Series of emails from Katy ISD parents to SBOE, April 2016

From: Belcher, Kim

Sent: Friday, April 29, 2016 9:21 AM


Cc:;;;;;;;;;;;;;; Barbara Cargill;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;; Jim Milgram (; Lori Hines <> (;;; ‘’; ‘’; ‘John Pendergraff’;

Subject: RE: Shutting Parents Out of Public Education

To all:

Please be reminded that renowned expert Dr. Jim Milgram has published repeatedly that students exposed for 3 years or longer to this material, which is mathematically deficient, ultimately do not recover to attain their full potential in this subject.

Time is of the essence.  Each day the State Board of Education contemplates and mulls over the bureaucracy, rather than looking to the people that can provide answers and get it done, you are going into another generation of kids whose skills are suffering damage that may not be able to be mitigated much less recovered.

 Collectively and individually, you have all refused to admit that you opened the door to these problems by allowing the national standards framework to be forced upon our State, despite the evidence showing it is so.  Whether or not the State will ever be held properly accountable for these egregious actions against our citizens remains to be seen.  As individuals you all should feel compelled to act in each of your own capacity, on behalf of our children, swiftly and efficiently by any means to stop the bleeding.

 SEC. 8544. STATE CONTROL OVER STANDARDS of the Every Student Succeeds Act stipulates that States are not required to follow the Common Standards and are free to otherwise revise their own standards.

 Texas Education Code States in Title 2, Subtitle F, Chap 28, Subchapter A, Section 28.002,  g-2 (i) says that the SBOE may not adopt rules that designated the methodology used by a teacher.

 It is clear that the process standards as immersed into our TEKS violate Section 28.002; therefore, the State should exercise its rights under ESSA to cleanse our framework and standards of the problem.  Mr. Pendergraff’s suggestion for resolution to allow the independent school districts to determine how they will proceed in mathematics for the coming year until you all have developed a suitable resolution is the least you could do for our students, teachers, administrators and taxpayers.  There are teachers in districts throughout the State that have come up with innovative ways to teach true mathematics, while working around this maze that has been handed to them.  The teachers know their students. Let the districts work with the real “experts” (teachers and campus administrators), the people who know their “students”, to get through this until a viable solution can be attained from the State perspective.

 You have all repeatedly been made aware of this problem, along with the other legal issues surrounding assessments, common core and most importantly the rolling over to the feds in general. To continue to kick this can down the road has the potential to make the State grossly negligent for the deficiencies that are being developed in student learning throughout our State, not to mention the careers of teachers that may be lost as a result of this mismanagement.

 Why wait?

Kim Belcher

From: John Pendergraff

Sent: Friday, April 29, 2016 8:33 AM


Cc:;;;;;;;;;;;;;; Barbara Cargill;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;; Jim Milgram ; Lori Hines <Randy Houchins

Subject: RE: Shutting Parents Out of Public Education

Hello James,

Attached are notes from my 3 minute presentation to the SBOE at April 8 meeting, as well as the current math TEKS with the word FRACTION highlighted in yellow.

In just the subject of fractions, I think it is clear that the current TEKS are:

Illegal, in that they require methodology that is a violation of  the Texas Education Code.

Incomplete, in that they require ONLY methodology and nowhere actually require children to master the use of fractions.

 This is just fractions, there are many other areas with the same problem.  Without a mastery of fractions at an early age further study in math, science, or anything technical will be difficult.

I have heard it will take time to fix this problem.  My response that is that the SBOE had better get started.  We have a generation of kids being damaged by these ill-conceived math TEKS.

 I know the SBOE has committed to a special meeting or at least an agenda item for what to do to fix the TEKS.  I would request this be done quickly.

I have a suggestion.  If the SBOE votes to review or fix the TEKS in some way, can they please also make a resolution to the school districts in this state?   Districts should be notified that they are relieved from a literal interpretation of the TEKS, and the illegal methodology, while the review is being performed.  Please allow the districts to fill in the deficient areas, such as fractions.  This could immediately help our children.  I beg the SBOE to move quickly on this issue and let our teachers and schools teach, and put an end to this failed experimental  set of math TEKS.

 Best regards,

John Pendergraff


Sent: Wednesday, April 27, 2016 4:18 PM



Subject: Shutting Parents Out of Public Education

This past Monday my wife and I received a phone call from the Counselor at our fifth grade son’s school.  She was calling to inform us that our son had “failed” the math STAAR test and would be required to take in-school tutorials to prepare for the May 9th test retake.

To be clear, I am all for additional help for a student.  I do think it would be better served to provide additional help prior to getting poor results on the STAAR test.  Every school year I start the class off informing my son’s teachers that he struggles with math and may require extra help; however, that extra help never comes UNTIL he does poorly on a benchmark exam or, as is the case this year, on the STAAR test itself.  I think it is admirable that the public schools finally decide to get around to educating students.  However, it is a shame that more than ¾ of the school year has to pass by before this decision is made.  Nevertheless, this is a topic for another day.

My wife and I, knowing that our son struggles with math and that the public schools have no desire to do anything about it pay thousands of dollars a year for a private tutor.  However, most of the time the tutor is “shooting in the dark” trying to figure out how to help him because we can’t seem to get the school district to provide us with specific examples or problems.  We NEVER see any of the tests given him due to some ridiculous copyright problems or contractual problems with the provider or the material.  When my wife asked for specifics about what parts of the test our son had the most problems with so that we could pass this information on to our tutor to help him she was met with resistance.   She was finally able to get some vague descriptions of the sections he missed.  This is somewhat helpful but not nearly enough information to provide the comprehensive help that he needs.

I don’t know where this notion that the schoolwork that our students do should be kept from us but I can tell you that I have had about enough of it.  I want my son to succeed.  I want to help my son.  AND I CAN’T GET THE PUBLIC SCHOOL SYSTEM THAT I PAY FOR TO GIVE ME INFORMATION.  THIS MUST STOP AND IT MUST STOP IMMEDIATELY.

As a parent I am entitled to see all work that my son does in school.  I should not have to make some appointment to view some test under lock and key (and without his answers so we can find out what areas he needs the most help with).  I should not have to feel like I have to file a Freedom of Information Act request with the Texas Attorney General to get this information (however, at this point I am about to do that).

I don’t know who is responsible for this irresponsible behavior in our school systems; however, I can tell you who I, as a taxpayer and a voter, am holding responsible.  That would be my elected representatives on the Texas School Board of Education.

It is unfathomable that my taxpayer funded public education (and I shouldn’t have to tell you how high school taxes are) is costing me thousands of dollars more.  However, as a parent concerned for their child I make that sacrifice for him.  I expect the school system, that I help pay for, to help me out with this.  I expect the school system to partner with me and the tutors I hire – not shut us out.

Imagine with me a world in which the parents, the school districts, the state, and private tutors partnered together to work with each other to help our students.  How much better would we serve our students in that world?


Thanks, James Yaklin