The Best ... and the Rest
Your May 9 cover article "Bitter Lesson" [by Michael Berryhill] demonstrates the political infighting that occurs in school systems around the state. This type of struggle probably goes back to ancient Greece. It also explains why citizens are unhappy with their school system. Having five kids, we are veterans of private and public schools. Most parents seek a good, quality education for their children. We have seen the "best" and the "rest." We have been happy and sad.
The measure of this battle at Lamar jumps out near the end of the article when Berryhill discussed the improved TAAS results. Don Levinski, the principal at Lamar, came to Stafford High School four years ago. TAAS scores went from marginal/average to state recognition for excellence in 1995. SAT scores rose to among the best in the metro area. It appears that Mr. Levinski is doing what he did at Stafford High. (Incidentally, Stafford had a decline in TAAS scores this school year for the first time in four years).
Even though it's sad that TEA representatives apparently mishandled that situation at Lamar, the focus should always be the achievement of the kids. This is their foundation for the future. While I don't know whether Mr. Levinski is a Boy Scout, he is certainly among the best. The parents at Lamar are indeed fortunate.
In Steve McVicker's article "Case Closed?" [May 2] on the death of my brother, Houston police Lieutenant Alan Mabry, Fort Bend County assistant district attorney Jim McAlister is quoted as saying that he's been told that family members found "several more policies Mabry had taken out on himself" -- even though McAlister admits he's seen no verification. I do not know who might have told McAlister this, but there were only two insurance policies on my brother.
When the HPD family assistance officer came to talk to us, he told us of two policies that Alan had taken out early in his career. The first was the $60,000 policy with the Houston Police Patrolmen's Union. This is the policy that had a provision that paid double because Alan's death was ruled a homicide. The second was a small, basic $15,000 policy that was in effect because Alan was a city employee. That policy paid an additional amount equal to Alan's base salary as the result of an option he had chosen when he went to work for the city 21 years earlier. That is the additional insurance amount we discovered after death. There was never any additional policy that Alan took out on his life, as hinted at by McAlister.
Even the Houston Police Department is deeply divided over the cause of Alan's death. Most patrolmen liked Alan and are grateful for what he did for them and their pension fund. The HPPU hired an attorney and helped him regain his job in arbitration. In the fall of 1995, the union posthumously awarded Alan its supervisor of the year award.
A year ago April 29 was the last time I ever saw my brother alive; we had all gone out to eat after attending one of his son Bo's baseball games. On the evening of May 3, the day before he died, Alan attended another of Bo's games. Friends who were there said that he was yelling and singing and leading cheers as always. When he went home, he got a couple of shirts ready for work. The next morning, he left a bowl of dry cereal on the kitchen countertop and went to buy milk, a gallon of which was found in his car. He never returned. That was the day he was scheduled to get his badge back.
Alan and I were not best friends -- in the sense that we did not tell each other everything, as best friends often do -- but we were close. I miss him terribly.
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