Monthly Archives: October 2015

No Excuses

I am fortunate to work in an amazing school district.  It is a district where the community has established values for educating our students in ways that prepare them for the 21st Century.  The primary focus is on understanding learning standards and valuing others and their diversity.  Nope, I didn’t mention test scores.  Amazing, right?

Don’t get me wrong.  We want our students to achieve proficiency on their tests. We just know that if we are educating our students in meaningful ways that include involving our community, integration of the meaningful use of technology, engaging students with choice, flexible seating, and collaboration they are more likely to learn.  If we teach at high find a waylevels, students will be able to transfer these skills to a test, but more importantly to LIFE!

As a part of this amazing district, we are also a part of an amazing group of districts called the North Texas Regional Consortium. These districts have banded together to proclaim higher standards for our students than skills encapsulated on a test.  They organize dates that allow campuses to visit each other and discuss the types of practices we value.

My campus always participates, whether it is as a host or someone who sends others out to visit.  Last year, during one of the times that we had visitors, a teacher approached me and said, “So you’re a ‘No Excuses University School.'”  I’m sure the look on my face was showing my lack of understanding as I said “Huh?”  She repeated herself, and I replied, “I have no idea what you mean.”  She said, “But you have to be.  You’re doing all the things.”  I said, “I’m not sure what you mean.” 

when-i-lost-my-excuses-i-found-my-results-298x300If nothing else, she peeked my curiosity. Long story short, I looked NEU up on the web. I saw that we were doing most of the concepts they valued: Creating a  “Universal Culture of Achievement,” Engaging in Collaboration, Using Standards to Drive Instruction, Using Assessment to be informed, Being Data-Driven,  Having Effective Systems to Manage Data, and Implementing Effective Interventions.  The focus was working with high poverty schools. Yes, this sounded like something my campus needed to be a part.

 I took a group of teachers to one of their institutes last Spring.  The most powerful thing I heard was about how often it is the adults making the excuses for why students cannot achieve. We say we believe all students cannot learn, yet we pigeon-hole students into a path that will never allow them access to higher education.  The group of teachers and I that attended knew immediately these were “our people” and within three months we had applied and become and No Excuses University School!  


I don’t think it matters if you are a high poverty school or not. The truth is; all studenexcuse limitts need teachers as advocates who prepare them to attend college so that they are ready if they choose.  A college degree is a statistical game-changer when it comes to financial success and avoiding adult poverty.  I don’t think educators make excuses because we are lazy or don’t care about kids.  Teachers make excuses because our hearts break for some of the difficult things students have already endured in their lives or because we have tried everything we know to do and just don’t know what else to try in helping our students. 

A “no excuses” mindset is not easy.  It’s something we have to practice. We began our year writing down our past excuses and throwing them in the trash.  We then wrote new pledges that said what we would do instead of using the old excuse.  Colleagues hold each other accountable for this daily. At my campus, we tell our students and parents that every student will be proficient or advanced in Reading, Writing, and Math, and we have challenged ourselves to look at any students who are not growing whether they are currently at the top, middle or bottom of our achievement continuum. .  It has been amazing to see our teachers and students rise to the new expectation.

I believe if you want to get results, you first have to have to get rid of all the reasons why you can’t and start believing that you can!

Why Complete Privatization of Education Won’t Work

Credit for graphic to Jim Wyre
I read an article today where Brittish Prime Minister David Cameron calls for the elimination of all public schools in the UK and to replace them with private academies. So what, right?  It’s not even our continent.

The problem is these same conversations are taking place here, in America, in Texas! There are those who think private funding and vouchers make educational opportunities better. They try to convince us it is good for all because it allows choice. I say don’t believe the rhetoric. Privatization allows small interest groups to push their agendas. Believe it or not, they may not actually be concerned about your child’s education. Most are worried about the dollar it puts in their pockets.

I’ve been keeping a close eye on Texas Businessman Bill Hammond. He has a great deal to say about public education being less than quality and questioning school funding. If you look carefully, he just puts the same, tired story in multiple newspapers around the state. He repeatedly tweets broken links that are supposed to provide evidence and he won’t respond to an opposing viewpoint. He doesn’t have answers. I doubt he’s been to a public school recently (even though I’ve invited him to mine!). Otherwise, he would understand the rest of the story. Much more of his communication is about business and money. If you ask me, this isn’t someone who cares about the quality of education for future generations. He cares about his profit margins and funding for his special interests. If less money goes into education, he might get more funding for his projects. His arguments are unsubstantiated propaganda used as a scare tactic to evoke fear in the middle-class American. Instead of questioning his motives, people extend trust.  I mean, why wouldn’t he want what is best for our children, right? Hmmm.

Here’s why a system solely based on privatization of schools won’t make the United States education system better:

  • The money will decide. In public education, voters have a say. They elect their officials. They vote for or against educational laws. They have a voice into curriculum and policy through input sessions. If they take the time to speak up, education can reflect community values. It’s like I tell my own children,
    This may or may not be true. It is something to consider to ensure that it doesn’t become the reality.
    when you pay your way, you get to decide when, where and how to do things. Personally, I’m not ready to give all that power over to someone else so that they will foot the bill. Their values likely represent a small population. I want the power of input, not an absolute monarchy controlled by the ones with the most money. Look at how our voters are reversing their views on how we are using standardized testing.  It’s because the average American has some say into what they value.
  • Privatization will cause more division rather than unify our community. The root cause of education issues in America isn’t schools. It is a different value system amongst different groups including their views of schools. Sometimes families from poverty haven’t experienced personal success in schools. Lack of personal success tied to schools can result in them not seeing the value of education, but rather a task that has to be completed. If they don’t value education, they aren’t likely to take up an offer to move to a different school, even if the one they attend is not the best. If someone is trying to survive poverty, their biggest focus is just that, survival. If the only groups that take advantage of vouchers and school choice are those not living in poverty, it means an exodus of the middle class and greater socio-economic division. When people feel disenfranchised, they get angry. They feel the rest of the world doesn’t see them as people, so they have nothing to lose. I believe if you look at any situation of violence against communities, whether it be school shootings or city riots, it was because someone felt treated as less than human. When that happened, they reached their breaking point, and they acted “less than human.” Can we afford to take this risk?
  • There is no proof privatization solves the problems facing education. Private schools pick and choose their students. They often aren’t held accountable to the full extent of education law. Educating a diverse community is much more challenging than a school where you have the ability to say “you are not meeting our standards, so you’ll need to look elsewhere.”  What happens to those considered by private schools to be “substandard?” Do they get no education? Are they put into one school of misfits?  If that seems like a good alternative, please reread bullet number two.

It’s time to solve problems of education at their core and stop blaming public education. No, it’s not perfect, but the number of schools that are doing great things far outweighs those that are struggling. Even when you see a school deemed “unacceptable” by standardized testing, you should look deeper than the numbers. Are they growing? Is there another issue that needs to be addressed in the community before instruction can take place? Most school districts already offer open enrollment and choice.  Has it solved the problem or made it worse?

Public schools are doing great things for students. They are standing up against one-size fits all education. Teachers are becoming innovative in their practice to prepare students for a future that is undoubtedly beyond what our minds can conceive. They don’t do it for themselves, money, or personal fame. They do it because it is what is right. We have always been told we shape the future. That’s what we are trying to do. We want the future for everyone to be better than it was yesterday.

I’m not opposed to private schools, charter schools, religious-based schools or home schools. I believe every child deserves a free and appropriate public education, and you have the right to choose an alternative and pay for it if that meets your needs. Just don’t trash an entire system with propaganda for self-serving goals that likely aren’t based on whether the education system is working or not. One-size fits all judgments can’t be one hundred percent accurate and don’t solve the real issue. If we work together to make public education a priority and support our schools, it is the most viable solution for everyone, not just a privileged few. The end result of a strong public educational system is diverse groups of people becoming literate problem solvers who know how to get along and respect each other in our society.

When Exhaustion Comes

Research has shown a typical pattern of feelings of 1st-year teachers.

However, I think that it often reflects the emotions of all educators, but perhaps with less drastic dips. Regardless, around October, the newness and adrenaline rush that gets us through the beginning of the year and September starts to dwindle. We have had time to build relationships with our students and because of that, the demand that we put on ourselves for their success weighs on our hearts. We have had time to assess our students, and we know the reality of the job we face. I have had this conversation more than once this past week…October is hard!

I also had a personal experience with hitting the wall of exhaustion. A four day week filled with teacher observations, data meetings, a homecoming parade, PLC Meetings and a night with three hours sleep left me debilitated.  I felt myself having less and less to give to my students, my teachers, and my parents. My smile was diminishing. It wasn’t good, but I was too tired to do anything to stop it.

