Texas Education

Blog on Texas Education

Posts Tagged ‘Laura Ewing’

Take a thorough look

Posted by Texas Education on March 28, 2009

strausThat’s what our lege leader, Joe Straus, said about the SBOE. Wow, likin’ this guy more and more.

The Texas Legislature should “take a thorough look” at changing the structure of the embattled Texas State Board of Education, maybe changing it to a nonpartisan or appointed board, Texas House Speaker Joe Straus told the Star-Telegram Editorial Board Friday.

Straus said: “I think it’s unfair that the State Board of Education makes so much news in the manner that they make it.” Besides the board’s handling of science standards, Straus said, “I have some other concerns about that elected body having so much management authority over significant dollars,” referring to investments of the Permanent School Fund.

He said it would be “interesting” to look at nonpartisan board elections. Straus also brought up changing back to an appointed board.

“I’ve spoken to some people who were leaders in the effort to make it an elected board, and they’re very sorry,” he said.

Wow, I’d like to see that happen. And we get some not so wackos on it this time ’round, maybe say….Laura Ewing?

Posted in FYI, leadership, SBOE | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

More on SBOE sessions

Posted by Texas Education on January 26, 2009

From Laura Ewing~

SBOE Actions Continue to Reinforce Concerns:

As I observed the SBOE sessions on January 22 and 23, 2009, my concern continued to increase over the members’ disregard for process and fair play. The actions simply add fuel to the reasons that Ellis introduced a bill to remove all legislatively given powers to the SBOE.

1. Why did the majority of the board vote on a substitute statement for the biology TEKS when that statement simply re-introduced the original evolution issue?
The original biology TEKS wording states:
Scientific processes. The student uses critical thinking and scientific problem solving to make informed decisions. The student is expected to:
(A) Analyze, review, and critique scientific explanations, including hypotheses and theories, as to their strengths and weaknesses using scientific evidence and information; “

The majority of SBOE members voted against the above statement on Thursday. Yet, the majority voted to add several amendments to the TEKS, including, (2) Scientific processes. The student uses scientific methods and equipment during field and laboratory investigations. The student is expected to:
A. know the definition of science and understand its limitations. (7) Science concepts. The student knows evolutionary theory is a scientific explanation for the unity and diversity of life. The student is expected to:
B. describe the sufficiency or insufficiency of common ancestry to explain the sudden appearance, stasis and sequential nature of groups in the fossil record.

My three concerns are that (1) “sufficiency and insufficiency” is simply a substitute statement for “strengths and weaknesses.” (2) The new student expectations apply directly to evolution. (3) Several noted scientists in attendance expressed concern that this statement does not really make sense.

The second reading and final vote for the Science TEKS will be in March.

2. Why did 4/5 of the Committee on School Finance/Permanent School Fund vote to hire a company that charged twice as much as the others?
Agenda item: Approval of the Selection of a Firm to Provide Investment Counsel Services for the Permanent School Fund and Authorization for Contract Execution by the Commissioner of Education.

There were three firms brought forward for consideration.
• Kuhns, with the highest rating, requested an annual fee of approximately $430,000. They currently hold the contract with TEA.
• Kenupp, with the middle rating, requested an annual fee of approximately $418,000.
• New England Trust, with the lowest rating of the three, requested an annual fee of approximately $1,000,000.

The newly appointed committee, which included members who had no prior experience working directly with these issues, voted 4 to 1 to recommend hiring New England Trust. Bradley, Nunez, Agosto, and Dunbar voted for. Lowe voted against.
On Friday, the full SBOE voted to postpone the decision till the March meeting.

Two notes of concern: 1. The PSF investments were not found to be tainted by the Madoff Scandal. However, New England had made investments with Madoff. Does this bode well for their decision-making process? 2. Why did the committee vote to end a contractual agreement with a firm (Kuhns) that has a strong reputation for integrity and knowledge and enter into a contract with a company (New England) that will charge twice as much?

One last note: the committee on School Finance/Permanent School Fund does have long agendas to discuss at every meeting. So, they are going to meet during the off months in Austin so they have more time to deliberate. While I agree that they need more time, will this reduce the transparency of their deliberations and decisions?

3. Why did one PSF committee member not recuse himself from the votes when he had a conflict of interest?
Mr. Agosto, SBOE District 3, held a meeting with New England Trust. He stated that this meeting had to do with his personal business and not that of the SBOE. An internal audit was conducted, and it was recommended that because of his business dealings with the firm that Mr. Agosto recuse himself from the discussions and votes. He did not do so. Furthermore, when Geraldine Miller attempted to raise concerns about his participating in the process, Mr. McLeroy told her that her comments were not pertinent to the discussion on the selection of a firm to provide investment counsel services. I believe her discussion was very pertinent.

