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More Than 12,000 Education Jobs Lost In Texas So Far—It Is Not Over Yet

The Texas Progressive Alliance — a confederation of the best politcal bloggers in Texas — has released a preliminary tally of school district job cuts and mass resignations in just 60 school districts in Texas.

(Above—Westlake High School in Eanes I.S.D. Eanes has lost at least 98 jobs in the current budget disaster.)    

This is a work in progress. There are likely many more jobs that have been eliminated since January than those represented below.

If you know of other ISD layoffs, job cuts, etc. that are not listed here, please leave a comment.

The following is from the TPA release:

AUSTIN—More than 12,000 Texas public school teachers, librarians, administrators, and support staff have left their school job in the roughly three months since the Texas Legislature released proposed budget figures for the 2012-2013 biennium, according to data released Tuesday by the Texas Progressive Alliance.

“There is no bunk in these numbers,” said Vince Leibowitz, chair of the Alliance, a group of progressive online activists including more than 50 netroots activists, bloggers, and online writers from across Texas. “These numbers are the cold, hard, truth and show precisely how significant an impact the proposed budget is already having on school districts across the state,” Leibowitz said.

More alarming, he noted, is that the more than 12,000 layoffs, firings, and voluntary or forced retirements represent only a fraction of the devastating toll the proposed budget is taking on public education. “These reductions come from a grand total of 60 of the state’s 1,234 school districts, less than five percent of all school districts statewide,” he noted. “Imagine how high this number will be when data is collected for all of these school districts,” he continued.

The Alliance collected the data from publicly available sources including newspapers, television stations, and other media outlets that cover Texas school boards. The data was compiled by members of the Alliance and includes districts from all parts of the state.

The data was released on the heels of an announcement by the Texas Legislative Budget Board that the proposed budget being considered by the Legislature will be the first since at least 1984 that does not adequately fund public school formula funding and makes no allowance for enrollment growth.

“Yesterday, Senator Ogden was quoted as saying that Texas school districts could ‘live with,’ five percent cuts,” said Charles Kuffner, Vice Chair of the Alliance. “Evidently, Senator Ogden and Republicans in the Legislature, Governor Perry, and our state leadership think losing 12,000 public school employees, increasing class sizes, and reducing the quality of instruction are worth living with. We do not,” Kuffner stated.

The Alliance will continue to track school district layoffs through the start of the 2011-2012 school year and today will ask readers of their blog to help them track this critically important number in ISDs across the state.

The TPA noted that, “as best as possible, the Texas Progressive Alliance attempted to avoid counting projected job loss figures. The numbers below should reflect jobs that have already been cut and positions that have promised not to be fulfilled. In some cases, news reports reported several totals of jobs reduced or positions not filled; in those cases, the Texas Progressive Alliance used the lowest and most certain of the figures.”

Here are the numbers and ISDs facing cuts, with sources:

School District  Job Reductions  Source
Abilene 14 Abilene Reporter-News, 4/4/11
Arlington 538 Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 4/7/11
Atlanta 14 KTAL 6
Austin 1,153 Austin American-Statesman, 4/6/11
Bay City 43 The Tribune, 4/25/11
Brownsville 275 The Monitor, 4/7/11
Canutillo 13 KVIA, 4/12/11
Cedar Hill 97 Dallas Morning News, 4/5/11
Clear Creek 17 The Bay Area Citizen, 3/11/11
Comal 92 New Braunfels Herald Zeitung, 4/5/11
Dallas 1,450 Dallas Morning News, 4/9/11 & Dallas Morning News, 4/9/11
Denton 274 Denton Chronicle, 3/23/11 & Denton Chronicle, 4/27/11
Eanes 98 Community Impact, 4/8/11
East Central 7 San Antonio Express-News, 3/25/11
Eastland 2 KTXS, 4/5/11
Ector 104 Odessa American, 4/11/11
El Paso 116 KVIA, 3/30/11
Floydada 5 KCBD, 4/6/11
Fort Bend 483 Click2Houston, 4/5/11
Fort Worth 553 KDFW, 4/12/11
Georgetown 142 KEYE, 3/3/11
Gorman 9 KTXS, 4/5/11
Hays 156 Hays Free Press, 3/23/11
Hitchcock 15 Galveston Daily News, 3/30/11
Houston 1,007 Houston Chronicle, 4/12/11
Hutto 74 Hutto ISD, 5/4/11
Irving 278 Dallas Morning News, 4/5/11
Katy 550 KTRK, 4/5/11
Keller 440 Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 5/3/11
Killeen 200 KXXV, 4/8/11
LaJoya 22 The Monitor, 4/8/11
Lake Travis 28 Community Impact, 4/8/11
LaMarque 50 Galveston Daily News, 4/7/11
Lamesa 11 KCBD, 4/6/11
Leander 213 Austiin American-Statesman, 3/22/11
Lewisville 422 Dallas Business Journal, 4/25/11 & Who is Playin, 4/14/11
Lubbock 70 Lubbock Avalanche Journal, 3/27/11
Magnolia 179 KHOU, 3/23/11
Marshall 18 KTBS, 4/19/11
New Braunfels 127 KSAT, 4/7/11
North East 69 WOAI, 4/12/11
Northside 973 San Antonio Express-News, 4/27/11
Pasadena 340 Houston Chronicle, 4/6/11
Pharr-San Juan-Alamo 5 The Monitor, 4/8/11
Plainview 10 KCBD, 4/6/11
Plano 344 Dallas Morning News, 3/29/11
Post 8 KCBD, 4/6/11
Round Rock 280 Fox 7 Austin, 3/25/11
San Angelo 35 San Angelo Standard-Times, 3/26/11
Santa Maria 26 KRGV, 4/13/11
Shallowater 8 KCBD, 4/6/11
Slaton 5 KCBD, 4/6/11
Socorro 100 El Paso Times, 4/10/11
Somerset 73 San Antonio Express-News, 4/12/11
Spring Branch 350 Springbranch ISD, 4/6/11
Tornillo 13 El Paso Times, 4/10/11
Waco 200 KXXV, 4/8/11
West Oso 20 KIII, 3/10/11
 Wichita Falls 134 Wichita Falls Record-News, 4/2/11
Wyline (Abilene) 1 KTXS, 4/5/11
TOTAL  12,353 

