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NCLB Outrages

Texas Plus 86 Schools Districts Fail NCLB Standards

All school districts in Rio Grande Valley or have large disadvantaged student populations

The Texas Education Agency has announced that 86 Texas school districts failed to meet the Adequate Yearly Progress requirement of the No Child Left Behind Act. The state itself failed to meet AYP standards for reading progress of special education students.

Every school districts cited as failing to meet AYP had enough disadvantaged students to be considered Title I school districts and are either located in the Rio Grande Valley and in areas that have seen a strong influx of disadvantaged students.

Rep. Rene Oliveira (D-Brownsville) expressed concern that so many failing school districts came from the Valley. <>Edcouch-Elsa, Sharlyland, Santa Maria, Raymondville and Zapata County school districts all failed to make the cut on at least one of the 29 variables being measured by NCLB.

"It is hardly surprising that all the failing school districts have high concentrations of poor children. As I have said repeatedly, and as the court has found, Texas is not spending enough money to adequately education poor children," said Oliveira, who has reviewed the numbers. "Seven of the failing districts are property-wealthy, but they have high concentrations of poor children. When our wealthy districts do not have enough money to educate poor children, the system is definitely broken."

According to TEA statistics, the number of school districts that failed to meet AYP standards has more than doubled since last year. On the other hand, the number of campuses failing to meet AYP standards has decreased since last year. Those numbers exclude the state’s 190 charter schools. Charter schools will not be evaluated until 2005.

The failure of minority students under the federal accountability guidelines gives Oliveira another reason to suggest the House Bill 2 does not go far enough to fund schools. None of the $3 billion in new money will go to help children overcome a lack of access to books, libraries, cultural and social events, Oliveira said.

"Poor children come into our schools well behind other children. They often are not exposed to books when they are preschool age. Many are behind because they are not read to at home because parents do not speak English, or cannot read, or are simply too tired to read because they have worked very long hours at low-paying, back-breaking jobs," Oliveira said. "Despite these handicaps, Texas must bring poor children - who make up more than half our school population - up to standard, or our future workforce will not be able to attract the quality jobs we need."

Oliveira expressed doubts about the funding of House Bill 2 during yesterday’s House Public Education Committee meeting, saying he could not support proposed additions to the funding for merit pay until he knew that bilingual education and comprehensive education stipends were covered fully. Rep. Dianne White Delisi (R-Temple) wanted to bump merit pay from $100 million to $150 million. It remained at $100 million.

— Harvey Kronberg
Quorum Report


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