrow,” Perry said.

“As citizens who serve children and their communities, individual school board members face complex and demanding challenges. Yet few people fully understand the scope and far-reaching implications of board members’ responsibilities. Their role is not an easy one. They establish a vision for the education program, design a structure to achieve that vision, assure schools are accountable to the community, and strongly advocate continuous improvement in student learning,” said James B. Crow, executive director of the Texas Association of School Boards.

We applaud them for their vision and voice to help shape a better tomorrow for our students today.

For ideas to help you recognize the valuable contributions of your board of education members click here. Recognition ideas include:

Original Certificates to present to school board members (Fill in the names and have the superintendent sign it)

• Sample local proclamation

• Tip sheet with ideas for recognition activities

• Sample letters to school board members’ employers to acknowledge their service to the community and emphasize school-business ties

• Sample marquee slogans

• Sample news release

• Sample column for the district newsletter, local newspaper, Web site or other publication
adapted from Kansas Association of School Boards

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Observer on-line poll (hint, public school financing)

Posted by Texas Education on January 12, 2009

The Observer is conducting an Online Poll. Please vote, and please do vote for Public school financing!!

What’s’ the most important topic for the Texas Legislature this year?
Public school financing
Higher education tuition
Highways and toll roads
Involvement in immigration
Consumer protection reform

Current Results:

Public school financing

(416 Votes, 43%)

Higher education tuition

(87 Votes, 9%)

Highways and toll roads

(55 Votes, 6%)

Involvement in immigration

(366 Votes, 38%)

Consumer protection reform

(37 Votes, 4%)

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Things looking up for school districts with Straus as leader

Posted by Texas Education on January 12, 2009

250-strausstandaloneprod_affiliate58Presumptive Texas House Speaker Joe Straus, calling public education “job one” in the 2009 Legislature, said Saturday that lawmakers may be able to provide what he called targeted relief to needy school districts but he ruled out the likelihood of a major overhaul of the school finance system – per an article by Dave Montgomery at the Star Telegram.

The University of Texas at Arlington and the University of North Texas in Denton are among the Texas institutions seeking advanced status to compete with prestigious top-level research universities in other states.

“We definitely need more,” Straus said. “For an economy and population the size of Texas, first class, first-tier universities are vitally important.” His vision, he said, would include North Texas, though he didn’t single out specific institutions.

Straus said the problems facing public schools rank as a leading priority. Lawmakers passed a public school finance plan in 2006 but districts across the state, including those in North Texas, are struggling to meet rising costs. Per-student funding varies widely from district to district.

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