New Caney Independent School District and Its Demographics

Recently I saw an article which discussed that most people who are entrusted to educate and care for the education of the children often are not a reflection of the student population that they serve in the public schools. New Caney ISD has approximately 18 schools (elementary, middle school and high school) in the area. Their demographics are as follows: Board of Trustees (7 total, 100% white), district administrators (62 total, no breakdown of race/ethnicity), and teachers (956 total, 74% white, 19% Hispanic, 4% black, <1% Asian, <1% two or more races). Whereas the demographics of the students (14,677) are as follows: 57% Hispanic, 35% white, 4% black, 2% Asian, 2% two or more races and <1% Native American. Sixty-one percent of the student population is economically disadvantaged.

When turn-over rates are low within a business community, then often that business does better. I don’t think of public education as a business, but I do believe that when teachers are vested in the community (their schools) then the community does better. Of the teachers in NCISD, 96% of them have a bachelor’s degree or higher (74% with a bachelor), 32% of the teachers have been in the district fo.r >= 11 years and 43% have been in the district for < 5 years. In nearby Humble ISD, 45% of their teachers have been with the district >= 11 years and only 29% have been in the district for < 5 years.

When teachers are educating their students about math, science, English, social studies, etc, it should be a given that all children are educated and treated equally regardless of the teacher’s race/ethnicity or tenure at the school. Thus, despite the statistics above, the district strives to ensure that ALL children are educated and treated equally.

Local School Boards and Administration

Last night at the school board meeting with the exception of those students who were receiving awards from their respective high schools (New Caney and Porter). There were only 2 (non-district working) parents in attendance to the meeting that discussed the changes in the school calendar for 2019-2020. As the school board discussed the calendar with the superintendent, the concerns that were brought to their attention were addressed. With short answers and pre-planned thoughts in the sense that although parents’ input was requested the school board, administrators, staff and teachers in the district had already decided that the ‘proposed’ calendar was already passed. This is a school district where the majority of the students are Hispanic, the majority of the students are economically disadvantaged whereas the teachers and the board members are not. This information becomes pertinent because in order to know others struggles you have to be close enough to them to understand.

A couple of weeks ago, I asked where are the parents. Well, most of them will become aware of the school change when they actually enroll their children in school for 2019-2020. Based on the Board and the district: there is no legitimate concern regarding transportation during those weeks off when students may be expected to be at the school, there are no enrichment programs that will be available during those weeks in October and February and for those currently paying for daycare, it will not be a financial strain because school will be starting earlier and so that daycare money can be used for those weeks off during school.

The purpose of the calender change according to the district is to allow for the teachers and students to have more time off. Given the current stressors of teaching, this is fair and reasonable. Yet, to have 2 separate calendars within one district and then to move the Spring Break for the majority of the students to the end of March does not seem reasonable. When the majority of all the other students in other districts and local colleges are out on Spring Break, our children will not be able to participate in the group excursions that are often offered. However, the Infinity Early College High School will be able to do so. Because instead of 2 weeks off, their calendar has them with a 4-day week schedule with Fridays off. Please note that Fridays are already their volunteer days so technically their schedule follows what they already do.

Hopefully, this calendar change will not result in the district’s accountability scores becoming even more lower. When the elementary start time changed from 8:30am to 7:30am several years ago (another major change for parents and students), their state scores begin worsening overall.

Where are the Parents?

On December 17, 2018, the school board (NCISD) will be presented with a calendar proposal that is significantly different from the current calendar.  For some parents and teachers, this is an opportunity to travel more, have more breaks from school and interact more with family.  Other parents see this has a possible hardship for those who have dual working parents, those students who may not get enrichment programs while on break and a shortened summer with a spring break the last week of March.  However, the number of parents showing concern (pro and con) for the new calendar is significantly small in comparison to the number of families actually enrolled in the schools.

