La Marque Independent School District’s detractors — and there seems to be a professional cadre of them — scoff at the notion that you get better education by replacing assistant principals with deans at the high school.

The criticism misses an important point.

The school district’s job right now is changing a culture. It’s no secret that the culture of the past just didn’t produce acceptable results. Talk about “refining” the system or making “small adjustments” to the finely tuned engine wouldn’t help. What’s needed is fundamental change.

The district is trying to change its focus, and that’s reflected in a change of titles and job descriptions. The new deans are supposed to focus on academic goals, not disciplinary goals. It’s an attempt to put educational goals first.

If you could do that by changing titles and job descriptions, it would be worth doing. If you could do that without changing titles and job descriptions, it would be worth doing. It’s just worth doing.

The La Marque school is not perfect. It could, for example, do a better job of getting up to speed on open government laws. But the people who are running the district have the right idea. If given enough time, resources and public support, they could turn the district around. 

They ought to be given a chance to make this plan work.

Heber Taylor is editor of The Daily News.


(34) comments

Walter Manuel

Sorry Heber, I have to disagree with you on this one.

Someone hit the nail on the head the other day after reading the article regarding LMISD changing titles, "Teacher quality and improvement of instruction is the key to turning that school around along with discipline. Changing the names of titles is just “window dressing” if the way they teach stays the same".

Academics ALONG with discipline MUST be addressed and be just as important for the district at the middle and high school before students even consider returning back to our school district.

This is where the "TRUST" that everyone wants us to buy into begins and ends and so far they've NOT shown us any reason to believe that the district has any "new culture", but rather a different shade of lipstick that their still trying to apply on that same old pig!

We'll just wait for August the 8th and then we can be our own judge....

Robert Buckner

Really Herber?

Miceal O'Laochdha

We live in an Era where a large portion of our society, especially those who are most certain of how others should act, firmly believe that changes names and titles is a really, really, important thing to do. The more euphemistic the new name, the better!

In the high school I attended, there was no "Assistant Principal" , "Dean" or even an "Achievement Opportunity Therapist".

This role was filled by a Jesuit priest whose title was : Prefect of Discipline. There was zero confusion about what his job was nor any confusion among students about proper conduct and behavior, and focus on our academic pursuits.

Try that Prefect of Discipline title. You don't even need to hire a Jesuit to get results would certainly help.

Chris Gimenez

You guys have to understand that Heber Taylor is all about window dressing. He's the one who endorsed the DA Jack Roady for re-election because he created a Public Integrity Unit that had never been used. Window dressing and trying to steer the perception of stories by their readers is the modus operandi of the GCDN.

Lars Faltskog

While I don't follow LMISD, I have to concur that a "title" means nothing. Availability, effectiveness, and being equipped (and/or empowered) to do things necessary are what it takes.

I'm a firm believer in direct approaches: Sounds like this school system needs things like routine/frequent home visits, mandatory tutorials, and a different mindset toward influencing families and their children that education is important. These are concrete and "old school" ideals, but most of us writing here remember those who influenced us...and we didn't give a whit about what their "title" was.

Mike Meador

Mr. Taylor: Stick with an editorial you know something about.

It's just like you: neither the trustees nor the administration at LMISD know anything about education.

Walter Manuel

Your absolutely right Sverige!

When we went to school back in the days in LM, it didn't take a "title" by any one at the school in order for us to study and do well enough to succeed, but rather a stronger force at home that we had to deal with if we didn't.

So long as our school district keeps hiring just any warm body to fill a teaching spot, we'll keep getting the same failing results.

There comes a time when people need to finally realize that the "Devil is a lie" and that LMISD students would be much better off somewhere else because with already having received 3 consecutive years of being academically unacceptable and last year not looking much better, the time clock has now run out on giving them any more chances to improve while we're sacrificing our students future educational needs.

