Gov. Abbott Makes Bad Choice for Texas Comm. of Education
“Gov. Abbott Makes Bad Choice for Texas Comm. of Education”
By Donna Garner
As a conservative, I appreciate Gov. Greg Abbott for the many courageous positions he has taken for Texas; but he really missed it on this one!
I cannot think of very many people whom Gov. Greg Abbott could have appointed who would have been a worse choice than Mike Morath as Texas Commissioner of Education. (12.14.15 — Press release- “Gov. Abbott Appoints Mike Morath As Texas Education Commissioner — http://gov.texas.gov/news/appointment/21773 )
Mike Morath is supporting almost everything bad in education – the same Type #2 philosophy of education that opens the door to subjective, digitized curriculum and assessments found in Common Core/CSCOPE; the same “innovative” school model pushed by TASB and TASA with their 21st century transformational “visioning” approach to education; and the greedy consultants, lobbyists, and vendors who make a fortune off education’s “Golden Goose” of public dollars.
Gov. Abbott had previously appointed Mike Morath as the chairman of the Texas Commission on Next Generation Assessments and Accountability (NGAA). It seems clear to me that the purpose of this commission is to recommend to the Texas Legislature that they replace the traditional public school classroom (where teachers teach fact-based curriculum directly and systematically while face-to-face with their students) WITH the 21st century transformational model where students receive all their instruction through digitized curriculum. Grading is done through subjective assessments (e.g., portfolios, projects, group work); and curriculum focuses on students’ feelings, emotions, and opinions – not on hard facts with right-or-wrong answers. Students graduate through online and dual credit courses with wishy-washy accountability standards and unsecure testing procedures.
Obviously if Mike Morath was chosen as the chair of this NGAA commission, he intends to implement this same Type #2 philosophy across Texas as the newly appointed Commissioner of Education.
America has hundreds of years of historical data to prove that the traditional Type #1 philosophy of education produces success. Americans became the leader of the world because of the many scientists, inventors, technicians, entrepreneurs, engineers, writers, historians, and businessmen who used their Type #1 education to elevate themselves to great heights. They were educated on a Big Chief Tablet.
Where is the proof that the Type #2 digitized “global citizen of the world” approach will make America great? In fact, there is no long-term, independent, peer-reviewed research to prove that that method of education works.
To be very honest, we see just the opposite when we look around our society and see the ever-growing numbers of people educated through the Type #2 philosophy of education who are sorely lacking in the most basic knowledge and skills.
THE LAUGHABLE PRESS RELEASE
I do not mean to be unfairly critical, but it is almost laughable for the Governor’s office to try to boost the confidence of the public in Mike Morath by mentioning his less than one year of teaching experience (computer science) after a teacher had unexpectedly resigned.
My hint to Governor’s office: “One year or even less of teaching experience doth not a teacher make.”
Another laughable part of the Governor’s press release is the emphasis on Mike Morath’s years on the Dallas ISD Board of Trustees. Anyone who has been following education in Texas very long knows that DISD is one of the worst functioning public school districts in Texas as shown by mountains of hard, verifiable data, including numerous articles published by the Dallas Morning News. Here are but a few of them:
7.7.15 – “Dallas ISD’s Imagine 2010 Effort Fails To Prop up Troubled Schools” – Matthew Haag – Dallas Morning News — http://www.dallasnews.com/news/education/headlines/20150707-dallas-isd-s-imagine-2020-effort-fails-to-prop-up-troubled-schools.ece
“Results from the latest STAAR exams show that most of the initial 21 schools in the Imagine 2020 program are worse off than before it started…Among the 14 elementary schools, a majority of them have lower passing rates on the five STAAR exams since Imagine 2020 began.”
6.28.15 – “Fact Check: Was the DISD Miracle Real?” – by Jeffrey Weiss, Matthew Haag – Dallas Morning News –– http://www.dallasnews.com/news/education/headlines/20150627-fact-check-was-the-disd-miracle-real.ece
“Evaluation: The claim that minority students in Dallas are twice as likely to pass Advanced Placement exams than anywhere else in the nation is not supported by evidence. The data used did not include many urban districts, and at least one urban district beat Dallas.”
5.22.15 – “Little Progress Seen on Dallas ISD’s STAAR Results” – by Jeffrey Weiss, Matthew Haag, Holly K. Hacker – Dallas Morning News — http://www.dallasnews.com/news/education/headlines/20150522-little-progress-seen-on-dallas-isds-staar-results.ece
“STAAR test results released Friday by Dallas ISD offer little evidence of systemic progress…Compared with last year, the passing rate dropped for eight of 11 exams in grades three through eight…Similarly, compared with results from 2012 — a higher percentage of students failed this year in eight of 11 exams.”
MIKE MORATH’S FAILURE WITH HOME RULE
Even the home-rule initiative in Dallas ISD that Mike Morath championed ended up as a total failure. Morath helped start a group with the misnomer of a name — “Support Our Public Schools.” In reality this group wanted to turn Dallas ISD into a home-rule charter district that would have been run by a handful of high-level people with no real accountability and no elected school board members to whom the public could have turned with their concerns.
These two articles chronicle Morath’s failed attempt at home-rule:
1.21.15 – “Dallas ISD Home-Rule Commission Votes Against Writing Charter” – by Matthew Haag – Dallas Morning News — http://www.dallasnews.com/news/education/headlines/20150120-dallas-isd-home-rule-commission-votes-against-writing-charter.ece
“The effort to overhaul the way Dallas ISD operates began with a bang a year ago but ended with a whimper Tuesday…The home-rule initiative launched in March with a petition drive and support from influential politicians and wealthy backers. But the public’s enthusiasm never matched their fervor…a home-rule district could undermine people’s democratic rights.”
5.14.14 – “Group Pushing Home Rule for Dallas ISD Ready To Move Forward” – by Matthew Haag and Tawnell D. Hobbs — Dallas Morning News — http://www.dallasnews.com/news/education/headlines/20140514-group-pushing-home-rule-for-dallas-isd-ready-to-move-forward.ece
Mike Morath, who helped start Support Our Public Schools and is the only DISD trustee who backs the effort…Some opponents don’t trust the home-rule leaders, including its chief funder, Houston billionaire John Arnold…Support Our Public Schools spent 10 weeks collecting signatures and paid people to get them…Some fear the effort is about taking control of DISD’s $1.2 billion annual budget.”
WHY WAS MIKE MORATH CHOSEN?
In a nutshell, “It ain’t what you know but who you know.”
Mike Morath is cozy with Houston billionaire John Arnold (of former Enron fame). John Arnold established The Arnold Foundation that is pushing school choice. The Arnold Foundation works closely with Julie Linn of Texans for Education Reform. Linn, who used to work for an education company that designed online courses, became an education advisor to Gov. Perry and then to Gov. Abbott.
Both Mike Morath and Julie Linn seem to have had no real teaching experience, yet we are supposed to accept both as “experts” on how and what should be taught to help students become well-educated citizens. I find this extremely hard to believe after having taught for 33+ years myself.
As I and other people have said many times before, “We are not against school choice; but when every school in America is following the same Type #2 philosophy of education, then there really is no choice for anyone.”
Mike Morath is not the right person for the Texas Commissioner of Education. He will not support whole-heartedly the Type #1 curriculum standards that the elected members of the Texas State Board of Education have worked so hard to adopt. Morath’s philosophy of education is very closely attuned to that of the Obama administration’s Type #2 Common Core. I am terribly disappointed in Gov. Abbott’s choice of Mike Morath as the Texas Commissioner of Education.