Education Bill of Texas 2015

Education Laws Created in Texas, June 2015

This is from an e-mail I got detailing the ‘accomplishments’ of the Texas Senate. This part deals with Education Laws written in the state of Texas.

“All school campuses and districts will now be graded on their performance like our students are, receiving a letter grade of A thru [Sic] F.”

I am extremely sorry that this is law. This is much ado about nothing. It is an unnecessary law. I am glad that the Texas legislature is a part-time job, only in session about ½ of the time. How much more silliness would happen if it met all of the time? This is one of the major problems with the US Congress.

Here is why I am unhappy. I went through (and it is through and not thru) a lot schooling knowing that an A (90-100) was better than a B (80-89.9) and so on but I knew not what they meant. I found out as a teenager that an A meant excellent, a B meant Good, a C meant average, a D meant below average and an F meant failing. It was good for me to know what they actually meant. Now you are reverting back to a way more confusing, going from descriptive words to a letter code. You even add one more code. This may indeed cloak the schools’ and your responsibilities. It may indeed cloud the issue. It surely will not be more illustrative.

The old system was good enough. How hard was it to know what ‘exemplary’, ‘recognized’, ‘acceptable’, an ‘unacceptable’ meant? What is wrong with them?

It is a silly waste of time. If it is necessary and even possible to grade schools then a Pass/Fail or Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory will suffice. The latter is what I had in Kindergarten-2nd grade I believe. Also, how does a school get an A (90%) and not a B (89.9%). How do you assign a number to the schools? How do you weight all of the factors that you apparently consider when giving out the grade now? How do you turn the Art of Teaching into a science? It truly is not possible. It will be subjective as all get out.

For example I do not think much a AP courses so the number of AP tests taken is NOT important. Not even the number of AP tests passed is important. College should wait until after they graduate high school. (This also goes for dual-enrollment). Same goes for IB. It is not all that popular even in Europe, where is was created and the rest of the world either. Only 3843 schools in 147 countries worldwide offer IB. If it were all that popular it would be in more schools. It would be in all schools or high schools, all grades.

Also, the percentage that graduate is also not a good measure. This is more better students and not better teachers or schools.

“We will make sure all students are at the appropriate reading level by the 4th grade, increase teacher quality and promote math and science teachers.”

Good luck with this one. Standardize tests are useless. They will not accurately measure reading levels. Even if they did, the only way to make sure of this absolute statement to lower what a 4th grader should know. This is one problem with NCLB—the unrealistic goals. Unrealistic goals are unethical.  One of the five tenants of a good ethical theory is practicability, that is must be able to do it—to put it into practice. It should not place too much of a burden on the agents, in this case the teachers and administrators—the schools. Who determines what a 4th grader should know, or needs to know?

You CANNOT guarantee outcomes!!!

“As our students prepare for their career and or college, Texas will make the transition seamless and place greater emphasis on career exploration and preparation for their future. We created 1,000 full scholarships for new Math and Science teachers.”

You apparently do not know that there is NO STEM shortage, except jobs. There has not been a STEM shortage since about 1990. We did have a Computer Science shortage and that was the only area where we did have a shortage mainly from 1960s-1980s, and that is most of STEM that did exist. You are living in the past about ¼ of a Century in the past.

Since there is NO STEM shortage more math and science teachers are not needed so more scholarships are NOT needed either.

Education SHOULD NOT be spending much time on career exploration and preparation for their future. The kids ought to know what they want to do based on how well they did in various classes in Junior High and High School. Granted grading on a curve should not be done. It gives the student a false sense of their real abilities. I still call it Junior High because that is what it should be called for 7-9 grades. It should be 7-9 too and not 6-8.

School is to determine what kind of scholar a kid is, if any. It is NOT to prepare for the unknown. The future is UNKNOWN. It is impossible to prepare for the unknown. I went through Electronics School, post high school. But my job had nothing to do with calculating gains of op amps or calculating power consumption or calculating inductive and capacitive reactances. This is what school taught me. What you get taught in school will not be anything like a real job. Face it. That is impossible. Technology changes too fast and is too varied from company to company and industry to industry to make teaching technology viable.

What are you doing teaching College Algebra in High School? A high school graduate needs to know what a function is? I know that they do not. Why are you asking a 3rd grader to figure the perimeter of a rectangle. Just have them add a column of 4 numbers and not expose them to geometry yet. Age appropriate teaching. Do not rush things. They probably won’t remember perimeter in 10th grade (7 years later). But it would be much easier for them to understand in 10th grade.

“And, for the first time in the state’s history we passed a school choice bill with funding out of the Texas Senate. Unfortunately it did not pass in the House.”

This one I am glad that the House did not pass. School choice sounds great but when the choices are worse than the public schools then it not good. About 17 % of charter schools do better than public school, 48% do about the same and about 35% do worse. So as a group charter schools do more than twice as bad as  they do good. That is 35% is slightly more than double 17%.

When you offer worse choices then you are not improving education for their children. You are offering only false hope for their children.

If you really wanted to save the taxpayers money change the names of the school districts.

Call the ISDs, Austin Schools and Round Rock Schools for example. Think of the amount of money saved not having to print ISD (Independent School District) on everything. From letterheads to school buses. Independent and District are not needed. Every school system is a district and they are all independent save one—Stafford School District, unless it changed recently. Obviously if it did then all districts in Texas are independent. Lt. Gov Patrick should know that one. You are stating the obvious needlessly. It is redundantly redundant.

So, overall I question all of these laws that deal with education. Nne were necessary.

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