, Port Arthur, Texas

August 3, 2011

PAISD superintendent takes issue with report

The Port Arthur News

— I thought it to be important to express how disappointed I am in (Saturday’s) newspaper article where the focus was on "lower ratings. . . including three unacceptable schools in Port Arthur" and affect of the "change in the formula for calculating the ratings" over the tremendous progress the PAISD made in spite of the change in the formula.

The PAISD personnel, students, and parents worked hard for the positive results and they and the community at-large deserve to be informed by the media of the positive results of those efforts; that did not occur in the PA News today. I am especially disappointed the PAISD news release that we provided was ignored, where we saved you time by doing so much of the research, and note the document was hand-delivered in light of technology issues — Mr. (Brandon) Janes' email would not open.

The news  release we provided gives quotes by the Superintendent and historical data which highlights that the scores of 2011 were higher than any time in recent memory, including District-wide performance of "Recognized" performance in Reading/ELA and Writing and "Exemplary" performance in Social Studies for 2011; also, for the first time in the seven years of history reviewed, the District performance was over 70 percent in Mathematics and Science. Further, the District had "Recognized" performance by campuses, which were not named in the article: DeQueen, Lee, Travis Elementaries and Lincoln Middle School,  but your newspaper gave space in the article in naming the three campuses which did not perform at the acceptable level.  In the cases of DeQueen and Lincoln, in particular, these schools have really come a long way for improvement, as you will recall.

Also, schools like MHS that had "Exemplary" performance in Social Studies, and PAISD middle schools that performed at the 90 percent level and above is most worthy of positive recognition, as this performance is much higher than ever before; at the elementary level,  the performance was at the 90 percent or "Exemplary" level for each subject area; again, better than ever before. The District performed at the "Acceptable" level again, which is an accomplishment, again, when you look at the history and challenges we have overcome. In many cases the District made double-digit gains, which is extraordinary and worthy of pointing out to the public.

The PAISD staff consistently make the effort to be accessible to media, and we make deliberate efforts to provide information requested, and make staff available for interviews, as was the case Friday, although the District was closed. Unfortunately, the efforts made and information provided were, apparently, not regarded in the manner we would expect and appreciate. Most importantly, our children and their families deserve to have positive results of their efforts reported in a fair, balanced and manner reflective of the reality of the situation.

I am hopeful that you will review this situation and re-do this report in a manner that will more accurately and fairly share with the community the story of the student performance in PAISD for the 2010-2011 school year. This is one of the most important stories in the community and so far, I believe your newspaper staff has "missed the point" of giving news the children and public deserve to enjoy.

Johnny E. Brown, Ph.D.

Superintendent of Schools, PAISD