Location: Texas, United States

I am a teacher with 33 years experience in public education. The purpose of this web log is to critically examine the present state of education in our great country and, particularly, in Texas.

Monday, January 24, 2005

So why should kids do something good

In today's Houston Chronicle I found an article bearing the following goofy title; "Debakeys High Scores Draw Angst". In this article we find that "officials at the Texas Education Agency are reluctant to report that happy news, fearing it might violate a federal law." The federal law in question is the "Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act."

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act is intended to protect the privacy of students. Like the zero tolerance laws, this act was not completely thought out. The act is intended to protect the privacy of educational records. First, the act provides that only parents or eligible students can inspect a students records. Second, a party may ask a school to correct records that they find inaccurate. If the school will not change the records the parent or student may place a document in the record to explain why they find the record inaccurate. Third, under general conditions the school must get written permission to release records. However, they may release the records under certain conditions. Records can be released to school officials with a need to know, for the purpose of a transfer, officials for the purpose of an audit, upon applications for financial aid, organizations conducting studies, accrediting organizations such as the TEA, to comply with a judges order, in response to health or safety emergencies, or within the requirements of the juvenile justice system pursuant to specific state law. Schools may disclose "directory" information without obtaining consent. Schools have to tell parents about the fact that directory information may be released. They must give the concerned parties a resonable amount of time to tell the school that they do not wish such information to be released.

So, all the students at the Debakey High School for the Health Professions passed the TAKS. In response to that the Texas Education Agency is afraid that if they said that 100% of the students passed the TAKS they would be breaking the federal law.

Can there be any wonder about why schools in Texas have so many problems? Announcing a 100% pass rate simply means that all the students passed - with different scores. Some of the students may have made an 80, others may have made a 90, some may have made a 100. I have a newsflash for the TEA --- the Debakey High School for the Health Professions attracts brilliant and motivated students. What do they possibly expect? I really don't have a problem with stupidity. I only have a problem with agressive stupidity. How is it that the agency in the state of Texas responsible for the education of her children can think that announcing that 100% of a population of students passed a bonehead test of minimal skills is the same as announcing the individual scores of the students. From where I sit that is just premeditated, prejudiced, aggressive stupidity in the first degree.

Geeze Louise!

This is another example of institutionalized stupidity on the same scale as the current zero tolerance laws. So, in its astounding silliness, the TEA lists the pass rate of such high performing school as Debakey as 99%. Please, can the Texas Legislature sunset the Texas Education Agency before it reproduces?



Blogger Brad Warbiany said...

Every person has a point where they understand the rules and when the rules need to be "massaged." I work in engineering, talking to customers. We have certain rules for repair, replacement procedures for products. At times, a certain customer or situation necessitates us to go outside policy.

That's the problem here. Some administrator, thinking he's clever, realized that if you annouce a 100% pass rate, you have therefore defined that no student did not pass. You have, in fact, "released" every student's results. But only in a very narrow and pointless sense.

When you hire an employee, they need to know the rules. But the truly intelligent folks, the ones you want working for you, can understand the times where they need to step past that line and do something outside the box. Obviously whoever made this decision isn't on the "intelligent" side of the spectrum. Let's hope he's replaced.

6:48 PM  

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