Monday, December 28, 2009

Thanks Daddy and Goodbye to All That

Thank you, Daddy!

My daughter graduated from Plano Senior High in 2009. It was a happy occasion for her and she told us that she loved going to school in Plano. I reminded her that I changed careers so she could grow up in Plano, and she gave me a hug and said, "Thank you, Daddy!"

There came a time when I needed to move to Silicon Valley to continue working in the design and manufacturing of computers. My wife and I had a heart-to-heart discussion about the future of our family and we decided Plano was where we wanted to rear our children, so I changed careers. The sacrifice I made for my daughter worked out, but I wonder if my sacrifice will work for my son.

Goodbye to All That

When my daughter reached middle-school in Plano, the math curriculum improved so I no longer had to send her to Chinese School for her math instruction. My son, however, is stuck with Connected Math, so I have to continue supplying him with extra instruction to compensate for the poor math program in Plano.

Plano is a great community, but the math curriculum in the elementary schools has always been weak. Now the weakness has spread to the middle-schools. So many children go to Kumon, or Chinese School, or Japanese school, getting extra tutoring, that the problems with the math curriculum are covered up. The danger will be in the dumbing down of the high school math curriculum. The high school math program in Plano has been a gem, but the dumbing down will eventually reach the high school and the damage will be too great for all the tutoring companies in Plano to overcome. When the high school math program is dumbed down, then we can say goodbye to Plano's reputation.

School Realignments

After my daughter attended a Texas Tech football game she was surprised at the lack of school spirit. I told her that Plano Senior High was a gem. I explained that her high school experience was rare. We bought our home so she could go to Plano Senior. I changed careers so she could go there, and then the PISD board ruined it for my son. Even if we move or we transfer him so he can attend Plano Senior, all his friends will go to Plano West.

The Plano Board of Trustees and the PISD Administration have done a dismal job of planning for very many years and the goofy school realignments are the by-product of years of poor planning. The once great Plano school system has been unraveling around us for years. The neighborhood chemistry is important for a school and this was ignored by the Board.

I hope Plano Senior High can survive the changes. I hope the city of Plano can survive these changes because the schools are the heart beat of our community.

What Can We Do?

People have been trying for years to fix the problems with the PISD, but the problems are so deep seated that there is no end in sight. However, we might be able to either undo the problems from the school realignment, or at least minimize the some of the problems.

We Plano parents should get busy over these next few years. Either approach -- undoing the realignment or ameliorating its problems -- will take years.

To undo realignment problems will require changing a majority of the Board of Trustees, which will take a couple of elections. There will be a school board election in May. That will be a time to voice your dissatisfaction with this realignment.

Robert Canright

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Why an Election on November 3?

If you have heard there is early voting going on and wondered why, I can tell you that it is because there are 11 constitutional amendments on the ballot for a November 3 vote.

I care about one in particular: Proposition 4 is intended to help create more tier one universities in Texas.

I explained back in September why I believe we need more tier one universities. I encourage you to vote for Proposition 4.

You can go to the website of the Texas Secretary of State and (1) see a sample ballot, (2) read "Explanatory Statements" (the propositions in simpler English), and (3) read an analysis of the propositions. The analysis is nicely done and is in a PDF document you can download and read at your leisure.

Where do you go to vote? The website for Collin County Elections has the info you need. The locations and times are available online. It looks like a very convenient time is Saturday: 7am to 7pm.

Here is a link to an article about Proposition 4 for all you Texas Tech fans.

Please support higher education in Texas. We truly need more tier one universities.

Robert Canright

Monday, September 21, 2009

I Love Plano: the Guitar Moment

Plano is such a great community. This Sunday I hopped into my car, scooted a little way down the road, and was inside the Angelika Plano very quickly. I was able to see the guitar documentary It Might Get Loud, which my friends in other towns cannot see because it is in limited release.

For a guitar buff, the show was a small slice of heaven. Then I step outside and find a good band playing rock in the street. I've heard many bands at the Shops at Legacy, but this one made me stop and listen until they took a break. The local band's name is Aquz and if I want to listen to live music, the first thing I'll do is check their schedule.

What a great night! Astounding music in the theater, good live music waiting for me outside, and all just a few minutes from my home. I love Plano!

I do want to mention Plano is surrounded by other great communities: Frisco, Allen, and Richardson. I was in the Half-Price Bookstore in Frisco recently and found "Consequences of Pragmatism" by Richard Rorty on the shelves. It has an essay, "The World Well Lost," that I've been curious to read. After reading the essay I thought, "this is not a common book, where did it come from?" I looked at the book mark that had been left in the book and saw: "The Concord Bookshop, 65 Main Street, Concord, Massachusetts"

How nice that a book can find its way from Concord, Massachusetts to my home in Plano via a shop in Frisco.

Plano, Frisco, Allen, and Richardson are great places to live!