May 6, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | 2 Comments

Katy Students Walk Out To Protest Education Cuts—Now They Can Go Home And Ask Their Parents If They Voted For Republican Rick Perry

Students in the Katy Independent School District–located here in the Houston-area–walked out of class Thursday afternoon to protest sharp public education cuts being planned in the Texas Legislature.

From the Houston Chronicle—-

“An estimated 400 students at two Katy ISD high schools walked out of class today to protest teacher layoffs triggered by a state budget shortfall. Students spent about 30 minutes outside the Morton Ranch High School building, a few even attempting a 3-mile march to the Katy ISD administration building. Later this morning, hundreds walked out of classes at the district’s Cinco Ranch High School.”

Good for these young people. It is up to each individual to do the work of freedom and democracy.

Individuals must make the call to work together for a better society.

Let the example these students have set be a lesson to all people that we can always fight for what is right.

Now what these students can do is go home and ask their parents if they voted for Republican Governor Rick Perry, and for the Republican legislators who are enacting these cuts in our state legislature in Austin.

They can ask their parents if they voted at all in 2010.

Election results matter.

And when you vote for Republicans in Texas, what you get are drastic cuts to education funding.

April 15, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

March 12 Save Texas Schools Rally Gains Momentum—You Must Make The Decision To Take Action

Texans are fighting back against sharp cuts in public education and other essential state services that are being planned by Governor Rick Perry and the Republican dominated Texas legislature.

We here in Texas can be just as tough and organized as we are seeing in Wisconsin.

How are drastic cuts in education funding going to help Texas children prosper in the global economy? Isn’t it hard enough for young adults to get a start in the changing world economy?

(Above– The John B. Connally High School. J.B.C.H.S.  is part  of Pflugerville I.S.D. The slogan of P.I.S.D. is “Each Child. Their Future. Our World.” )

There will be a massive Save Texas Schools march at 11 AM and rally at noon the State Capitol in Austin on Saturday, March 12.

If you live in the Houston-area and Alief ISD area, there is a free bus you can take to the protest.

Here are facts about this bus—

What: Alief to Austin bus for Save Texas School rally at the Capitol
When: Saturday, March 12. 7:30 AM to 5:30 PM
Where: LeRoy Crump Stadium parking lot, 4214 Cook, Houston, TX (map)
Cost: FREE!
RSVP: Natali. Lacasa@gmail.com

(Below–Buffalo High School is in Buffalo, Texas. Buffalo is in Leon County. Buffalo is “Where  the mighty bison roam.”)


Here are details about others folks in Texas planning to help people get to the rally. There is another Houston-area location on this list.

Here is a list of  the very many school districts around Texas that will have supporters at the rally.

Here is a history of education in Texas from the excellent Handbook of Texas Online. You always have the option to learn more.

(Below—Amarillo High School is in Amarillo. Amarillo I.S.D. says — “Our mission is to graduate every student prepared for success beyond high school.”)

Regardless of if you attend the rally or not, there are steps you can take to fight for Texas kids and for a better future for Texas. Please consider the list below as a model for all sorts of citizen-action that you ,and the people you know, have the ability to complete.  Here is the Save Texas Education Funding site that is the source of this list.

