Monday, May 28, 2012

First Memorial Day in 1865 staged with help of Teachers

The first Memorial Day was May 1, 1865, when hundreds of freed slaves, missionaries, and teachers held a solemn ceremony to honor the Union soldiers who died in a Confederate prison camp in Charleston, S.C. That memorial evolved into Decoration Day and then in 1882 to Memorial Day. The last Monday in May now honors all soldiers killed in all wars.          
                                                                                                                                                     -- Memorial Day 2012: A Lesson Not Yet Learned - by Walter Brasch

Today we honor military veterans who died in service to maintain our freedoms, including freedom of education.  We also remember a lesson well worth reviewing about the prominent role of teachers and schoolchildren in 1865 and what is purported to be the origin of Memorial Day.

David W. blight, American History professor at Yale University, writes:

The First Decoration Day

"At the end of the Civil War  ... the beautiful port city of Charleston, South Carolina, where the war had begun in April, 1861, lay in ruin by the spring of 1865. The city was largely abandoned by white residents by late February. Among the first troops to enter and march up Meeting Street singing liberation songs was the Twenty First U. S. Colored Infantry; their commander accepted the formal surrender of the city.

Thousands of black Charlestonians, most former slaves, remained in the city and conducted a series of commemorations to declare their sense of the meaning of the war. The largest of these events, and unknown until some extraordinary luck in my recent research, took place on May 1, 1865. During the final year of the war, the Confederates had converted the planters' horse track, the Washington Race Course and Jockey Club, into an outdoor prison. Union soldiers were kept in horrible conditions in the interior of the track; at least 257 died of exposure and disease and were hastily buried in a mass grave behind the grandstand. Some twenty-eight black workmen went to the site, re-buried the Union dead properly, and built a high fence around the cemetery. They whitewashed the fence and built an archway over an entrance on which they inscribed the words, "Martyrs of the Race Course."

Then, black Charlestonians in cooperation with white missionaries and teachers, staged an unforgettable parade of 10,000 people on the slaveholders' race course. The symbolic power of the low-country planter aristocracy's horse track (where they had displayed their wealth, leisure, and influence) was not lost on the freedpeople. A New York Tribune correspondent witnessed the event, describing "a procession of friends and mourners as South Carolina and the United States never saw before."

At 9 am on May 1, the procession stepped off led by three thousand black schoolchildren carrying arm loads of roses and singing "John Brown's Body." The children were followed by several hundred black women with baskets of flowers, wreaths and crosses. Then came black men marching in cadence, followed by contingents of Union infantry and other black and white citizens. As many as possible gathering in the cemetery enclosure; a childrens' choir sang "We'll Rally around the Flag," the "Star-Spangled Banner," and several spirituals before several black ministers read from scripture.  ...

Following the solemn dedication the crowd dispersed into the infield and did what many of us do on Memorial Day: they enjoyed picnics, listened to speeches, and watched soldiers drill. Among the full brigade of Union infantry participating was the famous 54th Massachusetts and the 34th and 104th U.S. Colored Troops, who performed a special double-columned march around the gravesite. The war was over, and Decoration Day had been founded by African Americans in a ritual of remembrance and consecration..."

To hundreds of thousands of  deceased veterans, we gratefully salute and honor you.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Randi Weingarten of AFT takes on high-stakes testing

I think the first thing we have to do is move off the test fixaton. Top-down, test-driven accountability as a salvation has not proven to work. People will say, “Oh, she’s anti-accountability.” But I’m for making sure teachers can really teach and for multiple measures to assess teachers, like peer review, self-reflection, administrative review and assessment of student learning. But right now there are a disproportionate number of points [in many teacher evaluation systems] allocated to test scores.
The president gets a lot of credit for saying in his State of the Union, “Let’s not teach to the test.” NAEP [the National Assessment of Educational Progress] scores from the last decade had a better rate of growth than in this decade, and that says a lot about the effects of top-down, test-based accountability. We have to get away from that concept. I think if there’s a reset button where we get away from that, we can unleash creativity. We can unleash the Common Core, we can work on teacher quality through what we know works: cooperative environments. Then I think we’ll have a different conversation in America.
She noted that countries that do better in educating their students than the U.S. don't share our test obsession ..."

