May 25, 2007

Maybe They Should Protest Their Education

Dallas-area high school seniors took to the picket lines today, protesting a decision that will keep them from participating in graduation ceremonies for failing a standardized test. Trimble Tech High School seniors who did not pass the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills exam will have to wait for July to retake the test, and in the meantime cannot graduate:

Students who had been planning to walk across the stage at graduation ceremonies this weekend were instead walking a picket line Thursday morning.

The Trimble Tech High School seniors marched in front of Fort Worth Independent School District headquarters to protest Wednesday's decision by trustees to bar students who failed the TAKS test from commencement exercises. ...

Crystal Martinez complained that while she finished at the top of her class with a 3.5 grade point average, she is now blocked from graduation by failing the TAKS test.

"We know we're not going to get our diplomas, but we just want to walk across the stage," Martinez said. "That's all we ask for right now."

Classmate Chloe Walker agreed. "I believe that I have at least the right to walk the stage with all my friends," she said. "I made it this far, and I have all my credits I need. I deserve to get my certificate of completion."

I'd have some sympathy for this point, if I hadn't seen this picture of the protest:


If these high-school seniors on the picket line can't tell the difference between "are" and "our", then perhaps they're not ready to graduate at all. These students have inadvertently made a much more profound statement about the nature of education at Trimble Tech, and underscored the need for standardized testing before graduation. (via Best of the Web)


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Comments (48)

Posted by Cindi | May 25, 2007 5:15 PM

She has the right...and...she deserves....

Two things:

Where is the Constitutional 'right' written for this? I'd hand her a copy of the Constitution and ask her to show me.

She doesn't deserve; she failed the test.

But she has the right and she deserves. That's all she needs to know.

Posted by Angry Dumbo | May 25, 2007 5:25 PM

The picture says it all.

Posted by Joe Doe | May 25, 2007 5:25 PM

I am quite sure that she can spell in Spanish though - is the president's people that would do the jobs Americans do not ... welcome to the New Order. America RIP

Posted by AnonymousDrivel | May 25, 2007 5:31 PM

In the photo with the "Let Are Kids Walk...", is that a student or a parent?

Sure, if the kids cannot pass a standard, and to be sure, baseline skills test after years of public schooling, then they have not earned their diploma; however, that image may be of a parent who has not been educated (or has been careless) and not of the particular students being denied their walk.

Yeah, it's a subtle distinction that really doesn't detract from the big picture of students failing a standard test and displaying public schooling as, perhaps, incompetent, but I think it would be unfair to smear a student for such a simple error if it is indeed a parent and not a student from that school system that is holding up the sign. Perhaps the kids failed because they couldn't derive the equation of a straight line from a 2-D Cartesian plot rather than because of a fundamental spelling error.

Need more info.

Posted by Fight4TheRight | May 25, 2007 6:15 PM

I sure hope that John Kerry was present at the demonstration so he could help dissuade these students from having to join the Military.

/sarc off

Posted by NahnCee [TypeKey Profile Page] | May 25, 2007 6:15 PM

Well obviously since they are black and/or Latino, they are victims of our racist white system, and therefore should be allowed to spell "our" any old way they want to. It's probably a "cultural thing" that we should respect and pay homage to as an example of the benefits of diversity.

Posted by Only_One_Cannoli | May 25, 2007 6:34 PM

It does look like a parent holding the sign - proof of an inverse relationship between spelling ability and earring size. I'm thinking her kid should probably wait until July.

I'm inclined to think public schools aren't woth a pile of poo but my sympathy's with at least one of the kids mentioned in that article.

How does 'Crystal' earn a 3.5 GPA and fail some basic test? Makes me wonder what's on the test. And how bad is this particular school? She sounded coherent. The writer points out that some other schools allow students to walk across the stage after failing the TAKS.

Posted by Bleepless | May 25, 2007 7:34 PM

I disagree with your title. Based upon the picture, they should protest "there" education.

Posted by Clyde | May 25, 2007 8:29 PM

I had the same thought as Anonymous Drivel did. The sign sounds like something a parent would say; the student would just write "Let us walk." Maybe she is a student and Mom made the sign for her. Either way, proofread is your friend, sweetheart.

Posted by Carol Herman | May 25, 2007 8:50 PM

The sign carrier could have been a teacher, for all you know. You have no idea how many IGNORAMOUSES are graduating from schools. Because the "system is a charade."

