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School woes not your fault Govenor Perry?

Posted by Texas Education on March 10, 2011

Rick Perry In case you didn’t know, the reason
Guv Dude isn’t ponying up any dollars for education, isn’t because there isn’t any money, it’s because the Republican Party doesn’t want to FUND public education. Plain and simple! Doesn’t matter if in one breath he is saying we need to create jobs in Texas, and then out of the other we are laying off upwards of 100,000 teachers  in the next two years. That is not his FAULT! At least, that’s his story and he’s sticking to it! See today’s chonicle article! “…the state’s not to blame if teachers lose their jobs…”

I guess there was a reason I came to Texas, I hear stories all the time where someone says they knew from the time they were little they were going to be a teacher. I will admit, I am not one of those people. I subbed at my kids’ schools, and gradually knew I could do that. And I did, even my dh said one day to me after I had finished some tests (and passed I might add) “I didn’t think you could do it!” And frankly, you would think I would have been a bit upset by that, but, I didn’t think I could do it either! So there! But, I have become an education activist in Texas, and then went on to get five certifications and I’m certified to teach Teen Leadership!

I tried last November to get my friends (most are teachers and most vote Republican, why I don’t honestly know) but, alas, you voted this moron (oh forgive me for the words I use.) But, I call a spade a spade, and this is what we have to deal with. Now, maybe you will vote in representatives that are on your side. Why can’t I, and others, get it through peoples heads the Republicans are not for the people, they don’t want their tax dollars, hell, they don’t want their money funding your kids’ education! That’s the attitude they’ve got.

This is their beliefs: “Dominionists believe the federal government should recede into the background. This would be achieved through massive tax cuts. Then the Church would assume responsibliltly for welfare and education. Tax cuts, Faith-based initiatives and school vouchers are the cornerstone of Bush administration domestic policies and recommended in the Texas GOP Platform. These policies are putting the U.S. on the path toward becoming what the Platform calls a “Christian” nation.” So, unless you are religious, you are SOL when it comes to your child’s education, in their books, anyway.

Is this what we need? (I don’t really want the fight, but they asked for it.) The Republicans can not do this, and the public roll over and take it, whether they are Democrats or Republicans, the parents! I just wish they would have seen this coming (like we did) and voted for Bill White. He would not have let this happen, I guarantee it! He would not have turned his back on the people of Texas like this!

source: http://www.theocracywatch.org/texas_gop.htm

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Posted in In-the-news, leadership, learning, say what???, teachers, teen leadership, texas education, Texas schools, Texas State Legislature, Uncategorized | Tagged: , | 1 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 »

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 »

Texas PTA update – 3/20/09

Posted by Texas Education on March 20, 2009

Just in from the Texas PTA:

BILL UPDATES

ACCOUNTABILITY
There was a hearing this week on SB 3 and HB 3, the filed bills on school accountability. We will have more information for you over the next few days and weeks, but here are a few pieces:
  • The bill creates a distinction tier for excellence in a variety of areas – growth in achievement, closing the gaps, workforce readiness, fine arts, physical fitness, second language learning. Texas PTA requested that this be included so that school districts would be encouraged to provide robust, challenging programs in fine arts and physical activity/fitness.  Schools can earn distinctions in multiple areas.
  • To earn a Post-secondary Readiness endorsement, the goal for all Texas high school graduates, where students complete 4 years of English, Math, Science and Social Studies, 2 foreign language credits and 8 credits or electives of their own choosing. Career and Technology courses, approximately 30 of them, would be allowed to count for 4th year of math and science. The bill also recommends the creation of new applied math and science courses.
  • The bill defines college readiness standards and skilled workforce readiness standards.
  • To maintain accreditation, student achievement or growth in individual student achievement toward post-secondary readiness would be assessed each year, but a 3 year rolling average for each student subpopulation would be allowed.
  • The bill aligns exit standards with skilled workforce and college readiness standards.

ENVIRONMENTAL
Rep. Diane Patrick, Arlington, has filed HB 4208 relating to school bus idling.

