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Posts published in “Day: August 27, 2002

Grading Teachers Fairly

By Dr. Dorothy Rich
President, Home and School Institute

To judge whether a teacher is good, bad, or in between, you don’t need to be an expert on education.

As a teacher, I give parents clues on how to look at and grade my work when they visit my classroom.
That’s why I tell parents to visit their children’s school and classroom as soon as possible in the new school year.

Parents should schedule a visit and expect to spend a few hours in the classroom. They have to see the teacher and classroom in action to really know how to grade it.

Here are my basic clues for parents. You’ll have your own to add.

•Don’t be impressed with my bulletin boards or with whether the desks are neat and the room is quiet. Some of the best learning in my classroom goes on with students making noise or even laughing.

•Assess: Is there a feeling of security among the students? Do I encourage divergent opinions and answers, or am I “answer pulling,” looking for the exact one I have in mind?

•How do I treat “wrong” answers? Do I discard them? Do I try to point out reasons why one answer is better than another?

•How do I treat “difficult” children, and what do I define as “difficult.” It’s possible that your children, on their problem days, may get similar treatment.

•Look carefully at my personality and me. I need not be beautiful. Yet like all good teachers, I need to convey to students qualities of optimism and encouragement.

•Try to come back to see me more than once. If you come away pleased with what you’ve seen, tell me. We teachers need praise, too. If something upsets you, discuss it with me first.

•Try not to tear down teachers in front of your children. This doesn’t mean you need to whitewash the school and blame children when they come home complaining about something. Yet, agreeing with the children that teachers are “stupid” or “dull” defeats any good purposes.

•Watch out especially for phone conversations, when children can overhear parents complain about the “boring” homework they have been assigned. Instead talk to someone at the school, where it can do some good.

•For the best evaluation, look to your children. Are they interested in learning? Are they eager to go to school? When this is happening, the school year is good. When it isn’t, there is trouble…trouble that all of us – students, parents and teachers – need to pay attention to.

Dr. Dorothy Rich, founder and president of the nonprofit Home and School institute, is the creator of the trademarked MegaSkills programs for character and academic development used by the National Education Association and school districts in more than 4,000 schools.

Expectations run high heading into 2002 collegiate season

The folks in Austin haven’t been this excited about an upcoming college football season since a young man named Campbell was etching his name in Texas lore some 25 years ago. The same can be said for the folks north of the Red River, where the Oklahoma Sooners also have their eyes on another national championship, along with a handful of teams from Tallahassee, Miami and Knoxville.

Ah yes, while baseball’s millionaires head for another strike (let them, who cares anymore!), the college football season gets underway in earnest this Labor Day weekend with a number of intriguing encounters from the East to West and points in between. Somebody should tell baseball greedy owners and players that no one is really going to care or not if they strike Aug. 30. That’s because King Football is back!

And what a season it could be for folks in the Lone Star State. Texas enters the season ranked anywhere from first to fifth, depending on which publication you read. Texas A&M returns the brunt of a team which finished with a winning record last year and Texas Tech has one of the nation’s top quarterbacks in senior Kliff Kingsbury.

The three Texas schools, along with Baylor, will again be a part of the Big 12 Conference, which for the second straight year could be the best in the country.

But the college game won’t be the only one in town this year. The local high school season cranks up the weekend of Sept. 6-7 when Aldine ISD’s four varsity programs take to the field, and the NFL returns to Houston after a six-year absence when the Texans take on the Cowboys on Sunday night, Sept. 8 in sparkling Reliant Stadium.

The return of the football season also means the return of this column. The 2002 season will mark the fifth anniversary of this endeavor and I hope you’ve had as much fun reading it as I have had writing it. It is definitely a labor of love.

So without further ado, let’s take a look at what the college schedule has. to offer this first full weekend (a handful of games were played Aug. 24-25).

