Comments by Mary McGarr Posted in the www.Houston  or on,,  or in www.Covering


Mary McGarr

March 1, 2017 at 11:46 am



Creating a “legislative committee” to decide on a “legislative agenda” for the Katy ISD school board was a dumb idea in the first place. All board committees are manipulated and directed to a pre-determined conclusion. That’s not changed in thirty years. The TASB (Texas Association of Retired Public School Administrators) is directing this traffic–you can bet on that. That the Katy school board members might come up with viable legislative items all on their own is not a reality.

Board committees do not have to be controlled, but most times they are.

The other thing to watch is that Henry Dibrell, he not having much else to do, has manipulated his way into a a TASB board position (taking over where Joe Adams left off), and the TASB is probably providing him with direction. Henry’s not capable of making good decisions on his own as we have seen ever since he got elected. His first action as a KISD board member (the day AFTER he was elected) was to accept $500 from Linebarger who was vying for KISD’s tax collection business and needed his vote.

Dibrell just got caught doing the TASB’s bidding as well. The question that needs to have an answer, since Mr. Dibrell is up for re-election, is, “To whom does he answer?” Is it the rest of the KISD board and the citizens of Katy, Texas, or is it the TASB?

School board members, as is pointed out by someone else in another comment, are pretty much nice folks who don’t have a clue about finance, the Education Code or what needs to be taught in academic classrooms. That being the case, they are for the most part totally dependent on the superintendent and other administrators for information or–anyone else who can capture their attention. Thus the “Team of 8.” The generic problem is, most of them never go out on their own to find out if they are being told the truth. That’s called “due diligence” and is not practiced in Katy, Texas.

Henry and Rebecca Fox are the epitome of incompetent board members. It’s time they both resigned. They are contributing nothing to the betterment of the school district.

The other problem I see in this episode is that the Board has stupidly decided to give up yet another of their powers by deciding to allow the superintendent to run all committees! I’m just stunned, but not surprised. The Board has the power to have committees, but they should not allow those committees to usurp the duties and powers of the school board members.

When the Bond Committee meets, it’s supposed to be a BOARD committee, with members appointed by the BOARD, because it’s the BOARD’s duty to decide what is necessary to be placed on a bond and then call for the bond election. It is NOT the duty or right of the superintendent to do that!

The superintendent already has the power to assemble administrative committees. If he starts being the originator of Board committees, then they are no longer board committees. Another problem is that administrative committees aren’t necessarily open to the public. Everyone needs to read the Board Policy below, and someone should call the TEA.

“The President shall appoint members to special committees created

by the Board to fulfill specific assignments, unless otherwise

provided by Board action. These committees may include District

personnel and citizens. The function of committees shall be factfinding,

deliberative, and advisory, but not administrative. Special

committees shall report their findings to the Board and shall be dissolved

upon completion of the assigned task or vote of the Board.

The President of the Board and the Superintendent shall be ex officio

members of all Board committees, unless otherwise provided

by Board action.

Committees may transact business only within the specific authority

granted by the Board. To be binding, all such business must be

reported to the Board at the next regular or special meeting for approval

and entry into the minutes as a public record.” [BDB Local]

The Katy ISD Board has been giving away it’s powers for years. It’s hard to watch.

Mary McGarr

[Of interest is the fact that when it came time to have a bond committee this year, the superintendent not only formed a committee that was NOT a board committee or an administrative committee, he appears to have made up his own rules about its origination!  So much for following the rules.]


Mary McGarr

December 9, 2016 at 10:54 am


Ms. Gutierrez has every right to call Mrs. Fox on the carpet for her absolute lack of leadership of the Katy School Board. For Mrs. Fox to “act” like she cares SOOOOO much about the fate of rezoned students that she has to take a moment to cry about it in front of a packed room full of people who have just spent hours and days trying to bring evidence to the Board to support their position is just ludicrous.

(Go here to listen for yourselves: Then click on Work Study Meeting December 5 and then go to 7.1 and then move the sound bar to 48:00)

As a KISD school board member I felt like crying a lot of times (and unlike Mrs. Fox, I had good reason to), but I never did.

Gut it up, Mrs. Fox, and act like you have some kind of a reason to hold that office.

Mary McGar


Mary McGarr

October 1, 2016 at 6:55 pm


Some homework is OK. But these students are indicating what I’ve been hearing concerning excessive amounts of homework from students AND parents for thirty years–it didn’t just get this way! It was always the biggest complaint I heard from parents when I was running for the school board.

A review of the policies regarding homework is in order.

Homework shouldn’t be used as punishment.

It shouldn’t just be what the teacher couldn’t get done during the regular class period.

It should reinforce what was taught the day it was assigned and not just be busy work.

Part of the problem is that high school class periods over the years have been shortened, first from an hour, then to 55 minutes and now to 45 minutes, when in fact, an hour was really needed to cover the required material. So perhaps the lack of time at school is being replaced by excessive work to do at home.

I’m glad to see that some students had the gumption to start a petition. I hope thousands more will sign it.

Not sure it will do any good, but it is certainly worth a try.

There was a study done in Australia in 2012 that suggests that homework for those in grades below the 11th grade has little value.

Mary McGarr (where there are some articles on “homework.”)



Mary McGarr

September 10, 2016 at 9:59 pm  (In response to a blogger who apparently cannot read.)

I’m sorry that you (whoever you are) are unable to understand what I wrote! To quote, “have no PTA meetings tied to school student functions” is what I wrote.

I said nothing about getting rid of the PTA, and it is interesting that you seem to think that if PTA meetings were separated from student programs, that would be the end of the PTA.

Since you seem unable to understand what I said, let me explain it to you. I object to PTA meetings being stuck onto children’s school programs because they take time away from the students and their efforts. The PTA can meet some other time; that’s all I said. School programs should be about the students, not the PTA.

I have to wonder at your motive for attacking something I did not say! Perhaps the purpose that you see for parent organizations is not the same as mine.

I was always a member of the PTA when my children were in school and before that when I was a teacher. I started the PTA at Kate Bell Elementary in HISD when that school first opened. I was the legislative chairman of the PTA at Nottingham Country Elementary–and yes, I tried unsuccessfully to get them to change to a PTO like most of the other KISD elementary schools at that time were. My friends and I started the first secondary parent organization in Katy ISD, when the superintendent at that time would not let parents of secondary students HAVE a parent organization. It was an uphill battle. I was the first president of that parent organization which was at Memorial Parkway Junior High. I wrote the by laws for that organization and also for the one at Taylor High School. Last time I looked, THS was still using the by-laws that I wrote.

I also served a year on the Katy ISD PTA Council when I was on the School Board.

I also helped found the Parents of Gifted and Talented Students– another worthwhile KISD parent organization.

It was my idea to have a Superintendent’s Parent Council in KISD which I think still exists.

My husband was the president of the Taylor High School Athletic Booster Club, and I wrote the by laws for that organization as well.

As a school board member I was the ONLY board member who regularly attended the PTA meetings/programs at KISD schools.

Parent organizations are important in public schools, but they don’t need to be running the school, trying to control the principal, or promoting a political agenda. They need to serve. They should exert no more influence in school matters than any other organization. I’m a bigger fan of PTO’s than I am of PTA’s, but that is because I think the dues should stay at the school for the use of the local students instead of being sent off to fund causes that the parents who paid the dues may or may not support.

And since you brought the matter up, personally I wish the KISD PTA’s/PTO’s would return to the practice of holding Halloween Carnivals at the end of October. When I moved here, they were our means for a big fund raiser as well as a way to serve the community by keeping kids safe and off the streets. Halloween USED to be a pagan religious holiday, but it is not that anymore, and it is foolish to think that it still is. It is the ONLY holiday that is purely for children, and it should be celebrated as such. To NOT have Halloween carnivals is more of a political statement than having them.

And for the record, I served two terms (elected, not appointed) on the KISD school board. Once elected, I was never defeated even though the superintendent put up his good friend to run against me!

I resigned eleven months before the end of my second term to protest the things that the Board and superintendent at that time were doing to students. Too bad you weren’t here to read about it.

Mary McGarr



Mary McGarr

September 9, 2016 at 3:42 pm (In response to Rebecca Fox leaving fellow board member George Scott out of her legislative agenda plans.)

That the superintendent opened up the meeting is a good thing, but why didn’t Mrs. Fox do that in the first place? Is this a Board directed activity or a superintendent directed activity? Who is in charge, anyway? Who is it that has a legislative agenda?

A little historical reminder tells us that Alton Frailey started these “legislative impact meetings” when he came eight or so years ago. The first thing he wanted the Board to do was lobby their legislators to force citizens who were requesting “open records” to state why they wanted them! Helen Eriksen and the Houston Chronicle Editorial Board took him to task over his attempt to shut down public information requests! Frailey, at least publicly, stopped asking the School Board to lobby for the TASA. That’s NOT their job unless the legislative items are of their making.

On another note when will the school board officers learn that if they have open meetings and even APPEAR to be transparent, everyone will leave them alone to do their business? Skulduggery is not suspected if the doors are open.

If the public were really asked for their input, I’m certain the list of requests would be long. Since no one has asked me for MY “public school legislative agenda,” here it is.

By law, schools should be required to: have ability grouping; have half day kindergarten; have no Pre-K unless it’s a Special Education Pre-K; have no classes before Labor Day and none after Memorial Day; have no CAT teams that aren’t 55% parents as members with a parent running the committee; have no PTA meetings tied to school student functions; no Common Core worksheets; have no “Everyday Math” curricula or anything that closely resembles it; have no In-service (by whatever name) for teachers; have no Instructional Coaches; have no students teaching other students; have no superintendent salaries higher than that of the Governor of the State of Texas; have no administrative contracts longer than two years in length; have a limit of two terms for school board members; have a limit of $5,000 that NGO’s (like the TASB and the TASA) can receive from a school district in one year; have a ban on NGO’s (like TASA and TASB) lobbying the State Legislature; have a requirement that school board elections be held on the November regular election day; have all school districts governed by a seven or nine member (depending on the population) single member district term limited school board; re-zone school attendance zones every year according to population so as to make all schools at each level have the same number of students as nearly as is possible; require school board members to release their individual tax returns to the media; cease the practice of building new schools in areas to help builders sell new houses and return the fine of $250 per student that is not in attendance to fill up a school when it opens; require using up space in existing portable buildings before building new schools; eliminate bilingual education so that non-English speaking students can be assimilated into American culture as soon as possible; teach American history (all of it) in the 11th grade; return the Science Fair and the History Fair to the curriculum; require that every student take typing; let teachers teach instead of being facilitators; stop using “values clarification” to change students’ attitudes and beliefs; stop using curriculum management plans to manage teachers and students; require the teaching of cursive writing; require that books and plays and other fiction read in English classes be classics and NOT topical; require students be taught to read using phonics, not whole language; since all schools already look alike anyway, create state approved school building plans that can be built anywhere with slight grade modifications thus eliminating expensive architect fees; stop the possibility of schools collecting personal and private data on students or teachers; record how each of the school board members by name vote at school board meetings; place copies of the school board agendas and minutes in public libraries within the District; eliminate the use of hired, consultant, demographers whose predictions seem never to be correct; eliminate the use of consultants from the “education industry” who claim to be able to “improve communication” or do some other pie in the sky effort that never really works; eliminate the practice of allowing school board members to shirk their elected duty by allowing “board committees” to determine policy or approve bond proposals; cause bond referenda to stipulate on the ballot the exact items that are to be purchased with the bond funds; stipulate that all public buildings are to be named only by the elected officials where the building is erected; set an actual minimum mileage limit on the placement of a school building near a natural gas well head; require when property is purchased by the school district, to stipulate in the Board’s regular meeting agenda its expected purpose, its actual size, total cost, cost per acre and a date for its use be included in an agenda posting at the time the purchase is approved by the School Board; require that when school district property is not used within ten years of its purchase, it must be sold regardless of the price that can be achieved and must be announced at a regular school board meeting where the sale is listed in the agenda; mandate school bus service for all students, eliminate lesson plans for teachers who have taught the same subject for five or more years, and….. I’ll stop there.

I realize that such a list sounds like a fantasy, but most of it is the way things were thirty years ago when our educational system led the world and students actually graduated from high school with a real, liberal arts education which allowed them to do anything they had the ambition to do!

There’s a reason why American education (and that includes the education provided by Katy ISD) has fallen so far.

Mary McGarr


September 1, 2016


Mary McGarr

September 1, 2016 at 8:46 pm


Well, I’ve never been one to shy away from confrontation with Katy ISD. Many others stand up to them as well.


We get good people to run for the school board so that such things do not happen, but 95% of the parents stay home on election day! So instead of those good people that couldn’t get elected because parents stayed home, we have a school board that consists of people who are there for mainly selfish reasons–they need business, they represent groups that are anti-academics, or they want a football team to always win. They’re not there to make sure our students get a good academic education, and they appear to not care how students are treated.


Anyone can read the 500 pages on my website, which chronicle twenty-five years of bumbling maneuvers by KISD. You’ll see the evidence of an educational institution that is not doing what it’s supposed to do.

All of the Special Education parents should be standing outside the Administration Building demanding the cameras that the Texas State Legislature said two years ago had to be in place by now. If those cameras were operational, problems like this one would not happen. Why isn’t our school board taking care of that? Where is our state legislator and why isn’t he demanding compliance with a law I hope he voted for.


I’m as appalled as anyone about this story, but until parents have the backbone to come forward and speak out and vote for the right people, this stuff is not going to stop.



July 3, 2016


In response to parental standing with regard to the STAAR lawsuit that was thrown out:


The real issue is that the STAAR test measures the TEKS which say school districts must go back to making sure children can read well by the end of the first grade, that they know math facts and can divide with long division and how to use fractions and decimal points by the end of the fifth grade. They also need to know American history and real science, not "hands on" science. So the test is testing what the students have not been taught. That's why they don't do well on it.

Figure it out! Jump on your local superintendent for violating the law, not the TEA or the elected officials.



June 11, 2016  R 11:15 pm


By Mary McGarr


Dr. Hindt looks like a good choice for KISD’s new superintendent. He’s already caused PBK to stand down and pay up regarding the poorly constructed football stadium in Allen ISD.

One point needs to be made. Katy citizens didn’t exactly vote for the KISD stadium. In fact they turned it down cold when that was the only thing on the ballot in 2013. When the superintendent and his complicit board came back in 2014, they added supposedly “necessary” schools to the stadium request. Rezoning could have solved the problem of the crowded schools. But the intended objective of getting a new stadium one way or another, was achieved.

That’s water under the bridge, but I did like that Dr. Hindt stated that the stadium “won’t be just for football.”

I would like to remind everyone of my comment last December regarding this matter:

” December 11, 2015 at 9:04 pm

If they [superintendent and his Board] are going back on their word and building what we all didn’t want them to build in the first place, they could at least have a “hall of fame” for ALL the sports. Football isn’t the only sport that matters to most of Katy ISD. And limiting the space for the use of honoring only football athletes most certainly leaves out all the female students! [Can anyone say Title IX?]

Trophies that my sons helped earn years ago have been seen piled in a corner under a tarp or thrown in the trash at Taylor High School.

How about at least making this boondoggle a repository for the winning efforts of ALL of our KISD student athletes? After all, it’s not just parents of football players that are paying for this place

Voters who don’t like KISD padding their bond items by 30% in the first place (so they can have “savings” to spend as they like,) should have expected this move by the superintendent [Mr. Frailey] and his complicit board. The best way to tell them of our displeasure is to vote out board members Joe Adams and Rebecca Fox next spring.

It should also be noted that one board member, Henry Dibrell, had the good sense to vote against this stupid move.

Mary McGarr




April 17, 2016 at 9:08 am in response to an article by Bill Proctor about voter turnout for school board elections


 by Mary McGarr.

Mr. Proctor, your comments are on the money. When 100,000 COULD vote and only 4,500 do, that’s awful!

Every parent who has a student in the Katy schools has an obligation to know the candidates and make the effort to go vote.

In the upcoming election there are two incumbents up for re-election. One of them didn’t even draw an opponent. The other one has been there for 27 years. He was there before and after I left twenty years ago, and he wasn’t a good school board member twenty years ago, in my opinion.

There are 73,000 KISD students with most having two parents. That means that many of those parents aren’t even registered to vote! That’s terrible.

The only conclusion to be drawn is that we have a lot of parents who don’t give a damn about their children!

When the school district doesn’t teach kids to read (over 40% of them are functionally illiterate when they leave after the 12th grade), doesn’t teach them real math but instead teaches some left-wing version of kookie math, doesn’t teach them about American history or government in the proper way, doesn’t teach the principles of science or scientific method very well if at all, and pretty much botches K-12 education, it’s about time parents paid some attention to what they are doing to their children. Instead of teaching your children facts, they are very methodically training your children to think and act in the way THEY want them to, and not in the way their PARENTS want them to. Curriculum is STILL the responsibility of the School Board, and it is their fault if it is sub-standard.

The school district, by intrusively questioning your children knows more about your family than you know about the curriculum and the teacher who teaches it!

That fundamental change has happened while all of you were asleep.

Heaven help your children–as they won’t be leaving your nest after age 18. They’ll be back when they cannot get into a decent college or get a decent job. And it will be YOUR fault as their parents because you didn’t pay attention to what was going on in their schools and do something about it.


April 17, 2016 at 9:10 am in response to a article about KHS baseball players coaching younger students for pay


This action also can affect NCAA rules and future eligibility.

I’m commenting because a long time ago a Taylor baseball coach suggested to one of my kids that he could make spending money coaching a young player.

Those players didn’t think of doing this on their own. Look a little deeper into the situation before they are drawn and quartered, please.

“Ignorance of the law is no excuse,” but this is a rule, not a law. I can’t imagine that these students would intentionally violate a UIL rule and jeopardize their team had they known the consequences.

Even if they didn’t set up the situation, their coaches bear some responsibility for not telling their players about this rule. I don’t know any teenagers that walk around reading UIL rules.

In fact, when I was on the school board, I asked for a copy of the UIL rules, and they had to send off to get one for me!



March 24, 2016  Mary McGarr [] 


Selecting a new president of a university or a new superintendent of a public school system is always better if the person selected is from the ranks of those already employed by the institution.  That way, the school is not susceptible to the common practice by headhunters of "pass the trash."


The board is always a better headhunter than one hired off the street.  The advantage is that the board can truly know the character of the person upon whom they are bestowing this honor and responsibility.


Suspending the headhunter practice also saves a lot of taxpayer dollars.


Mary McGarr

Katy, TX



MARCH 26, 2016  Mary McGarr [Submitted but not accepted.]

Thank you for pointing out the flaws in the Chronicle’s reporting. I have been complaining to them as well. What is also not reported is that a great many of those who have lost their jobs live in the Katy area.

Perhaps Alton Frailey has joined the Houston Chronicle’s Editorial Board.

Frailey is the one who is going to look really bad when our school district turns out to be overbuilt. Of course he’ll be long gone, and the taxpayers will be left holding the tax bag.

Mary McGarr


Mary McGarr March 20, 2016


Throwing more money at the problem of not having students that can read does not work either. The public schools in Washington, D. C., spent $29,349 per student and have 83% not proficient in reading--and that was in 2014! We could spend $50,000 per student, and if the way reading is taught does not work, it wouldn't make a bit of difference.

Mary McGarr

Mary McGarr March 20, 2016

You are wrong. The reason so many third graders cannot read is that they are being taught HOW to read using the whole language approach. When children must memorize 1,000 "site words" before they can "read" (and they are not really reading even then), the methodology is obviously flawed. When children or anyone else for that matter, are taught to read using phonics, they can read by the end of the first six weeks of kindergarten. Thaddeus Lott proved that for Houstonians years ago. My first grade teacher in El Paso, Rowena Wormen Baird, had 45 students in my first grade class. ALL of them, including five native Spanish speakers, could read in English at the end of the first grade. It's not rocket science. Teaching children to read using phonics has worked for eons. That we don't use it now means one of two things: educators are either really stupid not to use what works, or there is an agenda to dumb down our populace. I'm not sure which category describes where you are, but either case does not bode well for our culture. In any event we don't need universal Pre-K. Five year olds need to be at home with their mothers playing in their back yards. Please write about something about which you know!

Mary McGarr


Mary McGarr February 1, 2016 at 4:31 pm

Let this be a lesson in Bond Referendum Doublespeak.

When the superintendent told us there would be 3,000 new students coming every year to KISD, into perpetuity, in an effort to persuade voters to pass a bond referendum that included a new stadium and new schools, taxpayers should have known better than to believe him because there hadn’t been a trend of 3,000 new students showing up at the first of school for years. The 3,107 new students that showed up at the first of school in 2014 was an anomaly. One year of increase doesn’t indicate a trend. The trend had been and continues to be downward. Only 1,400 new students showed up last fall in 2015. That’s 1,600 new students short of what Mr. Frailey had told everyone to expect.

No one appears to be taking note of the drastic decline in new student numbers. What did the superintendent expect when the oil companies laid off thousands of their employees, and most of them live in the Katy school district? The decline in oil prices started in June of 2014–five months before the bond election in November. Did the demographer on retainer not notice? Did KISD’s financial people not notice? Why didn’t the school board members question the superintendent’s prediction? He pulled numbers out of thin air!

Percentage wise, the decline is significant. In 2007-2008 the enrollment was 53,760. That fall, 3,037 new students showed up at the beginning of the school year. That’s a percentage increase of 5.6% from the previous year. Last fall, with 71,808 students, 1,488 new students showed up. That’s a 2% increase over the previous year. It’s also not even close to the numbers KISD was seeing eight years ago. KISD hadn’t seen less than 1,500 new students since 1996!

KISD should be able to handle 2% growth without building new schools.

The truth is the District did not need a new stadium, and it did not need new schools just yet. The schools were just the hook to get the votes for the stadium.

Why are we building the stadium now when the District clearly saw last summer that the numbers of new students weren’t there? My guess is that on his way out the door, the superintendent would like for this stadium to bear his name.

How does it feel to be a sucker?

Mary McGarr



Mary McGarr January 26, 2016 at 10:37 am in

KISD has owned the equipment necessary to videotape the board meeting for years. They deliberately chose not to use it until Board Members Bill Proctor and Terry Huckaby made it an issue when they ran for the Board. The cost of taping the meeting and putting it on line is negligible. The District probably wastes more money stockpiling video equipment that it doesn’t use than it does using it.

The Board will do nothing worthwhile unless the public raises a stink. They lead from the rear.

That’s just a fact.

The rest of the time they allow themselves to be led around by the nose and do whatever the orders are that come down from the TASB and the TASA through the superintendent.

The superintendent has no mind of his own either and when he tries, he messes things up just like he’s done here.

How many things have we seen him do over the last nine years that were questionable?

The list is endless.

Probably the worst thing he did was to fire three hundred teachers unnecessarily and right in front of their students because he and his human resources chief didn’t understand the concept of a biennial legislature. That’s important to understand because when the Legislature cuts school funding, the amount is spread over TWO years, not one, so it’s half the amount that Mr. Frailey thought it was. He then had to hire the teachers back when he realized the huge mistake that he had made.

Let’s remember too how Mr. Frailey decided that our perfectly good high school athletic fields needed to be pretty instead of useful and covered them over with Astroturf without very much discussion if any, at a WORK STUDY meeting and then called for a vote right then to approve what he obviously was already doing. He didn’t want to hear any public input at the ensuing public meeting.

Those Astroturfed fields sit unused every fall because they are too hot for the teams or the bands to get on for a couple of months! The football team has to practice on the grassy areas next to them instead! Mr. Frailey spent about six million dollars on that fiasco!

Or perhaps we should all recall when he moved here and still owned a home in DeSoto. When he bought his McMansion here, he proceeded to claim a homestead exemption both places! Evidently he didn’t understand the concept of the homestead exemption. (In Texas one can only claim one “home!”) So he was cheating both school districts for two years out of what he owed in property taxes.

This is the same superintendent who chooses to charge the taxpayers $60 for extra “foot room” every time he flies somewhere on our tax dollars, and that is quite often. Perhaps if he scrunched up in his seat like the rest of us do, he could afford to videotape all the school board meetings!

It is obvious to me that the Board needs to take back their authority and hire an Interim Superintendent. They have a runaway administrator on their hands that needs to be stopped.

Mary McGarr

Mary McGarr January 23, 2016 at 2:58 pm in

It is of interest to me that the District appears to have mistaken “work study meeting” with a “work session.”

