A dad’s changing view of educational opportunities

If no other family members have attended college, higher education may be perceived as unattainable. For parents who completed college, a bachelor’s degree often becomes the minimum level of higher education they envision for their children. In this 2-minute chapter of the Video podcast series, a Houston father shares his own story of growing up in a “bubble of inopportunity” and what changed his ideas on college accessibility.

Posted in Comm300, Education, Houston, Parenting, Video | Leave a comment

Parental time investment in homework

Homework photo by peapodsquadmom on Flickr.

How involved are parents in their children’s homework? It depends on the age of the child and the family’s own attitudes. Grandparents of today’s school-age children were often minimally involved in their child’s homework. Those children, today’s parents of school-age children, are often shocked by the amount of time they are required to spend getting their children to understand and/or complete their homework each evening. In this 2-minute chapter of the Video podcast series, two Houston women share their family’s homework habits. The first mom has elementary-age children and the second mother has teenagers.

Posted in Comm300, Education, Houston, Parenting, Video | 1 Comment

Hispanics and education: it’s all in the family

Hispanic family

Laughing mother and children in Latin America, Flikr image by SCA Svenska Cellulosa Aktiebolaget.

Forecasting educational trends for Texas’ largest minority is difficult because Hispanic culture is actually a loosely bound collection of the cultures of many independent countries sharing  a similar language. In this 5-minute audio podcast, three generations of Latino men talk about the Hispanic culture’s challenges regarding education.

Podcast is not captioned, see transcript.

  • 0:00-0:59 Amado feels Hispanic parents ridicule educational success and their children learn to value popularity over being labeled a “geek” or “nerd.”
  • 1:00- 2:10 Robert thinks Amado’s viewpoint may be generational and hopes his own children will choose college, but realizes college isn’t for everyone.
  • 2:13-4:52 David believes that within Hispanic sub-cultures (Mexican, Puerto Rican, Dominican, etc.), parents’ views on education are based on individual family values.

Please post comments describing your own Hispanic family and parental support for (or lack of support for) education.

Background music for Hispanic Voices courtesy of Creative Commons:  Sueños de Paz by Zamarra.

Posted in Comm300, Cultures, Education, Houston, Parenting | 2 Comments

The village that abandoned its children

The origins of the proverb “It takes a village to raise a child”  remain under debate, but the sentiment describes how children are dependent on a much wider range of adults and infrastructure than is available within their immediate family.  Today, Texas is poised to walk away from its children.

By cutting both education and health services to the bone, the Texas House and Senate are removing themselves from the responsibility of raising this generation of Lone Star children.  Darwin’s “survival of the fittest” rule will soon reign supreme without state support for schools, Medicaid and CHIPS (children’s Medicaid).

Guess which children are most likely to remain both healthy and adequately educated without state support?  Two clues: they will be rich and white.  Perhaps this is the House and Senate’s answer to Texas’ looming Hispanic majority.

Is it time to talk about raising taxes?

Sonogram Snobbery

In case you missed the latest bill, both groups of legislators want to browbeat every expectant mom with a sonogram if she is considering an abortion.  Although our government won’t support the children we already have in Texas, they want to ensure no one chooses to not bring a child into a state that doesn’t want it.

Posted in Comm300, Cultures, Education, Houston, Parenting | 4 Comments

Charter schools

To learn about charter schools, listen to Off the Kuff‘s 43-minute interview with Chris Barbic, founder and CEO of Yes Prep Schools in Houston.

Barbic talks about charter schools in general and also describes how Yes Prep is meeting their goal to transform Houston by preparing 10,000 low-income neighborhood students for college. For 10 years, 100 percent of YES Prep’s graduating seniors have been accepted into four-year colleges.

When asked why Yes Prep is successful in communities where other schools are challenged, Barbic replied, “The good news is, we aren’t doing anything any of the other schools couldn’t do.  The bad news is, we aren’t doing anything any of the other schools couldn’t do.”

Here are several topics covered in the audio podcast plus the number of minutes into in the podcast where that portion of the interview begins:

  • How charter schools work (3:00)
  • Funding for charter schools (4:20)
  • What Yes Prep is doing differently (7:26)
  • Peer pressure used to inspire students to achieve more (15:46)
  • Close lousy schools, even if they are charters (23:53)
  • What educational budget cuts mean for charter schools (32:18)
  • The importance of school and grade-level size (35:10)
Posted in Education, Houston | 3 Comments

Cheap education

Cutting education spending will create more problems than it solves.  As former Lt. Governor Bill Hobby said in his book, “How Things Really Work,” – “Spend every nickel you can on education. Every nickel you don’t spend now will cost dollars in the future for welfare and prisons.”

And Texas is already struggling to appropriately educate its population.  According to the Select Commission on Higher Education and Global Competitiveness (appointed by Governor Rick Perry in 2009), “Texas is not globally competitive. The state faces a downward spiral in both quality of life and economic competitiveness if it fails to educate more of its growing population (both youth and adults) to higher levels of attainment, knowledge and skills.”

I’ve always loved living in Texas because it is cheap: no personal income tax, one of the nation’s lowest state and local tax burdens, etc. but I also believe “you get what you pay for.”

Do I really want my doctor to graduate from the cheapest medical school?  Do I want my police officers to carry the cheapest weapons and use the cheapest technology?  Do I want my children to be taught by the nation’s cheapest teachers and only go to the cheapest field trips riding on the cheapest school buses?  Suddenly, I feel nauseous.  Perhaps it is time to stop thinking “cheap” and start thinking “investment.”  If we don’t cut education expenditures, it means we will have to pay higher taxes, perhaps even a tiny state income tax.  GULP.

Posted in Education | 3 Comments

Test Less

If your student easily passed his or her TAKS (Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills)  tests last spring, shouldn’t s/he be eligible to skip the same TAKS tests this year?

Today’s Off the Kuff blog posting describes an exciting proposal in the midst of dismal news about Texas’ budget shortfall for education: a bill to exempt students from taking the TAKS test if they passed last year’s test by a wide margin.  Changing Texas’ testing rules to exempt the highest performers in grades 3 and 5 from similar tests in grades 4, 6 and 7 may not save a significant amount of dollars, but it is a positive no-cost move to improve our educational system while we deal with the probable loss of teachers, courses, sports and transportation options.

The Texas Observer’s Abby Rapoport calls the bill “the first bipartisan efforts this session aimed at reforming the testing structure” and it provides a positive incentive to students to perform better on tests in order to be exempt in the future as well as some financial savings due to the decrease in the number of students taking the tests.

If the bill is passed in both the House and Senate, it still faces two types of hurdles: federal (No Child Left Behind requires annual testing regardless of previous performance) and state (change to the way schools are rated if the scores of exempt students no longer elevate or balance the lower scores of their non-exempt peers).

Write your Texas House and Senate representatives and urge them to support HB233!

Posted in Comm300, Education, Houston, Parenting | 1 Comment