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June 12, 2013     Hays Free Press
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June 12, 2013
 

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Hays Free Press ~une 12,2013 THEY REALLY SAID THAT? "The bottom line for me, is that the program (Boy Scouts) is about the youth. It's about developing leadership skills and a sense of adventure and learning new skills and confutences and understanding, and all sorts of character building good things. Why shouldn't it be open to ALL youth? -Carol Swanson. past participant in scouting activities Page3A + ...... YOUNG. W~all know when a popular evolt succeeds. Someone ets overthrown. At what point, however, does a historic, full- scale rebellion take wing? Always hard to tell. The revolt we discuss here in- volves bad policy and public schools. A climactic victoryhas yet to come. But let me fancy this notion: What now simmers across the countryside took wing a few years ago when a certain overstressed Texas third grader of whom I know threw up on her state test. She wasn't the first; nor will she be the last. Let's assume for narratives sake that this third-graders' angry parents took note, however, and made sure their state representative knew, too. Of such matters are movements made. Policy makers finally are tom- hag to understand the unnecessary pressure, the costliness, the nonex- istent diagnostics, the false compar- isons, the lost time, the expense, the whole of the nation's pathological lap dance with standardized testing. In recent weeks and months these things have happened: The Texas Legislature voted overwhelmingly to dramatically scale back a battery of high school end-of-course tests. Lawmakers also voted to exempt high-achieving students from certain state exams. ,,~In Seattle, a heroic teacher ~6ott of the.M~asure of Academic Progress (MAP) standardized exam influenced the district to drop it. Arizona, Nevada and Alabama lawmakers voted to do away with clunkily arbitrary high school exit tests and re-examine their function. For Texas lawmakers to do what they did in this session is akin to communists taking sledge hammers to the Berlin wall. Texas is, of course, the"cradle of accountability," from whose ideological loins sprang the unenforceable "one- size-fits-y'all" No Child Left Behind policy. Oh, and by the way, 35 states including Texas have sought exemp- tions from NCLB requirements. It is in the Lone Star State that former Education Commissioner Robert Scott said the overemphasis on testing had become a"perver- sion" of a system originally meant to give policymakers a quick read on basic skills statewide. The ~ysult, said State Rep. Mark Strama in the Texas Tribune, is a"cul- rare of testing rather than leaming." A rudimentary system that began in 1979 with basic-skills tests for third-, fifth- and ninth-graders became a bovine stampede. One of the most exciting things that Texas lawmakers did this ses- sion was vote to limit the number of benchmark tests - those given by school districts to see if lessons are linking up with state test criteria. One Texas grade-school teacher told me that adding these nuisances into the mix, she sacrificed 16 instruc- tional days a year to testing ordered from above. Credit parents with turning this tide. The grassroots Texans Advocating for Meaningful School Assessment (TAMSA) now offers a counterpoint to the big-money, pro-testing Texas Association of Business. "We thought it was just Texas parents alarmed and disgusted," TAMSKs Susan Kellner, a Houston parent and school board member, told NBC News. But "across the country a similar sentiment is start- ing to bubble up." hmny that she should say "bubble," because that's what it's been all about- the quest to make the whole of education fit into those little testing bubbles, a whole booklet of bubbles spoiled when said over- stressed third-grader lost her lunch. Know that the Texas Education Agency was alert to this prospect. Per procedure, her despoiled exam was bagged and shipped to the state capital like your standard crime implement. I trust it is still in state custody. Someday, like pieces of the Berlin wall, that little girl's book of unfilled bubbles will be a souvenir of an oppressive and counterproductive educational past. Longtime Texas newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. jyoungcolumn@gmail.com mericans tend to react to sound ites and the latest blog when it omes to news. But Americans need to look at the true American history to truly understand what is going on. We can't jump on the bandwagon every time an event happens. it doesn't take long to realize thai we let the government do what it does simply because we don't want to actually read about what is happening in Washington. We react to acts committed by a group and then let Washington write superficial legislation that comes back to haunt us. Americans need