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Posts published in “Day: August 12, 2008

Quadruplets are quite a bundle for local family

NORTH HOUSTON – Grandmother Rose Anderson, proprietor of Rose’s Barber Shop on Aldine Mail Route in the Jed’s shopping center, has quite a lot to be proud of lately. Her daughter, Angela Bellow-Wilson, gave birth to quadruplets on April 17 of this year.

They were born at Womens Hospital of Texas, and each baby had to have a special team of doctors and nurses assigned to the delivery, to insure that everything went well, as it did.

The babies ranged in weight from 2 lb 10 oz., the smallest, to 4 lb. 6 oz. the heaviest. Now, over 3 months later, the babies weigh about 13 pounds each, their mother Angela reported to the Northeast News.

Because they were delivered early, by Caesarean, they had to stay in the hospital longer than usual. The first two went home at 3 weeks, the next at 4 weeks, and the last one was kept in the hospital for 7 weeks until some tissue in her neck improved.

There are 3 girls: Caycee, Cydnee and Cayden Wilson, and one boy, Chayse.

The mother had taken some fertility medicine, and the conception was In Vitro, because she had earlier had her tubes tied, she said. However, she and her second husband wanted children, and they decided this was the best method.

Originally, they expected twins, but after a couple of months it was determined they would be triplets, and then one of the eggs split, and they ended up with four babies.

When they first came home, the babies were on apnea monitors, but since there are no problems they now sleep and eat in normal ways.

But they do keep their mother busy, Angela reported from her Tomball home. She has two other children, a boy 19 and a daughter 13.

Grandmother Rose Anderson and the rest of the family help when they can, but mainly they are just proud of such a beautiful group of children.

A Running Mate is more than a Ticket-Balancer

The speculation continues about potential running mates for Democrat Barack Obama, 48, and Republican John McCain, who will turn 72 on Aug. 29.

But we should remember that it really does matter who is sitting second chair. While it’s certainly understandable that winning the election is important, that vice-presidential nominee should be more than a geographical, ideological or experiential ticket-balancer. They should be capable to take over the job as seamlessly as possible.

In the meantime, not only can an appropriately wise vice president provide good counsel and help to the president, he or she will have a pretty good shot at becoming president themselves. More about that later.

Of course, for a presidential candidate to become president, he or she first must win the election. And there certainly has been more than passing attention paid to that by presidential hopefuls.

The prospect of winning states not usually carried by Democratic presidential candidates certainly adds to the allure to Obama of Indiana’s Evan Bayh, 52, a senator and former governor; Gov. Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania, 64 and Gov. Tim Kaine of Virginia, 50. For McCain, he’s OK on defense and foreign policy, and Washington experience. He may need more appeal to his party’s conservative wing, perhaps some regional balance, and someone like a governor who’s actually run something. And maybe someone quite a bit younger.

Among the names being noised around are former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, 61, considered a business whiz; Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, 52, a younger man from a swing state; and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, 52, who as a Baptist preacher has better credentials with the religious right than McCain.

The vice presidency is one of the best vantage points to run for president. It carries a 50-state identification, a national political organizational base, and a reputation as someone sitting close to the captain’s seat.

Of the 18 presidents of the 20th Century, seven served as vice presidents first, five of them when the president died or resigned.

Of the 10 running mates from 1940 through 2000 who served as vice president, four became president, and three others were their party’s nominee for president but lost.

The four running mates who later became president were Democrats Harry Truman and Lyndon Johnson, and Republicans Richard Nixon and George Bush. (Gerald Ford became president when Richard Nixon resigned, but hadn’t been Nixon’s election running mate; he was appointed vice president to replace Spiro Agnew, who resigned.)

The three vice presidents who later became presidential nominees but then lost the election were Democrats Hubert Humphrey, Walter Mondale and Al Gore.

The three running mates who became vice president but never president or their party’s nominee were Democrat Alben Barkley and Republicans Spiro Agnew and Dan Quayle.

What considerations do presidential nominees go through in making this first most important decision?

