“Some Texas Legislators Being Duped”
by Donna Garner
I hate to say it, but some of our Texas Legislators are being duped! They want to delay/stop the new STAAR/End-of-Course tests from being implemented into our public schools. These duped Legislators do not realize that if they want our public schools to teach what all students need to know, then the STAAR/EOC’s must continue as scheduled.
TEXAS TO REMAIN INDEPENDENT
Texas has chosen to remain independent of the Obama administration’s takeover of the public schools through the Common Core Standards/Race to the Top. Even though 45 states and D. C. signed on to the CCS, Texas did not.
Gov. Perry and former-Commissioner of Education Robert Scott said “No.” The new Commissioner of Education Michael Williams said “No.” Our elected Texas State Board of Education said “No.”
TEXAS’ NEW EDUCATION PLAN
The SBOE not only said “No” but set about developing the best fact-based curriculum standards in the entire United States. We now have four, new curriculum documents (adopted since May 2008) called “TEKS” that tell teachers WHAT to teach (not HOW to teach it) at each grade level K through 12 in the following four subject areas: English/Language/Arts/Reading, Science, Social Studies, and Math.
New tests (STAAR/End-of-Course) based upon our new curriculum standards were administered on a “trial basis” last school year to give students and their teachers an idea of the type of fact-based questions that would be asked.
This school year the sophomores on down will be given the STAAR/EOC’s, and the results will become a part of the new public accountability system for schools.
As the sophomores advance through high school, the old TAKS tests (built upon the 1997 subjective, mushy TEKS) will vanish. In fact, when this year’s juniors take the TAKS, it will be the last time that Texas high schools have to administer the TAKS to a large number of students. After this year, only those juniors who failed the TAKS will have to be retested; and the rest of the high school students and their teachers can focus totally on the new TEKS and STAAR/EOC’s.
Because the new STAAR/EOC’s are timed (4 hours per test) and the TAKS tests are untimed (takes all day to administer one test), high schools will have a much less time-consuming and complicated testing schedule after this school year.
The new TEKS and the new STAAR/EOC’s are guiding teachers to develop new curriculum units, and students in our Texas public schools from K to 12 will eventually move completely away from the highly subjective and mushy 1997 TEKS curriculum standards and the subjectively scored TAKS tests.
Texas’ new plan will require students to be taught traditional, back-to-the-basics skills that, once learned, will equip them to think, analyze, and reason based upon a large body of foundational knowledge. This is what every parent should want for his children.
LEFT-LEANERS FURIOUS WITH TEXAS
The Obama administration and the left-leaners are furious with Texas’ independent spirit and wants to entrap our state. They fear that if our Texas public school students can be taught a large body of academic knowledge and then can think independently for themselves, they will be “nobody’s fool” and will not be easily manipulated by those who support the social justice agenda that is trying to destroy American exceptionalism.
BASIC PRINCIPLE OF EDUCATION
This is a basic principle of education: “Whatever gets tested, gets taught.” This has been true throughout the history of schooling; and it is not necessarily a bad thing. It is important for both teachers and students to be held accountable to a high standard because the tests spur everyone to strive to reach that high standard.
The catch is that those standards (the new TEKS) must be very clear and specific for each grade level/course level; they are. They must be based upon objective standards that can be tested mostly through right-or-wrong answers; the new STAAR/EOC’s are.
It is the subjectivity of the 1997 TEKS and TAKS that destroyed the fairness aspect because the value system of the evaluator became the deciding factor – not right-or-wrong answers. The student’s TAKS scores could not be trusted to prove how much he had learned in his courses but rather indicated whether he had learned ways to get the evaluator to give him a good score.
MEDIA AND EDUCATION ESTABLISHMENT JOINING FORCES
Some Republicans in the Texas Legislature (even a few conservatives) are being duped by the very agenda that they supposedly are against. The left-leaning media loves subjectivity in our public schools because that is the way for the social justice agenda to be promoted through students’ curriculum and testing materials – no right-or wrong, no good-or-evil, everything relative to the situation.
Subjectivity tied to project-based learning have combined to infuse multiculturalism, political correctness, diversity, environmental extremism, redistribution of wealth, and the entire social justice agenda into the classroom.
