In the morning of November 18th, several individuals offered public testimony regarding the use of digital materials. These individuals raised concerns about the state issuing a call for supplemental materials for science in grades 9-12 only in a digital format. They were concerned that not all districts were prepared with sufficient technical infrastructure and devices for teachers and students. There were also several individuals who registered their concerns about the state purchasing supplemental science materials only for grades 9-12 and not for grades 5-12 as originally planned.
Supplemental Science Materials
After much discussion, the board voted to extend the call for supplemental science materials to include grades 5-8. Since they excluded these grades at the board meeting in September, they elected to amend the calendar for submission of these materials for the publishers. The publisher’s intent to bid will be due on December 10. The samples will be delivered by April 29 and the board will adopt the materials in July. TEA assured the board members that districts would have ample time to implement these materials in August since they are digital materials. The extension for submission is only for supplemental science materials in grades 5-8. The digital materials for grades 9-12 will be approved by the board in April.
Technology Applications TEKS
The board also heard an update by TEA on the revision of the Technology Applications TEKS. Members of the revision teams provided the board an update on the writing process in September. The board gave the committee their input at that time. In addition, the committee was provided comments the public had submitted to TEA and board members. In October, the committees reconvened to make any adjustments that stemmed from the public and board comments. The latest draft was posted on the TEA website on Thursday, November 18th.
According to the TEA staff:
- The majority of the changes dealt with the Computer Science courses.
- The committee reduced the number of Computer Science courses to 19.
- There are two high school courses that satisfy a Fine Arts credit.
- The committee also recommended that the Technology Applications TEKS add a sub-chapter D similar to many other content areas. Sub-chapter D is for Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate courses.
Only one person gave public testimony on the Technology Applications TEKS item. Karen North requested the board consider making Computer Science a core subject in grades K-12. The Computer Science Teachers Association is making a case for this at the national level. They have produced a report called Running on Empty that explains their rationale for this request.
At the SBOE meeting in January the board will have the first reading of the final version of the Technology Application TEKS. At that point, the public will have 30 days to provide public testimony. In April, the board is slated to have the second and final reading of the revised TEKS.
SBEC updated the Educator Code of Ethics in September. The only action the SBOE could take on the changes was to reject them. The committee on School Initiatives heard testimony on the changes on Thursday afternoon. There were four teacher organizations that raised several concerns about the changes and asked the board to reject the new version that would force the SBEC to go back and revise the document. However, the sub-committee and the board as a whole unanimously voted to take no action, which, in effect, approved the changes the SBEC made. TEA released a press release which highlights the changes.
In Standard 3.9, SBEC added the word “minor”
“ The educators shall refrain from inappropriate communication with a student or minor…”
This extends the teacher’s behavior beyond his or her students. This is important because the other changes deal with a teacher’s behavior using social media. These changes need to be carefully explained to teachers so that they understand how to appropriately use social media for educational purposes and don’t refuse to use them at all for fear they may violate the code of ethics.
Funds Submitted to Legislature to fund Instructional Materials
One theme that ran throughout the entire meeting had to do with the board members reminding the public and press that they have given the legislature $1.9 billion from the Permanent School Fund to pay for the instructional materials, which are expected to cost $550 million. It is up to the legislature to decide if in fact they will use these funds to use the funds from the Permanent School Fund for the instructional materials. TEA also released a press release regarding this.
The highlight of the meeting was the SFA Academy (SAISD) Mariachi band. They played and sang on Friday morning. Here is a video I took with my iPhone. They were adorable and great musicians! A great reminder why we do what we do.