Tag Archives: Princeton ISD

Pay attention to these contests

I am going to pay careful attention to the Princeton Independent School District Board of Trustees election coming up this fall.

It’s not because I have children in the school system. I don’t. My two sons are middle-aged men and one of them is Daddy to our 9-year-old granddaughter and they reside in nearby Allen.

I am interested in the PISD contests because I want to be mindful of the campaign material they put out. I want to look for evidence of any candidate who is going to sound off on that idiotic notion of banning what they call “critical race theory” from our school curriculum; or whether they intend to champion the banning of other textbooks that seek to cast any sort of negative eye on our history.

I keep hearing about how the MAGA crowd is seeking to penetrate our public schools. They are running candidates who adhere to some of the goofier — and frankly, dangerous — notions about how we should run our public-school systems.

I also intend to stay alert to candidates who talk openly about siphoning public money away to pay for school vouchers to allow parents to enroll their children in private schools. Moreover, I’ll be listening for rhetoric that suggests we should allow the re-entry of state-sanctioned religion into our public classrooms. I have said many times that religion should be taught in church, not in school.

Finally, I intend to listen for those candidates who want to put firearms into the hands of teachers and give them the go-ahead to use those weapons in the event of trouble inside our schools.

This will be a critical election. My intention simply is to learn as much as I can about these candidates and work — if I deem it necessary — to prevent certain candidates from being elected.


Keep eyes on school board races

Republican Party officials are casting a wide net across the national political landscape in their attempt to shape public policy at all levels of government to their liking.

School board races, normally those that draw little public attention, deserve voters’ careful eyes and ears.

My wife and I live in a North Texas community that could become a target of the far-right wingers who think our public school system might need to be, um, “regulated” a bit more carefully.

I am going to keep my eyes and ears wide open to what’s being said throughout the Princeton Independent School District.

Right wingers are attacking that thing they call “critical race theory.” They also want to ban certain books that discuss sex education.

Voters will select candidates running for two school board seats in November. I intend to pay careful attention to those who are running. I don’t want far-right-wing ideologues serving on our public school board. I prefer my school trustees to be broadminded, individuals who aren’t driven by ideology but instead by determining what’s best for the entire district, its students, parents and educators.

Princeton happens to be a racially, ethnically and religiously diverse community and for that I am grateful. There is no way in the world that our school system can adhere to a rigid curriculum that — for example — refuses to speak to the racial prejudice that soaked our society at large.

I don’t know much about the men and women who serve on our school board. I do intend to pay careful attention to what they are saying as they run for re-election.

I damn sure intend to listen to the messages being delivered by those who might want to succeed them.

After all, these races determine who sets policies that have a direct impact on our lives. I can think of nothing more impactful than policies involving the lives of our young people.


Growth explodes all around us

This is no surprise, given the rapid and frantic growth occurring in the community where my wife and I live. I watched construction crews assembling a portable classroom module on the campus of a brand new elementary school in Princeton, Texas.

Dorothy Lowe Elementary School opened for the 2020-21 academic year. Then the COVID-19 pandemic closed in-class learning for most of that school year. Students and teachers returned. Boy, howdy! Did they ever!

I live in a subdivision that is growing practically daily. We live a block from the school and we watch the traffic jam up at the beginning of the school day and then at the end of it when moms and dads deliver and then pick up their children.

The portable classroom, it looks to me, will be one of many to be erected while the Princeton Independent School District decides what to do about the burgeoning student population. Indeed, Princeton ISD predicted growth would explode, saying this on its website: Demographers predict that the District will add over 6,700 new students over the next 10 years. The District could either build a new campus to house more students or purchase over 40 portables to accommodate the growth. 

We are witnessing the cost of growth. Families with young children are looking for a place to live and for their children to be educated. The school system will need more classrooms and more teachers. How does it pay for all that? Hmm. Let me think. Oh … you know the answer to that one.

I understand PISD will open a new elementary school next academic year. I am unclear about what that might mean for the students who attend Lowe Elementary or their parents.

What does strike me initially is that the temporary classroom is being erected so soon after the doors opened at an elementary school.

Then again, I am not terribly surprised. I could have predicted it would happen as I watch homes spring up like weeds on the prairie.


School races take on new urgency

We just cast our ballots for municipal offices and a citywide resolution in Princeton, Texas, along with amendments to the Texas Constitution … as well as for seats on the Princeton Independent School District board of trustees.

It’s the latter race that causes me some angst and potential worry. Yes, I worry about the Princeton ISD and whether our local school district is going to frolic down the path of examining “critical race theory” and examining textbooks that examine seedier portions of our national history.

I do not want that to happen in Princeton.

We are a rapidly growing community full of new families with small children, many of whom live in our subdivision that happens to next to a newly built elementary school.

The critical race theory discussion troubles me in one key aspect. It is that right wingers fear CRT because it allows teachers to instruct our children about our nation’s single greatest sin: the enslavement of human beings and the associated racism, a good bit of which remains to this day.

I do not want my school board members to shy away from teaching our children about that facet of our nation’s history. Yes, we live in a great nation, arguably the greatest ever created. Greatness, though, does not preclude mistakes along the way.

Let us not forgo teaching our children about those mistakes and the measures we have taken to — in the words of our nation’s founders — seek to create and preserve a “more perfect Union.”


Teachers deserve our honor and respect

My wife and I live one block from an elementary school in Princeton, Texas and each day when we take our stroll through the ‘hood, we see evidence of great things happening with the children who go there each day.

I want to salute the men and women who serve those children, their parents and, yes, the rest of us who don’t have kids attending that particular school or even in the school district where we live. What I witness often are teachers interacting joyfully with their students, who interact with equal amounts of joy with the teachers.

I know it’s a little thing. Then again, it’s not so little, particularly if the child gets too little joy when he or she goes home at the end of the day.

Some years ago I took a turn as a substitute teacher in Amarillo, where my wife and I lived before we relocated to Princeton. It was an eye-opening experience for me. I learned one thing about myself right away from that stint: I am not wired to teach children. 

More to the point is that I am not wired to take the abuse that kids dish out to subs who fill in for the regular teachers. Yes, I got a form of abuse from those kids. They were high schoolers. I won’t tell you which high school; just know that it was one of the public HS’s in Amarillo.

I am not casting aspersions on a particular generation of children, or on the community where we lived, or on the school system. It’s just the way it is and the way it has always been since the beginning of recorded human history. Kids look for ways to game the system in their favor. Their “victims” are their elders. I did some of it myself when I was that age.

My experience as a substitute teacher filled me with admiration for those who choose that profession. I also am amazed at those full-time substitute teachers who answer the call to report for work wherever the school district needs them.

The good ones are among the most special human beings I can imagine.

I salute you.


Masks still ‘required’

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Toby the Puppy and I went for a stroll through the neighborhood this weekend and ventured onto the parking lot of the elementary school just down the street from our house.

We walked next to the front door of the school, where I noticed something interesting and worth sharing.

This blog post isn’t about Toby the Puppy, who continues to amaze us every single day. It is about the sign I read on the front door of Dorothy Lowe Elementary School.

It said that “masks are required” for anyone entering the school.

How … about … that? Texas Gov. Greg Abbott removed the mask mandate he had ordered as the COVID pandemic began raging a year ago. However, the Texas Education Agency has given school districts the option of relaxing the rules or keeping them in force. Princeton Independent School District has opted so far for the latter.

Keep the masks on. Continue to practice social distancing.

There are reports of cities, counties and states across the nation experiencing spikes in COVID infections as they relax the rules. I am unaware of it occurring in North Texas.

I am still concerned that Abbott’s decision was premature. The virus ain’t dead yet. We’re getting inoculated by the millions daily in the United States. I am hopeful we’ll get to that “herd immunity” stage as soon as we get near fully vaccinated status. We aren’t there yet.

Therefore, I am heartened to know that our local school district continues to keep the mask mandate in effect for our schools.

Toby and I finished our walk and I felt better after reading the sign on the front door of the school.

Dial it back, partisans

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

The partisan juices are flowing on this Election Day.

We’re going to elect a president and a whole lot of other officeholders up and down the ballot. This morning I had an encounter with a Democratic partisan who, I hasten to add, needs to dial back her political fervor more than just a little bit.

She was wearing a Biden-Harris shirt while sitting in front of First Baptist Church in Princeton, Texas, one of Collin County’s many polling locations. I was there to snap a picture for KETR-FM public radio. I told my new acquaintance I had voted already but was there to take a picture.

After I whispered to her that I had voted for her guy for president, she informed me of the “need” to “elect more Democrats to the City Council and the school board.”