Most news agencies instead of supporting unbiased news reporting have become indoctrination tools of the Left. Therefore, it should not be a surprise that so many of our Texas newspapers have joined up with the national press to try to promote Obama’s Common Core Standards/Race to the Top.
HOW TO BRING DOWN TEXAS’ NEW PLAN
But in Texas, to get that agenda into our public schools, the media first has to prejudice the public through biased reporting against our new fact-based TEKS and largely objectively scored STAAR/EOC’s. Unfortunately, many in the education establishment have joined forces with the media.
The new TEKS and STAAR/EOC’s require public schools to teach such important academic skills as:
- Phonemic awareness/phonics (instead of whole language/balanced literacy/guided reading)
- Correct grammar/usage/spelling (instead of invented spelling and writing the way you “feel”)
- Expository and persuasive writing (instead of the subjective, touchy-feely personal essay)
- Research skills (instead of emphasizing students’ feelings, emotions, and beliefs)
- Addition/subtraction/multiplication/division (instead of reform math that emphasizes the process more than the right answer)
- American exceptionalism/heroes/heroines/Founding Fathers/Constitution (instead of revisionist history)
- The origin of man (instead of evolution being taught as fact instead of theory)
For the Texas public schools to move into the teaching of the new curriculum requirements and new tests, educators will have to put the 1997 TEKS and TAKS behind them and develop new teaching units.
Many in the education establishment are vendors who have made huge profits from the 1997 TEKS and TAKS.
Others in the education establishment are simply afraid for parents to find out that “The Emperor Has No Clothes.” They are afraid that when the fact-based, right-or-wrong STAAR/EOC results are made public and the new accountability system goes into effect, students will not measure up to a more rigorous standard!
However, isn’t this what parents need to know? If a student has not learned to sound out words with ease so that he can read well, don’t parents need to know that? If their child cannot write a complete sentence correctly, shouldn’t parents find this out before it is too late? If a child does not know his math facts well enough to calculate the right answer, shouldn’t parents be made aware of that through an objective instrument such as the STAAR/EOC’s rather than waiting too long and allowing the student to become a math derelict?
HIDING FROM THE TRUTH IS WRONG
Hiding from the truth solves no problems. Getting rid of the STAAR/EOC’s serves no purpose except to allow the education establishment to continue with the 1997 TEKS and TAKS.
It is the public accountability of the STAAR/EOC’s that will force teachers to put aside the subjective, mushy ways of the past and move their classrooms into solid, fact-based, academic curriculum from which will arise educated high-school graduates who will become the educated college students and/or workforce that Texas so badly needs.
IN A NUTSHELL
We must require the Texas public schools to teach the new TEKS with fidelity.
We must leave the STAAR/EOC’s in place.
Even though Pearson (largest publishing company in the world) produced the STAAR/EOC’s, the former Commissioner of Education Robert Scott and the people who were close to him at the Texas Education Agency monitored the STAAR/EOC’s very carefully to make sure that they followed Texas law and are aligned with the new TEKS adopted by the elected members of the Texas State Board of Education.
GET EXCITED ABOUT NEW TEKS AND TESTS
- Parents should be excited that their children are taking the STAAR/EOC’s which will finally give them and their children an objective way to measure their children’s academic progress.
- Teachers should be excited because they now have clear, academic, fact-based, objectively measured goals to meet at each grade level and in each course. They should feel secure in knowing that the STAAR/EOC’s which their students take will contain questions (largely objectively scored) that they have prepared their students to answer. Teachers will no longer have to worry about teaching their students “to play the TAKS game” as they have since 1997.
- Administrators should be excited because if they encourage their teaching staffs to follow the new TEKS, students’ scores on the STAAR/EOC’s will reflect success; and their school ratings will climb.
We Texans must fight hard to keep our state out of the clutches of the federal government, and the STAAR/EOC’s are a way to make sure that Texas students receive the quality education that will make them the insightful future leaders of our country.
Now many of the 45 states and D. C. are having “buyers’ remorse” because the parents in those states are realizing their children will be dumbed down by Obama’s Common Core Standards. The states’ taxpayers will be left to pay for the millions of dollars in technology required to administer the national assessments and to create a national database that will collect personally intrusive information sent to D. C.
“Common Core Corrupts” – 1.23.13 – Part 1 –
“Rotten to the Core” – 1.25.13 – Part 2 –
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ON TEXAS’ PLAN FOR SUCCESS