North Texas at Texas: My nephew is a junior at UT and he’s been bragging to me all summer that this will be the Longhorns’ year. The young lad may have a point, but if they hope to land a spot in the Fiesta Bowl (the site of this year’s BCS title game), they’ll have to get murderous a schedule that will have them playing at Nebraska, Kansas State, Lubbock, College Station and taking on Oklahoma in Dallas. Not exactly a cakewalk, but if they get to the Big 12 title game undefeated, not even Mack Brown will screw it up this time around. The ‘Horns will begin their quest this Saturday when they run roughshod over a hapless North Texas squad. Look for Cedric Benson and Chris Simms to have huge days. My pick, Texas 52. North Texas 10

Washington at Michigan: One of the best early-season games on the schedule as the Huskies pay a visit to the Wolverines in the Big House in Ann Arbor. A year ago Washington escaped with a narrow victory at home, so look for Michigan to be out for revenge as the Pac 10 meets the Big 10 in this intersectional battle. The Huskies are loaded with talent, led by quarterback Cody Pickett, while the Wolverines return the brunt of their defense that lifted them to eight wins a year ago. Washington may have the better talent on offense, but good defenses win games. That will be the case on Saturday. My pick, Michigan 20, Washington 14

Colorado vs. Colorado State: This has turned into a fierce in-state rivalry as the upstart Rams from the WAC always play the Buffs of the Big 12 tough. Colorado finished the 2001 season as one of the hottest teams in the nation, literally running over Nebraska and Texas en route to the Big 12 title. Gary Barnett’ s team was waylaid by 12-1 Oregon in the Fiesta Bowl, but there is plenty of talent left on hand to make another run at the Big 12 title. Look for the Buffs’ three-headed monster at the tailback position to pick up where it left off a year ago. My pick, Colorado 36, Colorado State 20

Auburn at Southern Cal: Both teams are coming off so-so seasons as Auburn finished 7-4 and USC finished 6-6. This should be a good one to watch at the SEC pays a visit to the Pac 10. USC has the edge at quarterback in Carson Palmer, but look for the quick and hard-hitting Auburn defense to apply plenty of pressure on the strong-armed youngster throughout the game. This game will be decided on which team runs the ball the best, and the last time I checked, they are still running Student Body Left and Right at ‘SC. My pick, USC 23, Auburn 21

Mississippi State at Oregon: Jackie Sherrill’ s Bulldogs are coming off a miserable 3-8 season, but Sherrill is too good of a coach to have that happen two years in a row. Expect a much-improved MSU team to take the field in the Pacific Northwest this Saturday. The ‘Dogs had better be prepared because they will be taking on a team that is coming off a 12-win season, but must replace one of the country’s top quarterbacks in Joey Harrington. Harrington’s heir apparent is Jason Fife and while he may not be as well known as his predecessor, he will be surrounded by some of the fastest players in the Pac 10 on offense and he plays for one of the country’s best coaches in Mike Bellotti. Look for Fife to have a nice coming out party on Saturday as the Ducks just keep on rolling. My pick, Oregon 26, Mississippi State 17

LSU at Virginia Tech: Another good early-season matchup pits LSU against Virginia Tech. The Tigers won the SEC title and the Sugar Bowl a year ago en route to a 10-win season. Head coach Lou Saban is one of the best in the business and his task this year is to find a replacement for two-year starting quarterback Rohan Davey. The Tigers return a number of key players, as do the Hokies, most notably the super running back duo of Lee Suggs and Kevin Jones. This should be as entertaining of a game as any in the country this weekend. Look for plenty of offensive firepower in this one. My pick, Virginia Tech 34, LSU 32

Oklahoma at Tulsa: Bob Stoops’ Sooners begin their quest for a second national title in the last three years when they visit in-state rival Tulsa this Friday. Like Texas, OU is ranked in the top four heading into the country and with good reason. Former Nimitz High star Quentin Griffin returns for his third year at tailback and the defense could be better than the one that led the Sooners to the national title in 2000. Look for OU to open the season with a lot of firepower on Friday night. My pick, Oklahoma 41, Tulsa 12

Notre Dame vs. Maryland: The Tyrone Willingham era begins at Notre Dame this weekend when the Irish take on last year’s surprise team, Maryland, at the Meadowlands in New Jersey. Willingham inherited a ND team which finished 5-6 a year ago, but that was the least of his worries as he began his job. During the spring former starting quarterback Matt Lovechio transferred to Indiana, starting tailback Julius Jones lost his eligibility due to grades and three lettermen were charged with sexual assault and dropped from the squad during the off season. Welcome to the job, coach! With all of those problems, Willingham also has to prepare his team for a schedule that includes nine teams that went to bowl games a year ago. If he gets through this season with all of his hair, watch out for this team in the future. Maryland won’t sneak up on anybody this year, but they return a good portion of a hard-hitting and opportunistic defense, which might be enough to win a close one this weekend. My pick, Maryland 17, Notre Dame 13

