Good morning to the members of our State Board of Education.

I am writing regarding concerns for the English/Language Arts/Reading standards.

As a parent and taxpayer, I have serious concerns about TASA directing the SBOE on how to merge national standards into our TEKS.  I believe that by allowing this mandate that you are diminishing your roles and setting our Board up to become irrelevant. Further, allowing a lobby (or lobbies) to write our standards sets up a serious issue of taxation without representation. It is the sovereign right of the State to determine our education standards and by your complicity we are forfeiting that right as a State.

After reviewing some expert opinions on the proposed standards, I have concerns that the demonstrated, foundational aspects of our ELA/R education will be undermined with the integration of these subjects.  Some of the proposed standards are not clear or concise in  a way that teachers could understand the objective, much less the parents whose children are being educated by them.  The collaboration objectives are problematic.  We have already seen how destructive it is to dictate methodology in the classroom.  We simply have to look at the disaster that has been created in our math courses through these same types of directives.  Like Mathematics, our English language is not a subjective matter. The cognitive, subjective, collaborative directives lend great potential to undermine the cultural and historical aspects of this most important subject. It is not clear whether the proposed standards provide the building blocks for progression in learning that should be required for a student to advance in knowledge based learning throughout his education.  Phonics, spelling and vocabulary are a must in building a literate child.  Predictive, metacognitive, skills are not solid and measurable and will not produce a fully developed learner, based on the data that is emerging.  The writing skills of our present generation are seriously lacking.  They have not mastered the components of the English language, making it impossible for them to express their learning in a productive, coherent written document.  These proposed standards only stand to further denigrate those skills.

Experts like Dr. Milgram were ignored during the math standards review and implementation.  Our kids and teachers are paying dearly for that now, while the Board sits and listens to complaints month after month, doing NOTHING to resolve it. Do you have the power to resolve it?  Voters are beginning to wonder.

It is my hope that each of you will have the integrity to consider the experts in this field, the hours of consideration they have given to making their recommendations, as well as teacher and parent feedback. In particular, Donna Garner and Dr. Stotsky have provided well thought out and easy to understand suggestions based on their well established experiences. Why would we want to burden our state with standards that are proving to move our average, mainstream kids toward the at risk kids, rather than vice versa?  That is not what any true stakeholder should have intended by hoping to “close the achievement gap.”

Be of good courage and integrity.  Protect education in our State and do not cave to this national movement.  It is destructive to our culture, our nation’s future and does not serve our Constitutional rights to state sovereignty as it pertains to education.

Sincerely,

Kim Belcher

 

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