Impressions of a school tour: is Conroe ISD running out of teaching at higher grade levels

Impressions of a school tour: is Conroe ISD running out of teaching at higher grade levels

Image: Does Conroe Independent School District aspire to graduate students into minimum wage jobs working for foreign-owned fast food companies?

Conroe and The Woodlands, June 24 – On March 22, 2019, at 7:30 a.m., the Conroe Independent School District (CISD) Board of Trustees went on a tour of some of the public schools in The Woodlands. Every reader of The Golden Hammer should go on one of these tours, because they provide enormous insight into how good and how bad our public schools within CISD actually are.

The tour provided an opportunity to see some of the good and some of the bad of local public education. The tour provided an opportunity to observe the CISD Board of Trustees up close and personal.

Woodlands 9th Grade Campus

Our first stop during the tour was the Woodlands 9th Grade Campus. The tour began at the Principal’s office where we saw an enormous number of school administrators beginning their day. 40 years ago, schools were never as top heavy with administrators as public schools are today. Besides the Principal, who was the tour guide, and perhaps an Assistant Principal and secretary, it’s hard to fathom why a school would require so many people sitting at desks in offices.

The 9th Grade Campus tour began in a room in the back of the school where a group of approximately fifty (50) children sat around very expensive metal tables and were excitedly preparing to practice their restaurant project as part of what the Principal referred to as “Life Management Skills.” These life management skills included spending enormous time at the beginning of the school day practicing “skills” such as serving as a restaurant host or hostess, waiters and waitresses, busboys and busgirls, cooks, and “food preparers.”

The members of the CISD Board found the entire restaurant project very entertaining and exciting. Standing back and watching the entire game was nothing short of appalling. 40 years ago, one would hang out with one’s cousins and friends in the neighborhood pretending to run a restaurant, put on a play, lead an army, or run a doctor’s office. 40 years ago, if a public school had engaged in those activities, a parents’ Lynch mob would likely have formed to oust the teachers and principals who engaged in the exact same behavior that children did in their spare time amongst themselves.

If pretending to run a restaurant is the “life management skill” which CISD provides to 14-year-olds, they’re obviously laser-focused on moving those children as quickly as possible into minimum-wage jobs in the fast food industry in order to ensure the children work for Asian managers and owners who reap profits on the backs of those whom the education elite have decided to leave at the side of the curricular road.

The second classroom during the visit was even more appalling. The subject was “Team Leadership,” an academic course which, thankfully, didn’t exist until recently. The teacher, whom Superintendent Curtis Null proudly explained was actually a high school sports coach, explained to our tour group what we were observing. He began, “We have wrote letters, and we’re reading the answers we done got from them.”

At that point, surprisingly, no one among the tour group interrupted the coach claiming to teach and corrected his speech. (“Excuse me, sir. Isn’t the proper grammar, ‘We have written letters, and we’re reading the answers we received from them.”

Two students read some letters. They had a bit of trouble reading.

Fortunately, the next classroom was an Algebra classroom where the students were engaged in a quiz. There actually were algebraic equations on the blackboard.

The tour then went to AP Human Geography where the children were moving around on a large floor map in their socks. Thankfully, the children exhibited a knowledge of many facts about world geography. Superintendent Null explained that there are eight Advanced Placement courses available at the 9th Grade Campus.

Actually, the most impressive room of all was a small classroom where nine children were learning English as a Second Language. Most of the students were from Mexico, South America, and Eastern Europe. The students – and the teacher – seemed very focused, serious, and engaged in learning.

Even though CISD has determined to allow a large swath of students to fall by the wayside of education under the guise of “Career and Technical Education,” there clearly are many serious students within the school district and viable opportunities for them to learn.

Even though CISD has determined to allow a large swath of students to fall by the wayside of education under the guise of “Career and Technical Education,” there clearly are many serious students within the school district and viable opportunities for them to learn.

Tough Elementary School

The tour of Tough Elementary School was far more heartening than the tour of the 9th Grade Campus. There was some serious learning occurring. The teachers we saw clearly revealed excitement and strong interest in their students.

During the tour, Superintendent Null almost took a turn into a “special education” classroom. We saw through the door that there clearly was no learning occurring, because the children in CISD’s custody at the time were profoundly unable to learn. CISD served as a daycare center at taxpayer expense for those children.

A 6th grade literature class was nothing short of impressive. The children studied literary elements in narrative non-fiction. Several of them read aloud and clearly had no trouble whatsoever reading the English language fluently. The children in that classroom clearly were individuals who possessed the tools to enjoy reading for the remainder of their lives.

A 3rd grade Language Arts class also appeared an enormous pedagogical success. The children were enjoying reading to each other. The teacher explained that she provided her students with some flexibility and choice in what they read but she insisted that they exhibit substantial comprehension of the books.

The tour also went to a Kindergarten class. Having read all of the criticism of the horrors of the “sight word” method, it was great to see that this particular class focused on the teaching of how to read through learning the letters, then phonics, and then the formation of words phonetically.

There were a lot of positives to take from the tour of Tough Elementary School, which, according to CISD’s 2019 demographic study, anticipates declining enrollment.

CISD’s Board of Trustees

Going on a tour of the schools with the Board of Trustees also afforded an opportunity to interact directly with the members of the Board of Trustees and with Superintendent Null. Normally, of course, the Board won’t interact with citizens at Board meetings.

Null appeared thoughtful, caring, and clearly a giant fan of the children who are the students of CISD. He answered questions and, on one occasion, was willing to admit he didn’t know the answer. There appears no limit to Null’s love for the children, teachers, and administrators of the school district.

Scott Moore, who seems to have the citizens in mind more than other Board members when he speaks at Board meetings, was just as friendly and enthusiastic during the tour. Obviously, Moore loves public education and feels a strong dedication to curriculum development. While not as knowledgeable as Moore, Skeeter Hubert also seemed fairly open and willing to talk about education issues.

The other two Board members on the tour were John Husbands and Datren Williams. During Board meetings, Husbands reveals substantial knowledge of the inner workings of CISD. He’s a very angry individual, however. Husbands appears entirely focused on serving the bureaucratic administration of the school district. Children and taxpayers don’t appear as his concerns. Williams is enthusiastic. Clearly, he’s an elitist who doesn’t appreciate citizen involvement in the activities of the Board of Trustees. Williams’ inarticulate speech does not make a favorable impression.

Touring some of the higher-rated schools of CISD was a positive experience. Touring those schools suffering substantial challenges with poor educational outcomes for the children would seem to be the highest priority for someone seeking to find out what’s really happening within the school district.

 

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