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Posts published in “Day: February 15, 2011

Laura Bush visits Aldine’s Stovall Middle School

Former First Lady Laura Bush announced the second education initiative of the George W. Bush Institute at AldineISD Stovall Middle School on Wednesday, February 9, 2011.
The program called‘Middle School Matters” will target middle school students to success at a college level. About 400 people were present to listen to Mrs. Bush introducing the program, including a group of Aldine ISD Board Trustees, Superintendent Dr. Wanda Bamberg, Dr. Terry Grier, Houston ISD Superintendent, Aldine ISD administrators, members of President Bush’s education policy institute, and Stovall Middle School students and staff.
“This is a great standing school to announce this initiative; this school district, Aldine school district was the 2009 BROAD prize winner in urban education, and it’s a very prestigious award, I congratulate you,” said Former First Lady Laura Bush.

“The George W. Bush Institute’s newest education Initiative that we are announcing here today at Stovall is ‘Middle School Matters.’ The vision of Aldine ISD is ‘to produce the nation’s best,’ and we are represented here today in the students who are with us, in our staff, in our leadership team at Stovall Middle School; we have some of the nation’s best students and educators representing the great ideals,” said Dr. Wanda Bamberg, Aldine ISD Superintendent. “In Aldine we are all about serving students and serving staff to support them in the important work of improving student achievement.”
The Middle School Matters program is designed to help middle school students struggling with classes, to provide them with the skills needed to be more prepared once they reach high school, and that way instead of dropping high school, they could get their diploma.
“Our goal is to produce practical, measurable results working with exceptional partners; about 1/3 of students do not graduate from high school in 4 years and 7,000 kids drop out of high school every day,” said Ambassador James Glassman, member of the George W. Bush Institute. “And the way to change the situation is by concentrating on middle school.”
During the presentation of this new initiative program, remarks about how a good education during middle school is so important for students was the primary topic. “Middle School education is a critical time for students to see if they are prepared for high school and thelife after that. To succeed, we know we need to reach students during these critical school years, between 6th and 8th grade there is a great opportunity to elevate students’ reading skills, to strengthen their writing abilities and to help them catch up in math,” said Mrs. Bush.
According to Ambassador James Glassman, researchers have shown that middle school is the best time to correct a student’s achievement problems, and that this program has been created to dramatically increase the numbers of students who enter high school ready for success.“Middle School Matters is a comprehensive research based program applied to middle schools, the Bush Institute has brought together a team of top education researchers and practitioners from across the country,” said Mrs. Bush.This research team analyzed the keyfactors in middle school achievement and determined that 11 elements distinguish outstanding middle schools: school leadership, effective teachers, reading and reading interventions, mathematics and mathematics interventions, writing and writing interventions, learning and cognitive science, advanced reasoning, data and use of data to improve instruction and learning, dropoutprevention, extended learning and school, student, family and community support.
Dr. Bamberg gave thanks to Mrs. Bush and to all members of the George W. Bush Institute “for this opportunity to be part of the celebration.” To end the presentation, Mrs. Bush stated “Every child in the United States deserves a quality education, so they can become responsible and productive citizens in life.”

Judge makes “Safe Haven” injunction permanent around Haverstock Hills

Local law enforcement, which stepped up their presence at the suspected crime-haven Haverstock Hills Apartments, now have a never-before tried method to rid the area of crime— civil penalties which create a “safe haven” around the complex, and ban 47-known gang members from entering the area.
In November 2010 Harris County District Attorney Pat Lykos filed a public nuisance lawsuit against 33 “known members” of the Crips and Blood gangs. The injunction prohibits them from congregating in a 57-acre area near Aldine Bender and Lee Road, which includes the 700-unit Haverstock Hills apartment complex. Since then 14 more gang members have been added to the list.
Lykos said the apartment facility has become a center of crime and gang activity. She added that through the injunction she hopes to keep gang members out of the area, thereby causing crime to drop.