In 1980, Ronald Reagan picked primary election rival George Bush, even though Bush had derided Reagan’s budget proposals as “Voodoo Economics.” To Reagan, Bush provided the former California governor a real war record, Washington balance and experience, strength in the Northeast, and some moderation (even though Bush had an election-year conversion to opposing a woman’s right to choose whether to have an abortion, and downplayed the Voodoo to get on the ticket).

In 1992, Democratic Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton forgot regional balance and picked then-U.S. Sen. Gore of adjoining Tennessee because of his good environmental record, Washington Senate and House experience, Vietnam war service, family values, and an organization and a past thoroughly vetted by the press from his own presidential run four years earlier.

In 1984, Democrat Walter Mondale hoped his selection of U.S. Rep. Geraldine Ferraro of New York, the first woman vice presidential nominee, would provide some pizzazz to capitalize on the women’s vote. That didn’t happen.

In 1988, George Bush picked unknown U.S. Sen. Dan Quayle of Indiana to cater to the Republican right, and who wouldn’t outshine him. Quayle proved an embarrassment, but Bush won anyway.

One Democratic consultant said that all of the attention paid by the Democrats and press to string-pulling to get Quayle into the National Guard to avoid Vietnam service was time and energy misspent, that they should have been using to tout Democratic presidential nominee Michael Dukakis.

Bush, despite Quayle, beat Dukakis, who picked Texas U.S. Sen. Lloyd Bentsen for Washington, regional and ideological balance. The moderate-conservative Bentsen might have won, but Dukakis couldn’t.

In 1972, Democrat George McGovern picked U.S. Sen. Thomas Eagleton of Missouri, but dumped him after learning Eagleton had had shock treatments for depression. Peace Corps Director Sargent Shriver, a Kennedy brother-in-law, instead was chosen for what turned out to be a kamikaze mission against Richard Nixon’s re-election.

And George W. Bush chose Dick Cheney because he had Washington, foreign policy and defense credentials, and didn’t want to run for president.

In a few weeks, Obama and McCain will announce their running mates – who might be president themselves someday.

Aldine ISD announces guidelines for free / reduced meal

Aldine’s Child Nutrition Services Department administers the federal free/reduced meal program. Both breakfast and lunch are available to all students in Aldine ISD.

We encourage all students, free, reduced and paid to join us for breakfast and lunch each day. School meals meet the Dietary Guidelines for Healthy Americans and all national standards in addition to the adopted nutritional requirements of the Texas Department of Agriculture.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announces new income poverty guidelines yearly for local school food service departments to use to determine the eligibility of free/reduced meal applicants.

Children may be eligible for free or reduced price meals without application if they are listed on the Texas Department of Agriculture Direct Certification Program.

Families who are Direct Certified will receive a letter from Aldine ISD Child Nutrition Services Department. This letter tells parents and/or guardians that their children are already approved for meal benefits. Families receiving this letter should not complete a new application.

If any school-age children in a Direct-Certified family are not listed on the letter, you must complete a new application.

All families that were approved for free or reduced price meals at the end of the 2007-2008 school year will receive meal service through early-October. Federal law dictates that everyone receiving free/reduced meals must reapply each year, unless they are Direct Certified.

For those who are not Direct Certified, and feel they will need assistance for the 2008-2009 school year, applications will be available after July 20, 2008 in schools or at the central Child Nutrition Services Department Office, located at 2112 Aldine Meadows, Houston, Texas. Early completion of the application assures families faster, better service in the processing of applications.

MacArthur High School earns TEA “Recognized” rating

The Aldine ISD staff and administration are all smiles this week after getting some good news from the Texas Education Agency. Fourteen of 61 campuses were ranked “Exemplary” the highest accountability rating that a campus can achieve. Another 29 campuses earned the “Recognized” ranking.

The school district was ranked “Acceptable” by the TEA based on this past year’s TAKS (Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills) tests. Making the “Exemplary” level were the Victory Early College High School, Anderson, Carroll, Raymond and Harris Academies and Mendel, Worsham, Oleson, Johnson, Thompson, Stephens, Ermel, Black and Spence Elementary Schools.

To be “exemplary” a campus must have 90% passage rate for students overall as well as in each of the four subgroups: African American, Hispanic, White and Economically Disadvantaged.

Depending on the grade level, students are tested in the areas of reading, writing, math, social science and science.

MacArthur High School (the ninth grade and sr. high campus combined) hit the “Recognized” level this year. This is a repeat for the sr. high school and an upgrade for the ninth grade.

Students averaged a 92% passage rate in reading, 95% in social science, 75% in math and 73% in science. In math, the passage rate of among the subgroups ranged between 75 and 82%. In science the range was 70 to 80% passage.

As a whole, students showed improvements across the board. The only drop from last year was 2% in African American math (or five students) and White science 6% (three students).

While the TEA did not use completion/dropout rates to determine a school’s rating thestatistics were still included in the annual report. MacArthur had an 86% completion rate last year, drop 4.9% from the previous year. The highest percentage of students graduating were Hispanics and Economically Disadvantaged at 86.8%. The lowest percentage was White students at 75.7% or eight dropouts out of 37 students. Aldine High School earned an “Academically Acceptable” rating from the state.

Students averaged an 85% rate in reading, 89% in social science, 56% in math and 54% in science. In math, the TEA found a decline of 1 to 4% in three of the four subgroups, with a 1 to 6% decline in science. The biggest drop came in Hispanic Math in which 58% of students passed the test. While there was one less student who took the test this year than last year, 33 more students failed the test. In African American Science while 11 more students took the test nine more students failed. Aldine High recorded an 87.3% completion rate, down 5% from last year. The highest percentage of students graduating were Hispanics with 88%, down 4.7% while the lowest percentage were African Americans with 84.8%, down 4.9%.

The TEA said that in 2005-06 they changed the definition of “drop-out” and “completion.” This, they said, resulted in what appears as a statewide increase in dropouts. It was because of these new definitions that the state opted to not include them in the accountability rating.


North Forest ISD officials and administrators are thrilled by the newly released TEA academic accountability ratings for the District and nine of the 11 rated campuses it operated in the 2007-2008 school year.

All of the District’s elementary and middle school campuses rate “Acceptable” or better, including four campuses—Lakewood Elementary School, Shadydale Elementary School, Tidwell Elementary School and B.C. Elmore Middle School—that are “Recognized.” Fonwood Elementary School, W.E. Rogers Elementary School, A.G. Hilliard Elementary School, R.E. Kirby Middle School and Oak Village Middle School are rate “Acceptable.”

The ratings, which were released today, also designate North Forest ISD as an “Acceptable” district.

“This is the real news, the good news—that even with all of the challenges North Forest ISD has undergone and continues to face, our students and schools are meeting and exceeding the standards set by the state—the same standards every Texas public school is required to meet. Our students are getting a quality education right here in North Forest ISD,” says Interim Superintendent William Jones.

The District’s two high schools, Forest Brook and M.B. Smiley, still struggled academically, earning “Unacceptable” marks from the state. In 2008-2009, the District will operate one high school—North Forest High.

“District administrators and school staff are focusing on the issues that are problematic at the high-school level, such as discipline and truancy,” says Jones.

“Additionally, the school merger has given us the opportunity to place highly-qualified teachers and staff at one high school. Mr. Charles Russell, whose leadership was instrumental in pulling Oak Village Middle School from the brink of closure, has been named principal of North Forest High. We believe that the same success our other campuses are experiencing can and will happen at the high-school level.”

Jones says the accountability ratings bode well for the future of the District.

“The 2008 ratings are a tremendous boost and a testament to the hard work that students and staff have committed to this District and to themselves,” he says. “Two years ago, eight of our 11 campuses were unacceptable. In 2007, we managed to get a few more of our campuses off the “Unacceptable” list. But in 2008, nine of our 11 schools met the mark. The District is excited, energized, encouraged and truly optimistic. With the continued commitment of our staff, hard work from our students and involvement of this community, I am certain that more great things are to come.”

