Amid the backslapping of the Senate's passage of the three HBs yesterday comes this little tempest in a teapot, by way of Cap Inside:
Fireworks could be about to erupt in the Texas Senate over a freeze on new math textbook purchases for elementary students that's being proposed in a property tax relief bill that's been expanded to include public school reforms as well. The Senate is planning to debate spending on textbooks, teacher pay, incentive programs and other education needs this week when it takes up legislation that's been substituted for House Bill 1.
The Senate substitute by Republican State Senator Florence Shapiro of Plano would trim 17 cents off the current property tax rate as proposed by the House while earmarking an additional $1.5 billion for public education expenses as well. The revamped measure would save money that could be used for a $2,000 annual across the board pay raise for teachers and other initatives by instructing the State Board of Education not to buy new math textbooks for use by students in elementary schools across the state.
While teacher groups are protesting the Senate's proposed salary increase for them as inadequate, the proposed cutback on elementary school textbooks has math teachers in Texas up in arms. "It is unbelievable that the Senate would consider denying our students new elementary mathematics books that are aligned with the TAKS test," said Jim Wohlgehagen, the president of the Texas Association of Supervisors of Mathematics.
Wohlgehagen said students can't be expected to pass tests on material that's not covered in school textbooks that are outdated. Despite "herculean" efforts by math teachers attempting to prepare fifth graders for the TAKS test, Wohlgehagen said that some Texas students will be held back from middle school because they flunk the math portion of the standardized test.
"Texas simply cannot afford to fall further behind in mathematics proficiency," Wohlgehagen argued. "The issue is simple. Are lawmakers for or against up-dated math textbooks?”
The proposed moratorium on math textbooks comes just two months after Wohlgehagen's group launched a campaign aimed at encouraging lawmakers to back funding for new mathematics instructional materials. Legislators cut back on textbook funding when facing a record state deficit three years ago - and they did not fully restore textbooks funds when the state's fiscal condition had improved by 2005.
Note again the issue of cuts made in 2003 when the watchword was "deficits" that have not been restored now that we've got a surplus. This is what the Democrats have been fighting for, and it's why they're so vociferous about the restrictions on the business tax set forth in HB2.Posted by Charles Kuffner on May 02, 2006 to Budget ballyhoo | TrackBack