Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Its off to school we go...NOT

Nah, we're too busy building prisons to worry about more and better colleges.

And I do blame NEISD for being different in their rating system. if you need to be in the top 10% to get in why wouldn't NEISD use the same system as other schools to maximize the number of its students who could then qualify?

Explain that please, Superintendent Middleton.

Castillo: State's shortage of top-tier public university campuses hurts students
Jaime Castillo Express-News

A lot of things don't make sense about education policy in Texas:

A public school finance system that ensures "property poor" school districts get no annual increase in funding, unless they can sell a tax increase to voters;

A chairman of the State Board of Education who doesn't want schoolchildren to learn "crazy" Chinese words, unless they're useful for ordering takeout;

And a higher education hierarchy in the University of Texas System that includes one Cinderella school — the flagship Longhorns in Austin — and a brood of more homely stepsisters — UTSA, UTEP, etc.

The last one has been getting increasing attention lately.

Last week, an 18-year-old white student from Sugar Land filed a lawsuit against the University of Texas, contending she wasn't accepted because of racial and ethnic preferences in the school's admissions policy.

The student — Abigail Noel Fisher — will reportedly graduate from Stephen F. Austin High School in the top 12 percent of her class next month.

On Monday, readers of the San Antonio Express-News were then introduced to Catherine Barnhill, a Churchill High School junior, who also may not realize her dream of attending UT.
Barnhill has an A average, plays soccer and takes a load of Advanced Placement courses.
Yet, because the North East Independent School District ranks its students differently from other districts, Barnhill likely won't finish in the top 10 percent, which guarantees admission at any of the state's public universities.

The true culprit here, despite the protestations of the interest group working on behalf of Fisher, is not the straw man of affirmative action. It's not the state's top 10 percent law.

And, while it makes no sense why the state's public schools don't have a uniform way of determining class rank, it's not NEISD's fault.

The reason why Fisher, Barnhill and countless others might not get to go to UT is because the state only has two flagship public universities — UT and Texas A&M.

A state with one of the biggest and fastest-growing populations in the country should have more than two top-tier campuses of higher learning.

In the not too distant future, virtually all of UT's incoming freshman classes will be limited to those who graduated in the top 10 percent.

And, as it is, many of Texas' top high school graduates are already heading out of state.

Last year, then-UT System Chancellor Mark Yudof told the Express-News Editorial Board that another top-tier institution needs to be developed, perhaps even at UTSA.

Yudof floated the idea of state lawmakers putting $50 million to $100 million into the higher education budget and earmarking it for flagship university development.

Talk about lead balloons.

For years, the state's leadership has equated forward educational thinking with controversial standardized testing at the public school level.

But even if it worked perfectly — and it doesn't — there aren't enough top-tier institutions in Texas to meet the demand.

If you don't think so, consider the choice Yudof recently made when he left Texas for a similar position as the president of the University of California.

The 10-campus UC system, which is considered by some as the nation's best collection of public research institutions, has five medical centers, three national laboratories, and Berkley and UCLA.

The UT System includes nine universities and six health science institutions. It has an annual operating budget of $10.7 billion.

With fewer campuses to feed, the annual budget in the California system is $18 billion.

You do the math.