Thursday, August 7, 2014

And Now the Successes Begin

After a Spring and early Summer where Bobby J Rigues (Aledo trustee and architect of the Make Education a Priority grassroots movement) and I had presented at several sessions attended by school board trustees from around the state, it’s now time to acknowledge and begin to celebrate some of the many successes we have heard.  And there are many!  Congratulations to districts across the state for embracing the spirit and intent of HB 5, efforts that will position local school boards very well when the 84th Legislature convenes in January.  Some districts did not move forward as the legislation (and our presentations!) might have hoped; most, however, took steps that will bear fruit for their students.

There are several ways to look at success in implementing HB 5, beginning with the approach to offering endorsements, specifically to the number of endorsements that a particular district chooses to offer.  In our early discussions with superintendents and administrators, we frequently heard, and this was especially true at smaller districts, that they might be able to offer only the Multidisciplinary endorsement in year one.  But as they stepped back and looked at the opportunity and examined their district’s curriculum, many found that they could offer at least one or two more and, in many cases, offer all five endorsements.  What an accomplishment!

For example, in my conversation with a superintendent in a central Texas 2A district, he was somewhat optimistic that he would be able to offer three endorsements.  As implementation unfolded and his district pursued the opportunities found in HB 5, they found ways to create partnerships that would expand their ability to offer an endorsement. 

Partnerships were certainly at the heart of HB 5, as shared with us by Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock, Chairman of the House Education Committee.  In fact, the district referenced above established partnerships at multiple levels, including the business community in their area, neighboring school districts, and local colleges.

Those attending our sessions heard us say that a district should be able to offer three endorsements without doing anything other than realigning curriculum, that according to TEA.  It would certainly appear that districts found that to be the case … and more!

While we are talking about successes, it is once again important to acknowledge the role that counselors have played in working with incoming 9th graders as they sought to select an endorsement.  For the most part, we have heard that the process of doing so has gone fairly smoothly; that is absolutely a credit to the efforts of the counselors.  And most districts did this without adding counselors to their staff if we normalize staffing based on enrollment.  That is truly a credit to the commitment of the counselors, our new education "superheroes", to ensuring the success of this aspect of HB 5.

So let’s take time (but not too much!) to celebrate the successes being achieved through the implementation of HB 5.  Students and those that we serve as trustees of our local districts are all winners in this effort.  

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