Woods' Weekly

Woods' Weekly

Woods' Weekly is written by Superintendent Brian T. Woods and is sent to Northside ISD staff every Monday to keep them updated on local and state education issues.

April 2, 2018  

Good morning!  I hope you had a nice, slightly longer, Easter weekend.  What a beautiful weekend in San Antonio.  I can’t imagine how jealous those in town for the Final Four must be of our Spring weather!  I want to give a quick reminder that the last day to register to vote in NISD bond election is this Thursday 4/5.  The bond election will be very important to our District and I encourage you to register to vote, make sure that others you know are registered and make your voice heard in this election.

Last weekend, the Stevens HS Varsity Winterguard won the TCGC Area Championship. The group remained undefeated in TCGC competition this season and will advance to the State Championships next weekend. Congratulations to their instructors, Michael Cortes and MarQuise Prince-Salone, and all of the colorguard students at Stevens! 

We hear a lot these days about some of the wealthiest Americans entering the education space by supporting charter schools and other privatization schemes.  A recent Washington Post article profiles a billionaire who has a completely different take.  Ted Dintersmith, a successful venture capitalist, has visited schools in all 50 states in an attempt to understand the dynamics that drive these important institutions.  He actually asked teachers how schools could get better.  Imagine that…asking the experts…  His recommendations for improvement have nothing to do with standardized testing.  In a post about an upcoming book, Dintersmith highlighted these findings from his travels:

  • “America’s teachers are passionate and committed.  They care.”  However, “Many are distressed, even in tears. Like troops fighting an unwinnable war, our teachers know they’re being held accountable to tests that don’t reflect real learning, nor lead to important competencies. We are demoralizing our teaching force…”
  • “I was blown away by the many inspiring examples of great innovation I encountered…” and that ”Students have voice in creating initiatives and in defining their path forward. Teachers are trusted, and students approach schoolwork with a sense of purpose.”
  • “I didn’t find charter schools to be, on balance, more innovative than public schools.”
  • “Fourth, we fail to appreciate the heavy price our students and our teachers pay when we insist, “We have to be able to measure it.”’
  • “In U.S. education, nonexperts tell experts what to do.  Priorities are set by legislators, billionaires, textbook and testing executives, college admissions officers and education bureaucrats.  These forces, perhaps unintentionally, impede real change in our schools.  They push kids to study what’s easy to measure, not what’s important to learn.”

The last point is particularly profound.  We often read about the difference between American education performance and that of other developed nations.  There are many reasons for that difference, but none greater than the point made here.  In spite of these “nonexperts” we need to continue the critical work to ‘transform’ our schools into learning organizations that are student centered rather than ‘reform’ them into standardized testing factories.  There are many other interesting conclusions that I think you would enjoy.  The entire article can be found at: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet

Finally, I was proud to see how NISD staff generously supported the United Way campaign!  Due to hurricane recovery efforts last fall, the District chose to postpone the campaign to last month.  The total raised was about $156,000.  Thanks you for contributing to such a worthy organization.  


Have a great week!