Texas Teachers Beware – ‘Raise Your Hand’ Non-Prof
FORT WORTH, TX – Tonight we had an inquiry about who the “Raise Your Hand” organization is after the organization put out a full page ad in the Ft. Worth Star Telegram.
Below is the ad, in case you run across it in your neck of the woods. It is interesting to note the family connection. Bill Ratliff is the father of Thomas Ratliff illegal SBOE elected official and Bennett Ratliff, freshman State Representative, Speaker of the House Joe Straus put on the Education committee. Looks like the family business is doing well and entrenched in Texas Education and Politics.
Below is an article by Donna Garner from February 18th, 2007 who I thank God for everyday for helping us to connect the dots.
“Raise Your Hand for a Hand Out” – By Donna Garner
February 18, 2007
Ex-Texas Senator Bill Ratliff and Ex-Texas Commissioner of Education Mike Moses must believe that Texas citizens are all brain dead. These two men evidently think we have forgotten their role in Texas’ public school problems.
NEW SPECIAL INTEREST GROUP FORMED
Ratliff and Moses are continuing to swill from the education trough by forming a new organization called Raise Your Hand to pressure the people for more tax dollars for Texas’ public schools. Have these two gentlemen any credibility on the subject?
William Murchison said it best in the 2.16.07 Lone Star Report, “…keep a country mile away from Raise Your Hand, and from Bill Ratliff, and from Mike Moses, whose solution for dealing with a sinking boat is to pour some more water in the gunwales.”
Before we citizens put our trust in Raise Your Hand, let’s do a quick study of its leaders, Ratliff and Moses.
RATLIFF: ROBIN HOOD, LOSS OF LOCAL CONTROL BY TEACHERS
Not only did Ratliff author the failed and oft-maligned Robin Hood Plan, but he also drafted SB 1 in 1995 which stripped local teachers of control over what they taught.
Due to SB 1, Texas teachers have lost control over their day-to-day instruction and instead must follow the poorly constructed Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) standards.
The English / Language Arts / Reading TEKS are particularly egregious because they are not explicit, measurable, or specific for each grade level; and the curriculum requirements listed in the ELAR/TEKS are much too numerous for a teacher to cover thoroughly in a year’s time. Therefore, teachers flit from one TEKS element to the next, never really having time to make sure students gain mastery.
It is these poorly written standards (the opposite of back-to-the-basics curriculum requirements) upon which the much-despised TAKS tests are based.
RATLIFF: LOSS OF CONTROL BY LOCAL SCHOOL BOARDS
As the author of SB 1, Ratliff is also responsible for taking the authority away from electedlocal school boards and placing that power into the hands of unelected superintendents.
No longer do locally elected school board members have any real control over the all-important issues of personnel hiring and district curriculum decisions.
Local school board members’ duties have basically been reduced to (1) hiring and firing the superintendent, (2) buying and selling property, and (3) setting board policy (e.g., those items which involve board members themselves — elections, vacancies on the board, travel and reimbursement policies, etc.).
RATLIFF: LOSS OF CONTROL BY ELECTED SBOE
At the state level, Ratliff tried for years to replace the elected State Board of Education (SBOE) with an appointed one. Appointed boards really do not care what voters want. They will do the will of whoever appoints them and of the lobbyists who orchestrate from a distance.
Ratliff’s SB 1 reduced the authority of the elected SBOE and enhanced the power of theunelected Texas Commissioner of Education who at the time was Ratliff’s joined-at-the-hip ally, Mike Moses.
Ratliff always pretended that the SBOE had lost control over textbook content; and until Attorney General Greg Abbott’s 2006 opinion, the SBOE was shut out of fulfilling its lawful responsibilities. For eleven years the Board labored under Ratliff’s false interpretation; and during that time, numerous inferior textbooks were placed in front of our Texas students.
Because of Ratliff’s influence on SB 1, elected SBOE members cannot even elect their own chairperson; the Governor appoints one.
