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Archive for May, 2009

WADA gap widens under HB 3646

Posted by Texas Education on May 20, 2009

If we didn’t have enough problems with funding, HB 3646 by Rep. Scott Hochberg, well, suffice it to say that under HB 3646 Humble ISD will receive a $100 per WADA increase. Katy ISD, which already receives approximately $300 more per WADA than we do, will receive an additional $272 per WADA under HB 3646! Looks like the equity gap widens to me! And Sheldon ISD which already receives about $1,100 more per WADA than we do, will receive the same $100 per WADA increase as we do under HB 3646.

Also under HB 3646 is a $1.9 billion school finance reform package that purports to improve funding equity among districts and provides a $800 across the board salary increase for teachers. However for us, is much too little by way of needed relief for the next biennium and it is far from equitable!

HB 3646 will provide between $4 – $5 million in new money to our district in each year of the biennium and nearly half of those funds would have to be used to fund the $800 salary increase to teachers! Now there is no debating that teachers not only need and deserve a salary increase of way more than $800, BUT here we go again with the Legislature giving with the right hand and taking some back with the left hand trick! Having cut $27 million from our operating budget since 2002 and being frozen at the 2005-06 total operating revenue level, we need much more than $4 – $5 million annually from the state to even get close to where we were in 2004-05!

Our only hope for getting the right thing done in Austin now lies with Lt. Gov. Dewhurst and the Senate. Whether the Senate Education Committee advances Sen. Van de Putte’s SB 982 or Sen. Shapiro’s SB 2392, we need them to right the wrongs of HB 3646!

PLEASE contact the members of the Senate Education Committee and urge them to truly address adequacy and equity in funding to our schools. For me, it is not a threat, it is just a statement of fact, the only outcome of HB 3646 for us is heading back to court.

Sen. Florence Shapiro, Chair
Sen. Dan Patrick, Vice Chair
Sen. Tommy Williams
Sen. Leticia Van de Putte
Sen. Royce West
Sen. Mario Gallegos
Sen. Steve Ogden
Sen. Wendy Davis
Sen. Kip Averitt

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Posted in financing, funding, good stuff - not quite, texas education | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Maplebrook is clear to reopen Wednesday May 6, 2009

Posted by Texas Education on May 5, 2009

Officials have cleared Maplebrook Elementary (Humble ISD) to reopen to teachers and students on Wednesday, May 6, 2009. All staff and students should report to school as usual.

Posted in bizzare, H1N1 virus, learning, say what???, swine flu, teachers, Texas Children, texas education, Texas schools, uncanny | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Jim Parsons resigns

Posted by Texas Education on May 4, 2009

When it rains, I guess, it pours!! Something from Jim Parsons Executive Director for Accountability. Here is some info for you:

A email just doesn’t seem enough, but it’s about the only way I have right now of sharing some news with you.   I have resigned from Humble ISD, effective June 30.  I start a new job at the University of Texas at Dallas the next day.

I have accepted the position of Assistant Director of the Texas Schools Project and the UT-Dallas Education Research Center.  My responsibilities will include expanding the Education Research Center data warehouse, strengthening and expanding research and data sharing relationships with Texas schools districts, managing data standardization and documentation, and directing the evaluation unit of the TSP.

As you may imagine, this is a dream job for me.  I’ll have an unbelievable huge set of TinkerToys, and quite a few researchers in Dallas and around the country to join me in playing with them.

1. I will miss you.

2. Remember that I-45 runs both ways!  We’ll still be involved in Texas public schools, and we’ll certainly keep in touch with our friends in Humble.

I hope to have the chance to visit between now and the end of June.  I look forward to seeing you before we head our various directions.

Thank you all for the experiences we have shared over the years.  You have all given me so much.

All the best.

jp
Jim Parsons
Executive Director for Accountability
Humble Independent School District
20200 Eastway Village Dr
Humble, Texas 77338

Good luck my friend, you will be missed!

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Texans Care for Children

Posted by Texas Education on May 4, 2009

Don’t know how I got on this mailing list, but I’m pleased. Check out a new organization to follow, belong to, support:

tcfc

Bill to Give New Parents a “Baby-Owner’s Manual” Set to Pass Legislature

How-to book every new parent needs available now, too—just in time for Mother’s Day

AUSTIN – Parents mystified by a new baby’s cries, habits or cues often ask, “What is this child trying to tell me?” Now, as Mother’s Day approaches, the Senate is poised to pass legislation already approved in the House that would give many Texas parents an answer to that question in a booklet one lawmaker nicknamed “the baby owner’s manual” because it provides essential child-rearing tips for any parent of a young child. Texans Care For Children’s publication, A Parent’s Guide to Raising Healthy, Happy Children, served as inspiration for HB 1240 (Villarreal), which would provide new and expectant parents with a publication containing basic information about effective parenting, available family resources and important facts about child health and development.