Texas State Park entry fees waived during Lone Star Legacy Weekend

AUSTIN, Texas – Anyone interested in discovering the state’s natural and cultural treasures while raising funds to support conservation and historical preservation should visit one of the more than 120 state parks and historic sites during Lone Star Legacy Weekend Oct. 19-20.

Lone Star Legacy Weekend activities will include everything from fishing contests to car shows and concerts to living history demonstrations, nature tours and wild game dinners.

Also participating in the third annual weekend celebration will be Sea Center Texas in Lake Jackson, the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens, Lighthouse Lakes Trails and a handful of wildlife management areas (WMA). The previous two Lone Star Legacy Weekends have raised $145,000.

Lone Star Legacy was launched in 1998 by the nonprofit Parks and Wildlife Foundation of Texas to boost public conservation efforts, create greater awareness of the state’s top natural and cultural resources and raise private funds to support TPWD sites statewide. Since its inception, the campaign has raised approximately $9 million in cash and pledges for TPWD sites.

This is the third year in a row for the statewide celebration and fundraiser marked by special events and activities at state parks, fisheries centers and participating WMAs throughout Texas. Those making a donation to their favorite state park, the Texas State Park system or other TPWD site will receive a complimentary packet of wildflower seeds.

“Lone Star Legacy Weekend represents an ideal opportunity for Texans to get out and enjoy the incredible state park system, fisheries centers and wildlife preserves that belong to them,” said Robert L. Cook, TPWD’s executive director. “There are still millions of Texans who don’t realize what they’re missing. We encourage them to join us in celebrating the outdoors and our unique heritage at dozens of special events taking place from the Panhandle to the Gulf Coast.”

The foundation’s fundraising initiative was launched on the heels of the first of several reports noting that TPWD faced considerable financial challenges in maintaining and operating more than 200 state parks, historic sites, WMAs, fish hatcheries and other facilities. The entire amount of each Legacy donation goes into an endowment fund. Once a facility’s endowment account reaches a certain amount, the interest generated can be used for operations, equipment and other needs.

Walt Dabney, TPWD’s state parks director, says it’s important that people understand just what state parks represent in order to garner public support in times of tight state budgets.

“Our parks and other facilities are bare-bones operations,” Dabney said. “If we’re going to be able to offer anything beyond just keeping them open and clean, we need to have additional resources. Lone Star Legacy donations and our dedicated volunteers represent the difference between just being there and staying open to actually being able to offer educational and interpretive programs that enhance the visitor experience.”

While no entrance fees will be charged at participating Texas Parks and Wildlife Department sites, donations will be accepted to benefit the Lone Star Legacy campaign. Overnight camping, some historic home tour fees and various activity fees, such as tickets to ride on the Texas State Railroad, will still apply. Toyota and its Texas dealers are underwriting state park admission fees to make Lone Star Legacy Weekend possible. For more information about Lone Star Legacy events, visit ( or call 800-792-1112.

Community Improvement District Board adopts Service and Action Plan

The Board of Directors of the Aldine Community Improvement District met in its regular monthly meeting at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, August 20 at the Aldine Y.O.U.T.H. Community Center, 4001 Aldine Mail Route.

Following the determination of a quorum, the board took up several routine matters including a resolution to establish the district’s fiscal year end (August 31), ratification of the executive committee’s decision to purchase insurance for the District from the Texas Municipal League, and the appointment of a representative from the District to the North Corridor Coalition (Chairman Clyde Bailey).

The board then received a presentation by Executive Director David Hawes of a Proposed District Service and Action Plan.

The plan, which was developed on the foundation of HCCDA’s Aldine Community Development Plan that was released in 1999 includes a list of objectives and programs under consideration in eight areas.

Work began on the first of these, Water/Sewer Infrastructure, when the District made application to the Texas Water Development Board for a planning grant for water supply and wastewater treatment facilities within the District. TWD approved the grant on August 21st.

