A Superintendent Writes… Changing Tires Doing 75 m.p.h.

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A LYS Superintendent shares the following: I don’t think the changes to the Texas math standards are getting nearly enough attention. I have heard complaints from math teachers all year about how convoluted and confusing the entire situation is. If you are late to the game, let me catch you up.


Some high school math standards (TEKS) are going to middle school and some middle school math standards (TEKS) are going to elementary school. Now, we need to keep in mind that the TEKS are not a curriculum. The TEKS are a scope, but include no sequence, and certainly no resources. Districts are struggling to keep up with the changes, adapt their scope and sequence, and find appropriate instructional resources. This is a daunting task for a large district with a full time C&I department. For small districts, the situation is almost unmanageable, especially since the resources available in CSCOPE were removed. I find this situation analogous to attempting to change a flat tire on a car while doing 75 m.p.h. down the interstate. It’s just not a good idea. But there are other concerns more pressing than timing, adapting, and finding resources.


If a high school principal were short a math teacher and could only find a middle school certified math teacher that would essentially be a no-go. The teacher would not hold the proper certification, would likely not have the needed college course work, and would not be considered highly qualified in many cases. The principal would have to send notice to parents, corrective action plans would be put in place, etc.


Why?


Because the state has deemed a middle school certified teacher is not educated, certified, or qualified to teach the high school math TEKS. Should a middle school principal attempt to hire an elementary certified teacher to teach middle school, the same scenario would unfold, because once again the state has deemed an elementary certified teacher is not educated, certified, or qualified to teach middle school math TEKS. So, please explain to me, what is the difference if the state sends the TEKS to the teacher without the education, certification, and qualification to the teacher? In one scenario we were placing the teacher in a situation in which she would not be able to properly address the TEKS; in the other scenario the state moves the TEKS to teachers who are not properly able to address the TEKS. All of this as if the bureaucratic wave of a wand suddenly gives teachers the education, certification, and qualification to teach the more advanced TEKS. The net effect on the child is the same whether you move the teacher to the TEKS or the TEKS to the teacher: the child loses. I now have to find ways to teach my TEACHERS some of the math they need to know in order to be able to teach the children!


I would encourage all superintendents to bring their Boards up to speed on this issue quickly. We need to respond with Board resolutions directed to our SBOE and legislative representatives. Given that the next legislative session starts in a few weeks, the timing is perfect and the timing is now. I am more and more convinced that we are not witnessing the failure of Texas public education. Rather, we are witnessing the failure of Texas public education POLICY, and only our elected officials can remedy the situation.


Mike Seabolt

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