Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Why high speed internet won't help an old computer system run better...

Sometimes, despite all of our efforts, some broken things simply cannot be fixed. A Band-Aid does NOT make everything better. Let's say you are still using a computer you got in high school (let's assume you have already had your 10 year reunion).

Let's say it is working pretty well for you as far as typing papers, but for some reason you can't quite figure out how to access that new-fangled thing called the internet.

Let's say you call someone and ask them what you need to do to make your computer get the internet. They will (if they are a computer-literate kind of person) probably tell you something about band-width, download speed, and finally conclude that you need to upgrade to high-speed internet.

Let's say you decide to give in an get this high-speed thing everyone is talking about. You call and have someone come out, convincing you that you need a wireless router, etc. etc. and you lay down a pretty penny for the best package.

Do you think your computer will access the internet? Probably not. You see, I can create a file in Microsoft publisher that takes up more data space that entire computers used in the 90's. No matter how fast your internet access is, you simply will not be able to load a single page onto your computer.

But what does this have to do with the price of tea in China, you ask?  Well, nothing.

But what it does demonstrate is how we often try to fix problems without really ever FIXING THE PROBLEM. This week, voters in Tyler are participating in early voting for a public school bond to remodel some existing elementary schools, the final few schools in the district that have not been upgraded or rebuilt, and to build a new middle school and technology center. At this point, taxes will not be affected because the school can simply use the funds they were using to repay their loans on the previous remodel/rebuilds to do the proposed remodel/rebuild/new builds.

There are those are concerned about the cost, and with this economy, it is a valid consideration. Yes, taxes will not go up now, but eventually, the debt will have to be repaid; however, it is my conviction that we will be paying a much greater price in the long-term future of our children if we do not do something now.

There are those who are concerned about low test scores, and this is also a valid argument. Tyler schools have experienced very low scores in the past few years, but I would argue that if you attended classes in a sub-par, over-crowded school with inadequate heat and air, if you had to brave torrential downpours, snow (ok, not a lot, but from time to time), and scorching heat simply to get from one class to another, all of this might make it a little harder to focus on your studies. If you had to TEACH in these conditions, you might have to spend more of your time making conditions bearable than preparing lessons for your students.

There are those who say that until test scores come up, they won't approve new schools or even remodels.

It is my opinion that if you give students and teachers a place to learn that they can be proud of, a place that is safe, a place they WANT to be rather than HAVE to be, test scores will go up. People are going to rise to the lowest possible expectation. If you tell students that they don't deserve more than a portable, they will respond in kind. If you tell students that they deserve a place with great technology, plenty of space to learn and play, and access to the best education we can offer, they will respond to this as well.

It is my opinion that if you create safe and comfortable schools, many of those who have removed their students because they don't feel the conditions are safe will allow their children to return to public schools, test scores will go up-without any extra effort from the teachers.

Many of you may ask: What's it to you? Your kids aren't even in school yet.

My husband and I have spent a good part of the last year considering where to send our oldest (who will start kindergarten in 2014) to elementary school. We investigated private schools, and while we were impressed with their results, we didn't feel comfortable with our options. We investigated moving to the suburbs, but we truly enjoy living in Tyler, we both work in Tyler, we attend church in Tyler, and most of our friends are here; to move would me a 30-45 min. commute each day.

After much prayer, consideration, and research, we decided to stay in Tyler and give the public school system a try. How will the current bond affect us?

1) We are building a home within a mile of the proposed middle school. Yes, we are very invested in the new bond! Without it, our children will attend a middle school that is half-way across town, was built when their grandmother attended-built in 1930! You can only imagine the conditions that the students are facing in this over-crowded school.

2) Our family will be tied to Tyler for the long-term. We are building our "forever house," meaning that this is the hose we hope to live in for a LONG TIME! We will be paying taxes (and mortgage) on it for a LONG TIME. We are invested in making Tyler a safe and functioning place. With current schooling conditions, I am concerned not so much about my children (I will do whatever I can to give them the best possible education); I am concerned primarily for the future of our city. If we don't spend money creating a great educational system in this city, it will only continue to slide further and further into poverty, with greater dropout rates, higher crime rates, and more people on food stamps, housing, and living off the government.

After spending the last 11.5 years in Tyler working with those in or close to the poverty line, I know that something must be done to change the tide. One school at a time, one child at a time, one teacher at a time.

I am so glad that God doesn't require us to clean up our act before we come to him; instead, when we invite him into our lives, he works from the inside out to improve our character, our attitude, and our wants and desires. We can't and won't do it on our own, but with the Most High God living in us, we can make the changes we desire in our lives. In the same way, with safe and comfortable schools to attend, children will take pride in themselves and their future and I believe we will see our tax dollars at work for something positive (rather than just fighting crime) and test scores increased.

So, while high speed internet access won't fix an out-of-date computer, buying a new computer will work wonders. You simply can't ask a broken and inefficient system to do more than it was designed to do; spending the money to fix the problem rather than simply put a Band-Aid on it will bring positive changes throughout the next generations.