CSCOPE, Charters, Graduation Requirements, and Science Textbooks Coming Up for State Hearings

San Antonio AllianceUncategorized

CSCOPE:  A public hearing will be held on Friday, September 13, by a special State Board of Education committee created to review the much-debated CSCOPE Social Studies lesson plans. The hearing will start at 1 p.m. in Room 1-111 of the William Travis Building, 1701 North Congress, in Austin. Testimony from the public will be heard; witnesses are asked to limit their comments to specific recommendations regarding particular CSCOPE Social Studies lessons as they appear at www.texastribune.org/interactive/search-cscope-lesson-plans/. Testimony will be limited to three minutes per witness. If you wish to testify, you can register through September 9 at this site. Written testimony will also be accepted.

Charter-Applicant Interviews:  Texas Education Agency staff will hold a public meeting on September 11 and September 12 to interview charter-school applicants. The September 11 meeting is slated to begin at 8:45 a.m. in Room 1-104 of the Travis Building, 1701 North Congress, in Austin. The September 12 meeting is set for 9 a.m. at the same location. Texas AFT will be on hand to monitor the process, which is the first of its kind since primary authority to approve charter applications was transferred by the legislature to the commissioner of education from the State Board of Education. (SBOE members retain authority to veto applicants approved by the commissioner.)
Charter applicants to be interviewed on September 11 are:

–El Paso Leadership Academy
–Urban Lyceum (Austin)
–Carpe Diem Schools—San Antonio Campus 1
–Excel Center (Austin)
–Destiny Preparatory (Waco)
–Rivercrest Academy (Fort Worth)

Applicants to be interviewed on September 12 are:

–Great Hearts Academies Dallas
–Beta Academy Houston)
–Gardens of Learning,    Rio Grande Valley (Weslaco)
–iWIN Preparatory (Terrell)
–Magnolia Montessori For All and Redbud Montessori for All (Austin)
–High Point Academy (Fort Worth)

Science Textbooks:  The State Board of Education will hold a public hearing in Austin on September 17 at 1 p.m. in Room 1-104, Travis Building, 1701 North Congress, regarding science, math, and technology-applications textbooks and other instructional materials. Witnesses are encouraged to specify “content with which they have concerns about factual errors or TEKS coverage”—i.e., coverage of content required for particular courses and grade levels by state curriculum guidelines (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills). Speakers will be limited to two minutes each. The TEA Web site advises that the texts and other instructional materials up for approval are available for viewing at the 20 regional education service centers and at school districts that requested them.

You can encourage SBOE members to base their textbook review on sound scientific scholarship by signing onto the petition put forward by the Texas Freedom Network.

Graduation Requirements:  The State Board of Education also on September 17 will hold a public hearing in Austin to obtain comments from educators and community members on graduation requirements to be established under HB 5 enacted earlier this year. This hearing will occur at 9 a.m. in Room 1-104, Travis Building, 1701 North Congress. The State Board announcement of the hearing states: “The new plan requires the state board to make a number of policy decisions, such as deciding which courses will count as advanced mathematics, English and science courses and determining the requirements for each endorsement area. The endorsement areas are science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM); business and industry; public services; arts and humanities; and multidisciplinary studies.”

SBOE chair Barbara Cargill urges witnesses at the hearing to “submit specific suggestions as to the course offerings that will give school districts the flexibility mandated in HB5 that is intended to meet all students’ postsecondary goals.” The new graduation requirements will take effect beginning with the 2014-2015 school year.

After the public hearing, TEA staff will draft proposed rules addressing graduation requirements, which the Board will consider at its November 20-22 meeting. If the draft receives initial Board approval, a 30-day public-comment period will ensue (with comments to be submitted to rules@tea.state.tx.us).  A final vote on the new Board rules governing graduation requirements is anticipated when the Board meets again January 29-31.

Comments about graduation requirements can be submitted in advance of the September 17 hearing and the formal rulemaking process. These early comments can be sent to sboesupport@tea.state.tx.us through September 10.

To study the new graduation scheme established by HB 5 and the issues to be resolved by the State Board rules, see http://www.tea.state.tx.us/graduation.aspx.