Calls to Action from SBOE Barbara Cargill

Barbara Cargill

Photo courtesy of The Robertson Connection

Below is very important information from Barbara Cargill.  Together we can make the difference for our children and grandchildren! 

The legislative session is wrapping up but not before the legislators vote on critical issues in education.  Please get the word out to your groups and contacts and ask them to contact the members of the Education Conference committee.  Scroll past these e-mail addresses for my issues of concern.

Here is the full conference committee:

Senate Bill 2, the charter school bill:  The Senate version has taken the SBOE out of the interview process completely.  Since the beginning of charters in Texas, the SBOE has interviewed applicants for charter schools.  We have several meetings that allow the public to testify and voice their thoughts about having a charter school in their area.  Sometimes busloads of kids and adults will come to the board’s meetings in matching t-shirts to show and voice their support for a certain charter applicant.  The process is open and we take this role very seriously.  The Senate version gives this job to the commissioner.  Where will people go to voice their concerns or support?  Having an elected body involved in the selection process is critical as opposed to an appointed commissioner overseeing a small group of employees who will decide (although I like and support our current commissioner wholeheartedly but we must think of the future too).

ACTION:  Please call or e-mail the Conference Committee to ask them to support the House version of SB 2 which keeps the role of the SBOE as it is now….in charge of the interview process to select charter schools.

HB 5, the Graduation Plan bill:  The following message is the one I have sent to the members of the Conference Committee.

Dear Member of the Education Conference Committee,

I am thankful that you have are serving on the Conference Committee for HB 5.  I have been an educator for over 30 years and serving on the State Board of Education has put me on the leading edge of education issues.  It was a special honor to represent Texas at an education conference recently at Harvard.  The attendees echoed my strong belief that Texas is a leader in preparing its students with a strong academic foundation in high school. 

I am asking you to help maintain the fine reputation that Texas has in the academic world!  Certainly options are a great idea, but preparing students for even more options upon graduation should be an ultimate goal.  Providing them with a well-rounded, strong academic foundation in high school is essential.

Please consider some of my thoughts below. 

I support the 4X4X4X3 for the Foundation graduation plan although I prefer 4 years of social studies.  (That means 4 years of English, 4 years of math, 4 years of science, and 4 years of social studies)

There are certain parts of the bill that are very good, but here is the bottom line that still stands out to me: 

The Foundation plan (4X3X3X3) is less rigorous than the current 4X4X4X4.  I will support a 4X4X4X3 but am struggling with this.  Which history class will we allow students to skip?  World History?  American History? World Geography? Government or Economics?  They are all vital to a student’s academic foundation. 

The Business and Industry endorsement is less rigorous than the current 4X4X4X4. (4X4X4X2, no Alg. II required, takes off 2 years of social studies courses) I especially do not support only 2 years of social studies.

The Arts and Humanities endorsement is less rigorous than the current 4X4X4X4. (4X4X3X4, 1 less year of science required)

The STEM endorsement course requirements are excellent. They are 4X4X4X4.

Amendment #28 by Sen. Van dePutte is very good and should have passed because it makes total sense. It did not pass but I hope it is brought back in conference.  (Requires a student’s counselor to notify the student that they are not eligible under the business and industry endorsement for top 10%, automatic admission and Texas Grants since this endorsement is the only one that does not require Alg II.)

ACTION:  Please contact the Conference Committee members and voice your support for the Foundation graduation plan to include 4 years of English, 4 years of math, 4 years of science, and 3 years of social studies.  Right now both the House and Senate versions require the Foundation Plan to be only 4X3X3X3.

If any of the graduation requirements for students who choose an endorsement bother you, please mention that too. For example, dropping the social studies requirement to only 2 years for students who choose the Business/Industry endorsement is unacceptable to me.

CSHB 2836, I have already started the process in-house for the SBOE to develop a method to streamline the TEKS. At the April SBOE meeting, I put an item on the Instruction sub-committee to begin developing a prototype for best practices standards. We will continue working on this at future SBOE meetings. 

It would be a detriment to form a legislative interim panel to look at this issue because the SBOE already has a sub-committee doing this very thing!   Board members are familiar with how the TEKS are structured and adopted, with the way that assessments are developed, and with the wide-ranging ramifications of arbitrary changes to the standards.

ACTION: Please tell legislators not to support CSHB 2836 . (Corrected and Updated)

About HB 1406, the CSCOPE bill:  This bill passed the House today by 2/3s majority vote, so it became immediate law.  I am very pleased about that. Why is it still necessary?

Even though CSCOPE has promised to remove their lesson plans, it is possible that they will continue to offer the assessments.  I have found many problems in the CSCOPE tests.  For example, here is a question on a 4th grade test:

Which of the following modifications to the land destroyed habitats and the natural beauty of the East Texas landscape?

A the building of hundreds of oil derricks surrounding the town

B  trucks carrying barrels of oil in and out of the area every day

C  oil spills when gushers came in

D  all of these

There are also questions on a Government test that include these answers (after students study a graph):

“Hispanics tend to approve of Democratic policies; increasing Democratic influence in elections.” Another answer is: “The white population will increase their disinterest in voting participation.” Even if an answer is not the correct answer, the students still have to read the information.  It gets the message out.

Another test question lists the major themes for 4 different speakers at an event.  Speaker 2 is listed as: “My family members have been Democrats for generations, and so am I.  Speakers 1, 3, and 4 are not designated as belonging to a particular party.  Only the Democratic party is mentioned.  This is another example of bias.  

Thank you for your part in prompting the grassroots activists of our great state to help with these issues.  Education is near and dear to the hearts of all of us.  We must unite and see these bills through to the very end to ensure that they require what is best for our schoolchildren.

Very sincerely,

Barbara Cargill

Chair, State Board of Education 

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