Response to the Governor's Business Council
by SBOE member Terri Leo
The conservatives on the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) have fought to strengthen our education standards (TEKS) for years while other education stakeholders have sat in denial. While I am glad to see that the Governor's Business Council is finally making the same recommendation http://www.texasgbc.org/reports.htm(Recommendation 1, "Excellence in the Classroom 2006") that we conservative SBOE members have been demanding for years, I disagree with the Council's position that the SBOE needs to work with the Texas Education Agency (TEA) and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) to write new standards.
It was the TEA that gave us the fuzzy, watered-down standards we currently have. In the past the TEA has fought every last effort by conservative SBOE members to write well-constructed and explicit standards which, if put into place years ago, would have produced students who would now be arriving at college ready to be successful academically.
It was the conservatives on the SBOE who advocated that the three standards experts be brought before the Board in June 2006, and we are pleased that the Governor's Business Council agrees with the experts' recommendation that the TEKS need to be rewritten to make them academic, measurable, explicit, and grade-level-specific. We conservatives are pleased that the Governor's Business Council wants to rectify its past mistakes by backing our efforts.
Unfortunately, a few policymakers have dubbed the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board as being an agency with special expertise in the area of P-12 college readiness; but in truth, it is the P-12 teachers produced under the authority of the THECB who lack sufficient knowledge and skills in their subject areas to teach adequately. What the THECB should do is to focus its full efforts on its primary task of deepening the knowledge-base of prospective teachers instead of saturating them in constructivist pedagogy. It is to that end that we conservative SBOE members commend the Governor's Business Council for its Recommendation IX (B).
Recently the Texas Commissioner of Higher Education presented the SBOE with the Achieve Texas plan. (Achieve Texas is now being implemented without the consent or prior knowledge of the elected SBOE members thanks to legislation passed during the special session this last summer.) Achieve Texas is nothing more than a revival of the School-to-Work plan promoted by the National Center on Education and the Economy (NCEE) in the 1980's. The majority of SBOE members are strongly opposed to this approach. Achieve Texas puts students in vocational tracks starting in the 8th grade. The majority of us conservatives on the SBOE believe that ALL students should be provided the opportunity to master foundational knowledge which will then allow them wide choices in post secondary opportunities.
Because the Texas Education Agency and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board have worked in the past to block the writing of standards which we conservatives supported, I seriously doubt that the TEA and the THECB are the agencies which should be entrusted to rewrite the standards now.
State Board of Education District #6
23516 Twin Oaks Drive
Spring, Texas 77389