Finally, I was able to think of something I heard Dr. Bertice Berry say the week before.  “When you walk with purpose, you collide with destiny.”  As I reflected on the statement, I realized that when we get tired, we somehow lose our ability to focus on our purpose.  We get bogged down in a survival of the moment to moment.  I acknowledged that if I am honest, my exhaustion sets in when I let the unimportant things start taking priority. When I start demanding perfection of myself rather than focusing on growth, I use more energy that leaves me feeling drained.

I know that to counteract problems effectively, we have to develop an intentional plan. This is what I came up with as a strategy to keep my emotional dips as shallow as possible:

  • Always remember your purpose. We enter education to make a difference. Make sure students always drive your priorities. Even when you have to do a “task” that may not feel important, see if you can connect it back to your students, whether it is the time it takes for conferences, lesson planning, or meetings, think about how that intentional time in this activity could make a positive impact on students. If you can’t make this connection, eliminate the task or find a way that you minimize the time that you spend on the assignment.
  • Give yourself permission to go slow and grow. Sometimes we should go a little slower in the beginning to develop the habits our students need so they can go faster later. Time is better spent moving at a slower pace early on than going too fast and wasting that time because you didn’t get the success you want. As the right habits build, you will be able to speed up, and students will also be successful. Breakneck speed with minimal success is exhausting. We can’t run a marathon at a sprinter’s pace. Find the stride that allows you to keep going while also getting you to the finish line at the front of the pack.
  • Find time for you. Educators must give a lot of themselves: to students, to parents, to each other. You can’t fill the cups of others if yours is empty. For me, it’s movies, massages, time spent in silence, inspiring music, and doing things with my family. Know what rejuvenates you and DO IT!
  • Count your successes. Make a list of all the great things you have done already this year that may be part of the reason you are tired. Celebrate the relationship you built with a child, the student’s growth that occurred because of your work with him, the parent that you reassured or that colleague you helped. We have to take a moment to remind ourselves we do make a difference!

I think October will always be hard in comparison to other months, but when we can look back over time and see this feeling is normal and that we always get through, it gives us hope. Jack Canfield says that what we see in our minds and what we think about is what we attract to us. If we see our abilities to overcome struggles when the realities of school set in we will successfully manage our dips because feelings of power and hope keep us from feeling drained. It’s hard work that makes us tired, but it is worth it when we remember our purpose and know that grit and growth mindset will prevail in the end.

I Am Accountable

You might have read the title of this blog post and heard a whiny tone.  You might have heard an angry tone.  Maybe you read it and heard an exasperated tone.  Actually, it was with none of the above.  Accountable is just an adjective that accurately describes me as a campus leader.

Screen Shot 2015-10-10 at 7.12.34 PM

The day after my open letter to Mr. Hammond, he tweeted this:


I was anxious to see Mr. Hammond’s ideas for holding schools more accountable, so I immediately clicked the link.  It wouldn’t open.  I’m not sure if this is a super, secret accountability plan.  It is certainly possible, as schools are often the last to know the rules by which we play.  Regardless, it got me thinking.  To whom am I accountable?  How am I accountable?

I started with the most obvious:

At the most surface level, I am accountable to the state and the federal governments.  They

accountability road sign illustration design over a white background

have very detailed, complex plans with formulas that hold me “accountable” at certain levels of success.  The formulas look at all students, but also specific subgroups of students. Most of the formulas involve standardized testing where the questions are constantly changing, and the bar is always moving (both up and down) based on what picture the state hopes to paint with the results.  It also includes attendance rates, financial expenditures, staffing allocations, staffing qualifications, and demonstration of the inclusion of activities of House Bill 5.

This type of accountability is the one that gets the most publicity. It is also the one that governments try to simplify the explanation into nice clean categories, but I assure you, there is nothing “simple” about it. I do not oppose standardized testing or accountability to the state or federal government.  I use these results to develop my campus improvement plans and yearlong professional learning plans so that we grow as a campus. Using this data in healthy ways has helped us improve our methods and help our students gain a deeper understanding.  I oppose oversimplification of the results with labels that don’t explain the entire picture. A word such as “acceptable” or a letter grade creates a mental model in the public’s head of “good”, “decent”, and “bad”.  I would just pose a question. Which were you more proud of in school:  the easy A or that hard-earned C?

