This week, Kimberly Reeves has written an outstanding article for The Quorum Report that reports further on the high price we’re paying in Texas for straying from the right path in education. I want to echo here some of the bad news she shares.
Texas now ranks dead last among the states in the rigor of the standards it sets for children’s learning. http://educationnext.org/after-common-core-states-set-rigorous-standards/. Texas is not even among the 45 states deemed to have raised standards since 2011.
According to Mike Petrilli of the Thomas Fordham Institute, Texas is in the bottom group of states as to matching its standards to career and college readiness requirements. What a tragic fall this represents. Let’s recall that the Southern Regional Education Board once featured Texas as among the top states in terms of its policies to promote college and career readiness.
As quoted in the Reeves’ article, Petrilli sums it up: “Texas has clearly lost its leadership position.”
Texas spent the 2000s building on its highly regarded accountability system by creating a set of policies to do better at readying young Texans for the world of postsecondary education and work. But the state suffered a one-two punch before these policies went into effect. First, the agency undermined basic accountability by weakening existing policy and failing to administer the new education laws effectively. Then, rather than fixing and fine-tuning the new laws, the legislature simply eviscerated them.
So, now, we find ourselves in a deep hole. Instead of making the sort of gains that would make it feasible to reach the new and noble goals of 60% of Texans between the ages of 25 and 34 holding a postsecondary credential, we’re stuck in neutral and actually beginning to go in reverse.
Reeves quotes Bill Hammond, president of the Texas Association of Business: “…we believe around 25 percent of our graduates are career or college ready, which should be the core mission of our schools.” The bottom line: we’re stuck way below the goal, and our new policies are likely to keep us stuck.
While it’s a hopeful sign that the governor has appointed a new commissioner who has the knowledge and skill to move Texas in a better direction, it’s unclear whether he’ll have the support that’s needed to succeed. It would help if our leaders would re-visit, reconsider, and fix the mistakes that have been made so that Texas might return to the path of progress.