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Posts Tagged ‘Florence Shapiro’

Why do we think more charters would help?

Patricia Kilday Hart discusses the political battle over charter schools, but in doing so reminds me that there’s a fundamental question that seems to be going largely unasked. Now, a sweeping bill filed by Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, could lead to an explosion in Texas charter operations. Patrick, chairman of the Senate Education Committee, would […]

Cuts are not increases, no matter how you spin it

This is the Chron overview of HD134, which is once again the highest profile legislative race in the county, in part because it’s a referendum on the 2010 election and the cuts to public education funding that resulted from that election. In an area that takes great pride in its schools, [Rep. Sarah Davis] went […]

Shapiro backs STAAR delay

This was unexpected. Senate Education Committee Chairwoman Florence Shapiro, R-Plano, said Monday in a letter to [TEA Commissioner Robert] Scott that ninth-graders taking the exams this year should be given a reprieve from the 15 percent requirement during the phase-in of the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness. “We strongly support the transition to […]

A little perspective about redistricting

So now we wait for the full Supreme Court’s ruling on AG Abbott’s requests to stay the 2012 elections, which by the way would only apply to the elections affected by the disputed redistricting maps. Other primary elections for things like the SBOE, statewide and county offices, would proceed as usual in March while the […]

DC court denies summary judgment on preclearance

It’s official, the maps the Lege drew for itself and for Congress will not be used in the 2012 election. A Washington-based federal court on Tuesday rejected Texas’ request to approve new political districts without a trial. In a brief ruling, the court agreed with the U.S. Department of Justice that the GOP-led Legislature used […]

Senate changes

I’m not worried about the State Senate becoming more conservative, I’m worried about it becoming more stupid. “A seat in the Texas Senate does not come open very often, and all of a sudden now there are four,” said Sen. Florence Shapiro, R-Plano, one of the four who have announced their retirements. “The Senate is […]

Rethinking school discipline

Wow. Nearly 60 percent of junior high school and high school students get suspended or expelled, according to a report that tracked about 1 million Texas children over a six-year period. About 15 percent of the Texas seventh- through 12th-grade students tracked during the study were suspended or expelled at least 11 times and nearly […]

Senate approves teacher furlough bill

Another divisive bill, another party-line vote. Legislation allowing school districts to reduce teacher pay and furlough them — to help absorb big budget cuts — sailed through the Texas Senate on Monday with a straight party-line vote. Lawmakers are working to cut $4 billion from the state’s 1,040 public school districts. Giving school administrators flexibility […]

Back to school finance

The Lege has started the process of picking up where it left off on school finance. The Trib reminds us how we got here. [T]he earlier failure of SB 1581, which put a behind-closed-doors conference committee in charge of any decisions about how to distribute $4 billion in cuts in state funding across school districts, […]

House gavels in and out

That was quick. The House gaveled in shortly after 10 a.m. today and adjourned about 10 minutes later after Speaker Joe Straus announced that he’ll have a better idea about the special session’s schedule when the body reconvenes at 10 a.m. Wednesday. So far, only one bill has been filed in the House, and Straus […]

Vote on school finance today

On Friday night, the Lege finally reached an agreement on school finance, which is to say on how to distribute the $4 billion in cuts to public education to the school districts. Today the Lege gets to vote on that deal. House leaders wanted a two-year plan cutting school funding across the board by about […]

More on the budget deal

From the Statesman: The agreement is hinged on the House passing a so-called fiscal matters bill, Senate Bill 1811, that would free up money to help pay for the $3 billion in additional spending to which the House negotiators agreed. “Once they get (SB) 1811 passed, I think we’ll resume deliberations on the budget, and […]

Budget deal reached

One less reason for a special session. Assuming nothing else goes wrong, and Rick Perry doesn’t veto it out of whatever sense of grandeur and vanity drives him. House Speaker Joe Straus indicated legislative negotiators have reached an agreement on the state budget, and the House soon today will consider the much-delayed revenue-generating bill crucial […]

School finance issues holding up budget deal

News flash: School finance reform is hard. Especially when all it’s doing is taking money away from everyone. The clock is a-tickin’ for Texas lawmakers to cobble together a budget compromise that enacts deep cuts to public education. But with less than three weeks left in the legislative session, neither chamber has debated, much less […]

The budget work is far from done

The Senate may have passed its budget via some creative interpretation of its rules, but there’s more to what has to happen now than just the conference committee. As Abby Rapoport notes, they still have to rewrite the formula for school finance. You see, under current law, schools are entitled to a certain amount per […]

Is it time to fix school finance?

