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Archive for April, 2009

Swine Flu – affecting Texas schools

Posted by Texas Education on April 30, 2009

I plan on this being updated as I receive the information. If ya’ll are like me, you are looking everywhere you can for any updates on this thing and how it affects you and your kids, and their schools. Here is information I have received thus far, as of

Thursday, April 30 2009:

Officials confirmed a 22-month-old boy from Mexico City died earlier this week in a Houston-area hospital after traveling with his family to visit relatives in Texas, said the Texas Department of Health Services. In addition to swine flu, the boy had several underlying health problems.

Austin area responds to its 1st probable swine flu case
As swine flu cases spread nationally and a child’s death was reported in Texas on Wednesday, Gov. Rick Perry declared a disaster in the state, and Travis County’s first probable case of swine flu prompted the closing of an Austin preschool.

Fort Worth schools are the latest to close through at least May 8th (and only essential personnel would be working) after confirming one case of swine flu at 1 of its middle schools.

The medical director of the Tarrant County Public Health agency, Dr. Sandra Parker, said during a news conference tonight that one case of the swine flu is confirmed at a Fort Worth middle school.

Tarrant County has 11 probable swine flu cases.

Comal ISD teacher reported with swine flu NEW BRAUNFELS, Texas — A teacher for the Tri-County Adult Education GED Program has symptoms of swine flu. The teacher lives in Guadalupe County.

All sports activities are being postponed at public schools in Texas until May 11, because of the swine flu outbreak.
This means the baseball season is suspended and that regional track championships will be eliminated, according to University Interscholastic League executive director Charles Breithaupt. He told the AP the action was taken on the recommendation of public health officials.

The state’s high school golf and tennis championships are scheduled to begin May 11. The state track meet remains scheduled for May 13-14, but qualifying procedures may have to be changed.

Click here to read the complete press release from the UIL.

Fort Bend County Has Swine Flu Case Episcopal High School Student Has Virus; School Closed
State health officials said one of the 16 Texas cases is in Fort Bend County. The patient is a student from Fort Bend County who attends Episcopal High School in Houston. The head of the school, Ned Smith, confirmed that the school will be closed because one of their students has swine flu.

Websites with more information
http://www.dshs.state.tx.us/swineflu/default.shtm
http://www.cdc.gov/swineflu/
http://www.cdc.gov/swineflu/investigation.htm
http://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/slideshow-swine-flu

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Update on Legislative Committee 4/29/09

Posted by Texas Education on April 29, 2009

A memo from Dr. Sconzo:

Both the State Senate and House have approved appropriations bills for the biennium and both bills have new additional funds for public education ranging form 2.3 to nearly 3 billion. HOWEVER, those funds are contingent on passage of a new funding mechanism bill (ie. SB 982 – HB 1550) and neither of those bills have been voted out of committee yet! SO, we continue to write and visit with Senate and House Education Committee members and your doing likewise in support of SB 982 and HB 1500 would be of SIGNIFICANT help!

It is important to note that there are two other funding mechanism bills that were introduced…in the Senate Education Committee there is SB 2392 introduced by Chairwoman Shapiro and in the House Education Committee there is HB 3646 introduced by Rep. Hochberg. These are not companion bills and they provide insufficient information to know whether or not they would be good for us!

So, we need to stay the course on loud and repetitive support for SB 982 and HB 1550!

One other bill we are getting busy voicing our support for is SB 2374. This bill would raise the funding availability to school districts for the “Existing Debt Allotment.” This is the state funding provided to pay down bond debt. Its funding that has not been increased in a number of years and to us, this bill is the equivalent of 7 cents on our debt tax rate! SO, absent this essential increase, state legislators would cause the need for an increase in local property taxes to just keep pace in paying off bond debt! PLEASE send messages to state elected officials that SB 2374, in effect, means property tax relief!

Thanks Dr. Sconzo for all your hard work!

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House bill 2476 is a critical bill for children

Posted by Texas Education on April 28, 2009

This in from Children at Risk:

House bill 2476, by Representative Dora Olivo, will be heard TODAY in the House Public Education committee. We urge you to contact members of the House Public Education Committee, and in particular Chairman Rob Eissler, to express your support of this bill immediately!  Specifically request that they vote the bill favorably from committee.  By doing so, the bill will more quickly make its way to the House Floor.

