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Texas Education

Posted by Texas Education on January 1, 2009

Yes, I could have put Happy New Year! But, felt like using my namesake, um. This morning I wanted to do some reflecting on 2008 and looking ahead into 2009. I know I said I was on vaca till school resumed, but since it is only hours into the new year…here I am, lacking sleep and my mind racing. Rang in the new year with friends (thanks Deb!!) celebrated my 22nd wedding anniversary, yesterday, and today will celebrate my youngest turning 17! Each end of the year is momentous for us, though my husband and I never celebrate our anniversary, I did get a very “romantic” card this year. Ok, enough personal reflecting.

I don’t want to do much reflecting on 2008 because about the only thing that comes to mind is…oh crap! On a personal, professional and even what I blog for, on a state level. I don’t know about you, but 2008 was not a kind year for Texas Education, myself or the state.

Two thousand and eight! Seems we (Texas education and the national economy) kept slipping into the pit of hell, and we are still falling. The elections were not kind to Texas education (just a personal opinion, but only time will tell if I am right.) Now, on a national level, I have warm fuzzies going on. I feel optimistic and hopeful that we will get our heads focused in the right direction and put education first and foremost.

I was just talking with a friend (teacher friend) the other day, we hadn’t seen each other for quite sometime. She and I met when we both were first year teachers at Oak Village (in North Forest ISD.) She is an Humble ISD employee now and her school was hit pretty hard with the cut backs. She said her first year with Humble was pretty good, last year. She had 110 students two periods off and got through her first year at Humble ISD, pretty much unscathed. This year, much different. Her school had many layoffs and I asked her that that must have put a burden on the teachers left, duh! Oh, yes, she told me that she has 150 students, 52 which are either ESL or Special Ed and she has to do paperwork on them every day. She said she has a co-teacher, but he/she is ready for retirement and doesn’t do much for her in the classroom. She also has her two off periods next to each other, which makes for practically no breaks. All of this along with more duties, morning, even one day on her lunch, and afterschool. And of course, along with the usual, lesson plans, discipline, parent phone calls and conferences, and all the other teacher duties.

Ok, my purpose for this little story, to “educate” the community as to what some teachers go through. Back when I used to sub, pretty much full time, I was working everyday, I saw what the teachers did and said to my self, “self, I can do that.” So I went through the teacher certification program, passed all my tests and worked on getting a district. North Forest took me in. Little did I know that, until you walk in someones shoes (yes, a cliché) you do not know what they go through. Teachers make it look easy, they take what you give them, make it work, and do it with a smile, each and every day.

I do have high hopes the Obama administration will do what is right, ethical and good for k12 education.   I also hear education is on the agenda for the state, though I’m not holding my breath that we will see any relief this coming year. But, I will stay optimistic!

Ok, the sun is up, my fingers are tired, and I’m going to get breakfast. Good luck to anyone who reads this. I hope only good things for everyone and hope that things will turn around for all in the year 2009.

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Posted in Good Stuff, personal, teaching, ummm... | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Homeschooling – as controversial as vouchers

Posted by Texas Education on August 9, 2008

Parents may home-school children without teaching credential, California court says

Gov. Schwarzenegger praises the reversal by the 2nd District Court of Appeal as a victory for students and parental rights. This from the L.A. Times…I will put it here, for the record, I am totally against homeschooling, without accountability. Hey, with me it’s all about accountability, and homeschooling is no exception. There are some, probably most, who of the homeschoolers, are more than qualified, or at least have done a decent, if not better job than the public or even private schools. So my thoughts are, what are you afraid of? If you are legitimately teaching your kids, there should not be problem taking any tests other kids in the state face. If I were to have homeschooled my kids, and the thought did cross my mind once or twice, I would have certainly wanted to know if I was doing my kids justice. This is why I can’t understand why everyone is so up in arms about there being some accountability, checks and balances, tests, you name it. I feel it just keeps everyone honest, and excludes those who are just trying to circumvent the laws in the state. Here for full story. And I’ve included a couple of the comments on this story, one which, as usual, ties Texas to a story.

Discussion

Should parents be allowed to home school their children without a teaching credential?

1. Are private school REQUIRED to have credentialed teachers? Not in Texas. Probably not in any state. Most people would not avail themselves of such schools, still, you could establish a private school and hire whomever you wanted as long as you didn’t ask the state to accredit your school. Home school is recognised as a form of private school in Texas.
Submitted by: Ruby
12:05 PM PDT, Aug 9, 2008

2. I home-schooled two boys both of whom have graduated from universities. One with honors. Both are self-sufficient fully functioning adults in their late 20’s. I am not affilitated with any religious organization. I don’t believe for a minute that a state supreme court would reverse itself for other than legal arguments.
Submitted by: Ruby
11:57 AM PDT, Aug 9, 2008

3. California’s courts are a joke. Most of the other states are like Nevada where parent teaching is absolutely permitted. Teaching credentials are a joke..most teachers could not cut it in the real world where they would have to work 40 hours a week.
Submitted by: RonNV
11:37 AM PDT, Aug 9, 2008

HA! I’d like to know who RonNV is. Forty hours a week, and couldn’t cut it. HA! Does he realize teachers “teach” a minimum of 40 hours a week? That’s the time, as I call it, we are “on stage.” You know “show time,” when the bell rings. I was spending 50 hours a week, minimum, just on campus. That didn’t count all the time I spent at home, either grading (tons of that stuff) preparing, or even reading email. He certainly does not know a teacher, ’cause if he did, he’d know, teachers are dedicated individuals, a different animal. I’m sure, like any profession, there are exceptions, but from what I’ve witnessed in the last decade, I’m very impressed with teachers.

