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Bev's Burner
Some's Hot, Some's Not 

By B.K. Carter

"Bev Carter is the owner/publisher of the Fort Bend Star, winner of numerous state and national awards. She has been a voice of Fort Bend's largest circulated newspaper for 30 years."


 

Why do we need another science museum? It seems that every superintendent we’ve hired wants a monument to himself. Dr. Chopa wanted a language center. Dr. Hooper proposed a technology center and now it’s Dr. Jenney’s turn. He wants a global science center. And he wants it in the face of declining revenues and an economic crunch.

Heretofore, the FBISD board of trustees has been disinclined to provide these monuments. Now, not so much.

We’ve heard from dozens of folks, from FBISD employees to taxpayers who are absolutely astounded that the board would support this undertaking, especially in this economy, and especially since the opening of the Houston Museum of Natural Science right here in Sugar Land.

I’ve had various people visit with me about the global center, trying to convince me that it’s a viable project. The most compelling argument and one that I bought for a while is that the cost of building it is about the cost of any new building and that it will be borne by private contributions. Then FBISD will have a valuable piece of real estate come what may.

But there are so many other expenses besides the building that would have to be provided by the district for years to come.

I guess the thing that sends a red flag to me is the district’s unwillingness to come completely clean about the whole project. After a group of citizens wanted to see all the information about the global center, the district went to the attorney general to delay releasing that information; then, according to the group, the district did not release all of the information and the protestors say they can prove it. They have a Friday meeting with DA John Healey (who is up for re-election).

The district has claimed all along that the communication they have received from the public is very supportive. There seems to be some question about that.

Of course the district forestalled some release of information by letting a private citizen, former Sugar Land mayor David Wallace, seek private funding. So far, Wallace’s actions are closed to the public since it doesn’t involve tax money.

What I can’t understand is that if the district is telling the truth, why didn’t they immediately make a full disclosure. None of this going to the state’s attorney general nonsense. I’ve been on the other end of that situation before, and it is simply a delaying tactic. The Fort Bend sheriff’s office uses it quite frequently; just one of the reasons I find the current sheriff dishonest.

I’ve had dealings with the school district in the distant past and I can tell you that information can be manipulated six ways to Sunday.

Proponents of the project will tell you that science scores will rise--even with just 4-6 visits each year. But they can’t tell you how. Logistically, it seems like a nightmare to get 50 campuses on the schedule.

What they also don’t tell you is what it will do to teachers. Teachers will first have to spend hours planning the lessons. Then they’ll have to check the labs to be sure that all of the essentials are available for use during the lessons. They’ll have to spend at least 10-15 minutes making certain that the students pack up anything they will be required to take with them, then load them on the bus.

Dr. Jenny has stated that teachers can instruct on the way to the center--which for some students can be a ten minute trip and for others a 20-40 minute trip. Ask any teacher what they think of that one.

Taking all these into consideration means students and teachers are off campus, with no instruction, for a minimum of 30-60 minutes each time they visit the center. They get to do the same thing on the return trip.

District administrators and board members will tell you that professional development is key to raising scores. I’d like to point out that the $26 million slated for the global center would go a long way to training every employee in his or her field for the next 15 years.

Again, I am astounded that the board would support this undertaking. They are looking at cutting the academies, one educational tool that will certainly raise grades, but continue on with this hobby horse.

Now why did the district delay releasing all the information? I think it was in order to proceed full speed ahead with their current plans. It’s beginning to look like a done deal, whether funds can be raised privately or not.

David Wallace, get over it.

as regards to the recent snow flurries. The district didn’t panic and dismiss school and as a “parent” (exchange student), I can tell you the district called and emailed several times to keep the parents abreast of what actions the district was taking regarding the weather. Would that they would be so open about the global center. (Sorry, I just couldn’t help myself in making that jibe.)

Warat, nicknamed Best, a 10th grade exchange student from Thailand, needs a home for the rest of the school year. He speaks very good English and can attend any school in FBISD, Stafford, or Lamar. His host parents have been transferred to Jamaica and under Department of State regulations, he is unable to make the move with them. If a home cannot be found for him he will have to go back to Thailand early. If you or anyone you know can help out with the student, get in touch with Stan Wolenski at stanleycustom@yahoo.com or 832-875-7888.

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Contact bkcstar@earthlink.net, if you would like to express your opinions/views regarding the column. Write a SIGNED letter to the editor with valid day time phone number--name can be withheld by request.

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   Last Update:
December 9, 2009