Bill scales back system that grades schools with A-F
Plan would push implementation back a year.
A bill filed Thursday would scale back a new state grading system for school districts and campuses.
House Bill 22 filed by state Rep. Dan Huberty, R-Houston and the chairman of the House Public Education Committee, would change the A-F accountability system that school districts have criticized since it was proposed in 2015. The A-F system hasn’t gone into effect yet, but the state assigned letter grades to school districts and campuses in January that showed how they would have performed if the A-F accountability system were in use.
School district officials were unhappy, saying that the system — which will be implemented in August 2018 — unfairly penalizes schools with large numbers of low-income students. They also said that assigning letter grades stigmatizes public schools while providing little useful information to the public. Proponents said the system is a more transparent and comprehensive way of grading schools.
Among the changes the bill would make is push back implementation of the A-F system a year.
“TASA appreciates that Chairman Huberty is willing to work on the A-F accountability system and improve its flaws. We also applaud that HB 22 pushes back the implementation of A-F to 2019 to allow more time to develop a better accountability system,” said Casey McCreary with the Texas Association of School Administrators.
The bill would reduce the number of categories in which each campus and school district would be graded. The categories eliminated are ones that grade how well districts and campuses prepare students for careers and college and how well they reduce the performance gap between low-income and higher-income students. Campuses and school districts would still be graded on overall student performance and progress and their “school climate” — how well they engage with students and the community.
Some parts of the eliminated categories would be integrated into existing ones.
Based on a preliminary review of the bill, Clay Robison with the Texas State Teachers Association said the bill still weighs heavily on standardized tests and will disproportionately hurt campuses with high numbers of poor children.
“If Chairman Huberty is attempting to make A-F more acceptable to educators, I’m not sure he gets there,” Robison said.
The bill also would eliminate assigning an overall letter grade to each school district and campus.
The bill would only give letter grades in each of the three categories. Currently, school districts and campuses receive an overall label that indicates whether they met state requirements for the year or if they need improvement.
State officials have ordered a San Antonio charter school to cease operations until it can resolve food-safety concerns and whether criminal background checks were conducted on employees.
The Texas Education Agency on Wednesday suspended operations at the San Antonio School of Inquiry and Creativity.
TEA Commissioner Mike Morath said in a letter to administrators that the school, which has four campuses, will not receive state funding while the suspension is in effect.
A hearing on the suspension is scheduled for Friday in Austin. About 550 students attend the school.
Denise Fritter, president of the school’s board of trustees, told the San Antonio Express-News that the TEA’s concerns will be addressed.
Parents told the board that students became sick from undercooked and spoiled cafeteria food.
The petition, said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials, “did not present substantial information that delisting is warranted.”
The land commissioner has been embroiled in golden-cheeked warbler issues before.
The American-Statesman revealed in 2015 that Combs and a high-ranking official in Bush’s office had pressed military officials at Fort Hood, prime warbler habitat, to play up the impact of the bird protections on military training as part of their delisting effort.
The cornerstone of the effort to remove the bird’s federal protections has been a 2015 study by Texas A&M researchers. Overseen by an ecologist who served as a board member of a property rights group that supports the warbler delisting effort, the study concluded
State agriculture officials and ranchers are scrambling to secure feed and other supplies for approximately 10,000 cattle and horses that fled this week from wildfires in the Texas Panhandle.
The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension says in a statement that about 4,200 large bales of hay are needed to feed displaced animals over the next two weeks.
Fencing and trucks to shuttle animals from one location to another are among the needs as ranchers recover from the fires that killed four people and burned about 750 square miles.
Wildfires also ravaged parts of Colorado, Kansas and Oklahoma.
Jayce Winters, spokeswoman for the Texas Cattle Feeder’s Association, says preliminary counts indicate about 1,500 cattle were killed in the fires, but a more precise accounting could be days or weeks away. Central Texas’ warbler population was much greater than previously thought, calling into question the need for the warbler’s endangered species protection.
In a letter Thursday to the U.S. Interior Department and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Robert Henneke, the general counsel of the conservative-minded Texas Public Policy Foundation, acting on behalf of the Texas General Land Office, cited the A&M research in announcing the state agency’s intent to sue.
But the Statesman found that the A&M research has
A Houston man accused of fatally shooting a sheriff ’s deputy at a gas station in 2015 has been ruled mentally competent to stand trial for capital murder.
During a court hearing Wednesday, a judge ruled Shannon Miles could be tried for the death of Deputy Darren Goforth.
Miles had previously been deemed incompetent and was treated last year at a state mental hospital.
Doctors at the hospital determined after treatment he was competent to stand trial.
Miles’ attorneys have disagreed with the competency findings and have asked for a delay to review the man’s sanity.
A court hearing is set for April 18 to review the request by Miles’ attorneys.
Goforth was shot 15 times while putting gasoline in his patrol car.
If convicted, Miles could face the death penalty. encountered a series of criticisms from other biologists. Federal biologists, for example, noted that, according to the A&M population model, warblers could be found in a wide expanse of asphalt at Fort Hood. Citing such glitches, the agency concluded the paper’s methodology overpredicted the number of warblers by as much as tenfold.
The Aggie researchers have stood by their conclusions and criticized the methods of other scientists.
“I see this as a success story,” Henneke said in an interview, “of how conservation can work. In no way should this (delisting suit) be construed as attacking a species.”
He said the warbler is a “recovered species” and should “no longer be regulated,” with a population as many as 19 times greater than when it was listed.
The Endangered Species Act “is not perpetual regulation of private property.”
The two typewriters Larry McMurtry used to write his Pulitzer Prize-winning novel “Lonesome Dove” sold at auction for $37,500.
Heritage Auctions sold the typewriters Wednesday at an auction in New York. Eric Bradley, a spokesman for the Dallas-based auction house, said the typewriters sold to a bidder from Texas who wished to remain anonymous.
McMurtry had told The Associated Press he “just decided that it would be fun” to sell the typewriters at auction, “and I actually have too many typewriters.”
The 80-year-old author and screenwriter said he still writes on a typewriter and has about 15 of them.
While writing “Lonesome Dove,” a tale of a cattle drive in the 1870s, he kept one typewriter in his hometown of Archer City and the other in Washington, D.C.
Henneke’s letter points, as an example of landowner costs, to a 2,316-acre General Land Office-owned tract in Bexar and Kendall counties, approximately 85 percent of which contains warbler habitat. The letter says the presence of warbler habitat has decreased the property’s value by nearly half.
General Land Office spokeswoman Brittany Eck said the state was partnering with the private foundation because it “has extensive experience in delisting litigation.” She said the foundation is representing the General Land Office pro bono.
Joan Marshall, director of Travis Audubon, which oversees some warbler preserve land, said a delisting of the species “would be premature.”
“The underlying condition of habitat loss continues,” she said.
The golden-cheeked warbler’s recovery is being debated.