Why Education in Singapore Works - A School System Focused on Collaboration and Trust

Brown v. Board of Education - May 17, 1954

On This Day

George E.C. Hayes, left, Thurgood Marshall, center, and James M. Nabrit pose outside
the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., May 17, 1954 (AP).

On May 17, 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its unanimous (9-0) landmark decision in Brown v. Board of Education, declaring that racially segregated public schools were inherently unequal.

 “We conclude that in the field of public education the doctrine of 'separate but equal' has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal…."

Brown v. Board of Education in 'PBS The Supreme Court

And the walls of segregation came tumbling down over many years.

Texas PTA sending resolution concerning high stakes testing to local groups

From Texas Association of School Administrators - TASA - Click Here

Submitted by arivas on May 1, 2012 
"The Texas PTA is appealing to local PTAs through an e-newsletter to encourage local PTAs to adopt a family-focused version of the Resolution Concerning High Stakes, Standardized Testing of Texas Public School Students

"Texas PTA seeks to communicate through this resolution PTA families' concerns about high stakes testing. Acknowledging the need for rigorous instruction and assessment, Texas PTA seeks to support a needed transformation in Texas public schools - one that fosters innovation, creativity and a thirst for learning with new, more meaningful, assessment and accountability measures. Texas PTA seeks a partnership between schools and families to achieve these goals," the newsletter reads in part.

Texas PTA's suggested timeline asks local PTAs to adopt the resolution by the end of this school year or at the beginning of the 2012-13 school year, and share the resolutions with Texas PTA, their local school board and state lawmakers."

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Houston ISD resolution concerning high stakes, standardized testing of Texas public school students

As of May 16, 2012, 462 Texas school districts representing more than 2.6 million students have adopted the Resolution Concerning High Stakes, Standardized Testing of Texas Public School Students.

This is the text of the Houston ISD Resolution that was passed and approved by the Board of Trustees on last Thursday, May 10, 2012.


WHEREAS, we believe that the mission of our public schools is to ensure that all Texas children have access to a quality education that enables them to achieve their potential and fully participate now and in the future in the social, economic, and educational opportunities of our state and nation; and

WHEREAS, we support high standards and accountability for results for ourselves, our schools, our educators, and our students and their families; and

WHEREAS, the over reliance on standardized, high stakes testing as the only assessment of learning that really matters in the state and federal accountability systems is undermining the transformation of a traditional system of schooling into a broad range of learning experiences that better prepares our students to live successfully and be competitive in a global economy; and

, we commend Robert Scott, Commissioner of Education, for his concern about the overemphasis on high stakes testing that has become “a perversion of its original intent” and for his continuing support of high standards and local accountability; and

WHEREAS, State-mandated standardized tests may affect as many as forty-five instructional days during the school year on a high school campus, and even interfere with the normal instructional activities of students not taking such tests; and

, we believe our state’s future prosperity is dependent on a high-quality education system that prepares students for college and careers, and without such a system Texas’ economic competitiveness and ability and to attract new business will falter; and

WHEREAS, the real work of designing more engaging student learning experiences requires changes in the culture and structure of the systems in which teachers and students work; and

WHEREAS, what occurs in our classrooms every day should be student-centered and result in students learning at a deep and meaningful level, as opposed to the current overemphasis on that which can be easily tested by standardized tests; and

, We believe in the tenets set out in Creating a New Vision for Public Education in Texas (TASA, 2008) and our goal is to transform this district in accordance with those tenets; and

, Our vision is for all students to be engaged in more meaningful learning activities that cultivate their unique individual talents, to provide for students’ choice in work that is designed to respect how they learn best, and to embrace the concept that students can be both consumers and creators of knowledge; and

, only by developing new capacities and conditions in districts and schools, and the communities in which they are embedded, will we ensure that all learning spaces foster and celebrate innovation, creativity, problem solving, collaboration, communication and critical thinking; and

, these are the skills that business leaders desire in a workforce and the very attitudes that are essential to the survival of our democracy; and

, while we believe that standardized tests are integral to accountability in public schools and point with pride to the performance of our students, we concur that making these tests the sole measure of accountability causes preparation for these tests to dominate instructional time, impeding progress toward a world-class education system of student centered schools and future-ready students.

