January 20, 2020 Comments are off dcook
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Houston-area State Board of Education member Donna Bahorich won’t seek re-election

Texas State Board of Education chairwoman Donna Bahorich, who represents part of Harris County, announced Friday she will not seek reelection in 2020 as the District 6 representative.

In a statement, Bahorich said her tenure has been “exceptionally challenging and gratifying.” One of 10 Republicans on board, Bahorich was first elected in 2012. She has served as chairwoman since 2015, after being appointed to the role by Gov. Greg Abbott.

Prior to her election, Bahorich served as a district director for then-state Sen. Dan Patrick. Before that, she worked in telecommunications.

Bahorich oversaw the board’s debates over a wide range of cultural issues — from mandating that history curriculum includes the word “heroic” to describe Alamo defenders, to including Moses in history textbooks — as well as weathering scrutiny of investments made by the Permanent School Fund, a perpetual educational fund that supports Texas public schools.

She chaired the board through revisions of the state’s curriculum standards, the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills. The board revised the English and Spanish Language Arts and Reading curriculum and streamlined science and social studies curriculum standards. Bahorich will be present for upcoming votes on revisions to health and physical education standards.

Before her election to the board, Bahorich had home-schooled her three children, drawing criticism from some board members, who worried she lacked necessary experience with public education.

“People were suspicious at the beginning, they thought I was anti-public school,” Bahorich said. “But as an American, I care very deeply about public education. I believe I’ve proven the critics wrong on that one. I approach it differently, I look at the broad picture — in some ways, it was an advantage.”

Board member Keven Ellis, a Republican from Lufkin, will take over as chairman after his recent appointment to the role. Bahorich will serve out the remainder of her term, which ends in 2020.

January 20, 2020 Comments are off dcook
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Outgoing state ed board chair urges more civility in public arena

A number of Texas Republicans, including five members of Congress, have decided to throw in the towel rather than seek re-election in 2020.

So it’s not shocking that State Board of Education Member Donna Bahorich, a conservative who represents part of Harris County, has also decided to join the “Texodus.” She plans to step down at the end of her current term rather than seek a third one.

Bahorich has been an effective Republican officeholder since joining the the state board in 2012. She recently wrapped up a stint as its chairwoman, a post to which she was appointed by Gov. Greg Abbott in 2016. State law barred Bahorich from serving another term as chairwoman until 2024.

Unlike many of the retiring Republicans, Bahorich wasn’t interested in seeking another term. She also isn’t expecting the coming election cycle to be a pleasant one.

“I think it’s going to be a very long year and a half,” said told me Thursday over iced tea at The Moveable Feast in Katy.

She reflected on the tribalization of politics, and the toxicity of our conversations with each other on social media.

“I just wish people would dial it down a notch and not give themselves over to the emotionalism,” she continued. “It’s so temporary and fleeting.”

Many other Republican elected officials have been echoing that same theme lately. But by and large, it’s hard to take their calls for civility seriously given their support for President Donald Trump, who has been flooding the nation with bile on a daily basis, attacks that have escalated and become more coarse as the 2020 campaign has neared.

But Bahorich — who began her career in politics accidentally, in 2004, as a volunteer for George W. Bush’s re-election campaign — is a different kind of Republican. She’s consistently argued that Americans on both sides of the aisle should treat political opponents with kindness, as well as civility, and that we should expect our elected representatives to do so as a matter of course.

That’s naïve, perhaps. But Bahorich’s commitment to the health of our deliberative process served Texans well during her tenure as chair of the state education board. This was evident last year, when the state board voted to create a new course in “Ethnic Studies,” covering the history and cultural contributions of Mexican-Americans from an interdisciplinary perspective — and then voted, unanimously, to change its name to “Mexican-American Studies” several months later. The advocates who had lobbied for that change were astonished by their success, which is understandable. The state board had never been known for having thoughtful conversations about history and culture. Bahorich, however, wanted to change that. When we spoke, after then name was changed, she was pleased with the civility of the debate that had preceded the vote, as well as its outcome.

When she was tapped chair in 2016, the board’s moderate Republicans were disappointed because she was aligned with its conservative faction. One of those moderates, then-Vice Chairman Thomas Ratliff, denounced his colleague then as a right-wing ideologue, and questioned her commitment to public education.

