Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Exito Hispano at Cross Timbers Middle School

In order for GCISD to reach its goal of being the best school system in the state, and to prepare all our students for the challenges of College and other post-graduation education opportunities, we need to significantly improve the performance of our Hispanic students at our secondary schools. With that in mind, the Cross Timbers Middle School has launched a new program called "Exito Hispano at CTMS", which focuses on increasing Hispanic parents' involvement in the education of their kids.

Our first presentation took place on September 7th. During the meeting, we discuss the achievement gap between the general population and our Hispanic students, and the high ratio of in-school-suspensions (ISS) among that group. We also discussed the parent contract that all of us signed at the beginning of the school year, and how important it is to follow the commitments stated in that document: make sure students arrive on time to school, support CTMS in its discipline efforts, establish a set time for homework at home, motivate students and be available to answer questions to school personnel, stay aware of student performance and provide time for kids to read.

We discussed the risks of continuing the status quo, including the possible decline of our education system, and with that, the negative effect that could have in our great cities of Grapevine and Colleyville. With the Hispanic students being the fastest growing group in our district (and state), it is critical that we act now. Even if we continue to improve our efforts at the schools to satisfy the needs of these students, we will not succeed without a strong partnership with their parents.

We also had meetings during the months of October, November and December, where we discussed the issue of student discipline, the GCISD Family Access tool (to review student grades online) and the course paths (regular, pre-AP, GT/AP) at the middle and high school levels. During all our meetings, we encouraged parents to come to the school if there is an issue with their students, either academic or behavioral.

We are planning monthly meetings in 2012, were we will discuss topics of interest, including the Career Tech options at our high schools, importance of a College education, College admission and financial aid, etc. We will also expand the program to include both high schools and Grapevine Middle School.

Friday, November 18, 2011

GCISD joins lawsuit against the state

Last week the GCISD Board of Trustees voted to join the lawsuit to be filed by the law firm of Haynes and Boone against the state of Texas regarding public school finance. Haynes and Boone is representing several Chapter 41 ("Robin Hood") districts in this lawsuit. The lawsuit will claim the current public school financial system does not provide enough funding to support an adequate education for our children, and that the current system results in a de facto state-wide property tax, which is illegal under the state constitution.

It is unfortunate that districts need to depend on this type of legal action to force the state legislature to provide adequate funding for education.  While the cost of education rises, not only due to normal cost of living increases, but also due to the drastic change in demographics in our state, the legislature follows a political agenda that sacrifices the future of the state by short-changing public schools.

This should serve as a lesson for all of us. YOUR VOTE MATTERS! We, the people, elected the current Senate and House members in our state.  If education is important to you, please look at the voting records of the candidates in the upcoming election prior to going to the polls.  If you do not want public school programs to be cut, or class sizes to increase, or low college admission rates, please support pro-education candidates in the 2012 elections.

If you are one of the many citizens in this state that does not vote, please reconsider. The future of our state is on the line. Texas is in the bottom 15% in the nation in terms of school funding. In GCISD, our leaders and employees continue to do more with less, as they maintain high quality school programs, control class sizes and service a more diverse student body without laying off personnel, while receiving less funds from Austin.  But this will not last forever if we allow our legislators to continue sacrificing public schools.  We need all pro-education citizens to go to the polls in 2012 and make their vote count.

You can watch Dr. Ryan's announcement about GCISD joining the lawsuit in this link

Thursday, October 6, 2011

A late welcome to the new school year!

I have been wondering for a couple of months what I was going to write about for my first blog entry of this new school year. I considered LEAD 2021, our new district strategy, the recently published AP test scores from TEA, which showed how strong our program is vs. peer districts, or our new CTMS program, "Exito Hispano en CTMS", which focuses on integrating more minority parents into our school. I was also wondering if anyone was actually planning to read my blog this year! Then I read the news that one of the great inventors of our lifetime, Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple, passed away at a young age of 56. I remember being in college in Puerto Rico when my roommate Miguel Morales brought a tiny Apple Macintosh computer to our apartment. What a cool machine that was! Miguel loved to make fun of the old PCs, the one with the DOS commands, while he moved the Macintosh mouse from side to side on the monitor, clicking the different options on his screen Windows (well, we know who copied that idea and made millions of dollars after that!).

