Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Texas 4x4 Graduation Requirements

I recently spoke with at telecom executive about the Texas 4x4 graduation requirements that will force all the children of Texas to take a fourth year of math and science. This executive has a child in Plano schools who is artistically inclined. This mother feels that a fourth year of math and a fourth year of science will remove courses from her child's schedule that would be good for her child and force her child to take classes she does not need.

Freedom of choice in education has been stripped away from this mother and her child, and that is wrong!

This telecom executive went on to say, "Why more math and science? We don't need more engineers! I've laid off between 600 and 700 engineers. We're sending the work overseas!"

People who say we do need more engineers are misinformed. There might be engineering executives who say there is a shortage, but they are wrong. When Erich Bloch, an ex-IBM vice president was director of the National Science Foundation he made a lot of noise about an engineering shortage in order to bring in many foreign engineers on H1-B visas while companies were laying off American engineers. After Bloch left the National Science Foundation the staffers at the Foundation admitted there was no evidence to support an engineering shortage, that Erich Bloch made up the alleged shortage on his own.

Then there are people who say our students are not all college ready when they graduate because they need remedial work in math. Adding one more year of math to children already far behind in math skills will never make up for a poor elementary school math program.

People concerned about college ready students have the solution backwards. The answer is not in 12th grade, the answer is in elementary school. Fix instruction at the beginning of the pipeline, where the problems are created, not at the end of the pipeline where damage is irreversible.

Some people believe our children will be better employees if they have more math and science. But the Texas Legislature should not seek to subjugate our children to the service of others. What the Texas Legislature should seek is a growing economy with good jobs. We need better employers, not better employees.

A fourth year of math and science is less that worthless for most children, it is an unnecessary burden on the schools and an incentive for marginal students to drop-out.

Here is a quote from a supporter of the 4x4: "I foresee much weeping among students and their parents." Supporters of the 4x4 do not have the best interests of our children in mind.

Our children need a better understanding of history, economics, and finance, not more math and science.

When I saw a U.S. Congressman on C-Span explain why he voted for the bank bailout, the Troubled Asset Relief Fund, he explained that he did not understand economics, so he had to trust the Secretary of the Treasury, Henry Paulson. Notice the Congressman did not say he did not understand math, he did not say he did not understand science, he said he did not understand economics.

A lack of knowledge on economics is crippling the U.S. Congress and Senate, but economics is taught in the Social Studies department, so it gets pushed back for math and science.

Our economy is in the toilet because Wall Street CEOs were ignorant of the history of the Great Depression. They repeated the mistakes of the past and you and I are paying the price for their ignorance with our life's savings. History is taught in the Social Sciences department and will get pushed back with the 4x4 requierments.

A number of special interest groups have conspired to push 4x4 down our throats.

The 4x4 graduation requirements are not for the benefit of our children.

As long as voters gripe but do not vote, our legislators will continue serve the special interst groups at the expense of our children and their future.

Our PISD Board of Trustees has sold us out by embracing Senate Bill SB3 to keep the 4x4 and water-down the school accountability system. Of course they want to water-down the accountability system: The TAKS/TEKS system proves the Plano ISD provides a mediocre education for the average student and PISD wants to cover up their failings!

Robert Canright

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