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How Fredericksburg Could Have the Best School System in Texas

September 2, 2013

How We Could Have the Best School System in Texas

I hear a lot about America’s failed public education system, but in the debate about how to “fix” education, I’ve never heard this:  leave us alone.  American business learned a long time ago that problems were best solved by the people closest to the problem.   How many of us really believe that anyone in Austin or Washington can improve education in Gillespie County?

I believe this county is full of intelligent, dedicated, enthusiastic people and that if we were allowed to decide what our schools looked like and how they worked, they would be at the top in the state by every standard.  If we could custom-design our school year, would it be the same as every other public school system in the state?  I bet not.  You know who lobbies the legislature for school start and finish dates?  The lodging industry.  Huh?  Our textbooks (if we even had them!) might be different from those used in El Paso or Texarkana.  Our graduation requirements might be completely different than those in Dallas or Houston.  We would decide what success or failure looked like.

I’ll bet if we could design the school experience from start to finish, we wouldn’t have a ridiculous drop-out rate – instead, we would have an expanded program to teach the construction trades in partnership with local businesses.  We have half about half a dozen precision machine shops in the county – good paying jobs with great benefits.  Our high school would graduate kids who had participated in a joint program with the machine shops, knowing that they liked the work or not, ready for an internship.   We already know what the principles of technology program has done for our kids – both my sons are engineers who went through PT from beginning to end- and there are many others.  We might have kids graduating into a course of study at the coming culinary arts center.  Business and public education would come together in a way which would benefit both.  Give teachers flexibility.  Teaching World War II?  Bring in a veteran to tell first-hand what it was like.  Teaching physics – bring in one of our many fighter pilots to talk about airflow in supersonic flight.  Anatomy and physiology – give the kids an opportunity to spend an hour with a doctor talking about the body.

You get my drift?  Teachers could teach without being told what and how by bureaucrats in Austin.  Testing?  Probably not – but we could decide here, instead of having it forced on us.  Our school year would be what fit us.   We would succeed or fail on our own. The fortunes of a community in many ways rise and fall with the quality of its education system.  A community with a poor school system would have a challenge to meet – and I’ll bet they could rise to that challenge, too.

How about making Gillespie County an Education Free Zone?

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