(The good folks at Save Texas Education Funding want you to know that they are a non-partisan group and that they seek the support of all Texans.)

1.  Write to your legislators by mail or fax using a letter template

2.  Email your legislators using the same letter template

3.  Call your legislators (this will only take you 5 minutes or less per call)

4.  Contact the members of the Education and Appropriations Committees.  If you mail a letter to the Committee Chairman, you can include a sticky note asking the Aide to distribute a copy of your letter to all members of the Committee.

5.  Meet with your legislators

(Below–Ysleta I.S.D. is in El Paso. Ysleta is the “Star of Texas.”


6.  Sign Petitions & host Block Walks in your neighborhood to gather petition signatures

7. Attend the “Save Texas Schools Rally” in Austin on March 12th

8.  Attend the Legislative Day in Austin on Monday, March 14th (free bus transportation, lunch and training will be provided, but no children permitted to attend): http://www.texasedfunding.com/home/activities/legislative-meeting-day (Emailsusan.deigaard@gmail.com to RSVP by March 1st)

9.  Join an Email Distribution List for updates by emailing TexasEdFunding@gmail.com.  Join the Facebook group: Texans for Public Education Funding

10.  Ask your children to write letters to Governor Perry and Legislators

And Finally: Email everyone you know (even outside Texas) to inform them of the issues and ask for them to take the above actions as well.  Spread the word to Save Texas Schools!

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Also, don’t forget the protest against the state budget to be held at Houston City Hall at 4:30 PM on Tuesday, March 15.

We all have the ability to attend a public meeting, attend or organize a protest, write or call an elected official, talk to friends and family,  start a blog, donate money, write a letter to the editor,  volunteer for candidates and causes you value, and even run for office yourself. It is up to you to do the work of freedom and to make progress for the future in our state of Texas.

March 1, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Steps You Can Take To Defend Our Texas Public Schools—It Is Up To You To Act

Blogger’s Note—The  following post was compiled and written by top Houston political blogger Charles Kuffner at his blog Off The Kuff. I asked Charles if I could use this material here and he was kind enough to say yes. The post deals with what people can do to fight drastic cuts in Texas education being planned by the Texas legislature and Governor Rick Perry.  While the post deals at first with the Houston-area Spring Branch Independent  School District, it could just as easily be about any school district in Texas.  As you read down the post, you’ll see  it offers ways for average folks from all over Texas to fight back and win.  I cannot imagine there is any part of Texas not concerned about these cuts in education. It cannot be said enough—The hard work of freedom and of bringing about a hopeful future is up to all of us. We all have the option to attend a public meeting, attend or organize a protest, to write or call an elected official, talk to friends and family,  start a blog, donate money, write a letter to the editor,  volunteer for candidates and causes we value, and even run for office ourselves. I urge you to consider all these possibilities as from Wisconsin to Washington, D.C, to Austin, our American values of fair play for all are under attack.  Thanks again to Off The Kuff for this post.

1. First and foremost, make sure you understand the scope of the issue and how it will affect you. Here’s an email that was sent out by the Spring Branch ISD to its parents:

Why should you care about the State Legislature and how its leadership impacts SBISD students? 

  • In 2005, state property taxpayers were told by the Texas Legislature that their property taxes would be lowered and that the funding loss to our schools would be made up through other taxes or revenue sources, including a new business or “margins” tax. That promise to make up for the funding loss has not been kept. The Texas Legislature must honor its commitment and restore this funding.

  • Reductions proposed in Austin would equate to 15% of SBISD’s current funding. This represents a reduction of about $800 per student from the current $5,700 per student allotment, or $20,000 per classroom. Pictured in another way, this is the equivalent of one full class period being eliminated from every student’s school day.

  • In 2006, the state froze school district revenue at the 2006 level. Since that time, in order to fund basic inflationary cost increases, including cost-of-living increases for our teachers, SBISD has made difficult non-campus reductions and used its savings to limit the direct effect on our classrooms. In fact, the current 2010-11 SBISD budget reflects reductions of more than $8 million to make ends meet. Unless the Legislature restores school funding, SBISD will no longer be able to keep the impact of yearly budget reductions away from its classrooms.
Our Priorities:Spring Branch ISD students will graduate from high school on time and go on to successfully complete a 2-year technical degree, or a 2-year associate’s degree, or a 4-year bachelor’s degree. 