The Work Study Meeting is a monthly scheduled event with an agenda and is posted as an open meeting. As such, it clearly falls within the auspices of the law that says it has to be video recorded and displayed for public access in a school district the size of KISD.

A “work session” is a meeting that is also posted, but it is a meeting of board members for the purpose of getting training, setting goals for the superintendent (when they get around to doing that), listening the TASB propaganda, and so on ad infinitum. It is not a meeting necessarily for the public or to have votes, or for the other things that are confined to a regularly scheduled meeting. Work sessions are NOT regularly scheduled meetings. The Board has them all the time.

Somebody needs to call the FBI.

Mary McGarr


January 14, 2016


I was proud of the HISD board members when they passed this tougher ethics policy three years ago and wished the school board members in MY school district, Katy ISD, would pass a similar policy.

That policy needs to be even stiffer and embodied in state law.

No school board member should accept ANY amount of money or other gratuity (meals, parties, trips, et cetera) from someone or some business that does business with a school district. Often these activities are disguised as "appreciation measures," but there's no other word to describe such a transaction except "bribery."

New board members are often overwhelmed by it all, but it doesn't take long to figure out what is the right thing to do. Board members in Texas are unpaid, but if they cannot afford to serve without pay, they shouldn't run for the office.

If all of the board members were cut off from ALL such funding, they would be on a level playing field when running for office, and as citizens we would have more respect for their votes.

There are no good reasons to renege on this policy.

Mary McGarr

Katy ISD School Board Trustee




January 13, 2016

In another article on this subject in Wednesday's Chronicle, it is stated erroneously that Mr. Frailey currently makes $288,400. He actually makes $322,171.29. Obama only makes $400,000.
To see my other comments on this subject, please go to where one is allowed enough space to say something!


January 12, 2016



 December 11, 2015 at 9:04 pm

If they are going back on their word and building what we all didn’t want them to build in the first place, they could at least have a “hall of fame” for ALL the sports. Football isn’t the only sport that matters to most of Katy ISD. And limiting the space for the use of honoring only football athletes most certainly leaves out all the female students!

Trophies that my sons helped earn years ago have been seen piled in a corner under a tarp or thrown in the trash at Taylor High School.

How about at least making this boondoggle a repository for the winning efforts of ALL of our KISD student athletes? After all, it’s not just parents of football players that are paying for this place!

Voters who don’t like KISD padding their bond items by 30% in the first place (so they can have “savings” to spend as they like,) should have expected this move by the superintendent and his complicit board. The best way to tell them of our displeasure is to vote out board members Joe Adams and Rebecca Fox next spring.

It should also be noted that one board member, Henry Dibrell, had the good sense to vote against this stupid move.

Mary McGarr



November 11, 2015

In response to the article about the drop in prices and sales of new homes in the Katy area:


Mary McGarr November 11, 2015 at 10:44 am

These facts regarding home sales and new home prices are also reflected in the number of students who showed up in Katy ISD this fall.

While the superintendent and his cronies pushed their bond referendum last November, saying that KISD could expect 3,000 or more new students every year into perpetuity, the fact is, way LESS than 3,000 showed up THIS year. In fact, KISD is short 550 students in reaching that predicted number of 3,000.

KISD hadn’t had 3,000 students show up in the fall since 2008, but no one wanted to point that out last year.

The last time just 2,400 students showed up was in 2000, and we only had 34,503 total students at that time, so the increase of 2,450 fifteen years later is percentage wise WAY down.

I suggested last fall that this decline would happen this year. Anyone paying attention could see that the declining oil prices last year beginning in the summer were going to affect everything.

The truth is KISD didn’t need a bunch of new schools. They needed instead to rezone and utilize all the portable buildings that we are asked to fund with every bond election. KISD has hundreds of them sitting around.

The superintendent just wanted a new stadium and throwing “needed” new schools in with the measure was a way to get it.

He was brought here to build a new stadium, and his job hangs on that.

Mary McGarr



October 31, 2015


In response to the Houston Chronicle article about Alton Frailey's press conference remarks where he offered one excuse after another.


Here's why Alton Frailey said this: "The experience the student described does not speak to the principles and character of Katy ISD and the community in which it belongs and serves," he wrote. "We are a District that is built upon and sustained by our community's values."


" Pounds v. Katy I.S.D.

A Houston-area school district [KatyISD] banned religious items at Christmas

and Valentine’s Day cards that contained religious content,

merely because they were religious. When one student was asked

what Easter meant to her, she was told that she could not say,

“Jesus.” A federal court held that the Katy I.S.D. violated the

students’ constitutional rights because of its hostility to religion."

This is a Federal Court decision that was handed down about three years ago on Frailey's watch.


The District's "hostility to religion is well documented even if it didn't start with Mr. Frailey; they've been sued and lost; and obviously Frailey is trying to avoid a repeat.


He would do a better job if he stayed on top of the issue pro-actively rather than continuing his current modus operandi of bumbling through press conferences where he can only stand and make excuses.


Mary McGarr



October 30, 2015


In response to the HISD trustees telling Superintendent Grier's committee that they plan to evaluate the administrations' overspending of the bond money on their own.


How refreshing that the two HISD trustees understand that a superintendent convened committee should not make decisions and really has no inherent right to advise the Board.

In a representative form of government, the elected officials are charged with governing. The people elect them to represent them and make decisions in their stead. The people do not elect committees to govern them. They should be confident that trustees will find out the facts regarding matters on their own.

The trustees should not give away their powers to committees that are too often peopled by those who feed at the ISD's tax trough and have vested interests in supporting incompetent superintendents.

Perhaps HISD should do what KatyISD does: pad their initial bond requests by 30% and then when they come in under budget and they have all that extra money, they can do all those little projects that would never have passed muster on a bond referendum.


Mary McGarr

Katy ISD Trustee




October 29, 2015

In response to the Chronicle article which allows Alton Frailey to defend KISD regarding their latest attack on Christianity...


If one looks carefully at Frailey's comments, one sees the real truth. First, this was a school district generated worksheet that didn't emanate from the WMJH first year teacher. KISD worksheets come from KMAC (KISD's curriculum management plan), and are used all over the District with everyone on the same page on the same day. KMAC is online and required as a source for all lesson plans.

Second, KatyISD thinks it's their rightful duty to teach eleven year old children how to think critically. As a former teacher, I would suggest that eleven year old children do NOT think critically, ever! In the first place they've not been taught anything of substance about which to think critically! I would also unequivocally state that students cannot think "critically" until they are at least in the 11th grade--and even then it's not easy for most of them. Thinking critically is best left to experience or to academic college coursework and is NOT the purview of a first year seventh grade teacher.

When Frailey admits that this "lesson" is ill-advised, he is also admitting that it was indeed a Katy ISD generated curricular lesson for which he does not apologize but simply suggests that they will pull that part of the lesson from the curriculum and probably substitute something else just like it!

Make no mistake, this cockamamie and inferior curriculum that is being force fed to Katy ISD students is straight from Obama and his ilk. It is Common Core. It is designed to change belief systems and separate children's beliefs and attitudes from their parents'.

The next time you get a chance to vote, vote against the Katy ISD school board incumbents who have sat stupidly and allowed these sorts of things to happen week after week in our school district.

Mary McGarr



September 9, 2015

In response to the article in the Chronicle about the Principal at Memorial High School asking students about how they feel about the school year 


Why are you asking high school students what they think in the first place? What they think is NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS!

Mary McGarr


July 14, 2015

In response to an article in


Mr. Layman,

Your logic and explanation should cause every homeowner in Ft. Bend County to storm the Appraisal District’s offices, but don’t hold your breath waiting for that to happen. Most of them appear to be in a stupor that doesn’t allow them to think.

I’ve tried to wake them up to the many ignorant things that transpire daily in the Katy Independent School District that affect their own children, and they don’t care about that either.

They deserve what they get, in my opinion.



March 12, 2015 at 11:28AM

In response to an article on on Vouchers


I look forward to your explanation of the need for vouchers. As a reluctant advocate of them as I see them as a way for large corporations to gain control of the children of their employees (by building "schools" for them on corporate property, I can also see your point of using vouchers to undermine worthless public schools and those who control them.

It's a double edged plan at best, but it could work.

Some ideas that might help with the effort occur to me. The Texas State Legislature could help their advocacy of vouchers by doing three things: first they need to return power to the school board and take it away from superintendents. In 1975 Senate Bill I (perpetuated by Ratliff (a renegade Republican) and Sadler (a Democrat) changed the phrase "manage and govern" as a power of elected school boards to "govern and oversee the management of" thus taking away school boards' chief power and giving it to the appointed superintendent. They also wrote into the law the change of giving control of the tax dollars to the superintendent and taking that power over the money away from the school board. Within that law they also implied, and the Texas Association of School Boards' attorneys jumped on the phrase "body corporate," the part that allows the silly business of the "team of 8" to prevail. School board members need to keep their individual responsibility and authority as elected officials and must not give up that authority to the president of the local school board (who is controlled by the superintendent). That all needs to be fixed by the current state legislature.

Second, the Legislature needs to place a cap on administrative salaries. That would do much to curtail the proliferation of the types of people who garner control merely for the sake of acquiring real wealth. Katy ISD has a superintendent and TWELVE assistant superintendents which is ridiculous. High priced superintendents are no better than low priced superintendents, and they are all a dime a dozen. They have no skills, no background of improving education, and exist for selfish reasons. Low salaries for administrators will vastly improve the quality of this level of employee.

Third, they need to make sure that any laws passed with regard to vouchers insure that private schools do not use Common Core materials either, as they all do now. THEIR administrators and teachers have all been schooled at the same places as public school teachers and administrators, and so they are all cut from the same cloth. The place to start is with college departments of education. That's where all of this folly starts, and they are the root of the problem. Teachers, in order to have something to teach, need academic, not education degrees. Start there.


February 1, 2015 at 11:17AM

In reply to an editorial about tearing up the cobblestone streets in Freedmen's Town"


Why ask just "African descent" Americans to protest? I'm a white American, and I don't like them tearing out these streets either. There are precious few cobblestone streets left in our country. This one has great historical significance. Save it!

I remember walking on one of them in my home town of El Paso as a kid on my way to a music lesson. It's gone too. I loved that street. Stepping on the stones one at a time and thinking about who put them there and why, was a favorite pastime on my way to my lesson after I got off the bus a block away.

I was also opposed to the tearing down of the old Wheatley High School last fall. I taught at Booker T. Washington when I came to Houston in the early 1970's. I know how the people at that school revered Wheatley and Yates high schools. HISD could have thought of some way to save and utilize those buildings or at least parts of them. As a teacher at BTW I also saw how little effort was made by HISD to keep up that school. It wasn't but twelve years old when I taught there but looked like it was fifty years old! Let's hope the District will spend some maintenance money on these schools they are getting ready to build.

At least HISD gives the people warning of what they are going to do. Katy ISD just ripped the old Odessa Kilpatrick Elementary School--Katy's school for African Americans in days gone by --right out of the ground and never mentioned the prospect of that removal. There's yet to be one word anywhere about what they did to that school.

Mary McGarr

Katy ISD School Board Member



Mary McGarr says:

January 14, 2015 at 6:16 pm

In reply to an article on


Just so everyone knows who is a real Conservative Republican that stood up and VOTED FOR REP. SCOTT TURNER AS SPEAKER

Rep. Rodney Anderson, District 105 — 0641

Rep. Dustin Burrows, Dist 83 — 0542

Rep. Pat Fallon, Dist 106 — 0694

Rep. Bryan Hughes, Dist 5 — 0271

Rep. Mark Keough, Dist 15 — 0797

Rep. Stephanie Klick, Dist 91 — 0599

Rep. Matt Krause, Dist 93 — 0562

Rep. Jeff Leach, Dist 67 — 0544

Rep. Matt Rinaldi, Dist 115 — 0468

Rep. Scott Sanford, Dist 70 — 0356

Rep. Matt Schaefer, Dist 6 — 0584

Rep. Matt Shaheen, Dist 66 — 0594

Rep. David Simpson, Dist 7 — 0750

Rep. Stuart Spitzer, Dist 4 — 0458

Rep. Jonathan Stickland, Dist 92 — 0522

Rep. Tony Tinderholt, Dist 94 — 0624

Rep. Scott Turner, Dist 33 — 0484

Rep. Molly White, District 55 — 0630

Rep. Bill Zedler, Dist 96 — 0374



marymcgarr Houston Chronicle  December 8, 2014  RE:


It's a PRIVATE university. They can pay their president whatever they want to pay him!

On the other hand a bigger story is the excessive amounts Texas school superintendents are given when the TAXPAYERS are funding the bill. And these superintendents are all a lot less qualified educationally than the university presidents in your story.

Check out this chart:

Name Position Salary Expense Account

Barrack Obama President of the United States $400,000 $50,000

*Alton Frailey Superintendent of Katy ISD $315,359 $15,000

John G. Roberts Chief Justice of the Supreme Court $255,500

Antonin Scalia Associate Justice of the Supreme Court $244,400

Martin Dempsey Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff $243,162

Joe Biden Vice-President of the United States $230,700 $10,000

John Boehner Speaker of the House $223,500

Michael Williams Texas Commissioner of Education $215,000

Kevin McCarthy Majority Leader of the House $193,400

Ted Cruz United States Senator $174,000

*KISD Teacher With Doctorate* and 40 years experience $76,642

*First Year KISD Teacher With Bachelor's and 0 years experience $49,000


Mary McGarr


marymcgarr Houston Chronicle  December 5, 2014 RE:

Wouldn't this same court ruling affect other local economic development councils? The one in Katy (KAEDC) was housed in the Katy ISD Arena for years. I believe they received some of their funding at first from the school district. The superintendent currently belongs to this organization at the $10,000 level, I think.

Also this ruling should apply to all the foundations that are connected to school districts. They get most of their startup funding and maintenance from the school district. They use school district facilities constantly.

And then there's the Texas Association of School Boards which charges every school district in Texas that wants to belong. It should also be limited. The hook is that they interpret the Texas Legislature's laws for the Board Policy manuals that all districts must have. Most districts don't have anyone qualified to write such policy themselves.

Hopefully, all funding will have to be cut off to these organizations that exist on the public dole. That will only happen if upstanding newspapers see to it that they abide by the law. Otherwise, I'm guessing these entities will find a way around this court ruling.

In my school district, (Katy), the superintendent has since late last spring initiated a policy of stone-walling requests for public information by either not replying at all, replying many days after the required time, sending out the wrong information, or charging exorbitant rates for things they used to give out for free just last spring. When Chronicle reporter Helen Eriksen passed away last spring, there was no one else to stop him.

Mary McGarr

Katy ISD School Board Member



Katy parents and taxpayers are filled to the brim with KISD propaganda regarding this year's bond effort.

I urge voters to stop and think before they vote.

Should we continue to be victims of Superintendent Alton Frailey's desire to build everything he wants with almost a billion dollars of funds that he can spend any way he wants, once we all vote for this bond? (Even the school board cannot stop him once we have voted for the bond.)

Do we really trust him to fix all the broken, dilapidated buildings that HE has let go and ignored for the seven years he has been here?

Or do we want to send a message that we are tired of putting the academic futures and physical welfare of our children at risk by his satisfying instead the wants of vendors, builders, architects, booster clubs and others waiting to get their hands on the money? Just look at who contributed to the BOND PAC, and you will know that I am telling you the truth!

It's time to send them all a message that we as voters are concerned with NEEDS not WANTS. Come back next year with an itemized bond (as the Houston Chronicle last Monday suggested as a better idea) that addresses NECESSARY expenditures!

This extortion by the school district won't cease until voters send the right message and stop being door mats.

It's OK to VOTE NO, and I'm going to do that!

Mary McGarr

KISD School Board Trustee




marymcgarr  Houston Chronicle  September 28, 2014

A few days ago, Ms. Mellon reported that Pre-K students in Spring Branch ISD could, after a full year of instruction, "know the letter sounds" and be able to read "is" and "the." I would suggest that any mother who spent an hour or so with her 4 year old child could do the same thing. Pre-Kindergarten is simply free government day care.

For those who might comment in reply, please note that the facts are that Ms. Mellon wrote these things in a Chronicle article: in Spring Branch, after one year of Pre-K instruction, 4 year old children could "know the letter sounds and could read "is" and "the."

I did not report that; she did.

I said that "any mother who spent an hour or so with her four year old child could do the same thing." That's a fact too, as I've done it and millions of other mothers have done it.

I also said "pre-kindergarten" is free government day care. What's not factual about that? It is--especially if the Pre-K curriculum is such that it takes a year to teach a four year old to read "is" and "the"!

This push for Pre-K started with Obama's State of the Union address last January. It's a national push to implement yet another Federal agenda. Don't buy it!


marymcgarr  Houston Chronicle  September 24, 2014

This column belonged in the OP_ED or Business section, not City/State! Binkovitz, the Chroncle's new Katy reporter, is propagandizing the Katy school bond issue. Fair reporting of the issue would be more appropriate. Of course there's growth! KISD puts a new elementary school on vacant land to help developers sell houses whenever asked. Duh. Tax dollars shouldn't be used this way.

Only someone not from Houston would compare Katy to Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh is a city in decline and besides it has an urban surrounding area that is five times the size of their city. Is Lance LaCour claiming Houston as Katy's "surrounding area"?

Kerry Gilbert, "land planning consultant" is one of those people who makes lots of money off the school district, but the school district will never tell us what he does exactly to earn that money. But he's always available to come before the board to help with a bond referendum when summoned to do so .

As for beating out the Woodlands with housing starts, I'm guessing the Woodlands is quite a bit more discerning with the kinds of homes that they build because they want them to still look nice in thirty years, and so they cost more and are fewer in number with bigger lawns, etc.

Actually the last available KISD Comprehensive Financial Report says that KISD has 8,929 employees, not 8,000 while BP America has 9,000 not 7,000. Which is it? Is KISD making up numbers just to fool the public?

And thanks for the interesting news that portables are up in cost from $95,000 to $110,000! Who are we buying these things from anyway?

The point is that everyone supporting this bond stands to gain monetarily from it! If they were so concerned about the run down or overcrowded schools, they would have addressed those problems nine months ago instead of putting all their eggs in the stadium basket!

School districts are bleeding our state dry. Katy voters need to stop the bleeding and vote no on this bond.



Mary McGarr says:

September 15, 2014 at 4:57 pm

Three things:

When the District removes good teachers to make them “Instructional Coaches,” might not the students be better off if they just paid those “good” teachers more money (like they have to do when they become “instructional coaches”) and left them in the classroom?

Why don’t Hispanic and black parents become angry at the way their children are NOT being taught in our Katy schools when they see the real evidence of the failure?

Why did the School Board in June give the Superintendent an extension of his five year contract when he couldn’t get the Stadium bond passed last November? When did we start rewarding ineptitude?


marymcgarr  June 27, 2014  4:11 P.M.




Mr. Bennett senses the problem, but "hand's on" activities do not fix it. Facts and knowledge about math and science are what students need. Pouring water from one container to another, making a paper boat that floats, dropping an egg off the top of the school in a student made container to see if it will or won't break, are all activities that aren't going to make any student math or science smart. Figure it out!

Instead teach them their math tables by rote, teach them how to work with fractions, decimal points and square roots, teach them long division, dump the calculators and iPads, teach them science facts and knowledge, and stop playing games.

Mr. Bennett doesn't seem to realize that the agenda is to dumb down our children, not educate them academically. Big business needs compliant, malleable workers who can think, write and do math "a little" and put part "A" to part "B" and not complain about low wages for doing so.

Only if one can afford the Sidwell Friends School can one's children get a true academic education!


Mary McGarr

May 26, 2014


RE:  'Tax-Collection Vendors Tied to Lawmakers, Officials 

Thanks for a good analysis of the problem with the Linebarger firm. When this firm was wanting Katy ISD's business in 2011, it gave $500 campaign contributions to each of the school board incumbents, Judy Snyder and Chris Crockett. (Five hundred dollars constitutes big bucks in Katy!) When the incumbents were beaten by Tea Party Candidates, they gave a campaign contribution of $500 AFTER the election to one of the Tea Party candidates, Henry Dibrell. Tea Party allegiance went out the window, and Mr. Dibrell hopped on Linebarger's band wagon. Perdue, in my opinion, had much better credentials, and when one Googles them it's not like when one Googles Linebarger! According to an article at InstantNewsKaty, School Board member Bill Proctor, claimed that Linebarger had 30 lawsuits filed against them while Perdue had only one, and it had been dismissed.

It is also rumored that public school superintendents who get Linebarger the school district's business can enjoy nirvana in retirement by being a "consultant" for Linebarger. I know of at least two who have done that --Rick Berry of Cy Fair ISD and Leonard Merrell of Katy ISD, according to an InstantNewsKaty article.

None of this passes my smell test.


Mary McGarr

May 4, 2014  8:40 A.M.




Bond supporter Debbie Blackshear needs to understand that students don't have the quality of education that her sons had several years ago. She obviously doesn't know (or is not telling us her true interest in pushing the bond) how things have changed in public school education. She wouldn't be so supportive if she did. For an explanation, go to In Katy ISD where I live, we have the same problems with trying to get an itemized bond. What the voters don't understand is that the Cy-Fair and Katy ISD's don't have to spend a penny of the bond money on the things they are telling the public they want to build. PBK is a charlatan, and if you Google them, you will see the evidence. Katy ISD asked for bond money THREE times before they built Williams Elementary School! The media doesn't pay attention to the details, and they know they can get away with this stuff. It's not right.

It also bothers me that the Chronicle won't put school articles on their web site anymore where people can find them to comment. They don't want to hear what we have to say!

I also have found the Chronicle article to be offensive. It is full of inaccuracies.

The ploy that claims voters are biased against Obama and that there is transfer to a KISD bond election is simply preposterous. Mr. Frailey, who is quoted as saying just that, is way off base.

But he is correct that we are all tired of overspending by governments whether they are federal, state, or county governments, or local school districts. That attitude has absolutely nothing to do with anyone’s dislike of the current President of the United States!

We are more upset that FRAILEY would spend five million dollars on a building that we all voted against him building just three months ago! We are more upset that he didn’t spend that five million dollars on finding more bus drivers and putting buses back in our neighborhoods for elementary school children that HE has put in danger when they have to walk in the street to get to school.

Petri Darby may not have been hired by the District to teach the “basics of marketing” to KISD administrators, but they certainly heard his message somewhere, and if they went to Rice or Harvard to hear it, the trip expenses were most certainly paid for by the school district. Frailey charges us when he leaves the school district’s boundaries to go to a C of C party, and the administrators probably do too. In any event there is a “cost” when those administrators are not in Katy doing their jobs.

Read MY take on this article at


  • marymcgarr

  • Houston Chronicle March 6, 2014  8:32 A.M. (In response to AP article about dumbing down the SAT.)

Dumbing down the College Board Examination (SAT) (again), means that in order for the dumbed down students to get into college, they had to adjust their test. And notice that it is no longer a "test" but an "assessment." It became an assessment a few years ago. Those two words don't mean the same thing. They just call it an "assessment" to fool the public.

Taking the essay out is another mistake. The essay is the most accurate measure of a student's potential for doing well in college--that and the vocabulary section.

Bring back ability grouping, place the emphasis in our public schools on academics, and Voila! We'll have students who can pass the SAT again as it used to be twenty years ago..

This change is just another in a long line of them that have been made in an effort to create a cheap labor force out of our populace instead of scholars.

As one who had to put up signs in right of ways when a political candidate, although I preferred getting individuals to put them in their own yards, I know that in the past, the County says that “you can put them up and anyone else can take them down.” There’s nothing sacrosanct about a political sign in a right of way. Once it’s put out in a public place, the sign is fair game and no longer belongs to its owner. However a front yard or on someone’s private property where permission has been given to put it there is not a public place.

One also learns that the County will come along on certain days and take the signs down for you if they are on the County’s right of way.

Signs in front yards are subject to one’s HOA deed restrictions. In my subdivision one can put up a sign 30 days before the election–not before that or after the election.

If we’re going to get into sign problems, let’s go after the realtor signs and business signs (the ones on a stick or wire) that trash up our esplanades and street corners–usually on weekends.



