A Texas state representative has filed a bill to eliminate the STAAR test.
Rep. Brooks Landgraf of Odessa authored House Bill 736 in an attempt to repeal the use of the STAAR test from being used as high-stakes, one-sized-fits-all substitutes for real accountability measures.
The bill was filed Jan. 10 with a note: “Relating to eliminating the requirement to use public school assessment instruments as a criterion for promotion or graduation or to make certain accountability determinations.”
Landgraf said the state should value teaching over testing.
“The state’s attempt to ensure academic readiness and hold school districts accountable for student achievement through standardized state-wide testing has failed,” Landgraf said.
“A state-wide assessment instrument places too great of a burden on our students and teachers. Teachers are forced to “teach to the test” so that the largest number of students can achieve scores that meet the minimum level of satisfaction,” said Landgraf in a news release. “This destroys any opportunity for teachers to come up with creative ways for students to learn, and limits the amount of time and attention teachers can pay to specific students.:
Landgraf added rather than looking at the work a student has done over a semester or school year, the test looks at one day. Rather than assessing growth of students with special needs or the level of intelligence of the most gifted and talented students, the test is designed to assess the average student’s understanding of basic curriculum.
“In my view, we should value teaching over testing,” Landgraf said. “This bill will allow us to get back to the basics of education so that Texas students are prepared for college, the workforce or the military when they graduate.”
The 86th Texas legislative session is underway and will run through May 27. To read the bill, go here.
Students Hope for Repeat Win in Math Competition
They are back at it again. The “Little Figures” student group has entered another math video in a nationwide competition, and they are already No. 1 on the leaderboard out of more than 100 submissions.
Iman Zakaria, Sydney Vaughn, Londyn Hall, and Breanna Hutchison recently showcased their submission for the 2019 national MATHCOUNTS video challenge at a local movie theater, and KENS 5 recently interviewed two of the team members about the Avengers-themed video.
This new video centers on T’Chaya and the Avengers. The Avengers and Villains face off at Orlandia in a math challenge countdown. The Avengers call on the Little Figures and Tori of Mathkanda to help solve the math problem and help save the universe.
Last year, the team (Breanna Hutchison, Londyn Hall, Iman Zakaria, and Lindsey Simmons), competed against hundreds of other students across the United States in the challenge, which empowers students to take their math and problem-solving skills to the next level with a creative video project. The San Antonio team traveled to Washington, D.C. for the MATHCOUNTS banquet to get their winning trophies and scholarships.
Little Figures drew their name and inspiration from the Oscar-nominated “Hidden Figures” movie – the story of a team of female African-American mathematicians who served a vital role in NASA during the early years of the U.S. space program. The Little Figures team is also a part of the San Antonio chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers Jr.
The team needs the support of the San Antonio community to make sure their video stay No. 1 by voting at videochallenge.mathcounts.org for the “Silver War Countdown” video every 24 hours through March 14. Visitors will have to create an account or login through a social media site in order to vote.
Dis-Integration: A Conversation on School Segregation
All are invited to attend a conversation — live or virtual — about the impact of school segregation on public education in San Antonio and statewide during the event Dis-Integration: A Conversation on School Segregation in Texas Feb. 26 at 6:30 p.m. at St. Philip’s College in the Bowden Alumni Center on the third floor of the college’s G. J. Sutton Learning Center at 1801 Martin Luther King Drive. The event is free and open to the public, with free parking and online access as well.
The conversation is moderated by The Texas Tribune public education reporter Aliyya Swaby and announced panelists as of Feb. 12 include:
- State Rep. Diego Bernal, D-San Antonio, vice chair of the House Public Education Committee;
- Diana Herrera, a former student and teacher in the Edgewood Independent School District;
- Albert Kaufman, a professor at St. Mary’s University; and
- Brian Sparks, network principal in the San Antonio Independent School District.
While this nonprofit event is co-hosted by both Alamo Colleges District and St. Philip’s College, it is supported by the Texas Association of School Business Officials and Pearson.
Additional support is provided by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Sid Richardson Foundation. According to its web page, “Each year we host 50-plus on-the-record, open-to-the-public live events — on college campuses, in community centers and everywhere in between — at which public officials, policy wonks and newsmakers answer for the work they’re doing and how they’re spending your tax dollars. Events are often available via livestream video, for those who can’t attend in person, and following the conversation we publish and archive video online.
The nonpartisan Feb. 26 event is the college debut of this project. Find details on live and virtual participation by visiting the event web page
Pappa John’s Pizza Giving Big to Black Community
The Papa John’s Foundation has donated $500,000 to Bennett College, making it the largest gift that has been contributed to the Institution since administrators announced they need to raise a minimum of $5 million by Feb. 1 to try to remain accredited.
In addition to the half-million dollars, Papa John’s has pledged to develop an ongoing relationship with Bennett College.
Pappa John’s recently posted on its Facebook page: “Bennett College is one of only two historically black, women’s colleges. We’re proud to #StandWithBennett and continue our legacy of commitment to colleges around the country — and encourage others to support their role in educating the next generation of leaders.”
“We’re grateful and excited that The Papa John’s Foundation is choosing to support the protection of our College’s legacy as well as reignite the conversation around the importance of supporting diverse institutions around the country,” said Bennett President Dr. Phyllis Worthy Dawkins. “Together, we hope to champion the continuing development of young women of color across the country.”
Last year, Bennett College launched a fundraising campaign to reach a goal of $5 million by February 1. With the support of various celebrities, Bennett alumnae and other HBCU alumni and the viral #StandWithBennett social media campaign, the institution had reached about 30% of its goal. With the gift from Papa John’s, Bennett has now reached 45% of its $5 million goal.
“This campaign is about more than giving dollars; it’s about helping Bennett College continue educating the next generation of black female leaders,” said Victoria Russell, Papa John’s Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer. “We’re thrilled to provide this support towards Bennett’s fundraising goal and encourage others to do the same.”
Papa John’s operates more than ten stores in the Greensboro area and will work with Bennett College and its partners to launch a national fundraising campaign to inspire other corporations and individuals to donate. In addition to the half million-dollar grant from The Papa John’s Foundation, the brand will purchase ads on national radio to raise additional awareness for Bennett’s campaign. These ads will air today through February 1, the deadline for Bennett to reach its $5 million goal.
On Dec. 11, 2018, Bennett College was removed from membership in the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. Bennett immediately appealed the decision and remains accredited during the appeal process. Bennett was removed strictly for financial reasons. The College was not issued sanctions against its academics, leadership, faculty or students.
Founded in 1873 as a coeducational institution, Bennett became women’s only in 1926. Spelman College in Atlanta is the country’s only other all-women’s HBCU.
Bennett has a history of producing outstanding women leaders, including: the first African-American woman licensed surgeon in the south; the first woman or African-American to head the U.S. Peace Corps, the first African-American mayor of the city of Greensboro; the first African-American female mayor in the state of Washington; the writer of the screenplay “The Loving Story,” which in 2016 was turned into an Academy Award-nominated motion picture; and the first woman to hold the position of Director of Drug Program and Policies and youngest Director within the Association of the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA); and the first African-American woman to serve as Assistant Attorney General in the state of Massachusetts – just to name a few.
To join The Papa John’s Foundation and #StandwithBennett, please donate here.
Ways to give to Bennett College:
- Online: bennett.edu/donate
- Text2Give: Text the word BELLES to the number 444999
- Cash App: $StandwithBennett
- S. Mail: Send a check to Bennett College, Office of Institutional Advancement, 900 E. Washington St., Greensboro, N.C. 27401