Rob Eissler

School finance deal reached: part Eissler, part Shapiro

May 27, 2011 By Paul Burka

This is an exact quote from the working paper of a senior adviser to Straus: Option 1 Year 1–50% reduction from target revenue & 50% reduction from regular program Year 2–50% reduction from target revenue & 50% reduction from regular program Provisions sunset 8/31/2-13 Interim Committee to study school finance…

Dueling Education Debates

Apr 29, 2009 By Patricia Kilday Hart

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…

Accountability bills will be debated today in both houses

Apr 29, 2009 By Paul Burka

By Abby Rapoport Given the amount of prep work Rob Eissler has done to make HB 3 acceptable to the potential critics, today's debate on education accountability may well breeze along. But if the sparks start to fly, here are some fires to watch out for: Career and Technical Standards Dora Olivo, the sole nay vote on the Public Ed committee, has been vocal in her concerns that the new standards allow Career and Technical classes to count in the four by four grid. “This isn’t shop!” Eissler said, in defending the new system. The issue illustrates the divide between Eissler, who sees CT classes as opportunities for relevance and advancement and Olivo, who worries that such classes will represent a return to "tracking" that allows counselors to push at-risk students into classes with less rigorous standards. Olivo wants CT classes to have the same rigorous standards as classes in the "recommended" and "advanced" diploma plans. Testing Olivo has been firm in her criticism of an accountability system based on testing. Eissler's bill represents a significant departure from high-stakes testing; his bill only requires students to pass two end-of-course exams, in Algebra II and English III, as opposed to the Shapiro's version Senate’s version, which has eight exams students must take. Olivo's uneasiness with standardized tests is rooted in the criticisms of several UT education professors. Let's just say that this is where the debate could get testy.

Accountability bill clears committee; emphasizes college readiness; ends high-stakes testing

Apr 22, 2009 By Paul Burka

This post was written by by Abby Rapoport, Texas Monthly intern--PB HB 3, Rob Eissler’s school accountability bill, passed out of committee with only one “no” vote—no easy feat given the opposition he faced from many school groups and minority lawmakers when he laid out the bill a month ago. The bill addresses what Eissler calls, “the three Rs—rigor, relevance and relationships.” Ultimately, the bill pushes Texas to become one of the top ten states in achieving post-secondary readiness. It requires districts to increase the number of students meeting college readiness standards--not just passing standards--and follows students during their college years to see if readiness standards are sufficient to assure college success. The education commissioner determines the specifics of the standards, but the trend toward post-secondary readiness is clear. It offers three high school diploma plans—advanced, recommended, and minimum. Regarding the recommended plan, the bill maintains the current 4 by 4 structure (English, math, science, and social studies requirements for four years of high school), as well as requiring two years of a language. Additionally, it allows students to take eight undefined electives within the recommended plan. (Currently the SBOE defines such electives.) Students on the minimum plan will still have defined electives. However, math and science is only mandated through Algebra II and Physics. The new curriculum also emphasizes Career and Technical and applied classes and allows them to be used in the 4 by 4 plan. The curriculum also gets rid of the unpopular rule that 65 percent of educational expenditures must go to the classroom, which made it difficult to fund other parts of school budgets like cafeterias and school buses. The bill has been a clear priority for the Public Education chairman since the beginning of the session; he spent much of the committee’s first meeting explaining goals the bill contains. He outlined his plan to move away from high stakes testing focusing on minimum performance. “We’re gonna get out of that game,” Eissler said then. At the time, he particularly emphasized that campuses would earn distinction for achievement in specific areas, like closing gaps, 21st Century Workforce Development, fine arts, and physical education (among others).

TxDOT under fire

Mar 5, 2009 By Paul Burka

Yesterday (Wednesday) was a tough day for TxDOT. After the usual routine of resolutions congratulating this and that, and welcoming these and those, the House session ended with a resolution aimed squarely at the transportation agency. Dunnam, Coleman, and other lawmakers are unhappy that TxDOT rushed to decide how to…

Let the speculation begin

Jan 19, 2009 By Paul Burka

Committee appointments will be the first real test of the Straus speakership. How many of the 149 members can he satisfy? Here are some of the problems he will face: —Straus has said that there will be no retaliation against Craddick loyalists. Good luck in keeping that promise. The ABCs…

A Suggestion for Straus

Jan 8, 2009 By Paul Burka

Before election day, when it still seemed as if Tom Craddick might win reelection as speaker, Terral Smith told me about what he hoped to do with committee assignments. Rather than use vice-chairmanships as a reward for loyal team members, Smith wanted to replicate the relationship between Rob Eissler and…