There you have it, the truth hurts and the devil is still a lie......[wink]


If there is no discipline in a classroom no learning will occur whether the person wears an ASSISTANT Principal TAG or A DEAN OF INSTRUCTION tag. If no one there will be handling discipline what will happen.

And Mr. Taylor when was the last time you stepped foot in a classroom? A classroom in Galveston? A classroom in LM? As an outside you can only guess what will happen. As a teacher most of us can tell you WHAT WILL happen.

Paula Flinn

Amen & ditto to all! And for heaven's sake, don't allow the students to have cell phones! No principals have the guts to say or do that. They turn it back on the teachers, "Well, if you don't allow them to take them out in the classroom, they won't take them out," one principal told me. Hogwash! They are in their hands, under their backpacks (on the desks), and on their laps. Some students even SIT on them!

NO! Just don't allow the students to bring them to school! Period!

School principals = no guts, no glory. They are afraid to face the parents and say that cell phones are not allowed at our school! I'll bet they are not allowed in private schools!

Carlos Ponce

Something we agree on pflinn. I'm still waiting for someone to create an artificial "dead zone". Power up and all cell phones within a radius of the school are rendered useless. Power down after school and cell phones work again. Why power down? So that parents can pick up kids after practice or after-school tutorial. If an emergency arises during the day, parents can call the school's land line and a message be sent via service student, just like BC days- Before cell phones.

Lars Faltskog

Response to pflinn posted at 2:43 pm on Tue, Jul 29, 2014:

From what I hear, the districts have adopted some rather good policies regarding what to do with cellphones when the STAAR testing is going on. They may as well do the same on a day-to-day basis.

Give the teacher(s) the latitude to go up to child and take the phone. Place it in a Ziploc bag after turning it off for the child, label child's name on it). When class is over, return to child. Perhaps one new "designee" of a "dean" can have school-wide monopoly on enforcing such a rule, and have the cellphone issue be his/her major duty until the issue has been routinely followed by students.

It is a wonder that some folks can function in today's society with all of this cellphone/smartphone/IPAD gobbledygook. They have to be turned off in church and on planes, or in courtroom. For the love of might: Don't folks go to churches, courtrooms, anymore? I'm sure quite a few of the LMISD students have recently seen a courtroom - whether they have had to appear or if their parent/guardian has had to appear with them regarding attendance issues.

Carlos Ponce

Just TRY confiscating someone's cellphone. While administering the TAKS test I had to send for the on campus police officer to get it from the young man, a recent transfer from LMHS. He was texting an unknown friend for the answers. Whether the friend was on campus or on a different one I did not know. The odds were that the "friend" had a different form of the test. I have also heard of a game of "keep away" with a cell phone. By the time the teacher reached the call button the phone had "disappeared". Cell phone? What cell phone? Coach Jones must be dreaming. Those who have never taught students with an inner city mentality have no clue. They remember school as it was when THEY were in class. The times they are a-changing. Even Bill O'Reilly doesn't get it. "Yes I taught and had no problems." Yes, he was 6 foot 4 inches and taught in at Monsignor Pace High School, a private Catholic school.

Paula Flinn

When STAAR or TAKS testing is going on there is a good policy. The State mandates that you collect the turned off cell phones. Day to day there is a different policy. I agree with Carlos. Just TRY to confiscate that cell phone! The student refuses to give it up, argues with the teacher, curses at the teacher, etc. in most cases you must get a security guard to help you because YOU CANNOT TOUCH A STUDENT! So, then you wait about 10 minutes for the security gurad to get to your room.

After all of that abuse, then you have to get the rest of the class (who meanwhile are vociferously supporting the student in question) to settle down to learn something. All that for one student who will not follow the rules.
And you have a 55min. class.

Question: What do you think that they learned that day in your class?
Answer: How to disrupt class and throw the teacher off his/her lesson for the day.

I always give a warning to each class that comes in the room. 2nd time & you confiscate it, and they must pay a fine to get it back. 3rd time it is confiscated, the parent is called in to get it after school. Next day the same student has the cell phone.

