Bill Gates Unplugged

Friday, February 27, 2009

Candis: A High School Student Leader

Near Southeast Fort Worth was once the epicenter of hopelessness. Drugs weigh the community down and alcohol washes away the pain of guilt and responsibility. Crime is petty but prevalent, and money is nowhere to be found. But out of the rough comes a rare diamond. Candis is going to college.

This is hood rat turf. Kids here are not known to go to college. They are usually included into the statistics of the dropouts and teen pregnancy. And, anyway, who would even dare them to hope to go to college, when the thought of cost comes in? But Candis worked, hoped, and dreamed of a scholarship. And, she got it.

I remember watching her grow up under the tutelage of Wallace Bridges and the Near Southeast Fort Worth CDC “Weed and Seed” program. She was one in a group of ashy face high school kids chatting in a forum with adults and community activists. The teenagers talked, and I never considered how serious they might be about their goals and aspirations. Hood rats are always full of fat talk.

But there was something Wallace Bridges did. He made Candis and the other teens feel special. To him, they were somebody. And, he was determined that they would be somebody.

Shirley and Johnny Lewis conceived the “Weed and Seed” program in Near Southeast Fort Worth. The idea was to first weed out crime and corruption. And, indeed, this is the only part of Fort Worth where crime is down.

Second came the seed- the children of a new generation. These kids would be nurtured in a cleaner and safer neighborhood environment. And, although they were surrounded by poverty and family hardships, they had a haven, even if it meant sleeping on the floor at the home of Wallace Bridge until the storm blew over.

Wallace is the program director of the Near Southeast Fort Worth CDC “Weed and Seed” program. He has connected with all the near elementary and middle schools.

The two high schools in the area, Poly and Trimble Tech. is as different as night and day, one academically acceptable and other unacceptable. But the neighbor "hood rats" are fighting for better. One by one, I see them fighting for a way out.

Candis was one of the first seeds to blossom. The announcement came during a Black History program at the new neighborhood Shamblee Library. Candis Davis received an acceptance letter to TCU, as in the prestigious Texas Christian University.

All I could say was: You Go Girl!

Friday, February 20, 2009


WHAT: Parent-Student forum hosted by FWISD Board of Education Representative Christene Moss –Dunbar High School “Excellence—the Wildcat Way”

WHEN: Monday, February 23, 2009, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

WHERE: Dunbar High School auditorium, 5700 Ramey

SUMMARY: Fort Worth ISD Board of Education Vice President and District 3 Representative Christene Moss will host a Parent-Student Forum at Dunbar High School on Monday, February 23, 2009. The meeting will get underway at 6:30 p.m.

All of the different components of the Dunbar community will participate in order to share the achievements and successes of Dunbar High School. In addition to parents and students, other groups invited to the meeting include local pastors and community members, the Alumni Association, Adopt-A-School Partners, Booster Club, and parents of all students in the Dunbar Pyramid. We are especially excited about sharing with 8th graders at Dunbar Middle School all the wonderful programs at Dunbar High School.

“It is our hope that parents, students and the community will spend some time to understand the gains that are being made in the Dunbar pyramid,” said Mrs. Moss. “At the same time, it is important for all involved to understand their responsibilities in continuing that growth.”

All parents and students are strongly encouraged to attend so they may learn about Dunbar High School “Excellence—the Wildcat Way.” Additional information is available from Dunbar High School at 817-496-7400.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Trimble Tech Students Righteous Stand against FWISD Board Changes

By Eddie Griffin

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The school board meeting last night was too much fuss over too little that mattered. The reckless assertions of Trimble Tech High School cherry-picking its students from the pool of high school applicants, based upon their academic performance, at the expense of other schools, were harmful both to students and public.

A school that pulls its academic achievement up by its bootstrap should be lauded and emulated, and not undone. Like some supporter said during the meeting, “Other high schools should be like Trimble Tech.”

I am particularly astounded that these faulty notions of cherry-picking were not nipped in the bud by senior board members who predated the 1995-1996 Trimble Tech Improvement Plan- a plan that led to the school achieving an “exemplary” rating with the state.

On the other hand, as I recall our little coalition of parents, businessmen, and civic leaders who drafted the improvement plan, there were certain board members who never took time to participate in the workshops, never read our reports, and only gave us verbal lip-service for support. Now these same surviving board members are asking ignorant questions about why the school uses the current application screening process.

The Tech students were right last night. The criteria for entrance should be based upon the student’s career goals and essay. That was our objective as architects of the plan. We wanted students who were serious in their career aspirations, something we could easily discern from their essays.

The School Board, on the other hand, was wrong. By tweaking the entrance policy for the simple sake of change, members of the board have made the student application and review process part of a new bureaucratic function. Beginning in the 2009-2010 school year, students applying for entrance into Trimble Tech High School would be required to submit their application to the central office.

It seems to me that the students themselves are more qualified to judge their peers and determine who best fit into their school environment, rather than someone so far removed as the central administration which already has a problem figuring out how to raise other high schools up to Tech’s level.

Maybe I should have added: If it’s not broke, don’t tweak it.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009


"How our schools should be"

[Excerpt Edit by Eddie Griffin]

Wednesday, February 4th, 2009 at 10:20 am

"This kind of innovative school…is an example of how all our schools should be," President Obama said yesterday, as he and Mrs. Obama visited a public charter school in Washington, D.C.

The President and First Lady read "The Moon Over Star," a book by Dianna Hutts Aston, illustrated by Jerry Pinkey, to a second grade class at the Capital City Public Charter School. After finishing the book, they asked the students if they had any questions. The President fielded queries about pets ("We had a fish. I’ve got to admit the fish died"), why he wanted to become president ("to be able to help people"), and his favorite superheroes ("Spiderman and Batman").

Less than 10 years old, the school serves 244 students in grades Pre-k through 8, and is widely regarded as one of the best schools in Washington.

"We're very proud of what's been accomplished at this school and we want to make sure that we're duplicating that success all across the country," the President said.

That task falls to Education Secretary Arne Duncan, who attended the event along with the President and First Lady.

We sat down with Secretary Duncan to get to know him a little bit better and understand where he gets his passion. He told us that improving our schools isn’t just about education – it’s a matter of social justice.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan Overview

Promethean Board demonstration