Recently, for instance, approximately 20% of the Texas 7th grade math curriculum has been shifted all the way down to the 4th grade. In past years similar quantum leaps have been made in attempts to raise performance levels.
Born and raised in Navasota, T. Winston Cole left Navasota to attend Wiley College, where he eventually became its president. He later served in two Presidential Administrations, and at Florida State.
It did not work. But that did not stop educators from continuing the struggle. And to a large degree, fighting the war on poverty with empty, disproven platitudes and strategies.
No one spoke up as the whole ship of education listed towards left-brained thinking skills, all in an effort to supposedly carve out an educational paradigm suitable for all American ethnic groups.
The cover of Andrea Davis Pinckney's children's book about Alvin Ailey, a world famous dancer who once lived in Navasota.
Since competition is a major stimulant for achievement, this kind of lop-sided migration of many of the top achievers can only serve to lower morale and expectations and ultimately flatten the performance of the remaining students. This especially sabotages “Project Based Learning,” a team learning concept now popular, as the student academic leaders are not there to lead the way for their peers. Sadly, it is not unusual for District employees or others associated with the district to enroll their children in nearby Anderson schools. Others choose to “home school.” This is the sad state of affairs in NISD.
Another illustration in Pinckney's book, by Brian Pinckney, showing Alvin Ailey and his mother attending Truevine Baptist Church in Navasota.
Navasota Intermediate School is just one of 670, or 8.4% of Texas Public Schools which were REQUIRED TO IMPROVE, OR ELSE. 46 school districts across the state, or 5% of all Texas school districts have to satisfy the TEA or face failure, humiliation, and usurpation. An even greater percentage of charter schools face the same fate.
Born in Navasota, Milt "Tippy" Larkin was a popular big band leader who assembled a "who's who" jazz band in Texas, and took them all over the United States...
And nobody seemed to care, for all of these years, what was sacrificed to reach for these goals. Educational environment, teacher morale, student confidence, community self-esteem, all were dispensed with to please an oppressive system, that has made casualties out of all of us.
Milt Larkin and his "All Star" band.
"Big Lu Valenz" was one of the biggest Tejano stars ever... he and his brother pictured on this album cover were born and raised in Navasota.
Annie Mae Hunt left the terror and oppression of the Brazos Bottoms to become a civic leader and political activist in Dallas. You can read her story in "I Am Annie Mae," a biography by Ruth Winegarten.
Strangely, during this era of adverstiy, Navasota produced an amazing hall of fame of notable achievers, never equaled since, who made history and proved that at one time, Navasota was the epicenter of BLACK EXCEPTIONALISM.
Disproportionately, the most famous and successful people from Navasota have been blacks.
Never the less, Navasota has evolved from a town which enjoyed amazing "black exceptionalism" in the 1930's and even into the 50's, to a town suffering since Integration with a stubborn, under-achieving population characterized by black provincialism, and punished for it.
But what happened? It is a matter of history. While the more proactive blacks sought safety and opportunities in the cities, what was left was the truly beaten and downtrodden; the old and sick and infirm; the completely passive and complacent; the weak of mind. To be kind, this left a very unbalanced and quite static gene pool; A gene pool that had nothing better to do than reproduce itself.
THAT is pressure no child can endure. Now that so many teachers have lost their jobs, because of student performance, this is just another reason to hate school, and want to quit. These children in many cases will always be adversely affected by the stigma of poor test performance, but now their teachers, the very people striving to save them, are going down with them.
Ironically, this jobless administrator may be one of the lucky ones, freed to find a more pleasant educational environment. This kind of miserable, self-flagellating institution, and the children depending on it, can only be pitied.
Navasota's favorite son Mance Lipscomb would surely sing the blues over the present public school woes.
BUT, the educational masterminds in Austin seem to constantly forget that many young Hispanics do not speak our language, or speak it with limited understanding, and most of them have parents who never received the kind of education their children are getting in Texas. Most of these uneducated migrants or immigrants cannot help their children with homework. (This has led to the near elimination of homework!) They do not implement the educational programming on television that gives many white children a tremendous advantage. Still, even with these hurdles Hispanic students are doing fairly well in Texas, despite their handicaps, and other than unrealistic curriculum demands which discourage them, they are going to make it. It will take discipline and a few generations before they will perform on an even playing field, but I believe that is all they are asking for.
But regardless of this kind of additional scrutiny, they are just bones thrown into our dungeon after leprosy has already broken out. The damage has been done to our morale and our reputation, and it will be hard to repair. Many of our best families, formerly employed by the district, will be forced to relocate, and complete the demographic transfer. And these measures by the TEA will not solve the cultural problems which we have ignored for far too long.
TEA has more than purged the system, but failed to serve its purpose. It has out-lived its usefulness, and should be retired at its upcoming sunset revue. The present state policies must be reversed or all of Texas will be thrown into an educational wasteland, where students suffer needlessly and no teacher will be able to get, or KEEP, or even WANT a job.
Joe Tex (aka Joseph Hazziez) sang about race issues, and about Navasota and Grimes County, and tried to inspire blacks to excellence and achievement. He only lived in Navasota for a few years, but his family still owns property here.