Public education

Justin Dehn

TribBlog: Praying for Church and State [Updated]

In a morning prayer to open the State Board of Education meeting, social conservative member Cynthia Dunbar, R-Richmond, mixed worship with a constitutional argument against the separation of church and state — previewing the politically charged debate to come later today, as conservatives tackle their last big agenda item before approving the state social studies standards.

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Bob Daemmrich

Hussein in the Membrane

A member of the State Board of Education's internationally notorious conservative wing trotted out Barack Obama's middle name late in a marathon meeting Thursday, a fitting end to a debate over social studies curriculum standards that was marked by irritable outbursts and inane dialogue. Members fought over slavery, Jefferson Davis, Joseph McCarthy — even over when they could finally adjourn.

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Marjorie Cotera

Separation Anxiety

At a public hearing today, the State Board of Education's social conservative bloc is expected to launch attacks on the church-state “wall” as part of hundreds of changes to the social studies curriculum standards, which could provide the outline for tests and textbooks years into the future. The board expects to take a final vote on the entire curriculum on Friday.

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Wikimedia

TribBlog: History Paige

Former U.S. Secretary of Education and Houston Superintendent Rod Paige this morning asked the State Board of Education to delay adopting its standards, saying they had “swung too far” to the ideological right and diminished the importance of civil rights and slavery. Asked if the board should delay a final vote expected Friday, he said, "Absolutely."

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Jacqueline Mermea

Lame Ducks Unlimited

Four members of the State Board of Education who are exiting their seats in January are preparing to cast decisive votes this week on controversial curriculum revisions that will alter social studies textbooks for 4.7 million public school children in Texas. But, just maybe, not so fast: Two Republicans who'll likely win election to the SBOE this fall, and a Democrat who is vying for another soon-to-be-vacated seat, said in interviews that they'd support reopening the standards process if consensus emerged on the newly constituted board.

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Caleb Bryant Miller, Jacob Villanueva

On the Records: Paycheck U.

Today we're adding another 17 agencies to our government salaries database, an extra 67,000 workers who collectively earn $2.9 billion in public payroll. The database now has records on more than 550,000 employees working at 62 of the largest state agencies, cities, universities, counties and mass-transit authorities.

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Elise Hu

TribBlog: The Church Board of Education

When they meet in Austin next week, social conservatives on the State Board of Education — some now lame ducks — may be going even further with amendments challenging the separation of church and state, entitlements such as Social Security and Medicare, landmark desegregation cases and the work of muckraking journalists such as Susan B. Anthony and W.E.B. Du Bois. Another amendment amplifies a long-running effort to resuscitate the reputation of communist-hunting Sen. Joseph McCarthy.

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Graphic by Jacob Villanueva

TribWeek: In Case You Missed It

Stiles and Thevenot's searchable database of more than 5,800 public schools, Thevenot on why smaller high schools are better, Garcia-Ditta on the possible unification of Big Bend National Park with Mexico, Grissom on what's likely to happen on immigration reform this year (nothing), Hamilton on how Admm Bobby Ray Inman is managing a crisis, Hu on the health care reform straw man, Ramsey on the no-shoo-in-for-the-experienced-guy special election in Senate District 22, Philpott on the likely post-Arizona immigration brawls, Ramshaw on the emergence of concierge care as a response to health care reform, Aguilar on how Texas will soon become Cuba's top U.S. trading partner, Stiles and Babalola's searchable database of more 160,000 inmates in Texas prisons, M. Smith on the depressing fact that every single U.S. Attorney position in Texas is now vacant, and my on-camera sit-down with Texas Transportation Commission chair Deirdre Delisi. The best of our best from April 26 to 30, 2010.

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Jacob Villanueva

Grade Stagflation

Hundreds of school districts can continue giving failing students inflated grades, after a Travis County Civil Court judge declined to rule in a lawsuit challenging the state’s interpretation of a new law mandating “honest grades.”

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Graphic by Jacob Villanueva

Smaller is Better

In a new statewide ranking of public schools that we published yesterday, the Dallas Independent School District boasts seven of the top 25 high schools but also 18 in the bottom quartile. Not surprisingly, the best ones have a small student population, while the worst ones are megacampuses — an example of a larger trend in school rankings data.

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Data App: 5,800+ Schools Ranked

We've built a searchable database of public school rankings based on data collected by the Houston-based nonprofit Children At Risk. In contrast to the Texas Education Agency's "ratings," which rely almost entirely on the percentage of students passing the TAKS test, the rankings blend 12 different measures for elementary schools, 10 for middle schools and 14 for high schools — including TAKS results, ACT and SAT scores, AP exams, attendance rates, graduation rates and the percentage of economically disadvantaged students on every campus. How does your school stack up?

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Bob Daemmerich

TribBlog: A Hearing on History Hearings

The Mexican American Legislative Caucus, the Senate Hispanic Caucus and the House Black Caucus are throwing a "special hearing" to stoke backlash to the State Board of Education's recasting of American history.

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Caleb Bryant Miller

Slipping Through the Cracks

What's in an IQ score? For autistic or profoundly mentally ill Texans: everything. A growing number of disabled young adults are considered too high-functioning for state care services, but their families say they’re too dangerous to go without them. Admission to state-supported living centers is limited to disabled people with IQs under 70 — and community-based care is generally capped at an IQ of 75.

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TribWeek: In Case You Missed It

Grissom on the fall of Norma Chávez; M. Smith and Ramsey on the runoffs, the results, and the aftermath; Hu on the Tea Party's birthday party; Thevenot and Stiles on the path between schools and prisons; Ramshaw on prosecutors' reaction to helping hands from Austin; Hamilton on self-appointed lawyers; Galbraith on property rights and power lines; Aguilar and Grissom sit down with the mayor of Juárez to talk about his crime-ridden city; Kraft on telling the stories of Texans and other Americans who died in Vietnam; Ramsey on slots and horses and casinos; and Hamilton goes on a field trip with Jim Hightower to hear the history of populism. The best of our best from April 5 to 9, 2010.

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Graphic by Jacob Villanueva

"The School-to-Prison Pipeline"

A new report by Texas Appleseed spotlights two troubling trends: the high number and proportion of discretionary expulsions by school districts, often for low-level "persistent misbehavior," and the disproportionate severity of discipline meted out to African-Americans.

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Caleb Bryant Miller, Callie Richmond

TribBlog: Drop-Out Throw-Down!

Bill White and Rick Perry fought over the hotly contested high school drop-out rate on Tuesday. Is it 30 percent (White)? 10 percent (Perry)? Or, more likely, somewhere in between?

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