Three not-so-terribly-unrelated education stories for the day …
» Texas Tribune: Behind the Class of 2014, Texas’ Demographic Future
Hispanics became the majority of total public school students for the first time in 2011, growing by about 10 percentage points over the decade since 2000. Since that same year, the overall percentage of economically disadvantaged students has also grown, from less than half to 60 percent of all public school students — more than double a 20 percent increase in the public school population as a whole. But the bulk of those students are concentrated in the younger grades, with the percentage from economically disadvantaged backgrounds steadily declining to a low of 46 percent in the class of 2012, the latest year data is available. That is soon set to change as the population of students in the lower grades make their way through the school system.
The changes present both challenges and opportunities to Texas public schools. According to state data, Hispanic students have been statistically less likely to leave high school with a diploma than their Anglo peers. Of the Hispanic students who do graduate, few are prepared for college. In 2011, 42 percent met college-readiness benchmarks in both English and math, compared with 65 percent of Anglo students.
Diane Ravitch made her name in the 1970s as a historian chronicling the role of public schools in American social mobility. In the 1990s, she went to work in the Bush administration’s Education Department, where she pushed for a rejection of 1960s relativism and a return to basics and standards. After leaving government, she called for the removal of incompetent teachers, for tying school performance to student scores, and for closing failing schools.
Now Ms. Ravitch, 75, is in the full flower of yet another stage in her career: folk hero to the left and passionate scourge of pro-business reformers. She has come to doubt the whole project of school reform, saying it will solve little without addressing poverty and segregation. “We know what works,” she writes. “What works are the opportunities that advantaged families provide for their children.”
» Texas Tribune: No Waiver for Texas on Testing for Younger Students
In a Sept. 6 letter, Assistant Secretary of Education Deborah Delisle told TEA commissioner Michael Williams that the federal education department would not exercise its authory to waive No Child Left Behind provisions that require Texas and other states to test public school students in grades three through eight annually in reading and math and at least once in science in elementary and middle school.
She wrote that annual assessment was “critical to holding schools and LEAs [local education agencies] accountable for improving the achievement of all students.”
Despite sharply reducing the number of standardized tests high school students must pass to graduate, lawmakers — in response to widespread concern over the effects of excessive assessment on classroom instruction — failed this year to bring conclusive relief for students in lower grades, who take a total of 17 state tests before entering high school.
I’ve got the upcoming Diane Ravitch release pre-ordered, but I’m embarrassed to say that I still need to finish off the last couple of chapters of her previous book before the new one comes out on the 17th.
And since the first Trib piece gives me something of an excuse to do so, here’s the video clip of the recent Ed reform bill (HB5) getting a conference committee vote on the House floor. The highlight is Mark Strama’s final House speech that comes before the actual vote, but Harold Dutton’s speech afterward is also very much on-target.