NOW THEREFORE, be it resolved that the Houston Independent School district Board of Education calls on the Texas Legislature to reexamine the public school accountability system in Texas and to develop a system that encompasses multiple assessments, reflects greater validity, reduces the number of instructional days affected by State-mandated standardized tests, and more accurately reflects what students know and can do in terms of the rigorous standards essential to their success, enhances the role of teachers as designers, guides to instruction and leaders, and nurtures the sense of inquiry and love of learning in all students.

PASSED AND APPROVED on this 10th day of May, 2012.

By: ____________________ By: _____________________
Name: Name:
Title: Title:
By: ____________________ By: _____________________
Name: Name:
Title: Title:
By: ____________________ By: _____________________
Name: Name:
Title: Title:
By: ____________________

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Houston ISD approves resolution concerning high stakes testing

As of May 14, 2012, 447 Texas districts representing nearly 2.6 million students have adopted the resolution.

From KUHF-FM News - Click Here
Houston Public Radio
May 11, 2012
"The Houston Independent School District has joined hundreds of other districts calling on the state to quit relying so heavily on standardized tests. The group that got HISD on board believes high-stakes testing puts too much of a burden on students, teachers, and parents."

On Thursday, May 10, 2012 the Houston ISD Board of Trustees approved a Resolution concerning high stakes testing.  The Resolution includes language calling on the Texas Legislature to:
"reexamine the public school accountability system in Texas and to develop a system that encompasses multiple assessments, reflects greater validity, reduces the number of instructional days affected by state-mandated standardized tests, and uses more cost efficient sampling techniques and other external evaluation arrangements, and more accurately reflects what students know, appreciate and can do in terms of the rigorous standards essential to their success, enhances the role of teachers as designers, guides to instruction and leaders, and nurtures the sense of inquiry and love of learning in all students."

Houston ISD Board Meeting - Thursday - May 10, 2012
Speakers on Resolution Concerning High Stakes Testing

National Education Policy Center research on movement to privatize public education

"A lot of my current research has to do with the movement to privatize public education. This involves things like charter schools, even online charter schools, vouchers, tuition tax credits ..."
"There are very strong forces at work that are taking traditional public education and turning it into private and often quasi private and even profit-making ventures. And In my view these changes have not been beneficial - particularly to lower income families and children. I have a longstanding interest in issues of equity and they seem to be more serious now than they have ever been."  -- Gene V. Glass

National Education Policy Center Fellow Gene V Glass - University of Colorado at Boulder

National Education Policy Center - Click Here

Gene V Glass is currently a Senior Researcher at the National Education Policy Center and a Regents' Professor Emeritus from Arizona State University. Trained originally in statistics, his interests broadened to include psychotherapy research, evaluation methodology, and policy analysis. He was twice (1968, 1970) honored with the Palmer O. Johnson award of the American Educational Research Association; and in 1984, he received the Paul Lazarsfeld Award of the American Evaluation Association. He is a recipient of the Cattell Award of the Society of Multivariate Experimental Psychology. His work on meta-analysis of psychotherapy outcomes (with M.L. Smith) was named as one of the Forty Studies that Changed Psychology in the book of the same name by Roger R. Hock (1999). His Ph.D. was awarded by the University of Wisconsin, Madison, in educational psychology with a minor in statistics.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Eggs and Issues forum on education

Robert Scott-Texas Commissioner of Education,Mavis Knight-State Board of Education, Senator Royse West, Taylor D. August-Regional Director-Office of Civil Rights-US-DOE, Mike Miles-Dallas ISD and other district Superintendents with Shelley Kofler-KERA News, moderator-
Community stakeholders in and around Senatorial District 23 attended Saturday morning's Eggs and Issues forum, one in a series initiated and hosted by Senator Royce West.   From parents to principals, school adopters to community organizers, policy-makers to neighbors and friends -- gathered in the  auditorium of Methodist Charlton Medical Center on West Wheatland.  Guests heard from Texas state and Dallas area education leaders.