To support this goal, the Legislature must: 

  • provide SBISD with a revenue stream that is predictable, takes into account inflationary costs, and is not less than the amount SBISD currently receives;
  • exempt school districts from state mandates for which the Legislature has not appropriated funding sufficient to meet expenditures (for example, costs related to the 4X4 math/science requirement);
  • restore the authority of elected school boards to raise funds locally without a tax-rate election, and eliminate the requirement that any of these additional funds be sent to the state (Robin Hood);
  • return local control and responsibility over important issues, such as the school calendar, to elected school district trustees who are most accountable to the community on matters of public schools; and
  • provide high-performing school districts like SBISD with autonomy and flexibility over their educational program.

As the Texas Legislature continues to meet during the months ahead, reduced budgets and associated reductions will be more clearly defined. SBISD, in the meantime, will continue to communicate with Legislators and our community about what these cuts will mean to our students, our employees and the local community.

If you’re not getting this kind of information about what’s going on with your school and your school district, talk to your child’s teacher, your PTA, your principal, or your school board trustee. You can’t know what to do if you don’t know what’s at stake.

2. Make your voice heard in Austin by lobbying your Representative, your Senator, and the members of the relevant legislative committees. HISD has a Legislative Training sessionscheduled for next Saturday to help you learn who these people are and what your best strategies are for communicating with them.

With the State of Texas facing a record-level budget shortfall, it is expected that the Texas Legislature will be severely cutting funding for public education.

To help parents, teachers, administrators, students, and other concerned members of the community understand how this could affect Houston-area students, HISD will be presenting a “primer” on how the Texas Legislature works on Saturday, February 26.

The district’s second “Legislative 101,” which starts at 9:00 a.m. at the DeBakey High School for Health Professions (3100 Shenandoah, 77021), will provide participants with an update on current legislative activity, the chance to hear from top lobbyists on the most effective ways to communicate with elected officials, and details on how Houston-area school districts can work together on legislative issues impacting their students.

For planning purposes, those who expect to attend this event are asked to RSVP as soon as possible to events@houstonisd.org.

You can also watch a video of the first event held on January 27.

Some legislators – Republicans, for the most part – will need more convincing than others.

3. Head up to Austin for a rally and march.

We invite everyone from across Texas to join us at the Capitol building in Austin Texas on March 12th, 2011!

Save Texas Schools will hold a rally and march at the State Capitol on March 12, 2011, with parents, teachers, students, community members, business owners, and faith organizations. A list of speakers and entertainment is in the works for this historic, nonpartisan, family-friendly event. We invite everyone, from school districts all across the state of Texas, to join us in asking our lawmakers to Keep Texas Smart!

DATE: Saturday, March 12, 2011

TIME/PLACE:

March: 11:00 a.m. starting from 12th & Trinity (2 blocks from the Capitol)

Rally: Noon – 2:00 p.m. at the Texas State Capitol on the South Steps, Congress Ave. & 11th St.

Click the link above for a map, and click here to RSVP.

So there you have it. If we don’t fight for this, we will have no right to complain later on. And if you need a little inspiration to get into the fighting mood, read this letter from John Kuhn, superintendent of the Perrin-Whitt Consolidated Independent School District, in which he channels a little William Travis to the Lege.

February 21, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Candidates For Governor Of Texas Debate Education–An Eyewitness Report

I attended the League of Women Voters of the Houston Area Texas Governor’s race debate held on Sunday, October 3 here in Houston.

The debate was held at the Harris County Department of Education building you see pictured above. As you will note in the picture, this education building is named after Ronald Reagan.

That would be funny if the joke were not on all of us.

Three of the four candidates for Governor of Texas took part in this debate.

The three in attendance were—

Democratic nominee Bill White.

Green nominee Deborah Shafto.

Libertarian nominee and scary person Kathie Glass.

Not attending the debate was incumbent Republican Governor Rick Perry.

Governor Perry does not believe that the people of Texas merit the chance to see and compare all the candidates in one place and at one time.

The focus of the debate was education. There was a warm-up panel of three Harris County school superintendents to discuss education issues in Texas.

So the event was really something of a double feature.

(Below—Double Feature.)

The three local superintendents all agreed that educating kids is a challenge. They all agreed that kids must take many standardized tests, but that they sought to educate kids beyond the tests. They all agreed that money is tight. They all agreed that they agreed.

A top Houston and Texas education blogger is Martha Griffin who writes musings.

As for the debate, here are some observations—

Bill White spoke to the fact that anybody born in the U.S. is a citizen. This was in response to a question about if the children of undocumented persons should get government services.  Mr. White’s stand is clearly the correct Constitutional view.

Deb Shafto said she would be willing to raise taxes to support education. This is a good position that puts the long-term interests of Texans ahead of short-term politics. Texas has one of the worst drop out rates in the nation.

Angry Kathie Glass said that the number of immigrants coming across the border represented an “Invasion.” If you hold this to be true, it seems to me you’d be justified to do just about anything to repel an “invasion.”

