Thursday, January 14, 2010

You go, Texas!

I've said for a looooong time that Georgia should say, "Thanks, but no thanks" to federal dollars. Too many strings. Too little reimbursement. In fact, studies show that NCLB mandates actually COST states more money to implement than they are reimbursed -- for bureaucracy, testing and waste!

Now comes Texas - doing just that - saying, "Thanks, but no thanks" to the Race to the Top money. Gutsy! Good going Texas!

Texas governor to feds: Stay out of our schools
1:51 pm January 14, 2010, by Maureen Downey

A key racer just dropped out of the Race to the Top, the competition under way among states to win federal school improvement millions.

Texas is dropping out even though it was in line for up to $700 million. The governor said the trade-off wasn’t worth it. Up until now, Texas had been preparing its application and working with the Gates Foundation to build its case and satisfy the stiff criteria to win the grants.

“Texas is on the right path toward improved education, and we would be foolish and irresponsible to place our children’s future in the hands of unelected bureaucrats and special interest groups thousands of miles away in Washington, virtually eliminating parents’ participation in their children’s education,” said Gov. Rick Perry in a statement. “If Washington were truly concerned about funding education with solutions that match local challenges, they would make the money available to states with no strings attached.”

In a letter to U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan, Perry wrote:

“I will not commit Texas taxpayers to unfunded federal obligations or to the adoption of unproven, cost-prohibitive national curriculum standards and tests. In the interest of protecting our state sovereignty over matters concerning education and shielding local schools from unwarranted federal intrusion into local decision-making, Texas will not be submitting an application for RTTT funds.”

In a statement, Texas Education Commissioner Robert Scott said, “I wholeheartedly support the governor’s decision. This one-time grant program would result in mandates for districts that would last for decades.”


Anonymous said...



Anonymous said...

How does Texas rank in education? If it is in the top 10%, good for them. If it is in the lower half, they may need the help.

Cerebration said...

Texas' public education rank moves up 2 spots

Texas jumped two spots - improving from 41st in 2004 to 39th in 2005 - in a ranking of state public education, but it still lags behind much of the country, according to a report released last week by a group of lawmakers.

The report, issued by the American Legislative Exchange Council, factors eighth-graders' scores from the National Assessment of Education Progress test, along with the state's SAT and ACT scores. The report also factored in total state education spending.

Nationwide, the report showed that student achievement is not improving, despite increases in school funding, said Lori Drummer, education task force director for the council.
Of the 10 states that have increased their expenditures per student by 100 percent or more, only two of those states, New Hampshire and Vermont, ranked in the top 10 for academic achievement, according to the report. Drummer said this supports the growing argument that simply spending more money on education does not necessarily increase student performance. Of the top 10 states that reduced their pupil-to-teacher ratios, Vermont was the only state among them to rank in the academic achievement top 10, according to the report.

Cerebration said...

The thing is, as you can see from what I just posted on the Potato Head article, the feds only chip in around 6-7% of per student funding. These mandates - as NCLB has shown us - actually end up costing school systems more money to implement than they are given by the federal government. (Testing, tracking, programs, and other mandates.) Why would you let someone who contributes 7% towards your budget make all of the decisions about how to spend the entire budget? Suggestions - great. Curriculums - (provided at no cost) great! Teacher training (the feds could set up a virtual teacher training online don't you think?) Great!

As far as I've been able to tell - this new RTTT is all about closing down public schools and reopening them as some kind of charter. There's BIG money in this for the charter school corporate leaders, textbook publishers and test creators and scoring companies.

Anonymous said...

Son of awcomeonow saying
Good for texas. Many people have the mistaken belief that federal dollars are the lifeline.
When you consider all the regulations, paperwork, and, most importantly, loss of autonomy the lifeline suddenly seems to be attached to a cinder block.
Remember back in the Clinton years when the government shut down was threatened? I still think that they started it back too soon.
Our misrepresentatives had the perfect chance to get rid of the Department of Education and HUD, and they blew it. Sigh.

Anonymous said...

Texas opted out to avoid national standards and a national test. Foolish choice since a national test and national standards are inevitable. The states will save money by scrapping the 50 diffrent high stakes tests (of dubious value anyway-since the passing scores are too low). National normed tests already exist and are good predictors of college success. Georgia will not pass up the 400,000 million dollars because if they do they will have to do it all anyway.

Anonymous said...

Passing up the money and national standards in my opinion is a great thing.

Today while making lesson plans, a fellow teacher said to me, it's not part of the standards, so we are not going to teach it. I was dumb founded, as teaching this concept would give the kids a well rounded education and would actually help them to understand the standard. When teachers, school districts, and the government focus only on the standards instead of educating the child, our children are missing out on deeply understanding concepts and having their interest in learning sparked and nurtured.

When we are only worried about the test scores and not about the children's education we have stopped educating. In America, we worry about state mandated, ill written, and mundane tests, that are given before the end of the school year is even over. Learning stops after the state tests are given, as teachers are in a rush to introduce concepts to children before the children take the state tests and both child and teacher are burnt out.

Schools also put more effort and thought into the state tests that do not show parents how their child is performing against his/her peers. We over look the ITBS test scores, which are a better indicator of how well a child is learning and stands against the rest of the country.

In the fourteen years that I have been an educator, I have seen first hand that if you give the children a solid education that your test scores will come. I have seen children's test scores raise almost 2 grade levels, not because I am a superior teacher, but because I worked hard to help the children learn to problem solve, think, and understand concepts deeply and thoroughly.

If teachers, school districts, parents, and the government continue to focus only on teaching the standards, our children will be left behind.

I look at the geometry unit that I am currently teaching where I am teaching 2 lessons from a unit and 2 others from a different text, and then 2 other lessons from another unit and 2 others from a different text and so on. My students are having a difficult time grasping the material, not because this is difficult, but because they have only been exposed to what the standards say and have no other knowledge or experience beyond that.

When I was going to school to earn my teaching certificate and masters degree in Pennsylvania, standards were just being introduced. I was taught that they were to be the minimum that we taught our children, not the end all be all. This philosophy does not appear to be that of DCSS. However, it is one that I hold dear to my heart. It is a concept that DeKalb needs to grasp quickly. Could this be the reason why Georgia is last in education?

Anonymous said...

Secret: in my first three years of teaching, I more or less ignored the Georgia Performance Standards. I glanced at them once or twice, but they seemed to just be repetitive common sense, and as I was in another county (NOT DEKALB!) at the time, I was not required to "post the standards" on the wall or even to submit lesson plans to the administration.

My students-- my untracked, wild mix of the lowest of the low and the moderately advanced-- had the highest EOCT scores in the county. Why? I like to think it was because I had a lot more time to think about what I thought it would be in my students' best interest to know, and I worked hard to give them a "big picture" of the scope of my subject matter. I didn't waste my time picking through the standards and writing lesson plans I was going to have to scrap anyway.

Go Texas. Go hard.

Anonymous said...

This is Anon 5:59 adding-- since I started teaching in DeKalb three years ago, I have not taught an EOCT course, so I can't say if I just had "beginner's luck" back then or not. Don't worry though-- I'm now a GPS drone, as required.

Anonymous said...

One of my favorite parts of private school (and yes, what I'm about to say is a mixed bag) is that the teacher's have the opportunity and ability to develop and teach the curriculum. We, as the parents, have to buy the text book each year and we risk that it isn't going to be done right so if you get a bad teacher or a new teacher it could back fire and you would have a bad year. But the teachers we've encourtered this year have been amazing and my 9th grader is learning things that my 12th grader never had the chance to get in a DCCS.

Cerebration said...

Yes, I sincerely do believe that the plan is to give public schools this one fighting chance and if you don't make it in the Race to the Top - you will be shut down and reopened as a charter school.

This is without a doubt the plan of Obama and Duncan. They have stated publicly that they intend to close 5,000 public schools - to start - and reopen them most likely as public "charter" schools - as in - under the "educational/business plan" of charter businesses. These are businesses people - they are in it to make money.

Follow the "Schools Matter" blog linked below -- they will enlighten you on so many issues. I don't always agree with their perspective 100%, but they do see things in a whole 'nother light.

Schools Matter Blogspot

Anonymous said...

Closing poor performing schools and opening them as charters is exactly what happened in the Chicago Public School system that Arnie is from.

He also created Charter schools for his children and friends' children to attend and made it difficult for children in poorer neighborhoods to attend or get to-Like Arabia Mountain, but in reverse.

One must remember the Arnie has no teaching or education experience, he is a business man. Chicago Public schools are run like a business with a CEO and not a superintendent who has teaching experience. The CEO is hired and fired by the mayor. It is a very political position.

O'bama was brought into politics through the same political machine that hired Arnie.

You must understand Chicago politics to know how Arnie received his position.

Anonymous said...

Here's a Chamber of Commerce comparison chart with variables. Very interesting.

Cerebration said...

Yep. And here's an excerpt from one article about how a "for-profit" charter school handles their "business"...

Teachers at New York's Merrick Academy charter school are ticked off. The charter school, operated by the for-profit Victory Schools, Inc, is sending over a million per year to the profiteers at Victory, which obviously cuts into their salaries and robs children of educational opportunities (in this case, that means heating systems, a gym, and certainly other necessities). Sure - Victory uses some of this million-dollar slush fund to pay the bills, etc, but they also keep a hefty chunk for themselves.

To read the whole story click