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ACTION ALERT: Texas Schools on Cusp of Failure

May 24, 2013 by

by Donna Garner



The elected members of the Texas State Board of Education along with tens of thousands of citizens have spent more than six years and countless hours debating, testifying, and then rewriting Texas’ public school curriculum standards (TEKS) in English / Science/ Social Studies/ Math.  These standards are Type #1 and are the most fact-based and patriotic in the entire United States.  Texas stands on the cusp of losing our way.


(Please read:  4.22.13 — “2 Types of Education: America Hangs in the Balance” — )



Just as these excellent Type #1 TEKS standards are beginning to raise the academic achievement of our Texas students (10th graders on down), the Texas Legislature has stepped into the mix and has either unwittingly or deliberately stopped positive academic progress, opening the door for those TEKS to be rewritten and moved right back into Type #2.


Please read:  5.14.13 – “Texas Legislators: Determining Students’ Fate” –


Please read:  5.2.13 – “Dumbing Down Communication Costs Lives” –





Along with the other “dumbing down” sections of HB 2836, Sen. Dan Patrick added Sect. 39.0236 to the Senate bill. This section would create an interim study committee made up of 12 appointed members with only 2 elected members of the Texas State Board of Education. This committee would have the majority voting power (12) to change the TEKS in the foundational grade levels of 3 through 8 and change them right back into Type #2.


Please read:  5.17.13 – “SUPER TEXAS ALERT: The Education Bureaucracy at Its Worst” –





HB 2836 was passed by the House on 4.30.13 and by the Senate yesterday, 5.22.13. Because no engrossed version from the Senate is posted online yet, I called Sen. Dan Patrick’s office since he authored Sect. 39.0236.  I talked to three different people to find out whether Sect. 39.0236 is still in the final version of HB 2836.  No one seems to know even though I have waited hours for a response.  His office staffers also do not know whether HB 2836 will be sent to a House/Senate conference committee because of differences between the House and Senate versions.


If the bill goes to conference committee, then we must first WRITE and then CALL our Texas Legislators to tell them that we do not want HB 2836 to be passed at all and we certainly do not want Sect. 39.0236 to be a part of it.


If HB 2836 should make it to the Governor’s desk, we will need to contact Gov. Perry and plead with him to veto this bill.


Unfortunately, another bad bill, HB 866, is already on Gov. Perry’s desk and would work in conjunction with HB 2836 to dumb down our Texas students.  Both HB 866 and HB 2836 must be vetoed if Gov. Perry wants our Texas schools to lead the nation in academic excellence.




The irony is that parents around the nation are beginning to look to Texas as the bellwether state in authentic education reform as they realize that their own children are trapped in the Type #2 Common Core Standards.


Our state has done it right with Type #1 standards, Type #1 STAAR/End-of-Course tests, and challenging graduation requirements of 4 years each of English, Math, Science, and Social Studies.



Many Texas Legislators have worked effectively with grassroots citizens to debunk CSCOPE.  Now if Texas Legislators and Gov. Perry would allow Texas’ already-well-thought-out New Plan to move forward, this year’s 10th graders on down would be the beneficiaries of a quality education.  If not, then the responsibility for allowing our public school children to continue to be immersed in Type #2 will be on the heads of the 83rd Legislative Session.



Donna Garner





5.22.13 – Dallas Morning News Editorial


“STAAR exemptions won’t help students, schools or parents”


Excerpts from this article:


This newspaper has been open to compromises regarding the number of STAAR exams required for high school students, but legislators are going too far in their decision that high-performing students don’t need to take all of the state reading and math exams currently required in grades three through eight…


The first problem with dropping annual tests on any students is it would be impossible for the state to determine how much a child grows or falls behind in a given year. That lack of precision has numerous implications.


Let’s say a high-performing third-grade reader falls back underneath the high-performing reading bar in fifth grade. Parents will have no way to really know in what grade the child started slipping. Was it in Mr. Jones’ fourth-grade class? Or was it in Ms. Santos’ fifth-grade class?


Not only will parents not know, but schools also won’t know. That can be a special problem as students move from elementary school to middle school, which is when students often fall behind.


The lack of data will be a problem for other grades, too. It will affect how schools evaluate their teachers and try to help them grow as educators. If schools don’t know whether a child slipped in reading in fourth or fifth grade, there is no way to measure the impact a teacher in those years has on a child.


Conversely, there will be no way to know which teacher helped a child improve in, say, math from fifth grade to seventh grade. As a result, there will be no way to reward the teacher for the value he or she may have added during a year.


Also, parents of high-performing students will lack annual objective yearly data on their child’s standing.


The two-tiered system also will further stigmatize the gap between high-performers and other students…If that trend continues, we could have an accountability system where mostly minority kids take annual tests while many white students get a pass.


…We also worry that the Texas education commissioner could face considerable pressure regarding where to set the bar for high-performers.


For all these reasons, Gov. Rick Perry needs to veto this bill when it reaches his desk.


HB 866’s impact


All Texas students would be tested in reading and math in grades three, five and eight.


Students who score high on the STAAR exams in those subjects in grades three and five will be exempted from reading and math tests in grades four, six and seven.


Students who do not pass the high-performance standards must take reading and math exams in grades three through eight…




Donna Garner

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