Facts and insights about Texas public schools

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Opinion: Why Not Support Public Schools?

What state leaders are saying about public schools just doesn’t add up, according to Andra Self, president of the Texas Association of School Boards and Lufkin ISD school board member. In a new guest column, Self looks at the questions many Texans are asking about the state’s schools.

“Why choice?

Some politicians push for school choice—but, in truth, parents already have many choices and are exercising those choices: In addition to Texas public schools, parents can consider private schools, public charter schools, virtual schools and homeschooling.

Furthermore, there are often many choices within the public school system: magnet schools, transfers within districts, and transfers to other districts. School choice already exists.

Why vouchers?

Vouchers are designed to allow students to attend private schools using public tax dollars, and some lawmakers are going through all sorts of gyrations to find ways to divert funding from public schools to private schools.

They want to take dollars away from the many students who attend public schools (almost 94 percent) to pay for the few (about 7 percent) who attend private schools—schools that will have no accountability for tax dollars or academic achievement.

Why not support?

Some lawmakers are working hard to support public schools, and we deeply appreciate that. Others, however, are denigrating public schools with statements not based on facts or needs.

As we move forward, it’s critical that all Texas lawmakers work together to stand up for Texas public schools.”

May 28, 2015

Texas Superintendent’s Plan to Save Students from Failing Charter Schools

Mark Henry, superintendent of the Cypress-Fairbanks ISD (CFISD), says that the students who need saving are the ones at failing charter schools. In a recent blog post, Henry notes that nearly 1 in 5 charter schools are considered failing. Henry’s solution: the Cypress-Fairbanks ISD Opportunity School District.

“CFISD is recognized as one of the most effective school districts in the state when considering academic achievement and financial efficiency. We don’t pick and choose our students; we educate all students within our borders. The principles we practice should be quite useful in assisting the great number of failing charter schools. We feel that with more funding, less regulation, and our processes, we can give thousands of students trapped in failing charter schools hope for a better tomorrow.”

May 8, 2015

Mr. Voucher Video: ‘Can I Pretend to Rescue You?’

Raise Your Hand Texas has a released a new video as part of the “VOUCHers Hurt Public Schools and Students” campaign. From Raise Your Hand Texas: “Texas public schools educate 94% of school-age children, and they deserve our full attention to realize world-class educational opportunities for all students and a strong future economy for our state.”


May 7, 2015

Campuses Named Title I Reward Schools

More than 400 Title I schools across Texas areas have been rated high performing and/or high progress for 2014–15. Title I schools are defined as campuses with a student population of at least 40 percent coming from low-income families.

According to the Texas Education Agency (TEA), 192 campuses are high-performing reward schools based on reading and math performance, as well as high graduation rates at the high school level. TEA also reports that 218 campuses are high-progress reward schools that are in the top 25 percent in annual improvement or in the top 25 percent of those demonstrating ability to close performance gaps.

Commissioner of Education Michael Williams said:

“While we talk of the need to close the education achievement gap, the real work in accomplishing that goal is already taking place on these campuses. Whether identified as high performing, high progress, or both, we should be proud of what’s taking place at these schools and what it means for the future of Texas.”

The complete list of high-progress and high-performing schools is posted on the TEA Website.

May 4, 2015

Reaction to the Texas Senate’s ‘Scholarship Program’

“School vouchers aren’t really about education at all,” says John Young, a columnist and adjunct English instructor in Colorado. Young, who formerly served as opinion editor of the Waco Tribune-Herald, shared his thoughts on the Texas Senate’s voucher bill in a column in the Austin American-Statesman.

“In other words, if a family has trouble paying rent and buying food, there is almost no chance that it can send its children to Sacred Inheritance Academy, even under the Texas Senate’s incentives.

Of course, even if such a family could find the money, the school it desires could decline to admit its child. That’s why they call private schools ‘private.’

Money aside, voucher proponents assume that people in inner-city neighborhoods want to send their children away from their local schools. In truth, offers of this nature rarely create the Oklahoma Land Rush proponents imagine.”

Charles Foster Johnson, executive director of Pastors for Texas Children, also offered his perspective on what he called “the assault on public education this legislative session.”

May 1, 2015

Opinion: Vouchers Are Not the Right Choice

Jim Rice, Fort Bend ISD school trustee, recently shared a guest column on why the school voucher bill is a bad choice for Texas students. Rice, who also serves on the Board of Directors of the Texas Association of School Boards, says the Texas Legislature should be held accountable for providing a public school system that provides a quality education for all students.

“The Legislature needs to uphold its constitutional duty to support and maintain a system of public schools in Texas, and fund it adequately and equitably. Let’s not squander this legislative session with arguments over school choice to benefit a few; rather let’s focus our efforts on improving our public schools which have and always will educate the majority of our students. If you agree, let your legislators know.”

April 27, 2015

More Texas Students Taking AP Exams

The number of Texas graduates taking at least one Advanced Placement Program® (AP) exam during high school continues to grow, according to figures from the College Board. For the Class of 2014, 39.1 percent of Texas students took exams, surpassing the national average of 35.7 percent.

College Board data also showed that Texas is the only state that achieved equitable participation for low-income students. Equitable participation is defined as the percentage of K–12 students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch (51.1 percent) in the state equaling the number of AP exam takers (51.0 percent). And while no state achieved equitable success (percentage of AP exam takers scoring a three or higher during high school), Texas students came the closest.

April 24, 2015

New Campaign Shows How Vouchers Hurt

Raise Your Hand Texas recently introduced “VOUCHers Hurt Public Schools and Students,”  a new campaign that opposes the voucher bill passed by the Texas Senate. As part of the efforts, the organization produced a video, Same ol’ Mr. Voucher, disputing some of the common claims being touted by voucher proponents.

April 23, 2015

Teachers Group: We Have Great Public Schools

The Texas State Teachers Association (TSTA) is working to counter the negative information being shared about Texas public schools. In a recent blog post, TSTA tackles the voucher debate under way in the Texas Legislature.

“Yes, some schools—particularly in low-income neighborhoods—are struggling, and they are struggling because the legislators at the head of the voucher movement refuse to begin work on an adequate and fair method of state education funding. Nor, do they care much about providing low-income families with the health care and other support services so important to the educational climate for children, the vast majority of whom will remain in public schools, with or without vouchers.”

Check the TSTA Website for additional information concerning vouchers and testing.

April 22, 2015

Opinion: Voucher Bill Harms Public Schools

In a recent blog post, Diane Ravitch, a research professor and historian of education, weighs in on the school voucher bill being considered by the Texas Senate.

“I am proud to be a native Texan, but I am not proud of the men who are destroying the public schools that educated me and my family and made it possible for me to go to a good college. If I were in Austin, I would say to State Senator Larry Taylor and Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick that vouchers and tax credits (backdoor vouchers) hurt the great majority of children who attend public schools.”

April 17, 2015