to stop and think about the consequences of the legislation and consider the long term results. What? You want examples? How about our reaction to those of German ancestry duringWofld War I? We had "burning parties" of German merchandise we owned. The teaching of German language was banned in schools. Streets with German names were either changed into English or the pronunciation was changed. Think about the "Witte" museum in San Antonio. DuringWofldWar II, more than 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry, some of them American citizens, were forced to move from the West Coast and put in "relocation camps." This was done through an executive order and was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. These residents lost LETTERS ...... everything and, when finally released, were not compensated for their losses. The Korean and Viet Nam wars saw America again look with suspicion on those of Asian descent. They were suspected and the name calling began again. With the 9/11 attack in 2001, Americans reacted, not with reason and contemplation, but with panic. People of Middle Eastern ancestry were immediately looked upon as potential enemies or at least as "fellow travelers," to use a term from the McCarthy era. The laws meant to protect us- the Patriot Acts - were passed and signed with great fanfare. There were a few people in the public and even in Congress who tried to tell Americans that we were giving up some of our civil liberties. They were called un-American and traitors to the American cause. The latest disclosure of intelligence information once again is causing Americans to overreact. But, think! We, the American people, have allowed our representatives to give this power to the intelligence agencies. We did not question the Congress in 2001 and allowed our government to do what was deemed necessary for our protection. "I have nothing to hide" was the phrase most commonly used when the legislation was passed and some protested it. We are now in a huff over the National Security Agency's intelligence gathering. Even in our anger or emotional reaction, we do not stop long enough to really understand what the agency is doing. The blogs and the comedians on radio and television are following the usual pattern of "Chicken Little," with the "sky is falling" reaction. Half-truths and outright lies are being spewed over the airwaves. In other words, Americans are reacting again without even thinking. I don't believe that history repeats itself. I do believe, though, that we can learn from the past. Would there not have been better laws passed after 9/11 had we and Congress not panicked? Would it be better for Americans to begin asking questions and thinking before we allowed our imaginations to run wild? I think it would, but too many don't. jdlinden@satx.moom Ann issue of a supremely contentious ature, redistricting, is the reason awmakers are still at work in a 30-day special session, and a great deal of citizen input is being gathered before the coming House and Senate floor debates. When Gov. Rick Perry called the special session on May 27, it was his intention that the Legislature would move quickly to make "permanent" the redistricting maps drawn by a federal court last year and used in the November 2012 election. With that task behind them, the Legis- lature then might take up other matters of the governor's choice. But Perry has added nothing to the call, perhaps seeing that redistricting is sufficiently demand- ing on its own. Meanwhile, the Texas House of Rep- resentatives on June S met briefly and recessed until June 17 to give its Select Committee on Redistricting time to con- duct public hearings in Austin and other cities (Dallas on June 6 and San Antonio on June 7). The Texas Senate adjourned until June 12 and its Select Committee on Redistricting met at the Capitol, received citizen input and scheduled more hear- ings to receive additional input from citizens in Corpus Christi on June 7 and in Houston on June 8. June 17, when the full House next meets, will be 21 days into the special ses- sion, leaving only 9 days for legislation to pass. If the Legislature had succeeded in drawing legally viable redistricting maps in 2011 - the year after the decennial U.S. census was taken - lawmakers would not be spending this month in Austin. But the current maps are interim maps; They were not meant to have a long shelf life or furthermore last until the 2020 census. Lawmakers and citizens have already noted that the population clusters in urban areas have grown mightily since the 2010 census, suggesting that today the court-drawn maps would not survive the CAPITAL scrutiny Texas must undergo by the U.S. Department of Justice or the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, because of Section 5 of the U.S. Voting Rights Act. Section 5 subjects Texas and certain other states and jurisdictions to enhanced scrutiny in