The Texas education officials with Commissioner Williams as their leader are robbing us. Because the Texas Education System has had no leadership in years, there is no accountability for the billions –yes billions– of dollars provided for different education projects. Our children are not receiving a quality education in Texas public schools. All Texas children should be fluently reading many different languages for the amount of money provided for reading programs alone.
The 20 Education Service Centers, ESCs, were developed to assist small school districts. The state funded ESCs no longer provide services, instead they sell products and services.
The ESCs need to be closed, the funding they received can be given to school districts to secure quality products and services.
The elaborate buildings housing the ESCs are shameful when school buildings have so many needs. Texas education officials have recently asked the state legislature to provide $127 million for facilities construction, of which $75 million will specifically go to high-growth, low-income school districts. Check out the facility that houses the state funded Education Service Center in your region. Ask how such elaborate buildings can be constructed. Where is the money for these buildings coming from? The ESCs say they have to sell products just to make ends meet and yet they are housed elaborate buildings. Someone is making a nice profit from all the $ spent on testing, and different programs.
Texas education officials, including the Commissioner of Education, Michael Williams, are asking Texas lawmakers for $30 million to develop a new assessment method that is less reliant on test scores.
- Are these the same education officials that requested millions to develop the STAAR tests only a few years ago?
- Are these the same education officials that insisted that the state standards called TEKS be revised so they would be more rigorous? A more rigorous assessment called STAAR?
- Are these the same education officials who reject all input about the errors on the STAAR tests?
- Are these the same education officials who gave The Rider Grant of $200 million dollars to the 20 Texas Education Service Centers to prepare professional development for the transition from TEKS for TAKS to the new TEKS for STAAR?
- Are these the same education officials who did not require the 20 ESCs to produce products described in the Ryder 42 grant? YES! The results being that the 20 ESC spent $200 million dollars but cannot justify what they did with it. In fact, the 20 ESCs seem not to be able to justify why they do with a lot of the money they receive.
- Why does the Commissioner of Education not require the 20 ESCs to be accountable for the millions and millions of dollars they receive?
The Commissioner Williams said at the State Board of Education meeting Friday, 09/19/2014 that the $30 million would be used to set up a two-year pilot program so they can rethink how our children are being assessed.
- Is this the same Commissioner Williams who told the Senate Education Committee that Texas children are not scoring well on the STAAR tests because of low level instructions in their classes?
- Is this the same Commissioner Williams who sends an auto-response to all emails he receives about problems with the STAAR testing?
- Is this the same Michael Williams who has no background in education but was chosen by Governor Perry to be the leader of the entire Texas Education System?
In 2011-2011, Texas launched the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, or STAAR, tests. This assessment program was said to be more rigorous and focused more heavily on career and college readiness than the previous TAKS testing systems.
Commissioner Williams commented recently that the changes from TAKS to STAAR were minimal. He is absolutely correct, yet at the time the changes were described as being very involved and that teachers would need help in understanding the rigor of the new revised TEKS for STAAR. Thus, the legislature #81 were convinced that $200 Million dollars would be needed to create professional development for Texas teachers. This was one of the biggest scams and as yet no one in Austin has inquired about where this money went.
- The 20 ESCs were to develop materials for teachers of K-12 core subjects-science, math, ELAR, social studies. Workshops were to be given for Texas teachers comparing the old with the new TEKS. Materials were to be placed on a website called, Project Share. I have copies of the materials prepared for the core subjects and had anyone with even the slightest understanding of the objectives of Rider 42 evaluated the material they would never have paid the ESCs for such poor quality materials.
- The 20 ESCs admitted to not advertising the TEKS transition workshops. Instead added them to their regular catalog of professional development programs. I find it hard to believe that twenty different Educational Service Centers failed to broadcast loudly and often that they were having summer workshops to guide teachers to make the “HUGE” transition from TAKS to STAAR. Yet, these 20 ESCs were paid $200 Million to create and provide TEKS transition professional development.
- Did the ESCs not provide quality TEKS transition professional development because the 20 ESCs were selling CSCOPE Curriculum which was promoted as being needed to provide teachers an understanding of the new rigorous TEKS?
- Did the ESCs not provide quality TEKS transition professional development because like Commissioner Williams now says, the transition of the TEKS for TAKS to the TEKS for STAAR was no big deal? In other words, the new TEKS for STAAR are only slightly different than the TEKS for TAKS. I find this to be true for the science TEKS and now the Commissioner of Education, Michael Williams says that the transition for all the core subject TEKS for the STAAR tests had minimum changes.
This means that TEA, the Commissioner of Education, the SBOE, and all the directors of the 20 ESCs mislead the public, and lied to the legislature about the need for the Rider 42 Grant of $200 Million dollars.
The same education officials that lied about the need to make changes in the state standards and state assessment tests are asking for more money to create a new type of assessment.
A new system? A pilot system? Just more wasted money. Just more money that the state educational officials will not be able to account for.
- The Texas Education Officials responsible for the TEKS and STAAR/EOC tests need to be held accountable for providing such poor quality standards and forcing Texas teachers to use them.
- The Texas Education Officials responsible for the TEKS and STAAR/EOC tests need to be held accountable for all the children who were forced to repeatedly take STAAR tests that had errors. Children have been retained because they did not pass the STAAR tests. Now the Commissioner of Education admits that our children were not prepared for the tests. The Commissioner said the Texas children have not received high level class instructions, thus fail the rigorous STAAR tests.
- Since 80% of Texas School Districts use instruction materials purchased from the 20ESCs, and the Commissioner of Education admits that the new revised TEKS for STAAR have little difference from the TEKS for TAKS, our children have been purposely not prepared for STAAR, which are said to be rigorous.
- As to being rigorous, Confusing, Incorrect, and not age appropriate better describe the STAAR tests.
The State Legislatures need to be more informed about what is going on in the Texas Education System. Until Texas has a governor who will appoint a Commissioner of Education who stands up to lobbyists, such as TASA, and the Educational Service Centers who have openly proposed to transform Texas education and have done so. The transition has been from a quality traditional program to a dumbing down constructivist program.
No more money needs to be provided for state standards or assessments until the illegal lobbyist, Thomas Ratliff is removed from the State Board of Educationm SBOE. How can decisions made by the SBOE be trusted when one of its members is a lobbyist for Microsoft?
The Texas legislatures need to stop being swayed by lobbyists and do something about Senate Bill 6, which gives school districts the right to use any instruction material in our public schools. Sadly, it is our school superintendents who need to be monitored and not teachers. These superintendents purchased CSCOPE without asking their teachers to evaluate this unvetted instruction material for K-12. These same superintendents did away with textbooks because the ESCs said textbooks were not aligned with the new rigorous TEKS. Commissioner Williams has revealed that the ESCs purposely lied about the textbooks. There were minimum changes in the TEKS and all the materials used to prepare students for TAKS tests were useful for the STAAR tests.
Stop the STAAR and EOC tests for a couple of years until The Texas Education System can again be focused on educating children and not selling products.
The TAKS and STAAR tests are online and can be used to assess students—once the tests have been corrected.
School superintendents need to be accountable for the instruction materials they have forced their teachers to use.
School superintendents should be the ones evaluated using the test scores of students. The difference in the quality of education would quickly improve.
Many Texas school superintendents retire and go to work for the ESCs or TEA. Thus, what ever product the ESCs are selling these future employees of the ESCs buy it. Senate Bill 6 has taken away the accountability of school superintendents. Why was this bill every written? Why did it pass?