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Monday, August 21, 2006

The Issue of Violence Plaguing the PSJA School District...What it boils down to

Growing up in the Tri-City area, a child learns one of life's harshest realities early on. The word fair is a concept reserved for those that count themselves among the more affluent members of the community. It is a keen understanding that to have is to be treated with respect, and to have not is something they tend to push further and further towards the edge of long forgotten, or never really went anywhere with anything in the first place. Our community is not mutually exclusive from those around it, but the politics of the situation seems to lend itself a little more to the problem.
In an article by James Osbourne in today's issue of The Monitor titled, "Eyebrows rise after mayor's son nets contract", Osbourne tackles the issue of questionable contracts being awarded to a son of a friend's friend. The same ol' twice removed scenario of business that has become the accepted norm in this community, but is a taste that is beginning to fall flat in places like La Joya, or Edinburg. Hector X. Palacios, owner of HXP Counseling and Consultant Services, was awarded a one year contract with the district in the amount of $93,000.00 effective at August 15th's PSJA school board meeting. What makes this interesting, is as the report stated, Hector X. Palacios is the son of the City of Pharr mayor, Leo "Polo" Palacios. What he's being asked to provide the district is detailed in the article, with the overall sentiment being that Mr. Palacios will provide a thirty hour anger management course for those students who are deemed "at risk" by the school district. Mr. Palacios is quoted in the article as saying, "In these classes, the focus is more on intervening for kids who are at risk to join gangs. I'll help them think consequentially and to empathize..Like I tell everyone, it's just a piece of the pie. It doesn't guarantee an end to violence in the schools."
An interesting choice of words, and no doubt will garner the approval of the many around him who have hired him in the first place. But for those of us who grew up knowing the exact impact violence has had on our school district, words like these echo the tired stale sentiment of not knowing what to do, but trying in vain to figure it out once they get there. That's fine if the school board wants to talk athletic uniforms, and what next week's school cafeteria lunches will consist of. When it is dealing with children that far exceed a solution that is based upon telling them what the consequences of their actions are, or having a security camera that will somehow magically instill the fear that they will get caught, there is not the vaguest idea what the problem is. Much less an honest offering of real solutions that will last. Real solutions that will change the amount of violence that occurs in our schools. Real solutions that will profoundly affect these children in a more positive light, so that they themselves can serve as positive role models in the community. This is what it boils down to, positive reinforcement. It is perhaps the naivest of concepts, given the cynical environment our children are being raised in. But it is at the root of what is affecting these children in the first place. To be "at risk" doesn't mean you've been singled out in the first grade and your adminstrators are going on a hunch that you just won't cut it in a society you're so desperately rebelling against. "At risk" means you've had your share of troubles, and if we don't scare the living wits out of you, you're bound to do much worse. Which consequently affects who? Who's life is inevitably tarnished by the violence and accusations of incompetence? Not the children we really need to be caring about in the first place. It tarnishes the reputation of a school board that would much rather bandage a downward spirraling situation by paying someone close to a six figure contract on the slightest hope that if even one child is reached, something has been accomplished. Indeed, hope in a magic bottle when the truth of the matter is, the money may have been better spent on hiring a district school psychologist who may be more qualified, and could perhaps offer better solutions to what a $93,000.00 a year contract and school surveillance cameras could offer. Caring. A sentiment that is obviously not at the level the local school board, and those surrounding it, are willing to reach. Or pay for.


Anonymous Tri-City Tease said...

Should we really continue calling our district "Pharr-San Juan-Alamo?" How about "Palacios-San Juan-Alamo I.S.D.?" This way, "PSJA" would still work as a letterhead. Talking about pieces of the pie, it seems as though the Palacios family wants the whole darn pie for themselves. Seriously, let's examine our school board members. In the past decade, they've been spending exhorbitant sums of money to win and retain those positions. Why? In some cases, they do it to get a piece of the construction pie. Mr. Santa Maria was careless and foolish, but he was just the tip of the iceberg. Some of the board members are caring, committed individuals, but they don't control the board. Do we really expect the majority to do what's best to avert violence among our schoolchildren?

9:31 PM  
Blogger Aggie Gal said...

This is mind boggling! Allow me to ellaborate a bit.

I am a software trainer for a company based out of Roseland, New Jersey. I work for their Austin, Texas location. Part of my job as a software trainer is contract other firms to provide training that myself and the other trainer at our location cannot. I had a get a quote to train 10 people last week. These 10 people are trying to become PMP Certified. PMP stands for Project Management Professional. The cost, including materials for a trainer to come to our site and train for a week was two thousand dollars!

It baffles me that the district decided to fork over 93000.00 for this! If I was paying that kind of money, THE INSTRUCTORS better be certified in something. Who is this HXP Counseling and Consultant Services anyway? I can't find them on the web. Is this even a real company? Anyone can come up with a cool name!

Let's see, I could probably hire 3 full time security guards for 93 grand, don't you think?

9:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr. Santa Maria was a greedy bastard, that is why he got caught.

What needs to be done is get all the Santa Maria clan out of the district. Lets take Aaron for example. What was he thinking, running for commissioner this last May. Now you have rumors that Jose Santa Maria will run against J.P. Bobby Contreras. Ya, like I'm going to vote for him. Jaime is an embarrassment to our community.

I don't think that the Palacios are going anywhere anytime soon. Take a look at this last Mayor election, Everybody was against Mayor Palacios and he came out swinging and slammed dunk the election even though there was a runoff.

Correct me if I'm wrong but I thought the Guajardo's run the district.

12:31 PM  
Blogger IAlmaguer said...

I have asked school board members why the committee that was formed 2 years ago in order to investigate better security for PSJA students had only met once. I still have not received a response. PSJA needs an internal police department. Mission CISD has done a pretty good job of securing the safety of their student body.

12:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the board is not going to do anything regarding the violence.
At least they installed cameras. That is a start.

4:46 PM  
Blogger pugsley dibrute said...

Comadrismo is alive and well in the valley. It also appears that this part of the valley never rally left mejico (no true infrastructure)"lindo". How is that the PEOPLE allow one family to drain it of most of its hard earned tax dollars?

11:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If parents were fully informed of what goes on in our schools believe me we wouldn't have all these problems. Unfortunately they are not being informed the whole picture of what goes on in a school environment. I as a parent truly believe that we trust our teachers to do what is right for the students they help to learn but I honestly believe that many of the principals in the PSJA district dictate to Berta Palacios and Jose Garza what to do. So why do we have to pay such a high salary to these administrators when they don't know what are the appropriate learning strategies to implement with our students PreK-12

2:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

PSJA is in the situation its in because of not meeting the needs of English language learners. Money is not being allotted to the appropriate programs. English language learners are not being addressed appropriately since they enter Pre-k and eventually these students are not academically on level when they leave 5th grade and go to Junior High. Middle School principals should demand that Elementary principals show that ELL's are passing state mandated tests but also be on reading grade level and these students be able to tackle academic demanding tests in the middle schools. These students might do well up to 5th grade but when it gets to be more academic demanding material in 6th grade these students' scores diminish drastically. And its blamed on the Middle schools administration when we know that in order to have a good foundation of any matter we need to address it from the bottom. In the education field it needs to be addressed once the student enters Prek. Teachers need to be advocates for these little ones and provide the best practices so that these students will be successful. Instant of wasting money on persons or firms that are going to use technology to aid our students. Lets hire human beings that will have one to one contact with our youth.

3:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When it comes to teachers in our elementary levels, many are "unqualified" so to speak. In the state of Texas to be an elementary school teacher all you need is a bachelor's in any field and be able to pass the state certification exam. Many times elementary teachers aren't being trained properly to work with children in a classroom setting and are just following the "rule" books of the distrtict in order to ensure good TAKS scores. Our children's education is going down the tube because of the stadardized tests and all other teachings are being put to the last minute, which would explain the poor english of some of these students when they get to middle school. We need to work on enforcing real education and stop teaching a test in our schools as well as demand qualified, trained, elementary school teachers.

9:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Look People what you should be doing is correcting your children at home and have other school offical so your job as a PARENT!.. and that about
MR.JOSE SANTA MARIA, are just rumors, at least MR. JOSE SANTA MARIA and his FAMILY can walk around with there HEADS UP! because that man has worked hard to have what he has NOW. NEVER has Mr.SANTA MARIA done something NEGATIVE to affect his Reputation. He is a well respected man; and he can at least walk out of the PSJA buliding with Honor & PRIDE!.. IDK why you people like to talk so much crap and make it seem like your family is so perfect, I would love to put your family on the spot and dish out your family dark secrets and see how the community would chew you up like sharks! If anything you shouldn't talk bad about a person because of there family because your family siblings are not PERFECT and if they are let me know who you are and I would be more that glad to find your hidden dark SECRETS.

MR. Santa Maria if any thing I would like to thank you for all your hard work and dedication to the PSJA school district, I give you thanks; because if it wasn't for that time that you took that time to talk to my parents and I, I wouldn't be the person that I am now THANK YOU!
~your student

1:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For those who love to spend rumors there it goes... For one Jose Santa Maria is not running for JP against Bobby for two just becasue his brother messed up doesnt mean he is like that to... at least Mr Jose Santa Maria can say he Retired with honor(I bet yo didnt know he retired) and with out taking a single penny other than this payroll... and for you that said Jaime Santa Maria is a greedy bastered i bet you are from pharr as well and knows how things work there... i also asure you that if you where in the spot of taking the money and as broke as you and every other person in the valley is you would have taken the money so dont complain and look at it now you guys would talk about Jaime santa maria well look around to see where the rest of other school board members are at including the Main Guy (ARTURO GUAJARDO ) so now you dont have to focus your full attention to Jaime you can share it among the the other 4 and more to come

4:18 PM  

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