Just my opinion
We have all heard it, it's not your outside appearance that matters, it's what's on the inside.
I have been around Commerce for over 25 years now and watched lots of mis-steps and been part of several myself.
One thing that truly amazes me is the way leaders in the community have looked at the school district the past 20+ years. I remember all to well the cry from city leaders (some in office at the time, some influential because of their role in the community) for the need to build new schools because if we don't have good facilities we won't attract people with the University to live here and have their kids attend class here.
So I simply ask, how has that worked out?
Enrollment is down.
How many people with the University live within the school district with school aged children?
What those leaders failed to focus on, in my opinion, was the inside. And by that I mean the teachers. I believe the number 1 way to have a successful school district is to take care of the inside. Take care of your teachers.
By that what do I mean?
Well 30 years ago, I graduated from Plano Senior High. Plano has always been known for having one of the top rated school districts not only in the State but the nation. And why is that? They require ALL teachers to have a Master's Degree. When I was a student there they paid for the education of those who didn't yet have a Master's Degree to get one and I bet they probably still do.
Yes, they pay teachers better than most districts and why can they do that? Because every year they see an increase in enrollment because families want to live there and will move there to have their children attend schools in the district. The inside, the teachers, made the district great.
Now I am not saying Commerce doesn't have some really good teachers. Most that our son has had are great, but look at the high turnover rate we have. There are lots of reason why teachers leave but how can we make Commerce a district that teachers want to come to. Wouldn't it be nice if we were the district teachers wanted to teach at? We used to be. We used to be the district people wanted to live in and have their kids attend school 20+ years ago.
About 10 years ago, I was asked as a community member to be involved in a school district improvement program. At one of the meeting, I asked why we don't have all our teachers working on a Master's Degree? Main reason seemed to be we can't afford it.
It's crazy that with a University blocks away from most of our campuses that we cannot strike a deal with them to enable our teachers to work towards a Master's Degree.
University enrollment is down as well, I'm sure they could use the boost.
Some teacher may say, "I don't want to get a Master's Degree". Okay. Thank you for your service but this is a REQUIREMENT for those that want to work for Commerce ISD go forward.
Oh but this is going to cost too much money will be the cry once again.
1) The ISD is sitting on a nice budget surplus
2) How much has the drop in enrollment cost the school district the past 2 years? By my estimate enrollment is down about 120 students the past 2 years. That costs the district over $600,000 in money; A YEAR. Far less than sending teachers to get a Master's Degree.
Will classrooms full of teachers with Master's Degrees make the district better? Yes. Over time, it is hard to imagine it wouldn't. The model has worked for Plano, so why won't it work here?