Recently, Education Secretary Arne Duncan said you're either "moving forward with courageous reforms" and "piloting new and better assessments" (the graduate school term for "standardized tests"), or you're one of the "arm chair pundits who insist our efforts are doomed to fail." Duncan exposed his own fallacy when he said, "Many people in the real world, outside the beltway and blogosphere, have tuned out this debate." Actually, the opposite is true. In the birthplace of the legislative dumpster fire known as No Child Left Behind, most Texans are lining up against test-driven reforms.
Pressured by local school boards, parents, and superintendents, the Texas legislature rolled back the number of tests required to graduate from high school from 15 to 5. Lawmakers even made it illegal for testing lobbyists to give them campaign contributions, a rare move in a state notably hostile to limits on lobbying, business or campaign contributions.
The only thing wrong with these limits on testing, say Texans in a recent poll, is that they didn't go far enough. The Texas Lyceum polled 1,000 adults and found only 14 percent preferred the status quo. Slightly more (17 percent) liked the recent changes. The shock of the poll is that 56 percent of Texans wanted either to get rid of standardized tests entirely because they encourage "teaching to the test" or leave accountability standards up to local school boards.
That's a lot of armchair pundits.
Texas hasn't gone soft. As a parent of two sons in public school, I can vouch that we all still want our kids to get good grades so they can go to good colleges. But the tests, which were promised to bring improvements, are increasingly impediments to education.
It has been a very busy couple of weeks for me, so this update is going to be short, so I can get back to getting other stuff done. I saw this satirical article in The Onion the other day about a man trying to find the right work-anxiety - life-anxiety balance, and thought once again how satire is often more true than we think, because this is me lately. On the job, we’ve been trying to get a major project out the door, and although it hasn’t been overtime in terms of hours worked, the types of issues I’ve been dealing with have left me mentally exhausted each day, with just no sort of drive to work on writing articles.
I am also on the Vision 2025 Committee for the City of Lewisville, working on coming up with the long range vision, and have had meetings, reading, and homework for that. In fact, I need to hurry up and get this post done, because I have a ton more to read, and a few things to write. Topping that off, I just started my third year on the Lewisville ISD Strategic Design committee, and we held our all-day kick-off meeting for this year earlier this week. We took time to review the vision and goals, and try to imagine how we might assess whether we are meeting them. It is nowhere close to done, but some ideas were recorded and discussed. Hopefully we’ll meet again in the coming months and try to nail something down, because it is important.
My task right now that I’m ditching to get this blog posted is to come up with some goals related to resources with the City of Lewisville. I need to get those in a spreadsheet and send them along to my Chairman in the Resource Management committee. My mental hang-up at the moment is trying to convert what citizens have said they want to feasible and concrete actions of sufficient size and scope. The biggest focus of the Resource Management committee really seems to be in environment and sustainability - which are big issues for me, and judging by the community’s input, the vast majority of our engaged citizens.
Of course, the elephant standing in the corner for my anxiety right now is the November 5th election. It’s not because I think anything on the ballot is Earth-shattering, but rather because we’re a week into early voting, and I’ve not yet personally decided how I’ll vote on everything. Typically we share our thoughts on the election and offer some recommendations, but I’m finding that very hard this year. With the school board candidates, what makes it difficult is that I see good things as well as drawbacks with each of the candidates. Each of the candidates is an acquaintance, and each seem like good people with honest intentions. It is much easier to decide how to vote when at least one of the candidates is awful, and another is some sort of clueless johnny-come-lately. Once I get my plate clean, I’m going to stop and re-examine each of the candidates’ responses to our questionnaire, and take another look at the forum video, and their websites. Hopefully if there is time left, I’ll write something. I just can’t make any promises at this point because I’m over-committed. But as always, we strongly encourage our readers to leave comments and to submit letters to the editor.
But the best football story of the week is about Downing Middle School student Eiler Buck’s touchdown. It will make you proud of the boy, as well as the Downing and Shadow Ridge teams who worked together to help him make his dream come true. (Warning: Grab a tissue first...)
Yesterday, we got over an inch of rain, which has caused the lake level to rise by about 3 inches to 513.35 feet. That is still 8.65 feet below conservation pool, which is 63% full right now. Forecasters are calling for more rain and possible storms on Wednesday.
A University of North Texas scientist, Dr. Stevens Brumbley, is growing plastic from sugar cane. Honestly, there is something mildly alarming to me about that. I’m paranoid that the genes might somehow get out into the wild and somehow cause contamination. I know, the story says the plastic is biodegradable, and non-toxic, but it seems like we often don’t know the toxicity of things, or their full impact on us until they become ubiquitous. GMO corn comes to mind...