Ratliff’s evidence was flimsy, at best. Bahorich had home-schooled her three sons through grade school, and was close with Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (She managed his first campaign for elected office in 2006, and served as his district director after he won his bid for a seat in the Texas Senate).

Bahorich could have responded in kind. Instead she invited Ratliff to dinner and asked him to give her a chance,

And today, Ratliff is happy to concede that he was wrong to have judged her so harshly and says he failed to grasp his colleague’s talent.

“Bahorich’s style could certainly be mimicked, for the good, by any governing body anywhere,” Ratliff said. “She was Mrs. Smith goes to Austin.”

“She was as good for the SBOE as I thought Joe Straus was for the Texas House — and he’s a Texas giant, in my opinion,” he added.

Told of Ratliff’s remarks, Bahorich appreciated the compliment.

But she said she was just doing her job, as an elected official, and happens to think that those privileged to hold such a position should treat others with kindness and respect and listen to various perspectives.

“The thing that’s been beautiful about America, I think, is that we have so clearly understood that when things happen, we pull together and we work together and we get it done,” Bahorich explained. “I just feel like we can’t lose that.”

erica.grieder@chron.com

Standardized tests – Houston Chronicle

The sight of little kids bending over their desks and filling in answer bubbles with No. 2 lead pencils has been a staple of the educational experience for so long that these kids have had kids. Few seem to be entirely happy with the role our state plays in the high-stakes testing culture of our public schools, yet this culture seems to have developed a life of its own.

The sight of little kids bending over their desks and filling in answer bubbles with No. 2 lead pencils has been a staple of the educational experience for so long that these kids have had kids. Few seem to be entirely happy with the role our state plays in the high-stakes testing culture of our public schools, yet this culture seems to have developed a life of its own.

That may be changing. In an unusual twist, the State Board of Education recently turned the tables on a system that rates students and teachers and asked the public to rate our state’s testing policies.

The SBOE’s customer satisfaction survey arose after a lengthy grass-roots process and aims to engage people informed by front-line experience in our schools. Although it wasn’t a random survey, it had considerable reach, and its findings lay the groundwork for those seeking to improve our state’s assessment and accountability system.

The discontent of many of the 27,186 people surveyed comes through loud and clear: “Texans believe we have too many tests, schools are spending too much time preparing for the state assessments, and too much class time working on the preparation,” according to , chair of the SBOE who deserves credit for spearheading the survey.

Teachers find our current testing culture demoralizing. Not only would scaling back on the testing culture improve student performance, but most teacher organizations agree that fewer and more meaningful tests and less test preparation time would help attract better candidates to the teaching profession.

Test results aren’t provided at a time when they can be the most helpful. In addition to requiring too many tests and putting too much emphasis on them, the delay between testing and results makes the results less useful. People “want more immediate tests results,” says .

 

State education board plan urgently needs public feedback – Houston Chronicle

 

With runoffs settled, candidates for the State Board of Education have been chosen and now we look forward to the November election. Voters and candidates alike should work hard to see through the smoke produced by inevitable electoral fires between now and November.

The 15-member State Board of Education that I am privileged to lead has been and will remain focused on discharging the responsibility of overseeing the education of the state’s school children. Texas enjoys economic success. To continue that success, the state will need to provide employers with a workforce that can compete in the modern and constantly changing economy.

We are off to a good start, but there is plenty left to do.

Since my appointment as chair of the State Board of Education in June 2015, I have traveled the state talking to parents, business leaders, administrators, teachers – anyone who would talk to me, actually – about assessments, accountability and the effective delivery of education to the young people who are often the last voices heard in policy discussions.

We are still compiling the public feedback received at the face-to-face SBOE Community Conversations completed in March. However, when discussing the goals of assessments and accountability, the words that stand out in the feedback received from parents, business leaders and educators are: “individual,” “growth,” “learning,” “readiness,” “measure,” “goals” and “needs.” If we can’t figure out a way to understand and meet individual student needs, we won’t be able to prepare them adequately for the future.

