Tag Archives: Texas education

Support Your Public Schools

She lived in a car with her mother, until her mother OD’d. She sat next to a student whose parents owned a private airplane.

He slept on friends’ couches all senior year. He sat next to a girl whose dad commanded troops in Iraq.

She was a single mom trying to make ends meet. She sat next to a girl whose parents had come to the US to start a new life. They sat next to a foreign exchange student from the Republic of Georgia. They all attended class with three debutants, two kids who lived in the projects, a teacher’s kid and a doctor’s child.

All of them, regardless of background, learned. 

That’s public school, and the strength of public school is essential to our communities, states and the nation.

Today Governor Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick presided over the kick off to “choice” week. There they embraced and championed the idea that tax dollars should be used for private education and that charter schools could somehow fix what ails public schools.

Abbott and Patrick are wrong. That did not stop them from firing the shots that could destroy a system so essential to our democracy.

The best way to guarantee strong public schools is to vote for politicians who believe in strong public schools. Abbott used to, Patrick never did.

Neither of these men faced election this year. 

To contact Gov. Greg Abbott and tell him you support strong public schools not choice, click here.

To contact Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick to say the same thing, click here.

To be clear, support for vouchers, tax credits or any other means of privatizing public school will kill the public school. Don’t let that happen.

And the next time Texas elections roll around, remember these men have every intention of destroying a true public school system. We can’t ignore this. 

Great Trip: I <3 State!

Had a great time at State with both students who qualified and our UIL director, Sandra. The girl who placed second at Regionals placed fifth at State. State Medals always make the trip even better.
We went to the capitol after the competition. Unfortunately we just missed the Senate and the House was out on a Point of Order. But we got to see both rooms in action. That was a first for me.

Today I got news that the Senate has approved a plan to let private schools compete in UIL events. Yet another indication that this legislative session will irrevocably change Texas public education. I don’t understand this obvious desire to kill a quality public school system, but it breaks my heart.

The Problem With Testing….

Most teachers are amazing at their jobs. Simple fact. I know it’s hard to believe in the face of all the “bad teachers are ruining our country” politicking out there, but it’s true.
The thing is most teachers are teaching to a test right now. Not because we want to but because we’ve been told we have no choice.
I’m not against a test. I think it’s a good idea to have a checks and balances at the end of the year to see how kids are doing. I think it’s a good idea to have a set of standards your supposed to cover. The problem is politicians have embraced the idea that the test holds all the answers.
The test was supposed to “fix” public education. Unfortunately, that’s like going to the doctor because you’ve been diagnosed with cancer and having the doctor pull out the stethoscope and saying “all better now.”
The test is a diagnostic at best.
It’s not a cure.
REAL education reform is hard. It’s messy. And it takes a lot of time and planning and hours of teacher input.
Real education reform isn’t a test.
Real education reform is measured in multiple ways.
Real education reform needs to be developed and implemented by teachers and championed by politicians.
But for now, education reform is eduspeak for a new, more expensive set of tests that will continue us down the path to mediocrity.

WHY

Save Texas Public Schools Rally
Memorial Stadium
Thursday April 14 8-9(ish)

A good friend asked me why we were rallying, what we hoped to accomplish. I thought I’d share my answer here:
What we hope to accomplish: to give people the chance to show they support public education, and to do so before the Senate votes.
What will the outcome be: I don’t know. I was in Austin March 12 with over 11000 others marching. We were there to make our voices heard. If we don’t try, we won’t ever know.
But I do know public education is essential to the United States. It leads to the American Dream. Without it, there is no escape from poverty.
I know teachers usually don’t rally. (We gripe to each other, but we don’t say enough is enough.) Right now I’m hearing a lot of complaints in the community. People believe Rick Perry when he says public schools are the problem, especially when we don’t speak up to say he’s wrong.
Public education is at risk here. It’s real and it’s ugly and if we don’t speak up, we’ll be able to watch it die without ever even attempting to fight.
I can’t sit back and do nothing.

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.)