While it doesn't take 12 years to teach a kid English. The going rate is 4 years. While it takes the Chinese, five. (Their system is way more complicated.)

That's actually the good news. If you learn the basics you can then choose to go as far as you want. Lincoln showed how a man with limited education, is still not limited.

And, here you have BOOBS. With enormous amounts of money, spent.

By the way, what's really important? What are the SKILLS? These kids can walk where they like, I hate to think of them walking into nursing school, however!

Or worse! Are they the stock from which future teachers are drawn?

At the last minute they found out they couldn't "walk" at their graduation ceremony. As if what's lacking is finally having to pass a skills' test. Can you imagine how dull their 12 years were?

I think the wrong individuals are getting punished. Not that I have a sane answer; for something that looks as bad as this. Well? At least their "integrated."

How did education get flushed?

Posted by Dusty | May 25, 2007 8:52 PM

Cindi, the Constitution doesn't give us any rights. They are ours naturally and we have delegated what was deemed necessary to provide for a limited federal government to handle aspects of these rights that we cannot effective fulfill individually.

That said, was the right to know the rules at the beginning of the year complied with? I'm going to guess, yes, and there is no time like the present for them to meet the real world. It's too bad the parents couldn't have taught them even the simplest of things earlier, like, for instance, pulling up their britches and cracking the books necessary to achieve, what, knowing 70% of what they ought to know?

As for the sign, Cap, I think that is a mother carrying it. Does appear the son/daughter didn't notice the error, though.

Posted by Peyton | May 25, 2007 9:14 PM

A Texas high school senior friend of my step daughter was working on his resume at my wife's computer. He asked me how to spell "honor roll." I somehow kept a straight face and told him.

Our younger daughter is just starting high school in an obscenely expensive private school. The work load made her cry, last year. This year, she won honors in four of her subjects. The Texas legislature is finishing their session, and did their ritual voting down of school vouchers. The public teachers' union is very powerful, here. They vigorously defend a system that graduates students who don't know how to spell "honor roll" or "our." The implications for our future are bleak.

Posted by Scrapiron | May 25, 2007 9:26 PM

Was wondering how our school systems went from Nunber 1 in the world to Number 19 in less than 20 years. No longer a question. No teachers.

Posted by RBMN | May 25, 2007 9:27 PM

Looks like they have a bright future ahead as public school teachers, union thugs, and Democrat activists. Pardon my repetition.

Posted by Peyton | May 25, 2007 9:32 PM

Hey, Dusty, excellent points about complaining about the rules after the game is played. Your facts are mixed up, though. Passing score on the math portion of the TAKS test is 40-something percent. It's not SAT-level math, either. Seniors are tested on 8th grade math skills. The valedictorian at the school in the article failed to pass.

That accounts for all the summer hires at Wendy's who can't count out change when the cash register tells them how much it should be. These people vote, and go on to work for the state government, where the rules still apply that everyone gets to win, so that no one has an unfair advantage.

My state is associated with rugged individualism. The legislature voted down school vouchers in 20 minutes, but spent three days debating a state-wide smoking ban in public places, including private businesses. We're a mess.

Posted by Mwalimu Daudi | May 25, 2007 9:39 PM

As a high school mathematics & science teacher in Texas (currently teaching in a private school, although I have taught is public schools), I can say that the TAKS test is pretty easy as standard tests go. Failure to pass TAKS is like a basketball player missing a slam-dunk on a seven-foot basket.

Peyton is right - although Texas is considered a "red" state, the teachers' unions control the Legislature (not to mention the educational bureaucracy). The major newspapers are Stalinist rags that are 100% in sympathy with the unions, so reform is not going to happen anytime soon.

And whatever you do, don't get me started on the rise of dangerous Latino gangs in Texas public schools. Just consider it another "benefit" of illegal immigration - along with severe classroom overcrowding and costly bilingual education that cripples students for the rest of their academic careers.

Posted by Mike | May 25, 2007 9:39 PM

Dear Captain:

Apparently some readers don't understand that there are no teacher's unions in Texas (it's against the law for teachers to unionize), and thus, no over-arching power to influence the legislature on education issues. I am a Texas high school teacher of English, and one thing that my years in that endeavor have taught me is not to automatically dismiss the intelligence of people, or the virtue of their cause or ideas because of minor spelling or grammatical errors. Absolutely, I strive for excellence, but human beings fall a bit short upon occasion.