What Ted Cruz doesn’t want you to know: Who is paying for political ads? This is just the latest bit of hyper-obstructionism that shows our system is thoroughly broken. Cruz is a demagoguing ignoramus who gives Texas a black eye. If we must elect Republicans, can we get some who actually live in the real world with real facts, and who actually want to govern instead of slash-and-burn?
LISD Insights with Dr. Steve Waddell - a 5-minute conversation with students:
We posted this on our Facebook page yesterday: "If you've been to Austin, you have probably seen "Keep Austin Weird" T-shirts and paraphernalia. That fits Austin perfectly. If you wanted a T-shirt that captured the essence of Lewisville like that, what would we fill in the blank with? Leave a comment! If you're the first to suggest one that we end up making a T-shirt out of, we'll get you one free." Check out the comments, and add your own.
As a reminder, these update posts are “open-thread” meaning that the comment section is wide open if you have any comments on anything - whether it’s related or not. Tell us what you’d like to open the window and holler about. We’re also always looking for volunteer writers, so let us know if you are interested in taking on a topic.
Favored option is for once-weekly trash and recycling collection, using Waste Management supplied 96 gallon carts
Monday night, the the Lewisville City Council heard from Assistant City Manager Steve Bacchus and Environmental Programs Coordinator Lisa Weaver, who explained options for residential waste collection that will change pricing and service levels for Lewisville residents. (You can view the presentation here in PDF form)
The city’s current garbage contract with Waste Management ends on December 31st, so city staff have been negotiating for a contract that would take Lewisville forward another 10 years, or until the landfill is full - whichever comes first. Because of inflation in fuel costs, which are a substantial part of garbage collection, prices are expected to rise. Currently, residents pay $12.57 per month for residential service that includes a twice-weekly trash pickup in resident-provided containers or bags, plus a once-weekly recycle pickup in city-owned carts. Keeping the same level of service would increase by 95 cents to $13.52 per month.
The option favored by city staff actually lowers the base rate by $1.11 to $11.46 per month by reducing the number of garbage pickups from two to one per week, using 96 gallon carts provided by Waste Management. The carts are similar to the 64 gallon recycling carts currently provided by the City of Lewisville, but 50% larger.
Monday, early voting begins in the November 5th special election to fill Place 3, Lewisville ISD Board of Trustees. Here are several letters to the editor that we have received so far. If you would like to submit a letter, you can email it to email@example.com.
Shoven Most Qualified Dear Editor As a commercial property owner in LISD, I am very concerned about the open position for Place 3 on the Board.
Paige Shoven is the most qualified candidate and should have been appointed to fill out the term vacated just months after the May election. Paige has proven she can pull coalitions together. She is articulate and does her homework on the issues. Enough time has been wasted with this position open. We need someone who can hit the ground running and Paige is the only one who can do that.
Sincerely, Judy Grimes Lewisville, TX 75067
Vote Tracy Scott Miller for LISD School Board
As a retired mathematics professor with three grandsons in the LISD school district I am excited to support Tracy Scott Miller in the upcoming LISD School Board election. Tracy was a key member of the Double Oak Council during a contentious debate over fracking. He listened carefully to both sides and asked questions that cut to the heart of the issues. In addition he carried out his own research, including visiting numerous drill sites, to assess the impact firsthand. This approach will produce fair, intelligent, and solid decisions on the School Board.
In addition Tracy Miller will apply his strong Christian ethics to see that all students, teachers, and staff are treated respectfully and equitably. He not only desires excellence in the classroom but will strive for a safe learning environment that minimizes harmful social activities. Tracy will promote education for all students from different backgrounds to equip them to either enter higher education or be trained to perform capably in our local economy.
An inspiring and demanding teacher that makes a lasting change in the life of a student is a priceless asset. Tracy will support and encourage such teachers and promote conditions that allow them to do what they love best – teach and change the lives of their students.
T. L. Hayden Double Oak
Recommending Tracy Scott Miller Dear Editor, I am writing this as a letter of recommendation on behalf of Tracy Scott Miller, a candidate for LISD school board. I have had the fortune of being led by Tracy in both professional and personal affairs. I know his heart and the passion he applies to everything he involves himself in.
As a former youth pastor I share Tracy’s heart for the holistic development of today’s student population. Tracy understands the constant changing and complex environment youth face today and is well equipped to navigate these waters in and out of the classroom.
Tracy has an impeccable resume of leadership in his community. He is a natural born thinker, a must when dealing with the enormous task of educational leadership. His perfect blend of faith and business acumen positions him at the top of the list for the LISD school board.
As an executive member of a non-profit leading the way in ensuring recent high school graduates have the opportunity to attend college with reduced debt burden, I was excited to hear Tracy is willing to assist in the leadership at the school board level and fully support his candidacy. Many Thanks,
I am writing this letter of recommendation in regards to Tracy Scott Miller, a candidate for the LISD school board. First I would like to introduce myself, my name is Zach Short, I am a twenty year old student at Texas A&M University, and was a graduate of Marcus high school class of 2012. I have the rare privilege of saying that I have known Tracy all twenty years of my life as a close family friend and mentor throughout high school.
There is a great pride in knowing that the Lewisville Independent School District has such a high standard and is very passionate about the education of students. With such a responsibility to uphold, it is extremely important to carefully choose board members who will help strengthen the educational environment, which is exactly why I believe Tracy Miller is the perfect choice.
Looking at the election from the outside and then attempting to put myself in the present board members and/or editor’s position when choosing a candidate, there would be a series of characteristics that I personally would look for. First and foremost I would ask what the character of each candidate is. When it comes to the character of Tracy, I honestly could give very few people any higher appraisal. His integrity and selflessness have truly been an incredible model to look towards in my life. He is a man of compassion, and tremendous action. In other words if he has a goal in is path, it will be done.
Tracy has an unquenchable go-get’em attitude and his extensive résumé speaks volumes to this. His many years of experience in the business world added to his years involved in the town council provide him with both corporate and local knowledge of what is going on in the ever-changing world around us. This specific set of experiences has allowed him to engage on a personal level with the individual as well as the whole. He finds the weaknesses and takes the burden onto his own shoulders to see that a solution is made, with no regard to himself, but solely for the good of those around him.
I can assure you wholeheartedly that I would not take the time to write this letter of recommendation if I didn’t believe that Tracy Miller was the man for this job, and there’s a whole lot of Aggies, Marcus graduates and current LISD students, that would agree with me. I appreciate your consideration of Tracy Scott Miller, and encourage you to contact me if there are any questions. I would be more than happy to answer.
Last year, we spent some time talking to Precinct 3 Constable Jerry Raburn (R, Lewisville) about various allegations that came to light as he was running for re-election. One of those allegations was that he had wrongfully terminated his Chief Deputy, Richard Tackett, in violation of the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). At that time, Raburn refused to comment on the case, citing pending litigation.
The Lewisville Texan Journal has just obtained a copy of a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Count in Sherman on September 16th of this year, brought by Tackett against Denton County.
The lawsuit alleges that Raburn created a hostile work environment, and unlawfully discriminated against Tackett based on his gender and age. Tackett further alleges that Raburn unlawfully fired him while he was on FMLA leave, and retaliated against him.
Tackett requests a jury trial, and seeks unspecified actual, punitive, and exemplary damages, plus attorney fees. As of Friday, Denton County had not formally responded to the lawsuit, but the Denton County Commissioners' Court is scheduled to take up the matter in executive session at the Tuesday, October 22nd meeting.
Do violins and electric guitars ever mix in the classical music arena? The Lewisville Lake Symphony with the assistance of the University of North Texas Early Music Ensemble is out to show that it can, indeed, and with some very interesting and entertaining results. In a concert titled “The Ears Have Walls” the group will turn old and new repertoire upside down, surprising the ears of the listener who may expect one thing but hear another. Music written hundreds of years ago when the popular instruments of the day were portable pipe organs, recorders and the forerunner of today’s violins will be played on modern instruments like saxophone, electric guitar and vibraphone. And in turn, some modern compositions will be performed on the ancient instruments. The result is a fascinating mix of old and new that will surprise and delight lovers of both the old and new forms and instruments.
The concert takes place at the MCL Grand in Old Town Lewisville on Sunday, November 3, 2013 at 2:30 p.m. There is plenty of parking around the Grand; most is on the City Hall side of the arts complex.
Tickets can be booked online at www.lewisvillesymphony.org and are $25 for Adults, $20 for Seniors and $10 for Students. Information is available at 972.874.9087.
Lewisville Lake is currently at 513.33 feet, or about 9 feet low. Dallas continues to release water for usage downstream.
