Thursday, March 27, 2008

TX Legislature continues to do the fund shuffle...

In the latest chapter of the Republican fiction of, “everything and a tax break,” TX Senate Finance Committee Chairman, Steve Ogden proposes the next generation of fund shuffling.

After years of moving funds that were created for targeted causes (e.g. hunting and fishing license fees, fuel taxes and lottery revenue, etc…) to all the other under funded state programs, the Senator wants TxDOT to sell bonds for necessary infrastructure operation, maintenance and expansion. This method requires taxpayers to eventually pay both the original amount and the accrued interest. If that’s not enough, then let’s borrow from the Employees Retirement System, Teachers Retirement System, Permanent School Fund and Permanent University Fund (funds that already exist) to build more toll roads. If the toll roads don’t earn sufficient sums to pay back enough money, in a timely fashion, for the dedicated fund’s own expenses to be paid, Oops.

The alternative is to admit that the task is under funded and raise the long dormant fuel taxes, and then use the funds for the infrastructure tasks that are needed; some are already overdue.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

New study shows the negative implications of No Child Left Behind

I had told any who would listen that, "No Child Left Behind," meant holding up everybody so that it looks like nobody's straggling! Now there are studies, from prestigious Texas Universities, that found that by shedding low performing students a school's test-based only accountability yields falsely impressive results.

Excerpts reprinted without permission from RICE News and Media Relations, 02/14/2008:

By analyzing data from more than 271,000 students, a new study by researchers at Rice University and the University of Texas-Austin found that 60 percent of African-American students, 75 percent of Latino students and 80 percent of ESL students did not graduate within five years. has been published in the peer-reviewed policy journal "Educational Policy Analysis Archives" and is the first research to track the impact of high-stakes accountability on students, employing individual student-level data over a multi-year period. The executive summary is available at Rice University's Center for Education, The study can be viewed at