More on the Quality of Texas’ Public Schools

The following is my response to a reader’s recent comment on a posting I made earlier this year on Texas’ public schools.

Texas schools are far from perfect, I’m afraid, Alan.  The quality of our schools varies from ISD to ISD.  I know because I live in a city that is serviced by an overcrowded public high school to which I would not send a son or daughter, yet I teach in a city where the high school is exemplary (recognized according to TEA’s TAKS assessments).  Our problems I judge, here in north central Texas, are social-economic/ethnic clustering, lack of bilingual teachers, and poor teachers’ pay.  Many of the teachers in the city where I live are uncertified because the ISD here cannot afford to pay what it would take to attract and retain teachers who are both fully-qualified and experienced to work on “challenge” campuses.

 Hmmm… maybe what we need, since market system forces of supply and demand don’t apply in government-provided service industries like public education, is “court-ordered” bussing of teachers.

I don’t subscribe to “Education Week,” but I came across an article last weekend in a past issue of the magazine while surfing the Net for material on a posting about quality education for my blog.   The article says that… “A child born in Virginia is signifi- cantly more likely to experience success throughout life than the average child born in the United States, while a child born in New Mexico is likely to face an accumulating series of hurdles both educationally and economically.” This statement was made based on a “Chance-for-Success Index” which tracks state efforts to connect education from preschool through postsecondary education and training.  The index was developed, by the way, with analysis done by the Editorial Projects in Education Research Center, part of the PEW Charitable Trusts network.

So, wondering where Texas was on this index, I dug a little deeper and went to the study itself.  The researchers rated Texas 48, only 2 up from the very bottom, which is New Mexico.  Heavens!  I would have expected Texas to at least rate higher than Mississippi, Louisiana, and Arkansas.  But, no; this independent, unbiased research center reached a different conclusion.  You may see and download the report for yourself from http://www.edweek.org/media/ew/qc/2007/17shr.tx.h26.pdf.

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Published in: on September 22, 2007 at 10:11 pm  Comments (3)  

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  1. Kent, I am glad to read your response on the educational situation here in the state of Texas. I have nightmares nightly after busing my grandchildren from their schools each day. I cannot help wondering where we have gone wrong. Granted I am not from Texas and my daughter did not go to school in our lovely state BUT I have often gone over the educational system in our country and I have simply given up trying to figure it all out. You tell me: Why do we expect to have great teachers and expect them to inspire and prepare our children for all areas of life and their particular interest OR gifts and yet, we do not want to pay for this service? I do not mind paying higher taxes to see our young people compete in the world market if higher taxes is what it takes. We need to weed out those who do not meet a certain standard in education and place a higher monetary value on those who do meet the standard. Perhaps then we will see the quality of education go up in the state of Texas and nationwide.

    Kent, we need a “come to Jesus” meeting between, State,
    ISDs and parents and we need it NOW. I applaud you for your stand on education so ‘keep on keeping on’. If you reach and inspire one student, that will be a good thing.

    Nancy Coleman

  2. Thanks for your comment to The World According to Opa, Nancy.
    In response to your question, “Why do we expect to have great teachers, etc., etc.,” my guess is that all Texans do not value public education as much as you and I do. They do not appreciate how important it is for our country’s future economic wellbeing, despite what the Texas Constitution says, or how I interpret Article Seven thereof. So they resist the need to pay for it to happen equitably for all. When the students of a given school fail to do well on standardized tests, the state of Texas assumes the reason is only that the teachers of that given school have failed to teach. Expecting all students to learn the same things in the same ways, they ignore all the other factors that affect learning, the social-economic things — and these are way more important than anything else. They’re even more important than teachers’ qualifications or whether schools have up-to-date technology and beautiful new football stadiums. In short, the vast majority of legislators are not educators — they’re politicians and they respond more to their constituents desire for lower taxes than they do to the chorus of voices from teachers and concerned parents who, unfortunately, are in the minority in Texas. The majority of voters in Texas are “conservative,” many of whom, if they have children of school age, live in “better” school districts or have enough money to place their sons and daughters in private schools).

    Opa

  3. I dont believe that the teachers should be criticized if a student does not do well on a test, the student may not have been paying attention or didnt study correctly. We do need to appreciate the value of our teachers, and the value of our schools and not really question it.


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