“Mother’s Day is a great time to remember that there’s no more important job in Texas than being a good parent,” said Eileen Garcia-Matthews, executive director of Texans Care For Children, a nonprofit child advocacy organization. “This guide aims to empower the people who do that vital work with tools for success.”

According to recent research, parent education can bring enormous benefits for children. The New York University Child Study Center has demonstrated lower levels of child stress and aggression, reduced childhood obesity and higher standardized test scores in at-risk children whose caregivers learned parenting techniques early in their children’s lives.

In Texas, demand for parent information runs high. When earlier this year, the state Health and Human Services Commission partnered with Texans Care For Children to make hundreds of thousands of copies of A Parent’s Guide to Raising Healthy, Happy Children available in English and Spanish, the publication sold out in a matter of weeks. Co-authored by dozens of state experts in child health and development, the 35-page publication offers parents advice from their child’s perspective and uses a wall-hanging calendar format to guide parents through each stage of their child’s first five years. Each page-spread contains space to record milestones the child reached, and the guide also features resources especially for Texas parents, such as locating nearby child care, accessing support for children with special needs and finding library story-times in local communities.  HB 1240 will mandate that low-income families in the Medicaid program receive the guide, but parents at any income level can enjoy A Parent’s Guide to Raising Healthy, Happy Children. It is available for individual purchase online for $10, including shipping and handling, at www.texanscareforchildren.org.

###

Christine Sinatra

Communications Director

Texans Care For Children

Speaking out for Texas children at the Capitol and across the state

814 San Jacinto, Suite 201

Austin, Texas 78701
512-473-2274 (phone)
512-853-0506 (cell)
512-473-2173 (fax)


Raising awareness to make children a public priority

We know that for Texas children to reach their potential in the future, Texans first must stand up for what kids need now to be safe, healthy, and thriving. We work to keep Texans informed about what is happening with the state’s children and what Texans who care can do to help.


Pledge to Put Kids 1st!
I pledge in my decisions to make children’s well-being my first priority. I pledge to help keep Texas: strong, by supporting children’s health and development; safe, by protecting children from harm; prepared, by ensuring the next generation has the education to succeed; prosperous, by acting so today’s youth can can solve the problems of tomorrow; and whole, by giving children the love and security they need to grow. For the future of Texas, I will do my part to Put Kids 1st.”

Posted in Texas Children, texas education, Texas State Legislature | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Help House Bill 130 – in support of full day high-quality pre-k move forward

Posted by Texas Education on May 4, 2009

Raise Your Hand Texas says: House Bill 130, (authored by Representative Diane Patrick), in support of full day high-quality pre-k, move forward through the Texas Legislative process. On Saturday, this critical legislation was placed on the General State Calendar, meaning there is a strong probability the House will bring it to a floor vote. The clock is ticking in the 81st Legislative Session and pre-k advocates must do all we can to let our Representatives know how important HB 130 is to us.

Please take a moment to click the take action icon below and send an email to your legislator today. We hope you will also forward this alert to other pre-k supporters you may know.

You can monitor progress by viewing House proceedings here:

Take Action Now!

Posted in teaching, texas education, Texas State Legislature | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Potential Delay in TAKS Results

Posted by Texas Education on May 4, 2009

Below is information I received from Executive Director: Jim Parsons; Coordinator of Student Assessment

On Sunday evening, Jim Parsons spoke to a TEA student assessment staffer to confirm a fear he had about a side-effect of the H1N1 flu school closures. The delays in testing and/or shipping completed documents caused by flooding or school closures will probably cause a delay in everyone receiving test results.  In other words, even though Humble ISD didn’t close any schools until after testing was completed, and we did everything on schedule, our results will be delayed, too.

The reason is this:  Before the testing contractor determines the final cut scores for the tests, they must score a very large sample of all the tests.  That process, part of the “post-test equating” activities, is designed to make certain that the exams are of equal difficulty across years.  Field test item analysis gave estimates of the difficulty levels of each item on each test, but only the final results confirm those estimates.  To be certain, they must check, recalculate, and possibly make changes before all tests can be scored.

About 300,000 Texas students are now out of closed schools.  TEA estimates about 150,000 should have had TAKS tests.  Because those missing tests are not randomly distributed across Texas, the tests they will have may not be representative of all students in the state.  The closing of Ft. Worth ISD made a huge difference.  That’s why they can’t just proceed with the tests they get on schedule.

We were originally scheduled to receive the reports by May 22.   There could be a day-for-day slide.  That is, each day’s delay in TEA getting all tests in Austin could mean a day’s delay in our getting results.  That could possibly push the results past the end of the school year.

TEA must still make some final decisions about how all of this is handled.  Look for official announcements sometime this week.

BTW, the Agency will also need to make some decisions that may affect accountability, too.  Jim will be talking to the head of accountability today to see if he can get some sort of forecast.

Posted in accountability, H1N1 virus, swine flu, TAKS testing | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Humble school board forum – election

Posted by Texas Education on May 4, 2009

The first Humble ISD School Board Candidate Forum, was held on Tuesday, March 31, was recorded by Lone Star College-Kingwood and is now available for viewing in two locations. The Humble ISD website has a section in the middle of the main first page titled “Early voting in school board election begins April 27.” At the end of that article are two links to the first and second half of the March 31 candidate forum. The first part is 45 minutes long and the second part is one hour long.

Last Thursday night I had a hard time deciding whether to go to the second and final candidate forum, tossing whether to go or take a nap! I went! Glad I did, I learned a lot more about a couple of our candidates/board members. Keith Lapeze, lawyer, and all around great guy! He gave us some insight into his education and background. Keith received his juris doctorate from Louisiana State University. He was an executive editor of the Louisiana Law Review and graduated near the top of his class, which granted him admission into the most prestigious academic society at the law school, the Order of the Coif.

After law school, Keith clerked for a judge on the United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, Louisiana.

lapezefamilyKeith is an experienced corporate defense litigator and is recognized as one of the best young lawyers in the state of Texas. He has been listed as a “Texas Rising Star” every year since the recognition was first published in Texas Monthly magazine, which is only given to the top 5% of the lawyers in Texas.

In addition to his legal experience, Keith was a member of the Louisiana Army National Guard. He served his country while an undergraduate student and received a honorable discharge at the end of his service.

For several years, Keith was a part-time professor at the University of St. Thomas.

“Since I was elected, the district has cut over $18 million dollars from the operating budget. Additionally, I played a large role in making the controversial decision to expand Atascocita High School and Summer Creek High School to put off the expense of opening another new high school. This decision will amount to an ultimate savings of over $100 million, but the cost was to defer projects approved by the voters in Bond 2005 and disregard the proposed 2,400-student limit from the 2003 High Schools of the Future Task Force. While these costs were real, I believed that it is my duty to save taxpayers money wherever I can. When reelected, I will continue my diligence.

Though we have suffered though the difficulties of cuts and financial struggles over the last three years, the district has still excelled. Student scores have continued to improve. Countless numbers of our students have received national, state, and local recognition for their achievements. We were on the cusp of being a Recognized school district last year, and the early data this year is even more promising. I believe that the working relationship between the School Board and the administration is functioning to push Humble I.S.D. to excel in its mission: to educate our students.

I have also worked with my fellow Trustees to form the dialogue with our elected officials on school finance in Texas. Recognizing that the only way to solve the current school finance crisis is through our elected representatives in Austin, district and community volunteers have formed a message that has now been heard far and wide. We can only hope that our officials will take action.

The last three years has been a difficult time for Humble I.S.D., and our School Board is tested and experienced because of it. Now is not the time to change our course. That is why I am asking for your vote to re-elect me as Trustee.”

Dr. Bonnie Longninon, we also learned quite a bit more about her leadership roles (plural). She has been a college administrator at Lone Star College System for over 20 years, joined the Office of External Affairs as associate vice-chancellor for institutional and resource development in April 2003. Longnion is active statewide and in her community as an advocate for education. Longnion joined the Humble ISD School Board in 1988, where she has served as president, vice-president, and secretary. She has served on the Texas Association of School Boards and the Gulf Coast Association of School Boards. Bonnie says;

“I have had the honor and privilege to serve on the Humble ISD school board for 20 ½ years. I have served on numerous committees over the years, and I have served in the role of each office position as least twice. In addition to my service on the Humble ISD board, I additionally served on the Gulf Coast Association of School Boards. I served as the president of the Texas Association of School Boards in 2003-04 serving over 1,030 school districts. I am current president of the Houston YWCA. I am a current member of the American Business Women’s Association. I am past president of FamilyTime and the past president of the Northeast Chapter of the American Heart Association. I am a founding member and secretary of the Greater Houston P-16+ Council.”

Bonnie goes on to say;

“No. 1 issue: The number one issue facing Humble ISD is the crisis the district faces due to the current inequities in the state funding appropriations. There are some encouraging signs that the state legislators are going to address some of the problematic components of the methodology used to fund the state’s portion of school district. I have worked with other board members, community members, students and parents to tell the Humble ISD story. I know that many of the legislators see the inequities and they are doing their best to take responsible action for all school districts in the state. Adequate and equitable funding impacts our programs, salaries, technology and resources needed to provide an excellent learning environment for our students.”

Dan only spoke briefly, he has no challengers!

“I am running for another term to continue to work with our community, to educate our legislators about the inequity of the current funding system. We have dedicated a great deal of time and effort to educate everyone on the issues facing Humble ISD. As a result, we have made progress that we have not seen in years. Moving forward, I believe we need experienced board members to help lead us down the right path. I am committed to providing solutions to this growing problem, and know that in partnership with the community we can make a difference for our district.”

Very small turnout, as expected, not much controversy (unless you count the challenger’s mishaps, which Mr. Reed enlightened us in great detail.) So, it also looks like the voter turnout is expected to be very low. Mr. Johnson was not present at the second forum.

If you live in Kingwood and have cable television, The Lone Star College-Kingwood television channel 42 is currently showing both parts of the forum. For the viewing schedule, see http://kingwood.lonestar.edu/28698/. Look for Board Forum 1 and Board Forum 2 to see when the program is showing.

Both of these viewing options give you a chance to see and hear the five candidates for the three school board positions open for election this May 9. Even if you can’t watch all of the programs, please try to see some part of the presentation. Dr. Sconzo also has a brief, five-minute, presentation on school finance at the start of the first part.

Thank you for your interest in our school district and in becoming an informed voter. Please be aware that early voting began on April 27.

So, if you can…go vote!

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Swine flu – a little too close to home

Posted by Texas Education on May 1, 2009

Maplebrook Elementary will closed until May 18 as a child has been diagnosed with a probable case of H1N1. Thankfully, the child is recovering and doing well. As is customary, the Center for Disease Control has directed that the probable case be treated as if it is a confirmed diagnosis. At the CDC’s direction, the school will close for 14 calendar days. Teachers will be asked to report back to work on May 11 th.

This is what is on the Humble Website. I got a call from a teacher friend at the school, and an email from my support group. A sibling of a student does in fact have the swine flu. All the siblings have symptoms, but do not have their results back.

I’m a bit numb from this as it all seemed so surreal hearing about it, now I’m so close to it. I don’t know who the student is, but I’m sure he/she has been in my class.

Please pray for us, I’m very scared.

Posted in swine flu, Texas Children, Texas schools | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Swine Flu Information and Precautions

Posted by Texas Education on May 1, 2009

From the Texas PTA – tips on how to prepare yourself during this outbreak. I found this information to be very concise.

