Mid-Winter Update

by Coy Holcombe.  

The Mid-Winter Conference has not been a disappointment. On Monday, I attended a session called UIL Update. We got to hear from the executive director of the UIL, the athletic director of the UIL, and the director on policy. While they offered no hint at what is coming on the new re-alignment, they did talk about the process of re-alignment. They stated that they are already looking at the 2012 re-alignment and talked about the possibility of adding a 6A conference among other things. The re-alignment information will be made available at 9:00 AM, February 1.

The first general session was keynoted by author Dan Tapscott. He is the author of the books Growing Up Digital and Grown Up Digital. He offered insights into how this generation of students learn differently than previous generations of students.

Following the general session, I attended a breakout session on a new math course that has been put together by the Dana Center. The course is designed for the fourth year of math and requires Algebra II as a prerequisite. The course focuses on mathematics applications and has a strong segment of statistics. We will be examining this course to see if it would meet the needs of some of the students at EISD.

Another informative breakout session was presented by Discovery Learning. The focus in this presentation was on professional development with respect to technology integration in the classroom.

I attended another session in which the president of the Texas Higher Education Commission discussed the necessity of greater collaboration between institutes of higher ed and public education. Texas has made some great strides in post-secondary readiness, but will require even more collaboration with the PK-12 sector to meet the goal of both college ready and workplace ready graduates.

The second general session featured Texas Education Commissioner Robert Scott. He discussed many aspects of education in Texas. He discussed at length the decision not to apply for Race to the Top funds. He also discussed the new accountability system that will be in place in the 2012 school year. Among the other topics he discussed were dropouts, graduation rate, and college readiness. Mr. Scott also stated that he was going to informally sunset many of the rules governing schools and hold discussions on their usefulness and necessity. He made several references to keeping local decisions at the local level without excessive state rules.

Personnel from TASA presented an overview of the most important points coming up for the next legislative session. There was volumes of information presented in this hour session. Among the most pressing issues that lawmakers will face in the coming legislative session are decreased sales tax revenues and a deficit at the state level.

There will be a few sessions tomorrow. I will have a full update on those sessions on Thursday.

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