Category Archives: Education – K12

Save the Date: 02/09/2015 – Americans United ~ The Bible in Texas Schools? Why Not?

Americans United:  The Bible in Texas Schools? Why Not?

President Obama Proposes Free Community College

The key phrase here is, “…for those who work for it.” And there’s nothing wrong with that.

Today, the President unveiled a new proposal: Make two years of community college free for responsible students across America.

In our growing global economy, Americans need to have more knowledge and more skills to compete — by 2020, an estimated 35 percent of job openings will require at least a bachelor’s degree, and 30 percent will require some college or an associate’s degree. Students should be able to get the knowledge and the skills they need without taking on decades’ worth of student debt.

Currently, in Texas, 1/3 of university students and 1/2 of community college students are deemed unprepared for college once they graduate from high school. If community college students work hard, earn a 2.5 GPA, attend at least half-time, students could save a whole bunch, while preparing themselves for university-level courses.

Is there a catch? According to the White House:

The requirements:

  • What students have to do: Students must attend community college at least half-time, maintain a 2.5 GPA, and make steady progress toward completing their program.
  • What community colleges have to do: Community colleges will be expected to offer programs that are either 1) academic programs that fully transfer credits to local public four-year colleges and universities, or 2) occupational training programs with high graduation rates and lead to in-demand degrees and certificates. Community colleges must also adopt promising and evidence-based institutional reforms to improve student outcomes.
  • What the federal government has to do: Federal funding will cover three-quarters of the average cost of community college. Participating states will be expected to contribute the remaining funds necessary to eliminate the tuition for eligible students.

So, there are a couple of catches. The first one is that the participating colleges need to adopt institutional reforms to improve student outcomes. That said, and in a state like Texas, the colleges would need to put in some effort to help prepare students before they get into their transferable courses–tutoring programs, convenient course time availability for working students, proactive academic advising, etc. At least, that’s my thinking. It seems politicians of either party are so far off the mark when putting the onus on colleges to get students college-ready, and do little to fund K-12, which is where these students should be getting college-ready. There are some screwed-up priorities when it comes to education in Texas.

The second catch is that the Feds pay for 3/4 and the states pay the remaining funds to eliminate tuition. How that works in Texas, whose community colleges are locally controlled by elected boards, is still to be seen. Perhaps it’s through state financial aid. Still, states much choose to participate and with Texas ever-slipping backwards, and as some of my college professor friends have said, “I won’t hold my breath.”

Tech and Workforce Programs

Obviously, a good chunk of this would go to folks wanting to earn career certificates in tech and workforce programs. Many of these programs exist according to community needs, so, there will be a substantial benefit and return on the investment if students immediately fill jobs and become contributing members of the economy. Still, the state must choose to participate.

Something to consider is that many of these programs are too small–not enough seats and plenty of competition to enter the programs. Here in Texas, there is a huge nursing shortage. Back in 2005, my friend and former Express-News columnist Carlos Guerra wrote about the nursing shortage.

“Texas needs 34,000 more registered nurses to catch up to the national average…”

And that was in 2005. Some progress has been made, but if there is lack of support to grow these programs, by 2020 the shortage could number 70,000.

Obviously, there is much to think about. Certainly demand for all kinds of programs would increase with this kind of opportunity, but without available seats and investment from community college districts and other state funding beyond the tuition break, meeting employment needs would continue to be a challenge.

All of this said, anything that gives the next generation a break from tuition costs and student loans would be welcome.

 

 

Van de Putte Ad: A Matter of Trust

Endorsement: Vote Straight Ticket Democrat

Monday, 10/20/14, is the first day of Early Voting and DosCentavos.net urges you to vote a STRAIGHT DEMOCRATIC TICKET.

I should also mention, where there is no “D” but there is a Green Party candidate, I will vote for the “greenie.” No, I won’t vote for Libertarians. And Republicans? Now, that’s a laugh. If all I have is an “R” I’m skipping that race.

There are some races where a Republican high-spanic is running. In these races, I urge my Chicano/Latino family to NOT vote for them just because of their name, and to vote for the Democratic candidate. And that goes for everyone else.

Whether it is the high-spanic Bushie running for Texas Land Commissioner or the right-wing high-spanic running for Harris County Treasurer, the bottom line is that Republicans have proven to be toxic in 2014, especially against the poor, infirm, of color, women, the disabled, etc., and high-spanic Republicans are even more dangerous. In the case of these races, I urge you to vote for John Cook for Texas Land Commissioner, and my friend David Rosen for Harris County Treasurer. They are the best choices in these races, so it should be a no-brainer, anyway.

In areas in which I do not reside, but you might, please vote:  Luis Lopez for Texas House District 132, Re-Elect Mary Ann Perez in Texas House District 144, and Amy Perez for Texas House District 150.

From the top to the bottom of the ballot, the Democratic Party offers strong candidates who will serve Texas and Harris County well. I don’t support them just because they are Democrats, but because they offer solutions to the challenges faced by Texas. Wendy Davis is looking toward the future; Leticia Van de Putte is an exceptional leader who will ensure the Texas Legislature works for all Texans; Sam Houston is the only choice for Attorney General who will defend the rights of all Texans; as Texas Comptroller, Mike Collier will be an accountable and responsible steward of our tax dollars and investments; John Cook, as Land Commissioner, will protect the public lands which generate revenue for our public schools; and my friend Steve Brown will bring transparency to the Texas Railroad Commission.