You see 130 to 150 students a day. It is a massive problem!

Lars Faltskog

Response to carlosrponce posted at 7:18 pm on Tue, Jul 29, 2014,
Response to pflinn posted at 9:51 pm on Tue, Jul 29, 2014:

I too agree with Carlos. But, that doesn't solve the problem with us, as adults who went through the system, flapping our gums to the issue.

What I say is to have a change of mindset, change of mentality. Give the teachers the latitude to go up and take phone from desk. If it's in students' hands or down their pockets, etc....then the newly "titled" DEAN can (with help of campus officer) take the children who don't comply to a suspension room. Call the parents and tell them if they don't come in X amount of minutes or hours that their child's phone will be physically convoscated.. Enough playing around....problem of cellphones/smartphones solved. Nothing as simple as this can NOT be accomplished, especially if some ingenuity is executed.

Paula Flinn

This is in response to sverige1 post at 9:53 am July 30, 2014.

Teachers do not have the "latitude" to "go in students' pockets" or even reach behind a student to get the phone. Students will not give up their phones without at least a verbal fight. You cannot touch a student, even on the hand or arm.

I was injured one year trying to take away some earphones from a student, after telling him twice to put them away. The student grabbed me and shoved me across the room. I got a silver dollar sized bruise on my upper arm, through my heavy sweatshirt, from his thumb pushing me so hard. I could have pressed charges against him, but I chose to have the campus police take some pictures of my arm, and wait and see. The student was removed from my classroom for the rest of the year.

The use of cell phones and other electronics in the classroom by students is not a "simple problem". First, you must have the support of the administration. Sometimes they do not even support their own policies that they have developed and are in the student handbook. It is helpful to be able to call a member of the police force or a security guard to help you.

Afterward, the student may go to the asst. principal and complain about the teacher. The school asst. principal may believe the student, and not the teacher. Just because you are an adult, teaching at a school for several years doesn't mean that the asst. principal will take your word for it.

I repeat: It is not a simple problem.

2 reasons that I am still teaching: 1. I enjoy the good days & 2. I still think that I can make a difference (at least in teaching manners and some subject matter).

Paula Flinn

I forgot to say that I am a substitute teacher now that I retired from teaching full time in 2005. I do not call parents. That job, and assigning punishment for wrong-doing by a student, is the asst. principal's job or the police officer's job.

Good luck, La Marque with that "Dean" thing. They will still have to deal with discipline no matter what LMISD decides to call them. "A rose by any other name smells as sweet."

Subbing is good for me because I can work the days that I want and take off the days that I have appointments, etc.

Carlos Ponce

"First, you must have the support of the administration. " I think that sums it all.

Walter Manuel

I know some school districts control cell phone abuse by first giving a warning to students, their second offense the phone is taken away and brought to the office and the student must pay a $10 fine, third offense the parent must come to the school themselves and pick up the phone and have a discussion with school officials.

It seems some districts are so afraid of upsetting the apple cart by enforcing rules, they allow students to do whatever they want so long as they show up in order for the district to get their funding.

It's really sad what our teachers have to endure with some of these triffling students today. Our teachers deserve a hell of a lot more money than their being paid that's for sure!

George Croix

Too bad so many 'students' don't have any parents.

Walter Manuel

This friend of mine reminded me yesterday of something that I hadn't even considered, but is definitely worth sharing!

"Terri Watkins will have to bring some stability to the leadership at the high school in order for the culture to shift and any kind of systemic change to take place that is lasting.

For example, since 2007, the high school has had five (5) different principals:

Mr. Whitherspoon
Mr. Earl Garrett
Del Frazier
Sonya Sonia
Mr. Morris Grunell

Until this revolving door stops, no amount of name changing of titles will help. Some teachers and staff will refuse to change knowing that the leadership will only be there an average of a year and half. The culture change must start with the mindset and attitudes of the leadership in the district and the leaders must facilitate this mindset change in the staff and students".