The other seven areas include Transportation and Mobility, Security and Public Safety, Environmental and Urban Design, Neighborhood Clean-Up, Economic Development and Public Relations, Leadership Training and Project Staffing and Administration.
A recommendation was made by Mr. Hawes that Chairman Bailey appoint three individuals to head committees for the transportation, security, and environmental areas before the next regular meeting.

The Neighborhood Clean-Up committee was previously established and has already met to begin planning for a number of programs and activities.

One of the objectives of the Clean-up committee is the removal of dangerous buildings. A report that appeared in the Chronicle’s This Week section on August 8 , credited the Improvement District with the removal of three abandoned houses, two on Kowis and one on Allwood.

While the District does hope to facilitate such efforts in the future, it did not, in any way, contribute to the demolition of these houses.
Demolition of abandoned structures is a lengthy legal process that involves, among other things, notification of the owners, heirs, assigns or any person with financial interest in the property. And it takes money.

Harris County’s budget for clean-up is limited and must be evenly shared by all areas. The demolition of these three structures was paid for by a HUD grant obtained by the Harris County Community Development Agency.

The Clean-Up Committee will meet at 7:30 tonight, Tuesday August 27 at the Aldine Community Center, 4001 Aldine Mail Route. The public is invited to attend and take part in the planning.

In other business, the board considered a proposal to add the office of Parliamentarian to the District’s slate of officers. A resolution was made and seconded and was approved with one dissenting vote.

A proposal to build elevated walkways over Aldine Mail Route between Hambrick Middle School and the Aldine 9th Grade Center was referred to the committee being formed to address Transportation and Mobility issues.

In addition, a proposal that the District sponsor a Community Christmas Tree was referred to a committee to be chaired by Director Mauldin.
In discussion regarding the ability of directors to respond to inquiries during the public comment portion of ACID board meetings, Director Mauldin reported that a precise reading of the Texas Open Meetings Act, subsequent opinions issued by the office of the State Attorney General, and verbal clarification by a representative of his office, do indeed prevent any substantive response by the directors.

Director Mauldin suggested that the District Board sponsor regular town hall meetings to provide an open forum where residents can voice their concerns, offer suggestions and receive information about the operation of the District and its projects.

Following a request by Director Murillo that guidelines be established and adopted concerning the election of officers and their terms of office, Tim Austin, attorney for the District, said that he would put together suggested policies and procedures in response to Murillo’s request along with a simplified version of Robert’s Rules of Order for the Board to consider at the next meeting.

Mr. Hawes reported that District revenues for the month of August were $105,196 bringing the seven-month total to $529,011. Disbursements have been made in the amount of $$75,093 including $59,739 to Hawes Hill & Assoc. for management services, $12,379 to Vincent & Elkins for legal services and $2,725 to the Texas Municipal League for the just-acquired general liability insurance.

Finally, Susan Hill and Derrick Heyward of Harris County Social Services presented a preliminary report on space that has been made available for use by the community next to the Sheriff’s Storefront on Aldine Mail Route. The space is part of the old movie theatre, one of the 3 screens with seating for approximately 250. The center owners are willing to lease the space for $1 year, but the renovation and overhead costs would have to be covered by the community. A suggestion was made that the contractor who “built out” the other two-thirds of the theatre for the WIC facility, be contacted and asked to make an estimate of the cost to renovate the space.

The next regular meeting of the Aldine Community Improvement District Board of Directors will be held on Tuesday, September 17 at 7:00 p.m. at the Aldine Y.O.U.T. H. Community Center, 4001 Aldine Mail Route. The public is urged to attend.

Questions about the district, its management, or programs should be addressed to David Hawes or Susan Hill at Hawes Hill & Associates LL, 713-541-9906.

Pet of the Week

August 27, 2002

This week’s featured pet is a three month old, male Australian Shepherd Mix. He is light brown with a freckled white muzzle, bib and socks. This friendly little guy never stops wagging his tail…he’s waiting for you to come take him home!

If you would like to adopt him or any of the fine companions available at the shelter, please visit the shelter at 602 Canino, west of the Hardy Toll Road.

Please call 281-999-3191 for information and shelter hours.