Swine Flu: What You Can Do
The outbreak of the H1N1 virus (swine flu) continues to grow. As PTA leaders, you can help disseminate factual information to the parents at your school through your newsletters and websites. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has prepared a series of questions and answers entitled Swine Influenza and You at www.cdc.gov/swineflu that you can forward to parents.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that you keep your children home from school if they are sick. The symptoms of swine flu include:
  • Fever (greater than 100°F)
  • Sore throat
  • Cough
  • Stuffy nose
  • Chills
  • Headache and body aches
  • Fatigue
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
The CDC recommends the following to help you and your family stay healthy:
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread that way.
  • Stay home if you get sick. CDC recommends that you stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.
  • Follow public health advice regarding school closures, avoiding crowds and other social distancing measures.
  • Develop a family emergency plan as a precaution. This should include storing a supply of food, medicines, facemasks, alcohol-based hand rubs and other essential supplies.
  • Call 1-800-CDC-INFO for more information.
Swine Influenza and You
What is swine flu?
Swine Influenza (swine flu) is a respiratory disease of pigs caused by type A influenza viruses that causes regular outbreaks in pigs. People do not normally get swine flu, but human infections can and do happen. Swine flu viruses have been reported to spread from person-to-person, but in the past, this transmission was limited and not sustained beyond three people.
Are there human infections with swine flu in the U.S.?
In late March and early April 2009, cases of human infection with swine influenza A (H1N1) viruses were first reported in Southern California and near San Antonio, Texas. Other U.S. states have reported cases of swine flu infection in humans and cases have been reported internationally as well. An updated case count of confirmed swine flu infections in the United States is kept at http://www.cdc.gov/swineflu/investigation.htm. CDC and local and state health agencies are working together to investigate this situation.
Is this swine flu virus contagious?
CDC has determined that this swine influenza A (H1N1) virus is contagious and is spreading from human to human. However, at this time, it is not known how easily the virus spreads between people.
What are the signs and symptoms of swine flu in people?
The symptoms of swine flu in people are similar to the symptoms of regular human flu and include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people have reported diarrhea and vomiting associated with swine flu. In the past, severe illness (pneumonia and respiratory failure) and deaths have been reported with swine flu infection in people. Like seasonal flu, swine flu may cause a worsening of underlying chronic medical conditions.
How does swine flu spread?
Spread of this swine influenza A (H1N1) virus is thought to be happening in the same way that seasonal flu spreads. Flu viruses are spread mainly from person to person through coughing or sneezing of people with influenza. Sometimes people may become infected by touching something with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose.
How can someone with the flu infect someone else?
Infected people may be able to infect others beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 7 or more days after becoming sick. That means that you may be able to pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick.
What should I do to keep from getting the flu?
First and most important: wash your hands. Try to stay in good general health. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food. Try to not touch surfaces that may be contaminated with the flu virus. Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
Are there medicines to treat swine flu?
Yes. CDC recommends the use of oseltamivir or zanamivir for the treatment and/or prevention of infection with these swine influenza viruses. Antiviral drugs are prescription medicines (pills, liquid or an inhaler) that fight against the flu by keeping flu viruses from reproducing in your body. If you get sick, antiviral drugs can make your illness milder and make you feel better faster. They may also prevent serious flu complications. For treatment, antiviral drugs work best if started soon after getting sick (within 2 days of symptoms).
How long can an infected person spread swine flu to others?
People with swine influenza virus infection should be considered potentially contagious as long as they are symptomatic and possibly up to 7 days following illness onset. Children, especially younger children, might potentially be contagious for longer periods.
What surfaces are most likely to be sources of contamination?
Germs can be spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth. Droplets from a cough or sneeze of an infected person move through the air. Germs can be spread when a person touches respiratory droplets from another person on a surface like a desk and then touches their own eyes, mouth or nose before washing their hands.
How long can viruses live outside the body?
We know that some viruses and bacteria can live 2 hours or longer on surfaces like cafeteria tables, doorknobs, and desks. Frequent handwashing will help you reduce the chance of getting contamination from these common surfaces.
What can I do to protect myself from getting sick?
There is no vaccine available right now to protect against swine flu. There are everyday actions that can help prevent the spread of germs that cause respiratory illnesses like influenza. Take these everyday steps to protect your health:
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way.
  • Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
  • If you get sick with influenza, CDC recommends that you stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.
What is the best way to keep from spreading the virus through coughing or sneezing?
If you are sick, limit your contact with other people as much as possible. Do not go to work or school if ill. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent those around you from getting sick. Put your used tissue in the waste basket. Cover your cough or sneeze if you do not have a tissue. Then, clean your hands, and do so every time you cough or sneeze.
What is the best technique for washing my hands to avoid getting the flu?
Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs. Wash with soap and water. or clean with alcohol-based hand cleaner. We recommend that when you wash your hands — with soap and warm water — that you wash for 15 to 20 seconds. When soap and water are not available, alcohol-based disposable hand wipes or gel sanitizers may be used. You can find them in most supermarkets and drugstores. If using gel, rub your hands until the gel is dry. The gel doesn’t need water to work; the alcohol in it kills the germs on your hands.
What should I do if I get sick?
If you live in areas where swine influenza cases have been identified and become ill with influenza-like symptoms, including fever, body aches, runny nose, sore throat, nausea, or vomiting or diarrhea, you may want to contact your health care provider, particularly if you are worried about your symptoms. Your health care provider will determine whether influenza testing or treatment is needed.
If you are sick, you should stay home and avoid contact with other people as much as possible to keep from spreading your illness to others.
If you become ill and experience any of the following warning signs, seek emergency medical care.
In children, emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:
  • Fast breathing or trouble breathing
  • Bluish skin color
  • Not drinking enough fluids
  • Not waking up or not interacting
  • Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
  • Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough
  • Fever with a rash
In adults, emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:
  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
  • Sudden dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Severe or persistent vomiting
Can I get swine influenza from eating or preparing pork?
No. Swine influenza viruses are not spread by food. You cannot get swine influenza from eating pork or pork products. Eating properly handled and cooked pork products is safe.

Posted in H1N1 virus, In-the-news, swine flu, Texas Children, Texas PTA, Texas schools | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »