ETX educators work to develop new vision for teaching students - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

ETX educators work to develop new vision for teaching students


East Texas educators said it is time for the public education system to change and, on Tuesday, they took the first step toward that new vision.

Educators met with local business leaders and state officials to get feedback on a grassroots effort to transform education philosophy.

Educators kicked off the summit with a bold slide that read, "The perfect way for me to demonstrate what I've learned in school is a standardized test-said no one ever."

It is a presentation educators hope will grab the attention of business leaders, state officials and eventually, the Texas legislature.

"I think the testing mindset got started because people felt frustrated that they needed to make schools more accountable, but the system has taken a turn in a direction that nobody really wanted and that is that it has become test-centered," said Tom Mullins with the Tyler Chamber of Commerce.

Superintendents from across East Texas agree that too much emphasis on standardized testing has taken away from skills business leaders said are essential to have in the workplace.

"I think if we teach kids to have a strong work ethic, good communication skills, the ability to collaborate with one another; I think that is going to make better workers," said Bullard Independent School District's superintendent, Keith Bryant.

However, with constant budget cuts, how can educators infuse new ways of learning into the classroom?

"We're expected to test at a higher level and we really need to engage kids in 21st Century learning that includes technology and to do that in an age where our budgets have been drastically reduced is challenging," Bryant said.

It is something Matt Schaefer, candidate for State Representative, said he will fight to change.

"I think there's a general agreement in Austin that things need to change. And from my perspective, that change comes from giving more local control to our local school districts. I don't agree with teaching to the tests, I think we need to be teaching to the child," Schaefer said.

With input from local business leaders and state officials, educators hope these summit meetings will produce a plan they can take to Austin.

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