House bill 2476 is a critical bill for children this 81st Texas Legislative Session because it improves discipline strategies in public schools by mandating staff development in effective discipline strategies.  Such training will empower teachers with conflict resolution techniques, positive behavior management, classroom management, and intervention strategies for students exhibiting behavioral difficulties.  The bill also requires that data be reported on how many students each school refers to disciplinary alternative education program.  Collecting this information will allow districts to idenitfy where staff training is most needed.

You can help ensure that HB 2476 makes it to the House Floor, by contacting members of the committee in support of this important bill.  This is a critical step in the legislative process, and we need your help to ensure HB 2476 gets passed this session!

Talking Points: I support HB 2476 because it it improves discipline strategies in public schools by require staff development in effective discipline strategies.
Students referred to alternative disciplinary settings have five times the dropout rate of mainstream schools and one in three juveniles sent to the Texas Youth Commission are school dropouts.This bill will encourage the commissioner to develop and make available age-appropriate disciplinary management training for teachers at all grade levels that includes: conflict resolution techniques, positive behavior management, class management, and intervention strategies for students exhibiting behavioral difficulties.By equipping teachers and school administrators with training in areas that focus on how to identify the causes of and potential solutions to behavioral problems, as well as how to effectively communicate with students and their parents, the likelihood of behavior escalating to referable offenses may be decreased. In improving its approach to disciplinary management, Texas can increase the chances that its students will graduate from high school and succeed in life.

Take Action!
Instructions: Click the icon below to take action on this issue:

Tell-A-Friend: Visit the web address below to tell your friends about this. Tell-a-Friend! What’s At Stake: Zero tolerance policies in Texas schools have caused thousands of juveniles to be removed from their classrooms and sent to alternative disciplinary settings. As a result of these alternative placements, many students fall behind their peers academically and are led to the criminal justice system.

FACTS:

  • Texas pays approximately $164 more per person to support a dropout each year than to educate them while that child was in school.
  • Among “risk factors” commonly associated with future involvement in the juvenile justice system, the most important predictor is a history of school disciplinary referrals.

HB 2476 is consistent with CHILDREN AT RISK’s recommended policy changes to:

  • Require staff development programs to include training in discipline strategies, including classroom management, district discipline policies, and the student code of conduct.
  • Encourage the commissioner to develop and make available age-appropriate disciplinary management training for teachers at all grade levels that includes: conflict resolution techniques, positive behavior management, class management, and intervention strategies for students exhibiting behavioral difficulties.
  • Improve data collection of discipline management stategies.

Campaign Expiration Date: May 1, 2009

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Vote! Today – Keep Bonnie on Board

Posted by Texas Education on April 27, 2009

Just a reminder, today is the first day of early voting for our School Board members. From Bonnie Longnion:

Friends, parents, students, community leaders, educators, voters, and taxpayers, a reminder that there is a school board election. Early voting begins Monday, April 27, 2009, and continues through May 5. May 9 is election date! (Polling sites and times are below). Please forward this message to those individuals you feel are interested in maintaining, enhancing, and supporting our high quality school districtl The school board continues to systematically address on-going challengfes — particularly funding issues. Encourage your friends to vote during early voting or election date.

Thanks for sharing the information with others….remember to vote!! Thanks.


Keep Bonnie on Board

Ø Action Oriented — Solution Focused

Ø Achievement Oriented– Partnership Focused

Ø Accountability Oriented – Shared Responsibility Focused

=

A+ RESULTS

Early Vote (April 27-May 5) or Vote May 9, 2009

www.bonnieonboard.net for more information on Bonnie.

Dr. Bonnie Longnion is committed to the following priorities:

· Maintaining and enhancing quality education programs, services and facilities

· Managing state funding crisis

· Ensuring student safety and security

· Addressing growth challenges, and

· Securing competitive employee salaries and benefits

Early Voting April 27 (Mon.) through May 5 (Tues.), 2009 (All precincts can vote at any site.)

Site

Address

Date

Time

City of Humble, Council Chamber

114 W. Higgins Street,

Humble, TX

April 27-May 1

May 4-May 5

8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.