(Below–Invasion.)

Mr. White did not at any point mention poverty or the large number of poor Texans. He may have alluded to the fact of poverty, but he made repeated and clear mention of the middle class. The middle class does indeed need a government that is on their side. Yet at the same time, it is frustrating that in a state as poor as Texas, the former Democratic Mayor of a city with a near 50% child poverty rate did not discuss attacking poverty as an important way of improving education. We need a root and branch approach to education because as it says in Job 18:16

“Their roots will dry up, and their branches will wither.”

Ms. Shafto said that she has been a union member and that she supported teacher’s unions. She said that while she has seen these unions at times pursue things she did not fully agree with, that people have a right to organize and that teachers unions are often good advocates for education.

Extreme Ms. Glass said that she would get rid of truancy laws and that if kids as young as 14 wanted to drop out that they should be allowed to do so.

That is just what she said.

Mr. White said the cost of attending our Texas state universities has gone up a great deal while Rick Perry has been Governor. This is a correct assertion by Mr. White and it is not clear what Governor Perry is going to do about this problem.  Maybe if the Governor had been at the debate, his views on the matter would be more clear.

Ms. Shafto used the analogy of a “jump ball” in basketball to describe how Texas teachers are competing for bonuses. I enjoyed this metaphor. As Sojourner Truth knew, we must sell the shadow to support the substance.

(Below–Jump ball)

Far Out Ms. Glass said that local government control of schools was okay, but that Austin should stay out of the picture to the extent possible.

Yet if the issue for libertarians is the place of government in our lives, local government is still government. If any level of government can be trusted to run something as important as are our schools, why can’t government be trusted to handle a number of responsibilities? Libertarians live in a fantasy world.

All in all, the debate served a useful public purpose. I urge folks to consider all the candidates. In my view, either Mr. White or Ms. Shafto would do a good job for Texas. I will be voting for Mr. White because he will be a far better Governor for the future of Texas than Mr. Perry. 10 years of Rick Perry so far is more than enough.

(Below— The debate stage. This is an approved LWV picture. I followed the rules and did not take any pictures inside the debate hall.)

October 4, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

In Texas, Kids Are Denied The Right To Arm Themselves With Knowledge—Blogger Round-Up

Here is the weekly posting of the Texas Progressive Alliance Round-Up. The TPA is a confederation of the best political bloggers in Texas. You’ll find the round-up at the end of this post.

Some of the big news in Texas in this past week has been meetings of the Texas State Board of Education to determine what can be taught  to school kids in our Texas schools.

Far right-wingers, in control of the board, are purging textbooks of facts that disagree with their world view.

While Texas conservatives very much want you to have the right to bear arms no matter where you go, they are less open to the right to arm yourself with knowledge.

( In the picture above, I illustrate how history is now being taught in Texas. In the picture you see that the Samuel Slater bobble head has just walked off the Mayflower in West Texas–that is why there is a cactus–-and is being greeted by a Care Bear. You can teach any crazy thing in our schools now as long as it is false.)

This idiocy has attracted worldwide attention.

These folks want to take Thomas Jefferson out of our schools. Please click here to learn about Thomas Jefferson. The good news is that the federal protection of the First Amendment allows me to tell you about Thomas Jefferson no matter how much some of individual states of our Federal Union want to lie about our shared history.

Some of the best blogging about this issue has been done by leading Houston-area blogger Martha Griffin at her blog Musings. Martha was at the hearings and is an expert on education in Texas and about education issues nationally.

Here is a history of education in Texas from the excellent Handbook of Texas Online.

From this history—”During the latter half of the nineteenth century the educational system in Texas still operated on a sporadic and localized basis. Some Texans regarded education as a private matter and resented any state involvement. Private and church schools continued to play key roles in the educational development of Texas and in some areas offered the only choice of formal schooling. Schools short of funds often faced problems of low supplies, inadequate facilities, and poorly trained teachers. Since the days before the republic some government officials had called for guidelines specifying the qualifications of teachers.”

I suppose we have made some progress since that time. Maybe. Sort of.

Here is the round-up—

This week at Left of College Station, the spring semester ends and Teddy has made it through another twelve hours of classes. He wasn’t too busy to take a look at the developments in the campaign for TX-17, and how the Republicans are attempting to nationalize the midterm elections.
TXsharon of BLUEDAZE: Drilling Reform for Texas took some EPA officials from D.C. on a Barnett Shale tour last week.

Bay Area Houston says Arizona’s Governor Brewer is the new Face of the GOP.

Off the Kuff interviewed Democratic candidate for Lt. Gov. Linda Chavez-Thompson about Arizona’s immigration law and what comprehensive immigration reform would look like.

WhosPlayin has the final results from the Texas DSHS investigation of blood and urine for residents of Dish, TX; the conclusions are not by any means an exoneration for the industry because of significant limitations to the investigation. Continue reading

May 23, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

When The Mayflower Landed In West Texas—In Texas You Can Teach Schoolchildren Nearly Anything At All

As many know from following the news about the Texas State Board of Education, it is okay to teach Texas schoolchildren nearly any type of wrong information.

Evolution is a crock and Thomas Jefferson was not a significant participant in U.S. history–This is what you can learn in our Texas public schools under the new standards.

Far right-wing ideologues have taken control of the Texas Board.  As a result, kids in Texas are not getting a clear view of the facts as they really are in the world.

Why would employers want to hire people educated in such a way?

Above is a picture illustrating how the landing of the Mayflower is taught here in Texas.

Here is the lesson as I am nearly sure it is being instructed—

“When the Mayflower landed in West Texas (See the cactus?), the Samuel Slater bobble head got out of the ship and was greeted by a Care Bear.”

In Texas, you can teach our kids anything at all. It’s like a Wild West of education.

You can teach anything you want so as long as you don’t get to close to what is actually the truth.

May 4, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

You Never Know Who Will Link To Your Blog

A good thing about having a blog is that you never know who will link to one of your posts.

Earlier this week I was linked to by Mr. DeMink’s social studies class.  Mr. DeMink linked to a poem I ran on the blog by a Japanese immigrant who came to Hawaii to work on a sugar plantation.

Mr. DeMink’s class is a seventh grade class somewhere in Hawaii.

( Above–Hawaii.)

Here are Mr. DeMink’s grading policies—

  • You Must Pass Both Semesters to Pass Seventh Grade:  Yes you heard that correctly, if you fail the first semester you have to repeat seventh grade–even if you get an “A” in the second semester.  You will earn a half a credit for each semester and if you don’t pass the first semester you will be half a credit short of moving on to the eight grade!
  • All Projects Must Be Completed and receive a Passing Grade:  If you decide that you are not going to complete a project you will not receive a grade for social studies class.  YOU MUST DO AND COMPLETE ALL OF YOUR WORK AT A QUALITY LEVEL TO RECEIVE A GRADE!
  • All Projects Turned in Must Be of Quality:  Every project that you turn in must first pass a quality checklist in order to be graded.  If it does not conform to the quality standard then it won’t even be graded.
  • Parents Must Sign off and Explain why each Project is a Quality Piece:  One of the steps in each quality checklist is parent approval of the project.  For each project you must have a parent sign and explain why they think that your project meets the quality expectations required.

You see here that Mr. DeMink is not playing around. Parental approval is required of work before it is submitted.

Good for Mr. DeMink.

Last week Texas Liberal was linked to by blog called Awearness.  This is a blog run by fashion designer Kenneth Cole. It is written by Mr. Cole and a number of contributors. My post that was linked to was about the oldest candidates who have been nominated for President. The Awearness post considered the prospect of Hillary Clinton running for President in 2016 when she will be 69 years old.

Who knew I’d ever be linked to by a fashion designer. It really is not so likely. 

Below is the Kenneth Cole ” New York Hole Hearted Satchel.” This bag will run you $258.

I’m not sure I need one of those bags, but if it is your thing more power to you.

Hole Hearted Satchel - Handbags - Kenneth Cole

October 23, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | 6 Comments

Calling All Smart Kids—Come To Texas To Compete For College Spots And Jobs Against Kids Who Get Right-Wing Education In Public Schools

File:Sam-houston-school-maryville.jpg

The Texas State Board of Education is talking about changes in what  kids learn about history and social studies in public schools. They want to shift the curriculum away from the facts and towards the political and Christian right.

Here is a Houston Chronicle article on the subject.   

( Above–A schoolhouse in Maryville, Tennessee where Sam Houston taught in the early 1800′s. Here is the link to the Sam Houston Memorial Museum in Huntsville, Texas. This schoolhouse in Maryville is open to the public and has an interesting history. Please click here to learn more about it.)

The Wall Street Journal has also written about this subject. Here is the link to that story.  From the article—

“The Texas Board of Education, which recently approved new science standards that made room for creationist critiques of evolution, is revising the state’s social studies curriculum. In early recommendations from outside experts appointed by the board, a divide has opened over how central religious theology should be to the teaching of history.”

The articles here speak for themselves. What is to be taught is a right-wing inaccurate version of the facts. Parents, and all concerned citizens, can decide to take a role in this debate or they can just ignore it all.

Here is the link to the Texas State Board of Education.

People say that having kids changes you and that people care about their kids more than anything. What I see is apathy about education and parents who lack the imagination and the willingness to prepare kids for the demands of adulthood.