Northeast County bat tests positive for rabies

A bat from northeastern Harris County has tested positive for rabies. According to Harris County Rabies/Animal Control one of their Animal Control Officers found the dead bat in his front yard. Using his ‘Bat Removal Kit’ he picked up the bat and brought it to the Rabies/Animal Control Shelter to be sent for testing. It was confirmed positive for rabies on August 15, 2002. There were no known human or animal exposures

Bats are considered at high risk for rabies in Harris County. They are also common to the area. Bats should never be handled. The Centers for Disease Control recommends rabies post-exposure immunization for physical contact with bats. Bats should also be sent for testing when found in rooms with sleeping persons, very young children, and anyone who is unaware of potential bites or incapable of communicating. If testing is not possible in these situations then post-exposure treatment may be indicated. Harris County Rabies/Animal Control urges the following precautions:

•Maintain current rabies vaccinations on all dogs and cats four months of age and older (vaccinations must be given every year).

•Confine all pets or keep them on a leash.

•All persons, especially children, should be warned to avoid all sick or injured animals.

•All stray or wild animals should be avoided, particularly skunks and bats observed during the day.

•Report all animal bites or scratches that break the skin to your area animal control agency.

•Report loose animals to animal control.

Harris County does accept some random wild animal samples for testing. Not all requests, however, can be accommodated. For educational programs on rabies or animal safety, or for more information, call Harris County Rabies/Animal Control at 281-1999-3191 or visit our website at

Oleson Elementary PTA seeks new members, community support

Oleson Elementary PTA enrollment will start on September 1st. Parents, teachers and the community support is needed. Enrollment will be $4 per family. Our school success depends on our community working together. Dues may be paid at Oleson Elementary. Please contact the school for any questions at 281-985-6530 or call membership chairperson Shirley reed at 281-449-7531. Thank you for your support.

Registro para miembros de PTA comenzar· 1 de septiembre. Necesitamos el apoyo de padres, maestros y de la comunidad. Costar· $4 por familia. El Èxito de nuestra escuela depende de que la trabajemos junto con la comunidad. La cuota puede ser pagada a la escuela Oleson. Llame si tiene alguna pregunta al 281-985-6530 o la persona encargada Shirley reed al 281-449-7531.

Beware of Suspicious Calls

Q: My mother, who is elderly, told me she recently received a call from someone at your office informing her that you had gotten a settlement from a sweepstakes company and that she was due a refund of $500. The catch was that she had to pay $295 up front in legal and processing fees.

In addition, she doesn’t remember filing a complaint with your office. The caller tried to get her credit card number from her. She refused to give it to the caller. Did your office really call her?

A: I can say, without hesitation, that no one from the Office of the Attorney General called your mother. I am very glad to hear that she refused to give the caller her credit card information. Otherwise, she might have lost a lot more than the $295 the caller was asking for.

The Office of the Attorney General does take action against businesses that violate the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act. However, any legal action taken by this office is on behalf of the State of Texas, not private individuals.

In some cases, we receive restitution for individual consumers. But our notifications are always in writing. And we would never require a consumer to pay legal or processing fees. Your mother escaped being the victim of a scam.

Unfortunately, we get many calls from concerned citizens whose elderly parents have fallen prey to unscrupulous telemarketers or all-out con artists. And once a person says yes to one con artist or telemarketer, his or her name and number end up being sold on call lists to hundreds of others. It begins a vicious cycle that has left far too many senior citizens destitute and afraid to tell their families about what has happened.

Some tips everyone should remember when dealing with telemarketers:

•Never give your credit card or bank account information over the phone unless you know with whom you are dealing. This is especially true if the person called you. If you think the offer is legitimate, ask the caller to send you the information in writing, with a company name, address and contact number. A legitimate company or charity will have no problem providing this information.

•Watch out for high pressure sales pitches over the phone. Some telemarketers try to sell you something for a great price that is only available if you act now. A good deal should be available for longer than 15 minutes.

•Hang up! If the caller won’t take no for an answer, hang up the phone. It is your phone, after all, and the caller is taking up your time.

