Tall on claims, short on details
SESHADRI KUMAR, Fort Bend Independent
Change is in the air at the Fort Bend ISD. The district has a chief academic officer and a chief accountability officer, who seem to take their jobs seriously.
District officials have been candid in admitting that FBISD students, especially in elementary and middle schools are faring poorly in science. Not only that, teachers at the schools are not adequately trained to teach them.
But FBISD is not alone and it is a national problem, the administrators quickly point out.
For example, Texas is ranked second in the United States in total population, but 29th in the number of scientists and engineers in the workforce; 4,000 Texas science and math teachers have left the classroom in recent years and it will cost $27 million to replace them; 40% of science teachers in the lowest performing schools failed their science certification examination at least once. . .
. . .Then followed a press release about the Global Center Feasibility Committee, headed by David Wallace, former Sugar Land mayor and a developer.
Wallace quickly swung into action and began gathering information through meetings with various groups.
After attending last week’s public meeting, one could conclude that the concept makes tall claims, but little specifics are known about the project.
What exactly will go into the building remains to be decided. Until that is known and it is clear how exactly the building will be used, it is hard to make a judgment.
The center (or museum as observers put it) will only incorporate physical and earth sciences. What happens to the rest of the scientific world?
There is no convincing proof that such a center will deliver the promised results. Maybe one should take a chance in the interest of the future of our children.
FBISD officials say they have not researched what other school districts are doing about science education, let alone what others in the state or the rest of the nation are doing.
Ten years ago when the school district was approached by the city of Sugar Land to participate in the Sugar Land Town Square project, a planetarium, an IMAX theater, and a science museum were proposed as a carrot. The school district refused to join the project. Today that idea has resurfaced, though entirely for a different reason.
Yes, we are used to building $80 million high school campuses and another $40 million may not matter.
Probably, if the school district wants to build a modern science lab in every campus, even if it costs another $50 million or $100 million, people will know what they are in for and may make an informed decision.
2009 FBISD Tax Hearing (On YouTube)
CLICK HERE FOR THE 2009 FBISD CONTROVERSIAL TAX HEARING (YES THEY ARE RAISING THEM AGAIN--see petition of over 500 district taxpayers asking for board accountability) --In case anyone missed it they raised the property tax rate again (4th time) in 2010 and more than likely will do so again in 2011 facing another projected 15-20 million dollar budget deficit, according to some media reports. ***NEW*** ..Petition TO STOP THE GSTC (Global Science Museum being planned at the district central office--near $30 million dollar project that superintendent Jenney is pushing): http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/stopthegcst/ (see update below on this apparently ending this project after 2 years)