STATEWIDE SMOKE-FREE WORKPLACES LAW
Late last week, Rep. Senfronia Thompson, Houston, filed HB 3415, an alternative to HB 5 and SB 544, the comprehensive statewide smoke-free workplaces law that Texas PTA has endorsed.

OTHER SMOKING RELATED LEGISLATION
Sen. Hegar, Katy, has filed SB 2327, relating to a prohibition on smoking in a car in which a person under age 16 is riding.

SAFETY
We’ll put in a card of support for HB 149, regarding penalties for illegally passing a school bus.  We’ll put in a card of support for HB 1622, relating to a grant program to provide children at risk of hunger or obesity with increased access to nutritious foods.

FUNDING
Senator Shapiro, Plano, has filed SB 2392 relating to school finance.  This bill adjusts formulas that determine funding for school districts.

VOUCHERS
Sen. Shapiro, Plano, has again filed a voucher bill – SB 2204 relating to vouchers for students with autism.

Vondebar (wonderful!) some awesome bills filed on behaf of our kiddos!

Posted in accountability, financing, learning, Texas PTA, vouchers | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Not on the Test

Posted by Texas Education on March 18, 2009

Just for fun: Not on the test a little diddy from Tom Chapin, you will get a kick!

Posted in fun stuff, learning, teaching | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

How do you teach?

Posted by Texas Education on March 15, 2009

I must say, my new found love, Twitter, has exposed me to many new exciting opportunities, friends, and most importantly, knowledge. I was reading up on blogs, one of the keys, it said, to get more traffic, is to blog on something where people can come away with gaining knowledge of something. Isn’t that what it should be about anyway? Well, as always, I digress. One of my new found twitterers, and teacher, has an awesome blog, and today she writes about,Off the Beaten Path. But, not only did I learn something new, I found out a bit about myself. Kelly writes,

Think about it…What are teachers asked to do? We have a scripted agenda that requires that every student see thirteen cities (or grade levels) in 13 years. As we pass through each city, we point things out to students that are on the list of approved sites. It’s “drive by learning” at its fullest.

Ok, sure, true! She goes on…

But wait…Have you ever been on one of those tours? You sit in a bus all day long. They let you out for a little lunch (in a designated location) and some recess (maybe a guided museum tour or some shopping). You see it all, and you experience nothing. If you stray off the prescribed path to follow a sound or smell that interests you, you are chided by the tour guide. Heaven forbid you return to the bus a minute later than the agenda states because “we just won’t make it to our next stop on time.” When you get home from one of these trips, what emotional and sensory connections have you made? Have you created authentic memories of your experience or have you simply created a slideshow of stagnant photo clips?

But, then she makes you think,

I don’t know about you, but…The year(s) that I get to have students on my bus tour of a new grade and curriculum will not be a time to strap on their seat belts and watch out the window. I don’t want students’ time with me to be merely a checklist of sites to see. I want them to get off the bus, wander down a side street, stop and have a local dish, and chat with the natives. I don’t want memories to simply be a photo. They should include a sensory immersion into curriculum and culture, one that is rich in authentic and self-constructed meaning. I don’t even mind if we get lost once in a while, for it is in those un-scripted moments that we learn the most about the place in which we are immersed (and have the most fun). In each year of schooling, just as in foreign travel, there are things to see, people to meet, and new languages to learn. This cannot be achieved from the inside of a bus.

I always thought I would be in trouble not teaching the TEKS, and of course, I believe I’m right, but it’s sooo easy for me to venture off the beaten path, when teaching…surprised?

Posted in accountability, fun stuff, learning, teaching | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Relationships and rigor

Posted by Texas Education on March 15, 2009

Reading David Brooks piece in today’s Houston Chronicle. (Though, that link takes you to the NY times on Thursday – couldn’t seem to find it in the chon.) Don’t even usually blog on Sunday’s, usually everyone is resting up for the week, but I’m pumped, for a number of reasons…I won’t bore you with here.

When he was a boy, his mother would wake him up at 4:30 to tutor him for a few hours before he went off to school. When young Barry complained about getting up so early, his mother responded: “This is no picnic for me either, Buster.”