Huh? Eh? What? I reminded her immediately that council and school board members serve as non-partisan public servants. They aren’t affiliated with either the Democratic or Republican parties. She said she knows that, but added that a school board candidate wants to “ban masks” in schools, meaning that the individual is clearly a Republican. No, no, no, I said. We cannot push partisan politics onto non-partisan governing bodies, I admonished her.

Well, I guess that encounter exemplifies the partisan fervor that has hit a fever pitch.

Election Day will come and go. We’ll awaken in the morning to another sunny day. I hope we have a new president waiting to take office. As for the Princeton City Council and the Princeton Independent School District Board of Trustees and their political composition … let’s not inject partisanship into those races. Those folks are in office to the public’s business without regard to which party they might belong.

Happy to report sanity in our local school system

I am delighted to report some good news — if you allow me to call it that — regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.

It is that our granddaughter and her brother are going to be kept out of their classrooms for at least the first semester of the upcoming academic year. We got the word from our son and daughter-in-law that the Allen (Texas) Independent School District, absent any guarantee that it can prevent spread of the virus in schools, has decided to give parents the option of online schooling at home.

Our son and daughter-in-law have exercised that option.

Thus, the Allen ISD will not follow Donald Trump’s blind and stupid call to reopen our classrooms despite the surge in coronavirus infection in states such as ours.

For the president to insist on school reopening is beyond irresponsible. He exhibits no outward interest in protecting the lives of our precious children and the teachers who expose themselves to potential illness or worse.

So local school districts here in North Texas are calling their own shots. Princeton ISD, where my wife and I live, isn’t going along with the president’s urging. Neither are the Amarillo and Canyon ISDs, from where we moved two years ago. They are going to online teaching, giving students materials they can study at home.

Our granddaughter and her brother — who is entering his senior year in high school — did well in the second half of the preceding school year learning at home. They will do so again once the new year begins in August.

Meanwhile, the search for vaccines continues. May the brainiacs assigned to find them hit pay dirt sooner rather than later.

Confused over logic of all these closings

It seems almost counterintuitive.

Public schools are delaying the resumption of classes for weeks. Here in Princeton, Texas, the public school system will be closed to students, teachers and staff until May 4. It might last even longer. The end of the academic year comes normally at the end of May.

Why is it counterintuitive? The closures are coming as the world deals with the pandemic caused by the coronavirus outbreak. There’s a massive increase in “community spread” of the potentially deadly disease, meaning that individuals can get exposed merely by being in the presence of those who carry the virus. How does sending children, teachers and staffers home when they can expose themselves to the disease outside of a classroom?

I support what our public institutions are doing to mitigate the disease spread. Our sons are grown men; one of them is the father of a little girl who’s also staying home rather than going to school. She isn’t playing with her friends during this emergency situation; her parents are keeping their watchful eyes on her at all times. This is just one family. Are all of them as responsible? Obviously … no!

There will be more of this to occur.

As a retired American, I am trying to wrap my arms around this story as it develops. It is mind-boggling in the extreme. In all my years walking this good Earth, I don’t recall a crisis that measures up to this still-developing story. We’ve had crises with swine flu, with Ebola, various other influenza outbreaks, measles. We once had a polio crisis in this country. Have we faced the threat of a total shutdown? Have we faced quite the economic impact that this crisis is delivering?

It’s a scary time. Keep an eye on the children and those who might be at risk. In the meantime, I am seeking to make sense of it.

They’re shutting down … maybe for the rest of the academic year

The Princeton Independent School District, where my wife and I live, has made a critical command decision in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

The school system is shutting down at least until May 4.

How does that affect us? We have no children or grandchildren in the Princeton ISD schools. However, nearby in the Allen ISD, our young granddaughter is home for an extra week, along with her brother. I haven’t heard whether Allen ISD is going to follow Princeton’s lead.

This is what we need to expect in school systems around the country as we all worry — without panicking, we should hope — about the impact of this health crisis on our lives.

Donald Trump today took a decidedly more sober and serious tone when discussing the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. He recommended that Americans avoid gatherings of 10 or more individuals, to pay careful attention to “social distancing.” The president announced the implementation of testing of Americans free of charge.

The tone today was a remarkable change from what we heard just a day or two earlier, when he was blasting Democrats and the media for their respective roles in handling this crisis. Today was much different and I daresay much more “presidential.” I am left only to say: It’s about damn time!

But closer to home in North Texas, we are feeling the impact and are preparing for the “worst case” that medical pros tell us is on its way.