First, here’s an update from Abby Rappaport on the House: Dawnna Dukes just lost the most exciting battle thus far on her amendment to eliminate school closures. Dukes spoke at length about the troubles at Webb Elementary School and argued that some school districts don’t mind school closure. “That just means one less building with M&O that they don’t have to deal with in a part of town they weren’t paying attention to,” she said. Rob Eissler motioned to table as he maintained that no school has to be closed under his bill and in fact there are more options for schools now (reconstitution in stead of closure, a year after reconstitution and a year at the commissioner’s discretion for improving schools). After lengthy debate, Dukes lost on a division vote. But until now, things have been pretty calm. Eissler had only motioned to table one other amendment (out of 26). The other amendment, from Guillen, would have changed the minimum plan to the “standard plan.” And Eissler and Ryan Guillen compromised on “basic plan.” No harm, no foul. Most of the other amendments have focused on strengthening Career and Technical programs to ensure rigor. Some, like Patrick Rose and Marc Veasey, sought to ensure classes would maintain end of course exams and could be revoked if they did not maintain standards. Al Edwards even went so far as to require that the CT classes help students prepare for the work world by addressing “workforce etiquette and dress and grooming standards” in addition to emotional readiness. Joaquin Castro got his amendment asking the commissioner to consider a district’s promotion of “college aspirations” and Eddie Lucio is working an amendment to limit school counselors’ time away from their core job of advising students. Although Castro told us a while back that strengthening the role of guidance counselor may be a part of top ten percent compromises, Lucio said his amendment have nothing to do with such discussions. Meanwhile, the Senate debate has been mostly calm, but Steve Ogden is strenuously objecting to an amendment by Royce West which would delay implementation until 2013-14. West argues that it will take time to develop new tests to determine college readiness in certain areas. “You make it sound like it’s rocket science and it’s not. I submit to you that you and I could sit down and write the Alrgebra I test in a week. I would suggest its another excuse to delay accountability…While we fiddle Rome bills.” West unashamedly took refuge behind Florence Shapiro’s skirt, asking Ogden if he trusted the Senate’s education chairwoman’s judgement — pointing out she deemed the amendment acceptable. West prevails, 20-9.
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