Well, it's been awhile since the last update post, and as I sit here looking at the links I had been gathering, it's clear that some of them have aged a bit. In all honesty, I've been just a little burned out on everything lately. Maybe it's the job, or maybe it's that elections wear me out. Maybe it's something else. It took awhile to for me to realize that I have been procrastinating from writing here. How silly is that, procrastinating from something I do because I love it?
It's frustrating because I think there are a lot of stories here in our fair city that need to be told, and believing in our mission of filling in the gaps and adding some depth to the discussion, it's hard to just sit back and let myself rest. In reality, even though I've been lax in posting the past couple weeks, and tried to give myself permission not to worry about it, it's been this constant nagging voice in my head about all the posts I've started to write, but not finished, or the ones I said I would write, but haven't started. And I even have a couple of videos I still need to finish. Writer's block - burnout - giveadamnbusted - whatever you want to call it, the longer it lasts, the more paranoid I am that it will stick, and that I'll just end up saying "screw it". After 9 years of doing this site, it's not going to end that way. So help me God.
So, that being said, I'm asking once again for help. If you would like to write for the Lewisville Texan Journal, all we can pay you is our attention and gratitude. Email email@example.com with your ideas. If you can write, but don't know what to write about, I've always got a ton of things that need looking into.
Events: The Lewisville High School Farmer Softball Team, if you're not aware, has been kicking serious butt this year, and will be playing in the state semi-finals Friday at 6 p.m. The event will be televised on Fox Sports Southwest. We wish the girls good luck in their game against San Benito. We hope our readers will all take a moment to visit their Facebook Page and offer some encouragement.
Saturday is the "Chalk This Way" arts festival in Old Town Lewisville. Festival hours will be from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Planned activities include professional chalk artists, amateur sidewalk chalk competitions, a children’s gallery for on-site chalk creations, arts and crafts vendors, festival food, sidewalk games, and live entertainment. Entry to the festival is free, although participating in some activities will carry a nominal charge.
“Chalk This Way” has been held the past two years in The Colony and has drawn crowds in excess of 2,000 people each year. Event organizers believe the new location and expanded marketing efforts will help draw an even larger crowd in 2013.
Durham SCHOOL SERVICES & B.A.D.D. Ministry are doing a "Toys for Moore OK " Drive to benefit the children affected by the Moore, Oklahoma tornado. New & "gently used" toys are being collected through Thursday June 6th at Durham School Services, 601 Purnell St., Lewisville. Organizers hope to fill two buses. For more information, contact T-Ronn Hicks at 214-815-5292.
Lewisville turns 100 in 12 short years. Do you know what you'll be doing when you're 100? As a city we have to plan for that future and it starts with the upcoming 2025 plan.
Tuesday, June 4th at the MCL Grand Theater in Old Town there will be an Open House from 4-6 and Interactive Presentations from 6-8 regarding the 2025 plan and how you can participate. Right after the event you can stay and enjoy the first of our Sounds of Lewisville Summer Concert Series being kicked off by Family Favorite Downtown Fever.
Education Notes Dallas Morning News has a story about Lewisville ISD moving to 9-week grading periods. The Strategic Design Team was briefed about this a few weeks ago, and what we were told was that teachers thought it would be helpful. I'm supportive of that. What is even more exciting to me is the prospect of phasing out number and letter grades in favor of a system called Standards-Based Grading that will actually provide more information about the actual learning the student has done, and what they have mastered as well as what they are having trouble with. Numeric grades are an indication of how kids are doing, but they have been worshipped as if they mean everything. They don't.
What number grades show is fairly arbitrary if you really think about it. They are an average of a bunch of snapshots of what a student could do at a given point in time. So if a student had started a grading period and missed an important point in their math class, they might have had trouble doing that specific type of operation as well as others in the unit that depend on that knowledge. They could go along for weeks just a bit behind, making poor grades, then suddenly "get it" at the end of the semester and be able to do the work just as well as their cohort. So their grading period average would be low on the report card, but not really tell you anything about what they ended up with. The student is penalized for being slow to catch on, but really all we care about is that they finally did understand it. Conversely, folks like me were always good at cramming, and I could do quite well on tests, even without having a deep mastery of the material.
I'm in favor of any system that will let professional teachers use more intuition about how their students are doing, and that will assess students in a way that is less about ranking students, or labeling them, but more about cluing the student and their parents in on what they need to do to master the subject and move on.