While we have a strong statewide slate, we cannot forget about the rest of the ballot. Decisions are made in our local courts that affect us all. We must re-elect Justice Jim Sharp to the 1st Court of Appeals; send good folks like Judge Steven Kirkland, Ursula Hall and Jim Peacock to the district courts (just to name a few); or my friends Kathy Vossler and Tracy Good to the Family and Juvenile Courts;  or another friend, Raul Rodriguez to the County Court. There are so many to mention, but they would all serve offering fairness and justice for all.

And still, there are other positions, such as Ann Bennett who will protect our voting rights as County Clerk. Or keeping and sending, respectively, Deb Kerner and Melissa Noriega on/to the Harris County Department of Education Board of Trustees. And let’s not forget Jim Cargas for Congressional District 7! There are a lot of names on the ballot, and many I missed here, but I support all the Democrats.

I have no problem whatsoever voting a straight Democratic ticket in 2014. And neither should you. The future of Texas is at stake, and voting for Republicans will only continue setting us back decades. We must move forward, and the only chance of that happening is with a Democratic slate.

CLICK HERE FOR EARLY VOTING LOCATIONS

A voter photo ID will be required. Click here for acceptable IDs, or how to obtain a FREE Voter ID from you DPS office.

Added Guidance from a Trusted FB friend:

Please remember to vote in the Lone Star College System elections, too. If you vote ONLY a straight party ballot, you will miss them. Please vote YES on the bond; Art Murillo, Alton Smith, and Dom Bongiorni (District 3, 4, and 9) for trustees.

 

 

Wendy Davis Radio Ad: Aqui En Las Calles

Wendy Davis has hit the radiowaves with a strong “people on the street” Spanish-language ad which calls out Greg Abbott’s lack of support of Texas schools. Give it a listen (click the orange button).

HISD Up Close Features Rice Professor Richard Tapia

I’ve been away from my blogging duties for the last couple of weeks as my mom is working on getting over a nasty case of pneumonia. She’s recouperating slowly and I’d like to thank all my friends and family for their good thoughts and well-wishes during this time.

Still, I don’t want to make you all suffer from lack of DC content, so, here’s a video I’d like to share featuring my friend, HISD Board President Juliet Stipeche, interviewing National Medal of Science winner and Rice University Professor Dr. Richard Tapia. Enjoy!

[Video] Wendy Davis ~ Empleos De Hoy

In case you haven’t seen it, Texas Gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis released this Spanish-language ad on Texas Education.

“Today’s jobs require an education, but how many of our children aren’t going to achieve their dreams because of Greg Abbott?

He fought against our schools, defending budget cuts which resulted in the lost of 11,000 teachers.

Democrat Wendy Davis knows the importance of an education, she wants to move a step forward with pre-k, double the funding for professional education, and to put universities within the reach of all of our children.

With Wendy, we achieve more.”

Leticia Van de Putte Launches Two Ads

Here is Twice, an ad on K-12 Education Cuts which were supported by Dan Patrick.

And here’s Respeto–in Spanish. Even if you don’t understand it, it still lights a fire under you.

Quick translation:  When I speak of the respect we deserve, I speak for my grandmothers who were born in Musquiz and Guadajara; for the service of my family–my mom as a teacher, my father a veteran. I speak as a mother, as a grandmother, as a pharmacist. I speak as a Senator who keeps fighting to protect the future of our children. And I speak as a Democratic candidate because our community never gives up.

 

Wendy Davis Launches Education Ad

Feel free to share.

Abbott Lays Out Lackluster College Plan

The Republican running for Governor, Greg Abbott, released a lackluster college plan today. Instead of providing much needed resources for universities who must help students catch up and become “college-ready,” Abbott proposed to fund our institutions based on outcomes. On top of this, Abbott proposed a plan to expand high-enrollment online college courses for college students.

If one wants to attempt to read the plan, here it is.

Basically, Abbott’s plan holds much-needed resources hostage, while his online college plan only hurts the brick-and-mortar institutions that have put Texas on the higher education map.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott will call for students to receive college credit for taking massive open online courses — often referred to as “MOOCs” — as part of the higher education plan he unveils on Tuesday, sources with knowledge of his plans say.

[…]

MOOCs are online courses with unlimited enrollment that anyone — regardless of whether they are enrolled at a university — can sign up for and take for free. Right now, the courses rarely earn students college credit.

What Abbott’s plan does is negatively affect student-faculty relationships as these courses have unlimited enrollment. Perhaps they might work for some survey course in which students just regurgitate information, but the effect a faculty member has on a course in expanding critical thinking through course discussion will certainly be evident. For sure, these unlimited enrollment courses will not work for courses in ones major course of study. And since he is so supportive of outcomes-based funding, the fact is that these high-enrollment college courses have a high-flunk-out rate–students just leave the courses and never complete them.

Above all, and unlike Wendy Davis, Abbott has ignored the fact that 1/2 of community college and 1/3 of university students enter unprepared, thanks to funding cuts and lack of investment in K-12. Abbott should know a little about this as he has supported K-12 funding cuts and recently lost a lawsuit brought by hundreds of Texas school districts regarding school finance. But, I digress. If students are entering our institutions unprepared after learning in brick and mortar K-12 classrooms, how does he expect these students to be successful in online courses?

Greg Abbott isn’t offering anything regarding college affordability and tuition controls or student financial aid. In short, the Greg Abbott plan does nothing to improve graduation and retention rates. What it does do is bring Texas a step closer to privatizing public higher education.

I wouldn’t even credit Greg Abbott with supporting the status quo, as it seems he is more in tune with digging a deeper grave for state institutions of higher education.

Stick with Wendy Davis’ higher education plan. It works for all Texans.