In the March 20-26 Edition of the Chronicle's Ultimate Katy section, there is an article telling abut the Katy ISD Education Foundation hosting its "first Jazz with a Latin Flair," a reception and dinner at Palacio Maria to benefit the Foundation's "Inspiring Imagination teacher grant program."

The article goes on to say that in its "inaugural grant cycle, the foundation awarded $88,000 to 117 KISD teachers for "inspiring innovative classroom projects" that have been implemented this school year.  The second grant cycle began last November with grants to be awarded to teachers in May."

Being curious, I asked through an Open Records Request for a copy of the titles of the grants that won awards, what teachers they went to and at which schools.  I think I just fell into proof that I was correct all these years in opposing foundations!

Here are some of the thirty  "classroom projects" that exemplify, according to the foundation's director and ousted school board member, Chris Crockett, "innovative and inspiring and imaginative" activities for KISD students.

I will let the reader decide if they measure up to the trumpeting rhetoric!

There were 30 grants.  There were 117 teachers receiving funding for their projects, but some of the teachers got funds for more than one project.  I would question why the money couldn't be spread around a bit more as long as this is how it will be used.

The brochure sent to me by the School District had photos of the winning teachers.  In almost all of the photos are Chris Crockett, the Foundation's director, but also there is Ann Hodge.  One may wonder about the presence of Ann Hodge if one does not know that she is currently running for public office and needs the exposure.  Alton Frailey only appears once that I can find. 

The project that caught my eye and which, in my humble opinion, is the one that says it all is one that "implements an all-inclusive campus-wide Science Fair that extends student classroom experiences."  The "Key Message" is that the Science Fair will be a school-wide event enabling students to exhibit their projects and share them with teachers, classmates, and families.  Teachers are hoping that this project will launch an annual Science Fair tradition at their campus. The project allows students to explore and satisfy their natural curiosity about the world around them.  The Science Vertical Team, one Science teacher from each grade level, will oversee the project."

I am greatly amused by this one!  Perhaps these teachers don't know that KATY ISD used to have Science Fairs in every school.  They were dumped when "education reform" reared it's ugly head, because, in my opinion, when everyone has to be the "same," then we can't have competitions like Science or History Fairs which ultimately have winners and losers..  Of course believing that "everyone is just the same" would appear to me to be just plain idiotic.

But just like "no score" soccer games for little kids, "no winner" Science Fair projects will still be judged, analyzed, and winners declared by the participants (unless of course they've been brain-washed already into not thinking in terms of winners and losers.)  Can't have losers!

So don't expect this "project" to gain traction.  And no, it's not very innovative as it's been done before--at least the part where there are Science Fair projects--but the innovation is, of course, that there are no winners! What a great concept on which to spend $3,200!

The most innovative idea that I see is the one where six teachers at Michael Griffin Elementary and seven teachers at Bonnie Holland Elementary managed to get a grant from somewhere else to send them all to Italy and France, and then the KISD Foundation is giving them $2,000 to "share their experience and knowledge acquired with students, introducing new projects and techniques.  Students will create their own fresco and sculptures." I won't even comment on what's wrong with this picture!

But way to go, teachers!  It's great to get to go to Europe on someone else's dime! Of course, I think you would have enjoyed it more if you had worked hard and paid for it yourselves.

The project that is for all grades at Wolman Elementary to create an "outdoor learning classroom" to "connect student [s] to nature and the world around them" brings to mind that the Wolman's, for whom the school is named, should have told them about KISD's own "Outdoor Learning Center" (seems like Mr.Wolman used to have something to do with that place) that is a high-priced garden just full of native plants that these students could all visit quite regularly using the $5,000 grant for bus service instead of to buy "( seeds, soil, plants, materials for a gazebo, rain water barrels, lady bugs and earthworms.")  I'm guessing that the Outdoor Learning Center already HAS all that stuff.

Probably the project that is the most curious is the $5,000 grant to eight teachers at King Elementary for a rug.  This special rug allows students to "build a strong foundation in numeracy and the patterns in our number system by having a learning carpet in their classroom. The "Key Message" says that the "learning carpet is a permanently gridded, one-hundred chart on a six foot square rug.  Students can physically walk through the numbers while recognizing the patterns of one and ten.  The carpet allows multi-curricular use for telling time, measurement, geometry, graphing, creating patterns, mapping skills and language concepts.  The project will serve 600 students."

Might I suggest that $5,000 for a six foot square rug is a pretty steep price.  Couldn't these ladies have just drawn one themselves on the floor?  It also might be a good idea to buy more than one of these rugs if 600 are going to be "using" it. Also just playing hop-scotch on the playground might do more for student numeracy!

And of course, I'm unalterably opposed to teaching math in this way that is so confusing to students.  That's why teachers have to teach Algebra I for two years when these students  get to high school--because of the inane way math is being taught, in my opinion, in elementary school.

May I also suggest that the $5,000 be used to buy instead two 8 x 11 Heriz carpets for the Teachers' lounges.  They will be infinitely more appreciated!

Probably the project that takes the cake, though, is the grant for $793.51 for the purpose of allowing "students to improve focus and stimulate their brains by sitting on a stability ball instead of a chair."   The "Key Message" says that the "project is research-supported and is targeted for special needs students.  Research indicates use of the balls instead of chairs will allow students [to] be more attentive in their learning, resulting in better performance." 

I'm not buying that! Research based on the results of EIGHT students' experiences isn't really "research" at all.

But you all have fun with those balls!

Funny how I'm not seeing "innovation" with all this money!

But thanks to all of you for proving my long held opinion, that Foundations are a waste, that they take in money from the unsuspecting and use it in ways that a normal school board would not endorse, and the funds for which are placed and used without the oversight of the school board.  This activity is not the way things have been done in our state until just recently or in our school district until Chris Crockett came along.