I also oppose to the abuse of the data and tactics of some school districts that use “quick fix” solutions at the cost of students’ long-term learning.  Some district leaders are so desperate to make the news; they will do anything to succeed.  They judge teachers without looking at growth and don’t develop plans to support teachers improve their practice.  How can district leaders expect teachers to grow their students if they don’t do anything but threaten them?  Desperation results in desperate practice. I am grateful to work in a district that isn’t desperate and supports its campuses to grow through best practice, not quick fixes.

As I continued to contemplate, this is the accountability list I  came up with:

  1.  I am accountable to my district. It is an honor to work for this amazing community.  I am proud that they expect more from me than performance on tests. I must make sure that each dollar of the money allocated to me makes a positive impact on student learning in some way.  I am accountable to these incredible district leaders because of the servant leadership they show and for their belief in me and my ability to make a difference with students.  I want to make sure that I always represent them well.
  2. I am accountable to my community.  I have a responsibility to make sure that I am preparing my students to become positive contributors to this community.  I must make sure that my actions support the beliefs of those I serve and add value to the properties and the lives within its boundaries.covey accountability
  3. I am accountable to the parents of my students.  They trust me with their students almost 8 hours a day.  They trust me to prepare their students academically.  Some need me to help meet basic needs.  They are counting on me to make good decisions. I am especially accountable to those that may disagree with me. If I am unable to give a parent the answer they want,  I must believe I have knowledge of a bigger picture and that it is what is best in the long run for all involved.
  4. I am accountable to my teachers and their families.  It is my job to make sure they have the knowledge and materials they need to do their jobs effectively.  My teachers work hard.  They put in lots of extra hours.  They make sacrifices for our students.  They do this willingly, but it is my job to prepare them with knowledge and skills…to give them time to plan and collaborate so that every minute is powerful and not spent spinning their wheels.  I am responsible for making sure that any minutes teachers give to our school rather than their families provide benefits that outweigh the negatives.
  5. I am accountable to my family.  I come from a long line of amazing educators.  I have family members who paved a path in public education before me.  I witnessed the tremendous impact they have had in the lives of children.  I am accountable to respect the legacy they have created.
  6. I am accountable to my husband and my amazing boys.  I could not do this job without them.  They truly sacrifice so much because they know this job is my passion. Being a parent has made me much more sensitive to the parents of my students helping me to realize we all send the best children we have, and we are doing all that we know to do. My family has stood up and cheered for me when the rest of the world was silent.  I want them to know that nothing I do would be possible without their love and support.
  7. I am accountable to my students.  I know this would seem obvious, but here is where the accountability becomes especially complex.  I am accountable to these eyes that look up at me each day with hope as they say “Good morning, Mrs. Stuart” with hope for the future. I am responsible for stepping out of my comfort zone to put on the performance of my life each Friday to sing, dance and celebrate their successes (even if it means playing air guitar). I am responsible “no excuses” and must teach them the power of education.  I am accountable for making sure that each one of them is a literate problem solver ready to go to college if they choose. I must make sure that they have the instruction that teaches them how to think and make real-life connections while also preparing them to answer abstract applications on standardized tests.   I have to know them as individuals, know their needs, tell them what they need to hear and not just what they want to hear, all while loving them unconditionally.  I am accountable for putting them on a path of success.
  8. I am accountable to my God.  He has given me gifts and talents that I am responsible for using for the purpose He intended.  My actions must show His love and care for others so that others can see Him through me.  He has charged me with this mission. Some day, I know I will answer directly for my choices.

The truth is I think all educators feel the same way and do the best they know when trying to accomplish this accountability.  We all enter education with a passion for making a difference. We know it will not be easy.

While I don’t think pointing fingers is the answer, here is where I think we need “stronger accountability”:

  • Legislators need more accountability for spending time in schools investigating education first handfinger pointing before passing blanket laws with no direct knowledge or considering the unintended consequences of their actions.
  • The Media needs more accountability for reporting the negative situations about schools in a disproportionate way.  There are way more good things going on in public schools than reported.  It may get people’s attention, but it skews public opinion in harmful ways.
  • Special Interest Groups need more accountability for the claims they make about public education.  Those who profit from less funding for schools and more funding for testing need accountability for their actions.  People like Mr. Hammond make statements with skewed data and half-stories that create fear and panic in the public. I suspect his reasons are self-serving and not for the good of public education, student, or their families.
  • School districts that over-emphasize standardized tests need more accountability.  There are those districts that have decided to make their mark on the world by commanding high performance on tests without a balance in quality instruction. “High scores at any cost” is the motto.  It works for a while, but when people fear for their jobs and desperation sets in, they will do anything for test defined “success.” I believe this is what happened in Atlanta.  I am grateful that I do not work for one of these districts, but they are out there.  Anyone who abuses data needs stronger accountability for the harm they incite.