It is the goal of the 15-member Next Generation Commission on Assessments and Accountability to make recommendations to the Legislature by Sept. 1. The recommendations will be both research- and community-based. The SBOE is contributing to this process by gathering additional community-based feedback online for the commission through June.

In addition, the SBOE hopes to make an even greater impact for our students by updating the Long-Range Plan for Public Education, a duty assigned to the SBOE by law. The last LRP expired in 2006. At the SBOE meeting in April, we approved phase one of a two-phase effort to put an updated plan in place. The LRP will center on arriving at and articulating the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and challenges that currently exist and that will exist in Texas public education over the next five to seven years. Our LRP will include a considerable effort at partnering with the commissioner of education and gathering policy maker, post-secondary, K12 educator, business community, parent and general public input.

Finally, the SBOE is partnering with the commissioner of education in holding the second in our series of Learning Roundtables. The upcoming September Learning Roundtable will focus on “Educating the Children of Poverty;” 60 percent of our public school students are economically disadvantaged. We will invite national and state experts to discuss the various facets of poverty and how we can find greater success at helping our students overcome the many challenges to receiving the education they each deserve.

If we succeed in our mission to help all children, we raise generations of Texans who can sustain and noueish the economic success we currently enjoy. We alone determine our success and literally cannot afford to fail. Strong debate will occur, as to be expected with the SBOE affecting so many areas certain to bring out strong passion on all sides. However, our board has worked through many issues over the past several years with professionalism and commitment. Our first and foremost focus has been on positively benefitting the education of the 5.2 million children of Texas.

Our good intentions will be matched with the commitment and drive necessary to sustain that momentum. We owe that to students, their families and to Texas. We have the tools to forge a bright future. Let’s put them to work.

July 23, 2016 Comments are off Webmaster
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Letter – Donna to SBOE Regarding Superintendent Salaries

Letter – Donna to SBOE Regarding Superintendent Salaries

Donna Bahorich with Gov. Greg AbbottThe vice chair of the SBOE sent out a recent press release calling for legislative or commissioner action aimed at charter superintendent salaries. As the charter liaison and chair of the Committee on School Initiatives, I am providing a more comprehensive look at the data for consideration.

SBOE vice chair’s original press release

New survey shows widespread discontent with STAAR | www.statesman.com

staar-emblem

The findings are from an online public survey about the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) and how the state uses the test results to hold students, teachers and school districts accountable. More than 27,000 students, parents, educators, business leaders and others responded to the survey, which State Board of Education Chairwoman spearheaded. The respondents were self-selecting; it was not a random sampling of people.

“Texans believe we have too many tests, schools are spending too much time preparing for the state assessments, and too much class time working on the preparation,” said in the report released this week. “They want more immediate tests results.”

The survey’s findings include:

  • 63 percent favored getting rid of a state test for a national test like the SAT, ACT or the Iowa Test of Basic Skills, which is used by several states
  • 87 percent favored students and teachers getting immediate feedback on tests
  • 97 percent want a test that doesn’t have trick questions or developmentally inappropriate questions, many of which critics say are found on the STAAR
  • 80 percent support allowing students to graduate or move on to the next grade even if they fail the test. Fifth and eighth grade students must pass the STAAR to move to the next grade and high school students must pass five STAAR end-of-course exams to graduate.
  • 87 percent favor reducing the role of assessments in teacher evaluations
  • 94 percent want better ways to test students with special needs

7:00 a.m. Wednesday, July 20, 2016 |

 

Bahorich: Keep our focus on the future | www.mystatesman.com

The 15-member (SBOE) that I am privileged to lead has been and will remain focused on discharging the responsibility of overseeing the education of the state’s school children. Texas enjoys economic success. To continue that success, the state will need to provide employers with a workforce that can compete in the modern and constantly changing economy.

Since my appointment as chair of the State Board of Education in June 2015, I have traveled across the state talking to parents, business leaders, administrators, teachers — anyone who would talk to me, actually — about assessments, accountability and the effective delivery of education to the young people who are often the last voices heard in policy discussions.