It will take years to phase in standards-based grading in LISD, but I think it is worth it.
LISD held an online Town Hall this week. You can watch the video if you want. Really, there wasn't much new ground covered, and they pretty much avoided anything that would be of any controversy. There wasn't much depth.
In women's roller derby action Saturday night in Denton, the Main Street Mafia defeated last year's champs, the Muertas Locas 166-155 in a very close bout. Going into this bout, the undefeated Mafia was assured a spot in the league championship game, but it was do-or-die for the Muertas, whose 1-2 record meant they had to win for a chance at the number two spot in the league championship game.
In the second bout of the evening's double-header, the Trauma Queens defeated the Elm Street Nightmares 156-135. This puts both teams in a tie for second place in the league, each with a 2-2 record. They will go for a rematch on June 29th to determine who plays the Mafia in the July 27th league championship bout.
Pictured in the Photo from left to right: Alex Buck, Rotary Club President; Victoria Bartlett, Student of the Month; Ms. Teresa Wells, LHS Asst. Principal, and Keith Long(Submitted Photo)
Victoria Bartlett, the daughter of Jeffrey and Allison Barlett, is Lewisville Rotary’s Student of the Month for May 2013. She entered the LISD system in 3rd grade at Degan Elementary and attended Huffines Middle School and LHS Killough before moving to the LHS Main campus. Victoria has been a member of the band for 4 years and currently holds the position of Cymbal Captain. Victoria is also a member of the following clubs: German Club member for 3 years and has held the positions of Secretary, Vice President and is the current club President; Delta Epsilon (German National Honor Society) member for the past 2 years and currently serves as Vice President; and a National Honor Society member for the past 3 years.
Victoria is not only in the top 10% of her graduation class but is ranked number 20 among over 900 graduating seniors at Lewisville High School. In her spare time, Victoria is active in her youth group at Northview Baptist Church in Lewisville.
Victoria received the $500 Jared Louis Crane Memorial Scholarship and a $1,500 Top Ten Percent Scholarship to attend Texas A&M at Galveston this fall. Her major is in ‘Ocean and Coastal Resources’ which should help her achieve her goal of becoming an Environmental Consultant to oil companies with off-shore oil drilling rigs in her effort to make off-shore drilling more efficient and environmentally friendly. Congratulations to Victoria and her parents on this accomplishment!
Atlanta wasn't an isolated incident. Neither was El Paso, or Washington, DC, or Columbus. A new General Accounting Office report demonstrates that cheating by school officials on standardized tests has become commonplace despite the use of security measures the report recommends. The only solution is one that Education Secretary Arne Duncan has so far refused—removing the high stakes attached to standardized testing.
The latest embarrassment is in Columbus, where this month Ohio State Auditor Dave Yost seized records at 20 high schools. This is part of a two-year-old investigation into "scrubbing" 2.8 million attendance records of students who failed tests. Yost has recently widened his investigation to look into whether school administrators also changed grades to boost graduation rates.
A GOA report released on May 16 recommends adopting "leading practices to prevent test irregularities." However, the report reveals that every state and the District of Columbia already use at least some of the recommended best practices, and that didn't stop test cheating in 33 states in the last two school years. And states where the worst offenses are occurring already have adopted most of the practices identified in the report, making it unlikely that greater security will improve test integrity.
Ohio employs five of the nine security plans recommended by the GOA report. Atlanta, where the superintendent and 34 other educators were recently indicted for changing test answers, has adopted eight of nine security practices, as has Texas, where the former El Paso superintendent is now in federal prison for a scheme to encourage low-performing students to drop out. And Washington, D.C., where 191 teachers at 70 schools were implicated in a rash of wrong-to-right erasure marks on tests, uses every single security measure.
Memorial Day is a time to remember the fallen heroes who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our Republic. It should be more meaningful than just a time for mattress sales and barbecuing.
We've made a yearly habit of making a personal observance at the Veterans Memorial in front of Lewisville City Hall. Again this year, we would like to invite anyone who is interested to join us at 8:00 a.m. Monday morning, May 27th.
There's no agenda, and nothing formal about it. We'll just gather around for some silent prayer and reflection, and if anyone would like to say a quick prayer or few words in gratitude to the fallen, or offer any thoughts, they're welcome to do so. But this is not about speeches, and there is nothing political about it. It's just fellow Americans taking some time to stand together in unity and honor those who have given their lives for us.
