Good morning Katy ISD Board of Trustees.
As you are all aware, the new math standards and curriculum continue to be problematic throughout the State, but are also a huge concern here in our own District.
Despite Alene Lindley’s blatant determination, there are numerous parents, teachers and students throughout the District that are experiencing the difficulties that changes to incorporate the national standards have inflicted on our Texas kids.
We knew going into this school year that there were a number of average kids that were declining toward an at risk level. It was estimated to me by a District administration employee that these students could be as much as 18-24 months behind in their learning due to all the transitions, how those were handled and the new expectations that are laid out for this year. It was also said that it would be up to the teachers and parents to determine a course for each child to get them back on track.
Surely, we can all agree while teachers are burdened with not only learning “new math,” which isn’t really the mechanics of mathematics, but math processes. and while they were learning/adjusting to new standards, as well as having to now keep up with all of the administrative burden of accountability that these professionals would not have the luxury of time required to assess and re-direct each of these students to get them back on track. That was a problem in itself.
As an example, I have attached the number of D’s and F’s for Algebra 1 students throughout the District. Please note that this problem is not isolated to Algebra. This is a problem throughout the grade levels. This is one example.
This is only Algebra, but I encourage you to look at all courses at all grades levels. I selected the criteria of D’s and F’s because of the leeway given to round grades, extra credit, etc, so some kids that may have passed with a D, may not necessarily have been D students.
Based on the information provided by the PIO, 41% of Algebra I students in our District either failed or nearly failed the course in the first semester of 2015-2016.
I watched the parent testimony at the SBOE meeting yesterday and was grateful for the parents that spoke up, again, about this issue. Month after month, it is the same story. I sat in dismay as I listened to some of the members of that board blame teachers, mock parents and congratulate themselves for the rigor that has been placed upon our kids and teachers. This is not rigor, it is chaos. The most disturbing comment from a TEA representative was that it could take the SBOE a year to even get an opportunity to take on this problem. NOT ACCEPTABLE! Our kids are losing precious ground in their learning. We need action now.
This is NOT a teacher deficiency. This is NOT a student learning deficiency. This is NOT a parent issue. Our students are not being taught math facts. They are being taught multiple methods of how to achieve outcomes that are not even fact based in many cases. As one parent testified yesterday, his child was told on one problem to “guess and check.”
I have a twofold purpose for writing you this morning. One is to make you aware. The other is to implore you to take a stand with our parents and teachers. Our teachers are bound and gagged by your contracts. They cannot stand publicly with us. It is your obligation to do so on their behalf or to extend the protections to them to do so themselves.
This Board has a history of making silly resolutions during election seasons that have no real merit. You have an opportunity to take a stand to protect the kids and employees of our community and push back on this movement. We ask that you make your voices heard to the SBOE that we need relief now. Do not take no for an answer. You have the opportunity to lead an effort that is badly needed throughout Texas.
We know that the SBOE has taken directives from TASA on backing the national standards into the ELA/R TEKS. The SBOE is not protecting our State’s sovereign right to education. It is time the local BOT’s represent the people that elected them and demand to bring our education back home. We are closing the achievement gap, but it is in the wrong direction. Don’t let your name be associated with that due to your complacency.
I will leave you with this. When I hear “rigor” associated with these ridiculous standards, I can only think of this. My grandfather came home from WWII, young and injured. He had a high school education. He designed and built indoor plumbing to his mother’s farmhouse, then set off to work for Humble Oil and eventually Exxon. He spent 38 years as an engineer, designing and operating refineries with a high school education. He knew math inside and out. His generation industrialized our nation and helped others to do the same. Today’s so called rigor is a racket. We are doing this wrong! We are going in the wrong direction. Don’t waste your opportunity to right the ship.