This comment is in response to George Scott's analysis of the District 132 election results (The vote totals were Schofield, 2978; Hodge, 1900, (19.48%); Franks, 1,216,(18.22%); and Perryman, 1181, (17.69%)

The were two good outcomes of yesterday’s election. The first is that candidate Michael Franks didn’t get in the run-off. Since Mr. Franks doesn’t even live in District 132, that’s as it should be. The fact that he was supported by Katy Tea Party advocates in spite of his inability to be qualified to run for the office is another matter that needs attention. Blind adherence to “contentious social issues,” without regard for the true character of a candidate is something else that needs attention. Those of us who used to contribute to and support the Katy Tea Party no longer have faith in the viability of that organization. Perhaps, as in Montgomery County, a splinter group Tea Party needs to emerge for those of us who are just plain conservative Republicans.

It appears to me that Mr. Franks only wanted to be elected to enhance his “small business” which consists of selling political signs to Republican political candidates. He was probably looking for better access to potential customers.

The second good outcome is that Jared Woodfill lost to Paul Simpson. The Party needed new leadership, and that was clear to anyone who follows Republican politics in Harris County. When Mr. Woodfill cuts off his long curly hair, just for the election, people notice. Can’t change one’s spots so easily, Mr. Woodfill!

My only other admonition to District 132 voters, and all voters everywhere, is that they should never vote early. At least one should wait until the last day of early voting. And don’t do mail ins either. Those candidates push the early voting because they want your vote before you find out the truth about them!


In your list of pivotal events, I would suggest that there is one more that should be added.

In 1995, Senate Bill I (dreamed up by Republican pretender Senator Bill Ratliff and Democrat State Representative Bill Sadler) was passed. Hidden in its bowels were some lines that eviscerated local school boards’ and individual wise school board members’ ability and power to object to the onslaught of a duplicitous testing program:

1. the right of a local school board to “manage and govern” was changed to “govern and oversee the management” of a school district

2. the right of a local school board to control the money of the school district was taken away and given to the superintendent

3. the addition of a phrase that stated that a school board must act as a “body corporate” was added and eventually interpreted (as I’m sure was the original intent) to mean that the board members must act as ONE instead of as One of SEVEN (or so depending on the District) who had been individually elected to represent the constituents of the District.

If those caveats are not there, then some of what you are describing could have been stopped.

There was also actually a provision of Senate Bill I which said in essence that if a Board voted, they could exclude their district’s students from even having to take the TAAS test! Of course that proposition never saw the light of day in Katy Texas or anywhere else!


Mary McGarr  Reply to Chronicle article about new elementary schools.

December 18, 2013 at 3:10 PM

The statement "The construction of these schools began last spring and is the result of savings realized from the November 2010 bond, according to district officials." is a flat out lie! The District has money to spend as it wishes because it pads bond items by 30%. That's a verified fact.

For once, they used their "padding" to build some schools. I suppose there's some comfort in that!



Mary McGarr  Reply to Longhorn66 in the Katy Dispatch

November 25, 2013 at 12:21 pm


Maybe YOU should re-read it too! Ms. Crockett after she dismisses the other three board members’ child care ideas goes on to say:

“That (and it’s difficult to tell what the antecedent of “that” really is) is a critically important issue and SHOULD be addressed by the School Board, but not just for the children of teachers and staff but for ALL children. If this is about closing the achievement gap, the School Board should put its money into day-care/pre-K at all our Title I schools and offer it to every family who qualifies for free and reduced lunch, not just to the children of staff.”


SHE wants a child care program that is more expansive! And I’m guessing Ms. Crockett has no clue about the true achievement “gaps” in this school district, and they certainly won’t be corrected by universal day care/PRE/K at “all our Title I schools.”


Ms. Crockett’s statement as quoted above is the essence of government interfering in people’s lives. The government (in this case the local school district government) would like to have control of children as soon as they can and a nation-wide effort (part of Obama’s agenda) is to have universal PreK. It’s an old Hillary idea.


Just for the record there’s no law that says children must attend even kindergarten, but the District had provided half day kindergarten for years. Then without any discussion at all in a public forum, they increased the time from a half day to a full day. (They weren’t necessarily concerned about the students but the fact that it was a way for them to get more money from the State.) There’s still no law requiring that small children need to sit in a classroom all day until they are six years old.


In my opinion (and my opinion is mine and no one can argue with my opinion), little children need to be at home with their mothers playing in the backyard when they are 5 years old and certainly when they are 3 and 4!

Just for the record, most government and private studies show that there is no long term academic OR social benefit to incarcerating small children in public schools before they are six years old.


Incarcerating them there because the government wants them there is my concern.



Mary McGarr  Reply to article by Chris Crockett on the Katy Dispatch

   November 25, 2013 at 8:37 am

Ms. Crockett just flashed her left-leaning, liberal Democrat views for all to see. Taking care of the child care needs of the children of employees of the school district with any scenario (hers or Dibrell’s) or with any of her other proposed schemes is stepping into an area that is not needed or required. Like all previous teachers (and I am among them), they can obtain child care on their own dime. It’s what Americans do! If one cannot afford to take care of one’s children, one should not have them until such time as he/she can! And for sure, no one should expect the rest of us to do it for them. We don’t need “Katycare at the local level.”


As for the “3 trustees rule,” suggesting that this application of this overreaching governmental rule is “nice” is unbelievably arrogant. Ms. Crockett was part of the school board gang that at Leonard Merrell’s direction, instituted in a back room scheme a plan to keep any conservative Republicans who might get elected to the school board from having the ability to put their ideas on the school board agenda so that they could see the light of day and be discussed. The reasoning was that if such items were to indeed be placed on the agenda, the public would be able to see what the true (liberal) political beliefs of the rest of the Board might be when such agenda items had to be discussed publicly.


In the 1990′s ANY board member could put an item on the agenda. When it came up, if no one seconded it (through a motion), then it died. Obviously the people on our school board didn’t even want to continue THIS tiny embarrassment! Over the years they’ve gone from having to have two board members to approve an agenda item before placement on the agenda to THREE! Next thing you know it will be FOUR!


Ms. Crockett doesn’t appear to even see or understand what she is a part of or what she is advocating here–and if she does, that’s further proof of her liberalism.


  • marymcgarr

  • November 12, 2013 Houston Chronicle

Your premise is that it is the money that is bogus. Here are the amounts from other school districts that same year: Katy ISD $4,984; Spring Branch $5,688; Clear Creek $5,034; Galveston $6,183; Klein $4,849. It doesn't matter how much money is spent. These amounts are all over the place, and they are low because the cost of living in our area is low. "Inequality" doesn't have a thing to do with this problem. It's WHAT is being taught in our schools, NOT the MONEY or the FACULTY or the ethnicity or race of the students! As long as the dumbed down curriculum is in place, as long as we keep abandoning the curriculum that we had for 200+ years in this country, as long as kids are taught to read (or more accurately NOT read) using whole language instead of using phonics, as long as they aren't taught plain old math and memorize the math facts, as long as they can't use fractions and decimals and do long division, as long as they don't learn American history, as long as they can't write cursively, as long as they play scientific games instead of learning scientific facts, we're going to have an uneducated populace.

You'd think the Kinders would have more sense than to lend their good name to such a study as this!



October 31, 2013

  • The thing is, bond money or the debt service and M&O or maintenance and operations money (which pays teachers' salaries,) all has to come out of the total tax rate applied. If your tax rate is $1.56, ALL of it could be spent on M&O if there were not the debt service. So saying it "doesn't affect" the teachers' salaries is not true. If you are paying off debt, you use up money that ostensibly could be used for M&O. Fortunately there is a limit to the amount they can designate for the Debt Service. So the bottom line is that YES, bond money takes away funds that could be spent on teachers' salaries.


  • marymcgarr

  •   October 31, 2013

It might help the public to realize the excess of this stadium bond venture if they look at the current construction of the University of Houston’s new football stadium which began last spring and which will be ready next summer.

That stadium, which will include lots of ancillary facilities associated with it (but then so will the new KISD stadium), will cost $105,000,000. There will be 40,000 seats, and the stadium is being designed to accommodate 20,000 more seats if they are needed in the future

KatyISD’s new proposed stadium, will cost $69,500,000. There will be 14,000 seats.

Looking at the difference, the KISD stadium will cost, $4,964 per seat while the University of Houston stadium will cost $2,625 per seat.

Seating is the critical measurement of the value of a stadium. No one can deny that fact. The number of seats is the crux of the argument by KISD for “needing” a new and bigger stadium than Rhodes.

What’s incredible to me is that the KISD stadium is costing it’s taxpayers 89% MORE per seat than the U of H stadium will cost.

When it is suggested that the KISD stadium cost is excessive, they aren’t kidding.

No wonder PBK architects like KISD’s business!

Shouldn't recliners be installed for that price!


  • marymcgarr

  • October 31, 2013

Perhaps the Bond committee was SUPPOSED to have "100+ members" but an Open Records Request to the district says there were only 43 members of the committee, and only 11 of them went to one meeting. The two meetings that were held were on August 7th and August 12th well after KISD administrators were sending out press releases to the local papers pushing the stadium! Maybe there were 57 smart people who didn't show up because they didn't want to be used by the District.



11:05 PM on October 16, 2013 (Ultimate Katy Houston Chronicle)

Before we fall for the ruse that we "need" a new 69.5 million dollar stadium, parents should be concerned with overcrowded schools for their children.

Because of bad planning and poor demographic projections by the school district, we now have four of our thirteen junior high schools over capacity. As of August 27, 2013, Katy Junior High has a capacity of 1,231 students but has 1,326 enrolled. Beckendorff has a capacity of 1400 but has 1,653 enrolled. Woodcreek had a capacity of 1400 but has 1,566 enrolled. Seven Lakes Junior High has a capacity of 1400, but has 1,545 enrolled. If a parent has kids going to those schools, they should be concerned that such overcrowding is affecting their children's education in several ways. Just drive by and look at the temporary portable shacks that are needed to handle the excessive numbers of students if you want to see the extent of the overcrowding. Before the District can float another bond and get another junior high school built, these numbers will be much higher. The District could rezone, but that has political ramifications that none of the Board Members what to endure.

Morton Ranch, Cinco Ranch and Seven Lakes high schools are 1,038 students over capacity. Tompkins isn't going to take care of all of that excess either.

Think how long it takes to get a bond started and then build those large schools. The plans should be in the works now, and yet here we are looking at frivolous puff stuff instead.

Public schools are supposed to be about providing a basic academic education for students. All the extracurricular matters should be secondary. Where are the parents of the students in these overcrowded schools? They should be demanding that necessary new schools be built before a stadium!!!

(All my numbers were provided to me in an Open Records Request to Katy ISD in September of 2013.)

Mary McGarr says:

Mr. Scott,

When you talk about excessive cost [of a new KISD stadium], it might help the public to realize the excess if they look at the current construction of the University of Houston’s new football stadium which began last spring and which will be ready next summer.

That stadium, which will include lots of ancillary facilities associated with it (but then so will the new KISD stadium), will cost $105,000,000. There will be 40,000 seats, and the stadium is being designed to accommodate 20,000 more seats if they are needed in the future

KISD’s new proposed stadium, will cost $69,000,000. There will be 14,000 seats.

Looking at the difference, the KISD stadium will cost, $4,929 per seat while the University of Houston stadium will cost $2,625 per seat.

Seating is the critical measurement of the value of a stadium. No one can deny that fact. The number of seats is the crux of the argument by KISD for “needing” a new and bigger stadium than Rhodes.

What’s incredible to me is that the KISD stadium is costing it’s taxpayers 88% MORE than the U of H stadium will cost.

When you say that the KISD stadium cost is excessive, you aren’t kidding.

No wonder PBK architects like KISD’s business!




9:33 AM on September 4, 2013


I'm all for recruiting volunteers. but I think the superintendent of schools trying, and I emphasize "trying," to Moon Walk in the recruitment video is questionable. Is he the leader of the academic education of our students, or is he a stand up comic? Hard to tell.

I suppose this is more fun for the employees than diatribes about "True North," or testimonials from people who haven't a clue what they are doing. Did teachers have to sit through one of THOSE sessions this year?

Surely the Chronicle can find things to report about the beginning of the school year that are more useful and important to parents, students, and taxpayers!



8:39 AM on May 10, 2013 Houston Chronicle

[With reference to an op-ed by State Rep. Dwayne Bohac  "To Best Teach Our Children, We Need a Diverse Marketplace"


Representative Bohac, like so many before him, has bought into the School to Work mantra.

Public education in America, for at least it's first 200 years, sought to provide the populace with an ACADEMIC liberal arts education. The purpose of that education was to pass along the American culture to young Americans. If anyone immigrated to our country, he was expected to take part in this educational process if he too wanted to be an American.

Enter mindless politicians like Mr. Bohac who fail to understand the original and long-lasting purpose of public education and who have allowed themselves to be snowed by the liberals amongst us. The purpose of public education is NOT to TRAIN workers or CATER to the "needs" of business and industry. The purpose is to academically EDUCATE. For America's first two hundred years or so, if the public schools educated a student properly, he could then go to a vocational school or a college, get a job, or do anything else his IQ and his ambition would allow him to do once he obtained that diploma (and it IS a diploma, not a degree).

The purpose of the public education was to pass along the culture and the accumulated knowledge of that culture, NOT to provide compliant malleable workers who can put part "A" to part "B" and not complain about low wages!

When the American culture does not get passed along, what we have are people like Mr. Bohac who doesn't see the handwriting on the wall. He (and those Republicans who agree with him) will no longer be able to become members of the State Legislature because there will be no one who believes as he does on matters of politics and therefore will NOT vote for a Republican!

His stance here is self-defeating and is the problem that exists for Americans. Too bad for all of us that he can't see what he is doing.



8:07 AM on April 22, 2013

[With reference to George Flynn, a reporter for the Houston Post and the Houston Chronicle who had passed away] When I saw his name here just now, the words "character, intelligence, fairness, respect" all came to mind. Would that we could all end our lives by giving others such thoughts! I thank him for his efforts to bring us accurate reports of the news.



9:19 AM on April 11, 2013

Actually it's kind of nice to have an appraisal of a serious world leader which presents an accurate portrayal of her greatness. Mrs. Thatcher's place in history is irrefutable. She is unique, and unfortunately irreplaceable.



8:25 AM on February 15, 2013 (re: "Special Purpose Districts Are Weaving a Tangled Web"

by John Colyandro and Tom Aldred of the Texas Conservative Coalition Research Institute

Good advice for the Legislature! While they're at it they need to curtail the "tax" being extracted from homeowners by their quasi-governmental HOA's! These "dues" (which are clearly a tax) are also duplicative of city and county services. But none of this effort will go anywhere as long as Senator John Carona is in the Senate. He owns the biggest HOA company in America (Associa), and he grew that multi-state company on the backs of unsuspecting homeowners.


marymcgarr January 1, 2013  in response to Chronicle article about grading teacher training institutes.

This scheme is just another in a long line of them to insure that colleges of education are in lock step with "education reform" --which isn't reform at all!

A person can inherently teach or not, and having endured a college of education does not alter that fact.

If we want better teachers, close down all teacher preparation programs, colleges of education, et cetera. The best teacher is one who holds an academic degree from a quality university. He/she had a decent SAT score to get into that university, and he/she enrolled in something besides "How to Teach ABC" while there.

There is a vast difference between being educated and being trained. I believe that a teacher who is an academically educated person is one who will be able to pass along our culture in the most knowledgeable manner. One does not obtain knowledge in a training institution.

Right now, teachers are not required to have knowledge because of the proliferation of inane "curriculum management systems" that tell the "teacher" when to jump, and which do not allow any teacher to use his/her brain.

(And why did we have to wait five days for this article to appear on line?)



1.52 PM Friday December 21, 2012 

In response to

And they didn't post my comment because stupidly one has to be on Facebook to do so, and I'm not that stupid!

"SBWV has been the architect for the last 19 or so KISD elementary schools. Why is this news?

What was news a while back was the fact that Creech Elementary School, built in 2000 had architect's fees (Goleman Architects) of $233,322 for a $9,614,406 building. When the District started using SBWV architects in 2001, King Elementary's architectural fees (SBWV Architects) were $557,849 for a $11,515,486 building. (Notice the percentage of the fee!)

Now, for example, at Firethorne and Falcon Landing Elementary schools, the cost of a KISD elementary school has doubled in ten years to $18,653,859!

Doesn't look like they're saving much money to me! And these facts pose lots of questions that board members should be asking Mr. Frailey before they vote on another of his recommendations.

We taxpayers are footing the bill for these overpriced schools. These board members and the superintendent will be long gone while we'll still be stuck paying for their lack of control of the District funds."



4:45 PM on November 25, 2012


(In response to

 I have a better solution. You suggest a commission. Our government leaders have already committeed and commissioned us to death trying to hide behind the skirts of the appointed members so they don't have to take heat for major and often unpopular but necessary decisions.

What keeps elected officials from making major decisions? The fact that they are spending most of their waking moments trying to get re-elected, and that won't happen if they make the tough decisions. Institute term limits (two terms for every elected office). Then we'd see lots of positive actions that didn't have to be initiated by a committee! Elected offices weren't meant to be a career.

Instant News Katy  November 19, 2012  9:50 AM

The Fine Arts in our school district have excelled because of the leadership provided by Bob Bryant, not Alton Frailey. Frailey likes jazz and so he tags along and supports the program because of that interest.
He also takes the band directors out to eat, goes to jazz concerts, and tags along when there's also a Super Bowl to look at.

So I guess that counts as "support."

Others have identified the true backers of the Fine Arts program--it's parents who wish for their children to have this added dimension in their education, who pay for the private lessons, who form and support the booster clubs that pay for much of the efforts of their children, and who attend the concerts to support their children.

Symbolically, Frailey represents those groups, so he gets the award. He probably deserves this one more than most of them that he gets.

Mary McGarr on November 16th, 2012 3:48 pm  in response to article by George Scott on

After reading your columns for several months on this issue, I have to wonder where the outrage is from mayors, county judges, superintendents, MUD District boards and all the other governmental entities that are getting “cheated” out of tax revenue by these unconscionable gifts to the elite.

You’d think they all had a “big pile o’ money” and didn’t need any more!

And then of course there’s John Q. Citizen who has to make up the necessary difference with HIS individual taxes as a homeowner! Where are those people on this issue?

NOTE: Per usual Mary, you pose the best of questions. Where indeed. You and I have always been willing to get out ‘on point’ on issues like this. In the field of public education, there have been few willing to fight as necessary to achieve great change. On this matter, I believe the groundswell is building. And as usual, these officials you mention will be in position by next spring to be leading from behind.


Mary McGarr


Mr. Scott has followed up with an explanation of which students are truly excelling in our school district, and which ones are not. If your child is NOT at the top of the class, his chances of getting into a college, staying there and graduating are pretty slim these days. If I had a kid in KISD at this point in time, I think I’d want to know the reality instead of the spin.

The truth is, many of your children, thanks to the mediocre education being provided these days by KISD, are not going to be able to obtain the kind of education their parents have and to be able to afford the kind of a house and neighborhood that they grew up in.

That’s kind of sad.



Mary McGarr



Can you tell me what it is about Web 2.0 that you don’t like? I’m asking, here, for information. I’ve looked at explanations online, and they all seem innocuous. What am I missing?



Mary McGarr


I’m afraid I don’t see that what either one of you said has anything to do with what I said!

I’m talking about curriculum and methodology being the reason KISD students are just mediocre on tests. If they’re not given an academic education, they cannot perform well on an ACT or SAT.

I don’t know what you’re talking about!



Mary McGarr


“As for family situations, education, and the trajectory we take through life; there is no more potent force than a good education…”

Ross, you make my point. A “good” education can enable ANY student to succeed as a college student and in life.

The problem is, when we no longer provide students with an adequate academic education, but instead waste all their school hours with trivia, then students are not able to score well on tests such as the ACT and the SAT. The TAKS doesn’t cut it in my book as a measure of academic success. Parents who are fooled by this “assessment” instrument are in for a rude awakening with their children.

Mr. Scott pointed out in a column not so long ago how few students from any of our high schools manage to complete a college degree program within 6 years after graduation. The numbers were awful.

But instead of screaming about the poor education being provided, we have parents worrying about buses or football championships or other side line matters. It would be refreshing to have parents instead concerned with what their children are taught and the manner in which they are taught.


Mary McGarr


These scores may constitute “college ready” to some, but I’m thinking a student with a 23.5 would be hard pressed to do very well at most Texas colleges with such a score.


That we are “better than the state average composite score” is just spin. Think about who it is that makes up the “state average composite score.”

And the “average score” for KISD students is elevated by the students at some of our high schools and lowered by the students at some of our other high schools. Just a fact. It would appear that trying to make it look like all of the KISD students are “college ready” is a tad misleading. And are we talking about HCC or the University of Texas?

Whoever decided to put out this press release, needs someone to draw them a picture of the reality of our high schools.

More importantly, if one goes to the link in the story, one sees that KISD students’ ACT scores have declined from the previous year. That fact is much more telling than comparing our district scores to the state’s.

If we had a viable curriculum in place, ALL of our students could excel. I’m not one of those who believe that one needs to live in a big house with a happy family to do well in school. It is a disservice to many of our students that they are not properly taught and so get relegated to a second class life. Some day the students themselves might rebel, but I’m not holding my breath waiting for that to occur.


Mary McGarr


Lots of Katy schools are “Blue Ribbon” schools.

Make note of the fact that at least some of them (and they should tell us this) hired a consultant (used to be $1500) to help them with the paperwork.

The paperwork is to verify that the school is obeying the School to Work, Outcome Based Education, education reform junk that our last three superintendents have put in place in our schools.

The sign on the side of the building used to cost $3,000. Bet it’s higher than that now.

So what does it mean? Well, several things come to mind, but I’ve said them before. If my kids went to one of the last schools in the district to get the award, and if I thought it was a worthy award, I’d be a bit disappointed!

In my view it’s a good thing to be last!



Mary McGarr


My admonition about the clarity of the Agenda items at the Work Study session as well as the Regular meeting has some basis in Law and Code:

According the Board Policy BE (legal):

Agendas for all meetings shall be sufficiently specific to inform the
public of the subjects to be deliberated at the meeting, setting out
any special or unusual matters to be considered or any matter in
which the public has a particular interest. Deliberations or actions
pertaining to the Superintendent and principals are of particular
public interest, and notice of those subjects must be worded with
such clarity that the public will understand what the Board proposes
to discuss or accomplish. Cox Enterprises, Inc. v. Austin Indep.
Sch. Dist., 706 S.W.2d 956 (Tex. 1986); Point Isabel Indep. Sch.
Dist. v. Hinojosa, 797 S.W.2d 176 (Tex. App.—Corpus Christi 1990,
writ denied); Atty. Gen. Ops. M-494 (1969), H-419 (1974), H-662
(1975), H-1045 (1977)
The terms “employee briefing” or “staff briefing” do not give adequate
notice of the subject matter to be presented to the Board by
employees or staff members. Atty. Gen. Op. JC-169 (2000)
The subject of a report or update by District staff or a member of
the Board must be set out in the notice in a manner that informs a
reader about the subjects to be addressed. Atty. Gen. Op. GA-668

I would also point out that the Agenda for these meetings is created by the Superintendent with the approval of the Board President.

I suggest that they both spend some time learning how to create a comprehensive and understandable agenda for their future meetings. This action would be the first step in cleaning up their mess.

Mary McGarr


I keep hearing this line “No one ever wants to see harm come to a child, in any circumstance, and particularly while they are making their way to and from school.” coming from KISD administrators.

I don’t think parents would ever think that ANYONE at KISD would want to see “harm to come to a child,” and one has to wonder why they keep saying that!

The Administration fails to see that parents and patrons are concerned about their obvious efforts to cover up what they were doing last May (posting the Board’s agenda item as “Transportation Service Considerations” at the Work Study meeting and then at the Regular meeting as “Consider Board Approval of the Change in Transportation”.)

Those topics could have covered any number of things, but in keeping with their penchant for using words to deceive, these were the headings chosen. Who could know that such gobbledygook meant “We’re getting ready to cut bus service to a lot of the students in this school district”?

And just for the record, if objections aren’t heard from the public BEFORE the Board meets, then it’s too late. Once they’ve voted, they dig in and put up the fences.

It’s the lack of planning or of cogent explanations, the blatant deception, the lack of transparency and of consideration for parents and their children that have become particularly annoying and which cause parents to claim that the Board and Administrators don’t really care about their children. (There’s a difference between “caring” and “harming.”)