RATLIFF: TAXPAYER-ENRICHED OPPORTUNIST
Ratliff is a registered lobbyist (http://www.ethics.state.tx.us/dfs/loblists.htm) and has made large sums of money from a number of clients including the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB). Having retired from the Texas Senate in 2003, he began representing TASB on May 10, 2004. That year he received up to $99,999.99 from TASB, and again in 2005, and 2006.
We taxpayers paid Ratliff’s rich lobbying fees because the membership dues that education entities pay to join TASB come from our taxpayers’ dollars.
Because the TASB dues come from public funds, we taxpayers are actually paying TASB to lobby Legislators for more school funding so that our taxes will increase. We are paying to lobby ourselves!
MOSES: HIT-AND-RUN ARTIST
As Texas Commissioner of Education, Mike Moses oversaw the creation of course standards (TEKS) which have proven dysfunctional, particularly in English / Language Arts / Reading (ELAR). Now the Texas State Board of Education and the Texas Education Agency are trying to undo the damage by rewriting these TEKS.
MOSES: THE TAKS MONSTER
The public tends to vent its wrath against the TAKS tests, but TAKS tests are based on the faulty TEKS. If the foundation (TEKS) is weak, then the house (TAKS) built upon that foundation cannot stand.
Mike Moses was directly responsible for the entire TEKS process, thus making him responsible for the TAKS. Students, parents, and educators dislike intensely the unfair accountability system built on these tests.
Parents, students, and educators are obsessed with the TAKS –TAKS units, TAKS practice tests, TAKS preparation tools, TAKS information booklets, TAKS activities, TAKS projects, TAKS data, TAKS testing strategies, TAKS benchmarks, TAKS tutors, TAKS tests.
This constant emphasis on the TAKS is destroying teachers’ creativity and students’ interest in school, thus contributing to the drop-out problem. According to Jamie Story, education policy analyst at TPPF, “Every hour of every school day, 93 students drop out of Texas public schools.”
It is disingenuous of Moses to expect the taxpayers to pour more money into the public schools to fix the mess that he helped to create.
MOSES: TAINTED ADMINISTRATION IN DALLAS ISD
The Dallas Morning News has found multiple dubious behavior patterns during Mike Moses’ watch as Dallas ISD superintendent.
Allegations have surfaced about out-of-control spending with school credit cards, lost dollars for health plans, abuse of federal e-rate funds, irregular technology vendor contracts, misspent federal bilingual education funds, costly deals with Kinko’s, apparent conflicts of interest involving Voyager Expanded Learning, contributions by computer vendors, questionable bond sales, multiple teacher grievances, eyebrow-raising private consultancies, lucrative Coca-Cola contracts, and special privileges for vendors participating in the Education Research and Development Institute (ERDI) conferences.
MOSES: GOLDEN PARACHUTE
Meanwhile, Moses received the highest superintendent’s salary in the nation ($340,000 per year, excluding benefits) even though eleven school districts in the country were larger than Dallas ISD.
When the DISD problems began to surface in 2004, Moses resigned and walked away with an additional $480,850. Along with his ongoing and lucrative superintendent search business, he now receives a yearly TRS pension of $224,400 per year. Note that Moses’ wealth comes from taxpayers’ dollars.
Instead of expecting the taxpayers to pour more millions into our public schools, why not expect the schools to live within their means.
Before the last legislative session, Texas was already spending over $10,400 per public school student (http://www.governor.state.tx.us/priorities/education/facts_figures), and those figures have increased substantially since then. I agree with Peggy Venable of Americans for Prosperity who has said, “Texas schools do not have a funding problem. We have a spending problem.” Case in point: The education dollars heaped upon Ratliff and Moses by our state —
MY QUESTION TO RATLIFF AND MOSES
Sen. Ratliff and Dr. Moses: Before we taxpayers decide to support Raise Your Hand with you two altruists at the helm, how about disclosing your lobbying contracts (and benefits) with the companies who stand to profit if more taxpayers’ dollars are given to the public schools?