Tag Archives: public schools

How did we do it in the old days?

How in the name of technology did we survive without cell phones? That’s the question I keep asking — rhetorically, of course — as I learn about how school districts are cracking down on students’ packing cell phones into the classroom.

Richardson Independent School District, just down the highway from where my wife and I live, is the latest district to experiment with a plan to force students to lock up their phones before going to school.

I want to applaud Richardson ISD. Indeed, my hope is that school administrators make the ban a permanent one. I also believe school systems all across the country would do well to follow Richardson ISD’s lead.

I’m an old man. I recall the old days when the only way Mom or Dad could contact me in school was to call the school secretary and leave a message. The office staff would get the message to me and I would call back; it was usually Mom who would place the call.

No worries back then.

These days, though, are different. Moms and Dads need to be able to speak immediately to their little darlin’s.

Here’s the thing: Richardson is taking a proactive approach to reducing classroom distractions. Children attend school to learn their lessons. Their parents send them to school to learn as well. Cell phones can be a major distraction, not to mention serving as a tool for bullies and others who would inflict potential harm on those precious children.

I applaud Richardson ISD’s effort to restore a learning environment and I hope other school systems follow suit.


Schools see exodus

A disturbing trend appears to be developing in North Texas as nine school superintendents have announced they are leaving their posts at the end of the current academic year.

It’s an unusual number of top public school administrators heading for the exits, according to officials, as reported by the Texas Tribune.

The culprit? It appears to be a combination of culture wars, pandemic politicization and perhaps some normal retirements. From my vantage point, it appears that the culture wars and the politics of the pandemic are playing too heavy a role.

North Texas superintendents leave as school culture wars heat up | The Texas Tribune

Richardson ISD Superintendent Jeanne Stone perhaps is the most notable resignation. She quit in the middle of the school year after being pressured by parents over mask mandates. She was mum at the time she quit, but she has opened up in recent days to the media.

“Heartbreaking is a pretty accurate way to describe this,” Stone said. “It’s all I’ve ever known. It’s all I’ve ever done. It’s all I ever wanted to do.”

The Tribune reports: Stone is just one of many public educators who have borne the brunt of a shifting culture war — filled with fierce accusations and rising tensions often stoked by state officials — about how K-12 students learn. And she is among at least nine North Texas superintendents who have announced they would leave their jobs since the start of the school year.

School administrators generally have a relatively short lifespan in their posts. However, the current climate seems to be quickening the exodus from public school admin buildings. It is a shame to see such turnover.

The other biggie appears to be this thing called “critical race theory.” Parents are fighting among themselves over whether schools should allow teachers to instruct students on racism and its impact on our national history; they also are fighting with school administrators and elected board members, too.

And, of course, we have the children who are being caught in the middle of all this tempest and turmoil.

They are suffering the most. It shouldn’t happen.


Trump shows his ignorance yet again

Donald John “Ignoramus in Chief” Trump threatens to pull federal funds from public schools if they don’t reopen this fall, per his edict.

Sigh …

No, he is not going to do that. He has no authority to do anything of the sort. Donald Trump once again is showing us what he doesn’t know about the job to which he was elected … and from which I hope he gets booted out in about 120 days.

Fox News’ Chris Wallace challenged an assertion delivered by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Sunday. DeVos repeated Trump’s threat, to which Wallace told her that Congress appropriates federal funds for public schools. Wallace asked “Under what authority are you and the president going to unilaterally cut off funding, funding that’s been approved from Congress and most of the money goes to disadvantaged students or students with disabilities?” “You can’t do that,” he continued.

That means that Trump is out of the game.

DeVos didn’t answer the question directly. She couldn’t answer. Because she is as ignorant about government as Donald Trump. She did say, “Look, American investment in education is a promise to students and their families. If schools aren’t going to reopen and not fulfill that promise, they shouldn’t get the funds, and give it to the families to decide to go to a school that is going to meet that promise.”

Americans are getting sick from the COVID-19 pandemic in increasing numbers. That poses threats to students, teachers and their loved ones. Donald Trump’s demand that schools reopen this fall runs directly counter to the medical advice he is getting from the infectious disease experts with whom he has surrounded himself.

Oh, wait! He knows more than they do. Isn’t that what he has inferred … about anything?

No, Mr. POTUS … not ‘everyone’ behind a rush back to classroom

Donald Trump is getting way ahead of himself again. Imagine that, if you can.

Now he says “everyone” wants children to return to the classroom this fall. The “Educator in Chief,” though, is speaking way out of school, if you’ll pardon the pun. I am among the “everyone” to whom he refers and I am not yet ready to push our children back into classrooms.

Medical experts, including those who are “advising” him on the pandemic response, say something different. They caution against rushing to reopen public school classrooms. Donald Trump won’t be dissuaded from pursuing this latest form of political idiocy.

I no longer have kids in school. I do have a couple of grandkids, though, who finished the 2019-20 academic year at home. Their schools in Collin County, Texas, might decide to reopen their classrooms, or they might decide to keep the students at home, providing them with online study materials. Last time I looked, Texas’s rate of COVID-19 infection was soaring into the sky.

This gets directly to one of the points I want to make. Which is that these decisions will occur at the state level in conjunction with what local school officials recommend. The president of the United States has no authority to dictate what schools systems should do, just as he didn’t have any authority to order states to reopen their business communities.

Oh, but Trump now says he might withhold federal money to those states that do not order their schools to reopen their classrooms.

