March 26, 2007
Ratliff: Change how we rate schools

Amen to this.

The father of the state's public school accountability system says it's time to scrap the way schools get rated and substitute something better.

"We think it's become cumbersome. Nobody can understand it," says retired Republican Sen. Bill Ratliff of Mount Pleasant.

Ratliff travels around the state these days beating the drum for public education, telling audiences that Texas needs a universal pre-kindergarten program, full-day kindergarten and smaller classroom sizes.

All of that will cost money, but the former interim lieutenant governor says it's the best investment Texans can make for their future.

"If the public is behind it, then the Legislature will be more inclined to put the money where we need it to be," said Ratliff, who heads up a new group of pro-education business leaders called Raise Your Hand.

When he chaired the Senate Education Committee in the mid-1990s, Ratliff helped create the accountability system that rated Texas schools on a scale from exemplary to unacceptable.

"Fifteen years later, we think it's time to just wipe the slate clean, start over and produce an accountability system that is understandable, simple enough for parents and taxpayers to understand," Ratliff said.

"For one thing, it needs to be consistent with the federal law. You don't need a situation where you can be exemplary in Texas and be failing under No Child Left Behind. That's crazy."

One of the points that Rep. Scott Hochberg made when I interviewed him last year is that while we do a lot of standardized testing in Texas, we don't really have a grip on what it is we're measuring with those tests. With differing, sometimes contradictory, standards that have to be met, it's not hard to see why. I think Ratliff is dead on in his assessment of the current situation, and I hope the leadership pays attention to him.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on March 26, 2007 to Show Business for Ugly People

Why didn't he just stay in Austin to help us all out?

Posted by: sabestian on March 26, 2007 8:24 AM