Declaration for Texas Public School Districts Responsible Independence

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Public schools in Texas, along with the students who attend, their parents, and Texas taxpayers, have suffered under irresponsible state governance of education for decades. With this in mind we declare:

Declaration for Texas School District Independence in Responsible Action Serving Students’ and Taxpayers’ Lawful Rights

Texas Students’ Rights for Decades Include:
     1) The Texas government should be lawfully responsible to provide the right conditions for – and meaningful experiences in – learning.
     2) The Texas government should be lawfully responsible to cause no student to stumble.

Texas Taxpayers’ Rights for Decades Include:
     1) The Texas government should be lawfully responsible to not waste time and money in providing the right conditions for – and meaningful experiences in – learning.
     2) The Texas government should be lawfully responsible to not waste time and money in programs that cause students to stumble.

Texas Independent School Districts’ Rights for Decades Include:
     1) The State of Texas should be lawfully responsible to serve school districts, not ignore or dictate to them.
     2) School districts should be independent in their operations. This means saying “NO” to remote control dictates from the state, and pledging to their students and taxpayers to act responsibly and fulfill their pledge.

Commissioner of Education’s and Education Agency’s Responsibilities for Decades Include:
    1)  Both Commissioner and TEA should stop violating and start respecting and fulfilling the lawful rights of Texas’ students and taxpayers.
     2) Both Commissioner and TEA should serve and assist Texas’ independent school districts in their responsibilities to their students and taxpayers.

State of Texas’ Opportunity – Become a Leader in Governing Education
State of Texas must take the opportunity to become a leader in governing education and become the most competitive state in the nation in education by starting to obey Texas’ own laws for governing education that have existed for decades.


Lawful Rights
For the lawful rights noted above and provided in Texas’ Education Code and school districts’ policies, please find the link for Lawful Rights at the end of this declaration.

Irresponsible State Governance by State of Texas
The irresponsibility of the Texas state government, including the Governor, Legislators, State Board of Education, Commissioner of Education and the Texas Education Agency, includes:

     1) Since its inception in 1993, Texas’ oppressive Accountability System unfairly assessing and punishing students and schools, all while everyone in the governance of education in Texas including the Governor, Lt. Governor, Senate and House Education Committees, State Board of Education, Commissioner of Education and Texas Education Agency, are not performing responsibly under Texas law nor being assessed for their performance to be accountable to the children and taxpayers of Texas.

     2) The Texas Commissioner of Education and the Texas Education Agency, under Texas’ own laws, are responsible for serving, not dictating to, school districts. Through training, technical support and surveys aimed at improving school districts the Commissioner and TEA should be working to: 
            a. Serve and save, not harm, students. – CAUSE NO STUDENT TO  STUMBLE
            b.  Provide the right conditions for – and meaningful experiences in – learning.
            c. Ensure peoples’ time, talent and money, including taxes, are being used properly and not wasted by not serving the needs of students.

     3) A petrified, fear-based education system (stated by Representative in the Texas House of Representatives) has been created by the State of Texas through its test and punish accountability system used to evaluate students, teachers, principals, and overall school performance. The State of Texas has created an environment that petrifies people with fear in its education system. This has been done while it, including the Texas Commissioner of Education and the Texas Education Agency, has disobeyed Texas’ own laws for serving and saving, not harming, children. This has resulted in school districts placing undue emphasis on testing outcomes and not obeying existing Texas law for the proper governance of their district. This has resulted in lives and taxpayer funds wasted, all in an attempt to meet state mandates for testing outcomes. This is having detrimental effects on the students across the state and has manifested in various forms including legislation in the 85th Texas legislature for a recovery program for students the State of Texas has failed to serve.

     4) Texas’ legislature using and relying on corporations profiting in education, especially off of the poor, and relying on the Federal government and outsiders from other states to create legislation in lieu of Texans standing up on their own and demonstrating innovation in producing Texas’ own legislation.

     5) A school funding system that has been called:
            a. Lawful but awful (Stated in Texas House of Representatives)
            b. Byzantine and undeniably imperfect, with immense room for improvement (Texas Supreme Court Justice Willett)

     6) No one knows how much the required education really costs. (Former District Court Judge Dietz) – If Texas had followed its own laws for governing education focused on the needs of students and making effective use of money in serving the needs of students, Texas would have fixed its school finance system over a decade ago.

