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Simply Speaking: Put Our Kids First

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The Ellis County Tea Party met at the La Quinta in Waxahachie, last Saturday evening, hosting Patricia Hardy, our District 11 representative on the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE). She was elected by We the People and has served on the board since 2002, I believe she said. Seems like a nice lady.

The La Quinta Inn is a good rock’s throw from all the heavy construction work going on down the street at what was Waxahachie High School’s football stadium last year. Looks like a new one going up where that one sat, though I understand they’re not touching the expensive turf, installed there just last year, wasn’t it? You’d almost think clones of Jerry Jones roam here in Ellis County, throwing up multi-million dollar football stadiums like those towering above Ennis, Midlothian, and soon to be in Waxahachie. Well, those are a story for another day.

As we departed Saturday’s meeting, one could hardly come away with anything other than Texas schools are alright and not to worry. Never mind that reports are out showing American students far from the top echelon, according to international test score competitions. For instance, according to a report by 4Choice (dedicated to School Choice without School Vouchers), our 4th-graders rank 12th in math among 26 industrialized nations. By the 8th-grade, they’d slipped to 28th among 41 competing countries and to 19th among 21 by the 12th grade. But, not to worry.

Let’s look at science. Our little 4th-graders shine at the number three spot, among 26 nations. Eighth-graders have climbed to 17th out of 41, with 12th-graders slightly up, 16th out of 21 nations.

How about top students; they compete better, don’t they? In a report on Advanced Math competition, even excluding Asians (and we know how good those students are in American classrooms), US 12th-graders finished 15th out of 16 nations, with a score of 442, the average being 501. Advance Science was worse, with top US students finishing dead-last at 16th, scoring 423, the average again being 501. Still, not to worry.

Let’s look at the Put Our Kids First Web site. The latest report I found from them was a 2003 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), a three-year survey on the knowledge and skills of 15 year-olds in 41 principle industrialized nations through the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Over 250,000 students participated in a two-hour test in their schools, assessing their skills in mathematics, reading, science, and problem solving. Curious as to their findings?

Remember, it’s our 15-year-olds competing against 40 other industrialized nations. Mathematics: 28th. Reading: 18th. Science: 22nd. Problem Solving: 29th.

Shouldn’t we begin to get just a little concerned?

Patricia Hardy did not leave on me the impression that we should worry. Texas schools were either the best or near the top compared to the other 49 states, she seemed to be saying. Maybe she’s right on that point, though I suspect some of those other states would debate the point with her. But aren’t we continually being told how we’re in a Global Society or somesuch? That being the case, how can we not be concerned?

Again, Patricia Hardy seemed to poo-poo any negatives we might find on the internet...or anywhere, for that matter, as relating to Texas public schooling scores vs. international competition. Maybe that’s what government people are taught to do.

After all, a huge amount of funds are directed to public schooling here in Texas and forbid the thought government might be falling down on the job as concerns our children and grandchildren.

Test scores aren’t everything, but they are an indicator that we should watch and be aware of, just as all the gauges on our car’s instrument panel should be watched and responded to whenever troubles, potential or otherwise, are indicated.

By the way, it is my general and unofficial impression that new multi-million dollar stadiums have little to nothing to do with improving won-lost records on their turfs.

My Yahweh, God the Father, bless through Yeshua, Christ Jesus, Lord and Savior.


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