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.

August 29, 2016     

Good morning.  I spent some time last weekend watching our athletes, spirit squads, bands and JROTC groups at the first week of high school football.  Every year these events remind me of the importance of co-curricular and extracurricular activities to the success of our students.  I am always amazed at the dedication of the hundreds of students (not to mention coaches, sponsors, NISD bus drivers and police officers) it takes to make Texas high school football feel the way it does.  While we will always strive to provide the best possible education in the core academics, I think these other activities are vital to the ultimate achievement of our students. 

One of the things Angela Duckworth addresses in her most recent book on grit is the correlation between students who participate in extracurricular activities and successful outcomes later in life.  Her research found that students who participate for at least two years in some kind of extracurricular event are more likely to attend and finish college and have a job after they complete college.  This just confirms what many of us already believe and is why I am such a fan of programs that enrich or expand student learning outside of the school day.

On the first day of school last week I was pleased to visit the two new Northside schools and their respective namesakes.  As I said at convocation, our Board honored two former NISD trustees in the naming of schools this year.  Bennie Cole and Randy Fields have forever left their stamp on Northside.  I really am excited to dedicate schools to these two special people later this fall. 

Last Friday we surpassed the 104,000 student mark in Northside – on the way to 106,000 before our “base day” that we use as our official number of students for the year.  While we are certainly a big organization, I think our ability to be connected to each other, our community and our students is what keeps NISD from feeling as big as it is.  Further, I think our ability to hold on to the notion that every student is an important individual is critical to our continued success.

Last week, I mentioned the myth that somehow charter schools in Texas have “figured it out” with regard to student achievement.  A new study conducted by the National Bureau of Economic Research finds that, on average, attending a charter school in Texas has no measurable impact – either while attending school or later in life. 

The study finds that even among those who attended so called “high performing” or “no excuses” charter schools there was no impact on wages compared to those who attended schools in Texas ISDs.  The report says, “Charter schools, in particular No Excuses charter schools, are considered by many to be the most important education reform of the past quarter century. At the very least, however, this paper cautions that charter schools may not have the large effects on earnings many predicted.”  A summary of the study can be found here.

Charter schools have been in existence in Texas since 1995 and yet some still look at the results of this study and believe that it may be the “youth” of the charter movement that is skewing the data against them.  The Director of the Texas Charter School Association was quoted as saying, “We invite the authors of this study to continue their work with the entire charter school population over the next several years.”  So, you can’t show results after 20 years and the answer is to ask for more time?!  Perhaps the truth is that the experiment has failed and that charter schools truly add no value.

Finally, the Northside Education Foundation (NEF) helps make us Northside Strong as its mission is to generate additional resources for staff.  Throughout the year, there are opportunities to apply for NEF grants and you'll be seeing news about surprise award presentations, maybe even in your school or department. Click here to learn more about NEF grants.  The annual NEF pledge drive begins in about two weeks.  Have a great week!