Is there any doubt Texas’ governance of education is unacceptable = F (-)?
For the lawful rights noted above along with the research for Texas’ governance of education, please find the link for Lawful Rights and the following at the end of this declaration:
     • Chart – Texas CHOICE – To Obey or Not – Texas Laws for Governing Education
     • Report – Texas Commissioners of Education’s Performance Rating = F (-)
     • Report – Texas’ Future – Texas’ Governance of Education – Opportunities and Research

Local Responsible Governance Opportunity – Say No to Remote Control
Since 1995 Superintendents, with their school boards, have had the opportunity under Texas’ own laws to say “No!” to bureaucratic and now dictatorial control by the state of Texas which is and has harmed children. Superintendents, overseen by their school boards, are responsible for serving and saving, not harming, students. This includes the responsibility for the planning and implementation of community-based efforts in suicide and violence prevention, as well as serving the needs of students OTHER THAN the states achievement indicators. Superintendents, along with their school boards have the responsibility to provide the right conditions for student learning, including mental and physical childhood development needs, as well as the non-education related factors for low performance of students and schools.

Due to the emphasis on the school’s performance on the state test, all proper governance of the schools to provide the right conditions for students to have meaningful experiences in their academics, including reading, writing, math, science, and history, has shifted to placing emphasis on what is expected to appear on the upcoming state test. This practice has served to actually limit the academic instruction for the students. The Texas Education Code (TEC) governance provisions, which have existed for two decades, charge the leadership and management of school districts to provide for the right conditions for a meaningful learning experience and the common good of the school system. When performance on the state test began to overshadow all other areas of the TEC that are written for the proper management and operation of a school system, it stifled Texans’ focus on and understanding of professional development in proper management and operation of a school system. The use of the skills, procedures and processes for leadership and management provided in the Texas Education Code that are in the BEST interest of the students and taxpayers are not being applied at this time. In addition, Texas fails to fulfill constitutional principles and Texans’ pledge to be One and Indivisible.

Thomas Paine wrote in the Introduction of his third edition to Common Sense, “a long habit of not thinking a thing WRONG, gives it a superficial appearance of being RIGHT” (Paine, 1776). Paine, of course, was referencing the ‘long train of abuses” that were suffered by the colonists at the hands of the British Crown. In the case of Texas public schools, it is the long train of abuses suffered by the taxpayers in the wasteful and irresponsible use by school districts of their time and money in the pursuit of acceptable ratings from the State. The abuse extends to the students of the schools subjected to the narrowing of the curriculum due to the ever-increasing high stakes that came with large percentages of students failing the test. This is true especially in English Language Arts and Math. As the stakes increased, the demand for teachers to teach to the test became more of a necessity than a strategy.

To understand the accountability system, one has to go no further back than 2002 when No Child Left Behind (NCLB) was enacted as law and put the federal government in charge of school accountability. Logic will tell those doing just a modicum of research that the mandates of NCLB that put in place Adequate Yearly Progress, was a law that was unjust and impossible to meet. Who in their right mind would prescribe a plan that demanded 100% proficiency (passing) by all students by the year 2014, and then turn that plan into law? This is exactly what happened and as the years progressed from 2002 to 2010, schools began to fail in greater numbers. The agenda, some would say, was not working. The agenda, however, was working just fine because the agenda was to drive schools to failure. How could this be, you say? Why would those that should have the best interest of the nation’s schools and students at heart, devise a plan that would purposely drive them to failure?

The answer to this question lies in the “Waiver”. President Obama’s executive order that was titled, The U.S. Department of Education Flexibility Package, provided a path for all states to get relief from the 100% proficiency mandate. Every state signed up, including Texas. The package, however, came with heavy ropes attached to it. Three things were needed in each state’s plan in order to get President Obama’s Waiver. 
          1) Each state had to include provisions for teachers and principals to have in their evaluations a weighted percentage that applied to the outcomes of their students on the test.
          2) Each state had to develop its own plan for how it would move its students to proficiency and rate its schools.
          3) Each state had to agree to adopt rigorous college and career ready standards for its curriculum to follow.

These rigorous college and career ready standards turned out to be the Common Core State Standards that have been the bane of teachers, principals and parents across the country. This marked the first time that the entire nation was placed under the same set of learning standards. It is also violating the U.S. Constitution. Despite Texas legislators passing a law stipulating Texas public schools would never have Common Core, it is in Texas schools. Please refer to the updated Waiver Application that Texas Education Commissioner Michael Williams wrote to the USDOE in 2015. On page 14 of the Waiver Application for all of Texas public schools, it states clearly the high percentage of alignment the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) has to the Common Core. Please find the Waiver Application at the link at end of declaration.

With the understanding of what has been revealed in this document, can we agree that the entire accountability system is built on fraud and deceit? Can we agree that since what has come before was built on fraud and deceit, any new program that builds on the past is also fraudulent and deceitful? Can we agree that the politicians, Commissioner of Education, and TEA, that have used this fraudulent and deceitful system to now build a new system to evaluate our schools on an A-F rating scale, are creating a system that is also fraudulent and deceitful, and therefore bogus? Finally, since our fraudulent and deceitful accountability system affects our Title One schools the most, which are located in neighborhoods of severe poverty, we can say with complete confidence that the Accountability System demonstrates egregious discrimination directed at the very schools those in leadership positions purport to want to help the most.

