Inside the Texas Textbook Adoption Review Meetings

Aug 3, 2013 by

by Donna Garner

8.3.13

 

These comments were sent to me in two parts – one on 7.20.13 and the other part today, 8.3.13.  The writer was present during both of the Texas State Board of Education instructional materials work sessions.  The term “Instructional materials” (IM’s) includes textbooks, online content, technology that directly supports classroom instruction, and certain types of technology services.  Evaluators appointed by the elected members of the SBOE went through the products submitted by publishers, checking to see if each one is aligned with the SBOE-adopted TEKS (Texas curriculum standards).  Those products that are deemed acceptable will then be sent to the SBOE for public hearings.

 

7.20.13 – Part 1

 

SB 6 (passed by the Texas Legislature in 2011) has changed the SBOE instructional materials adoption process tremendously.  Even though the Texas Legislature gave the Commissioner of Education authority over the instructional materials (IM’s), both present-Comm. Michael Williams and former-Comm. Robert Scott have graciously allowed the SBOE to remain involved. The difference under SB 6 is that if publishers do not want to put their IM’s through the SBOE adoption process, they do not have to do so. Under SB 6, it is permissible (but not wise) for ISD’s to use state money to purchase instructional materials that are not aligned with the SBOE-adopted TEKS (e.g., CSCOPE).

 

During Proclamation 2014 (the term used for IM’s that can be purchased for Texas public school classrooms by the 2014 – 15 school year), the titles of over 1600 products were initially submitted to the Texas Education Agency to be considered by the SBOE for adoption in K-12 Science, K-8 Math, and Tech Applications.

 

In the days before the deadline for the actual submission of the products, the number dwindled to 516 products. When asked why, many publishers said that their products were not ready for public scrutiny. Will those publishers still sell their products to the districts? Of course!  They simply will bypass the SBOE adoption process!

 

The number of products originally submitted (516) was still enormous compared to the number submitted in past adoptions, but that means that there will potentially be about 700 products that have not been submitted for review. Of course that number only reflects the products the SBOE knows about. There are many more IM’s out there; and because of SB 6 (adopted by the Legislature in 2011), all a publisher has to do is to make an appointment with school personnel, deliver a good sales pitch, and voila!… the deal is done.  State money sails out the door for a textbook that has not been vetted by the SBOE’s transparent, citizen-led adoption process.

 

8.3.13 – Part 2

 

At our reviewers’ meeting on July 31, Barbara Cargill (Chair of the SBOE) was active in making sure that Proclamation 14 was carried out correctly and efficiently.  She and the TEA staffers went to almost every reviewer’s table to introduce themselves and to thank them for volunteering their time; all seemed grateful for the kind words.  There were 3 tables of biology reviewers while there were only 1 to 2 tables for the other IM products.

 

The process that was used this time was very different from the one used in the past. Before SB 6, there were two lists – conforming and nonconforming.  Conforming IM’s had to cover 100% of the TEKS for the subject and grade level; nonconforming IM’s had to cover at least 50% of the TEKS for the subject and grade level.  However, because of SB 6, now IM’s only have to cover 50% of the TEKS.

 

In light of all of the changes to the process, Cargill had asked panel members what they thought of reviewing the materials virtually (in Phase I) as opposed to face-to-face. Of course most would rather have had face-to-face meetings from the beginning, but the cost was prohibitive.

 

There were 516 products that needed to be reviewed so that translated to MANY reviewers. (Interestingly enough, a math publisher decided to drop 12 of his company’s products during the review with no reason being given nor required.  Most likely, the math publisher plans to bypass the SBOE-adoption process and sell the products directly to local school district personnel.)

 

Dan Quinn of the Texas Freedom Network (TFN) was at the review meeting on July 31 (Wednesday) and had tried to sit with the biology panels. He was politely told that the public needed to stay on the perimeter of the room to avoid distracting the hard-working reviewers.

 

To get an understanding of the process, you need to picture a room full of 98 reviewers, all with laptops, all sitting at round tables, all diligently researching TEKS coverage and content accuracy…What would have happened if members of the public were allowed to roam the room at random? Chaos and distractions would have prevailed.

 

Barbara Cargill had repeatedly encouraged all SBOE members to attend these meetings so that they could see the process in person and also so that they could make sure the process was running smoothly.  SBOE members cheered on the reviewers, provided a listening ear when a problem arose, etc.  The TEA staffers did the actual facilitating of the meetings.

 

Comments from Donna Garner:

 

Marisa B. Perez from San Antonio (D-District 3) is a governmental and community relations specialist for San Antonio ISD.  She is a former Child Protective Services social worker and is a new SBOE member elected in Nov. 2012.  She has never been through the SBOE-adoption process nor was she involved in the six years that it took for the SBOE to write and adopt the new TEKS.

 

Perez posted a blog on the TFN website that attacked Barbara Cargill, a fellow SBOE member, for attending the IM’s review session.  What does Ms. Perez know about the process, and what makes her think she has the expertise to criticize the Chair who has been through the SBOE-adoption cycle numerous times and helped to write and adopt the TEKS?  (8.1.13 –http://tfninsider.org/2013/08/01/texas-ed-board-member-asks-what-was-sboe-chair-cargill-up-to/ ).

 

Marisa Perez has now clearly identified herself as a Type #2 proponent, having aligned herself with Texas Freedom Network.  Perez has lost the trust of everyone who wants our Texas public schools to follow the new Type #1 TEKS.  (To see the Type #1 vs. Type #2 chart —  http://educationviews.org/2-types-of-education-philosophies-chart/ )

 

 

Perez drew a 2-year term which means that if she decides to run for the SBOE again, voters will be able to vote her out in the elections of 2014.

 

Please read “My Message to Cargill: Consider the source; ignore TFN; hold steady.” – 8.2.13 — http://nocompromisepac.ning.com/profiles/blogs/message-for-sboe-cargill-ignore-tfn-hold-steady-by-donna-garner-8?xg_source=activity

 

Donna Garner

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