School superintendents from around Texas continue to fight back against some of the things said about and done to them in the wake of Special SessionPalooza. From Lufkin:
Lufkin ISD's deputy superintendent says he suspects that Gov. Rick Perry's recent executive decision requiring that at least 65 percent of education dollars be spent on direct classroom instruction is another example of political grand-standing.
At best, while the order's intent may be well-intended, its wording is vague, Roy Knight said.
If the TEA decides to go with the definition of "direct classroom instruction" that briefly surfaced during the 79th Legislature, some school districts may be forced to cut things like building maintenance, security, custodial services, transportation, librarians and counselors out of their budgets, he said.
"How do you define direct classroom instruction?" Knight asked Friday. "What has people like me so anxious is that the first 65 percent proposal that was discussed in the Legislature was so narrow that school districts, especially those that are property poor, would be forced to cut essential services like building maintenance, security, basic custodial services and transportation. "
Giving an example of a way Lufkin ISD may be forced to cut transportation costs, he pointed to the school board's recent decision to allow Lufkin Middle School students who live on the west side of Timberland Drive to ride the bus to school, even if they live within the two-mile limit. He said school officials chose to go that route because of concerns about the safety of students having to cross a busy street.
And an op-ed from Jacksonville:
Regarding the failure of the Legislature to pass anything - the last time I looked, educators didn't have a vote on the floor of the capitol. If we did, we would have voted for the Hochberg amendment, or the Eltife/Ellis plan. While neither was perfect, they would have been beneficial to ALL students and educators in our great State, instead of providing unfair benefits to a few districts and adding millions of dollars of unfunded mandates as HB2 would have done.
While some misguided and misled legislators were calling for more accountability, our staff was going through the mounds of paperwork and test results from the 48 tests we are required to administer to our students. These data are broken down by grade level, subject area, learning objective, ethnicity, economic level, etc., and we must "hit the mark" in ALL areas or else we are deemed failures by people like [Rep. Leo] Berman.
Two weeks later, we got another report letting us know whether or not we made "Adequate Yearly Progress" as part of the No Child Left Behind project...again, more mounds of data to digest and more plans to produce to address areas of concern. We have TAKS tests, SDAA I and II tests, Performance Based Monitoring, Transportation and Food Service audits, TPRI results, LPAC's, ARD's, LEP's, IEP's, AEP's, PEIMS reporting and many more state and federal programs that we must account for on a daily basis. In addition, we receive the Financial Integrity ratings and our yearly financial audit. And some in the legislature say all we want is more money with NO ACCOUNTABILITY? That is a ludicrous statement made by people who obviously do not know or care what we do on a daily basis.