7:00 a.m.-7:00 p.m.

Humble ISD Adminstnistration Building

20200 Eastway Village

Humble, TX

April 27-May 1

May 4-May 5

8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.

7:00 a.m.-7:00 p.m.

Instructional Support Center

4810 Magnolia Cove Dr.

Kingwood, TX

April 27-May 1

May 4-May 5

8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.

7:00 a.m.-7:00 p.m.

Election Day
Voting
May 9, 2009 (Saturday), 7:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.

Polling Pl #

Site and Location

Address

Precincts

1

The City of Humble/Council Chamber

114 W. Higgins Street,

Humble, TX

108, 334, 598, 599, & 776

2

North Belt Elementary

8105 North Belt Drive

Humble, TX

45, 83, 363, 380, 742, 799, 840, 841, & 847

3

Oaks Elementary

5858 Upper Lake Drive

Humble, TX

351, 388, 658, 659, 674, & 764

4

Foster Elementary

1800 Trailwood Village

Kingwood, TX

199, 469

5

Kingwood Middle

2407 Pine Terrace

Kingwood,TX

340, 357, 590, 635, 636, & 758

6

Creekwood Middle

3603 Lake Houston Parkway, Kingwood, TX

459, 563, 612, 670, & 760

Political Advertising Paid for by Keep Bonnie on Boarda

Carol McCord, Campaign Treasurer

One Kingwood Place, Suite 101, Kingwood, Texas 77339

Subscribed to the Code of Fair Campaign Practices

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This & That

Posted by Texas Education on April 21, 2009

I know I’ve been a bit AWOL. I’ve been tired, working full time can wear a person out…and, there is a lot going on. Last Tuesday’s City & State had a great article by Lisa Falkenberg, who, I must say, in person, is very funny! She talks about the stimulus money, which I am most interested in due to the fact I hope it gets me gainfully employed! See, they tend to cut out tech stuff, but with some money…well, crossing fingers, anyway! I have to agree with her on this one, she says, “can you still call it ‘stimulus’ if it’s being used for a purpose no more stimulating that maintaining the status quo?”

Also, on that front page is an article on sex ed in the doctor’s office. Talks about mother’s taking their daughters to the gynecologists to do the talking for them. That’s a tough one for me, I have a daughter, 17, so again, this one is a bit near and dear (for lack of a better way to say it.) I don’t wish to comment on that one, don’t know what to say, really. I found this part interesting though:

“If you say: ‘Are you sexually active?’ They say: ‘No, I only have one boyfriend.’ If you ask, ‘Are you having sex?,’ they say no, but when you ask them about the last time they had sex, they say a month ago,” said Sinacori, a Memorial-area obstetrician/gynecologist.

Then on Thursday of last week, Humble filled up the Kingwood/Humble section, well actually the whole section. Front page “An ‘A’ for extra effort.” This talks about how the mentoring program and how successful it is. I believe that, seems like a no brainer, if you put anything into it…should come out positive. One part in the article about Waymond Wesley, the AP at Humble MS, he is quoted as saying:

“I never saw my father, so I learned from others,”

260xstoryGotta say, that pretty much sums up my childhood. (Ok, some may TMI here, but I feel I can talk about my successes just like Mr. Wesley.) I also feel I can connect with some of the students because of my background.  That paragraph goes on to say:

“They conveyed to me that I could do whatever I wanted. The more they shared of themselves, the more confidence I got in myself.”

I don’t even feel I had it THAT good. I was not real good at anything, but I did well in school, but didn’t have anyone to convey anything, share, nor give me confidence. I pretty much did it on my own, looked at role models, etc. Hey, I’m not crying here, just telling it like is was. School was my sanctuary, and I’m thankful for that, and try to make it that way for any student I come across.

Another article with a great mug of Dr. Sconzo! “District finds ways to turn hard issues into success stories.”  Pretty much sums up the article. They didn’t put that one on-line though, sorry!

And rounding out that section, the “Report Card.” The school I’m currently at did extremely well, looks like, most of the schools in Humble did well, also. We must be doing something right, eh?

You can check out your schools “Report Card” here.