Here is a campus-by-campus look at the ratings:

Fonwood Elementary School – Acceptable
A.G. Hilliard Elementary School – Acceptable
Lakewood Elementary School – Recognized
W.E. Rogers – Acceptable
Shadydale Elementary School – Recognized
Tidwell Elementary School – Recognized
B.C. Elmore Middle School – Recognized
R.E. Kirby Middle School – Acceptable
Oak Village Middle School – Acceptable
Forest Brook High School – Unacceptable
M.B. Smiley High School – Unacceptable.

Chamber hears update on Lone Star College

North Houston Greenspoint Chamber members and guests heard an update on the status of growth at Lone Star College at last Thursday’s chamber luncheon, held at the Days Hotel on Beltway 8.

Dr. Stephen Head, president of Lone Star College-North Harris, made the presentation with slides and commentary. He detailed the progress that has been made since a $420 million bond issue was passed in the spring, and what the public can expect from the expenditures.

He also portrayed a revolution in college education, as community colleges such as LSC try to meet the needs of population growth and interest in college education and job prospects.

The program also had a condensed presentation by Chamber president Reggie Gray, of a new concept and initiative by the Chamber for a Center for Business Development that will be a partnered program between the chamber and the college, which will offer unique development help for new and existing businesses. This incubator type of program will offer training, resources and experiences to help businesses develop their full potential. (Editor’s note: See next week’s Northeast News for a more complete report on this Chamber program.)

Dr. Head detailed the changes and growth at Lone Star College (formerly North Harris Montgomery County College District) since he first came in 1984 as a history and higher education teacher.

North Harris College now has 12,000 students, and 2 satellite campuses, as well as instruction at MacArthur High school and proposed at Aldine HS The bond issue will provide about $60 million for expansion plans.

These expansion plans, according to Dr. Head, include a new Student Services Building on the main campus, renovations to the Academic Building, an addition to the Fine Arts building, an addition to the Applied Technology building, and a new Health Professions building at an I-45 site.

Also planned are renovations to the LSC-NH Greenspoint Building, and a proposed Aldine Center facility.

Dr. Head said that the whole Lone Star College System now has 53,000 students, and a $210 million yearly budget. This makes it the 3rd largest in the state of Texas. The growth rate is about 5000 new students each year. Even so, it remains one of the best bargains in college education, with a 12 semester hour schedule only costing $540 per semester, one of the lowest in the state.

The current tax rate for the system is $.1145 per $100 of real estate valuation. This is generating the $210 million for the yearly budget, he said, because the assessed value within the service district is so large, at $100 billion, with a growth rate of about 8%. This suggests a continued base to support further system growth.

Another factor driving the growth of the community college system is the contrast with the cost of private colleges, which are now averaging about $40,000 a year.

Community colleges are also focused more on job training, which makes their education valuable to students. Included in the focus on student success is the realization that many students live at home, are young, and the college deals with their anxiety and inexperience as well as education.

Water board says area eligible for state funding

Special to the Northeast News

An attorney with the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) has determined that Harris County now meets all the legal requirements to be eligible for funding from the state’s EDAP program. The program provides grants and loans for extension of water and sewer services in older neighborhoods that lack public service.

“This is great news. It means that both the East Aldine Management District and the Airline Improvement District will be eligible for funding from the state. It has taken years of work both at the state and county level to achieve this goal,” said Rep. Kevin Bailey. “After I passed legislation in 2005 expanding the program to include Harris County, regulations had to be approved by the county to ensure that no more neighborhoods would be constructed in the county that lacked basic services.”

TWDB provides funding for public infrastructure projects through the EDAP program. The program provides grants, loans or a combination grant/loan for water and sewer services in areas that are below the state’s median income level. The program will pay for construction, acquisition of land if needed, plant improvements, and associated engineering work. The program will not fund ongoing maintenance and operation of the systems once completed.

“Earlier this year officials from TWDB came to Houston for a meeting with the East Aldine and Airline Districts at my request. We anticipated that the county would be able to successfully address the concerns that the state had so the districts began a preliminary application process at that time,” said Bailey.

“Since $250 million in new funding had been approved for the EDAP program, we wanted to make sure that North Houston would be well positioned to benefit from the program. Both districts currently have grant applications pending.”