It is likely that most parents have just decided that it is what it is.  When the school changed the start time for elementary students from 8:30am to 7:30am at least 3-4 years ago, the concern was that it was a done deal.  Although there were members of the community who likely benefited from the time change, I do not believe that any data has been presented that supports the early start time was beneficial to the students.  There were and still are parents who are not pleased with this early start time for elementary, but once an action has been initiated it is often difficult to change it back.

So I ask, where are the parents? 

School Board Run

Last night, I lost for the second time trying to run for the NCISD School Board of Trustees. It was in 2016, that I decided to run for the board after hearing that our school’s 7th grade soccer team would not be able to play their last game for the season because the other middle school lost several of their players to the ‘no pass, no play’. I fully understand the Perot’s No Pass, No Play rule for it was initiated when I was in middle school many, many years ago. But what I did not understand is that when the school has progress report 1 and progress report 2 grades prior to the actual report card period, how do these kids fail? So in 2017, I ran for the school board with the focus being on open and effective communication with the parents and the school district, trying to have alternative programs in the schools such as AVID and/or community in schools, continuing to exceed state expectations of our students, teachers and administrators, and receiving top recognition as a district. For that race, I garnered approximately 1/3 of the votes and lost to a returning school board member who had lost the year before. For 2018, I decided to run again and this year I was excited because each incumbent had an opponent and would not be running unopposed. This is great for the district because it demonstrates that others do want to be involved with their community as it relates to the children. Since we had received the A-F grade scoring from the state and we had one of the lowest scores in the area (overall rating 76%), my focus remained the same with more specifics. The focus was to have open communications with the board and the parents and to assist parents in knowing how to advocate for their child within the school district, figure out ways to allow teachers to teach based on the skills they acquired when the graduated from college instead of going into a school districts and learning to teach students to the test and most importantly holding administration accountable for the A-F grading considering the overall C grade received from the state (please note that this C is based on a curve because Infinity Early College High School scored a 94%). Again, I garnered approximately 1/3 of the votes and lost to the incumbent. The other 2 positions were won by newcomers. Maybe the school board is not for me, but there is an arena that is available for parents and educators such as myself, I just need to find it. For those parents who voted for me, I thank you and please know that to be an advocate for your child, to encourage those teachers who do an excellent job with your children and to hold the administrators accountable for how well the district does are all important and can be done easily. May our new board be successful in the upcoming year.

School is in Session

This summer I was curious about what seemed to be a higher turnover rate in education. In the past, most teachers remained with a school district for 20 plus years. Nowadays it seems as if a teacher moves to a new district every 3-5 years or leave the profession all together. Of course, I posted my question on Next-Door and even asked a couple of teachers face to face. As with most professions, the reasons why teachers left varied. There were some teachers who sought higher pay, some felt as if their work was not appreciated and some retired after 20 plus years of teaching.

Now that the students are back in school, we have taken the time to meet with our children’s teachers. Some of the teachers are first year educators, some are new to the district and others have been at NCISD for a while. Regardless of their tenure with the school, what is important is that for 2018-2019, these are the people who will spend on average 40 hours per week with our children. We want to build a partnership with them for the sake of our children. Thus, school is in session for all of us.

Reading, Writing, Math in the Summer ?!?!

As we come into the month of July, we are emphasizing to our children about getting back into their workbooks so that they can be ready for the beginning of the new school year.  Of course they are not excited and swear that we are 'hurting' their summer vibe.  So we find ways to cater to their strengths.  One child enjoys math, the other enjoys reading and the third is captivated by video games.  As parents our philosophy differs on how to get them engaged in their learning.  I believe in schedules and their father believes in providing options.  However, in the end it will depend upon the child and their desires and wants to learn more.  Our reader averages 3-4 books per week; our future professional soccer player, is working on understanding algebra as she prepares to enter the 6th grade; and, our oldest is checking out the latest clothes for the new school year.  So yes we make plans for the summer reading, writing and math, but as they get older we appreciate any efforts that they put forth to stay academically prepared.  Check out this book series, it is really good.

