Friday, September 30, 2005

Someone at USA Today is finally seeing the light

Linked, this USA Today story shows that finally there is an education writer out there who digs and finds out the truth.

My favorite line was this, regarding accoutability and high-stakes testing:

It's like putting a slow runner 50 yards behind at the start line and expecting her to finish with the fastest.

Here's another choice tidbit:

Researchers found the act's two key rules — identifying subgroups within student populations (such as black, Hispanic or disabled), and setting a uniform proficiency goal make it easy for large minority districts to fail. Here's why: large urban districts are more likely to be diverse. If just one subgroup doesn't reach proficiency, or if less than 95% of a subgroup take the test, the whole district fails to make adequate progress.

On a more personal note, I've been out all week from school, which needless to say is driving the wife and friends crazy. I could really have some fun if I wasn't also babysitting my daughter. I would LOVE to drive to Tyler to visit the hobby shop; I haven't flown any model airplanes in months. Having an 11 year old girl along would require we also visit the mall, a proposition I can't afford. You Dads of pre-teen and teen daughters know what I'm talking about.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

DeLay Indicted

From a CNN story, Tom DeLay has been indicted and stepped down as Speaker of the House. Here is a direct quote from the article:

A grand jury in Austin charged DeLay, 58, and two associates already facing criminal charges with a single count of criminal conspiracy, accusing them of improperly funneling corporate donations to Republican candidates for the Texas legislature in 2002.

I hope this leads to more legal action in Texas. Who knows? Maybe some judge will throw out the 2002 election results since the whole process was tainted with illegal money. Sure, it's a pipe dream but a guy can hope.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Pictures of Hurricane Rita

Down the street a few houses. Some industrious soul had already cleared most of this one from the street when I took this picture.

My neighbor cattycorner from me. Luckily both trees missed their house, their cars and their camper. They also have a large tree down in their backyard.

This monster fell one block over. It could have easily killed someone but luckily it fell away from the nearby house and no one was on the road when it landed.

Hurricanes are definitely male

All of the things I expected from Hurricane Rita I did not expect her to roar through East Texas as a Category 2 hurricane.

2 days after the storm has passed our little corner of East Texas is still trying to recover. Luckily for us the eye passed about 40 miles east of us, but I understand Jasper, Tx has taken severe damage. I can tell you the power of the storm was awesome, even 100 miles inland and 40 miles east of the eye. I think you would have to be a lunatic to try and ride out a Cat 3 or 4 storm at the shore.

My neighborhood still has blocks without power. Some parts of the city have no water. We were fortunate to be without power for only 15 hours or so.

I don't know why hurricanes were named after females in the beginning. The roar of the wind was definitely a deep baritone as it came through. We lost some shingles off our roof and had the back storm door ripped frame the frame. Our neighbors across the street lost shingles and tar paper off their roof and thus had leaks. They are also without power. We had 3 friends sleep over last night b/c they also don't have power.

There have been some problems. The neighborhood rumor mill has been passing around stories about problems at local Wal-Marts, such as gas and groceries being stolen from people in the parking lots. Sadly, a two year old was run over in some kind of road rage incidents. The local papers are only reporting the story and not providing any details. Another person was killed by a falling tree limb. My family members who tried to flee Houston ended up having an easier time of it than we did.

I have pictures but for some reason they will not appear. I will try to put them up later.

In the meantime pictures from a local paper can be found here.

Friday, September 23, 2005

My turn in the barrel

The relatives I was expecting last night did not show, they couldn't get out of Houston. Looks like Houston has some work to do when it comes to evacuating people, although with 6 million people in the Houston area I don't know if its possible.

The predicted storm track may actually bring the eye of the storm, if it is still around, directly over East Texas and my town sometime late tomorrow. Of all the things I expected I didn't expect to have to prepare for possible hurricane force winds.

On a lighter note, Michael F. Shaughnessy has a commentary called Cleavage: A Commentary over at Education News. I'm not sure if he means students or teachers but I also see plenty of both.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005


For the 2nd time in 3 weeks a category 5 hurricane is bearing down on the homes of loved ones. This time it's the Houston area I will be getting evacuees from. We are expecting 6 tomorrow.

This will make for a total of 24 people in 4 different groups who have taken shelter at my house in the last 3 weeks.

We used to complain about never having visitors. . .

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Work on Bush' campaign, get a job you are not "higly qualified" for

All the talk about FEMA director Brown's lack of qualifications has made me think about others who now have cushy govt. jobs they don't deserve.

Spellings, current Sect. of Education, has absolutely zero qualifications for her job. She is not a teacher, never has been. She worked on Bush's campaign.

Ditto, Rod Paige. Many know he was the Supt. of Houston schools (and gained the district notoriety for the miracle that wasn't). Few know, however, that he has never held a teaching job. Paige was a school board member who politicked his way into the Supt's job. He even received a special waiver from the state of Texas, since the job usually requires academic certification.

The Bush govt is filled with people with the potential to make a mess with their incompetence. Let's hope Spellings doesn't do a Brown on education. Too bad Bush doesn't insist his people be "highly qualified".

Thursday, September 08, 2005

U.S. Dept. of Education paid for pro-NCLB/anti-public school ads

From the Dallas Morning News comes this article describing a report from the dept's inspector general. One Texas author, Marcela Garcini, director of parent outreach for the Hispanic Council for Reform and Educational Options, wrote, at taxpayer expense she was "tired of hearing excuses about the lack of funding for schools, particularly under No Child Left Behind."

Ms. Garcini did not disclose the payment she received from the Dept. of Education though she did own up to it after the fact.

Dallas schools spokesman Donald Claxton said, ''It would be disappointing to find out the federal government is paying someone to write ugly things about us."

Where is the outrage from all the groups who claim schools are squandering all their money? Why aren't they furious about this waste of taxpayer money?

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Energy costs and budget crunch are leading to desperation for some Texas schools

My school district is teetering on the edge of financial crisis due in part to massive increases in fuel costs and the lack of any new funding from the state. One of the ideas to ease energy bills currently being considered is removing some light bulbs from the classrooms. Another idea is "rolling blackouts" in various parts of the buildings at night, with janitors sticking to a strict schedule for cleaning.

Gov. Goodhair is standing by his 65% order. Also, although he had a press conference proclaiming he had found new money to help schools handle the influx of students from Louisiana no actual figures have been released.

Friday, September 02, 2005

"Compassionate Conservatives" denied levee funds to New Orleans

From a WWL-Tv story:

Just last year, the Army Corps of Engineers sought $105 million for hurricane and flood programs in New Orleans. The White House slashed the request to about $40 million. Congress ultimately approved $42.2 million, less than half of the agency's request.

And this wonderful quote from the Speaker of the House, Dennis Hastert,

"It looks like a lot of that place could be bulldozed," the Illinois Republican said in an interview Wednesday with the Daily Herald of Arlington Heights, Ill.

More on this later.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Hurricane Katrina and my family

My blogging will be light for awhile, we have 5 family members staying with us and the computer has become the most valuable source of information for them.

My family has been very fortunate. Everyone seemed to know someone they could flee to. At this time we only have an uncle we haven't been able to account for. His children all mostly live in Pensacola, and since last year's hurricanes getting phone numbers and addresses in that area has become difficult.

As for their way of life, for most it has been totally destroyed. My niece and her husband have been offered jobs with Spring ISD near Houston. They are trying to determine their contractual duties with their schools in Gretna (if the schools even exist). Others have no idea what they will do.

Texas schools are opening their doors to refugee children.