In my opinion, the greatest accomplishment of Mr. Jobs was not all the inventions at Apple, or his great vision for animated films implemented at Pixar. It was the fact that he lived one of the greatest comeback stories of our lifetime. Mr. Jobs was fired from Apple in 1985 and was rehired in 1996, to not only change the company, but also our lives. Who does not have an iPod, iPhone or iPad?  And what about iTunes?

As we start the new school year, it is important to remind our kids that things are not always going to go their way. Life has many challenges, and it is important to learn from all experiences and move forward. How we deal with adversity defines who we are. We should always tell our kids there is always a solution to any problem. Things are not always easy, but with a positive attitude, we can find a way. Mr. Jobs made a great speech during the 2005 Stanford University graduation ceremony, and I am planning to share it with my kids later today. In that speech, Mr. Jobs talked about his life story, and about doing what he loved. If you want to watch the speech, here is the link.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Thank you!

On May 14th, our voters passed the 2011 GCISD Bond, with 3,718 (68%) votes for it vs. 1,748 (32%) against it. This is an important milestone for our district, as we start the implementation of our LEAD 2021 10-year strategic plan.
Thank you for supporting our schools!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Election Day May 14th

Please remember to vote on the GCISD Bond Election today, May 14th. Polling places are listed here. For more information on the Bond Package, please visit the GCISD Bond 2011 website.

Thank you for your support of GCISD!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

GCISD Bond Election

Early voting for the GCISD Bond Election starts on May 2nd and ends on May 10th. Election day is on May 14th. Polling locations are listed here. This Bond package will address needs in several areas in our district, including facilities renovation and repairs, safety and security improvements, instructional programs and technology. The Bond will also support the GCISD LEAD 2021 10-year strategic plan. 100% of the Bond funds stay in our district, as they are not subject to recapture by the state ("Robin Hood").  For more information on the Bond Package, please visit the GCISD Bond 2011 website.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Important message from Dr. Ryan

Please check the latest video message from our superintendent, Dr Robin Ryan, about new developments in the state funding for education and how that could affect GCISD:

Dr. Ryan's BEST Report 22APR11

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

We are in a crisis. Please get involved!

We all know that public education in the state of Texas is at a critical point in its history. The last report from the US Census Bureau stated that our state ranked 44th among the 50 states in the education funding per child. Current budget cuts being considered in our Legislature could potentially place our state last in education funding. On March 2nd, I joined a group of Board Trustees and Superintendents from Carroll ISD and GCISD in a visit to our state Capitol to discuss the current state budget deficit with several legislators. We met with Representatives Vicky Truitt, Mark Shelton and Senator Wendy Davis. We also met with Legislative Aides at the offices of Senators Dan Patrick, Jane Nelson and Representative Todd Smith.  Unfortunately, the main message from those discussions was that the funding situation for Texas public schools does not look promising for the next two years, with no clear solution in the short term.

Right now, it is critical that all citizens get involved demanding that legislators make Education in Texas a Priority. Balancing our state budget should not put the future of this state in jeopardy. Education cannot be seen as an expense, but as an investment. If you want to get involved, please call, email or send a letter to your legislators. To find the list of legislators that represent your residential area, please visit this site. You can also get a copy of a template to write a letter or an email to your legislators here. Even if you don't have kids in public schools, you need to get involved. After all, the quality of education affects the value of our homes and businesses.

Please spread the word to all your relatives and friends. Feel free to copy this blog link in your Facebook and Twitter pages to ask others to get involved. Many districts have joined forces to make Education a Priority in our state. For more information, please visit

Monday, February 28, 2011

Welcome SAGE!

There is a new parents advocacy group in our district, SAGE, which stands for "Supporting and Advocating for Gifted Education". The group's mission is "to ensure gifted children in Grapevine/Colleyville reach their fullest potential by advocating on their behalf, connecting parents to valuable resources and to each other, and by educating and supporting their teachers and administrators." This group will offer resources to parents and educators to improve the overall educational experience of gifted children in GCISD. We need to raise the bar for all kids in our district, starting with our top students. When we give additional tools to teachers and parents to increase the level of educational engagement of our GT kids inside their regular classroom, then all kids benefit from this. The more GT training our teachers have, the better prepare they will be to establish a more fun and stimulating classroom for all students.

If you are interested in joining this parents' group, please send an email to You can also follow the group on their Facebook page and via Twitter.