There my fine friends is our food for thought for today.....[wink]

Lars Faltskog

Response to pflinn posted at 5:38 pm on Wed, Jul 30, 2014:

Everything you said, I believe we already understand. The point I am making is that a big change in "mindset" needs to be made regarding something like cellphone issue.

Teachers won't physically take phones away from children...and it's not their job. However, campus officers, with the help of a newly "supped up" title of a DEAN can create team efforts to solve a problem that should be an easy problem to fix.

I have no doubt that children challenge/refuse/play games in regard to giving up cellphones and walkmans, et cetera. But, if we throw up our hands and have a defeatist attitude in the 1st place, then further generations of children will grow up thinking THEY can run the show.

Here's one other thought: It's true that some teachers, more than others, have a cellphone issue that's chronically occurring in their class. One reason a teacher has such problem is likely because he/she isn't effective enough to capture the children's interests via his/her class material. A boring class can cause more children to "tune away" and get out their phones.

Paula Flinn

Have you been in a public high school classroom lately? Except for "motivated" students, who are wonderful to teach, everything a teacher brings up is "boring".

Teachers have a hard time "entertaining" their classes everyday. To blame the teacher is unfair.

Yes, you have to change the "mindset" of the students. Banning cell phones and I-pods at schools would be a good first step.

Paula Flinn

How do you know that it is not the teacher's job?

The principal where I work tells the teachers that it is their job to confiscate cell phones (after a warning) and either send them to a school secretary or an asst. principal. Or, you may keep it until class is over, or after school, at your discretion.

Lars Faltskog

Response to pflinn posted at 6:52 pm on Wed, Jul 30, 2014:

Now, pflinn....I'm sure you wouldn't bring up in an evaluation session to your evaluator that "everything a teacher brings up is boring". I think we all know good and well that as a teacher you must bring your "best game" and do all it takes to motivate....and things like discipline problems will be for the most part abated. All school supervisors know the teachers who are "with it" and those who aren't. Here's a secret: Those teachers who have bigger cellphone and other discipline issues in larger proportions ARE part of the problem. They're simply not as effective.

I think you're missing my point. In now way am I "blaming" a teacher. In fact, I'm "old school" in which I believe even if a child says a teacher is "boring"...too bad...the teacher is the adult...listen to him/her and put up your bloody phone. Yes, I totally is a big challenge to get students off of their cellphones and walkmans. All I'm saying here is that with these supped up "titles", one of these new employees can be given the triage duties that are the most crucial in a place like LMISD. That is - they are to be the cellphone liaison, the home visit liason, and so forth. I am concurring with many of these posters here: a "title" is a hunk of junk. DO SOMETHING with that title. As Shania's song said, "That don't impress me much."

Paula Flinn

Not all kids think everything is "boring", but many do. The teachers are really NOT boring...the students think they are. They do not want to read or write, and they sure as heck see no value in studying history. Yes, a teacher has to work hard to motivate these students. Most teachers are very good at motivating students.

The problem is that in the U.S. we are trying to educate EVERYONE to go to college, even those who do not want to go to college. We are successful with some students, but there are always the ones that would rather be in trade schools, learning to be carpenters, welders, and auto mechanics. Do they need a certain amount of English, math, social studies, and science? Yes they do. But they do not need 4 years of those core courses and all of those standardized tests.

Another problem is the amount of time (weeks or months, actually) spent on "testing". Too much time is being spent benchmarking and testing our kids. Teachers are "teaching to the tests," because teacher accountability is being connected to teacher evaluations! Plus, the state of Texas mandates that all students pass these tests as a requirement for graduation.

Paula Flinn

Sorry, I meant to say something like the percentile of students passing those standardized tests is connected to the teacher's accountability and the teacher's evaluation. Advanced Placement & T-STEM teachers do not have to worry. Its the teachers of regular core subjects that have to worry. Their job performance and evaluation are tied to student performance.

Lars Faltskog

Well, I'm all for a streamlined high school plan for both the second English language learners and the kiddos on the vocational track. I propose that only one STAAR test be needed for English, maybe use the 2nd English/sophomore year as the one. Then, a "basic" math STAAR test...not Algebra 1, but something different - that is required for a "minimal" graduation plan. Those 2 tests only. Bang, Wow, Done!

As far as graduating (not including the STAAR)...the classes: only require biology to graduate. Only require US History. Get rid of world history as a requirement and let them take more vocational classes. Again, only make Algebra 1 class the requirement to graduate, along with passing the new "basic math" STAAR test. Even kiddos who aren't on a vocational track can be put into this "minimum plan". That can eliminate a lot of the "teaching of the tests". Let parents co-sign on this new minimum plan so that the family unit is aware that the HS diploma won't put them in college, but rather on a vocational track.

Carlos Ponce

"Then, a "basic" math STAAR test...not Algebra 1, but something different - that is required for a "minimal" graduation plan."
Algebra 1 is the lowest level math course offered in the State of Texas in any Texas high school even for Inclusion and Mainstreamed Special Needs students. Geometry and another Math course are also required to graduate under the Minimum Graduation Plan.
How about taking the released STAAR tests found on-line, sverige? We would all be interested on how you do. Since you are interested in only "basic math" how about taking the 8th grade STAAR Math test?

Walter Manuel

"2 reasons that I am still teaching: 1. I enjoy the good days & 2. I still think that I can make a difference (at least in teaching manners and some subject matter)".

This is exactly what children need to see back in the classrooms these days that their teachers "enjoy" what they do and they indeed want to make a difference in a child's life.

Unfortunately, the old school days methods of teaching Readin', Writin' and Rhythmatic' no longer exists for our teachers and probably never will again.

I think teachers today must redesign the model to accomplish this same task by including Readin', Writin' and Rhythmatic' ...and Respect' while mastering the challenges of meeting increased state testing requirements.

A child must be taught permanent emotional skills during their preschool years to understand how their own actions and behaviors affect others and how this affects how others perceive them. This can only be done when a parent themself starts the process at home and the child's teacher reinforces it in the classroom.

In my opinion a child requires an educator who is engaged and a school climate that is conducive to learning and consistent in order to be successful, however when there's no leadership or support from those running the district one can expect to continue getting the same lukewarm results and the cycle will continue.

Perhaps when districts focus on teaching to the child and not the problem that the child creates, we will see the basic fundamentals of education return to the classroom despite each year more demands being placed on our educators to do their jobs.

Thank you pflinn and other educators for doing what you do and trying to make a difference in the future for each and every child. [wink]

Paula Flinn


Lars Faltskog

Response to carlosrponce posted at 10:02 am on Fri, Aug 1, 2014:

I think I'll try one of those online release STAAR 8th grade tests. I'll report back. And when I do, I'll likely be proving my point that Algebra 1 shouldn't be a requirement in STAAR. Also, the classes themselves: chemistry, physics...."scrap" them as far as needing to be on a minimum graduating plan. They can substitute more woodshop/metal shop or HVAC, and not be bored to tears with periodic tables and labwork.

Carlos Ponce

Just remember, you can not use a calculator on an 8th grade test. While you're at it try the US History EOC. I think you'll do well on it. I've aced every TABS, TEAMS, TAAS, TAKS, STAAR, EOC test. No brag, just fact.

Walter Manuel

LOL Carlos, you indeed did well to ace those tests!

Months ago when I did the math test, I did pretty good, but had to shake the cobwebs loose in my brain in order to remember how to work some of the equations.

These tests are difficult, but necessary in order to keep our students academically competitive with the children from other countries. [wink]

Carlos Ponce

When tutoring students to prepare for state mandated tests it's best to try your hand and put yourself in the student's position. I'll tell Mr. Tadema you did pretty good. Try tutoring a student or two. It keeps you on your toes!

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