Yes, we know that the superintendent “is listening,” but will he DO anything to straighten up the mess HE created? The fact that the superintendent and most of the Board just don’t understand why people are upset, morphs into the bigger problem of how will they ever solve a problem that they can’t even see!


marymcgarr says:

7:04 PM on July 23, 2012  re: Texas GOP Waging War on Critical Thinking

If Mr. Pitts understood the educatorese of "critical thinking," he would know that the "critical thinking" of today isn't anything like the "critical thinking" that was taught prior to 1970.

Of course teachers should be teaching students to think "critically" about things that they read and view, but HOTS isn't the way to do that.

College education teachers come up with mindless little schemes to further their careers by giving high sounding names to stupid activities. HOTS is one of those. Most of us have figured out the plan.

Do your homework if you're going to write about something such as this, Mr. Pitts!


marymcgarr says re:

10:51 AM on July 11, 2012

I'm glad Representative Culberson stands up for local residents. The people who live along Richmond didn't want "light rail" in front of their homes.

I'm also glad that my part of town has been returned to Representative Culberson's district--I know from many years of watching that he is one of the few who always tries to do the right thing and is truly a "representative" of the people. [Too bad that in just three short years Representative Culberson turned on a dime and does nothing that represents the will of his electorate! He slipped into the mud of the SWAMP and dwells there forever.]



Mary McGarr says re:



4:27 PM on July 3, 2012

The argument here should not be about whether to have an HSPVA. That issue was decided decades ago. The issue is whether the facility to house HSPVA is too expensive and why that is so.

Consider that the volunteer HSPVA Friends organization had many commitments from major donors to help in an extraordinary way with funding, but indecisive school board members dragged their feet so long, those commitments disappeared. Now funding is left to the taxpayers.

HSPVA has existed for years in second class facilities, making the best of them while all along turning out well educated Fine Arts students. Give them credit for that.

The problem is the over the top estimate for the building.

Don't hold Katy ISD up as an example of well budgeted school buildings. Citizens have found that their use of PBK architects to decide what school buildings are "needed," when they are "needed" and how much they're going to cost are the reasons for the excessive expense as PBK's fee is based on a percentage of the entire cost. PBK has been the architect for every Katy ISD junior high and high school since 2001--that's about 13 of them. Citizens even discovered that the Katy ISD, thanks to PBK proposals, consistently pads the expenses for the bond by 30% so they have leftover money to do with as they please--which allows them to build all those things that wouldn't fly with the public in a bond election. As a result of such behavior, Katy ISD has the highest tax rate of medium to large school districts in the entire state. Don't move to Katy if school taxes are a concern for you!

The HISD board would do well to look into the methods that are used to determine what their school buildings are projected to cost. Those methods are the problem.


Mary McGarr says re: 


8:34 AM on April 25, 2012

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The superintendent likes to say we're a "high growth" district (I think he belongs to some organization that is made up of "high growth" school districts,) but below is an accounting of the number of students that have come to KISD by October 31 of each of these years over the previous year. Obviously our "high growth" is not as predicted by the demographer and in fact is no longer there.

2008 we grew by 3,037 students.
2009 we grew by 2,429 students.
2010 we grew by 2,253 students.
2011 we grew by 1,816 students.
2012 we grew by 1,619 students.

We've been on a downward trend for the last five years! Our increase has dropped by almost 50%!

In the five months from October 28, 2011 to March 26, 2012, we have lost 219 students at the high school level. The junior highs are up 92. The elementary schools are up 328 (an average of 10 students per elementary school). The total enrollment over that five months is up 201 students for all grades. Doesn't look like "high growth" to me!

My source is from an open records request for the enrollment figures and was provided by the school district. You'd think the superintendent would look at those numbers! When I was on the Board we got those print outs every month.

The Chronicle should do a better job of getting the real facts out there.

Mary McGarr says:

11:45 AM on April 25, 2012

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"The district has targeted five areas known as True North: Student growth and success, safe and orderly working and learning environment, community engagement, effective and efficient operations and organizational improvement, Frailey said."

The superintendent makes the above comment with regard to how the district "achieves success." Is anyone else concerned that nowhere in that list is there anything at all about academic endeavor? Can these students get a job if all they "know and are able to do" is this list of educrat baloney?

I don't think they can, and their parents should be screaming for Mr. Frailey's expulsion from the District!

Mary McGarr says re:

10:06 AM on March 30, 2012

In Katy ISD there is also this problem. Right now the board is embroiled in a tax office mess. Linebarger (who wants the business) has given $500 to at least two board members (one was defeated last year). The other board member who was defeated may have also gotten such a gift, but she didn't bother to file her TEC reports. (The TEC is now investigating that matter.)

HISD citizens should ask to see the TEC filings of board member candidates (30 days out, 7 days out before an election and then on July 15 and January 15. Then put them out there for people to see.

Vendor/construction pimps are the lowest of the low. They are stealing money from students and their teachers. It's just not right. It will take more than an audit to stop them.

Mary McGarr says:

Lots of fodder here!

I’m sort of non-plused by Darrell’s suggestion “that the issues regarding Linebarger were a major concern for all of the board members.”

Pray tell, how in the world would we know that? Other than Proctor and Huckaby, the rest of the board members usually just move their mouths and hands when the puppet strings are pulled! We don’t ordinarily ever hear any “discussion” at the Board table from any of the rest of the Board. Their discussions for the last fifteen years have mostly been behind closed doors and then voted on in the “Consent Agenda” which was getting longer by the minute until we elected two new board members. (The Consent Agenda is a means of hiding what the Board is actually voting on as items are reportedly discussed at the work/study session and don’t need “discussing” again at the Regular meeting, but if one goes to both meetings one knows that sometimes a matter isn’t “discussed’ anywhere at all!)

I applaud Dr. Proctor for taking a stand on a major issue as it has been quite revealing for the public to see the actual machinations of our school board. Not hard for me, at least, to assume that since these two new board members got elected, what we are witnessing these days is not business as usual.

For years some major issues of importance to students, taxpayers, and employees in a majority of instances have been decided without ANY open discussion.

Instead of being a place where elected citizens can convene to improve public education, Board membership for too many has become instead a way for some of them to increase their personal businesses, or sell land to the district, or get to take free trips and eat well, or get on sub-contractor’s lists, or dabble in education reform for the corporations for which they work, or puff up egos—take your pick. A great many of them have not been interested much less self-informed enough to even be able to discuss substantive issues. Thus most often we have had a group of people who were unable to render opinions and judgments about matters of importance.

As for Frailey’s exceeding his authority, go back and read the article titled “KISD Trustee Says Superintendent Should ‘Listen to the Will of the Board’ and Stop Pushing Linebarger Proposal."

Dr. Proctor enumerates and documents six or seven times over the last three years when the superintendent, without any apparent instruction from the Board, has placed the matter of increasing the contractual duties of Linebarger on the Board’s agenda!

If such actions don’t constitute “exceeding his authority” then I don’t know what would. The Board should only have to say “no” once.

For me, the fact that we all know that Linebarger gave $500 campaign contributions to Board members Chris Crockett and Henry Dibrell last May and probably also to Judy Snyder (and we can’t know that for sure since she hasn’t turned in her July 15, 2011 TEC filing papers yet), and that Leonard Merrell allegedly has been hired by Linebarger as a consultant post retirement and that Linebarger chose to donate $500 toward Merrell’s retirement gift (a large tractor), (none of which is apparently illegal but it really looks bad–at least to me), I would say that Dr. Proctor and Terry Huckaby should question this particular recommendation from a superintendent if they also believe, as I do, that taking money from vendors does not serve the public very well.

Mary McGarr says:

Speaking of Robocalls, go look at this article on USA TODAY and see if you don’t see a little nugget we didn’t know about last year about people who call cell phones for any reason including political calls:

Can anyone say “Federal Offense”?




1:44 PM on February 1, 2012

Way to jump on the School to Work bandwagon. When did we as a society decide to give up on a liberal arts education and become instead, a vocational ed mill?

Kids need vocational ed because they are no longer being taught to read and do math in elementary school, and so for those who don't have parents who can/will teach them, this is all they have left. That situation is by design--Jack Christie et al want 80% of our students in a vocational ed situation.

I liked it better when my taxes gave every Texas child a chance to become whatever they wanted to be and not just a computer operator or a beautician.

Mary McGarr says:
January 9, 2012
Two things.

First, the best year Katy ISD ever had was the year we didn't have a superintendent! (That was when we spent a year looking for a new one. The place ran great and there were few if any problems. Thank Don Stacy, the Interim Superintendent, for that.)

Second, when one starts thinking about getting a new superintendent, one should notice how they are obtained. It is the ultimate good ole boy process. Notice the names mentioned above--all of the headhunters have had their hands in the public school till, feeding shamelessly at the public trough--to stretch a metaphor. They know who their comrades are, and that's who they want to hire for these over-paid positions.

Katy ISD, the last two times we've needed a superintendent, has turned to Bob Thompson who brought us Merrell and Frailey. I'm hoping that next time, the Board does as Old Katy Guy suggests--look inward. There are plenty of qualified KISD administrators WITH a superintendent's certificate who could serve our district well. We would know who they are and what they can do. We would know their character and intelligence. We would know if they like to stay home. We would know if they like to travel too much. We would know if their employees thought them capable. We would know if they have leadership qualities.

Such a move would also validate that we have been hiring qualified and deserving people all along. Hiring from within is much better than playing "pass the trash" and getting a pig in a poke! No credible organization looks elsewhere first when hiring the top employee.

The main problem is that we cannot trust board members to do their homework when hiring a superintendent, especially one brought by a headhunter. They get all wrapped up in a hurried process (that's by design) and forget to ask even the simplest of questions. Things like "Your office is in a Quonset Hut here in Texas City and you want to come to Katy? Why is that?" or "The students where you are had a passing rate of 53.1% on the TAAS, and Katy's passing rate last year was 71.6%--how are you qualified to improve on that number?" or "You've been a superintendent for HOW LONG??? and you can't seem to get your superintendent's certificate?" or "You're qualified to teach reading---anything else?" or "Tell us why it is you never got your educational doctorate when everyone in town has one."

Let's hope if Frailey leaves, he waits until after the election so that some sensible members can be added to our board in the May election else his replacement will be more of the same. Recall that the board hurried up hiring Frailey in 2007 before the election just in case someone with sense got elected to the Board. That's all part of the game. One just has to pay attention to see it all.

Mary McGarr says:

Don’t miss the point here. It’s not the money; it’s not that Marcy Canady appears to be trying to create a job for herself after her KISD contract expires; it’s not that this is Chris Crockett’s baby, and we overwhelmingly threw her and her ideas out in the last election; it’s not that Frailey tried to do an end run around the school Board; it’s not that it was brought up at a meeting when half the District is preoccupied with Thanksgiving or leaving town; it’s not that we’ve been down this road before fifteen years ago and another, wiser school board rejected a foundation before it ever got off the ground; it’s that if the Board creates a foundation, the foundation can take whatever money it can get and use it however the foundation board, NOT the School Board decides! That’s a major alteration of the status quo.

Right now, money, gifts, whatever are used at the discretion of the School Board–that’s in Board Policy and comes from state legislation. A foundation is a way to get around that law.

I’m pleased so many of the Board members saw through the ploy on many points–now look at the big picture. Don’t give up your powers to Marcia Canady–you already axed her contract so why would you want to do anything she suggests?

If there are magnanimous folks out there just dying to give money to the school district, they can already do that. Not a problem.

What Frailey and Canady are not telling you is what they plan to do with all that money when they get their hands on it.

I also didn’t see any mention of the proposal within this matter to take money from Booster Clubs and PTA’s and PTO’s and redistribute that wealth among all the schools. If nothing else, that should be a great reason to vote NO on this issue.

Mary McGarr says:

The foundation was quickly put on the agenda last night. Haven’t heard what happened yet.

Marcy Canady, who I heard didn’t get her two year contract renewed, is making the foundation her swan song. Any board member who votes to keep this bad idea afloat, has rocks for brains. Once initiated, it will be next to impossible to remove–that’s why the rush.

Foundations are a way for the administration (read Frailey) to circumvent the authority of the board. One of the Board’s few powers that they have left is to have control of the money and where it is spent. A foundation eliminates that power as the foundation sets up its own board and doesn’t need School Board approval. The money can be used for any liberal left-leaning plan the superintendent wants to have. No sane board member should ever vote to give up one of his few remaining powers.

When Katy parents ( Booster Clubs, PTA’s and PTO’s) who work so hard to raise money for their own child’s school activities find out that the foundation is going to latch on to their money and spread it around Obama-style, they’ll realize what this foundation was really all about. (Can anyone say “redistribution of the wealth?”)

I find it very interesting that there appears to be no board authority to create this foundation as no board that I can find ever voted for it. Correct me if I’m wrong. As a school board member a long time ago, I fought this idea and stopped it–now it’s back because they think they can ramrod it through.

The other thing we all need to remember is that ousted and soundly defeated board member Chris Crockett is the one who initiated this foundation mess in the first place. She suggested it while running for office the first time she ran and brought it up again last spring. The voters threw her out of office along with her ideas. That fact needs to not be forgotten!


November 18, 2011 The Katy Times

My Recent Comments

  • Regardless of what happened here, I see just another situation that reflects the current Discipline Management Plan policy of failing to give a student Due Process.

    Under the Constitution, we all are afforded this right, but somehow in this convoluted world, public school students do not enjoy this fundamental right.

    What happens in these situations is that an administrator, who, in most cases has absolutely no training in such matters, calls in the accused student, does not inform him/her of his rights because nothing says he must do that, and encourages the student to write down "what happened" thus creating a situation of self-incrimination, and even when the students are minors, the parent is almost never called or informed until after the fact. The written statement may become the basis of the school district's case, and in my opinion the student may be punished for things he/she might not have done.

    No adult would stand for such treatment, but somehow adults who create these rules think it's OK to treat public school students this way.

    Those circumstances are what need changing and fixing. I railed about the lack of Due Process as a Board Member. Fred Hink has tried for a long time through his Zero Tolerance organization to fix this matter.

    If I had children in these public schools, in such situations, I would tell them to not write or say anything until I was called to be there to see and hear what was happening. In real life, the words "I want my lawyer" suffice. Since the school administrators are trying to act like cops, maybe parents should teach their children to act like an adult with Due Process rights!


Texas Children’s Hospital New West Campus A Reality Thanks To Donors

· November 11, 2010 · 1 Comment
Local News ·

By Mary McGarr

Yesterday, the new Texas Children’s Hospital located on the north side of the I-10 Freeway, held an Open House to allow citizens in our community to view the new facility.

Guests were treated to breakfast, a program, and a tour.

Welcoming remarks by Mark A. Wallace, President and Chief Executive Officer of Texas Children’s Hospital, highlighted the long term effort to bring this facility to the Katy area as well as those who made it happen.

An excellent staff, the architect, the generosity of many including David and Mary Wolff regarding the land site, and families, organizations and corporations all came together to make possible what we all got to view–a lovely building dedicated to the welfare of children in the West Houston area.

Various parts of the building have been named to honor those generous donors who support children and their well being.  Among them are the Helmle Shaw Foundation, the Rosenthal Family of Physicians, the Lauren and Lara Camillo Family Trusts, Conoco Phillips, the Pi Beta Phi Foundation, Houston Credit Unions, the Hamill Foundation, and the Pin Oak Charity Horse Show Association, all of them have areas of the hospital named in their honor.

Others who are “Founding Donors” are the Auxiliary to Texas Children’s Hospital, the Bristow Group, Inc., David Hlebichuk-Race to Heal Sick Children, MacDonald-Peterson Foundation, McCoy Workplace Solutions, Inc., RE/MAX of Texas-Jeanne and Richard Filip, and the Estate of Carmen L. Rulfs.

Other speakers on the program included Michelle Riley-Brown, Vice President, Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus, whose enthusiasm, I’m sure, has been a driving force over the last few years; Dr. Edmond Gonzales, Jr., who assured us that the renowned quality of medicine practiced at the Medical Center site, will also be evident at the West Houston site; and Dr. Charles Hankins, Chief Medical Officer, Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus, who was evidence of Dr. Gonzoles’ promise of staffing outstanding physicians at the site.

Completing the program was a tribute by Margaret Go on behalf of her daughter, Katherine.  Katherine has Turner’s syndrome.  Katherine first spoke poignantly about her condition, and then her mother elaborated and explained the role Texas Children’s Hospital has played in helping her daughter.  Ms. Go was very grateful for the aid provided to her daughter over the last ten years.

I was invited to this open house because my husband and I are donors.  We intend to keep on donating as the need will always be there for financial assistance.  I would like to thank all of those who have made this hospital possible. I must say, though, that I was surprised that I did not see but one fellow Katy resident that I knew.  I don’t know everyone in Katy, but I know a lot of people, so know that you were missed!  I did recognize Ann Hodge’s name on the list of people on the local advisory committee.

I’m always about the bottom line, and for me it’s this:  there are lots of people in the Katy area who say they have an interest in the welfare of our children.  If that is so, the next time there is a function at this facility, I would hope to see the Mayor of Katy, the Katy area State Representatives and Senators, the local school board members from Katy, Cy-Fair, Spring Branch, Royal and Alief school districts, superintendents and administrators from all those school districts, PTA-PTO presidents, and all those active parents in those school districts–because if you are a donor to this facility, you will receive an invitation!

No one knows when this hospital and its staff will come to play an important role in one’s life or the life of someone we know.

Please make a donation today to become a part of this wonderful hospital and its work. Consider your donation a Christmas or Hanukkah gift to your community– and provide that gift every year.


Last reply was November 11, 2010

  1. Noel Pinnock


    This is wonderful…way to go



    September 29, 2011  The Katy Times


    There are 19 special education professionals at Exley, which looks like more than any other elementary. Let's not indict all of them with remarks here.

    I'm glad two parents spoke up about the matter. They should have been at a board meeting sooner.

    Surely the school knows it's being watched. Let the authorities sort it out.  Mary McGarr


    September 29, 2011  The Katy Times


    I think it's important for people to know that the motion to proceed with the Linebarger matter as suggested by the superintendent was made after all sorts of very important reservations had been expressed by several board members and a citizen. Robert Shaw is the board member who chose to ignore all those concerns. The fact that none of the board members present-- Joe Adams, Rebecca Fox, Henry Dibrell, Bill Proctor, or Neal Howard-- (Terry Huckaby was ill and in the hospital), would second his motion is remarkable and a move in the right direction for our school board.

    Mr. Shaw appears to be used to doing whatever the superintendent tells him to do! Time for him to realize who is the boss here--big hint, it's not supposed to be the superintendent!

    I'm of the opinion that the school district needs to collect its own taxes and keep the current situation of hiring out the delinquent taxes for a 15% fee as it is. The school district claims it costs them $400,000 to collect the taxes. All that amount is for salaries for nine people who staff the Tax Office. Our district probably bills about 110,000 parcels. Probably it is an automated process. Why in the world does it take nine people to do that? And why should the Tax Assessor Collector make $115,000 ???? Isn't this just clerical work?


    Look at it this way: if Linebarger or Purdue (sp) can collect the taxes and the delinquent taxes and make a huge profit (else they wouldn't be wanting the business), then why can't the school district collect them efficiently too? I have no way of knowing about the situation that exists, but just guessing, I imagine that the District has too many employees in that office, and they are paid too much for what they do, and so administrative costs are the culprit.

    Someone needs to explain why it costs KISD so much to collect these taxes. As one of the board memebers pointed out last night, a collection agency can collect taxes--it's the delinquents that are difficult to collect. That's why Linebarger was hired in the first place--I know, I was there when they were hired. At that time, no one much was collecting delinquent taxes, and I brought it up. It had ticked me off that I'd been paying my taxes for 17 years and a fellow living nearby had never paid his at all and no one was bothering to make him pay them. (And just so you know, the school district as a government has the right of foreclosure, and getting unpaid taxes collected shouldn't be that hard for them.)

    As for the benefits, for some reason (I guess it's because the District used to fund benefits for the Waller County Appraisal District employees) I'm under the impression that the Tax Office is separate from the school district. If I'm wrong, then I'm wrong. (Thanks for pointing that out.) I think I've been told that we have to keep paying for the head of the Tax office, but that's all that is required (even if the law firms take it over, the District still has to have him/her.)

    No one can argue that administrative costs in this District are realistic. Administrative salaries could be cut by 50%, and they would be more in line with what is proper.

    On another note, at last night's board meeting, it was worth the price of admission to see Robert Shaw's face when he pompously made a motion to allow the superintendent to negotiate a contract with Linebarger, and NO ONE seconded his motion! When have you seen that in fifteen years? It was a mindless motion as Bill Proctor had brought up a legal issue that could possibly cause criminal charges to be filed against all the board members and administrators on which he wanted an AG opinion, and Cormac Creaven in the Public Forum had brought up several examples of criminal behavior by Linebarger employees over the years that need an explanation. Obviously five members of the board didn't think Mr. Shaw's motion was very wise.

    On another note, I appreciated Rebecca Fox pointing out that the Bond Oversight Committee that was promised by the Board isn't functioning. Mr. Frailey corrected her, (who's the boss here?) by saying that the construction she was talking about was from "old" bond money. I could be mistaken, but wasn't there supposed to be a bond oversight committee for the old bond money too? New bond money has been approved and things are in the works, so asking that question was totally appropriate.

    And wouldn't it have been more diplomatic to have "corrected" Mrs. Fox in private? Mrs. Fox was the diplomat in this situation by not reprimanding the superintendent right then! Someone needs to tell him that the "Team of Eight" is gone.

    [Looks like Mr. Shaw's support of Mr. Frailey's motions got the STEAM building named for him! There can't be any other reason!]



    September 27, 2011  The Katy Times

    That the Katy Times reporter thought this item worthy of reporting and two commenters are wondering why the decision wasn't made a long time ago tells me that there's something else going on here!

    What is KISD losing by going with the counties or the attorney firms? Some jobs?

    Is the superintendent still unwilling to cut back on administrative jobs to save some tax dollars?

    On the other hand, why is there controversy over which law firm to use? Politics? Favoritism? Who gave whom the biggest campaign contribution?

    Why would a law firm want to take on the collection process and pay KISD workers unless there's some huge profit in it for them?

    Why does it cost so much for KISD to collect the taxes? Is it because we overpay the people who do the job? Has KISD hired too many people for the job? I have contended over the years that this is so--and that paying tax office workers all the benefits that KISD administrators get is not a good idea. If the law firms are willing to dump three KISD workers, why can't KISD just dump them?

    Perhaps the Katy Times should do some digging and tell us what this matter is really about!

    What I'm looking for is four people on the board who keep ethics in mind as they vote, and provide for KISD taxpayers the most honest and fair means of taking care of this tax business. If it costs a little more, so be it--but do what you have to do because you're on the up and up and not for job protection for needless employees or favoritism to campaign contributors.

    I'm guessing we'll soon see who is standing up for what is best for students and taxpayers.


    September 23, 2011 The Katy Times


    For one high school counselor's testimony on IB and AP, watch this video, please.

    She includes a list of the 200 colleges and universities that prefer the AP over the IB coursework.

    • As it happens, I DO know a lot about IB programs. One can learn more about them (facts not perceptions) at

      KISD already has a very fine AP program which far surpasses the IB program academically. Why would we waste tax dollars on a lesser program unless someone is interested in foisting the liberal indoctrination part of it on our students?


      August 11, 2011   The Katy Times

    • I'm delighted that the new Wolfe Elementary School is finally getting under way. No community deserves a new school more than this one in the east end of the school district, and no one tried harder than I did over the years to stop a superintendent who wanted to close it down, and get it rebuilt, and keep it from becoming a United Nations school.

      No one should forget that this area had two long term school board members (Snyder and Kimmel) who sat on their hands, used the school as a political football, and did nothing to further the re-building of this school for fifteen years!

      As I have frequently pointed out, without the high tax revenue generated from the homes in this area, building all the new schools in the west end to entice (for the builders) new home buyers wouldn't have been so easily accomplished. When Mr. Frailey notes that there is a "committment to fulfill to this community" that SHOULD be to what he alludes, but I'm afraid he still doesn't get that part of it.

      Mr. Frailey is determined to start an International Baccalaureate school on this site, and all of these descriptors--"interior collaborative instruction spaces, different classroom clusters, six acres of green space, and learning spaces" in this article are all indications, at least to one who understands IB jargon, that an IB school could still be instituted there.

      Speeding up the building of this school by a year isn't being done so much in consideration for the "oldness" of the school or to serve this community as it is a precaution that if additional new board members are elected next spring who also don't want a communistic IB school in the Katy School District, they will already have their IB infrastructure in place at this site so that an IB school can be implemented the minute they have a chance down the road.