With all this stated we declare unequivocally that the accountability system, as it is written and applied currently, should be dismantled and removed as a system for grading and evaluating our public schools. This includes any new system planned but not yet implemented, which periodically assesses students for the purpose of rating the worth of a school. Any system that uses a standardized test, or series of tests, and applies the testing outcomes of the school’s students to a school rating, is practicing discrimination. It is paramount to understand that the same system that rates a school located in severe poverty a “D” or an “F”, is the same system that rates a school an “A” and is located in a neighborhood of high affluence. This is wrong and must be stopped. We stand committed to convincing the Governor that it is time to dismantle and eliminate the Accountability System and return to sound, logical governance of our schools through existing laws in the Texas Education Code.

If the Accountability System were to be removed as the all-encompassing arbitrator of what constitutes a proper and just education for the children of Texas, how then do we properly evaluate our many diverse public school districts in Texas?

Texans! It is time, and has been time for a long time, for us to:

Responsible State Governance
Start responsibly governing education based upon Texas’ own statutes for the last two decades, excluding those added in 2015 and 2017 which are redundant (purpose already provided for in Texas law), come from the Federal government and are influenced by corporations and outsiders that give more responsibility to the failing commissioner of education and TEA.

Assessment and Responsibility System for Governing Education
     1) Start a system for assessing, evaluating and continuously improving Texas’ governance of education using Texas’ own laws for governing education that has existed for two decades. The Commissioner of Education must be the first position to be:
            a. Filled by an individual qualified to perform the mandated responsibilities in governing education required in Texas laws for two decades and not filled by a political appointee, 
            b.  Assessed and evaluated for performance in fulfilling responsibilities,.
            c. Have a continuous improvement plan for improving performance and be
            d. Retained only if performance rating is a B or an A.    

     2) The personnel in the TEA and school district administration must follow the Commissioner in being qualified, assessed, evaluated and continuously improve so as to receive a “B” or an “A” to continue in the position.

     3) All elected officials will also be prepared, assessed and evaluated in their performance, based upon the governance provisions of the Texas Education Code.

     4.) Immediately stop the retributive and punitive attitudes, behaviors, actions and labeling of schools and districts in the accountability system.

     5.) Immediately stop any action and influence by the Texas commissioner of education other than ensuring that money flows to schools.

     6) Immediately prepare and properly train all school boards and superintendents in their responsibilities provided in Texas own statutes and their own district policies. Prepare and properly train superintendents and school boards for public-based leadership and action in serving and saving, not harming, students. Prepare and properly train superintendents and their school boards for effectively using time and money in serving the needs of students. Prepare and properly train superintendents and their school boards in the effective use of time, money and unnecessary administration costs for facilities and other distractions that take away from truly serving the needs of students.

     7) School boards and superintendents immediately make their choice to follow Texas law for governing education, or quit.

     8) Hold school board elections, as needed, for those who are willing to honestly fulfill their oath to follow the laws of Texas.

     9) Using the governance assessment and responsibility system described above, the Governor and legislators oversee and ensure that school boards and superintendents are fulfilling their oaths and contracts to abide by the laws of Texas

“The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only legitimate object of good government.” Thomas Jefferson, March 1809

By signing this declaration for public schools, you agree with this treatise and demand the Governor of Texas, Gregg Abbott, begin the process to eliminate the Accountability System from any governance of Texas public schools and start to govern education responsibly under Texas law as described in this declaration.

LINKS in Petition

Waiver Application Referenced in Petition

LAWFUL RIGHTS Referenced in Petition – Chart and Research on Texas' Governance of Education Performance with Rating = F (-)!AulQWkvqvFih7mMR3iSJnbjUErG7

LINKS – Further Study Related to Information in the Petition

Adequate Yearly Progress, Education Week, 2011

AYP Summary for Texas, 2012

Education News: School to Work/Goals 2000, Dennis Cuddy, 2017

Federal Education Law Traps Schools in Spiral of Failure, Louis Freedberg, 2013

Introduction to the Third Edition of Common Sense, Thomas Paine, 1776

A Plea to Public School Superintendents, A. Patrick Huff, 2017

Preparing Children for Virtual World Classrooms, Charlotte Iserbyt, 2005

Shape Up or Ship Out: The Effect of No Child Left Behind on Teachers’ Methods of Teaching, Ingrid Rodriquez, 2012 effect-of-no-child-left-behind-on-teachers-methods-of-teaching/

The Takeover of Public Education in America: The Agenda to Control Knowledge and Information Through the Accountability System, 2015

Voices Empower: The Myth that surrounds school failure, A. Patrick Huff, 2016