Education forum participants talk tests, policies (Video)

Victoria Speaks, community members discuss the state of public education at the Victoria school district conference center with representatives from the American Federation of Teachers.

On thinly lined blue notecards, community members and area school district administrators shared ideas about how to improve public education in Texas.

About 14 participants voiced their concerns at an open forum hosted by the American Federation of Teachers.

The talks occurred Thursday night at the VISD conference center.

Of the teachers, principals and school board members in attendance, one parent was there to put in her 2 cents.

Phyllis Keller said she thinks report cards should be what students are graded on at the end of the year - instead of end-of-course exams created by the state.

"You have a standardized method of teaching that should be your benchmarks, not some big test at the end," Keller said. "My kids just considered that a joke the whole time."

The parent offered her views at a table shared by Victoria school district Superintendent Robert Jaklich and school board Vice President Bernard Klimist.

The first question posed to the table asked attendees whether all students have equal access to a high-quality education.

The recently appointed superintendent, who was at the helm of the Harlandale School District a year ago, said the property value-based system used to measure how much money a district receives per student is a big part of the problem in unequal access.

"How that works out is not appropriate because we're giving the neediest students the lowest amount of funding," Jaklich said. "There is weighting for the economically disadvantaged, but it still does not meet what they need as a whole."

Klimist agreed with Jaklich and took his point further by emphasizing that the requirements of No Child Left Behind have made it almost impossible for students to attain equal resources.

"It's a dichotomy," Klimist exclaimed. "To ensure quality, we have to take the focus off demographics and put it on the learning ability of the child."