The Trust Gap
Despite the Ranger’s World Series game Thursday night, we still had a pretty good turnout at the Wylie Tea Party meeting. A lot of great topics were tossed around the table such as the WISD trustees, superintendent, bonds, taxes, constitutional amendments, and the next city council election. The most important thing that came out of the meeting is that people are still ready for real change, whether that occurs at the federal, state, county or local levels is of little consequence.
The main theme of the WISD presentation we received was that the superintendent is working on a way to finagle another bond without raising taxes. He holds high hopes of getting that done through citizen trust. That is a rather lofty goal so soon in his tenure. Trust has to be earned and personally he does not have mine yet. In my opinion, less than a handful of months on the job are simply not enough time to earn that sort of intimate level of trust.
The Past is Past
As I reflect upon his background, I believe that from whence he came he was used to dealing with a district comprised of 80 odd percent of underprivileged students. It’s not that the underprivileged don’t care as much about their students as everyone else, but most studies show they are less likely to be involved in their student’s education. I would venture to say that a much larger percentage of Wylie parents are indeed involved, so the dynamics of how Dr. Vinson worked his magic in the past may not work here in the present. One must hope he can recognize the vast differences between the underprivileged, and well, Collin County folk, and assimilate that successfully into his dealings. Treating Wylie the same would be pathetic. Only time will answer that question, so trust is out of my personal school-wallet equation at the moment.
Trust is a Funny Game
When talking about trust, I look to a person’s behavior to find my clues as to whether someone is trustworthy or not. People are awesome at talking the talk, it is only when they walk the walk do I begin to believe in them. That said, there is something that has been bothering me about my very first conversation with Dr. Vinson at the Wylie Championship Rodeo. He was a bit too touchy feely for my taste. What I dealt with was a man who invaded my personal space, placed his face mere inches from mine while talking, held my shoulder and elbow, and squeezed my arm. Yuck alert.
In ordinary discourse, behaviors can be used that show the individual that you are engaged and interested. In fact, most people employ these techniques without even realizing they are doing it. There are an array of cues such as leaning in as you are listening, repeating what the person has said to you, and mirroring the other individual’s pose which puts people at ease and shows them you are interested in and listening to what they are saying. Tactile engagement though is a bit tricky because you run the risk that people may view it as an unwanted advance. For those schooled in this psychological tool, an aggressor can sometimes use these methods in an attempt to place oneself as the superior of that interaction.
In TXun’s vast experience with nutty psychological games, I have one for you to experiment with. Try invading someone’s personal space on an elevator and watch them get creeped out. My psych friends and I had a lot of fun creeping people out back in the day, but touch takes it to a whole new level and I’m not sure Dr. Vinson wishes to go there. I have been known to employ a few space invader tricks in my day to handle these types of unwanted touches. Frankly, I am thinking he is lucky TXun did not strap a saddle on him and seriously spur his ass about the touchy feely thing that night at the rodeo.
As I did that night, I will give him the benefit of the doubt, and assume that by his touchy feelyness, he was interested in gaining my cooperation, advancing the idea of a bond, expressing the desire for a zero controversy zone in Wylie, and gaining total cooperation. If that was indeed his desire, I am not sure he knows TXun well enough to think a little elbow rub would gain my unyielding acceptance and confidence in him nor should he expect to be my intellectual superior.
The Ill in Illegal
Probably the most important topic brought up at last night’s meeting was that the district added 600 new students last year. The question was asked just how many of those 600 are illegal immigrant children? I believe we have the right to ask just how many illegal immigrant children reside in our district and receive free education. We will not get that question answered though thanks to the failure of the proposed house bill requiring schools to record and report this information to make it through committee in Austin last session. School districts are not required to record or report that data, so it looks as though illegals are a protected class. As a homeowner and taxpayer who is a citizen or here legally, if you allow yourself to think on that just a wee bit, it should make you very ill indeed.
Let’s make a few assumptions off the top of our heads. Of the 600 new students that were reported to enter the district last year alone, let’s say about 20% are in the reduced or free meal program. Of course not every illegal is on the program but it is a start to figure this monstrosity out. Of those, we cannot expect that everyone who is low income is here illegally so let’s say only 1% are illegal or children of illegal parents. That is 6 students. Let’s use the basis of $4000 to educate a student each year. Those 6 illegal students are costing the district $24,000 a year. Now extrapolate that out using the total number of students currently in WISD. Scary, isn’t it? I would bet the number of students here illegally is a bit more than the 1% I used to prove my point. What if 10% are illegal? Those 60 students require more than 2 classrooms per class per year.
It was also reported that according to WISD officials using current day population estimates, in 2017 we would need a new elementary school, shortly after that another Jr High and then the 3rd High School. Even at 1/2% of our student population, can you imagine just how many students in Wylie are illegal? Have we been building schools to accommodate the illegal immigrant growth too? You bet.
From a fiscally responsible point of view, I am vehemently opposed to paying for a new school because we cannot get the illegal immigrant population under control. Bluntly put, I’m not interested in tossing out hard earned cash to pay for a school for illegals. I don’t think Wylie wants to perpetuate the image of an illegal immigrant sanctuary city, because that would be a travesty.
The final topic discussed was transparency. The city council has come about as clean as can be expected, it is high time the school board does the same. Interestingly enough, a quote was made in Wednesday’s article in the Wylie News from Trustee Tom Westhora how, “school belongs to the people” and I translate that into meaning the school board who governs the schools also belongs to the people. It should, because we voted the trustees in. Westhora was talking about the imposed dress code and since he wasn’t living in the state of Texas when the school board implemented that little ditty as they arrogantly refused to put it up for a public vote, I will give Westhora a pass. That old board was historically Fuller’s board and not the people’s board.
As we discuss transparency further, I heard that Trustee Barbara Goss championed getting the budget on the website but it’s not easy to find anymore. It used to be on the sidebar but now you have to search the finance department page to locate it. I would venture to say they can do better than that. The website needs to have easily accessible information that an average person with average computer and internet skills might reasonably be expected to locate. If you have ever tried to find information on their website such as a detailed agenda (not the generic one they publish), and meeting minutes, or even recorded MP3s then you know what I am talking about. The week school started, I would have defied you to locate the bell schedule.
Since the website fails the TXun transparency test, might I suggest the highly coveted ‘trust level’ that Dr. Vinson and trustees seek from citizens would improve greatly with A LOT more transparency. That would be a first step.