The Detriot Classroom

This is outrageous: Detroit closing almost half of its public schools, and many classrooms now have up to 60 students.

Here is CNN coverage on the story



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Save Texas Schools Rally-Austin Capitol

From Suzy Pukys at the Office of Civic Engagement:

Statewide March & Rally Austin, TX
Saturday, March 12
11:00 a.m. starting at 12th & Trinity  Rally: Noon-2:00 p.m. at State Capitol Bldg, 11th & Congress

Texans Together will provide a chartered bus ride for a limited number of people from Houston to Austin for the March 12th rally.  If you are interested in taking advantage of this free chartered bus ride sign up at to stay updated.

Texas students are tough, but they’ve never faced a crisis like this. In communities across the state, the same grim headlines repeat: campus closures, teacher layoffs, deep cuts to core academic programs.

There is help for Texas students – IF our leaders have the courage to use it – and you can make a difference.

On Saturday, March 12th, join thousands of Texans for a march and rally at the State Capitol to send a clear message to our leaders:

*  Make education a top priority!

*  Use the $9.3 billion Texas “Rainy Day” Fund to support schools.

*  Sign the paperwork for $830 Million in federal aid for teachers.

*  Fix school funding laws to be fair to all districts and to our growing student population.

Plan now to be part of this historic event! Talk to your family, friends, students, co-workers, teachers, neighbors, business leaders, members of your faith community and more. Ask them to join you in Austin on March 12th to show our leaders what matters to Texas.

Texans Together needs volunteers to help with calling parents and families in the Houston area to share with them the details of this rally.  It is important to share with them information about the budget cuts public schools face. If you would like to help make phone calls or hand out flyers in your community please sign up on our volunteer form.

Together, we can make a difference. Please stand up for Texas schools on March 12th at the State Capitol.  Our future depends on it!


Houston ISD will hold a live, call-in television show on Monday, February 21, from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m regarding the budget review and planning process.

The panel will include:  Board President Paula Harris
Superintendent Terry Grier
Chief Financial Officer Melinda Garrett

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Obama on Technology and Education

One of my friends at school, William Thomas, shared this podcast with me today in light of the ones posted earlier.

On this podcast, the Chronicle of Higher Ed. writes,

“From the 2011 Higher Ed Tech Summit in Las Vegas, this Wired Campus podcast explores new Obama administration plans for enhancing educational technology. Karen Cator, director of the Office of Educational Technology at the U.S. Department of Education, talks about a new National Center for Advanced Research and Information in Digital Technologies that will finance research on teaching and learning. She also discusses ways her office can help connect higher education professionals with one another to share best practices for using technology, something that is not happening now.”

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Podcasts: Kids Speak Out; This American Life

I have two great podcasts I want to share with everyone. One of these podcasts I heard this morning in the car; the other was recommended to me by my “Innovative Schools” professor, Dr. Kamen, here at Southwestern.

This first discussion was aired on KUT this morning, entitled “Kids Discuss the Impact of School Closures”. This news coverage caught my intention given the disproportionate amount of student voices in the media with all the recent budget cuts for Texas Public Education. The students on-air are from Austin ISD schools. Here is what they have to say.

“Kid Politics”, recently aired on “This American Life”, is quite different from the KUT podcast. Ira Glass broadly discusses education models everywhere from the US to China. As “This American Life” describes the coverages: “What if, say, the U.S.-led invasion of Grenada in 1983 had been decided, not by Ronald Reagan, but by a bunch of middle-schoolers? And what if every rule at your high school had been determined, not by teachers and administrators, but entirely by teenagers? This week, stories about whether, when it comes to governing, kids do any better than grown-ups”. The Brooklyn Free School–an innovative NY school–also sparks a discussion given the school’s lack of grades, testing, homework, and technology (phones and computers).

I highly encourage everyone to listen to these fantastic podcasts. The Grenada re-enactment on This American Life is especially provocative.

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Financial Aid for College Texans gets cut by 39%

This session has me wondering: Do TX legislators even want students to get an education, at all? Are legislators trying to create a huge land mass of idiocy?!

I ask these questions because Senate Bill 1 just cut TX financial aid programs by 39 percent! That’s $385 million! This affects up to 96,000 aspiring students!! There are about a million inappropriate slurs that come to mind right now. But I’ll refrain, since I’m sure you’re already saying them aloud.

Suzy Pukys from the Southwestern Office of Civic Engagement shared this story with me posted by the Texas Center for Public Policy Priorities. This link has the story, and if you click the Adobe “Read Full Article,” you can get an idea of the actual numbers.

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TX (Cyber)Bullying Legisation on the Rise

With the recent budget cuts in TX education, lawmakers seem to be putting forth more legislation that will fix pre-existing problems with minor  fiscal notes. Bullying is one of these issues. In the Texas Education Code, bullying is only defined in context to the transferring of students who have experienced harassment. Furthermore, Texas state law, similar to many other states, does not have a working definition for Cyberbullying.

Senator Whitmore’s bill–SB 205–is working to change some of these issues. This piece of bipartisan legislation hopes to clearly define “Bullying”, “Cyberbullying”, and “Harassment.” The bill will also give each school district in TX authority to establish their own bullying policies. The bill does however outline would these policies should look like–there will be strict documentation processes, and special attention to the privacy of victims/witnesses.

However, this bill does not tackle the greater issue of discrimination. Sure, many kids experience (cyber)bullying in schools, but oftentimes these are not random acts of violence. Students are often targeted because of their race, gender/sexuality, ethnicity, religious affiliation, or class status. I think it is important for Texas to not only take a stand against bullying, but to also recognize its relation to discrimination. This lends to the question: is it the job of the state government to regulate or identify certain types of discrimination? Certainly it is there job to recognize it, but what would bullying legislation look like if it had an eye to, say, how sexuality plays a key role. This may be especially important to think about now considering the media’s (belated) attention on cyberbullying towards gay students.

This bill is anticipated to get a senate hearing very soon. This is where you check for upcoming hearings for the Senate Education Committee. Also, all filed bills concerning education in Texas can be found here.

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Classrooms Around the World

Slate depicts the Classroom

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