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New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - April 8, 2011, New Braunfels, Texas Page 4 — Herald-Zeïtung — Friday, April 8, 2011 FORUM Herald-Zeitung Serving Sew Hraunftii and Carnal (aunty time IB52, New Braunfels Zettung was founded 1852 New Braunfels Herald was founded 1890 The two papers merged in 1967 and printed m both German and English until 1958 Pi*r. tr An ‘education Ponzi scam’ I ixcept for weight loss potions, no area of American life is more prone to fads, panaceas and miracle cures than public education. Everybody agrees that schools are failing, and because everybody went to school almost everybody's an expert. Naturally, it's assumed that the biggest experts are those with the most money. Hence the philanthropic enterprises of what Bob Somerby calls the "Billionaire Boys Club" draw outsized attention. Whether it’s New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg or Microsoft's Bill Gates, the guy with the thickest wallet is assumed to have all the answers. Even when that person's badly misinformed. Consider Gates' recent speech to a national governors' conference. "Over the past four decades, the per-student cost of running <)ur K-12 schools has more than doubled, the great man claimed, "while our student achievement has remained virtually flat.... Ib build a dynamic 21st-century economy and offer every American a high-quality education, we need to flip the curve." Alas, this is well-meaning demagoguery. Sure, costs are up. But so is overall student performance. According to National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAHP) — the gold standard" of educational testing— American kids have actually done better in reading and math since about 19B0. You'd think this would be good news. But like TV evangelists, education reformers peddling miracle cures often exaggerate others’ sins. Before going further, it should he stipulated that nobody's yet found a means or motive for cheating on NAEP surveys. That's definitely not so with regard to the kinds of tycoon-endorsed, multiple-choice testing regimens favored by educational celebrities like ex-Washington, D.C public schools chancellor Michelle Rhee—currently making IV appearances in support of a foundation she calls Students!’irst. Michellel irst might be more accurate. Having appeared on the covers of both Newsweek and l ime, the Cornell graduate starred in the pro-privatization documentary "Waiting for Superman." She rose to prominence largely due to her self-proclaimed brilliance as an elementary school teacher in inner-city Baltimore. Rhee's resume described her students' near-miraculous success: Over a two-year period, (Rhee) moved students scoring on average at the 13th percentile on national standardized tests to 90 percent of students GENELYONS Arkansas Democrat -Gazette columnist Gene Lyons is a National Magazine Aurard winner and co-author of “Die Hunting of the President," E-tnail Lyons at scoring at the 90th percentile or higher." If a basketball coach said something so improbable, skeptics would check the record. Presumably because Rhee's tale fits so conveniently with Jeffersonian idealism that sees potential genius everywhere, it was treated as gospel throughout the national media. Philanthropists like Bloomberg and Gates appear to have swallowed it whole. Until Rhee antagonized many educators by running Washington schools like underperforming Wal-Mart outlets, that is: scolding teachers as lazy, incompetent and worse, hiring and firing left and right. See, the latest panacea is all about running schools like businesses: top-down management, strict accounting, merit pay; basically, talking about opportunity and equality, but acting like Donald Trump. During three tumultuous years as chancellor, Rhee sacked dozens of principals and more than 600 teachers. But Rhee had become famous for making the trains run on time, handing out $1.5 million in bonuses to principals and teachers ofWashington schools that produced dramatic jumps in student achievement. Except now it appears she really didn't. An expose by USA Today reveals that scores of high-performing Washington schools displayed "extraordinarily high numbers of erasures on standardized tests. The consistent pattern was that wrong answers were erased and changed to right ones." Although Rhee and current DC school officials declined comment, the newspaper interviewed parents who'd become suspicious when their struggling children brought home sky-high test scores. Although the national media appear determined not to notice, similar testing scandals have taken place in New York, Texas, Georgia, California — basically anywhere school funding and/or jobs have been linked directly to multiple-choice testing. Private charter schools as well as public schools, incidentally. 'This is like an education Ponzi scam," a teacher's union official told USA Today. "If your test scores improve, you make more money. If not, you get fired. That 's incredibly dangerous." Oh, and the Baltimore miracle? Confronted with contemporaneous test scores dug up by a skeptical teacher, Rhee admitted to the Washington Post that she'd soften that 90th percentile business to "significantly.” Editor and Publisher Managing Editor Circulation Diractor Business Manager Advertising Director Doug Toney Autumn Phillips Jeff Fowler Roaie Willingham Jamie Gregg Letters to the Editor We owe teachers thanks for the past, help for the future I’m just writing a good word for our public school teachers, which may not be known by many people. I learned sortie of this from six years on a school board of a small rural school district in Illinois. My knowledge was refreshed last Christmas at a family gathering in Tennessee, attended by my granddaughter and my niece, both of whom are young teachers of lower grade elementary school children, as they engaged in after-dinner conversation about their current teaching experiences. These two young teachers, in class, are brought face to face with children who have relationship problems at home and family poverty. While there may be a few teachers who are so anxious to leave their class that they "beat their students home from school at the end of the day," most are loving, caring persons who do their best to alleviate their students " in school and after school" problems. This includes using some of their own wages to meet classroom needs for material, as well as using personal funds to alleviate poverty at student’s homes when they are able. Most of us are thankful for and have benefited from the guidance, instruction, and help from our teachers during our school years. We owe them not only thanks for the past, but help for the future. Donald L. Hildebrand New Braunfels What is the real reason the city hires so many consultants? Re: Fhe article on the city hiring consultants The following is a definition of a consultant. He is well groomed, wears a shirt with a button down collar, under a high dollar suit, has a silk tie and well-shined shoes. He also has to be at least 50 miles from the home office, drives a new car and carries an alligator brief case. In most cases, a consultant is hired for only two reasons. No. 1 is that there is no one in the organization capable of or competent to perform the service that he is hired to do, or maybe no one wants to make the decision. The other reason and many times the main reason is to have someone outside of the organization to take the blame if things go wrong. When it comes to the City of New Braunfels, take your pick. Gene Klein New Braunfels LETTERS POLICY ■ Letters must be 250 words or less. ■The Herald-Zeitung reserves the right to edit all submissions. ■ Guest columns should be 500 words or less and must be accompanied by a photo. ■ Address and telephone number must be included so authorship can be confirmed. Mail letters to: Letters to Editor c/o Herald-Zeitung RO. Drawer 311328 New Braunfels, TX 78131-1328 Fax them to: (830) 606-3413 »-mail them to: news@herald- Cuts to health care funding will have damaging effect Christus Santa Rosa Hospital — New Braunfels is privileged to serve the health care needs of Comal County. ()ur more than 600 associates and our dedicated medical staff work around the clock, 365 days a year to provide our community with high quality health care, close to home. Despite everyone's best efforts, some illnesses or injuries can’t be healed. And it’s the same way with the budget cuts proposed in Austin. If funding for local hospitals, doctors, and nurses is not maintained, our health care system will he hurt and people all across Texas will feel the consequences. With cuts of 35 percent or more in state reimbursement for care, hospitals will be forced to limit services. Some clinics will close. Emergency room wait times will grow longer for JIMWESSON everyone. lobs will be cut, and unemployment will increase. Hospital layoffs Avill have a ripple effect through our community, touching local businesses from which our hospital and Associates buy goods and services. These cuts can undermine the economic growth of our community. State budget cuts in health care also will cause Texas to lose billions of federal matching dollars for health care. This loss will result in a shift of costs to those of us at the local level -local taxpayers, individuals with private health insurance, and/or local employers who provide health care coverage for their employees. Why would we leave federal dollars on the table, taxes paid by Texans, to support health care in other states? Many of us take health care for granted. If you have a health care crisis, you count on calling 9-1-1, an ambulance arriving in minutes, and a quick trip to the emergency room. But when we are healthy, hospitals are out of mind. Hospitals are not, for instance, like public schools, which engage us daily as parents or grandparents. You probably don’t think about our local hospital most days. But, if an illness or injury occurs, you expect us to be here to heal you and your loved ones with compassion and skill. This is an issue we all should cate about. In the past ten years, our state's Medicaid enrollment has increased by 78 percent. With this increase, Medicaid expenditures have risen at a rate between seven and nine percent because more services are being used by a larger number of recipients. At the same time, hospital reimbursement rates have not increased. In fact, for every $1 of Medicaid inpatient cost, hospitals are paid 60 cents. I know we need a balanced state budget, but please join me in asking our legislators to consider the consequences of deep cuts in health care funding. Visit the Texas Hospital Association's website, and help protect patients and the hospitals, and the doctors and nurses who care for them. Local health care will change for the worse if hospital reimbursement is cut 35 percent or more. Cuts alone cannot solve this budget crisis. The Legislature must look at additional revenue and other options. The need for health care does not disappear simply because the funding does. Christus Santa Rosa Hospital— New Braunfels has made great strides in expanding access to care in our community. We want to be here when you need us. Please help us by making your opinions known to your legislators so we can be here for you. —Jim D. Wesson, FACHE, is vice president/administrator of Christus Santa Rosa Hospital—New Braunfels. ;W!W United States riSjjjjyj Government PRESIDENT ■ Barack Obama 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW Washington, D.C. 20500 SENATE ■ Kay Bailey Hutchison Russell Senate Office Building Room 284 Washington, D.C. 20510 Telephone: (202) 224 5922 Fax: (202) 224-0776 Web: (Send e-mails through Web site.) SAN ANTONIO OFFICE: 145 Duncan Drive, Suite 120 San Antonio 78226 Telephone: (210) 340-2885 Fex: (210) 349-6753 ■ John Cornyn Russell Senate-Hart Room 517 Washington, D.C. 20510 Telephone: (202) 224-2934 Fex: (202) 228-2856 Web: (Send e-mails through Web site.) AUSTIN OFFICE: 221 West Sixth St., Suite 1530 Austin 78701 Telephone: (512) 469-6034 Fox: (512) 469-6020 SAN ANTONIO OFFICE: 600 Navarro, Suite 210 San Antonio 78205 Telephone: (210) 224-7485 Fex: (210) 224-8569 CONGRESSMAN ■ Lamar Smith Rayburn House Office Building Room 2409 Washington, D.C. 20515 Telephone: (202) 225-4236 Fax: (202) 225-8628 Web address: (Send e-mails through Web site.) SAN ANTONIO OFFICE: 1100 NE Loop 410, Suite 640 San Antonio 78209 Telephone: (210) 821-5024 Fax: (210) 821-5947 ■ Henry Cuellar 1404 Longworth House Office Building Washington, D.C. 20515 Telephone: (202) 225-1640 Fax: (202) 225-1641 Web address: SAN ANTONIO OFFICE: 615 E. Houston St. San Antonio 78205 Telephone: (210) 271-2851 Fax: (210) 277-6671 GOVERNOR HOW TO CONTACT Texas Government Minn....... ■ Rick Perry State Capitol, Room 2S.1 RO. Box 12428 Austin 78711 Telephone: (800) 843-5789 Fax: (512)463-1849 STATE HOUSE ■ Doug Miller EXT E 1.216 RO. Box 2910 Austin TX 78768-2910 Telephone: (512) 463-0325 Fax: (512)463-5896 STATE SENATE ■ Jeff Wentworth 1250 NE Loop 410, Suite 925 San Antonio 78209 Telephone: (210) 826-7800 WHILE IN AUSTIN: Telephone: 888-824-6984 E-mail address: jeff. wentworth NEW BRAUNFELS CITY COUNCIL 424 S. Castell Ave. P.O. Box 311747, New Braunfels, TX 781 SI-1747 (830) 221-4000 ■ Mayor Bruce Boyer bboyer@ Telephone: Extension 4507 ■ Dist. 1 Councilor Richard Zapata [email protected] Telephone: Extension 4501 ■ Dist. 2 Councilor Mark Goodner [email protected] Telephone: Extension 4502 ■ Dist. 3 Councilor Mike Ybarra mybarra @ Telephone: Extension 4503 ■ Dist. 4 Councilor Sandy Nolte [email protected] Telephone: Extension 4504 ■ Dist. 6 Councilor Kathleen Krueger kkrueger @ Telephone: Extension 4505 ■ Dist. 6 Councilor Steven Dioqes sdigges @ Telephone: Exte n s i o n 4506 Comal County Commissioners' Court 199 Main Plaza New Braunfels,Tx 78130 (830) 221-1100 ■ COUNTY JUDGE SHERMAN KRAUSE [email protected] Telephone: (830) 221-1105 ■ PCT. 1 COMMISSIONER DONNA ECCLESON [email protected] Telephone: (830) 221-1101 ■ PCT. 2 COMMISSIONER SCOTTHAAG [email protected] Telephone: (830) 221-1102 ■ PCT. 3 COMMISSIONER GREG PARKER [email protected] Telephone: (830) 221-1103 ■ PCT. 4 COMMISSIONER JAN KENNADY [email protected] Telephone: (830) 221-1104 ;