HCISD STEM is ill conceived

STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering and Math – is a new initiative, to be layered on top of numerous other initiatives which have not lived up to their billing, to help students in these key areas.  If new initiatives were the key to success, Hays would be in good shape. Let us hope it is hugely successful!   There are 300,000 unfilled jobs because of the lack of qualified applicants.  The superintendent and his wife have staked their Hays CISD careers on it. The circumstances are working against them and here is why.

In an ill advised move, the Superintendent’s wife was hired to head up the initiative. This is problematic. If STEM fails, will the superintendent fire his wife? Of course not!  But, while failure was not an option for Apollo 15, it certainly is an option for Hays CISD.

We’ve got a lot of programs of dubious academic value that survive despite poor performance.

Should we add a costly new experiment during these tough budget times where we’ve cut valuable proven programs such as foreign language in elementary school for “budgetary reasons?” Elm Grove students get by with $1,900 less per student than at Blanco Vista where they get an extra $1 million annually for exclusive “Full Emersion Spanish” instruction. Elm Grove students deserve to have this inequity corrected. Elm Grove’s students will have to compete with students from other districts where there is universal enrichment. With school board complicity, we’ve decided it ok to disadvantage certain student populations. They don’t need to be all they can be, I guess.

The public has a right to know the objectives of this latest answer to education. What are the measurable performance measures the board will use to measure success? Absent measurable pre-determined performance measures, we risk another Academy, where we measure success to fit the latest dismal results after the fact. In this way, they can argue the objectives were achieved – since they set them retroactively after the results were realized.

Despite the poor timing and nepotism, it is worth a chance, provided the board really will hold the superintendent and his wife accountable.

Bryce Bales

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