This is nothing but political bullying.

Do I want my grandkids back in class? Sure … but only if their schools can assure us they will be safe, that they will return to a learning environment that protects them from needless exposure to potential harm from a dangerous virus.

If they can’t provide that assurance, then students should stay home … and Donald Trump needs to keep his trap shut!

Keep our schools closed!

There’s a marquee in front of the brand new elementary school in our Princeton, Texas, neighborhood that reads “We miss you. See you May 4.”

That’s when Texas’s public schools are supposed to reopen in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Here’s my suggestion: Do not reopen the schools; keep them closed for the remainder of this academic year.

The first week of May is far too early to send our children back to school, where they would mingle with other children. Do we expect kindergartners or first-graders — or even older children — to observe the six-foot rule, to practice “social distancing”?

My hope is that we can keep the schools dark. Let the kids continue to study at home until the end of our school year. School systems can issue pass/fail grades for the students. Those who pass can move to the next grade; those who fail can do it all over again in the fall.

Our primary concern needs to be the health of our children and the men and women who educate them … and the staff members who run our schools.

I hereby request that Gov. Greg Abbott forget about reopening our schools on May 4. Close ’em for the rest of the year. Then let’s concentrate on stemming this infection rate.

Too funny to let pass

There’s really very little to add to this item that showed up on my Facebook feed this evening.

I had seen the president’s Twitter message hailing the possible return of Bible studies to our public schools. I already have commented on that notion, suggesting that church — not our public schools — is the place to study God’s holy word.

Then there’s the response from the individual who thought it appropriate to remind Donald Trump about what the Old Testament says about adultery, a sin about which the president has actually boasted.

I’m out.

Study the Bible in church, not public schools

Hold on a second! Donald J. Trump now says he supports the notion of allowing public school students to study the Bible. He endorses the idea of students learning about the history of the Judeo-Christian holy book.

Let’s put the brakes on that one.

The founders created a secular document to govern the United States of America. The very first clause in the very first amendment to the U.S. Constitution establishes a rule that Congress “shall make no law” that creates a state religion.

Legal scholars and courts have interpreted that to mean that government agencies — and that includes public schools — must avoid traveling down the slipperiest of slopes by allowing religious study in tax-supported schools.

So what is the president trying to do? My best guess is that he believes that the U.S. Supreme Court — which includes two justices he has appointed — would rule in favor of Bible study in public schools if the issue ever to reach the highest court on appeal.

Trump wrote this on Twitter: Numerous states introducing Bible Literacy classes, giving students the option of studying the Bible. Starting to make a turn back? Great!

Legislators in six states are proposing Bible study in public schools. I guess it’s some sort of move to return “prayer in school,” which the Supreme Court rule in the early 1960s violates the First Amendment’s implied separation of church and state.

There’s a place for everything in this world of ours. I believe firmly that the place to study the Bible is in a house of worship. We should make our public schools the place where students can learn about math, science, civics, humanities, theater . . . and the whole host of curricula that teach them about their earthly world.

I’ll just offer this notion as well: If we are going to study the Bible in public school, do we then allow the study of works read by our non-Judeo Christian citizens?

That’s what I mean by the “slipperiest of slopes.”

Public education needs advocates, not adversaries

Public education, by definition, is intended — as I understand it — to be a resource for the entire public and it shouldn’t push agendas, such as religious beliefs, that need to be promoted at home or in places of worship.

So, it’s fair to wonder whether it’s wise put a home-school advocate into the chairmanship of the Texas State Board of Education. That’s the subject of an interesting essay written for the Dallas Morning News by a Wylie, Texas, parent.


Jamie Anne Richardson describes herself as a public school graduate who home-schools her children.

She also opposes Gov. Greg Abbott’s selection of Donna Bahorich — who home-schools her own children — as chair of the SBOE.

I prefer to think of SBOE members as advocates for public schools. They understand that since all Texans buy into public education, that all Texans’ needs to be considered. Bahorich, according to Richardson, has an agenda that likely doesn’t comport with all Texans’ belief systems.

Here’s part of what Richardson writes: “Bahorich has an agenda, and it has the potential to threaten both public schools and home-schoolers. She voted for highly controversial textbooks that many board members said distorted the facts of American history and included such ideas as how Moses helped shape democracy. Slate writer Amanda Marcotte wrote: ‘The school board battles that Republicans have been waging in Texas have nothing to do with improving the quality of the state’s public schools. Most of these efforts are about making the education experience less educational, by injecting conservative propaganda into history class and religious dogma into science class. Texas is bent on undermining public schools, not fixing them. This appointment only serves as further proof.’”

The SBOE has waged this fight in recent times. Social conservatives on the board battle with more moderate board members about textbook selection. Some board members want textbooks to emphasize faith-based theories. Others say — and I happen to agree with them — that matters of religious faith belong in churches, mosques or synagogues, as well as in families’ homes.

Public school belongs to all of us — believers and non-believers alike.

Here’s a bit more of Richardson’s essay: “A lot of families aren’t in the position to home-school, and they can’t afford private schools. Texas public education must appropriately meet these children’s needs without a conservative agenda. How will a parent who has never enrolled a child in a public school but who can afford private education for her kids’ high school years relate to the challenges of the teachers, administrators, student and parents?”

We are blessed to provide public education. I don’t ever recall hearing of a serious desire to establish a public church.

Indeed, isn’t that why we keep those things separate?