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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 »

Capturing Kids’ Hearts is coming to Humble ISD

Posted by Texas Education on April 16, 2009

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

Capturing Kids’ Hearts Professional Development

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

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

In other action, the Board approved:

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

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


Posted by Texas Education on April 7, 2009

Last night was the first night for a new show on MSNBC, called The Ed Show! Hosted by Veteran talk radio host Ed Schultz. The show debates and discusses issues affecting all Americans. In this video “Rebuilding America,” Ed discusses how we’ve spent money on Education and where President Obama will spend money on Education. He starts on Education at about 4:33 minutes into it, he talks about education:

“I believe that the conservatives have vilified public education, they have short changed teachers, they have short changed facilities, and now we’ve got ourselves in a pickle, and all the conservative talkers in America you know what they do? ‘Public Education’s terrible, it will never work, we’ve got to push this school voucher thing.’ …I believe that we have to give an equal opportunity to every American if we’re going to be the great county we once were.”

Posted in accountability, Ethics, financing, leadership, national education, teachers, teaching, vouchers | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

This could happen to Texas schools

Posted by Texas Education on April 7, 2009

And we thought things were bad in Texas – and they are – but in South Carolina, their governor is planning on not taking stimulus money for education. Oh, my my!! I’m sorry, let me rephrase that, he is accepting stimulus money, just not going to give any to public education. See what kind of shape their schools are in…highlighted in the last paragraph. I find it interesting it’s the Republican governors who are not using the money to help middle America or our schools.

Governor Mark Sanford’s last-minute decision to accept federal stimulus dollars – but not send public schools their share – increases pressure on South Carolina districts faced with eliminating jobs next year, State Superintendent of Education Jim Rex said today.

Rex said that continuing uncertainty over federal assistance would force school districts to build budgets for next year based on their worst-case scenarios.

“Things are no clearer today than they were yesterday,” Rex said. “The situation is still confusing and contentious, and districts can’t postpone their budget process indefinitely while they wait for this political drama to play out.”


South Carolina schools have absorbed $387 million in cuts throughout this year, leaving many districts with few alternatives except to consider cuts to their most important assets – their classroom teaching positions. Eighty to 90 percent of a typical school district’s budget is made up of salaries, with most of those salaries going to classroom teachers.

Posted in national education, teachers, teaching, 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 »

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 »

Breaking News from TFN: A Big Win, but…

Posted by Texas Education on January 22, 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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

Today, I urge you to take 2 actions:

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

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

Kathy Miller

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


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

Make a donation to support the work of TFN.

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