I’m happy to be proven wrong on this— But it won’t be individual examples of great education and great parenting that impress. I know these things take place all the time.

What will convince me is a well-educated society as a whole, and parents who take the time needed for their own kids and who are willing to meet the tax burden required to provide a decent education for all kids.  

In the meantime, if you’ve got a smart hard-working kid, bring the kid to Texas and take advantage of the weak competition for college spots and good jobs. 

 From the Houston Chronicle article—

Biographies of Washington, Lincoln, Stephen F. Austin? Not fit reading material for children in the early grades. Cesar Chavez? Not worthy of his role-model status. Christianity? Emphasize its importance. Such suggestions are part of efforts to rewrite history books for the state’s schoolchildren, producing some expert recommendations that are sure to inflame Texans, no matter their political leanings.

The State Board of Education expects to start discussing new social studies curriculum standards this week, with members of the public getting their first opportunity to speak this fall and a final board vote next spring.

The process is a long one with lasting impact: reshaping the social studies curriculum, including history, for 4.7 million Texas public school children. “This is something that every parent would want to be paying attention to… ”

Curriculum standards are updated about every 10 years; the last social studies update came in 1997. According to a preliminary draft of the new proposed standards, biographies of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Stephen F. Austin have been removed from the early grades, said Brooke Terry of the Texas Public Policy Foundation.

The early draft, which is likely to change multiple times in the coming months, also removes Independence Day, Veterans’ Day, and anthems and mottos for bothTexas and the United States in a section on holidays, customs and celebrations, she said. “You have the ability to shape the next generation on the beliefs about the government and the role of personal responsibility but also understanding our history and the principles that we want to pass down to our children,” Terry said. “With many of the suggested changes, I think we would be backtracking on many of the important things that people fight for in defense of our country.” Continue reading

July 14, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Terrible Graduation Rates Show You Can Do Anything To The People Of Houston And Get Away With It

A new study reports that only 58.5 % of Houston-area high school freshmen graduate four years later.

Here is the Houston Chronicle story about the study. 

From the study—

Children at Risk, a Houston-based advocacy group, commissioned the Texas Education Agency to conduct study of six-year graduation rates for the region’s 130 high schools. They learned that 53 percent of the students who begin as ninth-graders in the Houston Independent School District had not graduated from any Texas high school in six years. The combined graduation rate for the entire region’s high schools is 58.5 percent.”

This report tells me you can do anything to people in and around and Houston and get away with it. Can you imagine people tolerate this? Or take it as normal?

These type numbers exist in cities and rural areas across the country.

You’d might as well put people in camps or brand them with irons. A poor city neighborhood in this society is a camp in any case. One that Republicans ignore all the time and Democrats often only notice at election time.

( And an isolated rural area can often be a kind of more wide-open camp that Democrats ignore and Republicans often only notice at election time.)

You can’t get anywhere in this country without a high school degree. You can’t even be sure of your prospects anymore with a college degree. People should be demanding action. People should have been doing so a long time ago because these bad education numbers are longstanding.

Our Harris County sheriff, Democrat Adrian Garcia, wants Harris County to build a new jail. Yeah–Another jail. That will solve our ills.    

Please click here for my post on the subject of why people believe conspiracy theories.  I assert people often hold such views because nothing is so crazy or brutal that it can’t be true. It seems plausible enough that we as a community in Houston would be content enough with large numbers of our poor just dying off. How would it be so different from how we treat folks currently?

May 27, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Encourage Your Daughter To Study Math—Raising A Kid In This Culture Can Be A Kind Of Abuse

I read a story in the New York Times a few days ago that made me ill.

The story was about the failure to recognize and develop the mathematical talents of young people in our country. Girls especially face this problem. The article said that students who do well in math are often immigrants or the children of immigrants, or kids who are seen as nerds.

What the article could just of well of said is—The more you are fully socialized into this sick culture, the more you are pulled away from academic success.

This is the kind of culture that propels the ignorant Sarah Palin to the top of the political ladder.

Hockey moms. Soccer moms. Football moms.

Sure.

Beyond the fact that maybe dads should do more of the driving, where are the debate club moms and the math club moms?

It really borders as a kind of abuse to allow a child to become part of our culture without taking a strong role in understanding what strengths and interests a child has in school and in life.

Here is a quote in the article from a professor at the University of Wisconsin who has a son who is successful in math studies—”Kids in high school, where social interactions are really important, think, ‘If I’m not Asian or a nerd, I’d better not be on the math team.’ Kids are self-selecting. For social reasons they’re not even trying.” 

Where are the parents here? How many kids have talents that are never utilized or never even realized because parents don’t make an effort to see what the kid is able to do in life?