Finally, I guess educators do need stronger accountability, but not for what you might think.  We need more accountability for standing up anI am Accountabled telling our story to the public.  We need to speak loudly enough to have a say in the policies that affect us.

I hope that it is clear that I am not opposed to accountability. I am not opposed to testing.  I know without a doubt that if I am preparing students in meaningful ways, this will translate to success on standardized tests, but more importantly success in the real world.  I just think that sometimes we throw around the concept of increased “accountability” without exploring it more deeply.  Even with testing, we have to examine what these tests can and cannot tell us about how students are growing and the variables that played into the results.

In my twenty-four years of being an educator, I have learned that being accountable for the lives of those you serve is anything but simple. My work cannot be defined by a single word or category.  Sometimes I succeed.  Sometimes I fail. No matter what, I try to get better every day because student success is my obsession.  James 3:1 says ‘Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.”  I don’t think you can get any more accountable than that.

An Open Letter to Bill Hammond in Response to his Article in The Dallas Morning News on the Cost of School Funding in Texas

As I read the following article in the newspaper, I could not help but be dismayed at the surface level understanding and judgement of school funding.

Bill Hammond Article on Texas School Funding in Dallas Morning News

Mr. Hammond,

Thank you so much for your viewpoint on the cost of education in Texas. You make some valid points on how the legislature has backed off on many of the previously established criteria for high school graduation. One thing that you failed to point out is that part of the reason the legislature has backed off on these incredibly stringent criteria is that even with higher demands on students through extremely limiting class schedules and even more rigorous testing with State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness (STAAR) and End of Course Assessments, it wasn’t working. We had incrementally increased standards and weren’t seeing any results to justify this new direction of demands. Does it mean that schools are not doing everything they know to do to prepare our students for college and for their futures? Absolutely not.

Years of increased demands on graduation plans and increased testing weren’t increasing students’ success on tests or in college.  More importantly, they were likely causing more damage than good. My guess is that both you and I didn’t face the demands of high school schedules or testing that students in the past ten years have faced. Yet, I think we both turned out okay.   I took the Texas Assessment of Basic Skills (TABS) in high school. I know for a fact the STAAR tests my students take in elementary school are far more rigorous than what I faced in high school. Still, I graduated from high school and have managed both a bachelor’s and master’s degree.

The legislature’s ridiculous demand with testing took the focus off students and put it on testing. Schools and more importantly students are paying the price. Teachers didn’t want to focus on testing, but faced with the pressure of labels and job security, they did what they thought necessary, valued, and expected. We began teaching students specific steps to follow to “pass”. Unfortunately, as we became a “test” driven state, we forgot that it was more important to teach students some of the skills that are critical for life: thinking, problem solving, perseverance despite failure.

When Texas revamped our “testing” agenda to create tests that required students to think and problem solve rather than follow specific steps and testing strategies, educators weren’t prepared for such a drastic swing in the pendulum. The change isn’t a bad thing, but it takes time to shift gears. The students who had the “do as I say” instruction are finding it harder to undo this way of thinking. These would also be the students who have more recently graduated high school and are the ones creating the numbers you reference.

Here are some other things that you are not considering in your stance. Poverty rates across the country have skyrocketed in the past seven years. We are currently at some of the highest rates since The Great Depression. It was four years ago that the state cut school funding and has yet to restore it back to even the original rates, much less keep up with rises in prices of almost everything. 

Students from poverty are facing crises at home, again, like I would suspect you or  I never faced. I have students at my school who do not know where meals are coming from. Some live in cramped housing exposed to high crime rates. Others absorb the stress of their parents who live in financial uncertainty. They bring all of this to school with them. My colleagues and I gladly are there willing to take it off their shoulders as they walk through the door so that for a few hours a day, they can just be children without bearing the weight of the world.

