TO TEXAS LEGE: DO NO HARM –
“To Texas Lege: Do No Harm”
by Donna Garner
Almost any bills that Texas Sen. Kel Seliger (R-Amarillo) offers have a questionable agenda behind them. Even the left-leaning Dallas Morning News editorial board today is criticizing Seliger’s bill that weakens the power of regents of Texas universities to “vigorously question administrations and to gather the records required to do so.” Seliger and other Texas Legislators are on a tirade because Wallace Hall, U. T. Regent, managed to uncover the fact that special admission favors were dished out to Texas legislators’ children and friends who applied to the U. T. Law School.
Seliger is deeply tied to the wrong people. He is trying to get Gov. Abbott to appoint Marty Rowley (R – Amarillo) as the new chair of the SBOE. [*Posted toward the bottom of this article, I have given my recommendation for the best person to be the SBOE chair.] Rowley recently voted for Thomas Ratliff to become the vice-chair of the three-member SBOE executive committee that decides on the direction of the Board. Thomas Ratliff is a long-time lobbyist for Microsoft; Ratliff managed to get himself placed on the SBOE Committee on the Permanent School Fund. This committee makes decisions involving the PSF and millions of dollars’ worth of business with Microsoft. Bill Gates/Microsoft are behind the Common Core. Ratliff is serving illegally on the SBOE because of his conflict of interest. If Marty Rowley were to be appointed the chair of the SBOE, then Seliger and Ratliff would have an even bigger “seat at the education table.”
Seliger also works closely with TASA, TASB, TAMSA, Raise Your Hand Texas, and Teacher Parent PAC . All of these organizations have common interests because they want to destroy the present Type #1 curriculum standards (TEKS) adopted by the SBOE from 2008 -2012 for each grade level and for each course.
By destroying the Type #1 STAAR/End-of-Course tests (the “measuring stick”) that by law are aligned with the TEKS, then schools would be free to teach Type #2 undeterred by the Type #1 requirements. Without a measuring stick based upon the measurable/objective data of the STAAR/EOC’s, schools would be rated on the soft data produced by subjective measurements and easily manipulated criteria.
Yes, if these legislative bills to destroy the STAAR/EOC’s were to get passed, there would be massive celebrations all across Texas; however, the next day after the celebrations and the reality hits parents, they would be furious. How would any parent (or taxpayer) know whether or not his local school district is doing a good job of educating students? How would a parent know whether his child is ready for the rigors of the next grade level? How would parents know whether to get extra tutoring for their children or intensive remediation? If a parent suspects that his child has been in a classroom where the teacher has inflated students’ grades, how would a parent know this without the “measuring stick” of the STAAR/EOC’s? Unless the STAAR/EOC’s are given at each grade level/course, who would both parents and administrators hold accountable for the gaps in learning?
How would businessmen in the community know whether their future employees are prepared with basic skills? It would be a delicate situation to fire employees once hired who do not have the basic skills to be good, well-prepared employees?
[Type #1 vs. Type #2 Chart — http://www.educationviews.org/comparison-types-education-type-1-traditional-vs-type-2-cscope-common-core/ ]
SEN. SELIGER’S BAD BILLS
SB 149 (http://www.legis.state.tx.us/BillLookup/Text.aspx?LegSess=84R&Bill=SB149) offers an escape mechanism for students not to learn and teachers not to teach the Type #1 curriculum standards (TEKS) adopted by the elected members of the Texas State Board of Education after numerous public hearings and thousands of grassroots citizens’ input.
SB 149 allows students to graduate without passing the five STAAR/End-of-Course tests (English I, English II, Biology, U.S. History, and Algebra I) even though students have years to do so with released test questions, intensive remediation, and many different administrations of the test.
SB 313 (http://www.legis.state.tx.us/BillLookup/History.aspx?LegSess=84R&Bill=SB313) requires the SBOE to review and modify all of the TEKS for every subject and every grade level by Sept. 2018. Of course, this is an impossible task for the SBOE to do it thoroughly and well in that short length of time along with the myriads of other responsibilities that the SBOE has. The SBOE members are unpaid volunteers who receive no remuneration for staffers nor offices.
Sen. Seliger’s SB 313 would disrupt the well-organized plan already put in motion by the Texas Education Agency and the SBOE to review/modify the TEKS in a systematic order (http://tea.texas.gov/index2.aspx?id=25769817636). As indicated on the TEA website, currently the TEKS for English / Language Arts / Reading (ELAR) are up for consideration with writing teams being selected to review and modify them if necessary. Seliger’s SB 313 is not needed and would be duplicative and confusing.
SB 451 authored by Sen. Seliger (http://www.legis.state.tx.us/BillLookup/Text.aspx?LegSess=84R&Bill=SB451) and its House companion piece HB 774 (Mary Gonzalez – D — http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/Companions.aspx?LegSess=84R&Bill=SB451) would not require students to be STAAR tested on writing, spelling, and grammar in Grades 4 and 7. SB 451 also would not require students to take the STAAR Social Studies test in Grade 8. “What gets tested gets taught.” It is the STAAR/EOC’s that hold teachers and their students accountable for having taught/learned the Type #1 TEKS.
For years, Texas students have done worse on the writing portion of the STAAR/EOC’s (and the TAKS tests) than on any other section. On the SAT in 2014, Texas students scored the lowest writing scores for the third consecutive year since the writing section was added to the SAT in 2006.
As Education Commissioner Michael Williams has stated, “We must work together to assure our students are in a position to express themselves beyond 140 characters after they leave high school.”
It is hard for any thinking Texan to figure out why Sen. Seliger and Rep. Gonzalez would possibly want to pass legislation that would weaken our Texas students’ skills in writing/spelling/grammar.
HB 742 by Rep. Dan Huberty (R — http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/Text.aspx?LegSess=84R&Bill=HB742) is similar to SB 451/HB 774 but even goes a step further by removing U. S. History from the STAAR/End-of-Course list.
It is also hard for any thinking Texan to figure out why Sen. Seliger, Rep. Gonzalez, and Rep. Huberty would want to de-emphasize the STAAR Social Studies test in Grade 8 and the U. S. History STAAR/EOC in high school. Texas’ Social Studies TEKS are the most fact-based, Type #1, patriotic curriculum standards in the entire United States. “What gets tested gets taught.” Why would Sen. Seliger/Gonzalez/Huberty possibly want to hurt our Texas students’ chances to become patriotic American citizens?
*My recommendation to Gov. Abbott is to appoint Donna Bahorich as the new chair of the SBOE. Donna is known by those who have worked with her closely as someone who has strong conservative principles, good verbal and writing skills, solid political experience, much common sense, a stable family situation, a background as a homeschool and private school mother, and work experience as a skilled negotiator.
OTHER RECOMMENDATIONS ON TEXAS LEGISLATIVE BILLS
3.13.15 — UPDATED ON 3.13.15 – “Good News: HB 3571 and SB 1711 To Get Rid of CSCOPE and Common Core” — by Donna Garner — http://www.educationviews.org/good-news-hb-3571-rid-cscope-common-core/
3.18.15 — “No Need for Another Appointed Commission – Tex. SB 1200” — by Donna Garner — http://www.educationviews.org/appointed-commission-tex-sb-1200/
2.19.15 — “Texas Schools and the Slippery Slope of Sen. Seliger’s SB 149” — by Donna Garner —
2.14.15 – “Tex. Education Bills – Some Good, Some Bad” — by Donna Garner — http://www.educationviews.org/tex-education-bills-good-bad/
Good bill – Sen. Bob Hall SB 447 — http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/Text.aspx?LegSess=84R&Bill=SB447 —
to make English the official language of Texas. With our state becoming more diversified as time goes on, the number of languages that proliferate Texas is increasing exponentially. To make sure that everyone in our state can communicate well with one another, we must make English the official language of Texas in government as well as in our public schools. Being able to communicate in the same language is an important unifying principle of a strong society.