Posted in Abstinence Education, financing, FYI, Good Stuff, In-the-news, learning, mentoring, Sex-education | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Rep. Garnet Coleman fighting to make higher education more affordable

Posted by Texas Education on April 16, 2009

The passage of legislation deregulating tuition in 2003 marked the end of an era of accountability, accessibility and affordability in Texas public higher education. Since tuition deregulation went into effect, designated tuition at Texas colleges and universities has skyrocketed 112 percent, placing the burden of these increased tuition rates on the backs of students and families. Texas Grants and student loans have not risen on par with the escalating cost of tuition, nor have they kept up with the number of qualifying students; thus creating a growing gap between those able to afford college and those in need of financial assistance.

Today, I laid out legislation – House Bill 2955 – in the House Higher Education Committee that would repeal the tuition setting powers of university boards of regents. HB 2955 would scale back tuition rates to reasonable levels and set the tuition for the next 6 academic years. This would give Texas students the opportunity to financially plan their education and focus on their studies, rather than worry about how to pay for college. It is time that state officials take back the responsibility for controlling tuition and expand educational opportunities for Texas students, not continue to price them out.

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Capturing Kids’ Hearts is coming to Humble ISD

Posted by Texas Education on April 16, 2009

Well, not exactly, but…I got an update from the last Board meeting, sorry I missed, that they are…well here’s the update:

Capturing Kids’ Hearts Professional Development

The entire Summer Creek High School staff will be pursuing Capturing Kids’ Heart professional development training. This special training in affective development techniques will cost $67,900 and will be paid for with Federal Title II grant funds.


This is such a wonderful, and I must say, surprising thing. My heart believes so strongly in Capturing Kids’ Hearts. I do believe it has made me a much better teacher and has given me the hope, that all of us need, to know that every child deserves the best from his/her teacher and this program/philosophy does just that.


In other action, the Board approved:

  • Design development plans for elementary school #26, Turner Stadium renovations and additions, and Community Learning Center renovations and additions.
  • Boundary option 1 for Lakeshore Elementary. Details
  • The annual AVID Membership Renewal for 2009-10 for all secondary campuses. The $42,574 is paid through the State High School Allotment fund.
  • Declaring a corner lot across the street from the old Bender High School in Humble as surplus property. The Board authorized having it appraised and advertising it for sale.
  • Population And Survey Analysts to begin its total Demographic Study focusing on the southeast area of the school district at this time.
  • Lemons Auctioneers to provide online auction services for 31 surplus portable buildings.
  • Chick-Fil-A to provide pre-packaged, ready to serve chicken sandwiches at all middle and high schools.
  • SBWV as the architect for the Kingwood High softball field design work.

Posted in Good Stuff, leadership, teachers, teaching, teen leadership | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Just say don’t know – Sexuality Education in Texas Public Schools

Posted by Texas Education on April 15, 2009

JUST SAY DON’T KNOW:
Sexuality Education in Texas Public Schools

Texas has long been held up as the poster child for abstinence-only sexuality education. In fact, Texas consistently leads the nation by a wide margin in federal abstinence education dollars – more than $18 million in 2007 alone. What has not been known, however, is what public schools are actually teaching students about sexuality education in their classrooms. Just Say Don't Know Masthead - TFN web version

Until now.

TFN Arrow Read the report and watch the videos.

from TFN

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Voting on Vouchers – yes to opposing vouchers

Posted by Texas Education on April 15, 2009

Upcoming House Budget Debate Will Include Critical Votes on Stem Cell Research and Vouchers

Two crucially important issues will be debated when the Texas House of Representatives takes up the state budget (SB 1) starting this Friday. Lawmakers need to hear from Texans like you encouraging them to do the right thing — and letting them know we are watching their vote on these issues. These could be the most important votes on these issues this session.

Please take a moment to call your own state representative, and ask her or him to:

  • OPPOSE VOUCHERS by voting YES on any amendment that would prohibit the use of any state funds to pay private school tuition.

(Click here to find contact information for your representative.)

And after you call, contact Val or Judie in our Outreach Office to let them know how your representative responded. This information is extremely helpful as we try to keep track of where House members stand on these issues.