You should indeed feel badly for these students. The TAKS tests are all about politics and nothing whatever about education or "accountability." Their primary purpose is to allow politicians to whack tabletops and loudly proclaim that they are doing something about education. I could write a book on this topic, but I'll just hit a few high points.

What purpose do the tests serve? They generate data (at obscene expense). That's it. The single score they provide says nothing whatever about a given student to any competent teacher. In fact, the English TAKS are so erratic and poorly conceived, we spend a month or more drilling our kids each year, teaching them the literal tricks necessary to pass, and in my school, 91%+ of all kids pass each year, and then we must tell them to never write so poorly again. Trying to write a TAKS essay in the real world would cause immediate failure.

Each year, I see students who fail English class pass the TAKS. Why? I am quite capable of teaching them the necessary tricks, but they aren't truly capable writers and thinkers. In addition, some of the finest and most capable students in our school fail each year, students who will graduate with a 4.0 average and will go on to attain the same average at any university in America.

Consider this: Who is most capable of determining whether a given student should graduate from high school? The teacher for whom they have done 150+ assignments of all kinds in a given year, or a state educrat who sees only the score obtained from a single, very flawed test given on a single day? Do we really believe that the score on a single test in 12 years of education should have the power to negate everything else that person has accomplished in 12 years?

Let's not even talk about the gross insult that this line of thinking represents toward teachers. But wait! There's more! Next year, virtually every student in Texas will be required to take the TAKS. There will be no waivers for students who are retarded, brain damaged, severly learning disabled etc. Tune back in next spring and watch the statewide scores plummet. And no, I'm not kidding about this. But by God, we'll be accountable, and by God, we're doin' sum'thin' 'bout edyuhkashun!

Posted by KendraWilder | May 25, 2007 10:12 PM

Posted by: AnonymousDrivel at May 25, 2007 5:31 PM

"In the photo with the "Let Are Kids Walk...", is that a student or a parent?"

It doesn't really matter, when you get down to it. Whichever generation wrote that sign, academia, and teachers especially everywhere, should be embarrassed as all heck to see the results of the relaxing of educational standards they've fostered. Too much emphasis on social skills, such as liberals interpret them anyway, and not enough emphasis on the basic communication and math skills that everyone needs in today's complex world, and this is the result.

Many years ago I had a daughter-in-law who taught Home Economics part time in high school. Her mother was also a teacher, and I remember the year that her mother finally retired, at age 60. The woman, who had been drawing a salary of just over $55k per year, would, by union contractual agreement, receive a retirement income of 60% of her salary, plus a percentage of medical benefits until Medicare kicked in. Then, at age 65, she would start receiving Social Security on top of that.

My former DIL remarked that teaching was a frustrating profession, but she could put up with it knowing that she would have her own income separate from her husband's when she retired. She'd worked out all the numbers and decided that if she taught full time for the last 10 years until she, also, retired at age 60, she'd get almost the same amount as her mother would start receiving.

And people wonder why education related funding has become so outrageously expensive in recent decades? Man, did I choose the wrong profession early on! Sheesh.

Posted by Joe | May 25, 2007 10:58 PM


"FACT: In the bill, fines for hiring an illegal worker are $5,000 maximum per illegal worker for the first offense, $10,000 maximum per illegal worker for the second, and $25,000 maximum per illegal worker for the third. "

Interesting - there is no MINIMUM just maximum levels - i.e. nothing changes. We all just learn Spanish ...

Posted by AnonymousDrivel | May 25, 2007 11:20 PM

RE: KendraWilder (May 25, 2007 10:12 PM)

I pretty much I agree with your bigger point but have one caveat. Keep in mind I'm not trying to be an apologist for the display, but some particular context is useful as we parse this snippet of educational Americana.

Note how the female in the red shirt has an object in her right hand. It appears to me to be a black magic marker. I would surmise that the march was hastily assembled and the signs, as evidenced from the crude style, just as hastily written with that marker. Consider also the emotion of the event if they were rushed, whether for news value while cameras flickered or otherwise, and how one might respond under pressure. I could see how a simple spelling error could make it to print. Heck, look at the blog posts you read every day? Do you ever notice how many errors are made? This occurs when we have plenty of time to reflect and proofread. Of course, I never make missteaks, but I've seen others make 'em. ;) Did you ever notice the number of errors increases as a response becomes more personal, more directly aimed?

