Archive for May, 2012

THANKING A BUSINESS LEADER WHO IS PART OF THE SOLUTION!

When superintendents complain about school funding and an over-emphasis on standardized testing, many state politicans roll their eyes or use it to talk tough about “inefficiency” and “low standards”.   But more and more in Texas, we’re finding that parents and the business community are echoing the concerns of district superintendents and boards.  I’m especially thankful for the businesses who support us with their time and resources – here in Pearland and elsewhere.  The Texas public school giant in this area is H.E.B. which has donated millions of dollars to shining public schools over the past decade.

Upon reading a recent interview in the Houston Chronicle (http://www.chron.com/news/houston-texas/article/H-E-B-s-chief-walks-the-walk-on-education-3537542.php, this past Sunday, I was both amazed and humbled by the knowledge and good sense displayed by Charles Butt, the CEO of H.E.B.

Among the gems in that interview are the following quotes from Charles:

“You have well over 1,000 school districts in Texas and they vary in quality from ones that have terrific, dedicated boards and great supers who attract great principals who fight to get and retain strong teachers, and then you have others who are somewhat dysfunctional.  It’s a classroom-by-classroom matter.  There’s no silver bullets, no magic pills.  It really depends on ALL of us to address it.”

When he was asked about recent state budget cuts, he said:

“The top Texas private schools charge – and I’m talking about just the very top group of maybe eight schools – they charge around $20,000 a year for a non-boarder.  The state spends about half that.  So you might ask the question:  Are the private schools just wasting that extra $10K?  I don’t think they are.”

After saying that “Leadership trumps money, he went on to say:

“But many people who don’t want the state to spend more use that as an excuse not to spend more.   It really is a combination of great teaching, great leadership and adequate funding.” 

When complimented about his command of these education statistics he said:  

“It’s a passion of mine, it really is.  The last 10 years or so I’ve gotten myself pretty involved in it because I feel the future of Texas is really tied to what we do about this.” 

And when asked about standardized testing, he said:

“I think we’re over-testing.  There’s so much focus on the test that it has robbed teachers of some of the joys of teaching and it has robbed students of some of the joys of learning.  It’s also narrowed the curriculum so that there’s not enough room for a teacher who loves a particular book…. We need a system of high standards, referred to in education-speak as rigor, and we need accountability, but we’ve gone overboard on the accountability and testing at the sacrifice of learning.”   

Pearland ISD recently received a 5 Star Rating as among the very best in Texas for financial efficiency and high student performance – based on achievements occuring before I arrived here this past August.  Our district has recently joined many others who are now formally protesting the lack of state funding and the over-emphasis on standardized testing.

So I thank Charles Butt for all he’s done and said – and hope that his common sense will reverberate through the halls of power in our state capitol!