That experience was the perfect preparation for reforming American education because it underlines the two traits necessary for academic success: relationships and rigor.

I’ve learned, relationships are the key in education. Friday, when I subbed at the school that I taught at last year, I saw some of my former students (a couple that made me earn my $$$) come up to me, big smiles, hugs, the whole nine yards, actually making a scene. Don’t think I wasn’t eating that up!!! Boosted my self-esteem ten – fold. Even though we had difficult times (those two I referred to earlier,) sleeping, checking out stuff we shouldn’t be looking at, at school, let alone in class, etc., they still have a big smile, a hug and warm wishes for me. (Yeah, that’s what we love about teaching.) Asked if I was coming back…I wish!

We’ve spent years working on ways to restructure schools, but what matters most is the relationship between one student and one teacher. You ask a kid who has graduated from high school to list the teachers who mattered in his life, and he will reel off names. You ask a kid who dropped out, and he will not even understand the question. Relationships like that are beyond his experience.

This is what really caught me. How true a statement. So, those two young men who I saw in the hall, got a hug from – one even introduced me to his girlfriend – the other came back from California (was worried about him being in gangs when I heard he was going out there) are, still in school, and apparently, doing better than last year. I would have loved to have still been there to watch my students continue to grow, succeed and excel.

Of course, Brooks goes on to talk about the other side, the rigor.

As Education Secretary Arne Duncan told me, “We’ve seen a race to the bottom. States are lying to children. They are lying to parents. They’re ignoring failure, and that’s unacceptable. We have to be fierce.”

Obama’s goal is to make sure results have consequences. He praises data sets that “tell us which students had which teachers so we can assess what’s working and what’s not.” He also aims to reward states that use data to make decisions. He will build on a Bush program that gives states money for merit pay so long as they measure teachers based on real results. He will reward states that expand charter schools, which are drivers of innovation, so long as they use data to figure out which charters are working.

Brooks sums it up well, “There’s reason to think that this week’s impressive speech will be followed by real and potentially historic action.”

Posted in accountability, In-the-news, leadership, learning, national education, teachers, teaching | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Educators using technology to improve writing

Posted by Texas Education on March 14, 2009

And here I thought I was going to take a rest from the computer over the weekend and then one of my twitter friends goes and sends me a fantastic article on technology, classroom AND writing!!! The sub title (if that’s what it is called, I think so) “Students must learn that there’s a lot of difference between writing for classroom and for Facebook.” This is what I’ve been saying. They love technology, know how to use it, but…..they don’t know how to use it to benefit them in the business world/ job world.

As middle and high school students finished their state-required writing exams this week, a new report outlined the need to change how writing is taught in schools.

Ummm…change, did I hear change? We need to get out of the ’60s and into the, what 21st century…finally?  I do believe it will happen…finally!!!!

The idea is that students spend more time writing outside class on computers and cellphones and that teachers should tap that interest and find ways to merge the two rather than focusing on research papers, essays, journal or letter writing.

“So much of it [students’ online writing] is so shallow and repetitious,” said Sandy Hayes, past chairwoman of the council’s middle-level section and a 36-year teaching veteran.

“It is that dilemma of how do we bridge the gap between quick, shallow writing and thoughtful, based-on-information writing.”

This is certainly change I/we can all believe in. This will strengthen how kids will learn, embracing the fast paced technology with education. I tired to do that in my classes last year. Warm-ups were journals. I wanted them to use correct punctuation, capitals, correct spelling (not txt msg) but, it never really happened. I kept beating my head against the wall. But, if all the teachers are doing this, we are all teaching them to do this…umm…could be.

Posted in learning, new stuff, teaching, technology | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

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:

Posted in accountability, Ethics, financing, funding, Good Stuff, good stuff - not so much, leadership, learning, Texas PTA, Texas schools | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

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

Posted in accountability, Ethics, financing, funding, Good Stuff, Higher Ed, leadership, learning, national education, teachers, teaching, texas education, Texas schools | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »