Accountability comes to Texas Public Education

 

State Board of Education Member Keven Ellis told us this would come out today.  Check out how they did. 

Gilmer ISD     B;  

Union Grove ISD     A; 

Union Hill ISD     C; 

Big Sandy ISD     C; 

Harmony ISD     B; 

Gladewater ISD     C; 

Ore City ISD      B; 

New Diana ISD    C; 

Pittsburg  ISD   B; 

Gladewater ISD     C

 

"Today, Texas unveiled a new rating system for public school districts and campuses. Essentially a report card for schools, the system aims to inform parents and educators how schools and districts perform on measures such as achievement and growth.

Improving the performance of public schools is a task fraught with many pitfalls, and while some stakeholders are understandably resisting stricter accountability, the moral and economic imperatives of a competitive world do not simply vanish because of disagreement.

In Texas, 55 percent of third-graders are reading below grade level, and 52 percent are below grade level in math proficiency. Fifty-one percent of eighth-graders in the state also read below grade level, according to the Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness, and those figures are declining.

Additionally, a 2018 national assessment ranked Texas 46th in fourth-grade reading (declining), and 42nd in eighth-grade reading (also declining). Furthermore, 84% of Texas high school students fail to obtain a college-ready score on the SAT/ACT.

Passed by the legislature under two house bills, HB 2804 and HB 22, the A-F system assigns letter grades, ‘A’ for exemplary performance, through ‘F’ for unacceptable performance. Campus ratings are based on three factors:

  • Student Achievement: For elementary and middle school students, achievement is solely determined on the basis of STAAR scores. High school achievement will be a composite of STAAR, college/career/military readiness, and graduation rate
  • School Progress: Utilizes the higher score between academic growth (maintaining or improving STAAR proficiency) and relative performance (to other similarly situated schools)
  • Closing the Gaps: Measures various student groups (race, economically disadvantaged, English learners, special education, etc.) via varied components and achievement targets to satisfy federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) requirements

A detailed explanation of each aspect of the A-F Accountability System is available from the Texas Education Agency.

On a fundamental level, it is critically important that lawmakers craft a system of public education that allows all Texas students to learn and grow at grade level or above, but it unsurprisingly has met pushback from educrats more interested in keeping their own jobs than educating our children.

The Texas Association of School Administrators, staunch defenders of the status quo, dedicated webspace to fighting against the system, calling it a “mistake,” and arguing instead for community standards over state scrutiny.

While arguments against a single standardized state test are worth consideration, a patchwork of different community standards robs parents of meaningful comparisons. Additionally, STAAR has undergone recent revisions that give parents more tools, improvement incentives, and teacher input. Fears over the system treating high poverty schools unfairly are also circulating, although those concerns are addressed by the revised system.

This year, only school districts will receive official grades. Individual campus grades will be released in one year; however, interested parties will be able to view each school’s raw score and calculate a letter grade on that basis.

In addition to campus and district ratings, Texans may also view reports on the financial health of their local school district, including the outstanding debt-per-student, as well as the ratio of teachers to administrators and the average teacher salary.

For results and information about school district and campus scores, visit TXschools.org."


FBI agent Peter Strzok fired

 

"Aitan Goelman, Strzok’s lawyer, said FBI Deputy Director David L. Bowdich ordered the firing on Friday — even though the director of the FBI office that normally handles employee discipline had decided Strzok should face only a demotion and 60-day suspension. Goelman said the move undercuts the FBI’s repeated assurances that Strzok would be afforded the normal disciplinary process.

“This isn’t the normal process in any way more than name,” Goelman said, adding in a statement, “This decision should be deeply troubling to all Americans.”

The FBI declined to comment.

The termination marks a remarkable downfall for Strzok, a 22-year veteran of the bureau who investigated Russian spies, defense officials accused of selling secrets to China and myriad other important cases. In the twilight of his career, Strzok was integral to two of the bureau’s most high-profile investigations: the Russia case; and the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while she was secretary of state.

But when a Justice Department inspector general investigation uncovered politically charged messages that Strzok had exchanged with another FBI official, he was relegated to a position in human resources. Conservatives soon made Strzok the face of their attacks against the special counsel investigation into the president’s campaign, and the FBI took steps to remove Strzok from its ranks.

President Trump on Monday used Strzok’s firing to suggest the Russia investigation should be dropped, and the Clinton case redone.

“Agent Peter Strzok was just fired from the FBI - finally. The list of bad players in the FBI & DOJ gets longer & longer. Based on the fact that Strzok was in charge of the Witch Hunt, will it be dropped? It is a total Hoax. No Collusion, No Obstruction - I just fight back!” he wrote

Minutes later, he added, “Just fired Agent Strzok, formerly of the FBI, was in charge of the Crooked Hillary Clinton sham investigation. It was a total fraud on the American public and should be properly redone!”

On Monday, Strzok’s team launched a GoFundMe page with a lengthy statement to raise money for his “legal costs and lost income,” and said on the site that his firing was “apparently driven by political pressure.” Because Strzok is a senior-level FBI employee, and because the FBI’s No. 2 official directed his firing, he has few realistic avenues left to get back his job. It’s unclear if he plans to pursue legal action against the bureau."


Upshur Sheriff Webb to host Citizen Police Academy

 

County Sheriff Larry Webb has announced that his office will host its second annual Citizen Academy on certain nights between September 6 and October 16. 

For more information, call his office at (903) 843-2541.

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Sheriff Webb will be at ET4L's August 13th's meeting with applications for the Citizen Academy.  Location:  Lantana Activity Center, 80 Lantana Road, Gilmer, Texas.  The program begins at 7:00 pm.  


Cruz Campaign - Volunteers needed

 

Phone Bank and Sign Placement opportunities are organizing
in Upshur County for the
U.S. Senator Ted Cruz for re-election campaign. 


If you would like to volunteer, call (903) 500-2292
or email info@easttexansforliberty.com.


Study: patients thought to be in “vegetative state” can be aware and responsive but unable to move their bodies

TRL: What Dr. Owen’s astonishing research shows, Pro-Life advocates already know: disabled patients are still fully human and deserving of nutrition and hydration, ongoing care, and the Right to Life.

"Most people can imagine no more terrifying scenario than being trapped in their bodies, unable to move or communicate, but fully aware of everything that is happening around them.  How would people treat you?  Who would make life and death decisions about your care?  For some people, this is not merely a terrifying hypothetical; this is real life.  New research gives us incredible insights into their inner lives.

Dr. Adrian Owen, author of “Into the Gray Zone,” is a neuroscientist who used brain imaging technology to communicate with people thought to be in a “vegetative state.”  In a video shared on Facebook by the group Freethink, Dr. Owen explains how he was able to communicate with people thought to be totally unaware and unresponsive.

When a certain part of the brain is activated, the brain cells burn glucose, which is replenished by increased blood flow.  This increased blood flow can be seen on a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scan of the patient’s brain.  Using this information, Dr. Owen and his team were able to perform a very rudimentary form of “mind reading.”

Using healthy subjects and patients with brain injuries, researchers compared brain activity.  First, they had people imagine playing tennis, which in almost all people activates the premotor cortex.  Next, they had people imagine moving from room to room in their homes.  This produces brain activity markedly different from imaging playing tennis, with significant blood flow to the parahippocampal gyrus and other parts of the brain.

Once these two very different patterns of brain activity are established, researchers can substitute one for “yes” and one for “no.”  Patients were instructed to think of playing tennis if the answer to a question was “yes” and think of walking around their homes if the answer was “no.”  The results were astonishing.  Patients described as “vegetative” were able to respond to questions with “yes” or “no”, revealing a level of consciousness that people previously thought impossible.

Dr. Owen explains that 20%, or one in five, of the patients studied demonstrated the ability to respond to questions using this thought technique.  He says, “They’re aware of the situation they’re in, they’re aware of conversations going on around them, they have thoughts, they have emotions, maybe even have feelings about their future, but is largely unable to move any part of their body.”