Robert Scott, Texas Commissioner of Education, provided an "Overview of Texas Public Education."  State Board of Education member Mavis Knight gave her perspective on the recent meeting and work of the State Board.  Taylor D. August, Regional Director, U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights, described a few on-going activities which are presently affecting public education.

Moderator Shelley Kofler, of KERA News, guided an informative Question & Answer session between the audience and the following panelists:

Superintendent Horace Williams -- Cedar Hill ISD

Superintendent Mike Miles -- Dallas ISD

Superintendent David Harris -- DeSoto ISD

Superintendent Alfred Ray -- Duncanville ISD

Executive Director Ricky Mitchell -- Grand Prairie ISD

Superintendent Michael McFarland -- Lancaster ISD

Superintendent Linda Henrie -- Mesquite ISD

The program announcement invited guests to participate in a lively discussion intended to include "questions that you want to ask about what is happening in your district's classrooms."

Problems with the use of student test scores to evaluate teachers

From the Economic Policy Institute - Briefing Paper - August 29, 2010

"Every classroom should have a well-educated, professional teacher, and school systems should recruit, prepare, and retain teachers who are qualified to do the job. Yet in practice, American public schools generally do a poor job of systematically developing and evaluating teachers.

Many policy makers have recently come to believe that this failure can be remedied by calculating the improvement in students’ scores on standardized tests in mathematics and reading, and then relying heavily on these calculations to evaluate, reward, and remove the teachers of these tested students.

While there are good reasons for concern about the current system of teacher evaluation, there are also good reasons to be concerned about claims that measuring teachers’ effectiveness largely by student test scores will lead to improved student achievement. If new laws or policies specifically require that teachers be fired if their students’ test scores do not rise by a certain amount, then more teachers might well be terminated than is now the case. But there is not strong evidence to indicate either that the departing teachers would actually be the weakest teachers, or that the departing teachers would be replaced by more effective ones. There is also little or no evidence for the claim that teachers will be more motivated to improve student learning if teachers are evaluated or monetarily rewarded for student test score gains."


Friday, May 11, 2012

D. A. Hulcy Middle School closing faculty and staff reunion

D. A. Hulcy Awards

D. A. Hulcy Faculty and Staff Reunion

Commissioner John Wiley Price - Speaker

D. A. Hulsey Middle School held its Faculty and Staff Reunion  

Would Texas school trustees pass the STARR test?

How many Texas school board Trustees would pass the high-stakes STARR test or a similar test?  

How many successful school superintendents, state board of education members, school administrators, politicians, Mayors, members of Congress, members of city councils, legislators would fail?  

It is an interesting thought.  Maybe there should be a test for politicians and public officials who impose such tests on children.

Those who label children and schools as failures because of one high-stakes test might fail the same test. Still, they consider themselves to be successful citizens.

From The Answer Sheet - by Valerie Strauss - Washington Post - May 10, 2012 - Click Here

Student video: How high-stakes tests affect kids

"In the video seven students are featured who are outstanding achievers academically but who failed the FCAT on their first try. The students, who had excelled in honors and Advanced Placement courses, were placed in remedial reading classes, according to Stanley, because of their poor showing on the FCAT. Also in the video is Orange County School Board member Rick Roach, the man who decided to take a test similar to the FCAT last year to see why so many excellent students were flunking."

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Assessment without high-stakes testing

What sometimes happens to students who do poorly on tests? It appears they are often pushed out of public schools.

Apparently, this is one of the fastest and most troubling ways to create the illusion of test score improvement.

In a study of 271,000 Texas public high school students, Rice University researchers found that the state’s accountability system, the model for NCLB, “has succeeded wildly… in producing more dropouts  disproportionately minority student dropouts.


