Weatherford Democrat

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January 13, 2013

Educators give lawmakers an assignment this session

School districts banding together in effort to restore funding, address other educational issues during 83rd legislative session

(Continued)

The idea of school vouchers, which has been tossed around for months, addresses the option of whether the state should help pay for some public school students to attend private schools.

The school voucher is a certificate issued by the government, which parents can apply toward tuition at a private school, rather than at the public school to which their child is assigned.

“It’s critical that our parents understand that the school choice bills that I’ve looked at are going to divert public funds to private/parochial that are not under the same accountability standards,” Manning said. “I don’t have anything against private or parochial schools, I just think it’s not appropriate to use taxpayer dollars.

“To allow private schools to take public money, I’m not even sure that’s constitutional.”

Alternative testing

Another item on the table during the legislation is a bill proposed by State Rep. Phil King, R-Weatherford, regarding testing options for districts.

If passed, the bill would give Texas school districts local options and flexibility in testing their students.

In July of 2011, the state announced a mandatory testing change for all Texas public schools, unveiling the more rigorous State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, or STAAR, to replace the former TAKS test.

Weatherford ISD and several other districts in Parker County opted to defer the testing system under a modification to the bill by Commissioner of Education Robert Scott in February of last year.

Under the transition plan, districts were allowed to defer the 15 percent implementation of EOC exams, conducted under the STAAR, for the 2011-12 school year.

“I continually hear complaints from teachers, administrators, school board members and parents that our standardized testing has become excessive and not a true measure of how our children are performing,” King said. “I am concerned that our educators are having to shift resources and valuable time to keep up with testing requirements and other state and federal mandates while our teachers are unable to provide the quality education that they are qualified and trained to do.”

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