“The apartment management is doing its best, but gangsters are swarming the perimeters,” said Lykos. “Elementary school kids are seen flashing gang signs and wearing gang colors. No longer will the people in Haverstock have to walk the gauntlet of gangsters, prostitutes or other criminal activity. We’ve drawn a line in the sand.”
The judge has also ordered the gang members to repay the county $70,000 in prosecution and court costs.
Of the 47 gang members identified, 28 have voluntarily agreed to the ban. The other 19 have will be on law enforcement’s watch list.
Under the judge’s ruling, the zone has no expiration date. The $70,000 repayment is in effect for 20 years.
A first for Harris County
This was the first injunction of its type to be filed in Harris County.
Under the injunction, deputies have the authority to arrest on sight any of those named in the court document, even if they are not in the process of committing another offense.
The penalty for violating the injunction, a Class A Misdemeanor, can be up to one year in jail and a $4,000 fine.
Harris County not alone with problem
While the injunction is the first of its kind in Harris County, other cities have similar anti-gang initiatives. Among these are a 9 p.m. curfew for known gang members, banning known gang members from possessing a cell phone in a vehicle and the prohibiting the wearing of known gang colors.
The cities of Bryan, El Paso, Fort Worth and San Antonio have also created “gang safety zones” similar to the one Harris County is proposing.
In 2006 San Francisco enacted a “civil gang injunction” targeting five “safety zones.” The City of Oakland soon followed suit. According to the San Francisco City Attorney’s office, they have seen the percentage of identified gang members arrested for non-injunction offenses drop from 41% in 2007 to 14% in 2010.
Although challenges to the injunctions have been, appellate courts in Texas and California have upheld the injunctions.

Economic Forum: North Houston economy improving

The 5th Annual North Houston Economic Forum was held last Thursday, Feb. 5 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Greenspoint. Host for the Forum was the Houston Intercontinental Chamber, the North Houston Economic Development Council, and the East Aldine Management District.
This annual Forum is meant to give local businesses a report on current and future economic conditions, to use in their own financial planning. The Forum was chaired by Kirby Sanford of Comerica Bank.

There were three morning sessions, with seminars on special topics. At lunch, the keynote speakers gave their reports on economic conditions in the North Houston area and the city and state in general.
The first morning session was conducted by Charla Lovelace of, speaking on Electronic Human Resources. After that Michelle Thiebaut of the Texas Workforce Commission spoke on Skills Development funding by the state.
The second session was presented by Don Ball of Lone Star College’s Small Business Development Center, on surviving in today’s business climate. Then C. J. Coolidge, of Administaff, presented a talk on our multi-generational business world.
The third morning session was a presentation by a special agent of the FBI, Noel Due, speaking on how to prevent Cyber Crime.
The luncheon sessions started with a welcome and overview by Reggie Gray, president of the Houston Intercontinental Chamber.
This was followed by a short presentation by the Executive Director of the North Houston Economic Development Council, Cathy Owen, speaking about economic activities and interests from businesses that are investigating relocating or expanding in the North Houston area. Owen said that there had been 20 inquiries in the year since NHEDC started, with 5 serious responses.
One of the keynote speakers was Patrick Jankowski, economist and regional v.p of research for the Greater Houston Partnership. He indicated that the Business Cycle in Houston was on an “upswing of recovery.”
Some of the indicators that Jankowski uses include the PMI, or Purchasing Managers Index, and the Rig Count. These both have positive counts, he said.
About jobs, Jankowski noted that during the recent recession, Houston did not lose jobs in Healthcare or Oil & Gas exploration. However, jobs were lost in manufacturing, heavy construction, and employment services. In the last 12 months, 13,200 jobs have been added, and he forecasts from 18,000 to 40,000 new jobs in 2011 for the Houston region.
He said that other strong recovery indicators were the Customs District Traffic, up 23% since November 2008, and the global economy. He expects that the Houston economy will double in the next 25 years.
Larry McManus of the State Economic Development office was the second keynote speaker. He started by noting the growth of population in Texas, now at 25,000,000 and growing by 1000 people per day. He said that in 2010 the state added 238,000 new jobs.
Quoting Governor Perry, “Texas is a state where a Dream can be put to Work.” He recommended the audience look at a state website: www.texas and also
McManus spoke about a number of initiatives the state has to encourage businesses, both new and existing. The DER is Domestic Expansion and Recruitment, Texas One for business marketing, Texas Economic Development Bank, Emerging Technology Fund, and Texas Enterprise Fund. The latter provides grants to expanding businesses with 100 or more employees, and since 2003 has created 56,771 new jobs. More information on all of these are available through his office.
A question and answer session followed, focused specifically on North Houston. Answers noted some of the area’s strengths: a good business climate, available class A office space, proximity to the airport, connections to global economies and markets, and anticipated growth at ports due to expansion of the Panama Canal and west coast labor problems.