By Chris Lane
By Jeff Balke
By Aaron Reiss
By Angelica Leicht
By Dianna Wray
By Aaron Reiss
By Camilo Smith
By Craig Malisow
Just junior dirtballs: After reading "Learning How to Survive (at) CEP" [by Wendy Grossman and Margaret Downing, May 31], I concluded that the CEP program is an unmitigated success. It does get the disruptive students out of school, and judging from the students' complaints, they seemed to have learned that associating with students just like themselves is a dismal experience. I can understand their need to return to their old school so they can disrupt a better class of students.
Conversely, the program is a failure in that some of the students and their parents still see themselves as victims rather than the expected product of their behavior. The program also fails to teach the children the skills they need for their chosen career path, such courses as Choosing Balanced Meals from Dumpsters, Picking the Right Bridges to Live Under, or Earning a Living Selling Your Ritalin Prescriptions.
John D. Griffith, M.D.
Contract hits: When I worked for Harris County, data that I reviewed demonstrated without a doubt that HISD staff indiscriminately assigned serious felony delinquents to CEP's alternative program. Why? To meet their contract quota. It makes me sick to read about young, vulnerable, noncriminal students warehoused for 180 days (or one day) at this privatized "academic" hellhole. CEP President Randle Richardson is irredeemable. He's in it for the money. What would be refreshing, however, is for someone -- anyone -- holding a position of public trust at HISD to admit that they made a mistake, apologize, and commit to ridding Houston of these charlatans before more tax money is wasted and more young lives are harmed.
Reality checks: As a retired HISD teacher (22 years), I read your articles concerning the school district and its various foibles with great relish, and usually find myself in total agreement with them.
As much as it grieves me to say this, I must take some issue with your story on CEP. While I agree that in the main this is just another example in the history of the HISD board abrogating its responsibilities to the teachers, the kids and the parents that it is supposed to serve, I feel that HISD and CEP are not totally at fault here. A large amount of blame must lie with the parents who have not taught their kids that they are responsible for their actions.
The reason that CEP exists is because HISD is unwilling to enforce its "zero tolerance" attitude with the disruptive, defiant and, in many cases, dangerous kids, and the parents who feel that their "little darlings" are always right. Like it or not, CEP is the dumping ground for those kids. Those complaining attitudes, not their referring teachers and schools, are the real reason that their kids are in CEP in the first place.
Things that the general population needs to realize about CEP:
1. Like charter schools, this is a "for profit" venture, where the name of the game is not really the education of kids but to make money for the corporation. This is done in two ways: a) by keeping the enrollment up to a certain minimum number, and b) keeping expenditures down to an absolute minimum, and that certainly includes the salaries of the "learning facilitators" (teachers).
2. CEP is a form of incarceration, and like all forms of incarceration, there are certain freedoms that are lost for specified periods of time.
3. Given the low salaries, the student population, and the attitudes that both parents and students have to work with, is it any wonder that the turnover rate at CEP is what it is?
4. It's also an unfortunate fact of life, but in every school, the weak become the prey of the bullies. Those who were bullies at their home schools find out that at CEP, there is someone there who is meaner than they are, and now the bully becomes the victim.
Paybacks are hell.
I had an assistant principal once tell me that "the real reason that we have school is not to provide kids an education but to keep them off the streets and out of trouble, and that schools are in fact nothing more than society's baby-sitters." And people ask me why I retired. With this attitude, is it any wonder that CEP looks good to HISD?
William T. Robertson
Not Ready for Prime Time
Wait a minute: Very interesting story ["Credit Check," by Jennifer Mathieu, June 7]. I had the privilege of being a student of both Ms. Davis and Mr. Howard a few years ago. At that time I was about 25, out of the Marine Corps and working full-time. I can recall a few instances where younger students fresh out of high school seemed ill prepared for some of the subjects and discussions presented in class. Abortion, pornography, school prayer, gay rights, obscenity laws and other mature subjects did bring about some snickering and laughs from several students. I can only assume that the same holds true for the high school students who are trying to complete GOV2301 and GOV2302 in such a short amount of time.