Sunday, August 07, 2005

To Texas educators, 25 percent is 'Academically Acceptable'

It's refreshing to read a candid statement such as this one provided by Roddy Stinson of the San Antonio Express-News (8/7/05). I wanted to post a critical commentary as well on the selective reporting by the press (see earlier posts) but have been overwhelmed with personal stuff these days. I concur with Stinson that there is a lot of obfuscation in the reports and reporting and this is unfortunate since it is the children and their parents who are the real losers in this Texas-sized shell game. I remain hopeful somehow. -Angela

education ... the process of training and developing the
knowledge, skill, mind, character etc., esp. by formal

shell game ... any scheme for tricking and cheating people

—Webster's New World College Dictionary, Fourth Edition

Tens of thousands of parents of schoolchildren and
hundreds of thousands of other taxpayers learned from
media reports last week that "the majority of Texas school
districts and campuses in 2005 earned the rating
of 'Academically Acceptable.'"
Most of the moms, dads and school-tax payers breathed a
sigh of relief and shrugged off the "bad" news that a
small percentage of districts and campuses "received the
lowest rating of 'Academically Unacceptable.'"

Their peace of mind has doubtless lasted to this day,
particularly if the reports they read or heard were
incomplete and didn't provide details of the Texas
Education Agency's ratings.

If you're a member of that blissfully uninformed group, be
glad you picked up an Express-News today and turned to
Page 3A.

(You might want to take a deep breath before continuing.)

To "earn" a rating of "Academically Acceptable" on the
2005 Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills test, the
students in a school district or at an individual campus
had to achieve ...

In reading and English language arts, a passing rate of 50
percent .

In writing ... 50 percent.

In social studies ... 50 percent.

In math ... 35 percent.
In science ... 25 percent.

In case the educational horror of those numbers didn't
sink in ...
If half of the youngsters in a district or on a campus
failed tests in reading, writing and social studies ...
and 65 percent failed arithmetic ... and 75 percent failed
science — the Texas education establishment deemed that
district/campus "Academically Acceptable"!

And that is the sad state of Texas public education after
21 years of "reform" and the expenditure of tens of
billions of dollars on every curricular stratagem,
instructional gimmick and pedagogical pie-in-the-sky
jugglery known to the high-dollar, multidegreed
consultants, specialists and excogitative elitists who
feed at the public-education trough.

While you're grinding your teeth, read this paragraph from
a report on the school ratings in the Austin American-
Statesman and see if you can come up with a name for the
parallel universe in which Texas Commissioner of Education
Shirley Neeley resides:

"'One of the great benefits of the Texas accountability
system bottom line is that it shines a light on areas in
which districts and schools need to work harder,' Neeley
said. 'Every superintendent, teacher and principal strives
for that prestigious exemplary rating. I guarantee you,
given time and resources, they can get there.'"

Thank you, commissioner.
All together now ...

"On the goo-oo-ood ship Lollypop,

"It's a swee-ee-eet trip to a candy shop,

"Where bon-bons play,

"On the sunny beach of Texas-Ed Bay!"

No matter how much "time" Texans give the education
establishment to become "exemplary" ... no matter how many
dollars Texas taxpayers throw at the school system ... and
regardless of how well Commissioner Neeley and her
successors do Shirley Temple impressions ... the process
of training and developing the knowledge, skill, mind and
character of young people through formal schooling will be
doomed to failure as long as public "accountability" is
reduced to a shell game. (You think you see it, but you
A 25 percent passing rate in science ... a 35 percent
passing rate in arithmetic ... and a 50 percent passing
rate in reading and writing are not "academically
acceptable" by any rule, measure or standard outside the
world of educational bunko.

The point is so obvious that it hardly seems necessary to
make it. Yet in the days following Monday's release of the
2005 accountability data, not a single elected official or
unelected editorialist decried the scam or even made
mention of it.

Whether that's because the political and media
establishments are passive participants in the educational
establishment's accountability dodge or because the
politicians and pundits are so inured to the chicanery
that they don't see it anymore — I can't say.

Pick your Laodicean poison.

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