We are still compiling the public feedback received at the SBOE Community Conversations forums, which finished up at the end of March. However, when discussing the goals of assessments and accountability, the words that stand out in the feedback received from parents, business leaders and educators are “individual,” “growth,” “learning,” “readiness,” “measure,” “goals” and “needs”. If we can’t figure out a way to understand and meet individual student needs, we won’t be able to prepare them adequately for the future.

It is the goal of the 15-member Next Generation Commission on Assessments and Accountability to make recommendations to the legislature by Sept. 1. The recommendations will be both research- and community-based.

In addition, the SBOE hopes to make an even greater impact for our students by updating the Long-Range Plan (LRP) for Public Education, a duty assigned to the SBOE by law. The LRP will center on arriving at and articulating the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and challenges that currently exist and that will exist in Texas public education over the next five to seven years.

 

SBOE committed to task of helping Texas students – San Antonio Express-News

With runoffs settled, candidates for the have been chosen, and now we look forward to the November election. Voters and candidates alike should work hard to see through the smoke produced by the inevitable electoral fires between now and November.

The 15-member State Board of Education that I am privileged to lead has been and will remain focused on overseeing the education of the state’s school children. Texas enjoys economic success. To continue that success, the state will need to provide employers with a workforce that can compete in the modern and constantly changing economy.

Since my appointment as chairwoman of the State Board of Education in June, I have traveled the state talking to parents, business leaders, administrators, teachers — anyone who would talk to me, actually — about assessments, accountability and the effective delivery of education to the young people who are often the last voices heard in policy discussions.

We are still compiling the public feedback received at the SBOE Community Conversations, which finished at the end of March. However, when discussing assessments and accountability, the words that stand out in the feedback from parents, business leaders and educators are “individual,” “growth,” “learning,” “readiness,” “measure,” “goals” and “needs.” If we can’t figure out a way to understand and meet individual student needs, we won’t be able to prepare them for the future.

It is the goal of the 15-member Next Generation Commission on Assessments and Accountability to make recommendations to the Legislature by Sept. 1. The recommendations will be both research- and community-based. The SBOE is contributing to this process by gathering community-based feedback for the commission.

 

Elections aside, State Board of Education keeps focus on future | The Star-Telegram

Texas_Textbooks[1]

member Thomas Ratliff listens to testimony during a board meeting. Ratliffe did not run for re-election and will leave the board in January.

This 15-member state board that I am privileged to lead has been and will remain focused on discharging the responsibility of overseeing the education of the state’s children.

Texas enjoys economic success. To continue that success, the state will need to provide employers with a workforce that can compete in the constantly changing economy.

Since my appointment as chair of the State Board of Education in June 2015, I have traveled the state talking to parents, business leaders, administrators, teachers — anyone who would talk to me — about assessments, accountability and the effective delivery of education to the young people who are often the last voices heard in policy discussions.

However, on the goals of assessments and accountability, the words that stand out in the feedback received from parents, business leaders and educators are

 

State education board plan urgently needs public feedback – Houston Chronicle

With runoffs settled, candidates for the have been chosen and now we look forward to the November election. Voters and candidates alike should work hard to see through the smoke produced by inevitable electoral fires between now and November.

The 15-member State Board of Education that I am privileged to lead has been and will remain focused on discharging the responsibility of overseeing the education of the state’s school children. Texas enjoys economic success. To continue that success, the state will need to provide employers with a workforce that can compete in the modern and constantly changing economy.

Since my appointment as chair of the State Board of Education in June 2015, I have traveled the state talking to parents, business leaders, administrators, teachers – anyone who would talk to me, actually – about assessments, accountability and the effective delivery of education to the young people who are often the last voices heard in policy discussions.

We are still compiling the public feedback received at the face-to-face SBOE Community Conversations completed in March. However, when discussing the goals of assessments and accountability, the words that stand out in the feedback received from parents, business leaders and educators are: “individual,” “growth,” “learning,” “readiness,” “measure,” “goals” and “needs.” If we can’t figure out a way to understand and meet individual student needs, we won’t be able to prepare them adequately for the future.

It is the goal of the 15-member Next Generation Commission on Assessments and Accountability to make recommendations to the Legislature by Sept. 1. The recommendations will be both research- and community-based. The SBOE is contributing to this process by gathering additional community-based feedback online for the commission through June.