      Remember too that the District has already spent thousands of tax dollars sending Marcia Canady and some other administrators and teachers all over the place to be trained to be ready for an IB school.

      So celebrate the opening and be happy to have a new school, but keep your eyes open. All is not as it seems.


      August 11, 2011  The Katy Times


    Surely the Katy Times isn't afraid to point out that the KISD Board erred in firing those teachers. It was misled by Dr. Harris presenting in a Power Point Presentation at a Board meeting (I have the excerpt from her PPP on my web site at her take on the shortfall which showed the District funding from the State being cut by twice as much as was actually ever under consideration.

    Dr. Harris evidently hasn't lived in Texas long enough to know that legislative matters are spread over two years, not one. She needs to learn what a "biennium" is.

    I think no one should forget these constant mistakes that are made by this superintendent and his administration. I know I won't.


    July 21, 2011


    Barker" would be a good name for a KISD school. Honoring someone from Katy who worked hard all his life would be inspiring to young students.




9:24 AM on July 1, 2011

It's not the money, it's the crummy curriculum and "education reform" baloney that has dumbed down our students! No amount of money will get Mr. Dell more software engineers when students aren't being taught to read or do math in a proper and credible manner! But then, it's people like Mr. Seymour that are behind such dumbing down initiatives. The Business Roundtable and TBEC are your culprits. Blame them.

Read more:




1:49 PM on June 16, 2011


Thomas! I'm not buying your plea for more money for "education." Your part time job as a lobbyist tells me that you'd like to get more money for your clients!

As for returning our schools, I believe it was your father, Senator Bill Ratliff, who sold out our schools in 1995 in Senate Bill 1 and took away "local control."

Not everyone has forgotten yet.

You don't belong on the SBOE, and you sure shouldn't be writing editorials like you know anything at all about education!

Go peddle your wares in some other state.


2:44 PM on June 16, 2011



First, I have no clients in the education industry. I have no financial interest in public education, period.

Second, my father and Governor Bush worked together to RETURN local control by eliminating many requirements in the Education Code. You're just flat wrong. Oh, by the way, I'm not my father.

Third, 260,000+ voters in my district decided I do belong on the SBOE.

Read more:


[Mr. Ratliff is a registered lobbyist for Microsoft.]



Mary McGarr posted on Friday June 10, 2011 on Instant News Katy in response to "SuperDad":


It doesn't matter about what Ms. McFarling did or didn't say.  Try to get past that and see the real issue!


This is about the law.  Mr. Adams would appear to be sending a letter in the name of the "Board" when the "Board" appears not to have voted to allow him to send that letter.  There is no record of the "Board" having voted to allow him to represent them in this manner.


Read what you just quoted.  It doesn't say "The board President" it says "the board."  Mr. Adams is not  "the board."  The "board consists of seven people, and only a majority of them can direct the board president to act on their behalf.


How can YOU not see that?  What are you going to say when you find out Mr. Adams has sent his letter to more than just Ms. McFarling?

In my opinion it certainly looks as though Mr. Adams is trying to shut up anyone with whom he doesn't agree.  That would appear to me to be a misuse of his power.


If there is an agenda item and a vote that was held, then show me.  It's not "negative" to question the actions of government officials or to want people to abide by the law.  I believe that's my right, and you, SuperDad are way off base.

  • Mary McGarr posted at 9:35 am on Fri, Jun 3, 2011.


    The budget consultant was paid $48,500--that would have paid for one of those fired teachers! A consultant is hired (just like a board committee is formed) so that the consultant takes the blame for the budget cuts instead of the superintendent.

    When I asked earlier about a consultant who decided whom to fire, I was told there wasn't one. (I would swear I read that there had been one.)

    Everyone please remember that the Board was mistakenly under the impression that there would be a 19 to 62 million dollar shortfall EACH of the next two years, when in actuality the amount was half of that. Dr. Harris erred with her power point presentation in April. They didn't need to fire anyone.

    The point that Mr. Frailey seems not to get is that he needs to quit SPENDING SO MUCH!!!!! He wouldn't be in this mess if he hadn't overhired personnel in the first place. He LIKES the thought of being in charge of lots of buildings and people--he's said that many times, comparing Katy ISD to a university! Megalomania is that last stage of a superintendent's evolution, and I think Frailey is there.

    Mr. Frailey's five year iron clad contract says that his insurance for himself and his family will be paid by the District "pursuant to the Health Care insurance provided by the District," so it is not clear to me if he will continue to have it paid for if there is no plan offered to any other employee. I'm guessing that's one item he failed to foresee when he renegotiated this contract.

    As for the budget items that are proposed, it would appear to me that Mr. Frailey is trying to scare the voters, parents, teachers, taxpayers, etc. into backing down from their demands for cuts in spending. The threat of loss of bus service is always the first thing superintendents recommend. Hugh Hayes did the same thing in the 1990's. They want us all to think "Gosh, we really don't want to do without those things, so I guess we'll just be really happy to pay more taxes so we can have them!"

    That's baloney. There are plenty of "fluff" things that they could cut that no one would miss. Start with all those assistant superintendents that Mr. Frailey has hired to surround himself with so he doesn't have to (1) do anything at all and (2) interact with the public. (MY list of proposed cuts is at go to Education and then Budgets.)

    The superintendent has a very sweet deal --just read his online contract. He made sure he got his slice before he told the rest of us that there was a shortfall.

    I hope our new board members have the will power to refuse to be a part of this superintendent's scheme to get more money to spend on nonsense. No more employees should be fired until a lot of administrators are gone. No more employees should be fired until they stop floating excessive and padded bond referenda. No more employees should be fired until we no longer have to pay $39 each way for Mr. Frailey to have "leg room" when he flies all over the place. The man can pay for THAT luxury out of his $288,400.00 salary (plus perks).



2:13 PM on June 3, 2011

I'll settle for lowering just state employees' salaries so that they don't make more than the Governor's 150K.

Katy ISD's superintendent makes $288,400.00 and in my opinion, he doesn't do too much to earn that amount. He would probably be a much better superintendent if he only made $149,000.


  1. Mary McGarr says:
    27. May 2011 at 6:07 pm

    Could Yelocrab (or Barcoley spelled backwards) be dissing Larry Watts and Ms. Soto? We’re all having a hard time, YC, figuring out which side of the fence you’re on!

    Yes Mr. Watts is a liberal. One doesn’t brag about trying his first case in front of William Wayne Justice without being a liberal.

    HOWEVER, Mr. Watts chose many years ago to go into the legal profession to represent teachers and students who are the victims of government schools, their administrators and board members. He could be retired and living well in Maui if he had decided to get into the other side of school law. That he didn’t is, in my opinion, to his credit.

    I have seen him in action while a board member. He knows his stuff. He knows the Constitution and the law with regard to board members, teachers and students. He is a formidable opponent.

    Why WOULDN’T Mr. Scott believe him to be the most appropriate person to bring to Katy when the Board just fired 350 teachers when they didn’t need to do so? He made himself available to some of those teachers. I find that laudable and upstanding.

    If you have a problem with this approach, you tell us what YOU would do to help these folks out. And then do it.

    Mr. Scott is just trying to help. Like me, he wants people to understand that there is more to all of this than meets the eye. We’re all fed up with those who are feeding at the public trough, with those who think board membership is a legacy, and a central education agency that is helping to perpetrate an agenda of dumbing down our children.

    The only way to stop those things is to do what we are doing. One step at a time is how it will get fixed.


Posted 5/7/2011 6:07 PM CDT

As long as the administrators are not included in this bill, one can be certain that there's something fishy about it.


Comment on:  The Missing School Reform:  Improving Leadership. Perhaps Mr. Guthrie's desire to have leaders emerge from existing principals is a bit premature. First, let's give a long hard look at the Colleges of Education, which are mills for producing high paid nobodies, for they are the culprits.
We could close them all down, save ourselves a bundle of money, and be no worse as educators of children than we are now.
Look, if you will, at the curriculum that leads to a Masters in Education or an "educational doctorate." Only then will you understand the problem.
Superintendents and principals are themselves not products of an academic background. How can we possibly expect them to lead in providing an academic education for our students?
We force them, if they want to be a principal or a superintendent, to partake of the idiocy of an education degree. The system needs changing


Comment on: Let’s use common sense to solve school challenges at 4/22/2011 1:03 PM CDT

Any bill that doesn't limit administrative salaries and cut them, is an ill-conceived bill. You're not fooling us!

I appreciate the Chronicle's Editorial Board taking this stand for freedom of speech. While freedom of speech is also in their best interest, securing it for the little guy was not something they had to do. I'm hoping they realized that once the curtain begins to fall in one place, it won't be long before it crashes down everywhere.

Comment on: Rick Casey: Make school better while saving cash at 3/2/2011 9:14 AM CST

If anyone doesn't understand "transformational outcome-based education," please go to and read, under Education, the articles written by Robert Holland when he was outlining the process in the state of Virginia. The exact same things were going on in Texas as well as every other state. But only Virginia had an Op Ed columnist who was smart enough to see through the whole mess and tell about it.

Comment on: Rick Casey: Make school better while saving cash at 3/2/2011 9:09 AM CST

PS If you want people to comment all in one place, fix your software so that is allowed!

Comment on: Rick Casey: Make school better while saving cash at 3/2/2011 9:08 AM CST

If you do away with the assessment, you'll raise the ire of the controlling forces. I'm guessing that's why I'm first in line at almost 9 AM in the "comments" section. They're still stupefied that you would suggest such a reasonable and obvious solution to cutting wasteful spending. Without constant enforcement, who knows, some REAL teaching AND learning might occur.

Comment on: Rick Casey: Make school better while saving cash at 3/2/2011 9:03 AM CST

Assessment, like the TAKS, is not really a "test" in the first place. It is the enforcement part of OBE which allows the government school to know if the student has been affectively molded enough each year. If not, the teacher is reprimanded (loss of bonus wages) and more affective teaching must occur. (continued in the next window)

Comment on: Rick Casey: Make school better while saving cash at 3/2/2011 9:02 AM CST

Clearly, Mr. Casey and Rep Hochberg, while you have a great idea here, you seem not to understand the agenda! And it's just as I thought: installing transformational outcome-based education in Texas schools was done by Rep. Hochberg and his ilk and obviously they didn't understand what it was that they were doing to the children of Texas. (cont. in next window)

At least correct your error of the "folks in Katy naming the arena after the superintendent." The school board named it.

How about a law that says they have to post notices on BOTH the Internet and in at least three newspapers that exist within five miles of the school district or other government. And don't talk about their not having enough money. School districts have tons of it--it just all goes to stipends and administrative salaries.

   Comment on Jerry Carswell and Christus St. Catherine Hospita

  1. Mary McGarr Says:
    22. February 2011 at 1:09 pm

    Representative Callegari has stepped up to do the right thing here.,,

    Too bad it wasn’t 10 million dollars.

    NOTE:  The bill sponsored by Representative Callegari was passed and signed into law.

Comment on: Conservative group slams Texas history curriculum at 2/16/2011 8:13 AM CST

The Fordham Foundation is a shill for liberal thought. Anyone supported by the Gates Foundation is quickly identified for having liberal bias. All this is, is the Obama administration getting revenge on Texas and Governor Perry for not taking RTTT funds. This is just another in a long list of stabs by the Obamas at Texas for not being a sheep. Stick to your guns SBOE and Governor Perry. Your standards are far superior to the ones coming from the dolts in Washington, D. C.

Comment on: Houston dropout rate vexes outgoing schools chief at 2/8/2009 10:02 AM CST

What the public also needs to know is that TEA calculates the dropout rate by looking at who leaves (and for very specific reasons) between the SEVENTH AND THE EIGHTH GRADES!!!! So one can imagine what the dropout rate (between the 9th grade and the end of the 12th grade) might be! Mary McGarr

Comment on: Houston dropout rate vexes outgoing schools chief at 2/8/2009 9:43 AM CST

I'm guessing Mr. Saavdra "regrets" more that Mr. Kimball spilled the beans about Houston ISD's dropout rate! Suggesting that Houston students are "more ready" for college because of his administration's curriculum efforts is farcical. Go read if you want to find out about what the TAKS test results REALLY mean for students. It's not pretty. And I have to take issue with Saavedra's bad analogy of "When you lift the ceiling, the floor comes up with it." When I raised my roof and the ceiling by ten feet, the floor stayed right where it was. What I think he was trying to tell us is that when the bar is raised, everyone improves, but that's not what is happening in our government schools. The bar is lowered so it LOOKS LIKE everyone is improving, but what is actually happening is that those at the top are just being dumbed down so everyone can look good. No future in that deceptive practice. Mary McGarr

Comment on: Administrators share vision to change schools at 1/27/2009 3:17 PM CST

This plan is like letting the fox in the hen house. These particular superintendents and their friends are the very people who messed up Texas' public education in the first place. I don't believe a word they say and haven't for fifteen years! No amount of blather from them will convince me that they are sincere or serious. There's too much money riding on leaving the dumbed down stuff in place. This appears to be the TASA and the AASA conniving to fool the public. Don't be duped. Go look at and see for yourself the ways the TEA has scammed the public and school children with their "standardized" testing (TAKS).. It's outrageous that this group would be so bodacious as to suggest that they, of all people, can fix the mess. Mary McGarr Katy ISD Trustee1991-1996

Comment on: Katy-area growth is topic of Jan. 14 luncheon at 1/9/2009 12:11 PM CST

Read this if your memory needs jogging about this "demographer." I wrote it in August of 2007. In my opinion Ms. Guseman has been little help to our school district with regard to providing accurate predictions in population. She's part and parcel of the changed former policy of the KatyISD of building schools to serve students who have already moved here and are in place, to a policy of helping developers sell their homes by putting schools on land where no one lives yet. Supt. Merrell changed that policy while the board wasn't looking (again) to assist developers, builders, architects, and so on who all make a boatload of money on these boondoggles. If we would revert to our former policy, we wouldn't have to pay people like Ms. Guseman for her services, and we'd save a whole lot of tax money. If you ask the average homeowner in Katy if he wants more people to move here, you will hear a resounding NO for all the obvious sensible reasons. The only ones looking for more move-ins are people who stand to gain financially from that--people who will take their money and run and leave all of us to pay the governmental costs for what they've done as soon as the homes are sold.

Comment on: Texas in danger of losing global race at 12/21/2008 7:54 PM CST

We'll have some adult scientists and mathematicians in Texas once our elementary schools start teaching kids to read using pure phonics, teach math using an old John Saxon math book, use drill and kill every day and stop trying to make math "fun," teach kids how to add, subtract, multiply and divide in their heads, and be able to use fractions, decimal points and so on, and stop listening to education "reformers" like those propagated by untaxed "foundations" like the Annenburg's and the Carnegie's, and leave teachers alone to teach what they know. And oh yeah, close down all the college "schools of education" and ship their professors to Lower Slobovia. Puff pieces like this one do nothing to help. If these authors can't see the real reasons for the lack of scientists and mathematicians, then Heaven help us all. All that's being suggested here is that we throw more tax dollars at public schools so they can get some of them. We've been doing that for thirty years and things are worse, not better. There wasn't anything wrong with Texas public education in 1970. What's wrong with it now is that greedy people see $$$$ when they look at public schools. Someone needs to see CHILDREN in need of a liberal arts academic education instead.

Ms. Fallon sees through the vacuous "restructured education" farce. Educational quality will return to our public schools when the curriculum starts being about academic knowledge once more. Penalizing teachers for the flaws and faults of administrative meddling is senseless. Administrative meddling will stop when their numbers are cut by responsible school boards. The whole educational process will be better when big businesses butt out of the process. Leave the teachers alone and let them teach. Ms. Fallon has the whole situation pegged. Listen to her!

Comment on: Study group to look at what to do with Wolfe Elementary at 10/22/2008 10:10 PM CDT

Does anyone else find it odd that the Chronicle has removed all the previous blogs and posts about Wolfe Elementary? On one of them parents were complaining about the lack of interest by the Katy ISD school board members in the concerns of parents there regarding the construction of a commercial enterprise . The parents felt that the construction was not in the best interests of their children at Wolfe .Here's the post I made that is no longer available: Comment on: Parent complains to trustees about condition of Wolfe Elementary at 8/28/2008 4:59 PM CDT Comments on these two similar articles are getting mixed together by the Chronicle, so I will repost what I said on the other one: So why is it that residents who shouldn't be so easily fooled, buy the "they're going to close Wolfe elementary" scam each year on school board election day? When this happened the first time when friends of Judy Snyder used it to get her elected when she couldn't pull 20 votes off her own street the year before, the whole story was written up in the Katy Times and other papers, complete with an explanation of what had happened and a copy of the fabricated story/flyer that was circulated on election day by Ms. Snyder's friends. You all need to do your homework! The Katy Times, still has the paper that you need to see. So do I ! The day after the election, Ken Burton polled the board, and not one board member could honestly say that the board had EVER considered closing Wolfe--not even Joe Kimmel. It was a former superintendent, Hugh Hayes, who had suggested closing Wolfe, and he was long gone. Instead of buying a pig in a poke, you all need to be demanding that your elementary school be torn down and replaced with a new school. Your taxes have been funding new schools for everyone else in the District for years! Those of you who live there are solely responsible for having such a run down school. Wake up! You also believe that Judy Snyder and Joe Kimmel got you moved out of Mayde Creek High School and moved back to Taylor High School. That's a big lie too. The matter was already on the agenda the month before the election with the four necessary votes to accomplish that eventuality, and Mr. Kimmel, (as president of the Board) pulled it off, preferring instead to use the issue to get votes for Mrs. Snyder. Mr. Kimmel, James Peters, Larry Moore and I had all committed to vote for that move. They only needed four votes. You were all suckered by that issue too. They built the other motel that's close to you when I was on the Board. We had the builder in and asked for modifications so that windows of that motel would not look out over the Wolfe playground. The Board was VERY active in monitoring that construction. Things have changed, and mostly you can blame yourselves! NMGUynmom or whatever, I think you can't read! I just suggested that you demand a new school! Does that sound like I'm anti-Wolfe parents and students? I had lots of support from your area both times I was elected to the school board. I wouldn't have been elected without that support. If you pack the board room with Wolfe parents at the September board meeting, I'll get up and demand that they build you a new elementary school. How's that for putting my money where my mouth is? I'll even get up without a packed room if you'll come stand beside me. As for all those groups you mentioned, other than the AFP, I never heard of them. As for AFP giving me money when I was a Watchdog leader, that didn't happen. Only money I know about is my own money that was contributed to those opposing the school board incumbents or efforts to defeat a bond! Actually, I don't believe I am in need of money from anyone! And please note, I haven't been a member of the Watchdog Leadership team since last March. Anything I've said since then is pure Mary McGarr. The Watchdogs still have the articles I wrote prior to March 2008 up on their web site because they think they'll be helpful to parents. So do other web sites all over the country. In fact, you might read what I had to say about the Business Roundtable yourself as those articles deal with big companies interfering in public education as you mentioned. Go to Mary's Corner at Just for the record my parting with the Watchdogs is amicable. My interest in public schools centers on returning academics and ability grouping (which is the only way to return to academics) to our schools. All the problems with taxes, and fancy school buildings, and the greed of those who want a piece of the tax pie, are only symptoms of what is wrong with our public schools. Mostly, though, it's the curriculum and the methodology that are in need of major repair and where my interests lie. As for your bad analogy about not being responsible for having neglectful parents, may I point out that you don't get to choose your parents, but you do get to choose the people who affect the education of your children--the school board members, by voting for or against some of them every year. So yes, it IS your fault that you have elected a board majority (complete with your own board member) that doesn't give a rip about your deteriorating school!

Comment on: Compromise offered on Texas student GPA plan at 10/22/2008 3:19 PM CDT

The whole thing is a ploy to slip IB courses into the plan. AP courses, yes, but IB coursework is fed to us straight from the UN and Switzerland. Wake up people! This is just another scam to force impressionable minds into accepting Marxist ideology.

Comment on the Texas Projection Measure 8/1/2009/3:36 PM CDT

marymcgarr wrote:

Actually none of you understand the fraud going on here. The Chronicle explained the Texas Projection Measure about a month ago. George Scott ( has an article on it too, and he does a better job of explaining.
Basically TEA has declared (and school districts had meetings and seminars about the subject before school was out) that if a kid improves from last year, even if it's a screamingly tiny improvement, the fact that he did so thus indicates to people at the TEA (and not anybody else) that the odds are that the next time he takes their standardized test (in whatever form with whatever name), he will surely do better! Thus the student's school should not be penalized with low ratings but should be given higher ones based on the expectation of future plenty! It's about the most illogical, contorted and devious scheme to have been cooked up by these loons in just years! So yes, the TEA probably changed the test, probably adjusted the passing scores, probably lowered the bar in any other way they could imagine, and then they tacked on the Texas Projection Measure.
Of COURSE they don't want the public to understand, and they probably all sat today and guffawed at everyone's guesses and concerns.
Shame on the Chronicle for printing HISD's press releases and shame on the Chronicle for not doing a better job of presenting the truth.
What's new?

8/1/2009 3:36:10 PM


Patrons of the district need to go view this file from the Judson ISD Board attorney: What you will see, in my opinion, is how school boards of Texas school districts operate behind the scenes, how useful their attorneys are, and what all they do to stick it to the public. I saw great similarities with my own school district's behavior, and I imagine you will too! This report was never intended for public consumption, and it is only thanks to WOAI in San Antonio and a Watchdog group in Judson ISD that we all are allowed to see it.

Americans everywhere are looking with dismay on the current state of national and international issues. Those corrupt politicians who are responsible that seem so far away in Washington, all began their careers at the local level and many of them were school board members initially. It's time citizens everywhere stopped to look at just who these people are that control our local schools. Documented evidence has revealed that the liberalized education now being delivered in our public schools is key to the current takeover by socialists. When minds are full of mush and people cannot be analytical and perceptive, the wool gets pulled over their eyes very easily. Academics have fallen by the wayside. The government does not want an intellectually astute populace. Go look at columns by George Scott ( and see how public education is shortchanging our children. Read about the false accountability and purposes of the TAKS test. See how your children are being cheated. It's time to demand the ouster of the liberals who are running (and ruining) our schools. Look instead for those candidates who espouse conservative fiscal values and an interest in returning academics to our schools. I don't live in your district, but it's not different from the one where I DO live. People owe their children the responsibility of looking carefully at candidates and not voting for the ones that the school district is pushing on you.

Comment on: Time may be running out on TAKS test at 3/29/2009 8:55 PM CDT

What most don't realize is that the government's plan is to deliberately dumb down 85% of the students thus forcing them to have no alternative other than to follow a vocational track. I know of no parent of a first grader who allows their child to enter the first grade HOPING that they become a hairdresser or an auto mechanic. That so many of them seem headed in this direction is a testament to the plan, devised by Ratliff and his sidekick Sadler, and proffered by the Business Roundtable and both political parties, to keep American children from being truly educated with a liberal arts education as they once were in Texas public schools. Such an education allowed them in previous times to become whatever they wanted to be--even misguided Texas legislators! There is plenty of time AFTER high school to become vocationally educated if that is what one must do.

Comment on: School leaders facing challenging year ahead at 3/26/2009 8:41 AM CDT

Deficits wouldn't be such a problem for KISD if our Board had maintained the policy (prior to the onslaught of Leonard Merrell) of building schools AFTER the students lived here instead of using our tax dollars to lure home buyers for developers (architects, contractors, vendors, sign sellers, etc.) by building schools in places where there were (are) no students yet. Such a policy was prudent and responsible and should never have been abandoned. All that money that went into false pockets should have instead stayed in the pockets of those who earned it and/or been used on students and their teachers.

Comment on: Administrators share vision to change schools at 3/10/2009 12:30 PM CDT

Looks like I struck a nerve with 12 superintendents! Don't like seeing the truth about what you are up to in print, do you!