Robert Canright

Monday, September 7, 2009

TAKS Scores Make Sales: Hebron and West

I met a gentleman on the way to Texas Tech recently. We were both taking a child to Lubbock for the freshman year at Tech. He was moving his family to North Texas from Houston and chose his house location based on TAKS results. This is a wise choice.

He found that Hebron High School was ranked Exemplary by the TEA while Plano West was ranked Recognized, so he purchased a home in the Hebron attendance zone. Plano lost a home sale because of TAKS scores!

Hebron High School is a fine school. I have had an opportunity some years ago to visit it and was impressed, but I noticed then that it did not match up to Plano West. But now it truly is ranked Exemplary. Here are the ratings over the years.

You will notice that Plano West has been Recognized 67% of the time and Acceptable 33% of the time. Hebron has been Expemplary 17% of the time and Acceptable 83% of the time, but now is Hebron's time to shine!

Healthy competition makes us stronger. I hope the Plano ISD can study what Hebron H.S. did to move up to Exemplary and make similarly effective improvements.

Robert Canright

You can go to this webpage and click on links to all the TAKS results, 2004 through 2009. Look for the section entitled, "The TAKS: Viewing School Results".

One needs to study the TEA report details to see if the TAKS scores alone make the difference between Exemplary and Recognized, or if other factors are responsible. The data is available online for anyone wishing to study the details.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

UT Does Not Want Plano's Best?

The Wall Street Journal ran "University of Texas Drops Merit Program for Need-Based Aid" by Tom Benning in the Wednesday Sept. 2, 2009 issue. The article says the University of Texas, Austin, is phasing out its National Merit Scholarship program starting next year.

Plano has a large number of National Merit Scholarship winners. Plano had 128 National Merit Scholarship semi-finalists in 2008. This means that UT does not want Plano's best students. I believe discouraging the brightest students from going to UT will drive down further the SAT scores at UT Austin. We have already seen the SAT scores for Math at UT Dallas surpass the Math scores at UT Austin.

UT's loss will be a gain for UT Dallas, Texas Tech University, and the universities at neighboring states. However, we need to be strengthening UT to raise it as a world class university, not driving it down.

Robert Canright

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Pledge to Justice

During the Summer of 2009, a young man visiting Dallas from California was assaulted coming out of a Rascal Flatts concert at Fair Park and put in a coma. Next, a graduate of Plano West Senior High was accused of being the assailant. I was so sad to hear someone from Plano be accused of this crime.

I have suggested for years that the Plano ISD adopt the Pledge to Justice, reciting it after the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag.

The Pledge to Justice

We do not steal, we do not cheat, and we do not hurt other people.
We are people of integrity, competence, and compassion.

If we had drilled these simple principles into all our students in elementary school over the years, perhaps that assault at Fair Park would not have happened.

We Plano parents can use the Pledge to Justice with our children. Even if the schools use it daily, parents need to use it as well to emphasize its importance. We Plano parents should tell our children we live by this standard and we expect them to do so as well.

Robert Canright

Monday, April 27, 2009

Plano Senior High Debaters Second in Global Contest

Congratulations to Plano Senior High debaters Crystal Xia, Gursimran Singh, and Javed Laljiani for taking second in a global debating competition held in New York City, at New York University.

Kudos to their coach Cheryl Potts. You can read the details in this press release.

Plano is a great community with talented students, teachers, and coaches.

Our thanks to Bickel & Brewer for making this experience possible for our children.

Robert Canright

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Plano Debaters Advance to Final Four!

I had mentioned earlier how wonderful it was that Plano Senior High debaters had advanced to the "Sweet 16" round of the Bickel & Brewer/New York University National Public Policy Forum.

Our kids are in New York right now, this weekend, April 17 to 19, competing in the final four. Here is a press release describing the event. Isn't this fantastic!?

I've said before that we should rear up our children as though each might become President of the USA. Here is a link to my blog post on a speech writing project to support our children who might run for President one day.

It is great that the Bickel & Brewer Foundation supports the National Public Policy Forum (NPPF).

I love Plano. It's a great community. That is why I run for the Plano school board, because I love Plano and want our schools to give our children the best education they can get.

Robert Canright

Sunday, February 15, 2009

I Love Plano: the Plato Moment

I was in a bookstore in Plano, looking at Allan Bloom's translation of Plato's Republic, and someone came over and chatted briefly with me about it. The other patron told me he thought Plato's Republic was the best book ever written.

Later, a friend who lives in Plano received a copy of Plato's Republic as a gift, so we formed a two person book club to read through it together.

I love Plano! What a great community Plano is with so many people having an interest in this exceptional book, one of the most brilliant works in all history.

Robert Canright

I like best the version of Plato's Republic printed by Agora Publications. Their version is laid out as a dialog, which is best. It's easiest to follow the conversation in the Republic when it is presented as a script. Even better, Agora hired actors who have enacted the dialog on audio CD. This is a treat.