The following is the Executive Director’s Message from the summer 2015 issue of INSIGHT, the professional journal of the Texas Association of School Administrators:
By the time the Texas Legislature convenes in January 2017, 10 years will have passed since the 35 superintendents in TASA’s Public Education Visioning Institute came together as a community of learners to create a new vision for public education in Texas.
They began with a conversation about the need for superintendents and other school leaders to be more engaged in the development of state policy affecting the future direction for Texas public education. They lamented the fact that legislators and other external decision makers knew what school superintendents were against, but had not articulated — collectively, at least — what they were for.
Following 21 months of learning and intense dialogue, these superintendents published Creating a New Vision for Public Education in Texas, a document that still serves as the framework for our school transformation initiatives at TASA. This document, though still a work in progress, has inspired many.
In 2012, more than 880 school boards adopted a resolution expressing opposition to the over-reliance on high-stakes, standardized testing. School board members, local school leaders, parents, and community members became actively engaged in the debate surrounding the current accountability system.
The superintendents who participated in the Visioning Institute who wanted more school leaders to be engaged in public policy development have now seen that happen with the creation of the Texas High Performance Schools Consortium (Senate Bill 1557, 82nd Legislature).
Other successes include legislation to reduce the focus on high-stakes, standardized testing (83rd and 84th Legislatures) and the recent formation of the Texas Commission on Next-Generation Assessment and Accountability (House Bill 2804, 84th Legislature).
The most recent indicators of the Institute’s influence are legislative initiatives focused on high-priority learning standards, a pilot initiative to develop an alternative writing assessment, and community-focused accountability. Likewise, the State Board of Education’s interest in developing high-priority learning standards and its initiative to update the Long-Range Plan for Public Education can be linked to our school transformation efforts. Among school districts, the growing interest in TASA’s School Transformation Network, our Academy for Transformational Leadership, and other initiatives is further evidence of progress toward fulfilling the vision.
As we embark on another school year and prepare for the 85th legislative session, we encourage TASA members to provide input on our legislative positions. We also invite our members to participate in TASA’s professional learning opportunities — all directed toward creating and sustaining student-centered schools and developing future-ready students.
Johnny L. Veselka, TASA Executive Director