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HIGHER COST OF HIGHER EDUCATION

Posted by Texas Education on July 10, 2008

Complaints rising right along with tuition, fees
Legislators feel the heat, wonder if deregulation needs new look
I’ve not mention higher ed here, yet. But, ladies and gentlemen, here it is in all it’s glory. This has been an ever increasing sore thumb, if you will, ever since the deregulation.
Gov. Rick Perry still supports public college tuition deregulation and thinks Texas universities are ‘still a bargain,’ according to a spokeswoman.

University of Houston leaders had barely finished voting on their latest tuition increase at a recent meeting when they heard from one unhappy Cougar.

Yes, I guess college tution is a “bargin” for those who make oggles of money. But, not for us poor (and I do mean poor) working stiffs. Oggles, where the heck did that come from? Beats me. Ok, ya gots to have a sense of humor to deal with this stuff on a daily basis. I think that’s what’s wrong with those in office now, no dad gum sense of humor!!

‘Insensitive,’ state Sen. John Whitmire fumed. ‘I am terribly disappointed in my alma mater.’

And so began the latest uproar over the increasing cost of a college education in Texas, a topic gaining traction as an issue for upcoming state political campaigns and the next legislative session.

Tuition at Texas universities rose 58 percent between 2003, when schools were first allowed to set their own rates, and 2007. Student fees have gone up, too.

Driving them away

Legislators agreed to let university regents — appointed by the governor — set tuition in 2003 when they faced a $10 billion budget shortfall. In exchange, general revenue appropriations for higher education were cut by 2 percent, or $181 million. The idea was that university regents could raise tuition to make up the difference.

They did. State spending on higher education also has grown in the past five years, although not enough to keep pace with inflation or enrollment, so per-student spending has dropped.

Legislators expect a surplus of $10 billion or more when they meet in January. How much, if any, will go to higher education remains to be seen.

‘It is a very timely subject, simply because so many persons are impacted,’ said Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, chair of the Senate subcommittee on higher education. ‘We have more students than ever continuing their education.’

But that touches on a key issue. As Texas pushes students to attend college, rising tuition threatens to drive them away.

‘Be careful what you ask for’

University leaders say they need more state money and the continued ability to set tuition. Ellis, for one, said deregulation may have created a Catch-22.

‘I tell my friends in higher ed, be careful what you ask for,’ he said. ‘They get criticized for raising tuition, and it makes it more difficult to get state funding. (Legislators) say, you have the ability to raise tuition.’

Ellis, like Whitmire, also a Democrat from Houston, voted against deregulation in 2003 and still opposes it. Zaffirini said she reluctantly voted for it; she hasn’t taken a public stand this time.

No decision will be made in a vacuum.

‘There’s no question that the legislators feel burnt,’ blamed by voters for higher tuition but unable to do anything about it, said Bob Stein, a political scientist at Rice University.

But he predicts that the state is unlikely to retake control of tuition.

This again, is like letting the genie out of the bottle, I keep hearing the phrase echoing time and time again, you can’t put it back.

Ellis said he may tackle the issue through an amendment to a bill with bipartisan support, rather than taking it on directly.

If that doesn’t work, he predicts ‘an attempt to do some cosmetic things that will quell some of the political heat that people are taking. I think we’re going to have a lot of angry students, as well as working-class parents.’

Get the full story from JEANNIE KEVER Copyright 2008 Houston Chronicle

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Vouchers – part I

Posted by Texas Education on June 15, 2008

There is a response on Paul Burka’s blog about someone talking about school choice. There is a lot, I mean a lot, of misconceptions about school vouchers.

Well, #1 we should do what we can to help the struggling schools, people keep “blaming” the teachers, not the lack of $$$, support, etc. because a school does poorly. I wish some people would walk in a teachers, administrators, superintendents shoes for a day, before putting all the blame on them. Vouchers will not work for the most who would use them. Because their little Johnny/Susie is not being treated fairly they will take him/her out of the “low performing” school and take them to another school with their “voucher.” Well, what usually happens is, they get kicked out of that school (or decide there are too many rules and regulations,) and come running back to the school where they are zoned. They think that the small pittance for a voucher will completely pay for their  child’s full year of school. Well, I got news for ya, the state is not paying the full amount of what it costs for a child’s education in the state of Texas in any school, no pittance of a voucher is going to do that either. They will have to supply their own transportation, and  a whole slough of other problems, issues, and sheer lack of education on their part, all because they think the school is not living up to the standards they expect with the tax dollars they are shelling out.

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Humble ISD’s Crisis in the making

Posted by Texas Education on June 8, 2008

A few weeks ago I attended a couple Dr. Sconzo’s forums on educating the public about the funding crisis. This was probably when I decided this was the forum (blogging) for me to take on. Dr. Sconzo has been trying to get everyone to stand up and take notice for quite a few years now. Finally, he hosted some forums, which were sparse, to say the least. I think this at least sparked some concern. When anyone starts talking about cutting athletic programs, which we all know is when students, the community, and especially the parents start chatting, only when you start talking about cutting precious Texas football or God forbid, gymnastics, does anyone start taking notice. Well, this is only the tip of the iceberg ladies and gentlemen. I don’t think Dr. Sconzo could even have anticipated or predicted the rate of demise that was in front of us, because of the current oil prices skyrocketing. But, nevertheless, it is here, it is now. This is going to affect everyone associated with public schools, which in my opinion, is pretty much everyone, unless they live under a rock. The Observer has updated us on what is about to happen. Also, I have the powerpoint Dr. Sconzo presented at his forums.

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