Yesterday, 100+ parents from across Texas converged on the Capitol building in Austin. They rallied outside the Capitol steps and roamed the halls of the building, speaking up together and asking their representatives to strengthen the Texas Parent Empowerment legislation so that parents can actually use the law. The way the current law is written, only two schools in the entire state of Texas are eligible!

Outside the Capitol, a lineup of powerful parent advocates and allies, such as Keisha Riley from Houston, spoke up about the unacceptable state of schools and the urgency of giving parents power to fix them. Joining them were two Democratic representatives from the House, Rep. Deshotel and HB 1727 sponsor Rep. Dutton, came out to address parents and lend their support.

I had the pleasure of accompanying Keisha and three other Houston parents to speak with four different legislative offices about the pending Parent Empowerment legislation. None of the parents had ever done legislative visits like this before, but they were a huge hit! Legislators and staff were clearly moved by their stories, and thanked the parents profusely for coming and speaking with them. Loretta, who has a son attending Yates High School in Houston, told each of them, “We are spending billions of dollars, but we still aren’t graduating our kids ready for college OR a career! We need more accountability.” Keisha told her personal story of desperately searching for a high performing school for her daughter next year, which so far she has not been able to find. Her five-year-old daughter gave me a detailed lesson on her favorite birds (bluejays) and animals (giraffes and dogs, I believe in that order).

Overall, parents conducted over 20 different lobby visits in one day, securing important additional support for their Parent Empowerment efforts. Our hats go off to the parents of Texas who woke up early and trekked three hours or more to the state Capitol to make their voices heard!

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AuthorParent Revolution
Tagstexas

The Source: Challenges In The Texas Education System

By PAUL FLAHIVE

Governor-elect, Greg Abbott has touted education as one of his key areas when he takes the reigns next month. Texas ranks nearly last--46th out of 50--in per student spending on education, and dead last in the percentage of residents with a high school diploma. 

Texas was ground zero for the latest education reform movement. Standardized testing, school choice, teacher accountability are all words commonly used in education policy discussions across the country, and many of those conversations began in Texas. 

But when the politicians stop campaigning, the Texas Education Agency is left to oversee the implementation of plans conceived in Austin. The TEA oversees 1,228 public school districts and charters schools. It has an estimated five million students.

A big school system has a big tab, and often becomes a political football. The funding for the TEA--which had a $19 billion budget last year--was cut by more than 25 percent in the 2011 legislative session only to be partially restored in 2013. As a whole, the finance system is currently being litigated in state courts for being unconstitutional. 

In addition, the TEA has been asked to continue to monitor and assess failing public school districts and charters. This process often results in controversial changes, as in the case of South San ISD's Dwight Middle School, which will see all employees released from their contracts and forced to reapply. This will probably result in a complete turnover in staff. The district made the decision after Dwight failed to pass certain education benchmarks for two years in a row.

In terms of charter school systems, the TEA is the first to admit they have a statistical overrepresentation of these schools on both sides of the bell curve. Revoking charters has been a tool they have just begun utilizing resulting in 14 charters losing state funding. Senate bill 2 gave the TEA these powers in 2013, which have seen five charters in San Antonio having their charter pulled. Some charters remain despite the state order to close, as with Honors Academy Charter. Does the state have enough teeth to deal with enforcing standards on charter schools?

What is the future of education in Texas?

http://tpr.org/post/source-challenges-texas-education-system

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AuthorParent Revolution
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