September 21, 2012

Dear Alief ISD Key Communicator,

The topic of public education has been and always will be a topic followed and critiqued by the public. I believe that is reasonable considering the public is who pays for and benefits from public education. Turn on any television or radio talk show and you will hear opinions on what is wrong with public education or what should be done to improve public education in our country.

The critical point the media and politicians fail to mention is how much students are learning in spite of the unbelievable amount of educational and non-educational demands placed on our public schools. There are more requirements, expectations, regulations and demands placed upon public education today than at any other time in our history. Jamie Vollmer, the author of “Schools Cannot Do It Alone,” said: “No generation of educators in the history of the world has been asked to do what Americans now demand of their public schools.” Educators are asked to do so much more than simply teach children reading, writing and math.

When our nation’s first public schools were created in the 1780s, Thomas Jefferson concluded that they should focus solely on reading, writing and arithmetic. For the most part, families and churches carried the responsibility of raising children.

Schools were able to maintain that focus until the Industrial Age in the early 20th Century. That’s when the public education system began selecting and sorting students into two groups – the thinkers and the doers. Or as Jefferson had called them, the “laboring” and the “learned”. Soon after that, more and more non-educational and academic responsibilities and mandates began being placed upon the shoulders of educators, and that trend has not slowed down since. In fact, over the last 20 years it has accelerated.

To help demonstrate my point, I have included a link to a very informative video in this letter. It is approximately 11 minutes long and, I believe, provides citizens a good understanding of the notion that public education has become the entity responsible for addressing almost every societal concern. Please take the time to learn about all the many things that make up public education today and how the focus has shifted from simply educating a student to, in many people’s opinion, raising children. Here is the link to my web page which contains the video. Again, please take a few minutes to learn what America’s schools are up against while trying to teach our children.

Please understand this letter is not a message of complaint or even worse, whining. It is a message intended to help you understand the relentless demands placed on the institution of public education across Texas and our country. I sincerely view public education as a national treasure that is being strangled with mandates, requirements and expectations that no other industry or entity has ever been expected to meet. My point…Schools Cannot Do It Alone!

Alief ISD’s track record, as well as most public school districts, has proven that educators will accept the challenge of providing the best possible education for all students. However, as educators have overcome growing societal challenges over the last 50 years, we have also had to overcome challenges placed in front of us by our own state and federal governments. In Alief ISD, we are proud of our accomplishments but we also realize that we cannot do it alone. If you are not already involved, visit our web site and learn how you can help.

Thank you for your continued support and interest in the Alief Independent School District by serving as a Key Communicator. Please let me know if there are any topics that you would like me to address in future messages.


HD Chambers
Alief ISD Superintendent of Schools