The report states: 
"Each year Texas public high schools lose at least 135,000 youth prior to graduation, and a disproportionately large number of those students are African American, Latino and English Language Learners (ELL).
"High-stakes, test-based accountability doesn't lead to school improvement or equitable educational possibilities," said Linda McSpadden McNeil, director of the Center for Education at Rice University. "It leads to avoidable losses of students. Inherently the system creates a dilemma for principals: comply or educate. Unfortunately, we found that compliance means losing students."
"The study shows that as schools came under the accountability system, which uses student test scores to rate schools and reward or discipline principals, massive numbers of students left the school system. The exit of low-achieving students created the appearance of rising test scores and a narrowing of the achievement gap between white and minority students, thus increasing a school's ratings.
"According to researchers, this study has serious implications for the nation's schools under the NCLB law. It finds that the higher the stakes and the longer such an accountability system governs schools, the more likely it is that school personnel see students not as children to educate but as potential liabilities or assets for their school's performance indicators, their own careers or their school's funding."

439 Texas school districts have adopted the resolution concerning high stakes testing

 From TASA - Texas Association of School Administrators - Click Here

"As of May 10, 2012, 439 districts representing more than 2.3 million students have notified us they've adopted the resolution."

School Transformation

Region 10 - Dallas area

Allen ISD
Anna ISD
Avalon ISD
Bells ISD
Bland ISD
Blue Ridge ISD
Boles ISD
Caddo Mills ISD
Celeste ISD
Celina ISD
Commerce ISD
Community ISD
Coppell ISD
Denison ISD
Ennis ISD
Ferris ISD
Frisco ISD
Greenville ISD
Highland Park ISD
Kaufman ISD
Kemp ISD
McKinney ISD
Mesquite ISD
Palmer ISD
Plano ISD
Richardson ISD
Rockwall ISD
Royse City ISD
Savoy ISD
Sherman ISD
Trenton ISD
Van Alstyne ISD
Waxahachie ISD

Whitewright ISD
Wills Point ISD

Finland education has no annual high stakes testing

Finland consistently ranks near the top of international ratings. Teachers are allowed to teach. Finland has no annual high stakes testing.

Dan Rather Reports on education in Finland.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

High-Stakes Testing and No Child Left Behind: An Animated Debate

Does high stakes testing harm low income children?

High stakes testing hurts education of low income students

From the  National Center for Fair and Open Testing - Click Here

The report states:

"Evidence continues to mount demonstrating that high-stakes testing undermines, rather than enhances, efforts to improve education for all children.

The picture that emerges from several studies is of a nation severely hurting its educational system while failing to provide help to schools that need it, thereby harming the nation’s children – all in the name of “accountability.” High-stakes testing puts narrow, flawed instruments at the center of education and leads to intensive teaching to the exams, which does not result in real learning gains. At the same time, many children are less motivated, are denied a high-quality educational experience, and become more likely to leave school before graduating. While state-mandated exams have been the major culprit, the federal government’s imposition of high stakes on schools and districts will compound the problem (see stories on NCLB, pp 23- 28).

Amrein and Berliner
Last year, Professors Audrey Amrein and David Berliner of Arizona State University reported that gains states report on their own high-stakes tests do not correlate with results from other exams, such as the National Assessment of Educational Progress or SAT and ACT college entrance tests (see Examiner, Spring 2002). In states with graduation tests, scores on these other exams often declined or grew less quickly relative to the nation as a whole. Their students were apparently less well prepared and less likely to go to college than their peers in non-high-stakes states.

In a second report, Amrein and Berliner examined dropout and graduation rates in the 16 states that used high school exit exams in the 1990s. They found that the graduation rate decreased in 10 states after high school exit exams were implemented and increased in only five states. Similarly, dropout rates increased in 8 states and decreased in 5. They also found that General Equivalency Diploma (GED) enrollments tended to increase and the age of GED examinees decreased, indicating that more students had left school before graduating.