Background information and simple talking points appear below to help you prepare for your call. This is our chance to slam the door on vouchers this session, as well as send a strong message that Texas will not close its doors to promising medical research that provides hope for so many.

Vouchers

Background: Two years ago, House members overwhelming voted to prohibit the use of state funds to pay private or religious school tuition (127-8!). The same amendment has been proposed this year. A clear prohibition in the budget would end the possibility of any voucher schemes in the coming biennium.

Talking Points:

  • Vouchers drain needed funds from our neighborhood public schools.
  • Lawmakers should focus on properly funding and supporting public schools that educate all Texas kids.

from TFN

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Texas PTA Action Alert – what you need to know!

Posted by Texas Education on April 7, 2009

Members of Senate Education will be considering a bill to create a voucher program for children with autism on Tuesday of this week.

Please call the following members of the Senate Education Committee and urge them to Oppose SB 1301, SB 183, SB 2204!

What you need to know:
Texas cannot afford to finance private education as well as public education. There are two ways to pay for vouchers-take money from already under-funded public schools or raise taxes. Both are unacceptable.

  • Public policy should respect parental choice but provide for all students. The best public policy is to provide parents with even more choices within the public schools, which serve 94.5% of Texas children. Legislators should concentrate on making all public schools stronger, safer, more challenging and accountable. Public tax dollars should be spent only to improve public schools-not to assist the small number of parents who choose to enroll their children in private academies or religious schools.
  • Inserting the word “private” doesn’t make a school good. There is no proof that private school vouchers would improve students’ academic performance. In fact, students attending private schools under the Milwaukee and Cleveland voucher programs did not outperform their public school peers.
  • Vouchers don’t create a “competitive marketplace.” Competition is based on an even playing field; there is no fair competition when “competitors” play by different rules. Public schools must accept all applicants, private schools don’t. Private schools are not required to provide transportation, special education, bilingual education, free and reduced price lunches, and many other programs that public schools provide.
  • While private school vouchers might cover a portion of the cost of education, many parents would not be able to afford the likely additional costs beyond the amount of the voucher.
  • State and Federal regulations such as IDEA that protect students with special educational needs require the development and maintenance of an educational plan for each student. This right is not guaranteed in private schools.
  • Not all communities have private programs for children with autism, so legislation would create this “opportunity” for a small number of children. Private programs for students with autism in more rural areas of Texas are few in number and therefore not a choice.
  • Special education certification is required for public educators, but not for private school employees. 
  • What you can do:

    Contact the following members of Senate Education and tell them the following:
    Sen. Florence Shapiro, chair @ 512-463-0108 – “I am a member of Texas PTA, with over 600,000 members and I oppose voucher programs such as those proposed in SB 1301, 2204 and 183.”

    Sen. Dan Patrick @ 512-463 0107 – “Please oppose Sb 1301, 2204, and 183. I am a member of Texas PTA, representing the 600,000+ members, and Texas PTA opposes voucher programs.”

    Sen. Kip Averitt @ 512-463 0122 – “Please oppose Sb 1301, 2204, and 183. I am a member of Texas PTA, representing the 600,000+ members, and Texas PTA opposes voucher programs.”

    Sen. Steve Ogden @ 512-463 0105 – “Please oppose Sb 1301, 2204, and 183. I am a member of Texas PTA, representing the 600,000+ members, and Texas PTA opposes voucher programs.”

    Sen. Tommy Williams @ 512-463 0104 – “I am a member of Texas PTA, with over 600,000 members and I oppose voucher programs such as proposed in SB 1301, 2204, and 183.”

    Encourage each Senator:
    Instead of funding a program for students to go to a private school, why not invest in on-going, comprehensive professional development for instructors of students with disabilities such as autism, so that teachers and teaching assistants are better equipped to work with students with special needs? This would be money well spent, money that would be used to improve the training of all teachers of students with disabilities, unlike voucher program funding that would be used for a few students without improving the educational environment for the students left behind. Several bills have been filed this session that create professional development academies and require on-going professional development in best practices related to education for students with special needs. The key is to fund these programs so that all school districts may take full advantage of them.

    Thank you for using your voice to help our kids!

    Posted in financing, In-the-news, Texas PTA, vouchers | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »