OPEN LETTER TO TEX LEGE — MUST STOP TWO BAD ED BILLS — SB 313/HB 2811

May 26, 2015 by

badideas

To:  Open Letter to the Texas Legislature

Re:  Education bills — SB 313/HB 2811 

From:  Donna Garner

Date: 5.25.15

 

From what I can understand, Sen. Seliger used his own SB 313 to replace all of the language in HB 2811 so that now the committee substitute for HB 2811 is identical to SB 313. — http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/History.aspx?LegSess=84R&Bill=SB313

 

 

Today the Texas House passed SB 313. The final vote (third reading) will be taken on the House floor tomorrow, Tuesday, May 26.

 

Here are my concerns with SB 313/HB 2811. 

 

These bills (and amendments) would require the elected State Board of Education members to shorten the present TEKS (Texas’ curriculum standards – passed between 2008 – 2012) in each of the foundation subject areas (ELAR, Science, Social Studies, Math). At the same time that the TEKS are shortened, the SBOE has to make sure that no changes would require the expense of new instructional materials, new professional development, and new test questions on the STAAR/EOC’s.  

 

These legislators evidently do not understand the importance of the TEKS and how they are the foundation upon which everything else in education is based.  If the TEKS change, then everything built upon them has to change in order for authentic alignment to occur.  The curriculum materials, teacher professional development, assessment questions, college teacher education courses — all have to change when the TEKS change.

 

ARE THESE BILLS INTERRUPTING THE ALREADY-BEGUN TEKS REWRITE CYCLE?

 

Ironically enough, right now the cycle for revising the four content area TEKS (i.e., ELAR, Science, Social Studies, Math) is ALREADY in the pipeline beginning with the 2008 English / Language Arts / Reading (ELAR) TEKS.  The SBOE members are currently in the process of choosing the ELAR reviewers and writing team members.  These bills (SB 313/HB 2811) are not needed and would only muck up the TEKS revision cycle.

  

DECIDING HOW MUCH STUDENTS SHOULD BE TAUGHT PER YEAR 

 

Another thing that SB 313/HB 2811 do is to require that the SBOE members would have to decide how many of the TEKS elements the average student could learn in a year’s time while at the same time making sure that all of the college-and-career-ready elements are still included. 

 

Let’s be very clear.  Texas has only one set of curriculum standards for the public schools of Texas, and these are the TEKS adopted by the elected members of the Texas State Board of Education.  The SBOE made sure that the college-and-career ready (CCR) elements are embedded in the TEKS, and even the U. S. Department of Education has signed off on our TEKS saying they satisfy the CCR requirement. Students who master the TEKS will be ready for college and/or their careers.

 

Also, it takes real classroom teachers on the TEKS writing teams to know how much curriculum can be taught per school year; and the review and writing teams always seem to contain a majority of people who have not been in the classroom for eons. 

 

ARE THE TEKS TOO LONG?

 

To be honest, the idea of limiting the TEKS in scope to make sure that they can all be taught and learned in a year’s time by the average student is not a bad idea.  In fact, this should have been stipulated by the legislature BEFORE the 2008-2012 TEKS were written.  However, since that stipulation was not in place, the SBOE members found themselves having to make concessions with many special interest groups to get the 2008-2012 TEKS adopted, and that increased the number of TEKS elements.

 

The good news is that skillful teachers have learned how to clump the TEKS together into teaching units so that most if not all of them can be taught and learned in a year’s time.  Of course, it means that teachers must rewrite their “old” units that they had before the  2008 – 2012 TEKS were adopted; but they needed to do that anyway because the philosophy of education of the “old” 1997 TEKS (Type #2) was inferior to the Type #1 new, traditional, fact-based, academic, clearly stated, grade-level specific, and measurable 2008 – 2012 TEKS.

 

Unfortunately, there has been resistance on the part of educators to rewrite their teaching units; and administrators in some 875 schools hurt the transition from the 1997 Type #2 TEKS to the new Type #1 TEKS by purchasing CSCOPE.  CSCOPE follows the Type #2 philosophy of education and is very closely aligned with Type #2 Common Core.   

 

Here is the chart that explains the two philosophies of education:  Type #1 vs. Type #2 philosophies of education — http://www.educationviews.org/comparison-types-education-type-1-traditional-vs-type-2-cscope-common-core/

 

STRIPPING OUR TEXAS STUDENTS OF THEIR LOVE FOR AMERICA

 

To shorten and/or revise the present Type #1 Social Studies TEKS would do a tremendous injustice to our Texas students. The SBOE members fought long and hard to make sure that Texas students have the most fact-based, patriotic curriculum standards in the entire United States; and I believe that some of the supporters behind these three bills (SB 313/HB 2811) are seeking to strip our Texas students of their love for America and replace that with the Type #2 social justice agenda.

 

SWITCHING HORSES IN THE MIDDLE OF THE STREAM 

 

The problem with these two bills (SB 313/HB 2811) is that schools would have to “switch horses in the middle of the stream.”  Because of giving schools plenty of time to implement fully the 2008 – 2013 TEKS, teachers are just now getting the instructional materials and STAAR/EOC’s that are fully aligned with the TEKS.  Teachers are becoming more confident about implementing the TEKS more smoothly into their classrooms.    

 

To interrupt that process with SB 313/HB 2811 would create mass chaos in the classroom, and teachers would be furious if they were to be put through even more changes!

 

WHY SB 313/HB 2811?

 

Even though Rep. Aycock’s amendment passed today stipulates that the TEKS revisions must not require any new expenses, that is hogwash. If the TEKS change, the instructional materials, teacher professional development, and assessments have to change. I believe the lobbyists, vendors, Thomas Ratliff, Microsoft, Pearson, etc. know that; and they are banking on stacking the TEKS writing committees and reviewers with Type #2 proponents.  Of course, all of the new IM’s would be completely digitized – no hardcover textbooks will be published any more. 

 

DO DIGITIZED MATERIALS SAVE MONEY?

 

I believe Texas Legislators have been sold a bill of goods because they think the digitized IM’s will save money.  Interestingly enough, a report was given to the SBOE members not too many months ago that informed them that the digitized IM’s cost more than the “old-fashioned” textbooks. Legislators need to retrieve this report from the SBOE and/or the Texas Education Agency.

 

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Also, the above two bills are not the only highly questionable education bills being debated by the Texas Legislature. HB 1164 is a disaster but, unfortunately, has been passed to Gov. Abbott’s desk. Please do your part to read my comments regarding HB 1164, and utilize them to do a letter-writing campaign to influence Gov. Abbott not to sign HB 1164.   

 

“Two Bummer Bills in Texas: HB 742 and HB 1164” — by Donna Garner – 4.23.15

http://www.educationviews.org/bummer-bills-texas-hb-742-hb-1164/

 

Donna Garner

Wgarner1@hot.rr.com

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