Excellence in the Classroom report gets cool reception from teachers

March 7, 2007

A business group advising Texas Gov. Rick Perry released their report, Excellence in the Classroom, earlier this month, in time to affect legislation in the hopper in Austin at the Texas Lege. The report gets attention simply because Sandy Kress is a part of the reporting team — Kress is a former chair of the Dallas Independent School District Board, and was advisor to President George W. Bush during the push for the No Child Left Behind Act.

On one hand, the report advocates modest spending boosts for “good” teachers. On the other hand, it’s ambiguous in its call for tougher classroom standards, and most of the recommendations that have any teeth will bite teachers in the classroom.

Teacher groups coolly greeted the report, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram:

The ideas in “Excellence in the Classroom” generally got a thumbs-down from area educators.

“The problem is, business councils expect kids to be just like parts,” said Larry Shaw, executive director of the United Educators Association of Texas. “If I’m a farmer and I get a crop I don’t like, I reject it. Nobody lets us reject the kids that we get. We take them where they are, and we do the best that we can with them.”

Karen Moxley is a teacher at Cross Timbers Middle School in Grapevine and president of the local chapter of the Texas State Teachers Association. She is critical of the report.

“Children and lives aren’t products. They’re really lovely, wonderful, messy things that have their peaks and valleys,” Moxley said. “We can’t control that. It’s grossly unfair to say that teachers are the only solution.”

A key quote from the report, used by Kress in his press advance, cites Erik Hanushek’s claim that students lagging behind can catch up with just five years with an effective teacher. The problem is, of course, that effective teachers tend to quit after five years, because the rest of the system is so fouled up.

More later.

Tip of the old scrub brush to TexasEd, “Do As I Say – It’s Not About the Money.”

Millard Fillmore’s gravesite

March 7, 2007

Millard Fillmore died on March 8, 1874, 133 years ago tomorrow.

Of course, he is interred in Buffalo, New York, his base of political power and home where he practiced those civic virtues that got him elected Vice President and nominated President. There are people who visit presidential gravesites, and here is an account of one fellow who is working to visit as many as he can. Notice the snow. It is Buffalo, after all.

Fillmore’s dying words were reputed to have been something about the ‘sustenance’ being ‘palatable.’ I suspect that, as with so much else about Fillmore, the attributed quote is not accurate. I find the word “palatable” in a subhead of one of the death notices in a newspaper, but no reporter was present. Heck, I’m beginning to wonder about Fillmore’s State of the Union speeches.

What were Fillmore’s dying words, really?


Millard Fillmore's grave in Forest Lawn Cemetery in Buffalo, New York.  Photo by Keven Petersen, via FindaGrave.com

Millard Fillmore’s grave in Forest Lawn Cemetery in Buffalo, New York. Photo by Keven Petersen, via FindaGrave.com

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