This summer, a select Texas House committee was established to study opportunity, accountability and enrichment in hearings spanning two days of invited testimony. The invited testifiers were generally special interest groups, school district superintendents, and state employees. Gearing up for what we hear will be Governor Abbott's special session on Parent Empowerment in Education, we were displeased that this committee did not see the wisdom in including PARENTS in the discussion.
Below, you will see two things:
1. Our letter to the Chair of this committee, who also Chairs the House Public Education Committee, Representative Brad Buckley. Please read this short letter and share it.
2. Our suggestions and solutions. What most sets our parent-identified solutions apart from those presented by invited testifiers? Ours do not require millions of taxpayer dollars in new spending. Vendors, districts & special interest groups do not stand to profit from our solutions, but we believe students will profit tremendously. This, in turn, does benefit school districts.
It is a hard sell if we are denied a voice. Together as parents, we must urge legislators to shift from the current model of: Allow a problem to fester and kids to fall behind for several years. Meanwhile, have ready a product or program you can sell/buy. Band together as special interests to demand that product, program and funding for it. Our children and their public education institutions should not be profit-centers. That money should be better spent, we think, such as on teachers.
In testimony, we heard quite a few proponents of more and more testing of our children, and experimenting new tests on them.
It is time to have measure on the schools and how they are administered, not just on our kids.
The current model is broken, and we believe it's time to turn to people with new ideas who care, very personally, what happens: PARENTS.
Our accountability solutions in involve transparency and local control. This plan incentivizes school boards to adopt great policies that superintendents have to implement. The more a school board prioritizes academic achievement and good governance, the more they will stand out among their peers. This is a market solution that does not involve copious amounts of money.
In this way, high-performing districts can set the example for lower-performing ones as to which board policies they should adopt and adhere to.
Our assessment measures involve alternatives to STAAR and to the push for ever-more computer testing and data collection. We want our kids (Texans) to have real-world preparedness. The assessments completely drive the teaching. We believe over-dependence on STAAR is dangerous and gives tremendous control to the test-writers, who may not even be in the United States; who may or may not even share belief in a constitutional republican form of government, let alone honor our Texas values.