A Legacy Worth Fighting For!
Commissioner Tommy Adkisson
June 11, 2009
Last week I was standing next to James Howard, President of the SAISD, congratulating around 220-8th Grade graduates as they crossed the stage at S.J. Davis Middle School. Very intelligently James Howard was asking students walking the stage, what high school they were going to attend. About 60% of the students responded that they were going to attend some other high school than Sam Houston, the natural high school right across the street from S.J. Davis. Most of them mentioned another SAISD high school like Highlands, Edison and Brackenridge. Still others mentioned Harlandale, Wagner and Judson in the Judson ISD, East Central, St. Gerard High and still others.
I could not understand why Sam Houston, literally across the street, was not the obvious answer from these students to Mr. Howard's student poll.
This phenomenon suggests that the SAISD population challenge is beyond the two often-referenced reasons for fewer students: 1. demographics (fewer children and grandchildren of baby boomers) and 2. an exodus from the central city! Perhaps "perception" is driving natural attendees from SAISD. As a lifelong resident and long-time student of our City, I have witnessed the disparagement of our principal foundation communities over the last fifty years by various special interests and of course, by the foes of diversity in the early days.
The reality is that central city advocates whose focus is schools, neighborhoods or businesses must showcase the strengths of our core community more effectively than those who over time have suggested and still suggest its demise. In some instances living in the central city means quality of life when it shortens the commute or saves gas money. In other instances there is a special character or quality of the older neighborhood that appeals. The list goes on. Challenges too, are real. But they are everywhere!
This is not to take away from the newer neighborhoods. Solutions to central city challenges will provide a blueprint for overcoming suburban decline challenges that already confront our community. We must accentuate the positive in every way possible. If I have learned anything in a life of civic, political and governmental experience, it is that negative gets emphasis while positive is rarely mentioned.
In the case of Sam Houston, an "all points bulletin" should be issued and this summer spent with parents and students underscoring why students are far better off at Sam Houston than anywhere else. Then next Fall each student at Sam Houston should be given a suitable, rigorous curriculum to prepare them for a promising future but treated ultimately as the customers of SAISD that they are. Remember, when as Texas Revolutionary War General Sam Houston received the ominous news of the Alamo slaughter and Goliad massacre, his men marched to victory under the battle cry, "Remember the Alamo, Remember Goliad!
Sam Houston High School, the SAISD Board of Trustees and their residents can afford to do no less in this circumstance!