Where: In front of Lewisville City Hall, 151 West Church Street by the Veterans Memorial When: Monday, May 27th, 8:00 a.m. (Stay as long as you want; I'll probably leave by 8:30) Who: Anyone is invited. What: Informal remembrance of our veterans who have died in service of our country.
Lewisville ISD announced today that the district will host its second annual social media town hall meeting on Tuesday, May 28th from 6 - 7 p.m. The event will be streamed live on the district's website at www.lisd.net.
This year’s town hall will allow parents and citizens to learn about how the district is implementing its Strategic Design initiative for all LISD students to enjoy thriving, productive lives in a future they create. Viewers will hear directly from students, teachers, principals and LISD Superintendent of Schools Dr. Stephen F. Waddell to learn the different ways the initiative is being implemented in the classroom. All five LISD high-‐school feeder patterns will be represented during the event.
Last year, the district embarked on transforming learning and teaching by engaging more than 5,000 citizens to share their highest hopes for LISD’s students. Through this process, a Strategic Design team was formed and a new vision, mission, core beliefs, goals and objectives were developed to ensure all LISD students are learning at profound levels. Today, more than 11,000 citizens have been involved in the process. Through LISD’s social media town hall,citizens will have the opportunity to learn more about the many ways they can become involved in the LISD Strategic Design process.
Beginning today, the district will open its Facebook Page to receive questions from community members about the strategic design process. Questions may also be submitted live, on Facebook, Twitter or emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. During the town hall, citizens may submit their questions live via the same social media outlets.
Mr. and Mrs. William Niederstadt along with their daughter Brittany, and Mary Beth Buck and Eiler Buck.(Photo courtesy LEF)
More than $113,000 was awarded in scholarships Tuesday, May 7, to Lewisville ISD graduating seniors at the 22nd Annual Lewisville ISD Education Foundation Awards Ceremony and Reception. Three teachers -- Nichelle DeVaughn, Chrystal Gerrard Hervey and Texas Stevens IV -- also received a total of $1,500 in fellowships to continue their education.
The Foundation’s Program Allocation Scholarship Committee read 469 scholarship applications received from all five Lewisville ISD high schools. This committee spent countless hours carefully reading the applications in order to match them with the many different scholarship criteria established by donors.
Since LEF began in 1990, more than $2.3 million has been awarded to students in the thirteen communities served by Lewisville ISD. In addition, the Lewisville ISD Education Foundation has awarded $107,716 in classroom and campus grants and $6,500 for Awards of Excellence during the 2012-2013 school year. These scholarships, grants and awards are made possible thanks to the generous support of LEF's endowers and their commitment to the students and faculty of LISD.
Members sworn in, bonds approved, appointment to water district board made
The Lewisville City Council met in its regular scheduled meeting Monday night, May 20th, 2013. The agenda for this meeting may be found here (223 MB PDF). These are the unofficial notes on the proceedings. Minutes are generally posted by the City Secretary after the following meeting.
The first item was a vote to accept the canvassing for the Lewisville City Council election returns. Councilman Gorena congratulated Greg Tierney on his victory, and the City Staff for all of their hard work for the City. The canvass results passed without objection. Greg Tierney and Rudy Durham were sworn into the offices of Place 4 and Place 5 of Lewisville City Council. I'd like to congratulate both Councilman Durham and Councilma Tierney on their victories.
Next, Mayor Uekert gave a certificate of appreciation to the Teen Court, and they presented a Ron Neiman scholarship. Madeleine Loney was awarded the scholarship.
The consent agenda later passed without any objections.
During item 9 the Council voted unanimously to approve an Ordinance Providing for the Award and Authorizing the Issuance and Sale of City of Lewisville, Texas, General Obligation Refunding and Improvement Bonds. The amount added up to $13,530,000. The purpose of providing funds was for contruction improvements to the City's streets, sidewalks and related drainage improvements. This new money portion of the bonds represents the remaining 2003 authorization approved by the voters.
This was a good idea being that we need to stay on top of our infrastructure, rather than falling behind, which could potentially become more costly if we don't stay on top of needed improvements.
Jason Hughes with First Southwest Company later gave a statement regarding to the City's finaincial success. He applauded the Council and Staff for their fiscal responsibility with financial matters, and stated that we have a four AAA bond ratings. We are only one of nine cities in Texas to recieve this rating.
