Texas education board turns authoritarian

May 24, 2008

Nobody can recall the ceremony, but Don McLeroy made it clear yesterday that he thinks he’s been designated Kommissar of Education, ramming through a proposal altering English standards for the next decade — without debate, without even a chance to read the proposal.

It’s probably not so bad a pig in a poke as it might be — of course, no one had the chance to review it, so no one knows, really — but the processes used, worthy of Napoleon or Kruschev on a bad day, should give cause for concern.

Gotta think about this one for a while.

Graduation 2008, part 1

May 24, 2008

Today is graduation day for some of my seniors, at the school where I teach. It’s a wonderful affair, and it will be good to see them off on the next step, ceremonial though it is.

The chaos caused by graduation in this district cannot be minimized, for an odd scheduling reason. Today the seniors graduate. Tuesday, we’re back in class with everyone else, with a couple of days of instruction and finals yet to go. It’s nice to have the seniors gone — the halls are much easier to navigate, the juniors are already stepping up, the sophomores and freshmen suddenly realize the work they do leads to something — but the schedule seems out of whack.

I’m trying to adapt.

This year our family has multiple graduations — well, two. Younger son James graduates in a bit over a week, assuming he gets in a mass of work in classes that appeared after the state tests (for which he was exempt because he passed them all the previous year), and after more AP tests than I thought humanly possible.

James’ school held a ceremony and reception for the top 11% of the graduates, 75 kids who may be in the top 10% (a magic number in Texas because it guarantees admission to Texas colleges). Texas colleges won a majority of the plans of the graduates, but there was an impressive number of students off to out-of-state schools of high repute. (James is off to Lawrence, in Wisconsin.)

I wake up in a cold sweat. Clearly we must have done something right, as parents of graduating kids, as teachers of graduating kids. What was it?

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