Texas Education

Blog on Texas Education

Posts Tagged ‘TFN’

Just say don’t know – Sexuality Education in Texas Public Schools

Posted by Texas Education on April 15, 2009

JUST SAY DON’T KNOW:
Sexuality Education in Texas Public Schools

Texas has long been held up as the poster child for abstinence-only sexuality education. In fact, Texas consistently leads the nation by a wide margin in federal abstinence education dollars – more than $18 million in 2007 alone. What has not been known, however, is what public schools are actually teaching students about sexuality education in their classrooms. Just Say Don't Know Masthead - TFN web version

Until now.

TFN Arrow Read the report and watch the videos.

from TFN

Advertisements

Posted in Sex-education | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Voting on Vouchers – yes to opposing vouchers

Posted by Texas Education on April 15, 2009

Upcoming House Budget Debate Will Include Critical Votes on Stem Cell Research and Vouchers

Two crucially important issues will be debated when the Texas House of Representatives takes up the state budget (SB 1) starting this Friday. Lawmakers need to hear from Texans like you encouraging them to do the right thing — and letting them know we are watching their vote on these issues. These could be the most important votes on these issues this session.

Please take a moment to call your own state representative, and ask her or him to:

  • OPPOSE VOUCHERS by voting YES on any amendment that would prohibit the use of any state funds to pay private school tuition.

(Click here to find contact information for your representative.)

And after you call, contact Val or Judie in our Outreach Office to let them know how your representative responded. This information is extremely helpful as we try to keep track of where House members stand on these issues.

Background information and simple talking points appear below to help you prepare for your call. This is our chance to slam the door on vouchers this session, as well as send a strong message that Texas will not close its doors to promising medical research that provides hope for so many.

Vouchers

Background: Two years ago, House members overwhelming voted to prohibit the use of state funds to pay private or religious school tuition (127-8!). The same amendment has been proposed this year. A clear prohibition in the budget would end the possibility of any voucher schemes in the coming biennium.

Talking Points:

  • Vouchers drain needed funds from our neighborhood public schools.
  • Lawmakers should focus on properly funding and supporting public schools that educate all Texas kids.

from TFN

Posted in vouchers | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Major Sex Education Legislation in House Public Education Committee

Posted by Texas Education on April 1, 2009

Lege update from TFN:

Deeply flawed abstinence-only programs that have a stranglehold on sexuality education in Texas have failed our families for more than 13 years. Yesterday, however, the House Public Education Committee held a public hearing on two bills that would dramatically improve sexuality education in Texas schools:

  • HB 1567 by Rep. Mike Villarreal, D – San Antonio, requires scientific accuracy in all classroom materials or discussions involving condoms or other forms of contraception and disease prevention, and it prohibits instructors or materials from discouraging their use. Click here to read more about this bill.
  • HB 741 (“Education Works” bill) by Rep. Joaquin Castro,  D – San Antonio, requires that sexuality education classes in Texas public schools include comprehensive, or “abstinence-plus,”  information about condoms and other forms of contraception and disease prevention. Click here to read more about this bill.

TFN joined a number of health education professionals and grassroots supporters who testified in support of these important bills yesterday. In fact, speakers supporting responsible sexuality education far outnumbered opponents determined to keep teens ignorant of the information they need to make important life decisions. (Read TFN’s press release about these bills.)

Now it’s important to persuade committee members to approve these bills and send them to the full House for consideration.

Take Action!

Contact House Public Education Committee members and express your support for HB 1567 and HB 741. Encourage the members to vote in support of these two bills. Remind them that Texas has one of the highest teen birth rates in the country. Teens need medically accurate information about responsible pregnancy and disease prevention to protect themselves.

You can send e-mails to House Public Education Committee members by clicking on their names below: Rep. Rob Eissler, R-The Woodlands, Chair

Rep. Scott Hochberg, D-Houston, Vice Chair

Rep. Alma Allen, D-Houston

Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock, R-Killeen

Rep. Harold V. Dutton, Jr., D-Houston

Rep. Joe Farias, D-San Antonio

Rep. Jim Jackson, R-Carrollton

Rep. Dora Olivo, D-Rosenberg

Rep. Diane Patrick, R-Arlington

Rep. Mark Shelton, R-Fort Worth

Rep. Randy Weber, R-Pearland

Stay informed on this and other key issues by subscribing to TFN Daily News Clips.

Donate to TFN and help us stand up for quality public education in Texas.

Posted in Abstinence Education, Sex-education, texas education | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Texas State Board of Education Adopts Flawed Science Standards

Posted by Texas Education on March 27, 2009

Email from TFN (Texas Freedom Network) on the SBOE. A victory, no doubt, but we must stay cautious, at best. The update:

Just a short while ago, the Texas State Board of Education voted on new public school science standards that publishers will soon use to craft new science textbooks. This long-awaited decision is the culmination of TFN’s two-year Stand Up for Science campaign.

The good news is that the word “weaknesses” no longer appears in the science standards — this is a huge victory for those of us who support teaching 21st-century science that is free of creationist ideology.