The authors also examined news clips from 26 states with high stakes for students or schools, to consider other consequences. This evidence is suggestive, not systematic. The authors found tendencies toward greater grade retention (a policy that fails to improve student learning while harming children); more students being expelled, in some cases apparently to drive out low scorers; and increased exemptions of students with disabilities or limited English proficiency.
Amrein and Berliner also reviewed other published research that found high stakes cause increased teaching to the tests and narrowing curriculum to fit them, with particular harm to low-income students.

Boston College Study
The National Board on Testing and Public Policy at Boston College reported that three-quarters of surveyed teachers said state testing programs were not worth the time and money. A substantial majority said the testing caused them to teach in ways that contradicted their views of sound instruction.

The board released two studies of teachers’ views of the effects of state-mandated testing on teaching and learning, one from a national survey of 4,200 teachers, the other from in-depth interviews with teachers. The studies compared the effects in low-, medium- and high-stakes states.
In both studies, teachers said higher stakes created more pressure to teach to the test. About 40 percent of survey respondents said students could raise their test scores without improving their real knowledge. As stakes increased, teachers were more likely to narrow classroom curriculum to focus more on tested areas and to engage in more test preparation, including use of items similar to what is on the exams.

The teacher interviews were conducted in Kansas (low stakes), Michigan (medium) and Massachusetts (high). As stakes increased, so did teachers’ reports of test-related effects on their classrooms. Some findings:

-Only one in ten urban Michigan teachers thought the state’s test-based scholarship awards motivated their students, compared to one-third of suburban and rural teachers.
-In Massachusetts, more than half the high school teachers thought that testing demoralized their students. Two-thirds of all teachers thought the tests were unduly stressful and unfair to special populations. Four out of five thought the exam should not be used as a sole hurdle for graduation.
In addition to the over-arching findings, the Board reports detail many of the complex and subtle ways tests with different stakes impact teaching and learning in elementary, middle, and high school levels.

Tests Demotivate
A thorough summary of research on education and motivation by a British team found that constant testing motivates only some students and increases the achievement gap between higher and lower achieving students.

The results of the study, titled “A Systematic Review of the Impact of Summative Assessment and Tests on Students’ Motivation for Learning,” rebut the claim that standardized testing motivates low achievers to reap the reward of high scores and avoid the punishment of failure. In fact, researchers Wynne Harlen and Dr. Ruth Deakin-Crick of Bristol University found that the two categories of students particularly discouraged by constant testing are girls and low achievers.

These findings call into question the claims of U.S. high-stakes testing proponents that they have found the key to closing the race-based achievement gap, since the study results suggest that groups such as low-income and many minority students, who traditionally score low on standardized tests, are likely to be among those who are demotivated by consistently poor test results. 

The study also found that constant testing encourages even successful students to see the goals of education in terms of passing tests rather than developing an understanding of what they are learning, supporting previous research done in the United States (see Examiner, Winter 1997).

The researchers found firm evidence that achievement of literacy is linked to students’ interest in learning, the degree to which their learning strategies link to existing knowledge rather than just memorizing, and the degree to which they feel in control of their learning. The authors concluded that policymakers must recognize that high-stakes testing is providing information about students’ attainment while reducing their motivation to learn.

A pamphlet summarizing the study, “Testing, Motivation and Learning,” is available from The Assessment Reform Group, See also


John Diamond and James Spillane of Northwestern University found that the response to high stakes accountability in low-performing schools may be counterproductive. They closely examined four Chicago schools—two performing fairly well on mandated tests, two doing poorly. All the schools did considerable test preparation, but the lower-performing schools tended to test more, focus attention on those close to passing, and engage in other activities not likely to help most of their students. Since low-income and minority-group students are concentrated in the lower-performing schools, and those schools use unhelpful methods while schools serving wealthier students use more effective methods to raise scores, the results of high-stakes accountability testing could be to widen test-score gaps. 


Using data from the federal government’s National Educational Longitudinal Survey, Sean Reardon and Claudia Galindo of Pennsylvania State found that “the presence of an eighth grade promotion test requirement is strongly associated with an increased probability of dropping out prior to tenth grade.”  This particularly affects low-income, lower-achieving students.

