I quote from within: "'There's no malice at all, none, zip, nada. There's just no time to get another expert in,' he [Dan McLeroy] said after the meeting."
For something so important, devising the state's new curriculum, McLeroy's statement sounds reckless. The SBOE needs to put the brakes on this process and they also need to bring expertise on Latino youth and curricula to the table.
All who can should try and make the March 27 meeting.
March 20, 2008, 11:02AM
State panel rejects Latino call for input on curriculum
No more time to alter policy for English and reading, state chair insists
By GARY SCHARRER
Copyright 2008 Houston Chronicle Austin Bureau
AUSTIN — There is neither time nor a reason to slow down a plan to update the English language arts and reading curriculum for public schools, State Board of Education Chairman Don McLeroy said Wednesday after a Texas lawmaker pleaded for input from Hispanic experts.
Hispanic children now make up a large plurality of the 4.7 million students attending Texas public schools.
"There is no way that ignoring such a sizable chunk of this population from consideration of education policy will do anything but harm the opportunity of a generation," Rep. Abel Herrero, D-Robstown, told McLeroy and a four-member board subcommittee.
Herrero represented the House Mexican American Legislative Caucus, which has asked McLeroy to include experts in Latino culture before adopting a final document. He and other advocates did not have specific examples of how a lack of such experts may have resulted in omissions in the newly released document.
Preliminary vote coming
The board plans a public hearing Wednesday and will take a preliminary vote March 27 on new curriculum standards that will influence new textbooks for the 2009-10 school year.
Mary Helen Berlanga, the senior member of the State Board of Education, said the refusal of her colleagues to include Latino experts in developing the new curriculum amounted to malice.
"It's ignorance on their part," Berlanga said after the subcommittee signaled its intent to stick to a schedule and not call in Hispanic experts.
"We're trying to teach (minority children) English language arts, and all we want is someone who has researched these children and their learning styles to find out where they are deficient and where we can help them," Berlanga, of Corpus Christi, said. "We can save a whole population of children.
"It makes no sense except that there is malice and individuals who want to see that the Texas public (school) system fails individuals (and) who are not interested in seeing minorities progress,"she said.
McLeroy, of Bryan, said he was shocked by accusations that he and some board members are trying to shortchange Hispanic students.
"There's no malice at all, none, zip, nada. There's just no time to get another expert in," he said after the meeting. "None of us would do anything to hurt any group of children or any (individual) child. What we want is for them to be successful in the English language because it's so important."
No wholesale changes
Of the 4.7 million children attending Texas public schools this year, Hispanics make up 47 percent, Anglos 35 percent and African-Americans 14 percent, according to the Texas Education Agency.
The number of Hispanic children will continue to increase. Among the 1.5 million children enrolled in kindergarten through third grades, Hispanics make up 49.6 percent and whites 33 percent.
Teachers and other English language and reading experts can offer comments on the 78-page proposal at the public hearing next week. There has been plenty of opportunity for various experts to provide input earlier, McLeroy said.
"If there's something that could cause a certain group to stumble, I think we ought to fix it," he said.
But a wholesale substitution or even major changes no longer are possible, McLeroy said, adding, "We should have had this done a long time ago."
Lawrence Allen Jr., of Houston, the only minority member on the subcommittee, supported the call for experts in Latino culture to review the document.
"It's a simple request, one that we need to meet to satisfy such a large population of our state," he said.
Cindy Tyroff, an English language arts and reading expert in San Antonio's Northside Independent School District, said it will take some time to assess the proposal.
But she said it is not an exaggeration "to say it's always prudent to have lots of eyes and people with lots of expertise" involving in writing a new curriculum.