Teaching the students at my school looks much different from the instruction when I grew up. I experience students who are angry and frustrated and by no means ready to learn. But it’s okay. They are children trying to cope with a world that is not “child friendly”. I do feel it is my job to meet their basic needs: make them feel safe, make sure they have food, make sure they feel loved unconditionally so that they can get ready to learn. I don’t make excuses for them because we don’t have time for that. I just know these are some things I must do if I hope to make sure they are proficient in academic skills. While we push our students academically, we don’t do it with “test prep”. We teach our students to think and problem solve.  We embed technology because digital literacy is just as critical for the 21st Century as reading, writing, and math. We show them how the skills and concepts they are learning are critical for their futures. Because most of our students from impoverished backgrounds do not have someone in their family or circle of friends who have benefitted from higher education, we have to find ways to intentionally show them  the value of college, too.

Yes, I’m quite sure as a businessman, you don’t see the value of an educational dollar. You grew up in a system that required much different demands on you as a student, not to mention, public school is typically a “middle class” system. You probably sailed through without an issue.   You probably haven’t considered that more than fifty percent of our Texas students are living in poverty. I know this because I don’t think you are including the fact that this number has been significantly increasing in your relaying of Texas public school’s dismal failure in graduation rates.   For students from poverty to successfully access the educational system, it takes committed adults who are willing to help them learn rules and values about education that they may not have learned at home, not because their parents don’t care, but because they may not know them either. I know that smaller class sizes don’t necessarily show a positive effect on student achievement UNLESS the strategies being used are different. I would say that given the high needs of students in poverty, children DO benefit from small class sizes because this allows teachers to invest more in each child.  It is amazing how five fewer students can increase time to develop one-on-one relationships and help students see the value of education in a personalized way.

I recently had a great conversation with Senator Van Taylor. He shared with me how he thought charter schools made better use of a tax dollar. I cannot help but laugh at this notion. Charter schools accept the students they want and remove them if they don’t live up to expectations. In public school, we educate every child. We don’t pick to keep the ones who can make good scores.  We even keep the ones who are experiencing emotional and behavioral issues that make teaching and learning hard. We do this willingly because we know that if we don’t teach all students in the classroom how to accept and adapt to each other, our society won’t have much of a chance. The real world includes all types of people.

For people to get out of poverty, research shows three things that can make a difference: a quality education, a relationship with an adult who can help them navigate their way, or a special skill/talent. Public schools can absolutely provide the first two and  help enhance the third if given the support needed to do so. Public education is the key. We need legislators to quit making mandates that distract us from our work. We need businessmen who haven’t walked into a school since they graduated (if they even attended public school) to quit thinking they know best, unless they want to come and spend real time in a school and see what the circumstances are before acting as judge and jury.

You see, you may be a businessman, but I too am in a business: the “people development” business. I have a better reason to succeed than you because I have more at stake. My job isn’t about profits and stakeholders; it’s about human lives and could result in the rise or decline of a society based on the success of the lives I touch each day. If I fail, the outcomes are much more devastating, so please do not act as if this is something educators take lightly and that it is just about money. As a businessman, I am sure you can understand that in business, money is equivalent to support. I think that is all any of us in education want – support of the communities we fight for every day.

I recognize you may equate rigorous learning with coursework and tests. I don’t. I am a proud member of a school district that understands that to teach students in a way that prepares them for the 21st century, we must do this through authentic work that ties learning to the real world and involves problem solving and critical thinking. It takes conversations and meaningful feedback from teachers, not scores on a bubble sheet. Creating this type of classroom that also results with success on tests takes time, and it also takes money.

If you would like to see what we do, I invite you to my school. We begin talking about college with our students while they are in Pre-Kindergarten. We do rigorous, relevant learning. Teachers in my school take part in ongoing job-embedded professional learning so that we get better at teaching our students every day. In addition to the core subjects, we teach our students about character, grit, and growth mindset because these are the skills that research says result  in success in college. We are not where we want yet with test scores, but our students are developing the skills they need because of the work we do.  We do it with the money we have, but even a return to previous funding levels would help.  

Personally, I would rather see Texas tax dollars spent on education than prisons.  I think we should be much more shocked by the cost of our penal systems than public education. The recidivism rate there shows much less success.  If we spent the money on education, maybe the penal system would improve in the long run as well. Having better prepared citizens has to be better for Texas, our community, and businesses in the long run.


Vanessa Stuart