Dr. Owen describes the developing method of communication with brain-injured patients as a way of giving human dignity.  He says, “Communication is the thing that really makes us human.  If we can give these patients back the ability to make decisions, I think we can give them back a little piece of their humanity.”  However, the brain-injured people never lost their human dignity and they remain fully human whether or not we treat them as such.  The people for whom we care do not loose humanity; we degrade our own if we ignore or mistreat them.  The study shows that at least one in five severely brain-injured patients are aware and responsive, but we are only just beginning to understand what is possible.  Five out of five brain-injured patients deserves the Right to Life and respectful care.

This is not surprising to the many families who have helped a brain-injured family member.  For example, the family of Terri Schiavo outspokenly fought for her Right to Life when the state of Florida allowed her to be starved and dehydrated to death in 2005.  Terri Schiavo suffered a brain injury in 1990.  She breathed on her own, appeared to respond to her parents, and was expected to live for many years.  Nonetheless, her estranged husband fought to withhold basic sustenance.  After 14 days without nutrition and hydration, Terri died.

Terri’s parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, together with Terri’s brother, Bobby, and sister, Suzanne, have worked tirelessly to preserve her legacy.  The injustice and inhumanity of Terri’s imposed death inspired the grieving family to found the Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network.  The Life & Hope Network offers families with a medically vulnerable loved one a 24/7 hotline for assistance in fighting denial of treatment.  Through this hotline, the group has assisted thousands of patients.  The Life & Hope Network also works through advocacy on legislation including: the right to food and water, the presumption of the will to live, due process against denial of care, protection from euthanasia as a form of medicine, and access to rehabilitative care.

What Dr. Owen’s astonishing research shows, Pro-Life advocates already know: disabled patients are still fully human and deserving of nutrition and hydration, ongoing care, and the Right to Life.  Dr. Owen’s innovative process of communication may help patients receive the care they need and deserve."

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TX Legislature must take control of the Alamo

 

Agree?  Tell your Representatives below.


The Alamo is a sacred shrine, made so by the blood of brave men who gave their lives for the cause of liberty. Texans believe the Alamo must be protected and preserved.

In the midst of a $450 million plan to renovate the Alamo battlefield and construct an Alamo museum, liberals on the San Antonio City Council appear hell bent on obstructing improvements while diminishing or destroying symbols honoring the Alamo’s defenders.

The Alamo belongs to all Texans, not just to the citizens of San Antonio or their representatives on the San Antonio City Council. While many Texans have differing perspectives on the proper way to protect and preserve the Alamo battlefield, they should all agree ultimate control over those decisions should be made by the entire State of Texas, not liberal bureaucrats in one city. City governments exist and operate at the pleasure of the State of Texas, not the other way around.

The Texas Legislature must pass legislation seizing control and authority over the entire Alamo battlefield, including existing structures and surrounding areas. With statewide control, oversight, and accountability of the Alamo, we can ensure that appropriate restoration work is done to the site and investments made while protecting historic symbols and preserving proper dignity and reverence for the heroes of the Alamo.

Sign the petition today. Tell your representatives to take control over the Alamo and preserve the cradle of Texas liberty.

READ MORE

By Tony McDonald 


Upshur County chief appraiser resigning amid conflict with some commercial property owners

GILMER — The woman who has led the office that sets property values for taxation in Upshur County is resigning, citing conflict with some commercial property owners.

Sarah Curtis told her board of trustees Monday she will finish the calendar year and leave after Dec. 31.

“Unless I have an offer I can’t refuse, I’ll be here,” she said Thursday in her office.

Curtis has been Upshur County’s chief appraiser for 13 years.

County appraisal districts assign property values on which cities, schools and other entities base annual tax rates. There are many property categories, including residential, real property and commercial.

Commercial property values, led by businesses along busy U.S. 271 through Gilmer, rose this year to $84.7 million. That’s up from almost $79.2 million in the 2017 tax year.

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ET: Fake News Media Attacks the Father of Texas

“The city of Austin, Texas has suggested in a preliminary report, that highlighted historical connections to a former Confederate leader, Stephen F. Austin, otherwise known as the “Father of Texas”, that it might consider changing its name,” blares Newsweek’s culture reporter Janice Williams.

The problem?

Known as the “Father of Texas” for his role in spearheading the settlement and political development of Texas, Stephen F. Austin was not a Confederate leader. He wasn’t even a Confederate soldier. He was, in fact, dead twenty-five years before a shot was fired at Fort Sumter.

Even the city’s Equity Office bureaucrats conceded the name “Austin” was “not explicitly Confederate and/or Civil War related.”

The falsehoods don’t end there. The Newsweek article also falsely credits Austin with founding the eponymous city.

“Austin, who founded the city in 1839, was notable for his staunch disapproval of an effort to ban slavery in the Tejas province following the Texas Revolution,” writes Williams.

Also entirely untrue.

The only Texas town Stephen F. Austin founded was San Felipe de Austin—a small town near current-day Sealy. In contrast, the City of Austin began its life as Waterloo around 1836 and was renamed in honor of Austin by President Mirabeau B. Lamar after naming it the Republic of Texas’ capital city in 1839.

And as mentioned previously, Stephen F. Austin died in December 1836, a mere nine months after Texas had won independence from Mexico.

These facts aren’t hard to find.

Every Texan had them and countless others packed into their head in history class. And for those with the misfortune of growing up somewhere in a place called “Not Texas,” a simple Google search would have sufficed.

Hopefully this article—and the City of Austin’s political correctness jihad—not only further illustrates how out of touch the fake news media is with the truth, but also spurs a more rigorous and robust effort on the part of citizens to defend American and Texan heritage in the public square.

READ MORE

Florida passes "red flag" bill and moves fast to confiscate guns

Upshur County's Constable Gene Dolle brought this matter to our attention.  The following is the story Dolle referred to: 

More than 450 people in Florida ordered to give up guns under new law, report says.

"Hundreds of gun owners in Florida have been ordered to give up their guns under a new law that took effect after the deadly Parkland shooting in February, according to a report published Monday.

The Risk Protection Order, signed by Florida Gov. Rick Scott just three weeks after a gunman killed 17 people at Stoneman Douglas, aims to temporarily remove weapons from gun owners who have been deemed by a judge to possibly be a threat to themselves or others.

Roughly 200 firearms have been confiscated in the state since the law was enacted, Sgt. Jason Schmittendorf, of the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office, told WFTS-TV. "Around 30,000 rounds of ammunition" were also taken, he said.

A five-person team in the county that's worked solely on the risk protection law reportedly has filed 64 risk protection petitions in court. Broward County, according to the news outlet, has filed 88 risk protection petitions since March."   READ MORE

Constable Dolle testified, in Austin, before the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee on Monday, June 25, 2018.  Dolle's testimony was very compelling.  In summary, Dolle advised Chairman Joe Moody and the Committee that Texas has laws on the books covering those who make threats or struggling with mental illness. He also spoke about his vast experience in law enforcement and specifically, his experience with those having a rough time -- how he has helped them -- and the dangers of passing a "red flag" law in Texas.   

When asked for a quote, Dolle said,

"I believe this could happen in Texas under some kind of special protection order.  We had better keep our eyes open."

Last week, "a select committee of the Texas Senate concluded its hearing on proposed “red flag” laws, the leader of the Texas Senate came out strongly against them.

In a statement, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick formally condemned the legislation, which Second Amendment advocates warned would lead to law abiding and innocent citizens being stripped of their rights without due process.

“Regarding the topic of ‘Red Flag’ laws, which was discussed today in the select committee, I have never supported these policies, nor has the majority of the Texas Senate. A bill offered last session garnered little support,” said Patrick in a statement. " READ MORE


Caddo Lake National Heritage Act bill dies after opposition

JEFFERSON — The Caddo Lake National Heritage Act bill, proposed by law makers on both the Texas and Louisiana sides of the Caddo Lake area, has had its congressional support pulled after opposition from residents.