It’s pretty much always time to fix school finance, since school finance is always broken, so here goes the Senate. Maybe. State Senate leaders want to end the much-despised public education funding system by 2017, although they disagree on how to do it — and time is growing short. Some prefer a goal to end […]

Senate Education Committee passes furlough bill

This is still better than layoffs, but not by much. School districts would be able to reduce salaries and furlough teachers for up to six days – with layoffs used only as a last resort – under a compromise bill approved Thursday by a Senate committee to help districts deal with funding cuts. The measure, […]

HISD lays off teachers, discusses school closures

We knew this was coming. There may yet be more of it to come. Officials with the Houston Independent School District announced Tuesday that about 730 teachers have been notified they won’t have jobs next year — because of budget cuts or poor performance. Like many districts across Texas, HISD is purging jobs and possibly […]

School finance reform bills on tap

Whether you look at the House budget or the slightly less drastic Senate version, public schools will not get the funding they are due under the current defined formulas. That means that how the funds are distributed needs to be redone as well. The first bills to tackle this highly sensitive issue have been laid […]

How does school finance work, anyway?

The Trib has a useful guide to this incredibly complex topic. Here’s our layman’s guide to figuring out the current system, compiled with the help of experts at the Texas Taxpayers and Research Association, the Equity Center and the Texas Education Agency. The state’s 1,030 traditional school districts operate with a combination of federal, local […]

Smaller cuts from the Senate

Trail Blazers: The Senate Finance Committee on Thursday adopted a school funding plan for the next two years that would cut basic funding for school districts by nearly 6 percent – or $2 billion a year – to handle a massive state revenue shortfall. The committee voted 13-2 to approve the recommendations of a special […]

SBOE wants its new textbooks

But it may not get them. State board members are growing increasingly anxious that lawmakers might not provide funding for new textbooks and instructional material – even though they’re giving the Legislature $1.9 billion from a 157-year-old endowment established to help schools, including providing free textbooks for students. Board member David Bradley, R-Beaumont, warns that […]

Hochberg’s “Let’s get real” bill

Rep. Scott Hochberg has filed a school finance bill that he himself wouldn’t vote for. It’s to make sure everyone realizes what the proposed cuts to public education really mean. Under HB 2485, all school districts would be treated as equal passengers on the Titanic, Hochberg, D-Houston, said Tuesday, as Senate members on the other […]

HISD’s opening thoughts on dealing with budget cuts

It’s not going to be pretty, no matter how you slice it. Fewer police officers would patrol school hallways, property taxes would rise, several campuses would close and about 300 central office jobs would be cut next year under HISD Superintendent Terry Grier’s initial cost-cutting proposals. Grier asked the Houston school board on Thursday to […]

More charter school stuff

Now that you’ve listened to my interview with Chris Barbic, here are a couple more charter school-related articles of interest. First, from the Trib, a story about charter schools getting help for facilities from the Permanent School Fund. Fledgling charter schools, like any other start-up business, have difficulty establishing credit. Because the schools must renew […]

Where’s the money for new textbooks coming from?

Nobody knows just yet. Neither legislative chamber’s base budget appropriates funds for any new textbooks. The primary concern in the short term is funding for science materials that reflect the 2009 curriculum changes made by the State Board of Education. Those changes are significant, according to Patsy McGee, a Beaumont school district science supervisor and […]

Performance pay for teachers

I’m very wary of this. Pay for Texas public school teachers should be connected to appraisals of their work and other factors instead of the 60-year-old salary schedule based on seniority, former U.S. Education Secretary Rod Paige and other school reformers said Monday. They want more flexibility for school districts to base teacher pay on […]

School districts begin preparing for the inevitable

If nothing else, we have a clear winner in the furloughs versus layoffs debate. School superintendents want more freedom in determining class sizes and permission to cut employee pay or to furlough teachers and other district employees, which school boards cannot do today under state law. School districts also could save money by using the […]

Furloughs or layoffs?

Maybe instead of firing 100,000 teachers, it would be somewhat less awful to allow for furloughs and salary cuts instead. “One of those burdens that we have placed on our school districts is that they cannot decrease your salary. They can’t have furlough days. It’s not allowed in the law. The only option is to […]

The coming fight over class sizes

We’ve discussed the looming cuts to public education, in which the focus of the battle will be class size limits, which are currently mandated at 22 students per classroom. That was part of the sweeping 1984 overhaul of the education code that was spurred by Ross Perot, which included the no-pass no-play law. Research since […]

The coming cuts to public education

We know that public education is a huge part of the state’s budget, and in the absence of any willingness on the part of the Republicans to ensure that it’s properly funded, we know there will be cuts coming. How deep, and what form they take, no one is sure yet. First, expect fewer teachers […]

Scrap it and start over

Good to hear. Texas needs to scrap its school funding system and start all over, Senate Education Chair Florence Shapiro, R-Plano, said Thursday, as other members of a special school finance committee agreed that the existing system is hopelessly broken. “We need to find a better system that works for all of us,” said Shapiro, […]

Helping middle schoolers

You’d think this would be a pretty basic thing to do. Texas Sen. Florence Shapiro was stunned a few years ago when state auditors answered her request with a white surrender flag: They could not tell her which programs designed to help struggling, low-income students worked and which didn’t. Billions of dollars flow into programs […]

Our Hispanic schools

Take a look at the future. If you want to see how profoundly the state’s population is changing, look at the faces of the children in Texas public school classrooms. In all but rural areas, Hispanic enrollment is rapidly surpassing that of whites. Hispanic schoolchildren make up nearly 49 percent of Texas’ 4.8 million pre-K […]