Comment on: Committee evaluates options for Wolfe Elementary School at 3/9/2009 11:21 AM CDT

Looks like the Katy school board is dragging its feet again! There's no reason why they can't rebuild Wolfe Elementary from the ground up, starting tomorrow, other than the fact that they, once again, want to use this issue as a way to get THEIR guys on the school board in the May election and/or they need to make the rebuilding of the school a hook for the next bond election, i.e., if they can turn out all the parents in the East End to vote for a new elementary school, then the bond will carry regardless of it's wasteful one BILLION dollar price tag. I suppose KISD has had great luck using this ruse for 13 years, why not try it one more time! The tax payers who live in Fleetwood, Barker's Landing, Memorial Thicket, and Thornwood have supported the school district for decades as they were paying the highest taxes for years. They deserve a new elementary school for their children if for no other reason than that one. If the district can't afford to build a new elementary school for these folks, then they should deed that part of the district to Spring Branch, where I'm sure they would all rather be. Those of you who live in those subdivisions need to be parked on (your school board member) Ms. Snyder's front doorstep. She's used you for years to get elected, and now she owes you the respect and consideration that you've paid for many times by making certain that Wolfe is rebuilt from the ground up and immediately. This phony business of having a "committee" decide things that our elected school board should be deciding has got to STOP!

Comment on: Texas legislators will consider getting rid of TAKS at 3/5/2009 9:31 AM CST

So...School to Work is in it's final stages of implementation. Do I know of a parent of a first grader who is sending him to school to be "workforce ready?" I don't think I do! When did we as a Country decide that we were going to stop providing our population with a liberal arts education and instead make them "human resources" for big business? And how dumb are the big businesses to fall for this scheme of providing the impetus and money for this terrible experiment on children? Haven't any of them noticed that the government is also after control of all of them? Wake up America! The feds want your business, your home, your car and your kids, and your inattention to the process is mind boggling.

Comment on: Perks add to school superintendents' bottom lines at 3/1/2009 8:40 AM CST

Those performance bonuses "tied to measurable data and goals" are the biggest farce. The "measurable" part is very questionable. The TEA has a sliding scale that they use to manipulate how data and student performance gets measured, and in an effort to fool the public,  those "standards" are different every time we see them! To begin to understand how bogus the system is, parents and teachers should go to to get a handle on the problem. Mr. Scott daily puts it all out there and pokes holes in their agenda. Superintendents' salaries should be tied to the governor's salary. No one can tell me that any superintendent has more responsibility than the governor, and superintendents shouldn't make more than he does.

Thank you for bringing up the superintendent search firms, whether private or from non-governmental organizations (NGO's) like TASB. Your reporters should devote more time to uncovering what happens with these search firms as to their purposes, who runs them and how much of our tax dollars they take from the State of Texas. These groups have morphed from being a way for over the hill administrators to make a few bucks on the side, by helping with a superintendent search, to being mega money-making endeavors. Take a look, for example, at the Superintendent's Academy at Lamar University. This search firm/academy takes thousands of dollars from the state to "train" prospective superintendent candidates thus creating a stable full of potential candidates all cut from the same mold. They learn things like "how to handle helicopter board members" (you know, those pesky board members who hover over the superintendent and hold their feet to the fire), to how to deal with the press (don't talk to them if you can possibly avoid it), to how to deal with parents--(put them on a committee and make them feel important). The person in charge of the "academy" is also afforded the rare opportunity to vet prospective superintendent candidates as to their personal beliefs and value systems. As a former school board member who lived though one superintendent search, I can tell you that board members are often kept in the dark the same as the public. Only when the "search" was a done deal did I find out that very qualified candidates were ignored by the search firm. My board met for four nights in a row to interview candidates, and then met the following day at 7 AM to "pick" one. It is my belief that the TEA/TASB/TASA et al manage to PLACE people in superintendent's jobs in Texas because they control the process, and the local school board has precious little to do with the selection. Implementing School to Work, dumbing down our children, eliminating ability grouping so that academics are mostly on the back burner, and so on becomes the goal. Covering up what should be the true purpose of public schools with claims of standardized testing "successes," clamoring over wonderful sports teams, doling out precious tax dollars for magnificent buildings in an obeisant gesture to parents to distract them from what is really happening with their children--all tend to obfuscate the real reason for selecting any individual for a superintendent's position: it's all about money and which vendors/builders/contractors get a piece of the tax dollar pie. Having one's "guy or gal" in charge, as the superintendent, decides who gets some of that money. Board members should certainly be smart enough to conduct a "search" for a superintendent without help from anyone. That's their job, and they should not turn the hen house over to the fox. How refreshing it would be for a brave HISD board member to step up and take charge of this process and show some concern for the academic education of Houston's students. Kids deserve at least that.

Comment on: School chief Saavedra may exit HISD with $1 million at 2/11/2009 10:29 AM CST

Mr. Saavedra makes the case for limiting superintendent's salaries. Superintendent's salaries should be tied to the governor's salary as they are in other states. Anyone think the superintendent of HISD has more to do than the Governor or that he has more responsibility? I think not. In my opinion, they are both overpaid. Mary McGarr

Comment on: Maybe some tolerance for children at 5/28/2009 8:18 AM CDT

jhbird--I'm guessing that you are one of those obeisant teachers who gets the plum assignments by sucking up whenever possible: "Too bad the holier than though [sic] bloggers have no clue. They are probably ones who have snotty and disrespectful kids."My two kids between them got almost every award given out by their schools, lettered in major sports, graduated in the top 5% and graduated from Rice University. Snotty and disrespectful they weren't. YOU are the one who is disrespectful of other's opinions on this matter. Children in our public schools are routinely denied their Constitutional right of "due process," a concept which you obviously do not grasp. As a former Katy ISD school board member I talked to too many parents whose children were treated badly by administrators. About all I could do was make speeches on the subject as I was outnumbered by clueless board members. Yes, there are good administrators, but their ranks are dwindling as we speak, and they are afraid to stand up for students because it puts their jobs on the line.

Comment on: Maybe some tolerance for children at 5/27/2009 1:47 PM CDT

Au contraire, Mr. Casey, the lunacy with regard to "Zero Tolerance" has ALWAYS been in the school officials.

Comment on: Study: 58.5 percent of Houston-area freshmen graduate at 5/23/2009 9:26 AM CDT

Following guidelines from the "National Governors Association" to calculate graduation rates is a big part of the problem. The National Governors Association is the idiot group that initiated School to Work in the first place. They and the Business Roundtable and the Annenburg Foundation have conspired to dumb down our children since 1989. To say that they have been successful, is an understatement!

Comment on: Study: 58.5 percent of Houston-area freshmen graduate at 5/23/2009 8:43 AM CDT

Katy ISD has a 76% graduation rate--how interesting! This is the school district that gets a "RECOGNIZED" rating, and part of that rating is based on the District's "drop out rate." That drop out rate in no way reflects that 24% of the District's students NEVER GRADUATE!!!!!Of course the Texas Education Agency allows public schools to lie about what they are accomplishing because the drop out rate is calculated on how many students "DROP OUT" between the SEVENTH and the EIGHTH grades!!!! Duplicity is synonymous with "public schools."

Comment on: Political power lags behind minority growth in suburbs at 5/9/2009 9:07 AM CDT

Cheap shot by the Chronicle to run the incumbent's picture on election day. I thought there was a law that you had to give equal time and space to both sides. Oh yeah, you can't do that--there's no paper coming out until AFTER the election. The incumbents in Ft. Bend are/were on the verge of being tossed out. Last minute smears say more about the smearer than the smeared!

Comment on: Position 2 opponents look at Fort Bend ISD differently at 4/27/2009 8:56 AM CDT

Public school superintendents beat the bushes looking for "team" players. Ms. Bhuchar appears to be one that was found. NO ONE with any discernment can ALWAYS be rah rah, bullish and supportive of a superintendent's agenda, but it appears that Ms. Bhucar does just that. As one who is an outsider in your school district but who is concerned about the education of ALL Texas students, I urge voters to be careful about electing such people as Ms. Bhuchar. Her quotes here tell us that she is more interested in a "strategic plan" (that's a Total Quality Management device for hiding true agendas), and bond referenda. Ms. Bhuchar's list of "volunteer" activities all seem to have occurred AFTER she became the school board member in 2006. Where is her list of volunteering activities BEFORE 2006? It's easy to get appointed to "committees" with high sounding names when one is already a board member. Those don't count! I'm sure Ms Bhuchar enjoys her improved social standing in the community, but that's not what being a board member is all about. As for her having anything at all to do with improving the academic performance of Ft. Bend ISD students, that's another bogus claim. The "standards" have just been changed/lowered by the TEA to make it "look" like your children are improving academically, but such is not the case. Go read George Scott's information on math and science and the testing of those academic endeavors. Talk about lack of transparency---this takes the cake! ( Nothing will change in your school district until you throw out the sycophants currently sitting at the Board table--and you need four of them to make a difference, and you need four who won't let the power go their heads, or drink the District water once elected and turn their backs on the people who elected them to become "team" players.

Comment on: In science class, students are learning to hate science at 4/10/2009 10:40 AM CDT

This article isn't about the TAKS. They just throw that in to keep people from seeing what is really happening. Of course the TAKS is a joke. Many of us have been pointing that out through the TABS and the TAAS and now the TAKS, but no one wanted to listen. This article is actually just more of the same pap pushing "education reform's" fallacious ideas in hopes of dumbing down an academic endeavor so the least apt students can claim their (worthless) credits. There wasn't anything wrong with science education in Texas until about 1991 when those in charge got rid of all elementary science textbooks and went to "hand's on" science. Hand's on science means that the students and their teachers get to play like they are scientists. That's fun, but not very educational, and obtaining an academic education is what public schools used to allow. What did anyone expect when we went from science education to science games? And the state didn't test scientific knowledge until two years ago and then surprise-- no school district's students did very well on a very basic test. So superintendents everywhere started (using TASA talking points) to cry and complain that teachers needed more science "staff development," students needed more Taj Mahal facilities in which to play their "science" games, and school districts needed more tax money to fund it all. I absolutely abhor the argument that science previously was all drill and kill and memorization. That's baloney. Of course one needs to memorize some things in order to move on to the application part of learning, but with a good teacher (not a trained facilitator) science classes (just like all other subject matter classes) can be interesting, rewarding, and beneficial to students' educations as well as sometimes very entertaining. It all depends on the intelligence and knowledge of the teacher. Parents should think about how many times their kids have built a popsicle crate to protect a raw egg so it could be dropped from the second floor to see if the crate was strong enough to keep the egg intact, or built a boat out of cardboard and safely paddled it across a swimming pool all in the name of "science." Kindergarteners spend hours pouring water or sand from one container into another. They do it for years. Those are games that they play, and they are time wasters. Parents need to understand the difference between playing these games and actually obtaining a true academic education. Don't blame the teachers. The dumbed down curriculum comes from on high, and the teachers are just doing as they are told. I just wish so many of them wouldn't buy in to the scam.

Perhaps FBISD voters need to consider whether or not they NEED science instruction like that being provided their children in this district. The problem is not that you don't have a big building where your teachers can get "staff developed," but that your science and math curricula are grossly inadequate and poorly designed. Read the following for someone else's opinion about what's keeping your children from scoring well on the TAKS science tests and why something besides a big building is necessary to fix the problem. I wrote this article in 2006 for parents in my own school district: Our President’s recent call to improve math and science education rings hollow. He suggests that more students need to meet high standards in those subject areas. Of course we would all like for students to meet “high standards” and “high expectations” in math and science. Therein lies the problem. Standards that have been set for math and science are not really that high. In fact they have been deliberately dumbed down in an effort to be inclusive of all children’s abilities, obfuscated so that they are truly unclear, and then set out in a public way to give them credibility. The “standards” that President Bush alludes to are not benchmarks of any quality at all. In fact, these standards cause students to slip through their learning years without substantive science and math educations. John Saxon was an educator who recognized the “standards movement” for what it is. Mr. Saxon was a retired military officer who, when he resigned from the service, went to work as a teacher of algebra. What he saw in the school room were corrupted texts, phony curricula, and students not learning true algebra. He set out to correct the situation by creating his own texts founding the Saxon Publishing Company. His signal article, “The Coming Disaster in Science Education in America,” set forth his predictions of the dire consequences portended by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics Standards. He could see that the country was sliding into the precipice of stupid math practices. Mr. Saxon saw it coming and tried to warn us. No one paid attention. Of note is that fact that at the invitation of George Scott, editor of The Katy News, Mr. Saxon, came to the Katy ISD school district on his own nickel and appeared before the School Board. He offered at his own expense to provide Saxon math textbooks for one high school and one junior high, if the district would accept them on a trial basis and use them for a year. The School Board had no response to his offer and even treated him very rudely at the meeting. As a member of that school board, I was appalled at their behavior, but it was typical. Most of them at the time were not willing to listen to factual information about what was transpiring right under their noses. Mr. Saxon warned them of the poor math practices, but they chose to ignore him. Mr. Saxon passed away before his predictions became widely accepted and realized, but his legacy remains. He was a man who stood up to the education establishment and pointed out their flawed thinking, and his predictions were true. Most Texas public schools have suffered below average test scores in science for the last two years (ever since they started being TAKS tested on science).If you want to know why your child cannot excel in science or math, please read Mr. Saxon's article, “The Coming Disaster in Science Education in America.” Please note that he wrote the article in 1993, and enough time has passed to definitively decide on whether he was right or wrong. From my point of view, he was right on the money. He saw that the mush that passes for mathematics education in our public schools was just that. Problem solving, conceptualizing mathematics, and the use of calculators instead of one's brain, have created too many students who cannot perform well on math and science tests. Most Texas public schools adopted many years ago “hands on science and math curricula” for students. The failure of such curricula should tell parents that change needs to occur. (A copy of the article may be found at , then go to "Mary's Corner.")

Comment on: HISD to broadcast board meetings at 4/3/2009 10:11 AM CDT

Until they broadcast ALL of their open meetings, HISD is merely putting on the regular meeting for show and is playing games with the public. Nothing happens at that particular meeting except voting on the consent agenda, which is an additional device to hide things from the public. They also won't televise the Open Forum session for the same reason--they don't want the public to hear concerns from other taxpayers--might give them ideas. In my school district, Katy ISD, they don't broadcast anything even though taxpayers have asked them to for years. They are resolute in keeping ALL relevant information from the general public. Ask yourself, "Why wouldn't a bunch of politicians want to be on TV?" The answer is obvious: They have things to hide.

Comment on: Two no-show FBISD candidates lose union endorsement at 4/3/2009 8:17 AM CDT

How nice that Ft Bend has a reporter who actually reports both sides of such meetings! Don't know the gender of "Zen," but he/she is a treasure for your community! So it's no wonder the incumbent board president didn't show up! She's probably not used to having a fair accounting of her words and actions. As for "under reporting" by administrators of campus disciplinary problems, I believe that is illegal so it certainly does need "addressing."

Comment on: Wolfe Elementary could house IB curriculum at 9/24/2009 12:56 PM CDT

My thoughts on this matter are concerned more with the academic aspect rather than the financial one. Wolfe students (and their parents) should have a new school. I believe strongly in neighborhood schools, and because our district is so spread out, the school board has always tried to maintain the neighborhood school concept with regard to elementary schools. I posted on this matter elsewhere, and this is what I said: The announcement that the Katy ISD school board has voted to install the International Baccalaureate curricula in the “new” Wolfe Elementary school is very bad news. Selling this idea to the public is already under way (the IB originators have a handbook for administrators to guide them in putting this junk over on the public). Once again, we have a committee making the preliminary decision for the school board members who are evidently too lazy to do their own discovery and homework! The IB program emanates from Geneva, Switzerland. It is bound to the United Nations and their agenda through UNESCO. This district is looking at annual fees, lots of teacher training (read brainwashing) and registration fees and exam costs. Once the contract is signed by the “IB school (that would be Wolfe) with the IBO administrators, it is bound by the Geneva (World) Court, so there’s no getting out of it. Just that requirement alone should send red flags out all over the place for anyone with good sense. The curricula is NOT better than that of the Advanced Placement curricula, and KISD has already spent tons of tax dollars to implement AP in all our high schools. Why get rid of something tried and true that comes from Americans, not Internationalists with a leftist agenda? The IB curriculum shelves concepts like individualism, national sovereignty, and capitalism and replaces them with things like environmentalism, redistribution of the wealth, and one worldism or globalism. Please educate yourselves about this program. Go to and read what others have to say about IB. It’s not good. I suppose what bothers me the most is that we have school board members who proclaim to be “conservative Republicans,” but they haven’t a clue any more what that means. Most of our community is still a conservative Republican community and growing more so daily because of what we see happening in Washington. Almost all those Washington legislators started their political careers as local officials–either city or county councilmen or school board members. They got by without letting people know what they REALLY believed because they didn’t have to run in partisan races, and the locals didn’t demand of them that they tell them what their beliefs were. And now look at the people we have in charge of our country. The IB program is just another vendor directed initiative, designed to sell our school district a bill of goods which has absolutely NO verification of viability. IB will rake the money off our school district and students will be delivered a hackneyed and progressive agenda. Surely those of you in the Wolfe district care what kind of things are being taught to your children. Surely you can see that this is a bad idea. Surely you’ve had enough of “vendor” led stuff being sold to this school district! For once think about the minds of your children. The International Baccalaureate Program(me) has been around for at least three or four decades. I’m guessing there’s a good reason why other Texas schools have chosen not to implement it. Many schools have dumped it when parents realized what it was doing to their kids. Don’t let Katy ISD experiment on your kids with this effort. And on another blog I wrote this:" As one who has pushed for many years for Wolfe Elementary to be rebuilt, I'm delighted that the far east end of the district, which with their high taxes has supported the building of new schools everywhere but in their own neighborhood, is finally getting their own "new" school. What grieves me is that our school board members, who never do their homework, are going to install the International Baccalaureate curriculum in this school. Parents of Wolfe Elementary students should be outraged! The IB curriculum is a leftist attempt emanating directly from UNESCO and the United Nations. While most American citizens would like to throw the UN out of our country, the Katy ISD school board members are bringing the UN agenda and installing it right in our back yard!Google IB and see what you see. Get past all the rah rah pages and find the sites that tell you how IB has worked out in neighborhood schools. Look at Schools all over the place have dumped this program, but not before lots of damage was done to the academic education of their children. Maybe there's a reason why the IB program has been implemented in so few schools in Texas at present. Katy ISD school board members, who have used the east end parents for years to get elected, think all of you are pushovers. Don't be! All I'm asking is that you educate yourselves about this curricula before you let them force it on your children because you weren't aware of its pitfalls. "

Comment on: Lowe to guide education board through hot issues at 8/15/2009 7:16 PM CDT

I won't hold it against Chairman Lowe that Debbie Graves Ratcliffe decided to call her a "professional communicator," but I would like to point out that most of us have had it up to here with "professional communicators" of late and would prefer an amateur speaker who can control the meetings, keep the political pundits at bay, and let the SBOE do what we elected them to do. Let's hope she also remembers that the majority rules.

Comment on: Katy-area legislators form education task force at 8/5/2009 8:19 PM CDT

We've all been expecting this effort. What I didn't expect was to see so many "conservative" Republicans joining in the fray. This matter is Bill and Hillary Clinton's, the Bush family's, Lamar Alexander's and the Business Roundtable's big plan coming to Katy Texas. It's taken them 20 years to get here with it; they're trying to pass it off as something it isn't, but I, for one, can see what it is. First they dumbed down the curricula in our elementary and high schools (all in the name of education reform), and now they have to have something for the dumbed down students to do. "Higher Education" is a term that is used here in a misleading context. There's nothing "higher" or "educational" about this effort. Post high school two year institutions aren't your father's Oldsmobile. While you weren't paying attention, they have been morphed into "training" schools. Of course they still offer remedial and basic college course work, but that's not the emphasis. These "higher education" institutions are simply about "training."If there's anyone out there who doesn't know the difference between "training" and "education," I suggest they buy a dictionary. The culprits behind this nationwide effort are big businesses, who need semi-skilled, trained (not educated) workers who are malleable, and don't do too much thinking for themselves. That way they do as they are told and don't cause problems for the big businesses. This is big time greed coming our way, and if you look at the list of people on the "task force," you will recognize the names of those who support public school bond measures for the same avaricious reasons. I've written at length on the subject (go to in Mary's Corner and read my three articles on the Business Roundtable as well as the three on Outcome Based Education if one still doesn't get it.)It's unconscionable what these people are doing to children, and we can bet that the price tag (in the form of another tax) won't be anything to laugh at either! I'm tired of fighting for people who are letting all this stuff happen because they have better things to do with their time. So do I.

Comment on: Ratings based on progress, not passing, help HISD at 8/1/2009 3:36 PM CDT

Actually none of you understand the fraud going on here. The Chronicle explained the Texas Projection Measure about a month ago. George Scott ( has an article on it too, and he does a better job of explaining. Basically TEA has declared (and school districts had meetings and seminars about the subject before school was out) that if a kid improves from last year, even if it's a screamingly tiny improvement, the fact that he did so thus indicates to people at the TEA (and not anybody else) that the odds are that the next time he takes their standardized test (in whatever form with whatever name), he will surely do better! Thus the student's school should not be penalized with low ratings but should be given higher ones based on the expectation of future plenty! It's about the most illogical, contorted and devious scheme to have been cooked up by these loons in just years! So yes, the TEA probably changed the test, probably adjusted the passing scores, probably lowered the bar in any other way they could imagine, and then they tacked on the Texas Projection Measure. Of COURSE they don't want the public to understand, and they probably all sat today and guffawed at everyone's guesses and concerns. Shame on the Chronicle for printing HISD's press releases and shame on the Chronicle for not doing a better job of presenting the truth. What's new?

Comment on: More HISD students qualify as 'gifted' at 7/26/2009 12:43 PM CDT

The purpose of the HISD committee was to change the percentage allowed from 10% to 14% so that the program could be more "inclusive." Their inclusion has absolutely nothing to do with 'giftedness.' If one knows anything at all about "giftedness," one knows that only about 3% of the students at a public school might be gifted, and often there aren't even that many. So what's the purpose of the GT Program? Well, for those who have been paying attention, the Federal Government has declared that only 15% of our population should receive an academic education. Using this program is a way to "include" the students that are supposed to be in this 15%. Never mind that they aren't really the smart kids. Pay attention to the background of our President. His one job was that he was head of the Annenburg Foundation's giveaway of untaxed dollars for the purpose of "school reform." "School reform" is another bogus term that means dumbing down what was there for decades so that schools can create malleable compliant workers for big business. Big businesses will get their executives from the private schools mostly, and the peons in the public schools get to be the Union governed workers. It's really very simple and quite ingenious. Parents are too busy trying to buy the biggest house on the block and drive the fanciest cars to be aware of what's going on with their children, but surely they've noticed that things aren't as they should be. If you're a smart parent, your children probably should be too, and if they're not, then you need to find out why. Help with that is at in Mary's Corner, and you should start with the article on "Who's Really Gifted" which I wrote about three years ago. You can also see how worthless the TAKS test is and how that is affecting your children at

Longer school days, periods, semesters, years are all part of the ploy to separate children from their parents. When will the public realize that "school reform" is a hoax. There wasn't anything wrong with public education in America before 1970. The only schools that were inferior were some of the ones in minority areas. Instead of lifting the bar for those children, the current goal is to lower it for everyone so that no one looks bad. The current model serves no one.
Parents need to get smart and either home school their children or at least send them to a good Catholic school. (And no, I'm not a Catholic.)To do anything else is to neglect your children. (to see how awful the teaching of algebra is) Mary's corner (to read about Outcome Based Education) which none of you seem to understand!

Comment on: Another school funding suit ahead for Texas? at 6/22/2009 5:12 PM CDT

Go read to see how your tax dollars, no matter where and when you get them are/have been spent. They're always wasted because the curriculum is so messed up. Your kids are being dumbed down with your OWN MONEY!!! Figure it out.

Comment on: Cy-Fair homeowners may hold on to tax break at 6/20/2009 9:41 AM CDT,You appear to be starting a watchdog website for the Cy Fair district. Good for you! Couple of suggestions: don't make your membership list public, and create a way for the public to send you emails. While the Katy Citizen Watchdogs are inactive at the moment, their web site is still up: It has been an effective web site for four years. I applaud you for realizing that the problem with public schools is not just in the building/bond program. The main problem is the curriculum that's currently being delivered. If we could fix that, the other messes would go away.