Louisiana legislators, U.S. Rep. Mike Johnson and U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy, first announced their withdrawal of support of Senate Bill 2947 and House Bill 5957 on Tuesday, prompting Texas legislator, U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert, to announcement his disappointment and withdrawal later that same day.

Gohmert said the majority of the affected land would have been in Louisiana, since that side of Caddo Lake is larger than the Texas side, so without those lawmakers’ support, the bills couldn’t move forward. The bills had just recently been referred to committee in May.

“People living in the potential (Caddo National) Heritage area in Louisiana have been particularly vociferous in opposition to the proposal, and it seems they have not given fair consideration to the possible benefits,” Gohmert said on Tuesday. “As a result, both Louisiana’s U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy and U.S. Representative Mike Johnson are pulling their effort to examine further the possible benefits.”

Gohmert said Texas’ residents seemed more in favor of the bill that would have covered about 900 sq. miles of Caddo Lake land that would have been deemed a National Heritage Area under the bill.

“The people of Harrison County were willing to engage in a productive dialogue about the pros and cons of a potential designation,” Gohmert said. “While many constituents raised concerns with the idea, I cannot adequately convey how much it means to me to have so many people have enough faith in me that they were willing to wait and hear the whole story, cordially discuss their concerns with my office, and offer suggested amendments, before deciding whether to pursue it or not.”

Collins Academy Director Gary Endsley and academy founder Richard Collins had been hosting several meetings over the past weeks to inform residents about what the National Heritage Area designation from the federal government would mean for Caddo Lake, as well as to dispose of any fears concerned residents might have about the proposal. Endsley said the area’s tourism industry would have greatly benefited from the NHA designation.

“Of course we are disappointed, Richard Collins and the staff of Collins Academy have worked very hard to promote this region and try to bring opportunities to our community to help with economic and tourism development. It benefits all of us,” Endsley said on Wednesday.

“I think the timing of the release of the bill was possibly ill-conceived in that the public had little or no information in advance of the bill being rolled out, and frankly, as our public meetings showed, there was a great deal of governmental mistrust,” Endsley said. “That was a recurring theme. This is unfortunate. Due to the mistrust of some very vocal individuals, we all have lost out on an opportunity that would have benefited the region. No one wins in a situation like this, and it is my hope that if people will actually read the bill, they will realize that the benefits far outweigh the suspicion and that the elected officials will bring it up again for consideration in a timely manner, and in a manner that will better address individual concerns.”

Gohmert said in response to some residents’ mistrust, he had added language to the bill.

“We had continued to work on language that would have further ensured that the federal government could never use the Heritage Area designation to do anything the actual landowners, private and public, did not want done,” Gohmert said. “We could be certain that such a proposed law did not allow any strings and included that language in what we drafted. However, it could not be said with 100% certainty that some future Congress might not try to add strings, so I prepared language to allow unilateral withdrawal from the Heritage area, without needing the federal government’s permission, if the federal government or Heritage Area Commission ever did anything that had an undesirable effect on the land, the landowners, or any aspect of the local enjoyment or use. That would have been enforceable if anything unwanted had ever been attempted.”

Gohmert said they were also willing to cut the size of the NHA to only include land that owners wanted included, but the Louisiana lawmakers still pulled their support.

“This matter will be closed until or unless the people I represent who would be affected tell me that they want the issue of a National Heritage Area designation pursued again,” Gohmert said.

A Facebook group representing those opposing the bills called “Caddo Lake’s Last Stand” posted a message to its followers Tuesday after the announcements that read, “We are thankful for the decision of U.S. Rep. Mike Johnson and U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy to listen to our voices and act on our behalf. We also must understand as a community that this is a small victory, amidst a big battle. We cannot let our guard down. We were already told today that there is a good chance the bill will be re-introduced next year.”

The group is hosting a meeting at 5:30 p.m. today in Hosston, LA. It will be held at 14095 Oak Street in Hosston, LA. For more information, visit the group’s Facebook page atwww.facebook.com/CaddoLakesLastStandcaclnha/

By Bridget Ortigo bortigo@marshallnewsmessenger.com

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