Our courthouse is one of the most photographed and beautiful courthouses in Texas. This photo is from 1939, taken by TXDOT. We will add a current photo soon.
GOVERNMENT of Ellis County, including ISDs
List of ISDs - we are including school district information on this page because 1) some of our ISDs cover more than one city/town/community and 2) ISDs are quasi-government agencies with the power to tax us and sue us for collection of taxes.
Please be aware the Texas Education Agency (TEA) produces a "report card" each year that details how well a school district and individual school is doing. These report cards are called AEIS reports (Academic Excellence Indicator System). You can view the report online or download it in PDF format (Go to Adobe.com to download free PDF reader).
Go here to obtain the reports. By reviewing an AEIS report, we can obtain a more clear understanding of why the district or the school received a specific "rating" (Exemplary, Recognized, Acceptable, Unacceptable). AEIS reports can help residents determine the community in which to buy a home or move into a leasing arrangement.
Please remember, if we aren't happy with the stats of the school our children and grandchildren attend, rather than criticizing, we can volunteer time for mentoring, tutoring, helping with after school programs, etc. School Board meetings are open to the public (although personnel issues are discussed in private, as with most government boards). It is wise to attend one or more meetings and get to know our board members. After all, we vote for these members.
TAKS TESTS RELEASED
Also, every 3rd year, the TEA releases the primary TAKS test that students took in the previous spring. Primary means the first, not the additional tests offered for students in 5th, etc., who failed the first test). Released tests are available for download here. When the TAKS began, the tests were released each year. After a few years, they were released every other year. Beginning with the 2008-2009 school year, the release is every 3rd year.
As confusing as the individual student TAKS report appears to be, it is extremely important for parents and guardians to carefully review the information. A section of the report shows you in which area(s) a student may be doing well and where there is need for improvement. Each subject has objectives and the report will tell you the total number of questions that were asked for the objective and how many your child answered correctly. For example, in Reading, Objective 4 is Critical Thinking. Perhaps 8 questions were asked and 7 were answered correctly. This is good. But if your child answered correctly only 3 of the 8, he/she needs help in this area. You can find tons of helpful information online or you can hire a tutor or you can ask your child's teachers and administrators for help.
TEA has a page here that explains how to read the student reports.
I suggest parents request that administrators in each school hold a training workshop in the spring to teach parents how to read these confidential reports and how to get help for children who need improvement. Educating our children requires interaction between the educators, the parents, and the community. PLEASE GET INVOLVED - THE CHILDREN DESERVE IT!
DYSLEXIA AND DYSCALCULIA
One other thing (and I cited this in the spring of '09 in a Letter to the Editor of the Waxahachie Daily Light to suggest more teachers for dyslexic students in WISD) - the State of Texas Prison System uses the the number of students who fail the 3rd grade reading test for their projections for expanding the number of prison cells. In other words, they figure if the child fails reading in 3rd, they'll probably become a criminal. This hurts me and it is certainly something we can remedy by making sure our 3rd graders, regardless of native language, can learn to read well enough to pass the TAKS on the first try.
Please note, 10% to 15% of people are dyslexic, so if a child is having problems reading, please get him/her tested for dyslexia, even if you have to beg, beg, beg. There is help available. A great website to visit regarding reading problems is hosted by the Irlen Institute. View sample distortions (look on left margin list).
Educators are becoming more aware of dyscalculia, which is trouble with numbers. Visit here for information.
Educators can't know everything. It is up to parents to let teachers and administrators know of your concerns.
Thoughts about our Governments:
Please take the time to understand how our county-wide and local governments work. As I mention on the "About Us" page, the population of our county is expected to grow to almost 450,000 by 2030. It is absolutely vital that we stay out in front of this growth in order to ensure we have quality of life. The only way to do that is for each of us to get involved NOW by interacting with our elected and appointed officials and attending government meetings.
The name of our governmental committees may differ, depending upon in which area we live. Only by attending meetings, or at least checking the agendas that are often provided online, can we truly understand the purpose of each group. Typically, our elected and appointed officials serve as Commissioners, Precinct officials, Council Members or on Planning and Zoning Board, Board of Adjustment, Economic Development Committee or Corporation, Building and Standards, Water Board, and/or others.
If your city or town has a local government, please visit the linked page for that. If we've missed any governments, please let us know by emailing Lee@MyEllisCountyTX.com.
Please become familiar with the accepted civil behavior expected in meetings. There is usually a time limit for speakers. A request may be required for you to be allowed to speak on a topic on the agenda or bring another topic to the committee. Yelling and belligerent behavior doesn't work. Civil exchange should be the norm.
Please recognize that individuals serving in our elected and appointed positions come from varying backgrounds and have received their educations in a variety of locations and institutions. Talking "down" to people only serves to stop conversation. Most all of us like simple, well-explained information that is not presented in a derogatory manner.
Hopefully, all of our elected and appointed officials have taken the time to review all paperwork prior to meetings so they are familiar with the topic. If you attend a meeting and you have a lot more information that you believe has not been reviewed by officials prior to the meeting, you can always request they table an issue until everyone has the time to become more familiar with the facts.
The ideal is that our officials want to serve the community well. However, let's remember most also work full-time jobs, are involved in quite a few service organizations, coach their kids' athletic teams, serve in various capacities at their churches, synagogues, or mosques, and are juggling schedules to spend quality time with families and friends. Many of our officials are not paid for their government service or gas expenses. I hope we can appreciate they are doing their very best to serve the people in our county, cities, towns, and communities.
Errors and mistakes are made by all of us and most can be remedied when the issue is brought forward in an appropriate and civil manner. However, what is NOT acceptable is fraud, misrepresentation, under-the-table dealings, special treatment of friends and relatives and other unethical behaviors. We cannot afford to turn a blind eye to such activities. The first step in dealing with such situations is to approach the individual and explain one's own viewpoint. This seems to work better than making negative accusations. Sometimes we don't have all the facts and, once something is explained to us, we realize we misunderstood the situation.
If, however, there is illegal behavior, I believe, owing a responsibility to everyone in our county, we must get involved in rectifying the situation. I was an investigative newspaper reporter and I know the importance of that function when nothing else has worked. Prior to negative publicity, however, there should be opportunities for mediation. Many times our local ministers can serve in this capacity.
Rather than seeing humans lower themselves to the most base activities, aren't we all hopeful that we can rise to becoming our best selves? By giving ourselves and others the opportunity to reach a higher level, we are creating a better community.
A special thanks to all who serve us.
Finally, when someone is talking to me and begins to criticize the government (at any level), I ask, "Did you vote in the most recent election?" If the answer is yes, I'll listen to complaint and work with the person toward finding a solution for the point of frustration. However, if the answer is no, I'm not interested in what the individual has to say. It may seem harsh, but for me, voting is how we earn our right to comment.
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