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Texas Education in the Crosshairs ~ Texas vs. No CHild Left Behind


Connecting the Dots….

Hat tip to Adam Cahnman for the excellent information he pushed out on Tom Paulkin’s article. 

No Child Left BehindTexas vs. No Child Left Behind

The state where it all began turns against the Cult of Educational Testing–and the interests behind it.

I encourage you to read Adam’s blog because he picks up on things most of us don’t. Thank you Adam. Click Here to check it out. 

Texas Workforce Commissioner Tom Pauken has a must-read piece on the unintended consequences of No Child Left Behind and the revolt against the education legacy of (Governor) George W. Bush in Texas; money quote:

For the past two decades, excessive emphasis on high-stakes standardized testing and a one-size-fits-all focus on preparing all students for college came to dominate education policy in Texas and later, in Washington, D.C. with the passage of the Bush-Kennedy “No Child Left Behind” legislation. In addition, vocational education came to be neglected—even denigrated—in this massive push to make all students “college-ready.” Meanwhile, the principle of local control over education (which historically had been a deeply-held belief of Goldwater-Reagan Conservatives) was abandoned by Republican politicians in Texas and Washington, D.C., in their rush to be known as “educational reformers.”

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The principal architect of Texas’s accountability system was a lawyer from Dallas named Sandy Kress. The most thorough analysis of Kress’s role in pushing Texas’s education policy in the direction of a high-stakes testing system was one written by Mark Donald for the October 19, 2000 issue in the Dallas Observer right before George W. Bush’s election to the presidency. Entitled “The Resurrection of Sandy Kress,” Donald’sarticle described how Democrat Kress and Republican Bush came to be close allies in pushing Kress’s vision of “educational accountability.”

I had gotten to know Sandy Kress when he was the Dallas County Democratic Chairman, and I was an active Republican. Later, I was elected State Chairman of the Texas Republican Party in 1994, the year in which George W. Bush defeated Ann Richards in the race for governor of Texas. What I didn’t know at the time—but soon learned after the November election—was that Sandy Kress already had been a major advisor to George W. Bush on education issues for some period of time. I found that unusual since Sandy Kress was a liberal Democrat whose views on education and other domestic policy issues were very much at odds with the views of conservatives like myself who believed in local control of education and decentralization of governmental power, wherever possible. Moreover, Sandy had not exactly distinguished himself in the early 1990s when he chaired the board of the Dallas Independent School District (DISD), during one of the most tumultuous periods in DISD history.

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Nonetheless, Sandy Kress remained a key strategic advisor to the governor. He worked closely with Margaret LaMontagne (later Margaret Spellings), who was Gov. Bush’s education advisor, in expanding the statewide accountability system. During Bush’s tenure as Governor, the state consolidated power over education in the office of the Texas Education Agency and the Education Commissioner who was appointed by the Governor. Meaningful local control over education in Texas continued to erode as the accountability ratings system caused local school districts to focus more attention on the performance measurements put in place by the state particularly the testing system. Since that system did not include evaluation of the effectiveness of vocational education instruction, that area of preparation became de-emphasized in many Texas school districts.

Just as Texas started this failed approach to educational accountability, the Texas Legislature has the opportunity to replace it with a common-sense system that focuses on real learning and opportunities for all.

CSCOPE 3For some great news….

Aside from the fact that Sen. Dan Patrick has called for a hearing on CSCOPE that is Thursday Jan. 31st at 8:30 am……

 

REP. STEVE TOTH’S HB 760 — The CSCOPE Transparency Act To Ensure Consistent Oversight of Public School Curriculum: 

AUSTIN – State Rep. Steve Toth (R-The Woodlands) filed HB 760 in a joint effort with other law makers and constituents to ensure that e-learning (on-line or cloud based teaching material) curriculum used in public schools falls under the oversight and approval of the State Board of Education.

Many of Toth’s constituents have a growing concern over the lack of accountability for the Texas Education Service Center Curriculum Collaborative, also known as CSCOPE. CSCOPE does not fall under the same oversight and approval as other printed materials because of its digital format. HB 760 would bring the digitized materials under the same publicly vetted process through the State Board of Education adoption process.

To this date, CSCOPE has not gone through the intense Texas textbook adoption process in which public hearings are held and factual errors are documented, discussed, and verified.

CSCOPE is in use by over 70 percent of Texas public schools. The curriculum suffers from two main areas, transparency and accountability. The most important problem is the lack of quality teaching material.

“I had one teacher call me and said that she had met with five other math teachers. They were all looking at the same math-word problem and the disappointing thing is that they came up with 6 different and very defensible answers.”

Toth continued, “teachers live in fear not only of the problematic errors but also in fear of mistakenly sharing with a parent what’s being taught in CSCOPE. Teachers are actually forced to sign non-disclosure agreements before they use it in the classroom. Why? Because the Education Service Centers know how angry parents would be to hear that the participants in the Boston Tea Party of 1773 are referred to as Terrorists by CSCOPE and that’s just the beginning.”

Sen. Dan Patrick, CSCOPE HearingOther factual errors found throughout the curriculum have not been corrected and have been used to teach millions of children faulty math, reading, science, and history. Educators who sign a non-disclosure agreement are forced to administer poor tests which force good educators to either put up with the bad curriculum or quit altogether.

Algebra teacher, Dr. Stan Hartzler of Luling ISD was quoted, “As good testing motivates and informs good students and teachers, so too bad testing discourages everyone and that’s the problem with CSCOPE.”

“Dr. Hartzler is the kind of man we want and need in the classroom, but he can’t fight CSCOPE any longer so he left teaching. Great teachers should be free to make truth come alive in the hearts and minds of our youth rather than handcuffing them to a failed product. HB 760 moves to correct this problem”, said Representative Toth.

Thomas Jefferson said “If a nation expects to be ignorant & free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be”. We cannot afford to cripple the next generations by overlooking the education of our children. Please stand with me by contacting your Elected Officials and asking them to support HB 760 for our children.

Steve Toth is State Representative for District 15, which includes The Woodlands, Shenandoah, Imperial Oaks, Oak Ridge North and Benders Landing along with some of the surrounding areas. He lives and works in District 15 and is establishing a House District 15 Office in Alden Bridge near the corner of Research Forest and Kuykendahl that he hopes to open by February of this coming year. 

Knowledge is Power and together we can make the difference!!

Alice Linahan

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