News from Barbara!
THE CARGILL CONNECTION, APRIL 2013
Dear friends and supporters,
I hope you have had a wonderful spring with your family and friends. I am pleased to tell you that Governor Perry reappointed me as Chair of the State Board of Education and in February, my appointment was confirmed by the Senate. I appreciate Governor Perry and our Texas senators for their support and confidence in me to continue in this role.
The next State Board of Education (SBOE) meetings are April 17-19 in Austin. I will be visiting legislators again to represent my constituents on key legislation, and I have attempted to give you the main highlights below.
UPDATE ON EDUCATION LEGISLATION:
House Bill 5, Senate Bill 3: Both of these bills address graduation plans. You may take a look at their content with this link: http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/
Both versions support 4 years of high school English, 3 years of math, 3 years of science and 3 years of social studies but contain different requirements for specific high school courses. I support the current recommended graduation requirements, implemented in 2006, for 4 years of English, 4 years of math, 4 years of science, and 4 years of social studies. Why do I support this?
Here’s are some reasons why:
· The 2012 Texas Public Higher Education Almanac reports that between 2007 and 2011, the percentage of students meeting ACT Readiness Benchmarks increased 5 percentage points.
· The on-time graduation rate in Texas reached an all-time high of 85.9% in 2011, 1.6% higher than the previous record set by the Class of 2010.
· Participation in AP tests was up by 4% in 2011-2012.
· Our national NAEP math and science test scores have been improving! This is the “nation’s report card.” It is designed to give the public a way to compare educational performance in their state with students in other states.
I also support offering more flexibility in course options for students. The more we expect from our students, the more they will strive for those expectations. Why lower what we expect from our students when data shows these improvements? Laying a firm, sound academic foundation in K-12 is a privilege and responsibility that we, as parents, educators, future employers, and policy makers, should support.
Research shows that students who choose college AND/OR students who choose career are ultimately more successful if they have a strong academic foundation in high school. I have put some of my thoughts below and appreciate your consideration.
Math: The ACHIEVE 2012 "Closing the Expectations Gap" report states that students (whether career or college bound) need 4 years of engagement in math because it “allows them to maintain their momentum and continue to practice math.” I could not agree more. Having taught high school science for many years and also having mothered 3 sons through those important foundational years, it is critical that students stay in math all 4 years.
Solutions: In addition to traditional math classes, Texas can offer more choices for students. These may include applied or technical math courses; of course it is mandatory that these courses contain the rigor expected of an upper-level math class. The State Board of Education has been proactive on this by working with TEA staff on 4 math courses that can count as upper-level math credit for the upcoming school year. These include Digital Electronics, Discrete Math, Principles of Engineering, and Robotics. The Board will continue working with TEA staff so that even more options for upper-level math can be offered in the future.
Science: Texas students have had increased success in math and science as seen on the 2008 and 2011 NAEP test scores. Why in the world would we want to change what is working by reducing the science requirement? Right now Texas offers amazing upper-level course options for science. Astronomy, Forensic Science, Food Science, Oceanography, Advanced Animal Science, and Medical Microbiology are a few examples.
Solutions: The State Board of Education is also working to offer more courses that satisfy the 4th year science requirement starting with Veterinary Medical Applications, Advanced Environmental Tech, and Human Body Systems. Principles of Technology may be taken instead of Physics. As with math, the Board will continue looking into even more options that can be offered in the future for our students.
Final thoughts:I fully support offering more choices for students to take in math and science. Students have varied interests, gifts, and talents, and our state is striving to offer courses that interest students while also giving them a strong academic foundation. The key thing to remember is that we want our children to graduate and to be fully equipped to enter the workforce or college. I have sought input from businesses of all types and sizes in our great state. There is a common theme: From a letter to the legislature signed by almost 20 large corporations including IBM, Intel, State Farm, ExxonMobil, Lockheed Martin and Texas Instruments: “As representatives of businesses with major installations in Texas, we are very concerned about efforts to lower Texas high-school graduation requirements. Texans can be proud of our state. We have been a national leader in promoting higher expectations for all students, and our young people have reaped big rewards. We are among the four most improved states in the nation in 8th grade math and the improvement extends to high school as well. Graduation rates have increased steadily as graduation requirements have grown more rigorous. Rates have risen from just under 80% in 2006, when current graduation requirements were adopted, to almost 86% in 2011, when the first group of students held to the 4X4* requirements graduated.” (*4X4= 4 years math, 4 years science)
From the president of a large air conditioning franchise in Texas: “Math and science are critical in the heating and air conditioning industry and our technologies. Maybe there is a belief that less is needed since computers are doing more and more for us. Math and science provide us with the logic behind these technologies so we understand how we arrive at the results.” A key to the long term competitiveness of the United States includes our students being the creator of these technologies, not just the users.”
From the president of a large glass repair (home, auto, and business emergencies) franchise in Texas: “Keeping the math skills for all four years is important. We’ve seen over the years why that is necessary. I believe it is important that our future employees finish high school. They don’t need college but they need the stick-to-itiveness to finish their high school years.” (Barbara’s note: I like that word, “stick-to-itiveness”, don’t you? We must strive to raise our children to have tenacity and perseverance in school so that it continues on into adulthood!)
If you are interested in taking action, please see #4 under ACTION ITEMS below.
