Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Private Lobbying groups dictating Texas' educational policy?

Former Tx senator $hapiro now part of Tx. Lobbying group

It appears that Texas is planning on adopting an A through F grading system for the state's public schools.  There are many teachers, superintendents and legislators opposed to this idea while most republicans and business interests support it. The idea probably resonates a lot clearer with most of us since that is the grading system we grew up with as students.

Follow the money-makers

The Texas Education agency has a 30-member advisory panel but perhaps surprisingly, the A-F idea did not come from them. As a matter of fact, Alief  ISD superintendent, H.D.Chambers sat in on some of that panel's sessions and, according to the Texas Tribune, had this to say :

"In our opinion that wasn't the best way to create a label to the accountability system to communicate to our community about how our schools were doing. He added that there was "pretty unanimous opposition" to the A-through-F plan among the committee's 30 members over significant concerns about whether it could promote inaccurate assumptions about school performance.

So, who appears to be calling the shots up at TEA if state education commissioner Michael Williams is not taking the advice of his own 30-member panel?  How about  a business-oriented lobbying group named Texans for Education Reform?  This influential group includes former Texas senator Florence Shapiro who played a crucial role in cutting $5.4 billion form Texas schools a couple of years ago as well as former U.S. Education Secretary Rod Paige.

At present, Senate bill 1408, sponsored by republican Dan Patrick calls for the A-F grading system to become the law of the land, awaits action on the senate floor.

Move over LISD & UISD,  Harmony Come on Down!

Patrick is also busy trying to expand the number of charter schools in Texas, an extremely popular GOP initiative. The New York Times reported the following on Patrick:

In January, Mr. Patrick announced the formation of Texans Deserve Great Schools, a nonprofit coalition that includes the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, which has invested millions in Houston and Louisiana charter schools, and the San Antonio-based Brackenridge Foundation, which is part of a $50 million campaign to bring more charters to the city.

Editor's note: No wonder Harmony Science Academy started in good ol' Houston, Texas.


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