January 2010 Newsletter

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Dear Fellow Educators & Friends,

Last week, the State Board of Education (SBOE) met for the first time in 2010.  It was an exciting meeting with a very packed agenda, and consequently we were not able to complete everything.  We had groups and individuals testify from every corner of the state.  We had an excellent discussion on the TEKS, and we made a final ruling on the graduation requirements.

Prior to the meeting, the state had planned to eliminate Integrated Physics and Chemistry (IPC) from the High School graduation requirements.  However, after hearing testimony from a number of teachers, the Board decided to allow IPC to be taken as a fourth credit, once Chemistry and Physics have been taken and passed. Additionally, the Board voted to allow students to take up to four Physical Education requirements. The most passionate and lengthy discussions involved the Social Studies TEKS.

We had a day-and-a-half of testimony, followed by another half day of debate among the members.  I am always so pleased to get the kind of feedback we do on such an important issue.  It helps us to make the curriculum the very best it can be.

We were not able to get through it all, so we will be taking up the TEKS again at the March meeting of the full board.

The Board had also planned to consider a tighter set of rules to help the Texas Education Agency monitor the “Open Source” Textbook issue, but due to the constraints on time, we elected to wait until the next meeting to discuss it.  I am proposing two rules to consider.

The first calls for districts that purchase online classroom materials to have a set of SBOE-approved textbooks as well.

The second requires universities designing open source classroom materials to present them at a public hearing called by the SBOE to allow input from parents, teachers and stakeholders.

My favorite moment of the meeting occurred when the Highland Park Strolling Strings gave a stunning performance and were honored by the Board.  The Strolling Strings are made up of two dancers and an orchestra of musicians from Highland Park High School.

Peggy Tucker, orchestra director for the Strolling Strings, Dr. Dawson Orr, superintendent for Highland Park ISD, Gina Gardiner, assistant superintendent for Highland Park ISD, Linda Raya, Coordinator of Fine Arts for Highland Park High School, and Patrick Cates, Highland Park High School Principal were also in attendance to receive the honor.

The Strolling Strings gave one of the most unique presentations we have seen in a long time.  One attendee even called it “Real Art History”.

Finally, I am up for re-election this year, and I have a primary opponent, So, I hope you will get out and vote for me on March 2nd.

I have been a member of the SBOE since 1984, and in that time I have led the way for Texas children.  For instance, I have … with your help, been able to:

  • Help pass the first Dyslexia Law in Texas, and established the first Dyslexia Handbook for parents and teachers to help students learn to read.
  • Play a crucial & instrumental role in the early assessment for children at-risk for dyslexia and related disorders, and facilitated the first dyslexia reading academics.
  • I was instrumental in developing the first phonics-based curriculum in Texas that has proved successful.
  • Firmly defend the Permanent School Fund (PSF), guaranteeing that all students will have equal access to textbooks.

I know how to affect positive change in Austin, because I’ve done it.  I am running for re-election because there is much more to do.

I will continually strive to raise the standards and insure that Texas public schools are the best they can be.

I am looking forward to continuing a very spirited discussion about the Social Studies TEKS and open source textbooks in March.  Please contact me if you have any questions or concerns.

Sincerely,

Geraldine “Tincy” Miller State Board of Education Member for District 12

www.TincyMiller.com