You can report suspicious calls to the Consumer Protection Division (CPD) of my office. There is an online complaint form available on our Web site at You can also request a CPD complaint form by calling us at (800) 252-8014 or file a complaint with the Public Utility Commission through its Web site at

Texas Water Development Board Approves $238,000 Planning Grant for Aldine CID

AUSTIN, TEXAS—The Texas Water Development Board yesterday approved $238,210 in grant funds for a regional water supply and wastewater facility study in Aldine.

The study will provide hard data regarding needed facilities and infrastructure improvements in Aldine, a schedule for implementation, alternatives for funding, and capital and operating cost estimates.

Now the TWDB and the Aldine Community Improvement District must agree on a contract for services, a process that generally takes about 30 days, said Phyllis Thomas, TWDB director of research and planning, grant management division.

Created by the State Legislature, the Aldine CID has the authority to plan and develop a water or sewer system within its boundaries once the 18-month study is complete.

The district is also authorized to create or contract with a separate for-profit or not-for-profit corporation to develop and maintain such a system.

The grant represents the first step in a multi-year process to replace Aldine’s current water, sewer, and drainage facilities—a piecemeal arrangement that relegates more than half of all homes in the district to shallow fresh water wells that are often contaminated by nearby sewer septic tanks.

“This (grant approval) is a major accomplishment for a district that’s just 18 months old,” said Clyde Bailey, Aldine CID board president. “A lot of credit goes to (State Rep.) Kevin Bailey, who pushed this grant through and lined up in-kind contributions, and to the Harris County commissioners, who adopted a resolution for this grant application on our behalf and provided substantial in-kind contributions.

“Looking forward, I believe that all other improvements in the district – safety, beautification, business development, everything – will flow from this first success,” said Bailey.
Total cost for the TWDB planning study is $419,273. Through the efforts of State Representative Kevin Bailey, the district secured a number of in-kind pledges that will reduce its cost to just $25,000.

In-kind contributions brokered by Rep. Bailey include: $76,950 in legal services from the law firm of Bracewell & Patterson, $68,760 in mapping and engineering services from Harris County, and $67,500 in inspection services from the Texas On-site Wastewater Association.

Once the TWDB study and plan are complete, Aldine CID may call on Harris County, the State Legislature, federal and state matching grants, municipal utility district bonds, and rate-payer revenue to support the actual project.

A lack of public services, such as those addressed by this grant, has left Aldine largely unable to compete economically with its neighbors to the north, south, and west over the past two decades.

In fact, Aldine’s aging water and sewer facilities increasingly pose risks to the health, safety, and welfare of the citizens and the area’s economic viability, according to David Hawes, Aldine CID executive director.

“We believe this (grant approval) is the single most critical factor in improving the physical, social, and economic well being of the Aldine community and the foundation upon which all other improvements will occur,” said Hawes.

The Aldine Community Improvement District was established by the Texas Legislature in 2001 to address public issues not otherwise provided by the state, county, or city.

In August 2001, voters of the district approved a one-cent sales tax that took effect January 1, 2002 and is expected to generate annual revenue of $800,000 to $1 million.

The Aldine CID is bordered roughly by the Hardy Toll Road, F.M. 525, U.S. 59, and Little York.

Boy Scouts kick off School Night for Scouting

The Sam Houston Area Council, one of the largest Boy Scout councils in the nation, will kick off its Fall Scouting Recruitment campaign, “School Night for Scouting” on September 5th at area elementary schools. The Sam Houston Area Council, with more than 159,000 youth members, will introduce Scouting programs to youth and their parents through “rallies” held at these elementary schools.

Parents and their children will have a chance to see Scouts in action at schools in North Forest Independent School District. They will have pinewood derbies and knot-tying demonstrations and display various merit badges. Every new Cub or Boy Scout that joins Scouting in the months of August or September and comes to the next pack or troop meeting will be eligible to receive a special Scouting baseball card featuring Billy Wagner of the Houston Astros!

The Sam Houston Area Council leads the nation in the number of Eagle Scout recipients each year. The Council includes 72 school districts across Harris and the surrounding fifteen counties of Southeast Texas.

The Council’s Scouting programs reach out to youth from all socioeconomic backgrounds and in every community of its 32 districts and divisions. Scouting programs include Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts and Learning for Life, an organization that introduces career options to high school boys and girls.