Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Roy Blake sells out again

My state representative, Roy Blake, has sold out his local school districts again. This time he voted again for HB2, which will allow property rich school districts (including the home districts of the bill's author) to raise massive amounts of money while property poor school districts go without. 41 of the 42 school districts in Blake's home district are considered property poor by the state.

He also voted against a Democractic sponsored amendment which would have fixed many of the financing problems with Texas schools. The actual vote was a tie, with the Speaker of the House Tom Craddick, no friend of public education, casting the tie breaker. I'm sure HB2 is also loaded with lots of other anti-public school provisions. The "increase" in funding for Texas schools will be $2.5 billion less per year than a state judge ruled the state needs to put into education. In fact, most critics agree the "increase" will not even keep pace with inflation and rising student enrollments.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

His 9 years of homeschooling have made him a public education expert

I found this incredible op-ed piece linked from Education News. The author is 16 years old and takes offense to the fact the Governator has been booed during some speeches he has given recently. He also compared the protests to "the fascist squadrismo violence imposed on Italy during the early part of the 1920’s"

My favorite tidbit is this:

. . .teachers in California are so incompetent that they can’t get jobs in other fields or industries.

Where does his expertise on California public school teachers come from? Well, his 9 years of home schooling in Minnesota.

Other websites his views are posted on include,, and His article is proof that you need to know nothing as far as the anti-public school crowd is concerned; if you criticize public schools then you must be right.

Friday, June 17, 2005

How vouchers were killed in Texas, and some praise for Roy Blake

There is an excellant article in The Texas Observer about how vouchers were killed off in the last legislative session. It was only through a rebellion by rural Republicans including my own representative Roy Blake, who I have written about before. I am happy to say he stood up to the Republican leadership and voted what his constituents wanted, and that was no vouchers.
The article also describes a brilliant move by moderate Republican Charlie Geren of Ft. Worth.

He has an amendment to his amendment, one that voucher supporters have not seen yet, that he will substitute for his original amendment. It gives the House leadership a taste of its own medicine.

Geren’s amendment would remove the Dallas and Fort Worth school districts from the proposed voucher pilot program and replace them with Arlington and Irving. The choices aren’t random. Arlington is Education Chairman and chief voucher cheerleader Kent Grusendorf’s district. Irving is home to Republican Linda Harper-Brown, who also sponsored the voucher proposal.

Apparently, Grusendorf and Brown intended to stick it to other people's school districts and never intended to have vouchers enacted in their own school districts.

Since I have been so vocal about Roy Blake and the things he's done I didn't like I will have to send him an email thanking him for his vote against vouchers. He also took the time to personally email me on this issue and backed up his words with his actions.

Thanks to Education at the Brink, an Austin area teacher, for the link to the story.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Dr. Cookie is collecting teacher blogs

Jenny D. a.k.a Dr. Cookie is collecting teacher blogs and information about how teachers and students are using blogs. I have a softspot for Jenny as she was the first person to link to my blog on her site. Even though she and I disagree on many aspects of teaching she is always polite and respectful of other people's ideas.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

After 15 years, charters in Milwaukee are pretty much like the public schools

Milwaukee's 15 year experience with charters and vouchers have produced pretty much what you get with the public school system. Some are good, some are bad. I found these quotes most interesting:

The principal effect of choice has been more to preserve the city's private schools, many of them Lutheran and Catholic ones, than to create schools that innovate or reform

Based on firsthand observations and other reporting, Journal Sentinel reporters concluded that at least 10 of the 106 schools they visited appeared to lack the ability, resources, knowledge or will to offer children even a mediocre education. Most of these were led by individuals who had little to no background in running schools and had no resources other than the state payments.

In other words, the money is doled out without much checking from the state, money that could have been going to improve the local public schools.

You can read the article here

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Another court victory for education, and a blow to the "reform" movement

Another state, this time Kansas, has lost a court case over education funding. This time The Kansas Supreme Court has ordered the Republican led state legislature to fund an additional 285 million dollars, which for Kansas will be a 10% increase. The Court also threatened to require the state to add an additional 568 million dollars for the 2006-2007 school year if the legislature does not act to fix the problem.

The most telling statement was from spokesman Jan Lunsford of the Attorney General's office:

The general and his staff want the proper amount of time for a good and thorough look at it

I love the phrase "the general"

One interesting part of the ruling for those of us in Texas was this:

Mays and other Republican leaders also supported provisions of the new school funding law that would allow some districts to raise more money through local property taxes. The court struck those provisions down, saying they would increase disparities between wealthy and poor districts.

In Texas, this was the exact arguement schools were making against the school "reform" package the Republicans tried to ram through the legislature last session. Raising property taxes is the only way for school districts to get any new additional funds. However, the so called 'property rich" school districts can raise millions of more dollars this way than the "property poor" districts. This was one of the central arguements in the recent court ruling by Judge Dietz, as the state legislature had placed a property tax limit on schools. Judge Dietz ruled that such a cap creates an unconstitutional statewide property tax. He also ruled the 55% passing rule, used to determine how much money schools will get, (you'll need to go to pages 56 and 57 but it is very intersting reading) is also unconstitutional.

You can read the article from the Wichita Eagle here