Harris County Commissioners Court passed a regulation in July to ensure that adequate water and wastewater facilities are provided in subdivisions within the jurisdiction of the county.

The new regulations that will enable the county to be eligible for EDAP funding went into effect August 1.

Ledger performance saves “Dark Knight”

“The Dark Knight”
Running time: 152 minutes
MPAA rating: PG-13

I’ve watched “The Dark Knight” three times, and I’m still not sure how I feel about it. It’s either the best movie of the year, or a muddled mess that’s overshadowed by a bravura performance by Heath Ledger.

Let’s face it, the main reason many of us are seeing “Dark Knight” is to watch Ledger chew up the scenery as the Joker. And Boy Howdy does he.

Ledger has taken an iconic character and made it his own. No one can play The Clown Prince of Crime ever again without being compared to Ledger. The dude out-Jokered Nicholson, for cryin’ out loud.

That’s no small achievement, and he definitely deserves an Oscar for this performance. Not since Anthony Hopkins’ portrayal of Hannibal Lecter have I been so unsettled by an actor’s characterization.

The same can’t be said for Christian Bale, who is the worst Batman since Val Kilmer uttered the infamous “chicks dig the car” line in “Batman Forever.” Bale disappears in the suit: no character, no emotion and even worse is that raspy voice he adopts that sounds more like Homer Simpson doing his Horse Whisperer impression than a menacing and mysterious Dark Avenger of the Night.

The plot continues where “Batman Begins” left off. Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman) and Batman are trying to bring down the various mob families who have Gotham City in their grip. The two decide to back new district attorney Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart), dubbed Gotham’s White Knight. Their plans to clean up the streets, however, are derailed by the appearance of the Joker, who begins to play deadly games with the mob, the police and Batman.

By playing one side against the other two, the Joker hopes to bring down the status quo in order to show the world what a flimsy artifice Civilization is. He is, as Bruce Wayne’s butler (Michael Caine) describes, one of those men who just wants to watch the world burn.

“The Dark Knight” has many brilliant scenes, but also a few (like an entire sequence involving a Hong Kong gangster) that are a complete waste of time. Plotwise, we see minor characters show up for no logical reason except to introduce a plot device to advance the story, and then disappear again. There is quite a bit of trite, hackneyed dialogue (Dent actually utters the groan-inducing line, “It’s always darkest before the dawn. And the dawn is coming.”) … And yet, I want to see this movie again.


North Forest Board says TEA wrong on District’s status, will fight to stay

NORTH FOREST – At a press conference called last week, and then subsequently at their called board meeting, the trustees of the North Forest School Board criticized the announcement of Texas Education Commissioner Robert Scott to replace the board and the Superintendent.

They were joined in their comments by Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, who said she supported the present board, and opposed the TEA decision. However, in carefully chosen words, she emphasized her job was to all the people in the district and insure that “after cutting out the problem, what is left must work” for the good of the whole community and its children.

Lee said her goals were Fairness, and Preservation of this Historical District. She said she wanted a stable school board, so that it could attract money and help from outside organizations.

Lee said she felt the TEA action may be a violation of the federal Voting Rights Act of 1965, and noted that the Board Members are protected by law. She called for a review by the U.S. Dept. of Justice.

Lee mentioned that she already had commitments of about $1 million, in escrow from private sources, to be used for improving math & science expertise in the district. She indicated that there could be other federal, state and private funding available in addition to this.

Lee said she viewed North Forest as potentially a good place for people to move back into. She thought an appointed Board would probably not be as responsive to the community as an elected board.

Board members read statements and made comments about the TEA decision, feeling that it was unwarranted.

President Ross said the board had worked hard, and that improvements were obvious. He cited higher TAKS scores, a balanced budget, and reduced staffing and expenditures. He indicated that he felt the announcement was a “racist and biased decision by Scott against a black district.”

The board indicated they will appeal to TEA to reconsider the decision.

In an emotional statement, board member Sylvia Brooks Williams said “Revocation of my right to serve is a revocation of your right to vote.”