Comment on: Cy-Fair homeowners may hold on to tax break at 6/20/2009 9:29 AM CDT

Cy Fair residents have enjoyed an extra level of a homestead exemption for many years that the rest of us in other school districts have not had. I don't blame citizens for being angry there because they've endured excessive spending (Berry Center et al) and watched their tax dollars being spent frivolously. Had Cy Fair had a superintendent like the one they had before the TEA placed Berry in their midst, they might still be enjoying a superior district run in a financially sound manner, although it appears that the current superintendent was created in the same mold as Berry. Many of us (Katy, Ft. Bend, etc) have had superintendents "placed " in our districts too whose only purpose seems to be to spend as much tax money as they can rake in. But to expect the state to use money that really belongs to ALL of us to help out Cy Fair now that its overextension is about to usher in its demise, is very unfair. That "extra" money that the state seems to have should be distributed equally among ALL Texas public school students. The trend for taxing citizens for the benefit of someone else who can't seem to live within their means has got to stop. If Cy Fair can't manage it's funds, then the voters need to vote out the school board they have, and find people who can be more responsible to their constituents by hiring a competent superintendent who will cut spending and solve the problem, instead of spending as much as he can and being the cause of the problem.

Comment on: HISD expects more schools to reach state's top ratings at 6/4/2009 4:55 PM CDT

Everyone needs to understand that this TPM (Texas Projection Measure) is a NEW fraudulent scheme concocted by the TEA to help Texas superintendents save face. All of them will now get to preside over a "recognized" or "exemplary" school district. Never mind that those designations now mean absolutely nothing--if they ever did. The supes can tout this wonderful rating while they soak the taxpayers with new high tax bond issues to help feather the nests of their developer/construction/architect friends. Too many had gotten wind of the TEA's dropout scheme which figures the percentage of drop outs from the number of students who drop out between the 7th and 8th grades, and the public was beginning to see that drop out rates were fraudulent too. The TPM is pure fraud, and the tax paying public should be outraged.

Why didn't you put this article (on your web site) front and center on the Houston page? Are you afraid your readers will see the comments? I would think the push to complete Obama's takeover of public education would rate at least that privilege! I'm putting my comment on every education article I can find!

Stick to your guns, Governor Perry. Texas doesn't need more federal "standards" being crammed down our throats! You did the right thing by rejecting the money from Obama. Texas already spends $12,000+ per student when money from all sources is counted. Surely that's enough to educate each of them properly! Local superintendents want that extra Obama money (and how far can it go if one divides it by the State's 1030 school districts?) to spread around to their contractor, builder, architect, sign seller, software vendor friends, and none of if will benefit school children. What these superintendents are actually wanting is for the Federal Government standards, which are simply a way for the Feds to finish their takeover of public education., to be forced upon us. If the Governor really wants my Conservative Republican vote, he'll tell them all to take a hike.

Comment on: Perry calls for discipline in state spending at 1/7/2010 8:57 AM CST

Stick to your guns, Governor Perry. Texas doesn't need more federal "standards" being crammed down our throats! You did the right thing by rejecting the money from Obama.Texas already spends $12,000+ per student when money from all sources is counted. Surely that's enough to educate each of them properly!Local superintendents want that extra Obama money (and how far can it go if one divides it by the State's 1030 school districts?) to spread around to their contractor, builder, architect, sign seller, software vendor friends, and none of if will benefit school children.What these superintendents are actually wanting is for the Federal Government standards, which are simply a way for the Feds to finish their takeover of public education., to be forced upon us.If the Governor really wants my Conservative Republican vote, he'll tell them all to take a hike.

Comment on: Some schools ditching traditional spelling tests at 12/25/2009 10:37 AM CST

Many years ago when my son attended Nottingham Country Elementary School in the Katy ISD, the District did away with spelling books. I complained loudly, and the next thing I knew, there was a front page article in the Katy Times (that's how our school district communicates with parents) telling all of us that spelling books were passe' and henceforth our children would be getting spelling lists "that fit the context of other disciplines they were studying" and that we should all be happy with the change. What did I know? I was just but the parent of a second grader. Over time, I became aware of the national (international/UN) agenda to dumb down 85% of our children, and that movement started in elementary school 25 years ago! Spelling books (and you can find them online or at antique stores) were full of rules! THAT is what was passe' for the leftists. Now KatyISD has "spelling lists" on line ( look and pick a grade and see how disconnected those lists really are. To suggest that the public schools are "taking a new direction on spelling" is amusing to me. What has happened is that we now have three generations of people who can't spell, and that inability is so glaring that the "wise" educrats decided to cover their big mistake by proclaiming that something "new" regarding the teaching of spelling is in the works. Au contraire, what's "new" is that they've dug up part of what they used to do when the teaching of spelling worked, and tried to mesh it with the fuzzy spelling curriculum of today. Why can't they just admit they were wrong and go back to what worked for decades? American public education before 1975 was the best there was in the entire world. It wasn't broken, and only people who weren't very smart would have tried to "fix" it. That so many of us are on line on Christmas morning responding to the insanity of this matter speaks worlds about how dissatisfied parents and teachers are with what is forced upon school children.

Comment on: Group gives bad grade to Texas teacher education at 11/26/2009 12:37 AM CST

Teacher education in Texas may not be up to par, but not for the reasons cited by anyone from the National Council on Teacher Quality. This group is just another front for "reformers" who aren't really trying to reform anything at all. They're just trying to create teachers who will follow an agenda that includes dumbing down our children for the sake of big businesses who need malleable and compliant workers who can do as they are told, not complain, and be happy with low wages .Our State's public schools would be better off without Colleges of Education AND the National Council on Teacher Quality!

The word "standards" is misleading. It means implementing Outcome Based Education. If you don't know that, you've been duped by the government (national, state, local school districts) once again. The "standards" exist to dumb students down, not elevate them to a higher level. We are teaching to the lowest and letting the middle and advanced students die on the vine. The less government mandates there are (and I include NCLB) the better off our children will be. Bush, Clinton, Bush, Obama have all been in on the scheme to destroy our educational system. Someone besides Obama is going to have to fix it. Stick to your guns, Commissioner Scott and Representative Eissler. Your instincts are correct!

Perhaps those who voted for this amendment should have asked themselves these questions BEFORE the amendment vote instead of after. Anyone who is thoughtful knows that a "Tier I" status comes by first having an elite student body. Research is not what causes Tier I status. It's the quality of the students that does. If the proposal suggests that the minimum scores on the SAT be increased to 1100 and the ACT to 24, I'm guessing, there won't be too many students at all! The much touted Katy Independent School District, for example, can only offer up a mean total score of 1079 on the SAT and a mean composite score of 23.1 on the ACT (2008 Snapshot Report). Those scores mean more than half of the students in that school district could not gain entrance to the now elite University of Houston. UH is what it is. It serves a purpose in providing a college education to those who might not be able to get one somewhere else. Take your "free" money that our state government duped out of the taxpayers, and play your research games, and leave the elite status to those who acquired it honestly.

Comment on: Former Police Chief Bradford winning council seat race at 11/4/2009 8:01 AM CST

"Jones appeared unfazed by the prospect of a runoff against Jack Christie, a conservative chiropractor who served several terms on the state board of education." Surely someone is going to bring up Jack Christie's activities as a State Board of Education member! Jones needs to talk to current SBOE member Terri Leo who was his opponent one time in a really nasty race. Jones at least needs to do a search in the Chronicle archives. Mr. Christie likes to be all things to all people. Sometimes he wants to be a conservative; sometimes he wants to be a "moderate." Rick Casey declared that he was a "moderate Republican" just two years ago when Christie ran unsuccessfully for a City Council Seat .Doesn't anyone remember the business about where he lived and who got to take the homestead exemption when he ran in the last City Council race? Christie is about as "conservative" as Obama, and IMHO he just needs to practice his trade and stay out of politics.

Comment on: Rape suspect charged in Acres Homes murder at 9/24/2009 2:00 PM CDT

Isn't it Acres Home not Homes? I've lived in Houston for forty years and I never heard anyone say Acres Homes until yesterday.

Comment on: Wolfe Elementary could house IB curriculum at 9/24/2009 1:15 PM CDT

"The district will have to overcome several hurdles to establish the program. Officials must take steps to fulfill program guidelines and funding would have to be approved through the passage of a school construction bond, officials said." Katy ISD residents need to see this for what it is. The District is hoping East End parents will be so enamored at the prospect of a new school (complete with IB) that they will ultimately join with the parents of football players who want a new gigantic sports arena to support a bond referendum. The District hopes those two groups will be enough to carry a bond election. The next bond in Katy ISD is going to be one for a billion dollars. Superintendent Alton Frailey was not brought to Katy for his work improving academics in districts where he was hired before. He wasn't brought here because he has a doctorate in education (he doesn't have one). He wasn't brought here because he was a certified superintendent (he didn't get his certificate until last summer (2008) after being employed in Texas as a superintendent for three years), he wasn't brought here to improve academics and make sure our students can get into and graduate from real colleges (that number continues to decline). He was brought here, by the school board, because he had orchestrated successful bond elections in Cincinnati and DeSoto, a tiny district near Dallas. His efforts and those of the board members are supported by the greedy vendors, construction companies, architects and so on who are leeches on our school district. The setting of the hooks will take a while, but it has already begun.

Once again the Chronicle is misleading the public. The SBOE didn't take Thomas Jefferson out of the history books. They took him off a list of European philosophers where he didn't belong. He's still in the history books where he's supposed to be. That's another DUH, Chronicle editors! It's also interesting to see that before the TFN called all their buddies late this morning, the comment clicks were all supportive of the SBOE. Those comments were reflective of the general public. Now it's skewed as usual by the radical progressives.

Comment on: Francis Fendley, longtime trustee with HISD, dies at 3/18/2010 10:12 AM CDT

Saying that Mr. Fendley was a school board member who always came to the board meetings prepared by having read all the material and having gathered all his own facts, is the highest compliment that could be paid by Superintendent Reagan. There aren't any school board members like that anymore.

This kind of corruption has been going on longer than the 1990's! I taught at Booker T. Washington High School in the early 1970's. I was a "crossover" teacher. Witnessed the collection of a dollar each from teachers to buy "shot puts" for the track coach (when another coach said he had "plenty of them"); saw the numerous "talent" shows put on by the kids where $1.25 would get them in to the assembly and out of class for the afternoon; saw the collection of funds from the seniors for a "senior gift" which never appeared; saw the principal set up the school like a normal school (phone in the teacher's lounge, curtains on the windows--made by the home ec teacher at the principal's direction), cleaned up floors and windows (ordinarily I had to wash my own windows and mop my own floors), and a book of "courses" that included Driver's Ed which we didn't have --all of which were designed to impress the inspectors from the Southern Association of Schools and Colleges when that group used to issue accreditation for high schools; saw the kids dropping typewriters and movie projectors out the window for later pick up, had failing grades earned by athletes changed; saw all kinds of other fraud and theft; reported it to the Central Office and HTA with no results from that; left teaching as soon as I could! One also needs to know that the "punishment" for questioning any of this was to be assigned four preparations and have 190 students!(Although it's almost forty years old, I still have a copy of my report if anyone is interested!)

Comment on: School lunch programs can reverse child obesity at 3/5/2010 8:22 AM CST

Don't think I agree with your premise! While "good" food for those who might not already be getting some is a worthy goal, public schools are notorious for not being able to deliver wholesome meals. Visit any public school at lunch and see what you see !Here's an article I wrote on the subject about five years ago. Nothing's changed since, so I had no effect either. I'll agree that there IS a problem! Eating In The Cafeteria by Mary McGarr  Chances are your child eats in the school cafeteria regularly or at least every now and then. Hopefully during your child’s school career, you’ve gone to the trouble to visit his school during lunchtime to sit with him and eat the same thing he eats. Depending on your personal experience you may or may not like what you had for lunch. Good nutrition helps your child be a good student. Once as a parent (when I complained about the nutritional value of what was being served to children) I was asked to be on a KISD committee that went around and ate at various school cafeterias. It was an interesting experience, but was mostly a waste of my time and the administrator who had to escort us around. No one changed a thing because of the committee. What’s new? I read with interest the Houston Chronicle story concerning the CATCH curriculum that’s being pushed by Harris County's Public Health and Environmental Services Department to get children eating healthier and exercising more. The curriculum is being tried out at Schmalz, a Katy ISD elementary school. KISD implemented a “district wide wellness program that officials hope will help stunt obesity at the local level” last year (January 21, 2004). See Katy Times article “Katy ISD Program Takes Aim at Student Obesity.” I’m sure some other program will be implemented along these same lines next year. Actually, I’m growing a bit weary of programs that pay lip service to nutrition. It doesn’t even take a dietician with a Ph.D. to come up with balanced meals for children that don’t look gaggy when placed on a plastic serving tray. Any mother could do it. It also doesn’t take hiring Lance Armstrong to come up with a physical fitness program to get kids out of their chairs and running around. What it does take is some leadership by a school board that cares about the physical well-being of children. I have to wonder what these programs that come down the Pike cost the taxpayers. Some of them may be “free” if they come from another governmental source, but CATCH sounds like it probably costs something. According to the Chronicle, around 20% of Texas children are overweight. Actually, I would say that their parents are responsible for most of that excess weight because they let their children sit in front of a TV for too long every day. I also think that if children are overweight, that’s not any business of the public schools! I was a bit appalled by the information that Schmalz Elementary third grade teachers “sent home forms for children to complete with their parents. For a week or so, they track what they eat and the physical activities they do together, such as walking. When the forms come back, teachers give points for eating certain foods and taking part in physical activities. A class totals its points, trying to be the third grade at Schmalz with the highest number.” Does anyone besides me believe that what parents serve their children to eat and whether they go for a walk with them or not is any business of a public school and/or its teachers? This questionnaire that must be filled out is just a good example of the social engineering that is going on in our schools that takes the place of academic endeavor. If the public schools want to make children physically better off, they will address the common practice of limited recess time. Recess in this day and age is about a third the length it was when I was in elementary school. I recall that we got an hour off for lunch and recess twice a day. That exercise worked off a lot of pent up energy, and teachers didn’t find themselves with a room full of wiggly children every afternoon. The fresh air and exercise took care of the problem. If there are obese eleventh and twelfth graders in the Katy schools, it’s probably because in January of 1997 when they were in elementary school, here’s what they had for lunch the week of the 13th: On Monday, Turkey fingers, steamed rice/gravy, cheesy broccoli and a fresh baked roll; on Tuesday, cheeseburger on a bun, spicy fries, a fresh vegetable choice, and pickles; on Wednesday, pepperoni pizza, seasoned green beans, Texas-size bread, and a fruit choice; on Thursday rotini/meatballs/sauce, mozzarella cheese, tossed salad/dressing, garlic bread and pineapple tidbits; on Friday, chicken patty sandwich, vegetable soup, crackers, seasonal fruit. This week (October 3, 2005) they can have on Monday, popcorn chicken, tortilla cheese rolls w/salsa, glazed carrots, mashed potatoes/gravy, hot roll; on Tuesday, pepperoni pizza, chicken tenders, pan cheese pizza, baby carrots/Ranch Dip, breadstick, chilled pears; on Wednesday, cheeseburger, hamburger, meatless Italian pocket, tossed salad/dressing, Potato Starz, fresh fruit; on Thursday, chicken fajitas, tortilla cheese rolls, lettuce, tomato, cheese, cornbread, peach slices, on Friday, corndog, deli cheese sub, vegetable sticks, sun chips, mixed fruit. I sure wouldn’t feed my kids that stuff. Looks like it’s pretty loaded with carbohydrates and fat to me. If this menu meets government standards, then I would say someone needs to look at the standards. Whatever happened to just plain meat? or Jello? or vegetables besides corn? That’s why I made, over twenty years of having kids in school, 4,320 sack lunches. I wouldn’t eat what they serve in our public schools, and I didn’t want my kids to have to eat it either. And yes, I fussed about the schools' cafeteria food while I was on the school board, but no one agreed with me that there was a problem.

Comment on: HISD campuses in line for IB program at 2/19/2010 9:49 AM CST

IB schools are placed in "wealthy" areas because that's where the money is--not because the UN discriminates against the poor! The IB programme is ALL about the money! In essence students (or their school districts) are BUYING an IB diploma which is outrageous since the AP program has been proven empirically to be the better course of study. In Nashville, Tennessee here is how the IB program is going. Note the costs versus the accomplishments!"The program produced 12 graduates in 2009, down from the all-time high of 20 two years ago. Metro Schools spends more than $200,000 each year on the program, and each high school Hillsboro, Hunters Lane and Hillwood spend $10,000 annually on licensing fees. ... students have to pay $92 for every course test they take, plus a one-time $135 student registration fee."Full story:

Comment on: HISD campuses in line for IB program at 2/18/2010 10:08 AM CST

Nowhere in this report does the reporter mention that the IB programme is a United Nations scheme. Most people I know would like to see the United Nations in the East River and certainly not having a presence in their neighborhood! People fall for it because they aren't discerning enough to realize how they are being duped. Go to and read some factual oppositional statistics. Education is the means being used by Progressives and education elitists for changing our country's belief system and eliminating the existing culture. According to these perpetrators virtues such as individualism, national sovereignty, and capitalism must be banished from our country. The United Nations doesn't care about the education of your children. They simply use IB schools as a source for cash flow while gaining access to the minds of your children. Parents need to wise up and stop this terrible scheme.

Comment on: 400 HISD teachers may face firing at 2/11/2010 9:15 AM CST

Since curriculum and the accompanying tests are about students having behaviors and thoughts in line with the Progressive Movement and not about acquiring actual knowledge, it's a bit frightening to see the government deciding to fire those who are not adept at transforming students into automatons as measured by the TAKS test. Obviously the government is getting more serious about the mandate. Hello Brave New Word! The ones fired under this mandate may be the very best "teachers" that HISD has! Imagine that!

Perhaps if HISD needs 7+million dollars to fund teacher's salaries they could borrow it from Katy ISD. That school district evidently has cash to spare as it recently built Astroturfed football PRACTICE fields at all its six high schools that nobody asked for or wanted just because the superintendent thought they would look nice! They cost 5 million dollars!

How about paying more for an "academic" Master's degree. You remember those--English, history, math, biology, chemistry, physics--subjects that are knowledge based. Then teachers would indeed be improved teachers because they would know more that they could "teach." Oh yeah, I forgot, public schools aren't about teaching any more, they're about "learning." Education degrees are about "how" to teach, not "what" to teach and therein lies the problem. No matter how much one knows about HOW to teach, if one doesn't know anything TO teach, that ability is wasted. It's the same bogus principle that suggests that students don't need to know anything--just "HOW" to learn! Remember, the Progressives don't want educated people because dumbed down people are easier to control and manipulate, so creating teachers that aren't educated themselves, serves that purpose.

Comment on: Perry urged to set aside politics, pursue federal grants at 1/7/2010 10:12 AM CST

Comment on: HCC mum on probe of trustees at 9/2/2010 6:37 PM CDT

There is no way they've spent a quarter of a million dollars and not produced any written documents! This is all about Judson ISD and the FBI investigation there. WOAI in San Antonio got wind of a lawyer's report to the school board about things they had done. The AG made them cough it up.

Comment on: HISD business chief offers ethics plan for watchdog panel at 7/22/2010 10:24 AM CDT

On the other hand, when an HISD "chief business officer says that he wants to propose eliminating those bond committee members who have vested interests from the committee," or that those who serve are precluded from contracting with the District for a year, that's revolutionary. Of course the greater issue is that we elect these board members (and whole bunches of them at that) to make decisions for us. That's what a representative government is all about. But when the board members give up their powers to unelected committee members, we all have to wonder why. Aren't they smart enough to make decisions themselves? Did they not count on spending some time doing the District's board business? Are they being bought off? What could possibly motivate an elected official to give up all that power he/she worked so hard to acquire? Out here in Katy, we only put people WITH vested interests on our bond committees, and there aren't but a handful of us west of Hiway 6 who think that's unethical, so HISD is way ahead of us with this proposal.

Comment on: Casey: Kids' failure is adult's 'success' at 7/12/2010 11:06 AM CDT

Mr. Casey deserves the credit for this story! He's the one who got Scott Hochberg interested in it. Of course, Mr. Hochberg is a year late to the party as the Texas Projection Measure as a piece of the TEA fraud showed up LAST summer. When no one challenged it, it was put into effect. So now we have all kinds of schools being labeled "exemplary" and "recognized" when they aren't that at all. But better late to the party than to not show up at all. And if Mr. Casey and Rep. Hochberg get rid of the TPM, I'll be happy!

Comment on: Education chief may end policy that boosts ratings at 7/11/2010 9:43 AM CDT

The Chronicle's Rick Casey is responsible for shining a light on the Texas Projection Measure. and deserves credit here. State Representative Scott Hochberg was a year late to the party, but better late than never. I was at a Katy ISD school board meeting two summers ago where the TAKS results were announced, and all the administrative faces were long and scrunched. A small discussion was held concerning the continuing low TAKS science scores that had been produced by Katy ISD students. The TEA had just instituted a TAKS test on science with a rather low level of minimum standards, and Katy students had failed to meet even that mark. One could just see the chagrin of the new superintendent, Alton Frailey, and the other administrators. Couple of weeks later, Voila! The TEA lowered the standard for passing even more and all of a sudden KISD was back in the money --I mean back to a "recognized" status. Of course it was all smoke and mirrors --and fraudulent .The next year here came the Texas Projection Measure with explanations that bordered on the bizarre. And mostly no one could figure it out, and so it went into effect. We can probably thank the Texas Association of School Administrators' lobbying group for this scheme. Those administrators know on which side their bread is buttered and how to fix things to their liking .Miraculously, last year Katy ISD bounded into the "exemplary" status and continues to stay there. Once again, fraud at its best. Standards as designed by the State and now the Feds are worthless. We can thank Bush as well as Obama for them. They are a political ploy to fool parents and taxpayers. Parents are led to believe that their children are learning something, when in fact they aren't learning anything. Don't blame teachers for that; it's the curriculum (or lack thereof).Taxpayers are fooled because the school districts need to pass bond referendums so they have money to spread among all the greedy dolts that feed at the public trough. Taxpayers are more prone to vote FOR a bond if they think their schools are academically superior. The TAKS test is supposed to tell them that, but of course it doesn't. And so the parents stay happy, the bonds get passed, the vendors get rich, and the students are the losers. If Mr. Casey, Scott Hockberg, the Houston Chronicle and the Dallas News are able to turn off the Texas Projection Measure, it doesn't matter to me how late they were to the party, my hat's off to them all!

Congratulations to the two of you for jumping on the Texas Projection Measure. Unfortunately it's OLD news! There were discussions in the Chronicle last summer (2009) on this subject. Where were you then? Now that the system is in place, just about every school in Texas is "exemplary" or "recognized" which means diddley. The TEA did this to help all the school districts that are wanting to pass a bond--which is most of them. I imagine the TASA is behind the ploy. They need to get money before Obama takes it all away from us. People vote favorably for bond referendums if the parents think their kids are getting a fine education (Rice poll taker says so). "Exemplary" status does the trick. Never mind that SAT and ACT scores are (in spite of being dumbed down with great regularity) constantly declining.. Hope you include these FACTS in your Sunday column!

Comment on: Rick Casey: How schools get credit for a TAKS zero at 7/7/2010 2:41 PM CDT

The problem is bigger than the TAKS or the TEA. The problem comes from a Nation that has been committed to dumbing down our students since the late 1980's. We're seeing the result of that effort. Unfortunately it's the likes of the Rockefellers, the Bush family, Obama, --and all our other leaders who are bent on one worldism. State representatives and state senators are useful pawns who have allowed this stuff to happen. Mr. Hochberg went to Rice. How did he get there? Well, he probably went to a public school that taught him how to read, write and do real, not fuzzy, math. There wasn't anything at all wrong with public schools until the likes of Mr. Hochberg started trying to "reform" them! How ironic that he's "surprised" by what his efforts have accomplished!

