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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