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Thu August 21, 2008
Unacceptable is Unacceptable
By The following is a letter submitted by Commerce resident Alton Biggs regarding the recent accountability rating given to the Commerce High School
Examine the new Texas Education Agency ratings of Commerce schools and school district. Producing graduates who are Unacceptable to the State is not acceptable. Determining solutions to reasonable questions will reverse this detestable rating.
The ratings cause me to pose questions. What is it we want from our public schools? What is it we want from our university? What is it we want from our community? The answers to these questions can only come from a wide forum. The forum must include our schools, our university, and our community - all of us.
Our public schools are to provide a basic education for all students. Graduates must enter society and the workplace as fully functional citizens. They must be equipped to integrate diverse facts and circumstances into a whole. They must be able to make good decisions while continuing to learn throughout their lives. Our graduates must understand history to avoid repeating past mistakes. They must communicate adequately. They must be able to read, to write, and to calculate confidently. These things are what all of us want from our schools.
We must not allow any student to think that he or she will succeed by doing only one or two of these - or none at all. Not every student masters every goal of a glutted curriculum. But every student can learn to read, to write, and to do basic mathematics. It will require all of us to communicate the importance of what the educational system is trying to accomplish.
Let us not look at our present situation with an eye to cast blame. No good results from it. Finger pointing does not bring success. Positive results come from working together. Success begins in realizing our unique opportunities. Our community, all of us, possesses tremendous individual abilities and collective talents. Putting to work our resources builds our community and schools up.
The answers may be new programs, or the old ones may work just as well. The answers may require additional funding, but they may not require any at all. At the very least, all of us must communicate with each other and to our students what it is that we want from them and why.
There is nothing exotic about these goals. They are attainable. When students accomplish them, by whatever method or program, the Unacceptable label will be a thing of the past. Our graduates will be able to enter the workforce at levels not possible today. Fewer (the goal is none at all) will require remediation before entering our college and university classrooms. Fewer (the goal is none at all) will find the work too difficult, forcing them to drop out. More will be informed voters who maintain lifelong learning.
If we believe these goals worthy, all of us must work together. I am ready to begin the work. I acknowledge that the effort, to be successful, will not happen overnight. Are you ready to help?
If we do not work toward these goals, history will not forgive us. If we do accomplish them, history will not forget us. Our students, our community and our future will be better for the efforts we exert, for the work we complete. We must begin the work now for Unacceptable is unacceptable.
Alton L. Biggs is a resident of Commerce and President of Biggs Educational Consulting
For additional information contact:
Alton L. Biggs
2006 Creekview Drive
Commerce, Texas 75428-3947
Telephone: (903) 886-2240