The bad news is the final document still has plenty of potential footholds for creationist attacks on evolution to make their way into Texas classrooms.

Through a series of contradictory and convoluted amendments, the board crafted a road map that creationists will almost certainly use to pressure publishers into putting phony arguments attacking established science into textbooks. As TFN Communications Director Dan Quinn told the New York Times: “The State Board of Education pretty much slammed the door on ‘strengths and weaknesses,’ but then went around and opened all the windows in the house.”

What’s truly unfortunate is that we will have to revisit this entire debate in two years when new science textbooks are adopted in Texas.

While we did not succeed in ending this debate once and for all, I am extremely proud of the work we did together on this Stand Up for Science Campaign. Your testimony, calls and e-mails over these past months really made a difference in the outcome of this science debate — and the students of Texas are better off for it.

I sincerely hope you will consider participating in the last day of our Stand Up for Science matching gift challenge. Double your gift’s impact to TFN Education Fund by contributing today!

As you know, hostility toward science persists in our state. From stem cell research to responsible sex education, crucial public policies hang in the balance. As always, TFN will carry your support for mainstream values and sound science to our elected leaders.

Sincerely,

Kathy's Signature

Kathy Miller
President

Posted in SBOE, texas education | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

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.

Posted in funding, say what???, 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!

Sincerely,
kmillersig2
Kathy Miller
President

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.

Divider

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 »

The latest from TFN – Texas Freedom Network

Posted by Texas Education on January 20, 2009

Our campaign for a 21st-century science education in Texas public schools has entered a crucial phase. Your help in this campaign can make a real difference this week.

This Wednesday the State Board of Education will hear public testimony on proposed science curriculum standards. The new draft standards reject efforts by creationists to undermine instruction on evolution. They also make it clear that supernatural explanations like creationism/“intelligent design” have no place in public school science classes. But creationists who control the state board are insisting that the standards require students to learn phony “weaknesses” of evolution. They want to force publishers to include those bogus arguments in new biology textbooks.

Take Action!

Help us turn back efforts to sabotage the education of Texas schoolchildren by standing up for science this week!SUFS

  • Click here to sign up to testify before the State Board of Education IN SUPPORT OF THE DRAFT STANDARDS at the public hearing on Wednesday. The board will hear only four hours of testimony. But even if you don’t get a chance to speak, adding your name in support of the draft standards is very important. Also, supporters of the draft standards will WEAR GREEN at the hearing to show their support for a sound science education.
  • Tell your state board member that you SUPPORT the draft science standards and OPPOSE efforts to water down the curriculum by opening the door to phony attacks against evolution. Click here to find the name and contact information for your State Board of Education member. Once you have the name of your board member, you can also click here to send an e-mail to him or her in care of the Texas Education Agency.
  • Donate to the Texas Freedom Networks’ Stand Up for Science campaign. Your contribution will help ensure that the next generation of Texas schoolchildren gets a 21st-century science education that helps them succeed in college and the jobs of the future.

Stay Informed!

We want to keep you informed about action at the State Board of Education on this critical issue.

  • TFN Insider will live-blog from State Board of Education on Wednesday. TFN Insider will also post updates throughout the week.
  • Click here to subscribe to TFN News Clips and stay informed on this and other important issues.

Thank you for all you do to support a sound science education for Texas schoolchildren.

Sincerely,
kmillersig2
Kathy Miller
President

Posted in leadership, teaching, Texas schools | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

SBOE Member Dunbar in hot water again!

Posted by Texas Education on December 7, 2008

Capitol Annex has an article about Ms. Dunbar and her antics getting her in hot water.

Fresh from her statements that an Obama administration would result in martial law in the United States, right-wing State Board of Education member Cynthia Dunbar is now in hot water as a result of a new book she has written in which advocates for, among other things, a “biblican litmus test” to guide government.

The Houston Chronicle has a rundown on the book:

In her book, One Nation Under God, Dunbar argues that the country’s founding fathers created “an emphatically Christian government” and believed that government should be guided by a “biblical litmus test.”

Dunbar endorses a belief system requiring “any person desiring to govern have a sincere knowledge and appreciation for the Word of God in order to rightly govern.”

She calls public education a “subtly deceptive tool of perversion.” The establishment of public schools is unconstitutional and even “tyrannical,” she writes in the book, because it threatens the authority of families, granted by God through Scripture, to direct the instruction of their children.

Dunbar defends herself by claiming the text wasn’t written for the general public, but rather as “an educational tool to the body of Christ:”

“I don’t think most people in the churches are aware of the venom against Christian America,” she said. “So, it’s more of a wake-up call to be informed, to be involved. They are fine with the body of Christ as long as we stay hidden in our four walls of the church, sitting quietly in our pews.

“But if we become civically involved or active in public policy issues, then we’re going to be shot down,” Dunbar said.

The Texas Freedom Network, an organization that monitors the influence of the Religious Right in Texas, is rightfully calling on SBOE Chairman Don McLeroy to remove Dunbar (R-Richmond) from the board’s Committee on Instruction:

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in accountability, bizzare, completely unbelievable, Ethics, leadership, 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.

Divider

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