Textbooks coming up for approval before the Texas State Board of Education next week are having their facts questioned.
Assertions that free-markets have benefited all cultures over all times as well as the importance of religion in the foundation of American law are just two of the many concerning and some argue misleading facts found in a review of this year's crop of high-school social studies textbooks.
Texas State Board of Education Vice Chairman Thomas Ratliff said he would like to see the state completely abandon the federal No Child Left Behind program.
Ratliff said in 2013 lawmakers reduced the number of tests for high school students but failed in their attempts to do the same for elementary and middle school students out of fear that Texas would lose its federal public education dollars. Ratliff said that money only accounts for less than 10% of the state public education budget.
Following a series of reports released by Texas State Board of Education Vice Chairman Thomas Ratliff on charter school financial accountability, a state lawmaker said he’s looking into legislation for the 2015 session that will address the issue.
According to an analysis released by Ratliff last week:
Using data from the Texas Education Agency’s website, State Board of Education Vice Chairman Thomas Ratliff showed how the overall spending at a majority of charter schools is over the recommended amount set by the state.
Ratliff said the general conversation about charter schools focuses on school choice, but, he said, the financial management and accountability isn’t something that’s often addressed. Following his study on superintendent pay at charter schools, it was suggested that he examine overall spending.
State Board of Education Vice Chairman Thomas Ratliff wants people to know that charter school superintendents are making more money -- at times surprisingly more money -- than their public school peers. He wants to know if the schools that are run like a business, but take state funds per student, are using those state funds wisely.
New numbers released by Texas State Board of Education Vice Chairman Thomas Ratliff shows superintendents at Texas charter schools are paid more than their public school counterparts.
Ratliff has been sifting through the annual financial reports for public schools and charter schools, which are put out by the Texas Education Agency.
"From what I’ve seen there are a lot superintendents from some very small charter schools making a whole lot of money, especially if you compare them to their public school or their ISD counterparts,” Ratliff said.
Last week the Texas State Board of Education discussed the possibility of offering a statewide Mexican-American studies class as part of the statewide curriculum, a decision the board has postponed until this spring.
Of the five million students in Texas schools, 51 percent are Hispanic, leaving some to wonder why efforts of Tejanos that have shaped history, culture and the arts are not a part of curriculum.
The Texas State Board of Education has revamped how they select people to review school textbooks prior to their adoption. Some on the board were critical of how panelists were selected during the adoption of this year’s science textbook.
During the last round of book reviews it was revealed that some of those selected to review textbooks did not have a background in biology and were supporting teaching creationism, attempting to skew how books explained the Theory of Evolution.
Thomas Ratliff, a Republican seated on the State Board of Education, which is one of the defendants in the Texas school finance trial, says he hopes his side loses in the lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of how schools are funded in the state.
"I think we go back to the drawing board and put the school finance system back together without all the bubble gum and bailing wire we’ve added to it," Ratliff said. "The system is so out of whack that we’ve got A, big disparities; B, inefficient distribution system; and an inadequate funding level."