Report to Higher Ed. Board: Politically Charged Curriculum Not Preparing Kids For College

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Get ready for remedial history, college-bound Texans, because the statewide blueprint that dictates what you learn in high school isn't doing you any favors -- a longstanding tradition in public secondary education, according to a report prepared for the Texas Board of Higher Education.

A 1998 survey commissioned by the board found 40 percent of students needed remedial courses in college. The number was so ridiculously bad that the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills was formed, establishing college readiness standards.

It didn't help.

In 2006, the number hadn't budged. In 2010, 48 percent of community college students and 14 percent of university freshmen needed at least one remedial course. The state board of education set about revising TEKS in 2009, this time with the aim of incorporating the superior College and Career Readiness Standards devised under the supervision of the Board of Higher Ed. Well, you remember what happened next.

"Over the course of eight months, the lawyers and realtors and dentist on the board made hundreds of changes to the standard," says the report authored for the Board of Higher Ed. by Keith Erekson, a history professor at the University of Texas at El Paso. "As the politicians squabbled over the politics of who should be in or out, they tacitly adopted a bipartisan agreement to ignore principles of sound pedagogy."

Earlier this year, the Fordham Institute gave the 2010 TEKS a failing grade for its "politicized distortion of history," which offered "misrepresentations at every turn."

Where the Higher Ed. Board's CCRS asks students to evaluate, for example, the strengths and weakness of different economic systems, TEKS asks only for the their foregone and glowing appraisal of the one, true gospel -- American-style capitalism. "Describe the characteristics and the benefits of the U.S. free enterprise system."

In another example of one-sided analysis, students are asked to analyze the "unintended consequences" of liberal-socialist experiments like the Great Society, Affirmative Action and Title IX, also known as the Civil Rights Act.

"No Texas parent would desire this for her child and no profit-minded Texas business leader would hire a graduate who had attained only these abysmal standards," Erekson scolds.

But he does have a few suggestions. To wit:

When thinking about the European incursion into the Americas, he notes that it might be informative to mention the plagues they brought with them.

And when thinking about Texas's role in the Civil War, a freshman might be edified by learning that "states' rights" was not in its Declaration of Causes. "Why would modern members of the State Board of Education cite reasons historical Texans did not?" Erekson asks.

He has a bunch of other constructive suggestions for improving TEKS. Click the link if you're interested

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Branden Helms
Branden Helms

It is sad that Wikipedia is a better teacher than our education system.

Mike
Mike

How many high school graduates have a clue on what the Great Society was or Title IX is?  It's not that they are learning the wrong things.  They are not learning anything.  We'd settle for a cogent, well-researched two page essay, free of grammatical errors, on why Ho Chi Minh was the greatest guy in history.  At least it would show that they understand how to use the tools they will need.  When large percentages do not know who our allies were in WW2, does it really matter someone at the Board of Education is cheerleading capitalism?

Eastdallasgirl
Eastdallasgirl

I am a returning adult student at DCCCD, and I am amazed at how many 20 somethings cannot spell, like to cheat in class, rarely turn in homework, and fail to show up for exams. And somehow, they keep attending, while getting govt loans.And, I am not sure whether Texas has many jobs worthy of these kids when they leave...the Texas education process lacks so much, and is in need of a lot of attention...Colon Powell suggested that returning Military become teachers to provide leadership and demonstration of excellence in the long run.

DISD Teacher
DISD Teacher

You certainly aren't seeing the cream of the crop.Many, many of DISD's low-skill students are "incentivized" to attend community colleges with generous financial aid packages that include loans.  These loans seem like free money since some can be deposited directly into student bank accounts.

Low-skill DISD students are also aggressively steered to enroll in community college classes; high school faculty and staff (like the counselors) can benefit from high college-enrollment numbers.

Cream-of-the-crop DISD students get snapped up by 4-year colleges, often with generous aid and scholarships.

I am absolutely not bashing the quality of instruction at DCCCs; it's not their fault that there seems to be a collusion by DISD administrators and DCCCD administrators to funnel low-performing kids into the DCCCD system.  

DISD teachers are pressured to pass and promote every single student.  It's an "anything goes" atmosphere.  I often wonder who in DISD is getting a kickback for every kid passed, promoted, and then enrolled in DCCCD.

Guest
Guest

I automatically don't trust anyone who uses the word pedagogy.

DoubleOJoe
DoubleOJoe

I don't know why.  It's a perfectly cromulent word.

@theburbanist
@theburbanist

A friend just moved to Florida from Keller ISD and her two kids are in tutoring because they are so far behind. Science Fairs and other large projects are mandatory. Do you hear me? They are in *FLORIDA*.

NewsDog
NewsDog

Don't know where in Florida you are talking about, it sure as hell isn't Miami. I had to repeat the 4th grade when we moved to Richardson because Miami schools were so bad. That was 40 years ago and it hasn't gotten any better.    

Randy S
Randy S

If you haven't been back in 40 years, how do you know it hasn't gotten any better?

I'm just wondering what you are basing you statement on.

NewsDog
NewsDog

My sister lives in Miami.

Bmarvel
Bmarvel

I think it's always best to get your historical perspective from dentists, realtors and lawyers. Actual knowledge and research just clutters the mind with needless complications. Science is best viewed that way, too. 

Ed D.
Ed D.

Magnets, how do they work? Teach the controversy!

Lee
Lee

Thank you, Rick Perry. Another embarassment in a long string of them in his 10 year administration.

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