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Legislative session finished…for now!

Posted by Texas Education on June 4, 2009

Yes, yes you don’t have to tell me I have been lax in updating my blog! Just haven’t been up to it much. I guess I get tired of always being the bearer of bad news, pretty much anyway. I know I’m the one who chose to blog about texaseduation! So, I need to man up, as they say, or is it womanup? I’ve been twittering more, much more fun! Seems to be my niche also! Well, here is the poop and nothin’ but the poop!

A compromise school finance bill was passed (HB 3646), and it now awaits the Governor’s signature. The main components of this “school finance reform bill are:

Directs $1.9 billion of new money into public schools – this has been consistent with all versions of this bill.

Increases the basic allotment, guaranteed yield, and equalized wealth level, putting districts with low revenue targets back onto formula funding – we know enough now to determine that this provision only impacts the lowest WADA districts (about 350) districts in the state. We, (Humble ISD) along with about 70% of the districts in the state remain on a new total target revenue system, now frozen at the 2009 level of revenue.

Provides every district a minimum $120 per Weighted Average Daily Attendance (WADA) increase – this is the amount of new state funding we will receive, and it means an approximately $4 million increase for us in each of the next two years.

Provides an across-the-board educator pay raise of the greater of $800/year or each educator’s share of $60/WADA for the district and includes speech-pathologists in the educator pay raise – the $60/WADA here is how our teacher salary increases for next year will need to be calculated. So effectively, our “new additional funding from the state” for operating budget is actually $2 million in each of the next years!

Establishes a permanent “roll-forward” for the Existing Debt Allotment (EDA) program – this is a very good thing, but there was no increase in EDA funding.
Establishes a new program to guarantee bonds for new school construction – this will hopefully be very helpful to us as we begin to sell Bond 2008 bonds and pursue Bond 2008 needed projects.

Provides an additional $50 career/tech allotment for students in sequences leading to certification, and provides for funding of certification exam fees – we will realize some additional dollars here.

Provides funding for credit recovery classes for students – this too will get us a few more dollars.

So where are we with this now passed “school finance reform” legislation? W e are left with a system that did not improve our equity lot relative to WADA funding, and we will continue to have to confront deficit operating budgets over the next two years. So especially now, THANK YOU Humble ISD Community for passing the tax rate election this past year! That at least will keep us solvent through the next legislative session.

Humble ISD is  also now working with their legal counsel, as they assess whether or not to file suit against the state.

The legislature also passed a compromise Accountability bill. Unfortunately, it is going to take a few weeks to really decipher and understand how the new system will work, but it is very unfortunate, that this new legislation does not even come close to resembling what the Select Committee on Accountability recommended after a year of public hearings throughout the state!

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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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News Release: Texas Charter Schools Association Testimony on SB 3 (3/17/09)

Posted by Texas Education on March 17, 2009

Prepared Testimony of
David Dunn, Executive Director of the Texas Charter Schools Association
Before the Senate Education Committee regarding SB3
Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Good Morning Madam Chair and Members of the Committee.   I am David Dunn, the Executive Director of the Texas Charter Schools Association.  As you know, I returned home from the U.S. Department of Education to lead the Texas Charter Schools Association, or TCSA,  about six months ago. TCSA is the leading membership organization of effective charter schools of all types.  We proudly represent over 48,000 students in 251 charter schools across Texas — which equals over one-half of the students currently enrolled in Texas’ open enrollment charter schools.
This is the most exciting time I can remember for charter schools.  The very first school President and Mrs. Obama visited was a charter school.  In his address to Congress last month, and just last week in a major domestic policy speech the President again stressed charter schools as a powerful tool in education reform.  Performance-based accountability is the hallmark of charter schools.  Since the first charter school opened 18 years ago, the research has been crystal clear – we are making notable gains in student achievement serving a diverse population in urban, suburban, and rural settings.
On behalf of our members, I am pleased to testify in favor of Senate Bill 3. The TCSA applauds your work Chairman Shapiro, along with Representative Eissler and the Joint Select Committee on Accountability in addressing the needs of the 21st century workforce and ensuring our entire public school system thrives.  Senate Bill 3 represents a bold effort to improve the state’s accountability system.  TCSA certainly supports the major policy aims of the bill to ensure post-secondary readiness for the state’s high school graduates.