So, I think I could reasonably understand an emotional response whereby an adult (or student) could display her "ignorance" during a heated moment. It could be a reflection of poor education, perhaps and almost assuredly a public one in this case if that is one of the student's mom, but it could also be a simple typo. Embarrassing no doubt. If they were in my sign-making class, I'd certainly fail them and make them write it out on the chalkboard a few hundred times before their next protest.

Yes, public education receives considerable ridicule, and maybe TAKS testing is the worthless exercise advanced by legislators, and maybe kids don't exit the machine with adequately honed skills; but I'd suggest we may be hyperventilating a bit here. I mean, I'm a product of that public education system too, and look how I turned out. Wait a second. Nevermind. Forget I said anything.

Posted by robert | May 25, 2007 11:46 PM

I IS graduating.

YOU done graduated.

He, she, and it already been graduatamed.

Posted by Pam | May 26, 2007 12:07 AM

I taught high school, and this scene is all to familar. Parents were outraged that students who failed the exit exam could not march, so they demanded, and got, what administrators called a "certificate of attendance." The "certificate" allowed those who failed the exit exam to march or "walk" across the stage with their classmates and avoid embarrassment. To me, this "certificate" was more about the parent's embarrassment, than the student's.

Posted by Norm | May 26, 2007 12:26 AM

Just wondering if those signs are lettered on both sides, or facing backwards.

Posted by NahnCee [TypeKey Profile Page] | May 26, 2007 1:17 AM

Pam, dear - I'm seeing at least two grammatical/spelling errors in your post. Were you a math teacher?

Posted by Winsome | May 26, 2007 1:28 AM

Pam just hit it on the head: the point here is the misplaced indignation of the students/parents who feel entitled to participate despite being disqualified. It's all about avoiding negative feeling in our therapeutic culture. "Deserve" is now just another way of saying "want."

Posted by Dusty | May 26, 2007 1:29 AM

Thanks, Peyton. The 70% was just a rule of thumb number, or, more accurately, the minimum imposed on me when I was in HS eons ago and the inherent point was that 70% is not an impressive number when you think about it.

I'm in NY so I do appreciate the clarifications on both TAKS and the education-politics interaction. I would have assumed teachers were unionized there but it didn't enter my thinking on the subject.

Mike, I generally concur with you on grammatical errors, moreso than spelling. But considering the glaring error in a four word sentence and the venue is to protest unfair evaluation of minimum education level, I'm not with you here. It shows a lack of organization, care, consideration and contemplation, all key factors in successful test-taking not to mention graduating to adulthood. If she is a student, she deserved this setback, if she's a parent she's setting a bad example and discrediting the protest.

Posted by Maverick Muse | May 26, 2007 6:22 AM

Quote from Mike Antonucci:

Troubles Not Over for Texas Teacher Union

Plans to cut costs, reduce staff, and merge meet resistance

Written By: Mike Antonucci
Published In: School Reform News
Publication Date: August 1, 2001
Publisher: The Heartland Institute

"In June, the Texas State Teachers Association (TSTA), affiliated with the National Education Association, announced exploratory efforts to merge with the Texas Federation of Teachers (TFT), affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers. The merger negotiations are part of an effort by TSTA to reverse its sagging financial and membership fortunes. However, TSTA's plans are meeting resistance from the other teacher union and from its own staff union. "

Mike, a professed Texas public educator wrote, "Apparently some readers don't understand that there are no teacher's unions in Texas (it's against the law for teachers to unionize), and thus, no over-arching power to influence the legislature on education issues."

Although Texas may not endorse unions, unions are certainly not illegal in Texas!

Posted by Peyton | May 26, 2007 7:12 AM

Maverick Muse beat me to it.

Mike, there are excellent teachers in Texas, many of them. There are also excellent schools. My daughter had several teachers in middle school that were absolutely amazing. They were saddled, however, with an administration that refused to back them up. Kids were allowed to disrupt the classes, leave and roam the halls, and generally spoil the learning experience for students who wanted to learn. Our teachers are not the problem. It's the administration and the parents. Her middle school had a counselor and a vice-principal for every grade. They all had administrative staffs. School offices are bloated. They're all encouraged to join the Texas State Teachers Association.