 

Parents, Dignity and Discipline

Parents who take the responsibility of raising their child to be respectful, resourceful and independent realizes that this is no easy task.  As children progress from babies, to toddlers, to preschoolers, to pre-teens, to teenagers and to young adults, their behaviors change from simply following instructions to attempting to understand the importance of the instruction.  For some parents who have fallen into because "I said so" or into the "I am my child's friend" mode, the communication may not be as smooth any more.

As children age, they are seeking their dignity among their friends and among society.  They are wanting to be respected and to be able to make their own decisions. However, sometimes they lack the tools that are needed because they are still growing socially and mentally.  With some of these tools missing, the growing child may become frustrated and finding a means to calm them varies depending of the people involved.

So to what extent should discipline be incorporated into the setting in which a growing child is trying to 'find themselves'.  Recall that according to the Webster dictionary, discipline may be either of the following:

a : control gained by enforcing obedience or order

b : orderly or prescribed conduct or pattern of behavior

c : self-control

The ultimate goal should be self-control.  As some parents may have subscribed to time-outs or counting to 3, as the children age they should have a developed understanding of  the proper pattern of behavior.  Once they understand what is considered proper inside and outside of the home, then self-control is what assists them to succeed in their chosen endeavors.

 

When thinking allows one to center, it provides the self-control needed to allow one the dignity amongst their peers.

When thinking allows one to center, it provides the self-control needed to allow one the dignity amongst their peers.

Primary Ballot for Federal, State and Local Offices in the State of Texas

Our greatest turnout in elections are primarily when we are voting for the United States of America President; however, the greatest impact of our votes are when we elect local, state and federal officials who represent us.  They are the greatest impact because they go to Austin to try and help improve our schools and our communities.  They enact the laws by running for judge positions, district clerk positions and justices of the peace.  Do realize that all votes and non-votes do have an impact.  So please take the time to partake in the right that you have as a USA citizen and vote in 2018.

http://montgomeryvoterinfo.com/texas-statewide-political-races

Remembering When We Were Children

The past allows us to see what we did when we were younger.  Riding our bicycles to the other side of town, trying to see who could make it to the park the fastest.  Playing H-O-R-S-E on the hoop with no net and yes sometimes it was the free throw that won the game.  Lighting the stove with a match to turn it on, so that we could help cook the breakfast.  In the 1980s, when Ross Perot was head of the Select Committee on Public Education, the major "No Pass, No Play" entered the great State of Texas from a Republican billionaire who had his children in private school.  Then the testing of the students began followed by testing the teachers.  This was meant to make Texas' education system better.  What happened?

Net Neutrality (Open Internet Access): Voice Your Opinion

**UPDATE: on Dec. 14, 2017 by a vote of 3-2 Net Neutrality was 'voted out'.  Based on the vote, there will be a change on how streaming and other internet options may be received, of course there will likely be court battles before this fully goes in to effect.**

On December 14, 2017, the Federal Communications Commission will be voting on Net Neutrality.  If Net Neutrality is voted out, then we will begin to hinder the advancement of our children in the world of technology.  You can sign petitions and speak to your neighbors, but the greatest impact will be to contact the FCC and go on record.  Below is their contact information and the comment that I sent to them today.  Please be heard and speak up this week.

FCC 1-888-225-5322 or http://www.fcc.gov/ecfs/filings/express regarding Proceeding number 17.108

My comment was as follows:

"In order for the citizens of US to continue advancing in technology, it is pertinent to allow all Americans the SAME access to the internet without 'slicing and dicing' it into various portions that require higher payments for faster speeds. Many of our children in public schools are provided chrome books and I-pads in order to do their school work at home and if they are not allowed internet access as it currently stands, then we are only pushing them further behind other countries. Please leave the net neutrality in place. The corporations can make their money elsewhere. Do not let the vast majority of the children suffer because our current administration wants to focus more on corporate America than its American working citizens."