An Open Letter to the Texas State Legislature

Dear Texas State Legislators,
Thank you so much for your concern for public school education. A few years ago, I applauded you for your determined decision to require students to take 4 years of math. At that time, you wanted the final math to be Calculus or better. I asked then how many of you had passed a Calculus or better class in high school. You didn’t respond.
A few years ago I sat in a meeting with other teachers extolling the virtues of TAKS, a test we wouldn’t “just be teaching.” But you somehow proved me wrong. Thanks so much! The same testing companies that drove education budgets in the TAAS era, drive the education budget for TAKS, and soon-to-be STARR. They say the test is essential for real education to take place in the classroom. I guess they’ve said it often enough that it’s fact…even though there’s no data to support that claim. Data? What’s that matter anyway? Sure, we have passing rates on the test. But what exactly is that measured against? I’m not sure drop-out rate qualifies since dropping out lands a student in jail today. College profs say students are less prepared for college than ever (but they’re just gripy). My students can’t spell (it’s secondary on the test, so that’s okay), write in cursive (it’s not on the test, waste of time), have no clue how to write a five paragraph paper (not on the test, who cares?!), look at me with blank faces when I say defend your position with evidence from the work (evidence? what’s that? can’t we just make it all up like we do on the test?). They can write a narrative essay…sort of. They have “voice”…sort of, but they have few technical skills. What they CAN do: ace the test. Great self-esteem booster. It’s going to make a world of difference!
And thanks for developing such a strong relationship between Texas and testing companies. Maybe when teachers get laid off in a couple months, they’ll know where to seek employment! That is AWESOME!
It’s so great that you and the governor have explained that you’re not dipping into the rainy day fund. You’re right. This multi-billion dollar deficit isn’t an emergency. Teachers just need to suck it up. More kids in the classroom? No big deal. Pay cuts? Shoot, we get paid too much already! (Teachers are just whiny. I know. After all, we get summers off, what more do we want?) Besides, I know you’re all so busy with that whole guns on college campuses thing. You are so right. I loved the movie Tombstone. More gun battles are just what we need to keep things interesting. Especially with that whole Mexican drug cartel thing going on. (scratch that. I forgot. It doesn’t matter because that’s Mexico and has nothing to do with us.)
I just wanted to touch base and say thanks so much. You are doing the best you can. Oh, if you see the governor, tell him his hair is looking good. It probably won’t move when he’s out in the March wind when all those teachers show up in Austin March 12. But that’s okay. We won’t make fun of him for that. We’re not that petty. Plus, unlike that state trooper a few years ago, we know who he is.
Sincerely,

(This is a satire. It’s something my students rarely understand these days. They used to. But it’s not on the test.)

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