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.


Texas will strive to expand broadband access to all students by 2018

Education Superhighway co-founder Tony Swei (center) discussed the broadband goal Thursday at the Governor’s Mansion with Gov. Greg Abbott, Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath and State Board of Education Chair Donna Bahorich.

Education Superhighway co-founder Tony Swei (center) discussed the broadband goal Thursday at the Governor’s Mansion with Gov. Greg Abbott, Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath and Chair .

AUSTIN — Texas Gov. Greg Abbott wants every one of the state’s 5.2 million schoolchildren to have access to broadband Internet by 2018.

Abbott announced the goal the day before the kickoff of South by Southwest, the 10-day music, film and Internet festival held in Austin. The state will partner with Education Superhighway, a national nonprofit that is working with 38 other states to upgrade infrastructure and find affordable ways to meet the connectivity goals of students and communities.

“My vision and reality is to ensure that Texas is the center of the universe in education innovation all the time, not just during SXSW, and today we’re rolling out part of that,” Abbott said during an announcement at the Governor’s Mansion in Austin. “If we don’t do this, there’ll be a growing digital divide in this state that could cause the state to fall behind.”

Education Superhighway co-founder Tony Swei said an analysis of the state’s broadband Internet needs showed 2 million schoolkids – roughly 46 percent of Texas’ K-12 students — “do not have broadband they need for today’s digital learning needs.”

“21st [century] digital learning is only available to those with high-speed broadband in the classroom,” said Swei. “Unfortunately, too many of Texas’ students are being left on the wrong side of this growing digital divide in K-12.”

 – Dallas News