Parents urge Fort Bend ISD to move academy program out of Clements

By Betsy Dolan 

Now that Fort Bend ISD has approved the Facilities Master Plan, some Clements High School parents say the time has come to move the controversial Global Studies Academy to an underutilized school.

The six year old GSA program, which focuses on world languages and cultures, is an option for incoming 9th graders who live anywhere in the district. Students are selected for the program based on grades and course work in the 7th and 8th grades, standardized test scores, teacher recommendations, an essay and a personal interview.

Parents who would like to see the GSA moved, spoke to the Board of Trustees April 21. One of their worries is that the GSA is a way for students, who aren’t zoned to Clements, to get in to the highly regarded school.

“Of the 120 GSA students in 9th grade, 9 were zoned to Clements,” said one parent. “This academy only serves as a back door portal. No one sees a good reason to join the academy if they are already zoned to Clements.”

Other parents are concerned that the GSA students get preferential treatment over non-GSA students.

“Parents are paying exorbitant property taxes to be zoned to Clements and their kids, if they are in the ninth grade, have a one-eighteenth chance of getting the teacher-of-the-year in social studies that the GSA students have. There are teachers that are reserved exclusively or near exclusively for the GSA students. That isn’t fair,” said one parent.

Still other parents are worried about the increasing competition at Clements, made worse, they say, by the GSA students and the reality of the “GPA game”. One father told the BOT that students are feeling so much pressure that they are dropping out of extracurricular activities and becoming one-dimensional “bookworms”.

“We want our kids exposed to rigorous academic disciplines. My son’s class rank would be 25 slots higher if the GSA kids weren’t there. It matters in Texas when you are competing to get in to that top 10% to be able to go to state schools”, said one parent.

GSA Supporters tell a different story. They say Clements has been a competitive school for 20 years and GSA students, just 15% of the school population, have had a minimal impact on class rankings. In addition, they say, there is no preferential treatment because all GSA courses are available to non-GSA students.

“All students might not be able to take Japanese, German or Latin if the academy did not help support these programs”, one educator wrote in a letter to the “Star”. “The academy itself, and the coordinating extracurricular entities it nourishes, are opportunities that offer students ways to differentiate their learning as well as providing all students a way of focusing their specific interests.”

Superintendent Charles Dupre said the district continues to look at the academy issue and will put together a study group that will provide community feedback.

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Posted by on May 7 2014. Filed under Breaking News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

1 Comment for “Parents urge Fort Bend ISD to move academy program out of Clements”

  1. allforthegsa_

    There are two sides to every story. Many of these parents aren’t involved in the GSA, so they wouldn’t know that we have to complete 140 volunteer hours during our entire duration of high school (240 if we wanted to qualify for the Y.E.S. medal) and attend a minimum of 4 cultural events a year. Does this look like we get “preferential treatment”? Regular Clements students are recommended to complete 100 hours for the YES medal at the end of high school and 2 years of language.
    We have teachers set aside for the GSA, but they don’t teach much different material than the other teachers for the same subject. Also, there are a handful of NON-GSA students in GSA classes due to overflow. According to those students, the curriculum isn’t much different from regular clements classes.
    “If they are in the ninth grade, have a one-eighteenth chance of getting the teacher-of-the-year in social studies that the GSA students have.” Where does this statistic even come from? It’s a very biased one at that. Our teacher of the year, Mrs. Badillo, is a social studies teacher for the GSA, but she wasn’t asked to represent the Model UN club, Academic Decathlon, or Current Events UIL clubs. She was selected for teacher of the year due to her DEDICATION, teaching style, and work ethic; not solely because she was in the GSA. Any other teacher from Clements High School could have gotten that award if they were excellent teachers. Not just social studies teachers. So out of all the teachers in clements (there are a LOT) she was chosen.
    This is an exemplary level high school. Of course it is going to be competitive. If anyone has it easy, it’s definitely the non-GSA students. They don’t have to balance extracurricular activities, required volunteer hours, cultural events, and a minimum of 4 years of language on top of an already challenging curriculum. Compared to us, the non-GSA students have a lot of leg room.
    This article said that students were chosen “based on grades and course work in the 7th and 8th grades, standardized test scores, teacher recommendations, an essay and a personal interview.” This means that the students were academically ready for a rigorous environment. This means that they would probably be tough competition for ANY student, not just those at Clements. All in all, if the GSA were to be moved, this “competition” problem (which shouldn’t even be a problem in the first place) would occur at every school it would move to.
    If you’re willing to root out hundreds of students and cause a million problems for the GSA such as transportation issues, moving the teachers (even the ones that are hosting many clubs such as iClub or Model UN,which many non-GSA students have joined) after reading this, please feel free to hold those opinions. But after reading this comment, PLEASE realize that there is no real reason to. We’re already very integrated into Clements, and that would tear us away from our non-GSA friends and staff (thats right, we have non-GSA teachers too). The GPA game will still be a problem even if we leave. Please don’t vote to move us. We only make up 15% of the population, and it’s hard enough to listen to the minority as it is.

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