This weekend, thousands of Texas public school administrators and school board members will descend on San Antonio for the annual Texas Education Conference (txED22) to learn, among other topics, “how to respond to parent concerns over instructional issues.”
txED22 is hosted by the Texas Association of School Administrators (TASA) and the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB)––both taxpayer-funded lobbying groups for school officials that oppose “vouchers,” i.e. school choice.
The txED conference website boasts, “This is the largest convening of Texas public education decision-makers.”
“Controversies in the Classroom” is a pre-conference session with a $50 registration fee on top of the general registration fee—$625 for non-TASB/TASA members or $525 for TASB/TASA members. However, if your school district sends the entire school board and superintendent, they can “take advantage” of the “low rate of $425.”
According to the program, school attorneys will teach attendees “Controversies in the Classroom” strategies for responding to “challenges to instructional resources to complaints about social studies curriculum categorized as ‘critical race theory,’” which remains in school classrooms despite claims otherwise.
Workshop attendees are also warned that “dissatisfied parents may look to home schooling or vouchers” if their concerns are not addressed. The workshop will also discuss the “impact of privatization of education.”
Other workshops address the management of current school controversies, such as explicit books in children’s libraries, critical race theory (CRT) in classrooms, and social-emotional learning (SEL).
A presentation by Victoria ISD Superintendent Quintin Shepherd “will discuss the barriers of implementing SEL frameworks.”
Notably, Victoria ISD recently came under fire from local parents, causing deputy Superintendent Michael Kuhrt to resign after only two weeks in the position. Kuhrt was recommended by Shepard despite a sketchy record as former superintendent of Wichita Falls.
Additionally, one sponsor of the txED22 conference is Panorama Education, an “education technology company that partners with schools and districts to support student literacy and social-emotional learning (SEL)” and collects student data for district use.
Panorama Education was co-founded by Alexander Tanner, the son-in-law of U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland (who made headlines last fall when he created a task force to investigate parents who protested at school board meetings).
Workshops are also available on topics ranging from equitable student outcomes to LGBT issues, bonds, and the Public Information Act.
“Transgender Students in Texas Schools: What You Need to Know” is a workshop that will be presented by the American Civil Liberties Union and host “transgender, nonbinary, and gender diverse students” to share “their experiences in Texas public schools and challenges they face in areas such as names and pronouns, bullying, access to restrooms, sports, and dress codes.”
Another workshop, titled “From Disruption to Engagement through the Prosper ISD School Board Promise,” will be presented by Prosper ISD trustees Bill Beavers and Debra Smith, as well as Superintendent Holly Ferguson.
Prosper ISD, and Ferguson in particular, have been the subject of parental ire this past month, after covering up a sex abuse scandal involving a school bus driver and two young girls who were 5 and 7 at the time.
Nevertheless, the workshop claims “Prosper ISD trustees found themselves in disbelief about the level of disruption at school board meetings and ongoing attacks on social media regarding the district’s work.”
Attendees can “learn how the board along with the superintendent and key leadership committed to reconnecting with the community and creating a story of impact through an initiative called the Prosper Promise.”
Prosper ISD parents seem to disagree.
Concerned citizens can contact their local school board to find out if their tax dollars are funding trips to the txED22 conference this weekend.
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