UPDATE ON SBOE ISSUES:
1. CSCOPE is an online curriculum management system. Concerns have been raised by parents and educators about CSCOPE, which was created by 19 regional education service centers and is now used by more than 800 public school districts and private schools in Texas. The system’s lesson plans, like all lesson plans, are not under the authority of the State Board of Education (SBOE). However, in response to growing public concern, legislative leaders have asked the SBOE to oversee a review of CSCOPE content.
As a result, I appointed an ad hoc committee to include SBOE members and members of the CSCOPE governing board. The chair’s ad hoc committee will appoint review panels to examine CSCOPE instructional content for social studies. Applications may be submitted until April 29.
A public process will solicit nominations for the review panels which will be composed of parents, educators, curriculum specialists, business professionals and other stakeholders. The first round of reviews take place June 3-16th. The final review of lessons occurs June 24-July 14. Results of the review will be given to the CSCOPE governing board for its consideration.
Be sure to ask your child’s teacher what curriculum they use. Parents must stay informed about what is being taught in the classroom!
If you go to the TEA website, there is now a separate link for the CSCOPE review process. It gives more details. That link is http://www.tea.state.tx.us/index2.aspx?id=25769804296
2. State review panels have been organized to evaluate instructional materials to determine coverage of the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills and to identify factual errors. The review process begins soon for the following instructional materials: Science, Grades K-12; Science (Spanish), Grades K-5; Math, Grades K-8; Math (Spanish), Grades K-5; and Technology Applications, Grades K-12. The materials adopted as a result of the SBOE review process are scheduled for use in schools beginning with the 2014-2015 school year.
See this link for more information: http://www.tea.state.tx.us/index4.aspx?id=2147511994
The SBOE’s adoption process is rigorous and thorough, and the board relies on the expertise of the panel members to review instructional materials. I have compiled a short list so you can see key components of the process.
• Appointed work panels (teachers, business people, parents, etc.) review textbooks
• Samples are available to public for review
• Review period lasts 6‐8 months to ensure TEKS coverage & discovery of errors
• Time is given for online input and public testimony at State Board of Education (SBOE)
• Strict rules are in place regarding publisher contact with work panels & SBOE
• Fines are given for publisher errors that are not corrected before purchase
Before Senate Bill 6 was passed in 2011, publishers were required to submit their materials for consideration under the SBOE’s rigorous textbook adoption process. School districts could then use state funds for textbooks that had been vetted and reviewed by parents, teachers, industry leaders, etc.
After SB 6, state funds may now be used to purchase textbooks which have not gone through the SBOE’s rigorous adoption process. Most school districts do not have the resources or time to thoroughly vet textbooks for TEKS coverage or errors. Instructional materials may reach schoolchildren without the benefit of public access and input and without thorough vetting for errors and TEKS coverage.
Solution: The SBOE
should be authorized to develop rules for implementing a local
adoption process very similar to the current SBOE process at the
state level, providing greater transparency and public access. This
will ensure that students continue
to receive the highest-quality, error-free
textbooks available. See
Action Item #2 below.
To find out who your legislators are, go to http://www.fyi.legis.state.tx.us/Home.aspx
1. Please contact your state representatives and state senator to support Senate Bill 1406. This bill would give the SBOE oversight of educational service centers in regard to services or products related to student curriculum (such as CSCOPE). The bill also addresses public access, including parental access, to such materials.
2. Please contact your state representatives and state senator to ask them about legislation that would require the same rules to apply at the local adoption level for instructional materials as they do at the state adoption level. At this time there is no legislation about this critical issue. Please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in pursuing this and I can send you an effective graphic.
3. Senate Bill 2 (the Charter School Bill) is excellent in that it improves the process concerning charter school renewals and revocations. I strongly support charter schools; they are a wonderful option for parents to consider for their children.
However, SB 2 shifts the authority for charter school approvals from the elected SBOE to the Texas Education Agency. I am still trying to determine why this change is in the public interest. SBOE members are familiar with the interview process and spend hours and hours getting to know the applicants and studying their applications. All the work we do in charter approvals is a very public process. Putting charter school authorization under the Texas Education Agency takes away the voice of the people who come to testify to their elected officials with questions and concerns about charters. Sometimes entire busloads of parents and children come to our board meetings to show support for a potential charter school! The charter authorization process should continue to be under the SBOE to ensure that there is transparency and opportunity for public input. Please contact the representatives on the House Public Education Committee this week to keep the approval process under the authority of the SBOE, as it has been since charter schools opened in Texas. House Public Education Committee: http://www.house.state.tx.us/committees/committee/?committee=400&session=83
4. HB 5 has now been sent to the Senate. To weigh in on the Senate’s version, SB 3, please contact your state senator and ask him/her to support the requirement of 4 years of math and science but with greater flexibility in choosing courses that meet those credit requirements.
5. To track the status of bills in which you are interested, sign up for alerts: http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/MyTLO/Login/Login.aspx?ReturnUrl=%2fMyTLO%2fBillList%2fBillList.aspx
******************************************************************************It is a privilege to be asked to speak to groups all over my district and beyond. Concerned parents and citizens like you want to stay current on education issues in Texas, and I continue to be impressed by that! Please contact me at email@example.com to set up a date and time.
Please do not hesitate to reach out to me with questions, ideas or concerns. It is an honor to continue to “fight the good fight” for the betterment of public education.
For our children,
Barbara Cargill Chair, State Board of Education
Please forward this e-mail to parents, teachers, administrators, and others who have an interest in education.
Pol. Adv. Paid for by