Month: <span>March 2017</span>

Another bad idea: business internships for teachers


I will applaud Gov. John Kasich of Ohio for one thing: he tried to beat Donald Trump in last year’s presidential race. But as an education policymaker, Kasich leaves a bit to be desired. Consider, for instance, his not-so-bright idea that every classroom teacher in his state serve a mandatory internship at a local business or chamber of commerce in order to renew their teaching licenses.

Even Dan Patrick, who is full of bad ideas, hasn’t come up with that particular piece of “reform,” at least not yet.

The Kasich staffer who designed the business internship requirement claimed it is necessary to help teachers prepare their students for the 21st century economy, neaToday reported in the article linked below. But as Ohio Education Association President Becky Higgins pointed out, “This is another needless hoop for teachers to jump through that was created by those who are not part of the profession.”

Apparently many Ohio legislators are listening to Higgins and other educators because, according to the article, there is a good chance lawmakers will kill the requirement, which otherwise would go into effect in September 2018.

One state senator had another idea. Why don’t business people shadow teachers? That should be a requirement for every business person and chamber of commerce-type who pretends to be an education “reformer” but hasn’t set foot in a classroom since graduation.

It also would be a whole new education for some legislators as well.

House leadership tries to help students and educators; Senate leaders play politics


It has been obvious since before this legislative session began that more than the Capitol rotunda separates the Senate from the House. There is, in fact, a deep gulf between the leadership priorities of the two lawmaking chambers.

In the House, Speaker Joe Straus has made it clear from the outset that he is interested in governing. Remember that concept? That’s where people who are elected to public office actually try to accomplish something that benefits a majority of the public. In the case of public education, Straus has made a priority of beginning work on improving the school finance system to give educators and students more resources and relieve the load on local school property taxpayers. The House Public Education Committee, which Straus appointed, is already at work toward that goal, including a public hearing on proposed legislation today.

In the Senate, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick doesn’t govern. He campaigns to promote his right-wing political career. That ploy is reaching another low today with a made-for-TV committee hearing on his infamous “bathroom bill,” a measure that will do absolutely nothing to help anyone. In fact, it will do just the opposite. It will promote discrimination against transgender Texans, including young children in public schools, and interfere with local school officials’ ability to protect these kids’ privacy.

Please take a few minutes to read the blog item in Texas Monthly, linked below, by my friend and former longtime colleague R.G. Ratcliffe. As he points out, the contrast between the House and the Senate “may never be more evident this session” than today.

Voucher advocates fight back


As I warned yesterday, the voucher fight isn’t over, despite the good news that House Education Chairman Dan Huberty has announced his intent to scuttle the proposal. Voucher advocates are promising to double down on their efforts, and Republican right-wingers are trying to get their party leadership to censure Huberty, who is a Republican.

The Kingwood Tea Party in Huberty’s District 127 in Houston will try to convince the State Republican Executive Committee to pass a resolution censuring Huberty this weekend. Remember, the tea party wants to shrink government, beginning with public education, and is more interested in spreading its anti-government ideology than promoting what’s best for educators and school kids.

Also, according to the Texas Tribune article linked below, the main pro-voucher group plans to try to drum up pro-voucher sentiment against Huberty in his legislative district in hopes of pressuring him to change his mind.

Keep contacting your legislators against vouchers, and if you live in Huberty’s district (House 127 in the Houston area), tell him you support his stand. With three months remaining in the legislative session, the fight over vouchers is still very much alive.

If you don’t know who your state senator and state representative are, click on this link, enter your home address and click on Senate and House for district type. It will tell you who they are and how to contact them.

Education chairman’s opposition to vouchers is huge, but…


TSTA and other public education advocates were heartened, maybe even a little jubilant, at the news yesterday that House Public Education Chairman Dan Huberty is planning to slam the door on private school vouchers.

We take Chairman Huberty at his word because we know there is a lot of opposition in the House – and in the Senate, for that matter – to vouchers, education savings accounts, tax-credit scholarships or however you want to disguise the proposed raid on education tax dollars. But we urge educators to keep your guard up because the Legislature will be in session for another three months, Lt. Gov. Patrick and other voucher advocates are persistent and bad “accidents” can happen in the legislative process.

“I believe so, yes,” Huberty replied when Texas Tribune CEO Evan Smith asked him in a public interview if the voucher legislation was dead for this session. Huberty explained that vouchers would reduce accountability for tax dollars and detract from more important education issues, such as fixing the school finance system.

Huberty’s stance doesn’t mean that Patrick won’t continue to break arms (at least figuratively) in the Senate to win that body’s approval of one of his longtime top priorities. He and his privatization allies also will try to increase pressure on Huberty and House members.

Huberty’s opposition to vouchers is huge, but as the Texas Tribune’s Ross Ramsey has pointed out: “Nothing is dead in the Texas Legislature while lawmakers are still in session. Resurrection is part of the game.” Voucher advocates could try to tack on their proposal as an amendment to another bill during floor debate, thus bypassing Huberty’s committee.

TSTA staffers and other front-liners at the Capitol will continue to treat voucher legislation as a live threat and send alerts if we detect any signs of voucher progress. Stay prepared to react by contacting your legislators.