What is wrong with people? Take some time with your damn kids beyond sports and just hanging out.

October 13, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | 4 Comments

Houston School Kids Will Not Make Up Days Misssed For Hurricane

Kids in the Houston Independent School District will not have to make up classes missed because of Hurricane Ike. 

This means students will lose between seven and eleven days of the school year in Houston. Different schools opened at different times depending on when the power came back on.

Gayle Fallon, President of the Houston Federation of Teachers, said she would have taken the district to court if school officials attempted the make up the missed time. Ms Fallon said ”This is something  we would have taken them to court over because this was hardly a vacation.”  

See–Teachers don’t get enough vacation. What if teachers only got five or six weeks over the summer instead of seven or eight? And that vacation time is in addition to the vacation time already built into the school year.

The Houston Chronicle article on the issue said also that some principals and parents expressed concern about making up the missed time.

Right. It might be an inconvenience to extend the school year a couple of weeks.

Teacher and parents should be lobbying for an extended school year. These kids in Houston are already in for a rough ride in life. Instead, the message is being sent that education is not the most important thing for these kids.

October 3, 2008 Posted by | Houston | , , , | 2 Comments

Top Vermont Art Teacher Sets Up Blog

Top Vermont art teacher, and maybe the leading art teacher in the United States, Kim Corey of Montpelier, Vermont, has set up a blog. It is called ArtTechie. Art Techie was recently linked to by the blog of the Vermont Art Teacher’s Association.

( Above is the painting Indian Summer, Vermont. This is a work by Willard Leroy Metcalf . Mr. Metcalf lived 1858-1925.)  

Ms. Corey teaches art for K through Grade 8 students in Montpelier. 

Good work, Ms. Corey.

Ms. Corey, a cousin of this blogger, is, as is this blogger, descended from those who stepped off the Mayflower. Also, it has been claimed that we are descended from Sir Isaac Newton.

Don’t tell the rabble, but Ms. Corey and I know we are Blue Bloods at core.

September 24, 2008 Posted by | Art, Blogging | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

I’m Sending Texas Southern U. $25 As New Campus President Takes Over

 

The Houston Chronicle ran an article yesterday about the new president of Houston’s Texas Southern University. His name is Dr. John Rudley.

As the article details, Texas Southern has had some problems in recent years. A former president of the school was involved in scandal and graduation rates at TSU could be somewhat higher.

Dr. Rudley says he can fix these and other issues at this historically black institution.

I hope Dr. Rudley is the person for the job. Black folks and all folks in Houston need a strong Texas Southern. For one thing, life is hard and these kids need to be educated. For another thing, Houston needs as many educated people as possible to help deal with longstanding problems we have here of poverty and pollution.   

I think Dr. Rudley is going to get folks on-board with the program, and that TSU graduates are going to be, as they have been already in many cases, leaders in our city and across the nation.

The great Congressman Mickey Leland went to TSU.

I’m going to send TSU a $25 donation. That won’t build a new hall on campus, but it might at least buy some pens and paperclips.

I’m also going to include a note with my donation asking that I not be added to any mailing list. Little is more frustrating than making a small donation to a worthy cause, and seeing all the money you sent wasted in the form of newsletters and solicitations for more money.

I will also e-mail this blog post to the president’s office so he can make sure I’m taken off any  mailing list.

I look forward to Texas Southern University assuming its place of leadership in Houston. I will post more on the school as events progress. 

Here is the web page for Texas Southern.

September 1, 2008 Posted by | Houston | , , , , | 2 Comments

College Advice—Anybody Can Study, But Don’t Neglect Making Friends

Young people across the nation will be starting or returning to college over the next few weeks.

Here is the advice of a college graduate who is now 40–Anybody can study, but don’t neglect making friends.

I know college costs a lot of money and I realize how important it can be to job prospects. I know many students are working hard to pay for classes. I understand all this.

I would just tell you that in college you have a measure of personal autonomy without all the responsibilities of so-called adult life. It may not seem that way now, but it may well later.

I’m not suggesting you go out and get drunk every night. I’m suggesting that you look for friendships that will last when you are done with college. I still keep in touch with a number of people I met in my college years. These are people who have known me now for 20 years or more. These friends give my past added meaning. They help me look at the future with the knowledge that I’ll have people I like and trust in the years ahead.  

The older you get, the harder it can be to meet new people. It’s possible of course, and hopefully you’ll never stop making new friends. But, for my money at least, even if you are a social butterfly all your days, little outside of a great marriage is better than people you’ve known for almost a lifetime.

So hit the books—But don’t let your social life slip by you. Think about who you know and who you think might be with you for the long haul.

August 14, 2008 Posted by | Relationships | , , , , | 2 Comments

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