Rep. Jay Dean talks education with area officials

State Rep. Jay Dean hosted an open forum with superintendents and board members from area school districts at Longview ISD on Wednesday, July 22nd. 

Rep. Jay Dean talks education with area officials

Wed Jul 22, 2020

zQ93k6.jpgState Rep. Jay Dean (R-Longview) was at Longview Independent School District's administration building Wednesday, July 22, hosting an open forum with superintendents and board members from area school districts.

Dr. James Wilcox, LISD Superintendent of Schools, said he was pleased with the constructive dialogue and insightful perspectives that the meeting produced.

HyNXiv.jpg"We appreciate Rep. Dean for being such a tremendous supporter and advocate for public education in Texas by hearing and trying to address the various concerns and questions facing schools during this difficult time," he said. "As we continue to move forward, we hope to have more of these kinds of conversations with our state and local elected officials."

The meeting covered the Texas Education Agency’s recent suggestions, as well as possible plans to reopening schools for 2020-2021.

“I know this isn’t easy and it’s taking a whole lot of effort on the part of you and your staff, but we want to commend you for the work you’re all doing,” Rep. Dean said.

o7Z7O5.jpgOn the subject of campus safety and liability issues, Longview ISD's Assistant Superintendent of District Services Dr. James Hockenberry asked about the potential for inadvertent violations of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).

"Especially when we are providing synchronous learning and if a potential incident occurs while 'live instruction' is taking place," he said.

Rep. Dean said those are "precisely the sorts of detailed inquiries" that must be addressed from the highest levels of the state, in order for local school districts to be able to adequately develop firm contingencies for the coming school year.

"That's another example of the kinds of issues that must be discussed and seriously considered at the state level," he added. "Because it's an excellent question, and one that I'm sure is a very common concern among public school officials, as well as teachers."

cIX8tI.jpgSpring Hill ISD Superintendent Dr. Wayne Guidry brought up the concern about Average Daily Attendance and how — during even "normal" times — it is a structural problem for funding.

“This past year my daughter showed up to class and a cheerleader showed up with pneumonia because she didn’t want to get demerits,” Dr. Guidry said. “I don’t know if I have an answer, but to me, it seems like a problem.”

Dr. Guidry went on, stating that when ADA started, there was a lack of overall data.

“That was the only metric we had. ‘If students are in school every day, they must be learning.’ We don’t need that anymore,” Dr. Guidry said. “We have so much data now, we don’t know what to do with it all.”

Rep. Dean agreed that the ADA system needs to be looked at.

“We’ve got a 40-year-old funding mechanism that we’re still using. It doesn’t work like it was intended,” he said. 

Another point that was brought up that can be an issue with the current pandemic is the STAAR testing.

W3enac.png“I just don’t really see how we can logistically, honestly do a STAAR test,” said White Oak ISD Superintendent Mr. Brian Gray. “It’s just going to be a challenge on so many levels. So I really don’t understand the push to keep that in place.”

Rep. Dean stated that he agrees, and believes that during even during a non-pandemic, "The STAAR testing needs to be looked at."

“Forget about what we’re going through right now; I’ve not heard anything positive about this whole program from my superintendents for the last three sessions,” Rep. Dean said. “We’ve got to come up with something that’s more suitable.”