I definitely agree with the findings of the Rand Corporation about the Texas miracle. I am a chemistry/physics teacher in one of the high schools in Texas and in my school we have TAAS classes in math, writing and reading.
It doesn't surprise me that the majority of my students do not know their algebra and geometry even though all of them passed the TAAS mathematics part. They were just drilled on what was needed to pass the test and not taught higher-level thinking skills. Many of them dropped my physics pre-AP course after my first test, which was basically a review of the math skills they need to solve the problems.
It is even worse in the lower grades because the students only have science classes once a week, the rationale being that science is not being tested. We are really shortchanging our students because of this.
The administrators have no other option but to do this, otherwise the school will not be able to receive funding from the state. The teachers also will suffer because their appraisal is dependent on how the students perform in the tests.
This is a vicious cycle and the losers are our students, the majority of whom are ill-prepared for higher learning. In other words, we are programming our students to fail in college.
-- Clara B. Salinas
Why, oh why, in the flak about Texas schools does no one mention the Teacher Liability Act George W. Bush promised in the third debate? Although Gore seems to feel comfortable slamming Texas academics -- as well he should -- since the Texas curriculum these days is about as wide in scope as an SAT prep course, he has not said a word about the liberal use of corporal punishment in Texas.
In the 1997-98 school year, over 81,000 students were "whacked," which is to say spanked with a wooden board. The way the Texas Family Code is written, a teacher or administrator who beats a child is protected from legal action unless the student is "significantly harmed." This means children in Texas are beaten black and blue for infractions like lateness and there is little their parents can do about it.
Gore needs to bring up this ugly little violation as well as the poor intellectual quality of the schools. After all, if Bush thinks government has too much control, why won't he let parents control their own kids and women control their own bodies?
-- Jane Weinkrantz