An exit exam establishes that our children have learned a basic set of skills, appropriate to their grade level. To serious students, the TAKS test is a joke, an annoying hassle. To the hoodlums running amuk in our school hallways, it's an unfair burden.

The week after our daughter started at the private school, there was a race riot between rival gangs at the high school that she would have started at this fall. "Tolerance" and "nurturing" don't make much of an impression on gang members. The administrations at Texas high schools have all tried it, and here they are.

Mike, I'm a product of public education, and some of my teachers made a life-long difference in me. School administrations prevented my daughter's teachers from enforcing even basic rules of class discipline, and the TSTA opposes standards-based education. Not a union? Quibbling over semantics won't help your case. They're the most powerful lobbying organization in Texas. Any organization that is as terrified of competition and standards as they are is not looking to secure a quality education for every child. They're working hard to perpetuate an ecucational system that releases high percentages of functionally illiterate citizens into society. Our school property taxes here are about $3500 a year, and I want my money back.

Posted by Red Dog | May 26, 2007 7:12 AM

Mike is full of blarney.

Most public school teachers I and my children have come into contact with abhor accountability for teaching results.

It took me 3 months to teach my son to read where the school failed to do so in 2 years. The school's solution to my son's lack of reading skills was to put him through psych testing, label him, and push him into an overcrowded special education class full of children with behavioral issues.

Heaven forbid they actually teach him phonics.

I'm appalled at the state of public education.

Posted by Sgt. Mom | May 26, 2007 8:27 AM

Eight yearts ago, my daughter graduated from a Catholic girl's high school in San Antonio, Texas. Sometime during the last few months of her senior year, she casually mentioned that on Friday, her soon-to-graduate class (of 50 or so ) would take the state test. She said, "We can't graduate unless we pass it." And I said,
"Well, any worries on that score?" She replied, very casually, "Nah...piece of cake."
Her school was very strict and intellectually rigerous; it was also on the South Side -- the Hispanic and working class side of town, but the student body usually breezed through it like a racing car through a kleenex barrier. Or the school sisters would want to know the reason why!

Posted by Diane Robinson | May 26, 2007 8:35 AM

This was always a sore point while I was teaching in Cincinnati, too. What most people are never told is that the students have several chances (I don't remember exactly how many) to pass the test. We even had special classes added to the curriculum for seniors geared directly at taking the test. After all that if students cannot manage to pass a test based on skills from junior high school, they have not earned the right to "walk across the stage" just because they and their families want this privelege.

Posted by Elizabeth | May 26, 2007 8:56 AM

The students who failed to pass the test sat in the same classrooms and had the same teachers as the students who passed. Perhaps studying does make a difference.

Posted by Mike | May 26, 2007 8:56 AM


Fort Worth, is not a "Dallas area" place. It is a city unto itself, commonly called "Cowtown" (or "Where the West Begins") due to its proud western heritage. This may be a minor point to others, but to those of us who live (or have lived) there it is not minor.

Andy in Arizona
(a transplanted Texan)

Posted by Angry Dumbo | May 26, 2007 10:45 AM

Model citizen, zero discipline.

Posted by John | May 26, 2007 12:05 PM

There was a similar situation going on to the west of Fort Worth, in the Midland-Odessa area over whether or not to allow 12th grade students who failed TAKS to participate in the graduation ceremonies. One interesting stat that came out was in the Midland school district, where failing seniors aren't allowed to participate in the ceremonies, a total of 44 students failed TAKS; over in Odessa, with roughly the same enrollment numbers, but with a policy of allowing all students to go up on stage for graduation, the number who failed TAKS was three times as high. Motivation, motivation, motivation.

(And I have heard from many teachers who dislike TAKS because it leads to district administrators "teaching to the test" in order to avoid problems with the Texas Edcuation Agency if the numbers come back below the acceptable range. There has been talk of eliminating TAKS and going to a system similar to the Regents exit testing done by New York, but obviously, if you don't back up that system with some sort of punishment for schools with high exit test failure rates, you'll end up with the same low numbers New York did when it failed to take action against schools with chronically low Regents test scores.)

Posted by pa | May 26, 2007 1:05 PM

Back in the late 1970s, I was a brand-new English teacher in a private school. A senior who had transferred in from an Honors English class in public school told me that the difference between "your" and "you're" is that one is singular and the other is plural.