• Both Amrein and Berliner studies are at
• The Board reports are at
• Diamond & Spillane at
• Reardon & Galindo at"

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

National Teacher Day


WHEREAS, teachers make public schools great; and

WHEREAS, teachers work to open students' minds to ideas, knowledge and dreams; and

WHEREAS, teachers keep American democracy alive by laying the foundation for good citizenship; and

WHEREAS, teachers fill many roles, as listeners, explorers, role models, motivators and mentors; and

WHEREAS, teachers continue to influence us long after our school days are only memories;

Now, therefore, I, Carla Ranger, serving as Dallas ISD Trustee of District 6,

Do hereby proclaim Tuesday, May 8, 2012, as National Teacher Day in District 6.

I urge that we observe this day by taking time to recognize and acknowledge the impact of teachers on our lives.

Signed this 8th day of May, 2012.

   Thank A Teacher

 member photo
"I'm not the hero, it’s the kids that come out of their situations, they are the heroes to me."

Making a Difference
Dallas, TX
Making a Difference

Friday, May 4, 2012

Students and community celebrate 5th Annual Cinco de Mayo Food Festival at Justin F. Kimball High School

Justin F. Kimball High School Cinco de Mayo celebration
5th Annual Cinco de Mayo Food Festival
Team spirit at Justin F. Kimball High School was tops again as English Language Learners from several Spanish speaking countries hosted today's grand Cinco De Mayo (Spanish for "fifth of May")  celebration.   Working with them, native English speaking students from diverse backgrounds collaborated to help implement and host a cultural day of learning.

Cinco de Mayo is observed in the United States and regionally in Mexico, primarily in Puebla  to celebrate Mexican heritage and pride.  The day also commemorates the cause of freedom and democracy during the first years of the American Civil War.

An annual event for Kimball Knights, this 2012 Cinco De Mayo celebration began with a pre-dawn live broadcast from the school.  By Noon, several news stations and reporters were there to capture the activities, bursting with colorful decorations and a festival of food dishes homemade by student families.

Media Center Director Teresa Anderson had positioned  books and tables to help students transform the library into a mini-center of Mexican culture.  Adding to the atmosphere, several teachers and staff  together with  student hosts wore authentic Mexican garments, jewelry and hair pieces.  In addition to students' exposure to history, art and customs, Mexican music and dance enriched the experience with ballet folklorico and mariachi demonstrations.

There will be no standardized tests on today's lessons on teamwork, respect, communication, creativity, self-discipline, personal development, ...among others.  Nor will these lessons be a factor in school ratings for Kimball.  However, I am certain that this day of teaching and learning will go farther than high-stakes standardized tests do in helping the students to become responsible, successful citizens.

Congratulations to Spanish teacher Carmen Carrillo and English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher Lisa Aguilar for coordinating the event.

Thank you, Principal Earl Jones, administrative team, faculty and staff for supporting and contributing to a nourishing, wholesome school day.

Justin F. Kimball High School Knights will have memories of  the annual Cinco de Mayo celebration!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Impact of poverty on education

Stanford  Center for Opportunity Policy in Education
Washington, D.C.

The American Dream relies on public education to be the Great Equalizer with the federal
Elementary and Secondary Education Act and other education policies playing critical roles.
Findings from the recent Russell Sage compendium Whither Opportunity, however, call into
question the capacity of education policy and systems to realize the promise of a level playing field
Four experts provide different perspectives on the impact of poverty on educational attainment and
resulting implications for federal policy making.