The Council then went on to unanimously approve another ordinance providing for the award and authorizing the issuance and sale of City of Lewisville, Texas, Waterworks and Sewer System Revenue Refunding and Improvement Bonds. The new bonds in the estimated amount of $5,555,000 are for the purpose of providing funds for constructing, acquiring, and installing improvements, additions, and extensions to the City's waterworks and sewer system and an estimated $2,650,000 for refunding a portion of the Waterworks and Sewer System Revenue Refunding and Improvement Bonds, Series 2005 and Waterworks and Sewer System Revenue Bonds, Series 2006 and costs associated with the issuance of the bonds.
A portion of the new bonds ($2.3M) will be allocated for the transmission main from Trinity River to the Midway pump station behind Fire Station 6 in east Lewisville at FM544 and Midway Road. The remaining portion ($3.255M) will begin funding of an ozone disinfection program for the water plant at 1400 North Cowan. In the five-year capital projects plan, the $3.255M amount was originally slated for the water reuse project. However, the State of Texas has initiated a statewide development program with larger municipality stakeholders, including Lewisville. This study will take several years to complete, so the scheduled water plant improvements were moved forward and the reuse project was moved to 2017. The above purpose of the bonds may be changed or altered for other water and wastewater projects if priorities or needs change.
This is another bond package that needed to be approved. However, where some of the funding may go is in question, being that the State got involved with the water plant. Regardless, we can find good and effective ways to spend this capital on needed improvements.
The last item on the agenda was the consideration of an appointment of a City of Lewisville Representative on the Upper Trinity Regional Water District (UTRWD) Board of Directors. Steve Bacchus currently serves in this position, however he has agreed to work with Lathan Watts, a former Lewisville City Councilman, to take over this position. There was one Nay vote on this item, from Councilman Ferguson. His reasoning was that he believes that Mr. Bacchus should remain at the post, and work with Mr. Watts to eventually take over the position, as opposed to the other way around. The item passed 3-1.
The Council then went into closed session, and the meeting was adjourned.
We are devastated tonight by reports of the massive tornado in Moore, Oklahoma, and its tragic toll. It comes right on the heels of a recent outbreak of tornadoes last week in North Texas. Though we pray for comfort for those affected, we know that we are all God's hands when it comes to doing the work that comes from disasters like this. Some folks can help directly, and the rest of us can give money to fund their efforts. It's much more efficient and effective that way, even if it doesn't fulfill our own desires to become personally involved.
One of the easiest ways to contribute to disaster relief is with good old fashioned money delivered via modern methods. Text REDCROSS to 90999 to give $10 to American Red Cross Disaster Relief, which helps people affected by disasters such as hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, wildfires and tornadoes.
Another thing that we all need to do is to take some time to check our own disaster kits and plans. Do you know what you would do if you were separated from your family, and your home and means of communication were gone? Do you have supplies and equipment to survive a couple of days in your home if first responders cannot get to you? Do you know where in your home that you would go to have the best chance of surviving a tornado? Here is a website that can help you with your plans.
As always, we invite readers to let us know of opportunities to help. Leave a comment.
At some point, we need to stop believing in miracles, at least in education. While we're still getting over the RICO indictments handed down in the Atlanta cheating scandal comes the revelation that the success Michelle Rhee achieved as the "no excuses" superintendent of Washington, D.C.'s public schools was the product of massive cheating. Those asking why Rhee isn't under indictment just like her former colleague in Atlanta are missing the bigger question: If she's an example of its success, is the theory behind market-driven education reform valid?
Rhee attracted a lot of attention before getting the top spot in DC. When Mayor Adrian Fenty appointed her superintendent, she went from managing an education non-profit with 120 employees to running a school system with 55,000 students, 11,500 employees and a budget of $200 million. She'd never even been a principal before, and her only classroom experience was Teach for America.
She did not let seem daunted by the stage. She bragged that she only answered to the mayor and put principals on notice to get those test scores up. Rhee fired more than 1,000 teachers and 36 principals who failed to raise test scores and gave $276,265 in bonuses to employees who performed well.
Passing rates rose, and she became the "it girl" for education reform. Time and Newsweek put her on the cover. Oprah called her "a warrior woman," and Barack Obama called Rhee "a wonderful new superintendent." When Fenty lost re-election, Sec. Arne Duncan intervened in an attempt to keep her on the job because her reforms "absolutely have to continue." When Rhee quit, he issued a press release so laudatory it almost included pom-poms.