We are particularly pleased with the bill’s effort to create a growth standard in student achievement because a growth standard best depicts the progress students are making each year.  The adoption of a growth standard captures one of the highest policy priorities for charter schools this session. TCSA looks forward to working with members of the committee and your staffs to clearly define the growth standard and its relation to a charter school’s accreditation status.  Specifically, the manner in which the vertical scaling component is folded into the accountability system is very important to charter schools in Texas.

Next, TCSA is pleased to see financial accountability emphasized in this legislation.  As you know, financial accountability standards will be new for charter schools.  Because of this, there may be timing issues for ramping up charter school compliance with these new standards. A phased-in approach for the new financial standards might be most sustainable for charter schools. Whatever financial accountability standards are ultimately adopted for charter schools, our association will certainly provide training and services to help charter schools meet them to demonstrate proper stewardship of the state’s funds.

We have several other observations concerning the bill and its potential impact on the students enrolled in charter schools, but we will save them for later deliberations with you, your staffs and other stakeholders. Today, my aim is to pledge our continued engagement in the process to improve the bill as it seeks to improve the way the state measures educational achievement of charter school students. Thank you for allowing me time, I’m pleased to answer any questions that you might have at this time.

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Texas PTA Legislative Update – Bills of Interest

Posted by Texas Education on March 11, 2009

Blogging from a remote location…computer too slow, driving me crazy. Just in from Texas PTA. Lots here, pay attention!! 🙂 HB3 and SB 3 filed, everyone’s abuzz on VOTER ID BILL COULD IMPACT LEGISLATION IN SENATE, I’m certainly interested in SHAPIRO SEEKS TO END TOP 10% RULE, another concern of mine VOCATIONAL TRAINING SEES SUPPORT,oh, not so good STIMULUS PACKAGE STALLS LEGISLATURE, LEGISLATION AIMS TO TAKE FINANCIAL TOLL ON GANGS, do we really want to know about?- POLITICS 2010, and our good buddy Rep. Scott Hochberg HB 1297 Relating to optional flexible school day program courses offered by school districts to enable students to earn course credit under certain circumstances. Oh, and LEGISLATIVE REPORTS See below:

Texas Legislature considers changes to school accountability system HB3 and SB 3 Filed
Public schools may get relief from the high stakes of the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills in a proposed overhaul of the way Texas measures how well they are doing. The legislation would minimize the importance of the much-criticized standardized tests and instead encourage schools to prepare students for success after high school. Senate Education Committee Chairwoman Florence Shapiro, R-Plano, said school districts would be able to decide some of their own criteria for assessment.

The new system, which was called a work in progress, would be made up of two parts. One level would grade schools based on student achievement, completion rates and the district’s financial performance. The second level would grant “distinctions for excellence” based on measures like growth in student achievement, fine arts, physical fitness, second language learning and work-force readiness.

The 128-page bill would grade schools on students’ progress over time rather than on a one-time passing rate on state tests. It would eliminate the school ratings of exemplary, recognized, acceptable and unacceptable. Here are other features of the bill.

Schools would receive “accreditation status.” Districts and schools would be designated as accredited, accredited-warned and accredited probation. Those labels would be based on a variety of factors, including improvement in student test scores, drop-out rates and the financial accountability rating of the school as determined by the state.

Schools could also be evaluated on how they serve special populations, such as special education or limited-English students, and the effectiveness of their career and technology programs.

Students would not necessarily be required to pass the TAKS to be promoted. Districts can determine who is eligible to move on to the next grade.

Schools could earn “distinctions for excellence” in various areas including academics, work-force readiness, second-language learning, fine arts and physical fitness.

Three tracks for graduation would be created. The Texas and advance diploma would require four years of math, English and science. A standard diploma would allow students to take only three years of math. Physical education would no longer be a high school requirement, and students could take eight electives.

