The Commerce Journal

Local News

January 5, 2013

Examining a year in education

(Continued)

COMMERCE — SUPERINTENDENTS FIGHT FOR SCHOOL EQUITY

Quinlan ISD Superintendent Michael French said the case he and three other superintendents are presenting to Austin is one of the most important issues facing public schools.

French will be presenting his case for school equity before Austin on Nov. 26.

“This is the most important issue I believe facing school districts,” he said. “This will affect 43 percent of school districts in the state.”

According to French, Texas is putting an unequal value on students.

“The state is picking winners and losers and picking a value on kids that’s not fair,” he said. “I don’t believe any kid in Texas deserves any less than another kid.”

Blake Cooper, superintendent of Commerce ISD, agreed with French on the school equity issue.

“It’s been a problem for a long time now,” Cooper said. “Basically school districts are unequally funded.”

Cooper gave an example of how the issue is affecting CISD.

“We have a district close to us that has a $1.05 tax rate and gets $7,500 a student,” he said. “And we have a $1.17 tax rate and only get $5,000 per student. That’s a $2.5 million difference. There’s a whole lot more we could fund with $2.5 million.”

According to Cooper, if the state is testing schools the same, then it should fund them equally as well.

“As long as we’re all being tested in the same manner, we should be funded the same,” he said.

Texas schools have the second highest testing standard in the nation but are 48th in funding schools. French said he is fighting to change that.

“No superintendent is afraid of accountability,” he said. “But the word is equity. We want what’s equal and fair.”

A&M-COMMERCE GETS NEW NURSING PROGRAM

In response to the higher demand for nurses with college degrees, Texas A&M University-Commerce opened the doors to its new bachelor nursing degree on Nov. 19.

A&M-Commerce President Dan Jones said he didn’t realize how difficult it is to get a nursing program certified.

“Getting a nursing program started is not easy business,” he said. “I was a little bit peeved and frustrated about it, then I thought I am a current and prospective customer of nurses and was encouraged at what it takes to get a program.”

Jones said this program will fill a great need in East Texas.

“There is a need out there in rural Texas,” he said. “Our goal is to provide highly qualified individuals for all of the workforce.”

Barbara Tucker, director of nursing at A&M-Commerce, agreed with Jones, and added statistics showing how the community would benefit.

“The East Texas region has a 9.1 percent nurse vacancy rate, making it the highest nursing vacancy rate in the state,” she said. “This will be such a benefit to the region.”

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