Friday, August 10, 2012

Who Leads the Texas Educational System?

The challenges our children will face as Texans will forever be about what we did for them when we had the chance. I want to write about the serious changes that need to be made before my daughter is old enough to realize that she has missed out on an education that teaches fundamentals, that enable her to be an informed and active citizen. Public school in Texas is not going well at any level. Looking back at my K-12 education, I feel like I learned the same thing year after year. Every year would be a review of the previous followed by some more in-depth coverage. U.S History, English, Social Studies, Science. Now the real kicker is that I did attend middle school in Albuquerque, New Mexico for my sixth grade year. In science we were dissecting eyeballs, starfish, learning the elements. I was astounded, and my fellow students were like, ‘yeah we dissected a lamb heart last year.’ I’m telling you, my middle school in Texas was nowhere near that level of education. What’s the problem? Who tells public schools in Texas what to teach their students? So I found out what is really going on.

The State Board of Education has 15 members on the Board. The committees of this board are the Committee on Instruction, Committee on School Finance/Permanent School Fund, and the committee on School Initiatives. Well…that’s it! Can we get a Committee on Let’s Cut the Crap? Fifteen people are deciding the fate of the future of Texas. These members are elected by their districts. According to the website, “The State Board of Education periodically updates the state’s curriculum standards called the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS). Textbooks and other instructional materials are then written for children based on those standards.” The site also states, “The State Board of Education (SBOE) has legislative authority to adopt the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) for each subject of the required curriculum. SBOE members nominated educators, parents, business and industry representatives, and employers to serve on the review committees.”  

An article in the, “Austin American-Statesman”, titled, “About half of the state failing,” by Melissa B. Taboada, informs us about what the State Board of Education and the Texas legislature are doing, or not doing, to solve the educational problems at hand. Taboada states, “Forty-eight percent of schools in Texas were classified as failing to meet Adequate Yearly Progress standards, which can bring down sanctions on schools if they are repeatedly not met.” Apparently U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan gave states permission to file for a waiver to be relieved from federal standards. Texas however, refuses to file the waiver. How surprising! We need the federal funding desperately in this state. It’s time to follow the rules in order to ensure a good education for the children of Texas.

I am urging citizens to get out a vote to make a difference in our public school system and give our future leaders a fighting chance to truly make a difference in other’s lives.

  “America will not succeed in the 21st century unless we do a far better job of educating our sons and daughters… And the race starts today.  I am issuing a challenge to our nation’s governors and school boards, principals and teachers, businesses and non-profits, parents and students: if you set and enforce rigorous and challenging standards and assessments; if you put outstanding teachers at the front of the classroom; if you turn around failing schools – your state can win a Race to the Top grant that will not only help students outcompete workers around the world, but let them fulfill their God-given potential.”

1 comment:

  1. One of my colleagues wrote a post regarding the Texas education system. She focused on the leadership of public education in this state. According to my colleague’s research, the entire system is basically led by just 15 individuals. My colleague was skeptical that the State Board of Education is adequately fulfilling its role – and with good reason.

    My colleague linked to this recent article from the Austin American Statesman which discusses how nearly half of the schools in this state are failing to meet “Adequate Yearly Progress standards”. Some Texan leaders, including Governor Rick Perry simply throw these studies out the window and argue that these standards simply fail to measure progress accurately. That’s beyond ridiculous. Meanwhile, the U.S. Secretary of Education allows states to be waived from meeting these standards and lose federal education funding. The state is obviously having trouble making a decision because while it is failing terribly, it also relies on outside funding from something Texas legislature refuses to prioritize.

    I agree with my colleague that something needs to be done to reform the education system and its leadership. Clearly, as a student here, I haven’t been given the best education an American can have. A report from the Texas Legislative Study Group spills out the numbers clearly: Texas enrollment is the second highest in country while state spending ranks near the lowest. Even with the Texas-level education mathematics, I can understand why these numbers mean trouble.

    My colleague and I both urge citizens to make difference in Texas education leadership. However, I want to add that it’ll take more than reforming the Board of Education. There must be a change in government revenue and spending.