I do believe that the 1970s was the era that marked the beginning of the end of quality public school education. The "let it all hang out" attitude -- coupled with a growing disrepect for authority, widespread drug use and defiance of the law, and a protest mentality -- has led us to this point. (I also blame the Beatles and Vatican II. ;-)

Posted by Charlie Eklund | May 26, 2007 1:22 PM

Ed, thanks for using the term "Dallas-area schools". Normally, when Dallas gets the credit for things that happen in Fort Worth, we in Cowtown take umbrage, but in this case, Dallas is more than welcome to the credit...or, rather, to the shame.

For me, the straw that broke the camel's back on this issue came when School Board trustee Juan Rangel said, when arguing in favor of allowing failing students to take part in the graduation ceremony, “An exception today doesn’t mean we have lowered the bar.”

Or, in other words, as I noted in a post on my blog,, "lowering the bar doesn't mean that we have lowered the bar."


Posted by John_Apple | May 26, 2007 2:08 PM

I've been wondering lately why the USA as a whole doen't go with a testing system like either the UK or France. In both cases, at the end of their equivalent of high school, students have to sit for a series of standardized tests. I'm not sure how they are graded, but it seems to be an effective system.

In the case of this country, such a system would have at least two benefits that I can see. First, it would put private schools and home schooling on the same academic footing as public schools. Meaning, if you pass the tests, you're good to go, no matter where you got your education. And second, it would be a clear indicator to everyone, including other schools and colleges, just how well you were educated. That would eliminate subjective comparisions between public schools (i.e. we have great public schools), and it would also be more egalitarian in showing the differences between those attending elite private schools (think Al Gore) and those of us who are simple plebians.

Having said all that, I would also point out that the purpose of an education is much more than the simple goal of walking across a stage in public. You walk across that stage once, but you have to use your education throughout your whole life.

Posted by jaeger51 | May 26, 2007 2:11 PM

We moved to AZ, and have a 15 year old. All I heard on the radio was how hard and uncompromising the graduation testing was. Then as a sophomore the kid took the tests. Take into account the kid is not a genius. She passed two out of three necessary. After only two years of high school. Think about it, only half through and passed. Obviously not all that outrageously hard. But school is now all about getting more perks for the teacher's union, and not about education except in social engineering and leftist brainwashing. Seems as if what the kid is taught the most is how to "accept" everyone and that anything different than traditional American values is better. Clean out the media, clean out the school administration. Then we would see the country turn around.

Posted by John_Apple | May 26, 2007 2:12 PM

One additional comment:

In the UK and France, the students are awarded the diploma for successful completion of the tests, not for putting in a certain amount of time at school.

Posted by Papa Ray | May 26, 2007 2:27 PM

While I want my grandkids to know how to spell. What I really want is for them to be taught ol' fashioned things like honor, honesty, kindness, discipline and the value of hard work. I also want them to be taught our great American history.

If they have to, they can learn sentence structure and spelling like I did, after I got back from my military service.

I was a fair english student up until the end of the 11th grade, but decided that other things were more important at the time, so my formal education was cut short.

As it turned out, the education I had in the above character building disiplines, enabled me to make a good living with a good retirement.

Of course, I also had great parents who also taught me those same principles, even though they never went past the third grade.

Papa Ray
West Texas

Posted by Mike | May 26, 2007 9:56 PM

Wow. OK, just a few minor things. Teachers may not unionize and collectively bargain in Texas. Hence, there are no teacher's unions, and no hugely puwerful union influencing the legislature. There are several teacher's "associations" which are really nothing more than organizations that provide lobbying, educational, insurance and legal help to teachers. The associations have only the power of persuasion that any lobbying organization has. Teachers have no union powers whatever in Texas. This is not a semantic distinction, but reality.

Many of those posting have talked about bad teachers, poor administrators, inadequate standards, etc. What's interesting here is that each and every local school district has in place the mechanisms to correct each and every one of these problems, and state and federal help/interference help not at all. Bad teachers? Poor administrators, inadequate standards? Citizens, light a fire under the school board and make them deal with it. Each and every good teacher (and that's most of them) will rejoice, for no one listens to teachers, but politicians do respond to an aroused citizenry.

