MARK PORTERIE — PAISD students and all students thrive with examples of unity

Published 12:08 am Saturday, January 7, 2023

On behalf of the Port Arthur Independent School District Board of Trustees, staff and students, we are happy to welcome everyone into the second half of the 2022-23 school year.

Our 2023 calendar is filled with enthusiasm, hope and much excitement for what lies ahead.

We have come so far over the last four years. We have proven that we are resilient; and if we pray, think and rely on each other, we can withstand almost anything.

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The first week leading out of the New Year has been enlightening to say the least. We must take this opportunity to acknowledge Damar Hamlin of the Buffalo Bills and extend healing prayers on his behalf.

Last Monday night, millions of us sat and watched the Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals compete in the AFC playoff. At 7:55 p.m., Hamlin made a tackle, stood up, took a few steps backwards and collapsed on the field. While coaches, referees and medical personnel tended to his emergent needs, players, game attendees and fans across the country cried, prayed and sent well wishes to him and his family.

The emotions that followed the aftermath of that crisis gave me hope that in spite of all the killings that have occurred in our nation, most people still respect human life. Football is one of the world’s all-time favorite sports; but on Monday night, a little over an hour after Hamlin fell, the decision to suspend and then postpone this game was ethical, moral and just plain common sense.

I applaud both teams, the NFLPA leadership and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell for exercising such crucial decision-making skills in the midst of a crisis. That decision showed America that human life is to be respected the most. Our prayers will continue to be with Damar Hamlin and his family as we anxiously await his full and speedy recovery.

In addition to this tragic injury, we also have experienced another incredibly mind-boggling scene that played out in Congress during the vote to elect a House Speaker. The role of the Speaker is to be the presiding officer of the House of Representatives.

The House is charged with the duty of passing federal legislation, known as bills. Bills that are also passed by the Senate are then sent to the President of the United States for consideration. The House also has the power to initiate all revenue bills, impeach federal officers and elect the president if no candidate receives a majority of votes in the Electoral College.

The Speaker of the House is charged with countless duties and responsibilities, by law and by House rules. As the presiding officer of the House, the Speaker maintains order, manages its proceedings and governs the administration of its business.

Last Tuesday, our country witnessed three separate votes for Speaker of the House that resulted in no one receiving the 218 out of 435 votes needed to win. As a result, it makes you wonder: If Congress cannot make a decision on the Speaker of the House of Representatives, what is going to happen when they have to make other decisions for this country?

I realize that the 435 members who serve in Congress represent their individual states; but are we to assume that those 435 are so divided when it comes to doing what they feel is best for the entire country?

As educators, together, we teach problem-solving skills; together, we model respect for diversity, and together, we collaborate by incorporating the best of our differences as we work toward the goal of success for all our students.

We expect our children to learn how to constructively respond to adversity and consistently work together in an effort to solve problems, whether they are at school, at home or in the community.

When our children see our country’s leaders not able to follow the same path of cooperation in working toward a common goal, what are we teaching them? What message does this dissension in Congress send to our youth, who will someday be our future leaders?

We hear about reaching over party lines, but what does that actually mean?

I would assume it means that the two political parties would effectively communicate and find a common ground that both are willing to work toward. The future of our nation depends on it.

Dr. Mark Porterie is superintendent of schools for the Port Arthur Independent School District. He can be reached at