voting-related matters because of a his- tory of racial discrimination. A potentially dynamic aspect to Texas redistricting is the pending outcome of a U.S. Supreme Court case in which Shelby County, Alabama, is seeking to have Section 5 declared unconstitutional, asserting that racism in voting practices is no longer an issue. The high court, after months of processing and deliberation, should render its ruling any day now. SERVICE ANIMAL BILL SIGNED Gov. Perry on June 7 ceremonially signed HB 489, legislation passed in May that enables citizens with disabilities to be accompanied by their service ani- mals in all public places without having to show the animal's qualifications or certificates. "For veterans suffering from (Post Trau- matic Stress Disorder), a service animal can be a strong part of their recovery and a comforting presence in the midst of what can feel like chaotic and stressful situations," Perry said. Authored by state Rep. Jose Menendez, D-San Antonio, and sponsored by Sen. Carlos Uresti, D-San Antonio, HB 489 takes effect Sept. 1. TXDOT TO PRIVATIZE 'IT' Texas Department of Transportation on June 3 announced it has signed a five-year, $190 million contract with Piano-based NTF DATA to privatize most of its infor- marion technology (IT) functions. NTF DATA will be responsible for ap- plication maintenance and development, customer support, network and telecommu- nications systems support, professional sup- port services andlT security. Agency officials said the partnership "Hill help the agency realize greater efficiencies and allowTxDOT to reinvest savings into other priorities." DPS JOINS IN ROADCHECK Texas Department of Public Safety an- nounced last week its troopers, inspectors and investigators would participate in inten- sifted commercial vehicle inspections from June 4 through June 6 as part of Roadcheck 2013, a nationwide three-day enforcement effort to increase motor carrier, vehicle, driver and cargo safety and security DPS troopers looked for 18-wheelers and buses with serious equipment violations involving brakes, tires, lights and loading standards and drivers not in compliance with state and federal requirements, the agency said. DPS officials said personnel also would be on the lookout for aggressive passenger vehicle drivers, the cause of most commercial vehicle crashes. BEXAR DISASTER DECLARED Gov. Perry on June 6 issued a disaster declaration for Bexar County because of severe flooding there May 25 through May 27. Three people are known to have died as a result of the flooding, and according to the City of San Antonio, the city and Bexar County have identified more than 200 homes that have been affected. edsteding@texaspress.com COMMENTS FROM THE WEBSITE As a former Sex Offender Registrar, I agree with Pastor Sweet. Every case is different and not all 'sex offenders" are actually child predators. Par- ents should practice caution and be vigilant at all times, no matter the surroundings. - nmm on Impostor finds now home We need more information regarding the moving of Mrs. Davis. If test scores are any indication, elementary schools are doing we//, while second- ary schools are not, so our misguidled school sub-culture targets elementary schools for change and ignores second- ary. A well-craffed curriculum audit is essential in order to bring our schools up to ac- ceptabili~ The board needs to have hearings in order to identify the central office personalities that instituted this chnge. - Donn Brooks on The prin- cipal shuffle I'm with you on the death pen- alty being anachronistic. Less than 60 countries still have the death penalty, and the US is about the last hold-out in the Western world. But we stick it out with the likes of Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, China, etc. - Lila Knight on Cold case heats up I'm a scout parent and I'm glad they changed it to allow openly gay members. Of course, I don't think they ever should have been banned. - Lee Allen Facebook com- ment in response to ques- tion about the Boy Scouts of America allowing gays scout members MANAGEMENT BARTON PUBLICATIONS, INC. Publisher Cyndy Slovak-Barton csb@haysfreepress.com NEWSROOM Editor Kim Hilsenbeck kim@haysfreepress.com Sports Reporter Moses Leos III Senior Reporter Andy Sevilla Community Columnists Sandra Grizzle Pauline Tom Columnists Bartee Halle Clint ounts Will Durst John Young Proofreaders Jane Kirkham Christine Thorpe OFFICE MANAGER Connie Brewer business@haysfreepress.com ADVERTISING Tracy Mack tracy@haysfreepress.com Debbie Hall debbie@haysfreepress.com CIRCULATION/CLASSIFIEDS Suzanne Hallam paper@haysfreepress.com PRODUCTION Production Mgr. David White Assistant Designer Nick Trussalo Distribution Pete Sizemore Contact Us: news@haysfreepress.com business@haysfreepress.com FAX: 512-268-0262 BUDA 512-295-9760 KYLE 512-268-7862 METRO AUSTIN 512-262-6397 www.haysfreepress.com 113 W. Center Street Kyle, Texas 78640 +