Tag Archives: Princeton ISD

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.”

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

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.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

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.

Here’s to you, the best of our public educators

School has begun in many districts around Texas. The brand new elementary school just down the street from my wife and me in Princeton opens its doors tomorrow morning.

They’re still gussying up the grounds, getting ready to lay down the last of the sod. But … this blog post is aimed at saluting the teachers who will stand in classrooms at Dorothy Lowe Elementary School here in Princeton and in classrooms everywhere.

They are special in every meaningful definition of the word.

I want to salute them. I want to tell them out loud and in public through this forum how much I appreciate the work they do to care for our children, to teach them the lessons they must learn and to be there for them when they need emotional support.

My sons are middle-aged men now. But I do have a granddaughter attending elementary school in a nearby district. She loves school, and for that I am so grateful.

I have experienced just a bit of what these teachers have to do. You see, not long after my journalism career ended in 2012, I decided to become a substitute teacher. I applied for a position with the Amarillo Independent School District. I got accepted, passed the background check, attended an orientation session … and then went to work.

I learned something important about myself. It was that I am not wired for this line of work. Thus, my admiration for good teachers grew mightily as I dealt with the challenges the students threw at me on a daily basis.

I was told during the orientation that if students gave me too much grief, I could call the office and the staff would scurry to the classroom and remove the troublesome student or students. I was highly reluctant to make that call.

So, I suffered some of the indignities the students would throw at me. This occurred mostly at the high school level. The students seemed to know intuitively that the “sub” was in over his head.

Thus, my “career” as a substitute teacher didn’t last a school year. I couldn’t cope.

This is my way of saluting those teachers who do far more than “cope” with the kids. They teach them. They counsel them. They guide them on their path to productive adulthood.

They are the often-unsung heroes of contemporary society.

Therefore, I want to wish them all the very best as they meet the challenges that the students will present to them.

Godspeed to you all.