The higher education commissioner could award a grant up to $1 million to a college or university to develop advanced math and science courses to prepare high school students for jobs in high-demand fields. Associated Press

VOTER ID BILL COULD IMPACT LEGISLATION IN SENATE
The Senate is poised to debate the contentious issue of voter ID on March 10th. In a surprise move early in the session, the Senate voted along party lines to make an exception to the way they determine what bills may be heard on the floor of the Senate, identifying the voter ID bill as the only bill for which a 2/3 vote of the members of the Senate would NOT be required in order to hear the bill on the floor. The likely outcome if the bill is passed is a decrease in the collegiality for which the Senate is known, and the possibility that the session may descend into partisan fighting over most if not all legislation for the remainder of the session. In short this issue could negatively impact much of the proposed legislation this session. According to the current schedule the full Senate will likely vote on the issue by St. Patrick’s Day. The lawmakers are expected to vote along party lines.

SHAPIRO SEEKS TO END TOP 10% RULE
The Top 10 percent rule actually hurts Texas universities according to Sen. Florence Shapiro. The current bill filed by Shapiro marks the third time she has filed legislation to revise the 10% rule. If passed the proposal would limit the number of students admitted under the Top 10 percent rule to half the admitted class. Last session, the Senate passed its own hybrid version, with 60 percent admitted under the Top 10 percent rule. The bill was rejected in the House.

VOCATIONAL TRAINING SEES SUPPORT
Lawmakers have filed two bills which would strengthen vocational training programs in the state. Sen. Chris Harris’ bill would set up a fund to reward technical and community colleges that offer high-quality vocational and technical courses with grants. A second bill would create high-quality courses for high school students through a “best practices” clearinghouse and also reward school districts that support the development of vocational courses.

STIMULUS PACKAGE STALLS LEGISLATURE
With the possible injection of $17 billion in federal stimulus to Texas the current session has shifted form. Over six weeks ago lawmakers were worried about tapping into the over $9 billion rainy day fund to balance the budget. With this reversal the question now seems to center on how the money will be spent and when. Speaker Straus said publicly this week that it “would be up to the budget-writing Appropriations Committee to act on the recommendations of a newly formed panel, led by Democratic Rep. Jim Dunnam of Waco that is reviewing agencies’ plans for spending the stimulus dollars.” Adding to the confusion, Gov. Perry’s aides have said that they believe he can block some of the funds from the legislature, while lawmakers contend they have the authority to override any such decision. This could lead to a veto by Perry on any extra spending or programs he sees as unnecessary.

LEGISLATION AIMS TO TAKE FINANCIAL TOLL ON GANGS
A Texas lawmaker has proposed new legislation to crack down on crime stemming from Mexican drug cartels. Sen. John Carona, R-Dallas, filed a bill Thursday that would allow civil lawsuits against gangs, stiffer penalties for online gang recruiting and mandatory rehabilitation programs for young gang offenders. Carona, chairman of the Senate Committee on Transportation and Homeland Security, said his legislation would allow businesses, communities and parents to seek civil judgments and penalties against gangs to “cripple them financially.” Gov. Rick Perry urged the Legislature to pass the bill and to spend $135 million to continue crime-fighting efforts along the Texas-Mexico border. (Statesman)

POLITICS 2010
Democrat Tom Schieffer launched a committee on Monday that allows him to raise money for a possible run for governor. A former owner of the Texas Rangers, his bid has already hit its first impediment. Schieffer is a former Bush appointee (Ambassador to Japan) and that does not sit well with the base of the Democratic Party. David Mauro, a party activist and son of former state official Gary Mauro, recently created a website to draft Sen. Leticia Van De Putte as a candidate for governor saying, “I am very hesitant to let a Bush appointee use our place on the ballot when there is so much at stake for our state and for our party”. In what is already the most anticipated race of 2010, Schieffer is seen as the first serious challenger from the Democrats.

LEGISLATIVE REPORTS:
For information on all the bills being tracked by Texas PTA please click on the following links:

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Education! Education! Education!

Posted by Texas Education on March 10, 2009

President Obama delivered his Education Plan at the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce today, watch it in its entirety here. Grab a cup o’ joe, it’s over 3o minutes long. But, of course, I like what he has to say, and I only hope we can accomplish a portion of what he says.  I’m glad to see Education being put first, finally! Stimulus, mimulus, some are saying to put health care and education on a back burner (what have we been doing for the last 8 years?) and work on the economy. “WE CAN’T AFFORD TO PUT EDUCATION ON THE BACK BURNER ANY LONGER.”

He mentions 50 different benchmarks, crazy, I know! Why do we have that?  He is

“calling on our nations Governors and state education chiefs to develop standards and assessments that don’t simply measure whether students can fill in a bubble on a test, but whether they possess 21st century skills like problem solving,  critical thinking, and entrepreneurship, and creativity, that is what we’re gonna help them do later this year. When we finally make NCLB live up to it’s name by ensuring not only the teachers and principals get the funding that they need, but that the money is tied to results.”

He even mentions Houston, in a good way, I kid you not! He goes on to say,

“Of course, raising standards alone will not make much of a difference unless we provide teachers and principals with the information they need to make sure students are prepared to meet those standards. And far too few states have data systems like the one in Florida that keep track of a student’s education from childhood through college. And far too few districts are emulating the example of Houston and Long Beach and using data to track how much progress a student is making and where that student is struggling.”

Houston, an example? I’m sorry, but am I missing something? I certainly don’t mean to diss our great city, but I  seriously don’t get it. Maybe I’m in a situation where I only see the negative. We really have to work to find out “what is right with this situation,” or what is “good.” I’m all for what he is saying, I only hope we see some sort of change, progress, help even.  I also hope to be a major part of this enormous undertaking.

I totally agree with President Obama about tracking a student’s progress throughout his school career, instead of testing him/her – a good friend of mine, teacher, her own son called her from home throwing up on a TAKS day – on a day or two, judging whether he/she moves up to the next grade or judges a whole school based on a student’s test scores on one day’s testing.

I do hope our childrens’ futures will be brighter. I’m trying to see the glass as half full.

As most of you know, if you have received an email from me,“To achieve your best, get in over your head and rise to the top.” – Dr. Richard Tapia Professor of Computational Mathematics, Rice University. This is still my mantra!!!

Obama’s vision for a new education system

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Update on Humble ISD Legislative Committee – 3/9/09

Posted by Texas Education on March 9, 2009

Not a real busy night at the admin building. I was late because I was all a mess with the time change – yeah, sure 😉 But, most importantly, our message is…well, just that, our message. We are pulling our hair out trying to figure out how to get the message to the Lege…FUND OUR SCHOOLS!!! But…we must get our message out to the community to get our message out to the Lege. Well, thanks to Karen Collier, she’s quicker than me, some links to help you and more sample-letters-to-legislators to use to send to our legislators.

Here are links to the House and Senate Education Committee members:
House Education Committee (pdf)
Senate Committee (pdf)

Our group is following, and supports two bills:

1. House Bill 1555 – Rep. Diane Patrick, Ph.D. and the House sponsor of the only school finance bill filed at this time – HB 1555 (which is identical to SB 982). Rep. Patrick, which she titles “The Texas Public Schools Investment Act”. According to her, this act returns to a formula driven system where every student wins. The act is a fiscally responsible option for legislators to consider.The bill also:

· Restores local control through meaningful discretion

· Meets all three criteria of TEA Budget Rider 89

· Increases funding per weighted student (WADA)

· Cuts calculated recapture (Robin Hood) in half

· Provides method for property tax reduction


2. Senate Bill 982 – sponsored by Senators Leticia Van de Putte (D-San Antonio), Kevin Eltife (R-Tyler), and Royce West (D-Dallas)

Learned about a new website at the meeting to, to keep you updated on School Finance Equity & Adequacy in Texas called Equity Center.

Read more about HB1555 here and SB 982 here

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Humble ISD Legislative Committee – update 3/3/09

Posted by Texas Education on March 4, 2009

Below is a compilation of information the committee has put together for anyone interested in contacting any of our legislators, or writing letters to the editor of your local paper, or even major papers. Sorry, I did not update from our last meeting, but here are the results. Our next meeting is:fistmoney1

Monday, March 9
6:30 pm
Administration Building – Board room

Letter to Community Organizations, Local Media and Friends

March 3, 2009

Dear Humble ISD Residents and Business persons,

We have a very serious situation facing every person who lives in the Humble Independent School District area today. Despite the school tax increase that was approved in November 2008, and $27 million in school budget cuts in recent years (including $9 million for 2008-09 alone), Humble ISD is still in serious financial trouble. Humble ISD will become insolvent within 18-24 months unless it receives additional state funding or makes cutbacks that will lower the standard of education we have come to expect and also further depress our home values.

You may ask how this can be, given the budget cuts and increase in school taxes we have endured. The following is a summary of the issues causing this situation: State funding for education has been frozen at 2005 levels despite inflation.

Humble ISD’s State Funding allocation amount (WADA)—currently $4,937 per student per school year—is well below the state average. Compare this with other districts that have over $6,000 per student and the difference amounts to thousands of dollars per classroom.

Humble ISD does not receive any additional tax revenue from increased property values or new businesses that open in our fast-growing district.

Because ours is a fast-growing school district (#24 in Texas out of 1000+), Humble ISD must benefit from local property tax revenue growth without an equivalent reduction is state aid.

The bottom line is that Texas has a seriously flawed education funding system that needs to be overhauled. I am writing this letter to ask for your help in contacting your State Legislators to request a change to this outdated and inadequate State Education Funding system. Please try to do this by Friday, March 13th, 2009, which is an important deadline for the legislature.

No matter what, though, it is critical that we express our concern as quickly as possible!

We need increased state funding for Humble ISD and we need it NOW!

Sincerely,
Members of the District’s all-volunteer Legislative Committee and
Other Concerned Residents of Humble ISD

*For legislators’ contact information and a sample letter on the District’s website, click here*

**For more sample letters to state legislators, see attached sample-letter-1 and sample-letter-2 and sample-letter-3**

Suggested recipients (for phone, e-mail and/or letter) – and for more click  here:

Rep. Joe Crabb
1110 Kingwood Drive
Suite 200
Kingwood, Texas 77339
281-359-1270 (phone)
281-359-1272 (fax)
joe.crabb@house.state.tx.us
adrian.rocha@house.state.tx.us (chief of staff—Austin)
philip.ivy@house.state.tx.us (Kingwood office)

Sen. Tommy Williams
P.O. Box 8069
The Woodlands, Texas 77387-8069

281-364-9426 (phone)
281-364-9473 (fax)

tommy.williams@senate.state.tx.us
janet.steinben@senate.state.tx.us (chief of staff—Austin)
amanda.montagne@senate.state.tx.us

Many thanks to Margaret Fraissinet for putting all this together!

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Is school finance back on the table?

Posted by Texas Education on February 5, 2009

Sorry, to be a bit awol lately. There has been lots to rant and rave about, but I’ve been a bit under the weather, makes y0u kinda not want to do much. But, with the brisk weather, along with coughing less and feeling a bit better, onto more important things:

There is an article out of Austin By Kate Alexander from the AMERICAN-STATESMAN.

It usually takes a judge to compel Texas lawmakers to tackle the thorny issue of school finance reform.

But several key legislators say there is no reason to wait for a lawsuit to fix the well-known flaws in how Texas pays for its schools.

“I would like to get off that treadmill,” Senate Finance Committee Chairman Steve Ogden, R-Bryan, said Wednesday.
The aim will be to pass legislation that addresses the immediate problems and sets a course to remedy the long-term issues that often land the state in court, Ogden said.

Education Committee Chairwoman Florence Shapiro, R-Plano, also backed the idea of addressing the fairness issues in the school finance system now.

Can it be, can it really be true???? Not to say I’ve given up hope, but I feel I’m running out of steam, in more ways than one. Beating your head up against the wall is not my way of encouraging, nor is it fun.

Read the rest of this entry »

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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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