Comment on: Rick Casey: TAKS grade inflation nothing new at 6/20/2010 11:01 AM CDT

Rick Casey has hit a home run in this morning's Houston Chronicle. Unfortunately, it's 10:30 AM and they still haven't put his column on line, so here it is! I'm guessing every superintendent in town who was hoping to float a bond issue based on spiralingly upward test scores had a heart attack when they read this morning's paper. You're welcome! Lies, Damn Lies and Magic Statistics If you were depressed by last Sunday's discussion in this space of the fact that Texas students could pass the TAKS test with scores as low as 44 percent, consider this: Even with such low standards, the Texas Education Agency decided to rate hundreds of Texas schools and scores of Texas districts as "academically acceptable" last year--the lowest "passing category --by counting students who flunked the TAKS as passing it. This academic alchemy was achieved through a statistical exercise called the "Texas Projection Measure." This complex formula, based on statewide TAKS scores from the year before, is said to identify students who failed this year but are likely to pass next year. Or maybe the year after that. Or possibly the year after that. Education reporter Ericka Mellon last month wrote about the fact that HISD's long-troubled Sam Houston High School won recognition from Gov. Rick Perry and even Education Secretary Arne Duncan for improving its rating. She noted that the school was bumped up one level because some of its students who failed portions of the TAKS test were counted as passing because of the "Texas Projection Measure." That recognition drew the attention of Houston State Rep. Scott Hochberg, vice chairman of the House Public Education Committee. Hochberg, considered by members on both sides of the aisle to be something of a guru on Texas education, decided to figure out just how the Projection Measure works, talking to experts and poring over statistics at TEA's website. INFLATED NUMBERS The first thing to understand is that this bureaucratic boost, which began last year, is no small matter."It's not nibbling around the edges," said Hochberg .For example, TEA reported that statewide the number of "exemplary" campuses, the highest rating, more than doubled from 1,000 in 2008 to 2,158 in 2009. But without the statistical projections that some failing students would later pass, the increase would have been only 44 campuses. At the other end of the spectrum, the TEA reported that the number of "unacceptable" campuses had increased by 43, from 202 to 245. But without the magic of statistical projections, the real increase was 401 "unacceptable" campuses--almost 10 times the massaged number. Hochberg said the new system is disturbing not only because of the large number of schools that are receiving upgraded ratings under it, but also because of the statistical formula itself. You may have assumed, as I did, that it projected a student's future success based on improvements that student had made over the past few years .It doesn't. It's based on a statewide analysis of all students indicating that at certain score levels students who failed math but passed English (or vice-versa) on average went on to pass both. It isn't a measure of progress, but of the statistical likelihood of progress. Like Enron's legendary "mark to market" accounting, which booked future profits in current quarters based on a variety of fanciful assumptions, it is counting eggs before they hatch .REALLY 'UNACCEPTABLE' Hochberg notes that a similar analysis might also show that certain students, statistically speaking are heading in the other direction." But they're not doing that," he said. "If you're projected going up, you're counted as passing. But if you're projected going down, you're not counted as not passing."So Perry and Duncan celebrate the "improved" performance of our schools. But HISD officials, to their credit, are skeptical of the enhanced scores. An independent study they commissioned and released this week, based on actual performance rather than on statistical "projections," shows that about half the ninth-graders of the class of 2005 enrolled in college and less than a fifth of those graduated in four and a half years .Nearly a third of those ninth-graders dropped out. HISD trustee Anna Eastman called it "unacceptable,' just the opposite of how the TEA rates HISD.

A good investigative report would have included a list of all the trustees in the Houston area who have received campaign funds from E-Rate vendors. It would also be of interest I think if the Chronicle would emulate the Dallas News' article of a few years ago when Scott Parks listed all the public school superintendents who attended a vendor "retreat" (ERDI in this report). Katy's then (Leonard Merrell) and now (Alton Frailey) were both on the list as well as Houston ISD's Terry Grier when he was at another school district in North Carolina. The list is a veritable parade of upwardly mobile public school superintendents--all publicly tied to school vendors.

Comment on: State senator urges closing the book on state ed board at 3/24/2010 7:36 AM CDT

Maybe someone needs to file legislation to "appoint" senators from McAllen. I'm sure the Republicans could come up with someone wiser than Senator Hinojosa. After all, I don't like what he says and believes, so that means I'm allowed to suggest we find a way to remove him from office, yes?

Only Joe Adams would give out a quote like that! He still thinks tax money falls from the sky. And after it "falls," he doesn't know how it's divided or spent. As for the superintendent cutting the central office spending by 10% beginning in 2008--why do the stats from TEA show that he increased the number of central office administrators? What did he cut--the number of thumb tacks and rubber bands they could buy? Is this another play on words designed to fool the public? Could this be more spin? In looking at what he has done since the minute he got here, does he really think we would believe that he's cut anything? In 2007 there were 196 central administrators when he got here; in 2008 there were 206, in 2009 there were 247. Doesn't look like a "reduction" to me!

Comment on: To restore schools, learn from the past at 1/10/2011 5:27 PM CST

Stop cutting time in class short. High school kids need to be in each class for 55 minutes--no more no less. Eliminate staff development and quit brainwashing the teachers. Stop acting like minority students can't do the work. They can if taught right. Stop trying to fix the world's problems by using public schools to do it. It's not the place of public schools to engage in social engineering! And the next time the Chronicle says we can write 2500 characters in one of these posts, don't believe them!

Comment on: To restore schools, learn from the past at 1/10/2011 5:25 PM CST

How does it get fixed? Cut numbers and salaries of all administrators. Give them one year contracts like teachers have. Give the teachers a raise. Consolidate school districts. Leave teachers alone to teach what they know (and make sure they have an academic degree instead of an education degree--close schools of education). Get rid of "aligned" curriculum. Ability group so every level can be taught by a teacher. A teacher can't teach the smart kids if he has to teach the slow kids too and vice versa. Stop making the smart kids teach the slower kids. Parents want a qualified teacher teaching their children-not some other student. Continued in the next post...

Comment on: To restore schools, learn from the past at 1/10/2011 5:23 PM CST

When Comm. Christie said to a SBOE committee, "We don't need Shakespearean educated students anymore---they can't get a job!" we all knew we were doomed. Of course Christie only has a vocational education himself and had no business trying to fix education. No one really wants to "fix" public education. It's doing exactly what they wanted to do--create uneducated students. Sounds crazy, yes? But that's exactly what has happened. Continued in the next post...

Comment on: To restore schools, learn from the past at 1/10/2011 5:21 PM CST

Well, for one thing, businesses decided (Business Roundtable et al) that they needed compliant workers who would do as they were told and not complain too much about the menial work and low wages. To get that, they had to dumb everyone down. They set about in a systematic way to coerce state politicians to change our public schools. In Texas it was TBEC, the TEA, Skip Meno and his sidekick, Bob Thompson, and Jack Christie as well as Mike Moses who led the way. Continued in the next post...

Comment on: To restore schools, learn from the past at 1/10/2011 5:19 PM CST

My first question to him is, why do you think we have "education reform"? Could you please tell me what was wrong with American's public schools that we had to "reform" them? The answer is, there was nothing wrong with American's schools until people like Mr. Frels started meddling with them for political reasons. If one got an American public education before 1975, one received the best education that has ever been provided. What changed? Continued in the next post...

Comment on: To restore schools, learn from the past at 1/10/2011 5:16 PM CST

Mr. Frels, like most other businessmen/professionals, doesn't have a clue what is wrong with public schools. Continued in the next post!

Comment on: Our teachers hold the key to an effective education at 10/1/2010 12:36 PM CDT

Don't miss the point here. Bill Ratliff is the major developer of "restructured education" in Texas. He and Paul Sadler took away local control from locally elected officials and gave it to the "local" superintendents in Senate Bill 1 in 1995. Since then he pops up every now in then with another fascist scheme. This editorial is about him and his cohorts wanting to take the training of teachers away from the state and give it to the FEDS. Don't let him! Just what IS an "effective teacher"? I'm guessing my definition is very different from Mr. Ratliff's. And for sure the FEDS don't have ANYTHING at all to do with effective teachers. Name one thing that the government has ever done well. You can't! We need to get back to providing students with a sound academic education. We should start by closing down college departments of education. Let teachers major in a subject field. They would be much better prepared to educate their students if they actually knew something to teach! And don't blame the teachers; they just do what they have to by law in order to obtain a teaching position. Their professional organizations could help, but they are all in tune with the education establishment and are worthless at the present time. Personnel costs in my school district (Katy) take up 88% of the budget! We have almost one "other" employee for every teacher. Teachers should be angry about that because when we have too many excess employees who are NOT teachers, the amount of tax funds available for teachers' salaries are decreased. In Katy, for example, we have one aide for every six teachers! No one seems to know why we have so many. My point is, don't take anything Bill Ratliff has to say at face value. He's a shill for big business and industry.


Comment on Mr. Frailey trying to shut down the ability for the public to acquire public information requests:  marymcgarr> wrote:
Thank you Houston Chronicle! Your advocacy for freedom of information with regard to governments is most welcome! The Katy superintendent, Alton Frailey, tried to spin what he did at the board meetings with an email to the Katy community earlier this week. His shameless attempt in that email to spin what he said so that he did not look guilty of violating board policy for discussing matters not on the agenda, and to try to cover up earlier comments that clearly showed his intent, was most inappropriate. Mr. Frailey obviously is not used to enduring the scrutiny which Katy citizens exercise. Now he should understand what happens when he violates the public trust. My thanks go especially to Helen Eriksen, the Chronicle reporter who covered the meetings and reported the truth.
7/2/2008 9:21:56 AM
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Frailey doesn't even understand what he's done or why anyone thinks it's wrong! He also doesn't know when to shut up about it, but I'm thinking he mostly just doesn't like criticism, even when he earned it!

Arrogance will be his downfall.

Mary McGarr

Letter to the Editor in the July 7, 2008 Houston Chronicle

Transparency within Katy ISD

Frailey's email to the KISD populace trying to make it seem like he wasn't doing what he obviously was!

A recent editorial in the Chronicle addressed a matter that is having a troublesome impact on many school districts around the state. (Please see "A public benefit / Katy school board shouldn't even think of limiting people's access to school records," Wednesday.) Katy does not currently have as big an issue with this as other communities do; however, a few years ago an employee was added to the payroll for the sole purpose of responding to the upsurge in the volume and complexity of requests.

The editorial board should be applauded for noting that "repetitive, massive or petty requests for public information that are unfocused fishing expeditions or meant to harass administrators are aggravating and can cost taxpayers thousands of dollars." This issue is real and is very much unknown by the majority of taxpayers. We have received feedback from those angry at the thought of having to tell the public why they are using public resources. But we have also received feedback from those angry that they are not allowed to know why someone is using a public resource their tax dollars provide.

What must be clear is that neither the language nor the intent of the withdrawn resolution, which asked that the requestor include a statement of public benefit for the work required to fulfill the request, was to delay or create a prerequisite for getting the information. The resolution, however, was withdrawn because of how the district's position could be, and subsequently has been, misconstrued or possibly deliberately misrepresented.

More importantly, no citizen should be intimidated because they have asked for information they have the right to receive. Whereas the statement of public benefit would provide for more transparency, understanding the risk of a well-intended citizen being intimidated for exercising their right is reason enough for our reconsideration, changing direction and withdrawing the resolution.

The public has the right to know about the workings of their school district and have access to information that allows them such knowledge. That is why Katy ISD has become even more transparent and responsive to public information requests from patrons and the media. Those who would speak honestly will attest to that.

superintendent, Katy ISD

FRI 12/05/2003 Houston Chronicle, Section A, Page 47, 3 STAR Edition

A&M and diversity flap

[Regarding the Chronicle's Dec. 4 article, "A&M defies trend, won't use race as admissions factor"]: Minority students gaining admission to Texas A&M University can now be proud of their selection. Like everyone else, they will have earned the right to go to one of our state's finest universities.

Hooray for A&M's President Robert Gates. It took great courage to stand on principle and insist on merit-based admissions.

Mary McGarr, Katy

   Letter to the Viewpoints Editor 12/18/2002 (This one didn't make it into print!)

  Dear Editor,
  Not reporting until now the September TEA letters regarding alleged TAKS cheating in Houston and Dallas ISD's smacks of
  cover up.  When the Rice University cheating was discovered, no less than an editorial as well as a half page of letters to the
  editor would do, but cheating in taxpayer funded public schools only rates reporting on page 40 of the second section two months
  after it was announced!

  When the best that Heather Browne can say is "All we can do is remind principals to be vigilant about cheating and
  plagiarism," HISD needs to find a new spokesman.  Her obvious disinterest in finding out exactly who the cheaters are says worlds
  about HISD's attitude.

  The Chronicle should be initiating a full fledged investigation.

  Cheating is cheating, and everyone's response to it needs to reflect society's disdain.

  Mary McGarr

February 8, 1995

Editor of the Katy Times

Dear Editor:

I would like to respond, on behalf of the Board, to a letter that appeared in the February 1 issue of the Katy Times.

The letter began by addressing a previous editorial that had appeared on January 25.  That editorial explored the differences between TAAS test scores as well as other pertinent factors that exist between Katy ISD schools and Plano ISD schools.  The editorial was well written and researched and made some very valid points, the most important being that Plano, according to the information cited, appears to be garnering better TAAS test scores than Katy.

As anyone who listens to me knows, I have made similar remarks and drawn similar conclusions at public board meetings many times over the years I have been on the Board.   Making valid comparisons between KISD and similar school districts based on TAAS scores or any other criterion is a worthwhile activity. While striving to better understand the validity and meaning of TAAS test scores, the Board often asks questions about those scores, the “group” with which we are compared, as well as the practice of “teaching to the TAAS test” with regard to our students.  Members of this Board ask questions about our relative status with regard to other school districts all the time.  We constantly concern ourselves with  providing an excellent education for our students and obtaining the most value for tax dollars spent.  I could speak for an hour on the things we have done over just the last year that would support that assertion.

That being said, I am greatly dismayed by the next to the last paragraph of the reader’s letter to the editor that proceeded to quote purported remarks made by James Peters.  I also attended the instructional audit parents meeting at Mayde Creek Junior High.  While Mr. Peters sometimes makes light of an issue in an effort to focus serious attention on it, he never said or would say that the Board would believe that “academic performance is not important” or that what is important is that “the parents think the schools are good.”  Mr. Peters never said those words in the way they were attributed to him.

I have known Mr. Peters for several years now, and I know that his belief in the importance of high academic performance begins at home with his own children, both of whom rank near the top of their respective classes at Katy High School.  This concern for academic performance transfers to everyone else’s children at every opportunity with regard to Mr. Peter’s Board activities.  For anyone to write a letter deliberately taking remarks out of context or creating false passages to make a point does a great disservice to Mr. Peters specifically and the Board collectively, and I believe that such efforts not only harm us as individuals but our school district’s  students and teachers as well.  This Board will not let untrue statements about itself or its individual members go unanswered. For the greater good I would hope that parents will choose to work within the system to improve our students’ academic performance and refrain from making unwarranted statements about Board members. 

Thank you for allowing me to correct what I consider a great injustice.


Mary McGarr


May 8, 2008


I made this post on May 8th, 2008, at 8:45 PM after someone named "tom pogo" had tried to say that KISD was doing just fine because the TAKS test said so.  He then  endorsed Crockett, Duhon and Snyder. 


Here is my post:    (The data is from  Snapshot 2006-2007-- the latest available at the time.)


The incumbent KISD board members [Crockett, Snyder, and Duhon] like to compare KISD to Ft. Bend or Spring Branch, since they are close, but we all know those school districts are not like Katy ISD.  Perhaps voters should look at a school district in Texas that has always been Katy's arch rival.  That would be Plano ISD which is a suburban school district by Dallas.


Plano has 52,753 students/Katy has 50,725.   On the TAKS Plano had 88% of all grades passing all tests taken, while Katy had 83%.


Plano has 6,608 total employees, while Katy has 6,505.  Plano has 3,855 teachers, while Katy has 3,421.  Plano has 58% of its total staff in teachers, while Katy has 53%.  Katy has 29% of its total staff in "auxiliary" staff, while Plano has 17% in that category.


The average administrative salary in Plano is $85,045 while in Katy it is $96,849.  The average school administrative salary in Plano is $71,168 while in Katy it is $74,453.  The average teacher salary in Plano is $46,945 and in Katy it is $47,646.  The number of teachers with advanced degrees in Plano is 34.4% while in Katy it is 22.9%.  Plano places 10% of the students in the GT program and spends 3% of the budget on them while Katy places 6% of the students in the GT program and spend 2% of the budget on them.  Plano spends 1% of its budget on athletics while Katy spends 2% of its budget on athletics.


Probably the most notable statistic for parents wanting their children to attend college are these:  In Plano 87% of the students take the SAT or the ACT while in Katy there are 80% taking those tests.  The percent at or above criterion on those tests is 60.9% in Plano but only 46.5% in Katy.  The SAT Mean Total Score in Plano is 1149 while in Katy it is 1088.  The ACT Mean Composite Score in Plano is 24.4 while in Katy it is 22.9.  The differences in those scores are indicative of the type of university to which a student may aspire.  The SAT and the ACT are far better tests with regard to determining knowledge acquired and the ability to pursue further education, which is what most parents in our district are seeking.  And remember, our children compete with those Plano students for admission to Texas universities.


Don't let anyone say that the TAKS means anything at all with regard to achievement.  It is not an achievement test.  The Conservative candidates are calling for an achievement test to be given at several grade levels so that parents truly understand what their children know as they progress through the grade levels.  KISD used to rely on such tests, but now they spend all the teachers' and the students' time on the meaningless TAKS.


My source for this information is


Just for fun, let's look at the Snapshot figures three years later after two these three board members have been in office for a while: (2009-2010 data--the latest available)


Plano now has 54,683 students/Katy has 58,444.   On the TAKS Plano had 90% of all grades passing all tests taken, while Katy had 88%.


Plano has 6,762 total employees, while Katy has 7,579.  Plano has 3,941 teachers, while Katy has 4,120.  Plano has 58% of its total staff in teachers, while Katy has 54%.  Katy has 28% of its total staff in "auxiliary" staff, while Plano has 19% in that category.


The average central administrative salary in Plano is $88,178 while in Katy it is $108,332.  The average school administrative salary in Plano is $77,306 while in Katy it is $79,085.  The average teacher salary in Plano is $52,375 and in Katy it is $50,374.  The number of teachers with advanced degrees in Plano is 33.0% while in Katy it is 22.6%.  Plano places 13% of the students in the GT program and spends 2% of the budget on them while Katy places 6% of the students in the GT program and spend 3% of the budget on them.  Plano spends 1% of its budget on athletics while Katy spends 2% of its budget on athletics.


Probably the most notable statistic for parents wanting their children to attend college are these:  In Plano 78% of the students take the SAT or the ACT while in Katy there are 74.7% taking those tests.  The percent at or above criterion on those tests is 64.4% in Plano but only 46.3% in Katy.  The SAT Mean Total Score in Plano is 1165 while in Katy it is 1082.  The ACT Mean Composite Score in Plano is 25.5 while in Katy it is 23.6.  The differences in those scores are indicative of the type of university to which a student may aspire.  The SAT and the ACT are far better tests with regard to determining knowledge acquired and the ability to pursue further education, which is what most parents in our district are seeking.  And remember, our children compete with those Plano students for admission to Texas universities.


Looking at the comparison, it would appear that the re-elected incumbents didn't do very much to improve anything except the number of students (brought on perhaps by their policy of building schools to help developers sell homes), and administrative salaries over their last three year term.


February 26, 1997


The Katy Times


Dear Editor,


In the April 1995 issue of Texas Lone Star, the publication of the Texas Association of School Boards, Governor Bush is quoted as saying, “The biggest struggle of all is going to be to free school boards, teachers, and parents from the clutches of the Texas Education Agency and the unfunded mandates of the Texas Legislature.”  Reportedly a ballroom full of school board members from across the state “applauded in support of the promised deregulation efforts.”  Governor Bush initially campaigned for the office of governor with the promise that he would “do away” with the TEA.  [Guess we all know how that worked out! MM]


The recent letter sent to the Times by the commissioner who runs the TEA, Mike Moses, would seem to provide good reason for the governor to carry out the promises that he has made. The TEA, under Mr. Moses’ leadership, works diligently each day to establish the National Center on Education and the Economy’s restructured education plan in our states’ public and private schools.  Mr. Moses, in characteristic ostrich-like fashion, denies he is supportive of the tenets of Outcome Based Education and restructured education, but with his very next breath utters OBE’s patent phrase-- “...we should develop standards about what children should know” and “be able to do.”  Those are words straight from Marc Tucker, Bill Daggett,  William Spady, and all the others who are proponents of the OBE/School to Work initiative. If the commissioner is going to practice duplicity, he needs to get his act together.


Mr. Moses is very definitely leading the rush to implement OBE “and all that that entails.”  He may not have started the push, but his agenda is the same as Skip Meno’s, and his protestations are wearing thin.  For him to suggest that he is not a member of the Board of the NCEE when his name appears on all kinds of documents from that organization is ridiculous. If he is not on that Board, he has had ample time to get his name off their materials.  If the TEA paid that organization 2.1 million, what exactly were we (taxpayers) buying?  I would imagine that the positions on the NCEE Board came with the payment and the contract, and if Mr. Moses were doing his job, he should have known the terms. 


It occurs to me that perhaps Mr. Moses’ name on things does not mean as much to him as it does to me.  I resigned from my elected position when I realized the intent of these people, and I could not bear having my NAME affixed to their programs, curricula, policies, etc. that so negatively affect school children.  At the SBOE meeting on February 6, in response to the Republican SBOE members’ charges that he had not been truthful with regard to the implementation of OBE, I heard Moses deny that this state has OBE, but the evidence of its existence is everywhere.


I clearly believe there is a plan to place 80% of Texas’ students into vocational tracks at a very early age, where the State (school district) will decide for each child the course of his future education. The consent of that child and his parents will not be a requirement.  The State will also decide which jobs each person may hold throughout his lifetime.  If I am wrong about the existence of this plan, then my friends can start calling me “Chicken Little” instead of “Six to One Mary.”  However, if Mr. Moses is wrong, he will have ruined the lives of millions of Texas school children.  That’s a heavy burden, and I wish he wouldn’t be quite so cavalier about it. [As the result of lots of letters like this one, Moses et al backed off the vocational plan, but they have done a far greater disservice to students--they dumbed them down with squishy curriculum but DIDN'T bother to give them the vocational opportunities! And who's to say they are finished with this plan.  All evidence points to its implementation anyway--if a bit later than the original plan.]

 Mary McGarr



In 1992, a great effort was made to bring a commercial airport (the Westside Airport)  to the area west of Katy ISD--an area lying in Waller County.  Lots of pressure was put on the Katy school board to get them to endorse the plan.  Here is my statement to the rest of the board.  I was a board member at the time:


Since I believe that the primary function of this school board is to be concerned with the education of children, and since the jury is still out on whether or not the commercial development and enhancement of the expected ad valorem tax base of the Katy Independent School District from the building of the Westside Airport in Waller County would be a benefit to all of our school district, I will not be able to support this resolution, and I believe it is inappropriate for us to concern ourselves with this issue.  For what it's worth, I would not endorse a resolution to be against the airport either.


This proposed airport does not lie within the boundaries of this school district.  The project has been highly controversial for any number of reasons.  Although proponents argue about the "good" that will come from the airport most of us understand that large landowners are simply trying to make as much money off their land as possible and to get the federal government to drain land so developers can develop at less cost.  Those motives are in and of themselves part of the American way, but I object to the use of this school board to help them.


The increase in air traffic over our homes, the increase in vehicular traffic, the commercial development that will include bars, liquor stores, topless dancers, prostitutes and so forth, the crime that will come with the influx of these kinds of people, are all the things that most of our residents were moving away from when they moved to this school district.  We were all looking for a certain quality of life that a commercial airport will destroy.  We have all seen the crime that accompanies just simple commercial enterprise along Mason Road.  Are we ready for the problems that will accompany the commercial development that will be 1,000 times greater?  The large landowners don't care about our quality of life;  they will take their money and run, and those of us who live in a house on a slab will be left to watch our property values deteriorate and pay the increasing taxes that will be required to address all these issues.  No one can show me a school district that includes or abuts a major airport that has quiet subdivisions and no crime.  As recently as last weekend there were reports of the quarterback at an Aldine high school who was shot several times in the legs.  Some of the newspaper accounts of that incident attributed the crime and others like it to the Aldine school district's having Intercontinental Airport on its northern border.


Our school district needs to actively and aggressively seek light industry that will locate within our boundaries to increase the tax base, but I don't see that happening.  If the large land owners in Waller County want to sell their land for airports and landfills, that is their business, and some of you on this board may owe your votes to those interests, but I don't.  I think some of the rest of you need to think about who else you represent and how you got here and vote to protect the quality of life that we all enjoy and that the majority of us want to maintain. We need to keep this board's nose out of things where it doesn't belong.


(Of note is the fact that the Westside Airport didn't happen because Kathy Whitmire, in her only worthwhile decision as Mayor of Houston, decided that she didn't want a Westside Airport! I had nothing to do with her decision.  My note above was merely a comeuppance for some misguided school board members who needed to mind their own business and stay out of the airport business.)