4. Why does the greater metropolitan Houston area have only 6 teachers on the social studies TEKS committee?
The social studies TEKS are the next ones to undergo the refinement process. Educators, parents and community members were encouraged to apply to serve the refinement committees. Each member of the SBOE pulls from those applications and makes his/her own nominations. However, only 6 people (all from Conroe) have been included from Houston and its suburbs. The region with the largest population was not included because its representatives (Dunbar, Leo and Allen) did not appoint anyone. Bradley only appointed two community members from Lumberton, which is not even in the district he represents, District 7. So, our district has NO representation in the TEKS refinement process.

5. What are some possible changes to the SBOE?
Six of us met with Representative Howard on January 22 to recommend possible changes to the SBOE. Those suggestions are here here.

Posted in learning, SBOE, texas education, Texas schools | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

The Election: Glimmers of Hope Light the Way for Hard Work Ahead

Posted by Texas Education on November 6, 2008

A note from the Texas Freedom Network:

Tuesday’s elections were a sharp rebuke at the national level to the religious right’s extremism. Even in Texas, a number of foot soldiers for the religious right went down to defeat, including state Rep. Bill Zedler, R-Arlington. In a critical State Board of Election (SBOE) race in southeast Texas, Republican incumbent David Bradley — a ringleader of the far-right faction that controls the board — had to fight hard to keep his seat against a stout challenge from Democrat Laura Ewing, a strong advocate of public education and religious freedom. In addition, two-thirds of candidates endorsed by the Texas Freedom Network won their races.

Despite that progress, however, the election results show that much hard work lies ahead. And we need your help!

It appears that the religious right has retained its smothering influence over public policy in the state. We anticipate hard battles over public education, promising stem cell research and other critical, mainstream issues in the 2009 Legislature. Just as important is that far-right extremists who oppose teaching about evolution, promote failed “abstinence-only-until-marriage” policies on sex education and censor our schoolchildren’s textbooks still control the State Board of Education.

You can do three things right now to help the Texas Freedom Network win the battle for mainstream values like strong public schools, religious freedom and civil liberties.

1) Donate to the Texas Freedom Network and help fund our critical work to counter the threat that the religious right poses to the values we all share. You can make a one-time gift  by clicking here or click here to become a TFN Freedom Fighter by signing up for a regular monthly donation of any size.

SUFS2) Click here to sign up for a TFN Rapid Response Team. TFN will keep team members updated on critical issues and how they can take direct action to make a difference at the Legislature and the SBOE.

3) Click here to sign on to the Stand Up for Science petition and campaign. Our campaign opposes efforts by the SBOE’s far-right faction to water down instruction on evolution and undermine the science education of Texas schoolchildren. Our kids deserve a 21st-century science education in their public school classrooms.


Posted in accountability, Ethics, leadership, texas education | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Secretary of State Asked To Declare Candidate Ineligible

Posted by Texas Education on October 25, 2008

Laura Ewing for State Board of Education

Texas Secretary of State Hope Andrade has been asked to declare long-time State Board of Education member David Bradley ineligible to serve on the Board should he win reelection to the body November 4.

A formal letter has been sent to Sec. Andrade by Houston attorney Chad Dunn. In it, he details the fact that Bradley has not lived in the district he represents as required by state law since at least 2000. (SBOE District 7 includes Galveston, Jefferson and Chambers Counties, a portion of Brazoria County, and a large portion of East and South Harris County.)

Bradley has alienated even his fellow Republicans with his extremist views. His Democratic challenger is Laura Ewing, a Friendswood educator who is running an aggressive campaign against the long-time incumbent who was first elected in 1996.

Ewing — who has been endorsed by the Houston Chronicle, Beaumont Enterprise and many others groups — is currently airing a hard-hitting television ad that calls for Bradley to be “expelled” from the School Board. The ad can be viewed at http://www.ewingfortexas.com.

Bradley’s ineligibility stems from the fact he actually lives in Buna in Jasper County, where he claims a homestead exemption. His voter’s registration lists a Beaumont office as his residence, along with his wife and two adult children.

“David Bradley has either lied to officials in Jasper County or Jefferson County, but the indisputable fact is that he has knowingly filed a false government document with at least one official agency,” Ewing said.

This is not Bradley’s first brush with the law, as Ewing noted in her TV ad. He was indicted by a Travis County Grand Jury for violating the state’s Open Meetings Law, and more recently was investigated by a Jefferson County Grand Jury. He was forced to close at least one business for failure to pay taxes.

“It would be bad enough if Bradley were just lying about his legal residence, but his service on the Board has been deplorable,” Ewing said. “He has bullied fellow Board members and even bragged about “slapping teachers” who oppose his extremist politics.”

Ewing also noted that Bradley recently received a $5,000 contribution almost a quarter of his campaign funds from a New York City financial adviser. Coincidentally, Bradley has led the effort for an early review of a lucrative financial services contract now being provided to the SBOE by another firm.

“David Bradley has never been about doing the right thing for our children. He has such disdain for public schools that his own children were home-schooled,” Ewing said. “It’s time we elect someone less interested in taking care of his cronies and imposing his political will on our teachers.”

