Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Superintendents featured at Save Texas Schools Rally

Two superintendents joined a long list of lawmakers Saturday as featured speakers at the Save Texas Schools Rally. The march to the Texas Capitol and rally on the steps drew roughly 2,000 supporters, all delivering the message to lawmakers that they need to find a way to increase funding for public education.

John Folks from Northside ISD in San Antonio kicked off the rally telling those gathered he wasn't willing to accept "the new normal," a catch phrase bandied about by lawmakers last year referring to economic conditions and the fact that schools will have to do less with more.

Dr. Folks also reminded those gathered that the upcoming elections (early voting is May 14-24 and primary elections are May 29) are incredibly important.

"The fight begins now with elections," he said. "Not when then the legislature comes in."

John Kuhn, superintendent of Perrin-Whitt CISD and author of last year's "Alamo Letter" that compared the plight of Texas schools to the odds faced by William Travis and his forces at the Alamo, also a spoke.

Kuhn compared education to football, with the educator as quarterback and lawmakers as the offensive line.

"Give us time to stand in the pocket and complete these passes," Kuhn said.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Washington Post writes about Texas resolution

Valerie Straus, writer of The Washington Post's phenomenally popular education blog The Answer Sheet, just posted a lengthy entry about the debate surrounding high-stakes, standardized testing here in Texas and how that debate may influence the rest of the country.

Here at TASA we are getting notifications on an hourly basis from districts that have approved the Resolution Concerning High Stakes, Standardized Testing of Texas Public School Students. As of 11:40 a.m., we'd heard from 145 districts that have passed it. Many more have let us know the resolution is on their agenda for upcoming meetings.

We'll be updating our online list of school districts this afternoon.

Twitter is also abuzz with tweets from around the nation about the movement going on in Texas, thanks in large part to promotion from education historian and writer Diane Ravitch, who has almost 28,000 Twitter followers.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Texas resolution goes nationwide

The total confirmed number of Texas districts that have adopted the board resolution concerning high stakes, standardized testing of Texas public school students is now 122. But the effort is spreading beyond Texas. The Community District Education Council 30 in Queens, New York unanimously passed a nearly identical resolution at a board meeting last night – essentially substituting New York for Texas. The council said they hope other New York City area districts will adopt similar resolutions.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Resolution on high-stakes testing causing a stir nationwide

So, far we’ve heard from 46 school districts across Texas that have adopted the board resolution originally drafted by the North Texas Regional Consortium, tweaked by TASA and posted on our website for use by districts statewide.

Another 20 or so have contacted me to let me know it’s on their agenda for later this month or early April. And I’m sure there are more out there we haven’t heard from.

But already, the resolution is causing a stir. The Houston Chronicle ran a story about the resolution and backlash to standardized testing on its front page Monday and Diane Ravitch tweeted about the resolution Monday night to her 27,000 plus followers on Twitter. That caught the attention of Valerie Strauss, education writer for The Washington Post and author of the widely read blog The Answer Sheet. Strauss emailed last night asking for details about the resolution.

Texas school districts are taking a bold stand against the over-reliance on standardized tests and what it’s doing to our public schools. Below is the list of districts that have adopted the resolution so far. Please email me at jcaputo@tasanet.org if we need to add your district to the list.

Blue Ridge ISD 
Coppell ISD 
Lewisville ISD
Hereford ISD 
Manor ISD 
Community ISD 
McKinney ISD 
Clear Creek ISD 
Plano ISD 
Northwest ISD
Richardson ISD
Allen ISD
Highland Park ISD (Dallas) 
Frisco ISD
Goliad ISD
New Boston ISD 
Longview ISD 
Hillsboro ISD 
Mineral Wells ISD 
Union Grove ISD 
Friendswood ISD 
La Feria ISD 
Klondike ISD 
Poth ISD 
Mercedes ISD 
Clarksville ISD 
Burleson ISD  
Spearman ISD 
Palmer ISD 
Boles ISD 
Royal ISD 
Kaufman ISD 
Granbury ISD 
Seminole ISD 
Wall ISD 
Alvin ISD
Bland ISD 
Chisum ISD 
Channing ISD 
Palacios ISD 
Mesquite ISD 
Burkburnett ISD
Bloomburg ISD 
Iowa Park ISD
Stockdale ISD 
Shamrock ISD

Monday, March 5, 2012

Mission: School Transformation highlighted at SXSWedu

TASA staff shared information about Mission: School Transformation Monday at a pre-conference event for SXSWedu. SXSWedu focuses on innovations in learning and is part of the hugely popular SXSW music, film and interactive conference.

Executive Director Johnny Veselka and Associate Executive Director Susan Holley gave attendees background on how the document “Creating a New Vision for Public Education in Texas” and the Texas Visioning Network came to be and how the vision has morphed into Mission: School Transformation.

Holley called the mission “incredible work by some very courageous educators.”

Veselka gave on overview of Senate Bill 1557, which gives the Texas Commissioner of Education authority to create the Texas High Performance Schools Consortium for the purpose of informing the governor, legislature, and commissioner about ways to transform public schools to improve student learning through the development of innovative, next-generation learning standards and assessment and accountability systems. The bill permits up to 20 school districts and eligible open-enrollment charter schools to apply to be included in the consortium, and those selected must include a representative range of district types and sizes and diverse student populations.

Final rules for the consortium and the application process should be out soon and districts are scheduled to be selected in July.

“This legislation certainly was driven by the work of our visioning institute,” Veselka said. “We have the foundation here for building the future for education in this state.”

Texas Education Agency associate commissioner Anita Givens, who led sessions on TEA’s Project Share, said every time she hears about Mission: School Transformation, which has a goal of Student-Centered Schools, Future-Ready Students, she realizes more and more what an exciting opportunity it is for public education in Texas.

Givens and colleagues from TEA discussed Project Share, a portal through which teachers and students can communicate, collaborate and access 21st century digital content, at the pre-conference. Project Share leverages several technology platforms to provide multiple levels of access and flexibility for educators and students.