How about putting a layer of vegetable oil on top of the lake to slow down evaporation? Gee, what could possibly go wrong with this idea? My concern, aside from making the lake gross for recreation, would be that it would heat up the lake (which relies on evaporation to stay cool) and be harmful to aquatic life either from temperature, or from the lack of oxygen exchange. I suppose they would have to work all of that out, but I would say I'm highly skeptical.
Fox News carried a sensationalist story on the problem which angered one of our readers:
My name is Bret Wooten I am a parent of the child at Donald elementary in Flower Mound Texas. Additionally my wife is the principle that same school. I would like to propose a segment that hopefully all of the news organizations could do. I would recommend you call it “Junk Journalism”. I am submitting this same letter to CBS NBC WFAA and KERA. I have watched the decline of journalism standards over the past decade and found it increasingly frustrating as I am sure you have too. But after watching a piece of garbage journalism at my child's school I can no longer sit idly by. (Link below). I believe having competing news agencies fact checking each other stories would not only be beneficial to journalism but benefit the population in North Texas and if done correctly will be a boost not only to journalism but the most effective fact checkers.
This is a very recent example I can give you. This is the letter that I sent to Fox 4 with links to the story which they aired and an additional story. I don't find it much of a stretch to link these two stories and the failure of the reporter to mention that News Corp. has a vested interest in the failure of a program in education that uses iPads. This story has our community up in arms we strongly support the efforts of our district and our local school. I hope you take this initiative seriously as I believe it will bolster interest in your product and the noble profession of journalism.
Yes, News Corporation - the parent of Fox News and the local Fox affiliate has a competing product to the iPad which it is targeting to schools.
At any rate, what the setup problem means is that if students use the devices on wireless connections at home or elsewhere outside of the school, they could visit websites or download apps that could be harmful. Parents are urged to get on the student’s iPad on their home network, and open up the Safari browser and visit this link to check whether the settings have been disabled. As always, we as parents need to be looking at what our kids do online, regardless of whether it’s their smart phone, a home computer, or a school-issued iPad.
A frat brother sent out guidelines on “luring your rapebait”. Sadly, our society is not doing a good job at raising boys to see women as people, and as worthy of respect. It’s easy to be mad at this douchebag kid, but it just makes me sad for him, and sad for our society. I hope that some good-hearted person will get him some help.
How does it make you feel when someone destroys natural rock formations or fossils that are hundreds of millions of years old? It bothers me greatly because these are things we can’t get back. A couple of boy scout leaders toppled a unique rock formation at Goblin Valley State Park in Utah, and thought it funny enough to post a video of themselves laughing about it. Turns out the guy who was able to push over this boulder had filed a disability lawsuit related to a car wreck he was in. I’d say he probably damaged his case. Years ago, also in Utah, some boy scouts pried up dinosaur track fossils and threw them in a lake.
*Originally said six people, but that included a drowning at another lake. There have been 5 so far this year in Lewisville Lake.
On September 24, 2013, at around 6 p.m., a 14 year-old female exited her school bus in the 800 block of Lakeside Circle. As she walked to her apartment complex, she noticed a white 2-door car with tinted windows nearby. As the female got closer to her building, a subject exited the car and started walking toward her. As the subject got closer to her, he began to walk faster toward her and said “come here!” The female kept walking and made to the stairs up to her apartment. She then noticed the subject running up the stairs behind her. As he caught up to her, the subject grabbed the girl’s arm. He then pulled her shirt down and made a sexually explicit statement as he was attempting to push her to the ground. The girl was able to punch the subject in the face, knocking his glasses off. He picked up his glasses and ran off.
The suspect is described as a Hispanic male, 30-35 years of age, of medium build, with dark brown or black hair. At the time of this incident, he was wearing glasses, dark green scrubs, and black shoes. A composite drawing of the suspect is shown at right.
Lewisville Police Captain Jay Powell said that the suspect faces charges of indecency with a child, if caught. It sounds to us like it could have been much worse, had the girl not fought back.
Anyone with information related to this offense is asked to call the Lewisville Police Department’s Tip Line at 972-219-TIPS (8477) or Denton County Crime Stoppers at 800-388-TIPS (8477).
On November 5th, Lewisville ISD voters will go to the polls in a special election to choose a School Board Trustee to fill out the remainder of the term in Place 3.
Candidates for the position responded to the Lewisville Texan Journal's request to complete candidate questionnaires providing information about their backgrounds, qualifications, and their thoughts on some of the important issues facing the district.
Here are links to all three of their questionnaires: