News Roundup

While we not-so-patiently wait for HB 5 to hit the Senate floor – slated to happen soon, as it was placed on the calendars this afternoon – let’s catch up on the commentary.

Morgan Smith’s Sunday piece in the Texas Tribune narrowed in on a specific part of the conversation happening at the Capitol – the sometimes hostile criticism of Pearson, the testing company with a nearly half BILLION dollar contract to manage Texas public school testing through 2015. Smith quoted former Rep. Scott Hochberg, who encouraged legislators to look within for who’s to blame. Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock, interestingly, stepped right up and wrote the first comment on the article:

Yes, we all voted for the conference report that created this situation.
Yes, we were poorly informed on the vote.
The only thing more troubling than making a bad decision is refusing to correct it once you know it was bad. Last session the house tried repeatedly to correct the problem (HB500). The Senate blocked the correction. This session both Senator Patrick and I are again working hard to correct the disaster that awaits the present 10th graders and the classes behind them. Our problem is that some folks still deny there is a problem. Our “one size fits all” approach combined with the crazy testing must face a realistic correction. 
Respectfully,
Jimmie Don Aycock
Chair, House Public Ed.

Whether you agree with him or not, I must say, it’s pretty dang refreshing to hear a lawmaker admit they made a mistake.

The Texas Monthly trumped my history posts with a thoroughly researched and excellent investigative piece on how we’ve come so far in the last 10 years – from the state out front, charging forward on accountability, to now making the biggest and most publicized retreat. It’s long, but a worthy read. Check it out.

Finally, a little more news from today in education. At the hearing we observed, Sen. Patrick noted that he was pulling the provision for grading schools on an A-F rating scalelike Florida does, so schools are more easily recognized for their level of achievement and to encourage them to do better by all of their students, not just a select few. Education Commissioner Michael Williams announced today that TEA is moving forward without legislative action to implement an A-F system. Potentially an interesting development, though the ratings are still as of now based just on STAAR test scores. More on this development here.

Signing off for now – hopefully to return with an update on HB 5 in the next few days…

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