Ultimately, shouldn't we judge TAKS on one criteria: Does it help the classroom teacher do their job better/does it benefit the kids. Again, I could easily write a book on this, but the answer is that it does not help teachers, and it does not benefit kids. This is not an argument against high standards, but against useless, expensive and harmful politically imposed mandates.

Posted by jww | May 26, 2007 10:32 PM

Mike, could you please provide a link or other citation to corroborate your statement that teachers in TX may not unionize? Last time I checked AFT was most certainly a union.

Posted by Maverick Muse | May 27, 2007 9:09 AM


As far as dealing locally with unsatisfactory public education in Central Texas, been there, done that, to no avail. Everyone wants to cover their own *ss and protect their own selfish interests. So what if the Quest teacher locked your daughter in a closet because you, the parent, questioned that teacher in private conference? The only thing a public education gives is experience with people. To learn, read and think, even if on your own. Papa Ray is right, that parents THEMSELVES need to make sure that their children read and think through the words and through the message and intent.

Like other Southwestern US states, Texas is a right to work state. That simply means employees may not be forced to join unions. Like other right to work states, Texas' hands off policy does not otherwise penalize unions; and unions do exist in Texas. They simply are not powerful IF employees on strike are easily replaced. Public educators have the strongest union association in Texas as teachers DO recognize their strong advantage joining together. Legislation has established hurtles effecting replacement of a teacher or a union of teachers on strike.

If you want to talk about disfunctional unions in the state of Texas, look at the labor unions. For example, machinists in Texas do not enjoy the benefits of the machinist union as employers easily replace employees with non-union members, skilled & unskilled illegals making matters even more difficult for skilled citizen journeymen to remain employed.

If you want a legitimate cause to fight for, deal with illegal immigration and its eventual fatal blow to all Americans, blue AND WHITE collar. Our national legislative promotion of businesses to import white collar employees with permission slip visas and export scientific jobs "because Americans don't fill them" totally unravels any American cititzen's expectation to remain employed within the United States of America. Want to keep your job in skilled trades or in sciences? Move to XYZ, on and on and on you move to "keep" your job, each move taking you down closer to poverty. This is no joke, no exaggeration. Unions are as corrupt as the federal government.

Posted by Larry | May 27, 2007 9:34 AM

" never write so poorly again." Posted by: Mike at May 25, 2007 9:39 PM

"...the classroom teacher do their job..." Posted by: Mike at May 26, 2007 9:56 PM

"...all to familar..." Posted by: Pam at May 26, 2007 12:07 AM

"...want this privelege..." Posted by: Diane Robinson at May 26, 2007 8:35 AM

"...growing disrepect..." Posted by: pa at May 26, 2007 1:05 PM

See the pattern? These four are educators. "The emperor's wife..." Mike, you should be embarrassed. You're an English teacher?

Posted by Peyton | May 27, 2007 2:26 PM

Psst... Larry!

"You're" is plural!

Posted by Mike | May 27, 2007 7:45 PM

Larry: Sorry, but I just don't put an enormous amount of time into quick blog responses, particularly in the final weeks of a school year when I'm very, very busy with the work of my students. I find it hard to be perfect, but I try. You? Perhaps if you judged the content of my comments rather than a few typos...?

JWW: The AFT is indeed a union, and while several of the
Texas teacher's associations are indeed "affiliated" with the NEA, AFT, etc., the associations have none of the powers associated with actual unions in other states. I suggest you contact the UEA (United Educator's Association) at This is the association to which I belong for insurance and legal assistance reasons. I'm sure they can give you any specific you may wish on the issues that concern you. The UEA does join with other teacher's associations in lobbying efforts, but whatever success they enjoy is directly related to their persuasive powers and the goodwill of legislators, and not to traditionally coercive union tactics and the potential of strikes.

Posted by Peyton | May 28, 2007 10:45 AM

Speaking of systemic problems with school administrations enforcing disciplinary standards in pursuit of a supportive learning environment in Texas, we have this:

"Morehead Middle School students are facing a long suspension after assaulting a science teacher earlier this month....The four students have all been placed on in-school suspension until the end of the school year. After that, the four girls will return to school in August and continue their suspension until December."

Fox News featured this story this morning, but have nothing about it on their web site, yet. The TV story pointed out that suspension for assaulting a school employee is policy. A student who assaults another, however, can be expelled and may have criminal charges filed.

Is our children learning, yet?