Texas: Senate Leaders Lay Out Plan to Destroy Public Education

Originally posted on Diane Ravitch's blog:

Texas Republican leaders in the state senate unveiled their ambitious plan to enact the ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) agenda for privatization of public education.

With the help of Texans for Education Reform and a battalion of highly paid lobbyists, the Republicans will promote charters, school choice, and accountability measures to stigmatize public schools.

Texas schools have high numbers of students who are poor and who are Enflish language learners. The senate has no new funding measures, despite the fact that $5 billion was cut from school funding a few years ago.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick is a voucher advocate. “On Tuesday, he said “148,000 students, approximately, today, are trapped in 297 school campuses across our state that have been failing for more than two years.”

His agenda includes school choice and other items, including:

“Giving letter grades (A-F) to individual public school school campuses each year based on their…

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March 4, 2015 – NATIONAL POUND CAKE DAY – NATIONAL HUG A G.I. DAY – NATIONAL GRAMMAR DAY

Originally posted on National Day Calendar:

National Pound Cake Day - March 4 National Pound Cake Day – March 4

NATIONAL POUND CAKE DAY

National Pound Cake Day is annually celebrated in the United States on March 4th.  Pound cake lovers, near and far, can celebrate with a piece (or two) of this delicious rich delight.

The traditional recipe for pound cake makes a cake much larger than most families can consume, as it calls for a pound each of  flour,  butter, eggs and sugar.  Hence the name, Pound Cake.

In the United States, sour cream pound cake is a popular variation apart from the traditional pound cake recipe.  Other variations include adding vanilla or almond flavoring or dried fruits.

Turn on your ovens and bake up a traditional pound cake.

POUND CAKE

Ingredients:

1 pound cake flour (3-1/2 cups)
1 pound butter
1 pound sugar (2 cups)
1 pound eggs (9 large)
1 to 2 tablespoons vanilla or 1/2  to 1 tablespoon…

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Urgent Help

Save Texas Schools – Action Alert!

Contact your state senator TODAY:

Today, the Senate Finance Committee will hold a hearing on proposals to grant $2.2 billion in tax cuts and exemptions to businesses from the franchise (margins) tax. This tax is a key source of funding for the Foundation School program-the primary mechanism for funding Texas’ public schools.

A judge has already twice declared Texas’ public education funding system to be inadequate and inequitable, and our students continue to suffer under the unrestored school funding cuts of 2011.

Save Texas Schools believes that a well-educated workforce provides the best long-term support for Texas businesses, not short-sighted tax cuts that undermine student success. But we need your voice to get this message through to senate leaders.

Please call or email your state senator TODAY with the message to put Texas students ahead of short-sighted tax cuts.

Find your senator at the “Who Represents Me” link here:

http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/

Then use your own words or cut and paste in the message below.

Many thanks for your ongoing support of Texas schools and students!

Save Texas Schools

“Dear Senator:

As a Texas voter, I want you to know that our state’s public schools are extremely important to me, my family and my community. That’s why I’m urging you to put public education ahead of any proposed tax cuts, especially cuts to the franchise tax that is a key source of school funding.

In addition, I urge you to:

• Restore all funding cuts made by the 2011 Legislature, including funds to address student enrollment growth and inflation.

• Support community-based solutions to improve our public schools

• Limit overuse and misuse of standardized testing

• Make outstanding public education a top priority for Texas!

A state district judge has already twice ruled our current school finance system to be inequitable and inadequate. Please do not make over 5 million Texas students wait at the courthouse door for another two years while appeals are played out.

Our children will not get these years back. Please act today to restore all school funding to pre-2011 levels, including student enrollment growth and inflation.

Texas students are our future, and their education is the most important public investment we can make. I hope you will agree with me by supporting these critical measures for Texas schools and families. I look forward to your response.

Sincerely,

Your Name

Your Address

Your City, State, Zip Code

Your Phone Number”

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Mercedes Schneider: Time to Stop “Test and Punish” Regime for Teachers

Originally posted on Diane Ravitch's blog:

Mercedes Schneider was invited to contribute to the Néw York Times’ blog “Room for Debate.” The subject was “What Makes a Good Teacher?” Eric Hanushek said evaluation must be tied to retention and rewards. Amanda Ripley said that teachers’ colleges must be more rigorous and selective. Jal Mehta said that teacher education must be like a medical residency. Kaya Henderson said that the key to great teachers is respect.

Mercedes said that it was time to stop punitive evaluations and let teachers focus on their students, not their scores. She was the only classroom teacher in the debate.

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Proposed: A Charter School Accountability Agenda

Originally posted on Diane Ravitch's blog:

Two organizations–In the Public Interest and the Center for Popular Democracy–have proposed reforms for charter school accountability that would remove the most frequent criticisms of charter schools.

They recommend an 11-point agenda that would strengthen oversight, transparency, and accountability. There are a few missing points that I would add, such as, capping the salary of charter school executives to be no higher than that of the local superintendent; prohibiting for-profit management of charter schools; and barring the use of taxpayer funds for political lobbying or campaign contributions.

The Charter School Accountability Agenda An 11-Point Program for Reform

Accountability

  • Require companies and organizations that manage charter schools to open board meetings to parents and the public, similar to public school board meetings.
  • Require companies and organizations that manage charter schools to release to parents and the public how they spend taxpayer money, including their annual budgets and contracts.
  • Require state officials to…

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Teacher to Parents: How to Stop the Test Mania

Originally posted on Diane Ravitch's blog:

A comment on the blog:

“I am a 4th grade teacher in NYS. There is absolutely no consequence for students if they opt out. It does not impact report card grades. It does not impact advancement to next grade. (FYI public schools do not want to retain students – it costs money!). In our district this would not even impact whether a student got into an accelerated program because that is based on a different test altogether (not a state test)! There is no student consequence. The only way this madness is going to end if parents in droves refuse the tests. They won’t listen to teachers. But parents have a voice. Let’s get back to teaching and doing great projects in schools. We must end the testing insanity!”

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Teacher: We Are Pawns in Someone Else’s Game

Originally posted on Diane Ravitch's blog:

Teacher Philip Kaplan left the following comment on the blog:

The plight of Our Children, our schools and our nation

The ranks of special education students are swelling, and as the breakdown of society continues to impact the ability of public schools to deliver resources and services, the crisis deepens. Teaching today’s students is difficult by any definition, and as educators are blamed for the consequences of society’s collective abandonment and subsequent surrender of their young people to technological marvels, enter the government with their ridiculous plans to hold us, and only us, accountable. Enter the right wing politicians, desperate to discredit teachers to ensure funding for their political campaigns. They have blindsided us, stabbed us in the back, and have squarely pinned the blame for America’s problems on America’s teachers

There are dozens of variables in a child’s education, and to choose one variable, the teachers, and to choose…

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