In response to the 10/10/2014 post, “My Texas School Plan: An Open Letter to Candidates,” a LYS Superintendent writes:
I like it overall.
A. On item 6 (21:1 maximum class size), I would make class sizes smaller. I would go 18 in pk-6. And yes, I would have universal Pre-K, full day. It would be optional at the parents’ discretion, but the option would be there.
B. On item 7 (increase time devoted to academics), I would also limit students to 2 extracurricular or co-curricular activities per semester. A student with a straight A average could get a waiver for 3 per semester.
C. On item 8 (EOC testing), we are far apart. I would rather see no EOC tests whatsoever. The state and Pearson has lost all credibility with the ability to administer a testing program. Ditto on accountability. The state politicized the testing and accountability system to push an ideological agenda. The needs of the students were put behind this political ideology. Any testing and accountability system should be put together by a panel of school district and university system employees, with no state involvement other than to administer the resulting program. All tests should be verified by a second, independent panel of public school and university system pedagogy experts to be developmentally appropriate, something current tests are not. I am good with the rest of item 8.
D. On item 9 (superintendent salary scale), I really don’t see how putting state controls on superintendent salaries will help children in the classroom. And I don’t think it would save anywhere near as much money as you think it would. Given current salaries, I doubt this plan would save more than $20,000,000 statewide. Of all the items in your plan, this item just doesn’t seem to fit the overall direction of all other items. However, if item 9 salaries are put in place in conjunction with and simultaneously with item 3 teacher salaries, I would have no problem with it.
E. On item 10 (charter school rules), charter schools should be forced to take all children who apply. No stipulations on parent involvement or other gimmicks to weed out the hard kids to teach.
SC Response On Point A, I’m in complete agreement. Yes, it will require an increase in school funding (which in all likelihood will increase school taxes). But I don’t look at this as an increase in taxes. I look at this as an increase in our collective investment in our communities, infrastructure, and economic engine.
On Point B, I agree. I’m not anti-extra curricular activities. I’m a realist. The chance of a student getting an extra-curricular college scholarship is slim. The chance of becoming a professional in the extra-curricular activity, essentially zero. Everyone is better served with an increased focus on academic endeavors.
On Point C, I agree that the credibility on the accountability system built by our legislature lacks credibility. But I don’t believe the answer is no testing. We have both witnessed that the negative effect of “district self-accountability” systems on students. If we agree that the TEKS are workable, then building an EOC that assesses grade level mastery of said TEKS is mostly a mechanical proposition. As you suggest create an advisory board of key educators to actually review the created tests and we are back on the right track and ready to move to a incentive based accountability system.
On Point D, I see the teacher and superintendent pay components as a package. And tying Superintendent pay to average teacher salary creates an incentive for School Boards and Superintendents to do more than just talk about adequately paying teachers.
On Point E, we agree. But the issue is not just with some charter schools. Similar hard and soft enrollment games are used by traditional schools and school districts for gifted and magnet programs.
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