April 9, 2013 Comments are off Admin2

A Step in the Right Direction

hb5tHB 5 is a step in the right direction.

I was proud to co-author and support HB 5, which passed in the Texas House of Representatives with nearly unanimous support. This piece of legislation offers meaningful solutions to key issues facing our state’s public high schools and students.

HB 5 reduces the number of end of course assessments from 15 to five, creates one standard diploma that allows every student the opportunity to apply to a four-year university in Texas, encourages students to pursue diploma endorsements in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math), and business, as well as arts and humanities. It also broadens school ratings so that factors other than standardized tests will contribute to measuring a school’s performance.

I am pleased that three amendments I proposed were added to HB 5. One will give special education teachers more one-on-one time to spend with their students, rather than prepping for tests. Another amendment promotes dual credit for career and technical education students to put towards an associate’s degree or a licensing certification. Finally, I offered an amendment that prohibits individuals connected with or paid by test vendors from serving on Texas Education Agency assessment committees. These are committees responsible for setting testing standards.

While there are many other issues that need to be addressed when it comes to our state public education system, such as fully restoring the $5.4 billion in cuts to public schools, HB 5 is a step in the right direction .

State Representative Chris Turner

Public Education

public_ed

Politicians in Austin talk a lot about education, but they have repeatedly failed students, parents and teachers. Texas ranks last in the country in the percentage of population over the age of 25 with a high school diploma and 47th in SAT scores, while our dedicated public school teachers are paid well below the national average.

Chris will fight to change this and make public education a top priority for Texas.

The last legislative session cut public education funding by more than $5 billion last year – a staggering cut that harms millions of school children across Texas. Chris will work to reverse these cuts and implement a more fair and better financed public education system for all Texas children.

Chris also believes we must reform the school accountability system that has become entirely too dependent on standardized tests. There is entirely too much “teaching to the test” in Texas and we need to lessen the emphasis on standardized testing in the classroom.

 

Vouchers

After the Legislature slashed $5.4 billion from public schools last year, a reasonable person might have thought, “Well, at least it can’t get any worse.”

Guess what? Apparently, it can.

Republicans in Austin, including Governor Perry and Lt. Governor Dewhurst, have declared that “school choice” is a top priority for them next session. Let’s be clear what so-called school choice is: it’s stealing precious tax dollars from cash-starved public schools and diverting them to private schools, which get to pick and choose which students they educate.

Public dollars should be for public schools. Period.

It’s hard to fathom why Republican leaders think vouchers are a good idea, especially in the aftermath of the devastating budget cuts in the last session. Saturday, I participated in Arlington ISD’s Operation Graduation for the third year in a row. I spent the morning with two AISD teachers and one counselor. I asked them what the Legislature’s top education priority should be next session. Unanimously, it was more funding – funding so they can hire more teachers and reduce class size. One of the teachers taught junior high – she has about 35 kids in her classes. The other taught sixth grade; she has about 32 students.

That’s simply unacceptable. And we’re not going to be able to do much about it if we don’t reverse the budget cuts, get more teachers into the classrooms and keep up with our state’s continued enrollment growth. And we won’t accomplish that by taking money out of public schools to fund private school vouchers.

As I have said throughout the last 14 months of this campaign, I am running for the Legislature to make our public schools a priority in our state budget. That includes standing up against private school vouchers, and that’s exactly what I will do in Austin.

Texas-OU Kickoff/Birthday Event Coming Up!

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Our big fundraiser to kick off Texas/OU weekend and yes, mark my 40th birthday, is coming up on October 11th. If you haven’t yet, please take a minute to contribute and join our host committee. It will be a fun evening with good friends, and I hope you can be there. Your support will help us get out the vote in this critical election. Hope to see you on October 11th!

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