Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Make no mistake, this is one of the most important votes the tax payers of Abilene, Texas will ever see. Politicians come and go, but this building, if built, will effect Abilene's children for decades to come. I was told by a city councilman, that a 9 million dollar plan was proposed, but rejected mainly at the prompting of our superintendent, who is soon to leave office.
In theory, this sounds like a great idea, a way to reach those students that are not very successful in academics, so that they will have the opportunity to be successful in the world anyway. Yet, these classes could all be offered through the current school system and on the current campuses. Other schools all over the state are offering similar classes without building a new facility to house them. One way to approach the same outcome, without it costing as much money, which could instead be used to make repairs/updates needed on other campuses is to offer all of these classes being planned for the program in the current high schools. This would allow the kids to get used to the program while putting them on a possible career path (as well as earning them a diploma). It would also help the administration find out which classes/programs would be most convenient for all involved. Some issues that would need to be addressed would be finding teachers for the classes and figuring out which types of classes the students would take. Establishing programs in which there is a high student passing rate on the testing at the end of the course of study is also critical. Another thing to be considered is who would determine which students would qualify to be serviced through this type of program. To best serve the community, all student populations should have the choice to take the programs offered. If there is a breakdown at any of these points, the entire program will suffer.
These things need to be established before that much money is spent to build a new structure to house it. Schools don't use business plans... but, if they start the program this way, they will have data to support the spending that much money on it within 5-10 years. Until then, they can repair the buildings they already have students in.
Another thing that should be taken into account is the testing aspect of opening this campus. The state has been put in the position of having to test EVERY student in the state to address the federal guidelines of No Child Left Behind. Even school-aged children lying comatose in a hospital bed have to be addressed with the new guidelines. So, all of the students that would be in this program would still be held responsible for state testing. If these kids are not taking the standard classes for English, science, history, and math (four classes of each are required for all high school students now in Texas), then they might not have the foundations needed to pass the testing. The issue has already been addressed that Abilene is in jeopardy of becoming "Unacceptable" for accountability purposes. If you take these kids out of the classroom and put them in applied classes for these subjects, then they will be less likely to pass the tests, and the schools and teachers on the "home campus" will still be held responsible for them, so the risk of becoming "Unacceptable" will actually increase, not decrease.
The classes and certification programs being offered is a great idea. However, when you start taking kids out of the classroom and moving them across town, the risk might not be worth any reward that comes out of it, on a personal level, or a district level, because without passing the testing, these kids will not be able to graduate.
Several attempts have been made by the opposition to this bond for the 25 million dollar building to house the existing Vocational/Technical courses being taught by the Abilene Independent School District for an equal voice in the local media. As of yet, no spokesperson has been given an equal opportunity to argue the merits of this position. On a personal level, I do not expect everyone to agree with me, or the others against this bond, that basically is just to build a new building despite an abundance of existing infrastructure and campuses here in Abilene, Texas. However, we want our point of view to be given an equal opportunity to be heard. LET THE VOTERS DECIDE! To me this is just another fiscally irresponsible measure being handed down from the powers that be in Abilene, like the Diamondback Golf Course or AYSA campaign was. As of yet the local media has done little to earn our trust, and has not given coverage we can count on on this issue.
I have formed a cause on facebook called: End Political Bias In The media! It can be found under causes or at:http://apps.facebook.com/causes/385510/58001906 Please join us at End Political Bias In The media! if you also believe in our quest to demand honesty and integrity from media sources, from the local, state, and national level.
I would like to thank my technical advisor, who is a special education teacher, and member of the Texas Federation of Teachers for her assistance in providing and editing some of the content of this article.
Posted by konstantinforabilene at 4:07 PM