Save Us From Educationese, Teachers Plead

     AUSTIN (CN) – The Texas commissioner of education is forcing teachers to submit lesson plans via a jargon-filled computer template rather than in normal English, three teachers claim in court.
     Edith Porter and two other teachers sued the Ysleta Independent School District and Commissioner of Education Michael Williams in Travis County Court.
     Ysleta is outside of El Paso.
     The teachers are appealing Williams’ July 2 ruling that allows their principal to force them to use the computerized template for preparing lesson plans.
     The template includes objectives for the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills standardized exams and the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills state-mandated curriculum.
     The teachers claim Williams erroneously interpreted a section of the Texas Education Code which states that teachers may not be required to prepare written information other than a lesson plan that outlines, in a brief and general manner, the information to be taught.
     “There is no evidence that this action was pursuant to any school board policy or that the template was required in any other school in the district,” the complaint states. “The template in part required lesson plans include: 1) the relevant TEKS (elements of the course as listed in state rule) by ‘reference number and letter;’ 2) the ‘TAKS Objective number with the description of the objective;’ 3) the ‘Lesson Objective;’ 4) the ‘Lesson Activities/Strategies’ including the ‘resource(s) the student will be using;’ 5) the ‘different assessments you will be using;’ 6) any ‘modifications and/or differentiated activities;’ 7) ‘homework’ requirements and ‘materials;’ and 8) the ‘cognitive’ level of the lesson.”
     The plaintiffs compare this with a lesson plan at another school in the district, where only a “brief and general description” is required.
     Teachers, particularly experienced teachers, often view this as
     They also say the district has failed to act on a paperwork reduction law and that there are no board reports, no memos and no districtwide guidelines for lesson plans.
     Ysleta ISD is the second largest school district in El Paso. It has 62 campuses and employs 8,000 administrators, teachers and staff, according to its website.
     The teachers want the commissioner’s decision reversed, as a violation of the Texas Education Code.
     They are represented by Jefferson Brim, with Brim Arnett of Austin.

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