Ewing, of Friendswood, is a career educator with a master’s degree in educational leadership. She is the parent of of a public school educated student.

For further information, contact:
Laura Ewing, (281) 992-9674 or Laura Ewing for SBOE

Posted in accountability, Ethics, In-the-news, leadership, texas education | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

State Board of Education Member Bullies Teachers and Other Board Members

Posted by Texas Education on October 17, 2008

Wow, this says a lot. I just hope enough people see it to vote in someone who can help our kids and NOT someone who bullies and literally mistreats our teachers.

The most important race in Texas for our students’ education is in State Board of Education District 7 between David Bradley and Laura Ewing.   David Bradley is the incumbent.  Mr. Bradley is in insurance for a business while Ewing is a career educator in the public schools.  Mr. Bradley is trying to further his ideological agenda while Laura Ewing wants to improve schools in Texas.

As reported in The Examiner, Bradley ignored three years of work by teachers and experts on a new language arts curriculum. He proposed instead that the board adopt a different curriculum patched together overnight by social conservatives and slipped under hotel room doors the morning of the vote. Teachers and curriculum experts said the substitute was far too rigid, outdated and poorly organized, but the Bradley faction had the numbers and the motion passed. Bradley later bragged in the press that he had “spanked” the teachers.

“It was demeaning, degrading and demoralizing,” said Alana Morris, past president of the Texas Council of Teachers of English Language Arts. “Bradley was just like a playground bully with anyone who disagreed with him. He was condescending and even turned his back on teachers who were speaking.”

Now information has surfaced about Mr. Bradley becoming physical with Cynthia A. Thornton, former District 10 representative on the SBOE.  She described her encounters with Bradley for The Examiner.  “As I went to the restroom and walked around his chair, he actually grabbed me and told me to keep my G.D. mouth shut,” she exclaimed.  After a second unpleasant encounter, a uniformed officer of the Capitol Police was always present when the board was in session.

Recently, Bradley addressed the Jefferson County Republican Women’s luncheon with the charge that Ewing wants to put a Muslim curriculum in our public schools. His “proof?” Ewing participated in a study group that traveled to north and east Africa and India to study Islamic history and culture. The trip was sanctioned by Gov. Rick Perry because it is a “state of Texas requirement that sixth-grade world cultures classes as well as high school level world geography and world history classes teach about the impact of Christian, Jewish and Islamic religions and culture on contemporary society.” Bradley tried to further prove his allegation by waving a photo of a group that includes Ewing posing in front of the Taj Mahal, a far cry from the implied suggestion that Ewing wants to turn your neighborhood elementary school into a madrassa.

This is the last straw!  We have got to stop this man from dictating his personal agenda to students across Texas.  Vote Ewing for SBOE!  http://ewingfortexas.com/

Read the story – http://www.theexaminer.com/npps/story.cfm?ID=2707

Posted in accountability, Ethics, In-the-news, leadership, texas education | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

SBOE – candidate

Posted by Texas Education on August 6, 2008

Well, I met Laura Ewing tonight! What a delightful lady. She stands for all the things we need in an SBOE Representative – District 7. Here is Laura Ewing’s bio:

Do you remember that one special teacher who helped you become the person you are today? One teacher who helped to change your life and opened your eyes? For more than 30 years Laura Ewing has been in the classroom and touched the lives of thousands of students. She’s taught our children how to change the world, and now she’s ready to show them how it’s done in her campaign for the Texas State Board of Education. Laura Ewing knows how to put education first since she’s been doing it for her entire career.

After teaching students from Houston, Fort Bend, Clear Creek, Spring and Cypress Fairbanks about American Civics, Laura knows how government is supposed to work. And with a Masters in Education, she also knows the importance of making our students’ education the number one priority for our State Board of Education. As a curriculum specialist in Pearland and an UHCL adjunct professor, Laura also helped teachers find their way around the classroom and has helped shape the way our classrooms operate.

Having helped so many students along the way, Laura has been honored with a long list of awards including “Teacher of the Year,” “Supervisor of the Year,” and the “Award for Excellence in the Teaching of Private Enterprise.” Laura’s many years of service and expertise have been recognized all over the country and all over the world. From Washington D.C. and Los Angeles to India, London and East Africa. Laura has been instrumental in bringing our schools to the forefront in every community she visits.

Laura has also been a dedicated public servant having been elected and re-elected to the Friendswood City Council. She and her husband John are members of Friendswood United Methodist Church where she organizes the yearly Christmans and Thanksgiving food and gift drives, and also teaches Sunday school.

Laura has already committed her life to the classroom since she earned her B.S. in Education from the University of Texas in 1975 and a Master’s degree in Administration at University of Houston in 1997. Her support of public education extends to enrolling her own son in public schools. It’s time to put education first and elect Laura Ewing to the State Board of Education in November.

Vote for Laura Ewing!!

Posted in accountability, Ethics, leadership, Texas schools | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »