Apr 1, 2013 by

donna_garnerBy Donna Garner


The “Toxic Trio” — HB 5, SB 3, and SB 1724 — with a few variations among them require all Texas public school students to get the Foundation diploma which is only slightly better than the lowest degree plan presently in place (Minimum) for sophomores on down.


Under the Foundation plan, students could meet their graduation requirements by passing only English II (both reading and writing), Algebra I, biology, and U.S. history.


End-of-Course testing would be eliminated in geometry, chemistry, physics, English I, World Geography, and World History. That means teachers could teach Type #2 curriculum in those courses because neither they nor their students would be held accountable publicly for their performance on the Type #1 STAAR/EOC’s in those subjects.


Also, the Toxic Trio does not REQUIRE students to get an extra endorsement such as Humanities, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math), Business/Industry, Public Service, Arts/Humanities, or Multidisciplinary Studies.


Therefore, it is not hard to figure out that many students (if given a choice) would undoubtedly take the easy way out by getting only the Foundation diploma (without any endorsement).  Students would ask, “Why bother to take any more courses than the Foundation diploma requires if I can graduate and/or go to college without taking the endorsement courses?”


Presently, the largest percentage of our Texas public school students (sophomores on down) seek the Recommended degree (4 x 4 — default plan). It is possible for a student to opt out of the Recommended and opt into the Minimum plan, but it takes special parent permission. A  small percentage of Texas students presently take the Advanced (i.e., Distinguished) plan which is 4 x 4 plus.


Human nature being what it is, students, when allowed to do so, will nearly always take the easy path!  That is where adults have to step in and make sure that students are not allowed to take the easy path which will result in a dumbed down workforce and unprepared college freshmen.


The “adults” in this situation are supposed to be the Texas Legislators who for some strange reason seem to be doing everything they can to give students the escape route that they want.  After having been a teacher for 33+ years, I know that students will nearly always reach a higher standard when expected to do so. It is our adult expectations that bring about the desired outcomes in students.



I heard today that there is even a move afoot to pass a bill that would strip away the Grade 3 through Grade 8 STAAR tests (Type #1).  If this were allowed to happen, the public would have no way whatsoever to monitor the type of curriculum that Texas school children are being taught in the elementary and middle school grades.



Please express to your elected Texas Legislators that they need to back away from changing the basic tenets of the present testing, accountability, and graduation requirements. Ask them to vote “NO” on the Toxic Trio (HB 5, SB 3, and SB 1724).



Please read this article to gain more background information:


3.31.13 – “Open Letter to Texas Legislators: BAD Bills – SB 1724, SB 3, HB 5” —




Donna Garner



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