BIG PROBLEMS AT IRVING ISD
The Irving ISD School Board voted 4 – 3 to censure board member Steven Jones on 4.1.13 (#1 Dallas Morning News posted below). Not only does Steven Jones want to replace bilingual education with English immersion (“works every time it’s been tried”), but he also has been outspoken about his opposition to CSCOPE which costs Irving ISD at least $260,000 per year and has not raised students’ STAAR/End-of-Course test scores.
According to the 3.10.13 article (#3 news article posted below), “…Irving’s students fell far behind the state average last year on STAAR [School Year 2011-12], the state’s new standardized test that CSCOPE was supposed to prepare them for…”
It sounds to me as if the Irving ISD administration does not like Steven Jones questioning its choice of poor curriculum such as CSCOPE (#4 Dallas Morning News article posted below). Irving ISD has been using CSCOPE at least since Sept. 2011. A 9.29.11 article from the Dallas Morning News describes CSCOPE’s use in the Irving ISD: http://www.dallasnews.com/news/education/headlines/20110919-standardized-teaching-system-spreads-to-hundreds-of-texas-districts.ece
Grassroots citizens through filing Public Information Requests found that over the last two school years, Irving ISD has paid TASA (Texas Association of School Administrators) and TASB (Texas Association of School Boards) $905,028 (2.13.13 — http://educationviews.org/irving-isd-wasteful-spending-by-texas-school-district/ ) These were taxpayers’ dollars. Just think how many classroom teachers’ jobs could have been financed by that $905,028. No wonder Steven Jones is questioning the Irving ISD expenditures!
Please read Lynn Woolley’s 4.1.13 column (#2 Dallas Morning News article posted below) in which he praises Steven Jones for his courageous efforts as a school board member to question the way the Irving ISD administration has spent taxpayers’ dollars. – Donna Garner
#1 DALLAS MORNING NEWS ARTICLE:
Split vote by Irving school board publicly condemns trustee Steven Jones’ behavior
By AVI SELK
Published: 01 April 2013 09:09 PM
Excerpts from this article:
In a rare public condemnation, the Irving ISD school board voted 4-3 Monday to censure trustee Steven Jones…
Steven Jones has denied any impropriety.
Trustees Jerry Christian and Gwen Craig also voted in favor of censure.
…In the meantime, Valerie Jones acknowledged at the meeting, censure carries “no legal or practical consequences.”
…Steven Jones listened to the accusations with no visible emotion. He had acknowledged making the phone calls, but he said the emails distorted their innocent and legitimate intent.
When it was his turn to speak, Jones looked out at the packed audience and decried “these attempts to assassinate my character.”
He said the district had spent $23,000 in legal fees “trying to find ways to throw me off the board.”
Jones, who has been on the board since 2011, seemed no more concerned about the prospect of public condemnation than he had last week when the vote was called. He had correctly predicted the way the trustees would vote.
Monday’s vote may be one of the school board’s last major acts before its politics are transformed.
Two of the trustees who voted for censure Monday — Huffstetler and Christian — are stepping down after the May election. A third, Craig, is up for re-election.
Jones is backing candidates in all three races. One of them is running unopposed and is expected to give Jones’ allies a majority.
“We will have a conservative majority on this board beginning May 20,” Jones told the crowd before the vote. “The new board will focus like a laser beam on student achievement. Our focus will no longer be PR and spin…”
#2 DALLAS MORNING NEWS ARTICLE:
Lynn Woolley: Irving trustee Steven Jones right to challenge schools’ status quo
Published: 01 April 2013 09:25 PM
Excerpts from this article:
Steven Jones has done the unthinkable. As a member of the Irving school board, he has challenged the status quo, questioning wasteful spending and the district’s fixation with bilingual education.
…His first crime was his decision to run for the Irving board of trustees. School board members are not supposed to be conservative businesspeople who have designs on change. They are supposed to be former teachers or liberal activists who will bow to the whims of the school superintendent.
Jones’ second crime was that he won. And get a load of his platform. During the campaign, he said, “I am running for the Irving school board because I have watched the actions of the current board and question its judgment on three major items.”
…But Jones dared question the board when it voted to extend the superintendent an additional 36-month contract after just seven months on the job. The board said it wanted “stability.” Jones wanted “excellence.” He also noted that while no teachers were being hired, the board was openly searching for two more assistant superintendents. He thought the district needed fewer bureaucrats and more teachers.
His biggest crime of all, though, related to education’s biggest sacred cow: bilingual education.
Back in 2011, WFAA-TV’s Gary Reaves did a story about then-candidate Jones’ desire to add an English immersion program to the bilingual mandate required by the state.
…Jones’ additional crimes include “micromanaging” duties reserved by law for the superintendent; explaining to a new assistant superintendent that her job was “wasteful” and might be eliminated; and explaining to the district’s “director of world languages” that the board wanted to push for that English immersion plan.
…A board member who is a conservative, who questions stupid and costly decisions made by the board and actually attempts to represent the interests of children, parents and taxpayers instead of just the education establishment? …Jones’ real crime is his opposition to bilingual education.
In a district where 70 percent of the children are Spanish speakers, you simply do not speak of such things as English immersion — even if it does work every time it’s been tried…
Lynn Woolley is a Texas-based radio talk show host and may be contacted at lynn@BeLogical .com.
#3 NEWS ARTICLE:
“CSCOPE: Irving ISD Did Poorly on STAAR/EOC Tests – What If Lost Measuring Stick?”
by Donna Garner
Irving ISD paid $265,000 (per year) for CSCOPE. Did it raise their students’ STAAR/EOC’s? According to this article, “And for all those efforts, Irving’s students fell far behind the state average last year on STAAR, the state’s new standardized test that CSCOPE was supposed to prepare them for.”
Some Texas legislators are trying to do away with the STAAR/End-of-Course tests at each grade level (Grades 3 – 11). These tests serve as a measuring stick, a yardstick, a ruler. If we lose the “measuring stick,” how would parents and the public ever prove whether regular public schools, charter schools, CSCOPE, Turkish Gulen Harmony Charter Schools, dual-credit courses, Texas Virtual Academy, online learning, Advanced Placement courses, International Baccalaureate programs, Web 2.0 Tools, and Safari Montage are actually pulling up our children or dumbing them down?
School board elections are coming up on May 11, 2013, in many towns and cities throughout Texas. In Irving ISD, these elections will evidently settle whether or not CSCOPE will be removed from the District.
My hope is that numerous schools will take the money they have wasted on CSCOPE and use it to purchase the new English / Language Arts / Reading textbooks that are totally aligned with the new curriculum standards adopted in May 2008. These textbooks contain the systematic teaching of phonemic awareness/decoding skills (phonics), grammar, usage, spelling, composition – all of the back-to-the-basics skills that must be learned by students to help them to be successful in the rest of their school subjects, on the STAAR/End-of-Course tests, and in life.
#4 DALLAS MORNING NEWS ARTICLE:
CSCOPE MAY SOON BE GONE FROM IRVING ISD
By AVI SELK
Published: 10 March 2013 11:07 PM
Excerpts from this article:
Irving ISD administrators say the [CSCOPE] package — which costs roughly $260,000 a year…
Norma Gonzales, who is running unopposed for an open seat on the board, says she wants to phase out the program when she takes her seat. By then, CSCOPE’s detractors on the board should have a majority to do exactly that.
Trustee Steven Jones said at least 40 teachers in the district have made similar complaints to him.
And for all those efforts, Irving’s students fell far behind the state average last year on STAAR, the state’s new standardized test that CSCOPE was supposed to prepare them for…
“A lot of the complaints we heard about had to do with the assessments.”
…The teacher, who asked for anonymity to protect his job, said educators were promised CSCOPE would prepare students for STAAR.
“It simply didn’t happen,” he said.
Instead, the teacher said, he wasted hours photocopying CSCOPE handouts no better than the material in the textbook — some of it worse. He said if his principal walked by the classroom and saw him using the book, or deviating at all from CSCOPE material, he would be “redirected” back to the new program.
…Trustees’ complaints about CSCOPE go beyond classroom flexibility. Jones said the program had Marxist origins and appeared designed to “do an end run” around the Texas Board of Education and adopt federal curriculum the state has rejected.
At board meetings, he and trustees Larry Stipes and Gail Conder Wells have claimed that CSCOPE lessons indoctrinate students into Islam and socialism. A state Senate hearing in January heard similar complaints from other districts.
“Nobody knows what’s in CSCOPE,” Jones said. “It’s very secretive.”
In an effort to settle the matter, the district is preparing a teacher survey on CSCOPE. But even that has turned political, with Jones, Stipes and Wells complaining staff won’t include their questions…