Ewing vs. Bradley
Tuesday, September 02, 2008
Despite 2008 political groans against the Republican Party, David Bradley is confident voters in District 7 for the State Board of Education will rightly re-elect him this November.
“I have a record,” he stated as he listed issues he has dealt with as a member of the state’s top education agency.
“I have a record of requiring accuracy in textbooks, requiring memorization of the multiplication tables in early grades, requiring grammar to be taught and punctuation to be graded and a record of trying to reduce the size and the scope of the state and federal government on the impact of local classrooms.”
“It’s the best nonpaying job a fellow could ask for,” he said.
The SBOE is responsible for more than 1,200 school districts statewide and more than 7,800 campuses and is responsible for adopting educational goals for nearly 4.5 million public school children every year.
Education standards and accountability have actually shifted the wrong way, according to Laura Ewing’s campaign, citing the TAKS testing as taking too much time out of actual teaching recently.
Some may perceive the standardized testing status quo as attendance checks counting more so than enrichment, but Ewing disagrees.
“I believe very strongly that most educators care deeply for the success of their students. No one works as hard as educators do for the amount of money they earn, to simply accept average daily attendance checks. I believe there is wide support for enrichment, but I believe we need to provide even more opportunities for students to learn at a different pace and at different levels. I believe we need more options for study at the secondary level,” she said.
Ewing, an educator for more than 30 years in various schools and active member of the Texas Council for the Social Studies claimed, “The SBOE needs to address the increasing drop-out rate, prepare students for the 21st century and ensure responsible investment of the $25 billion Permanent School Fund.”
She believes that, “by including a greater variety of courses for graduation credit, the SBOE can better meet the diverse needs of the student population. Non-English speaking students need opportunities to learn English while studying the required subjects. Students who are not college-bound need additional class options with rigorous standards that will prepare them for the work world. Courses also need to include standards that prepare students for civic responsibilities through authentic learning experiences.”
Ewing advocates teaching critical thinking skills, knocking Bradley as a leader that thinks critical thinking is a “bunch of gobbledygook.”
According to Ewing, The Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills, the state objectives or learning standards, actually require higher-level thinking skills. “With information doubling every year and the different career choices that our students will have as adults, teaching critical thinking skills is essential. We can no longer rely on a stagnant set of facts that everyone can memorize and be successful,” she said. “Workers and parents of the future will need to rely on their ability to think on their feet. So teaching how to think critically is the key to our students’ success.”
Bradley was quick to point out the context of his quote stating that teaching critical thinking skills for Kindergarten to fifth-graders would be wasting time, especially on teaching for “jobs that don’t yet exist.”
He emphasized the Board should make smart decisions when it comes to addressing the needs of the 21st century student.
Bradley said he has worked consistently on English and language arts, trying to reform the curriculum and language in the classroom, an issue that remains a hot-button one in Austin. Bradley said schools should focus on the basics, taking a shot right at Ewing’s job as a curriculum specialist for the Pearland school district.
“The conservatives on the board wanted to focus on punctuation, wanted to focus on spelling, capitalization and reintroduce grammar. I think the curriculum should be easily explainable without paying for a curriculum specialist in the districts,” he said.
He added those specialists are paid by the districts to tailor and simplify curriculum needs for the districts.
Ewing has been equally vocal against Bradley claiming he has no real educational experience since he works in insurance and has not utilized the public school system.
“My opponent homeschooled his children, rejecting the same public school system he wants to govern,” she said. Bradley’s son graduated from a public high school though, he says. Most recently, Ewing served on the Friendswood City Council from 2003 until 2008 when she resigned and announced her candidacy for District 7.
“Ms. Ewing has a record, too. As a former city council member, she voted against English being the required language in Friendswood,” he said.
Ewing’s vote was against adding an “English-only” charter amendment on the ballot for Friendswood in 2007. That council vote was 5-2.
“While I do not believe this should be an issue in this race, he has deliberately and divisively made it an issue just to score political points,” Ewing said.
According to Ewing, the incident leading up to the proposal regarding a homeowner and a city worker was isolated and the charter amendment measure would have been too extreme in the multicultural community.
“I do not believe that one incident warranted the efforts made to declare English as an official language,” she continued.
Ewing said she strives to keep the focus on the students.
One avenue she proposes is increasing career and technology courses for graduation requirements and starting foreign language education in elementary schools, while Bradley believes that four years of math and science should be mandatory for the college-bound students.
District 7 of the SBOE is comprised of Brazoria, Chambers, Galveston, Harris and Jefferson Counties.
Election Day is Nov. 4.
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