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Blinn students use classroom project to affect change in state education system

Students establish interest group, make presentation to State Board of Education on college readiness

June 29, 2016

Four Blinn College students have taken a course project outside the classroom to affect change in the Texas education system.

Angela Triola (Cypress), Celia Gomez (Hearne), Daniel Almond (Montgomery) and Katherine Brief (Friendswood) teamed up this Spring for a project in their Texas Government course in which they were asked identify a problem in the community, research the issue to determine possible solutions, and ultimately work to solve the problem through the formation of an interest group.

Triola, Gomez, Almond and Brief focused on public education curriculum reform, calling their interest group Curriculum Objective Reform for Education, or CORE. They collected various forms of data, including an interview with Vice Chair of the State Board of Education Thomas Ratliff, interviews with Blinn students and professors, as well as surveys to gauge opinions on whether K-12 education prepares students for higher education. Sixty percent of respondents said Texas schools fall short in equipping students for college.

The students established a platform for CORE, lobbying for teaching the theory of evolution, higher pay and qualifications for teachers, additional requirements for special education teachers and decreased emphasis on standardized testing.

Compiling the project ignited a passion in the group. They decided the endeavor was more than a college assignment, and signed up to speak at a recent meeting of the State Board of Education in Austin.

After hours of research, including the review of a 300-page document on special education, Brief delivered a presentation to the board on college readiness, focusing on class size and its effect on minority students.

Following the presentation, Brief was pulled aside by District 15 board member Marty Rowley, who thanked her for her presentation and urged the group to continue its research and push for changes in the public education system.

“Through this course we learned we could actually affect people, so we did,” Triola said. “The course may be over, but we’re going to do everything we can to continue CORE as a student organization.”
Each group member expressed similar sentiment.

“This has been a huge learning experience for us,” Almond said. “I feel like I’m prepared for my career after college. It’s helped me learn how to network and speak to politicians. It’s been an eye-opening experience. I thank Blinn and Professor Gilbert Schorlemmer for all of it.”