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THE SECRET PATH TO UNDERMINE THE SBOE — HB 5

Jun 6, 2013 by

6.5.13 — Sent to Donna Garner for distribution (my comments posted further on down the page):

donna_garner

Subject: The Secret Path to Undermine the SBOE on Course Approval in HB 5

 

Texas Legislature Online HB 5  —  http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/Text.aspx?LegSess=83R&Bill=HB5

 

 
In Section 8 of HB 5, local districts are given authority to create courses (or “other activity”) to be approved by their boards for credit “without obtaining State Board of Education approval.” The criteria for creating such courses are substantively minimal. The districts must only report such courses to the agency. This language is in the new subsections (g-1) and (g-2).

In Section 16 of the bill, we begin to see how the legislation defines the “advanced courses” that can be used to fulfill graduation requirements.

Subsection (b-1) defines the course requirements for the foundation.

Subsection (b-2) deals with the “advanced” courses that are called for in (b-1). It includes (g-1) courses as among those courses that satisfy up to two of the 3 science courses, one of the 3 math courses, and one of the 4 English courses needed for the foundation.

Subsections (c-1) and (c-2) provide for the endorsements and lay out what they require. Beyond the foundation requirements, the student may take the additionally required 4th math and the 4th science courses from the (b-2) group (which includes (g-1) courses).

Bottom line: local districts have great flexibility to create courses (of unclear rigor and value) on their own and without state approval that will satisfy several key math and science (and English) requirements in both the foundation and endorsement pathways. This is, among many serious problems in HB 5, perhaps the legislation’s most serious flaw.

 

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Additional comments from Donna Garner about HB 5:

 

Something that I may not have made clear enough in yesterday’s article (http://educationviews.org/pleading-with-gov-perry-please-veto-these-education-bills/  ) is the fact that even though supposedly Texas high-school students have to pass the 5 EOC’s to graduate, HB 5 provides so many “escape routes” that in essence, teachers and students alike are not going to take the TEKS very seriously. So a student fails…just take a remediated community college course with a dumbed down assessment that will supplant the EOC and the TEKS…drop an endorsement…get parental permission to dumb down even further…take easy dual credit courses…without passing EOC, enter community college through the “back door” using special circumstances because community colleges are forbidden to keep students out because of not passing an EOC.

If HB 5 goes into effect, I predict that the education establishment will be screaming in the months to come when they finally figure out all the many endorsement courses that they have to create and find teachers to teach, the costs involved in expanding facilities for those 5 endorsements, and the complete fruit-basket-turned-upside-down impact on their school environment and organizational structure.

 

Under HB 5, high schools would be forced to run simultaneously two completely different, full-blown sides to their school program  — (1) the five endorsement side and (2) the academic side.  Schools that are already stretched very thin as they try to increase the academic rigor of their classes would, under HB 5, find themselves spending time, effort, and money to implement the 5 endorsement courses, thus endangering any strides they have made to build up academic achievement.  Again, HB 5 would mean the dumbing down of our Texas public schools and the demise of the New Plan that is just now beginning to reap some good academic results in students from 10th grade on down.

 

Donna Garner

wgarner1@hot.rr.com

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