The impact of poverty on education: Diverse scholarly perspectives
A Broader, Bolder Approach/SCOPE education policy briefing. April 19, 2012

TEA Commissioner Robert Scott announces resignation

 May 1, 2012

Commissioner Robert Scott announces resignation

AUSTIN -Texas Commissioner of Education Robert Scott announced today that he will resign his office, effective July 2 on the fifth anniversary of his appointment to the state’s highest public education post.
Scott, 43, began his career at the Texas Education Agency in 1994 as an assistant director of governmental relations.
“I’ve been here since Jon was one and Katie was three months old,” he said, referring to his children. “It’s time.” Both children have now graduated from Texas public schools.
Scott, a lawyer, has dedicated his career to education policy matters, whether serving as a congressional aide, education aide to Gov. Rick Perry or through a variety of jobs at TEA, including serving as interim commissioner and deputy commissioner.
As a parent of public school children, Scott could see firsthand how policies he helped craft impacted the classroom. His children’s involvement in the fine arts, for example, convinced him of the importance of this area of study, causing him to be a steadfast advocate for the arts and the important role they play in the schools.
Other highlights of Scott’s career include:
  • increased emphasis on early childhood and pre-kindergarten education through the development of pre-K curriculum standards and other school readiness initiatives;
  • the establishment of the Texas High School Project, a public-private partnership that worked to improve college readiness and high school graduation rates;
  •  creation of the Texas Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (T-STEM) initiative, an idea which has now been adopted by many states;
  • working with the State Board of Education to improve the state’s curriculum standards, which form the backbone of instruction in the public schools. Last month, the SBOE adopted strengthened mathematics standards on a 14-0 vote.
  • creation of Project Share, a free global online learning community where educators collaborate, share resources and showcase accomplishments. Less than two years old, Project Share already has 900,000 subscribers, including about 600,000 students.
“It’s been a privilege to serve as commissioner. I want to thank Gov. Perry for entrusting me with this job. I also want to thank the State Board of Education for working with me to provide the best public schools possible for our students,” Scott said.
Scott served as interim commissioner of TEA from Aug. 1, 2003 to Jan. 12, 2004 and again from July 2, 2007 to Oct. 15, 2007, before being appointed as commissioner on Oct. 16, 2007.
Scott is the only person to twice serve as interim commissioner and is now the fourth-longest serving commissioner in the agency’s history. No one has had a longer tenure in the past 20 years.
Although there were many new initiatives begun during his tenure, it also fell to Scott to twice oversee drastic downsizings of TEA during a budget crisis. This prompted reorganizations of the agency and the way it operates.
“As someone who has risen through the ranks, I’ve seen firsthand the dedicated service provided by TEA employees. I want to thank them for their unwavering devotion to Texas children,” he said.
“I want to express my sincere thanks to the educators who work tirelessly in our schools. I can’t thank them enough.”

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

How Finland Reached the Top of the Educational Rankings

From NEA Today - Click Here

October 7, 2010 by cmccabe

By Alain Jehlen

Many people these days are pointing to Finland as the world’s top success story in student achievement. So what’s their secret?

In the latest issue of NEA Today magazine, we feature an excerpt from a book by Stanford University scholar Linda Darling-Hammond that tells the Finnish story. Basically, Darling-Hammond explains, Finland did the opposite of what we’re doing in America.
In the 1970s, reports Darling-Hammond, Finland’s student achievement was low. But in the decades since, they have steadily upgraded their education system until now they’ve reached the top.

What’s more, they took what was once a wide achievement gap between rich and poor, and reduced it until it’s now smaller than in nearly all other wealthy nations.

Here’s how:

* They got rid of the mandated standardized testing that used to tie teachers’ hands.
* They provide social supports for students including a free daily meal and free health care.
* They upgraded the teaching profession. Teachers now take a three-year graduate school preparation program, free and with a stipend for living expenses. In Finland, you don’t go into debt to become a teacher.
* The stress on top-quality teaching continues after teachers walk into their schools. Teachers spend nearly half of their time in school in high-level professional development, collaborative planning, and working with parents.

These changes have attracted more people to the teaching profession — so many that only 15 percent of applicants are accepted.

The Finns trust their teachers, Darling-Hammond reports. They used to have prescriptive curriculum guides running over 700 pages. Now the national math curriculum is under 10 pages.

With the support of the knowledge-based business community (think Nokia), Finnish schools focus on 21st century skills like creative problem-solving, not test prep."