San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas
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Laura Duhon, senior lecturer at Texas State University, is running for election to the SMCISD school board for single member district two (2).

Duhon, a resident of the school district for over eighteen years, has taught Kindergarten through 5th grade in the Lockhart School District. A full time lecturer, she has taught education majors at Texas State for the last seven years.

For purposes of full disclosure, she has no relatives employed by the school district nor does she have any relatives enrolled in the schools.

Duhon is running for the school board because she “wanted to serve and give back.” She is “dedicated to my profession, to education and dedicated to serving others.”

For Duhon, the single greatest problem is the TAKS test. The “TAKS test is a huge challenge for many districts” because “there is a lot of pressure for these high stake test.” To deal with this issue, Duhon said she’d “like to look at quality teaching to raise these scores.”

Duhon disagrees that there is a perception that neighboring school districts are better than our own. She has “had the opportunity to work with people from other school districts. People from neighboring districts view our district as comparable to their own.”

On the issue of the relationship between academics and sports, Duhon sees “the benefits of students involved in sports” but also sees the that “there needs to be a balance.” Although she is “a huge sports fan”, she emphasizes that “we need to focus on academic programs.”

To deal with the projected growth, Duhon says “we need to do research on our neighboring districts and towns. We need to ask how is regional district growth going to affect us?” Above all, Duhon asserts, “we need to be proactive.”

The best way to deal with academic achievement differences, Duhon says, “is to look at each individual child and their individual educational needs. It is most important to look at each individual child.”

If Duhon could accomplish one thing for our district, it would be for it to receive “a huge amount of money. Money provides opportunities. We could raise teacher and staff pay. More money could provide a number of wonderful things for our students.”

Duhon thinks that the most critical part of the educational process in our community that she feels will be an on-going problem, is state assessment. “As long as there is a state assessment, there will be a challenge. This is an issue that will be discussed daily,” says Duhon.

In conclusion, Duhon said,” that she has had the opportunity to interact with student teachers in our school district. All the people I have worked with who work in our school district are wonderful.”

School Board election early voting runs from April 28 to May 6. Election day is May 10. Please click here to get full information on times, dates, and places for early voting and election day voting for SMCISD school board elections.

The San Marcos Area League of Women Voters is holding a school board candidates debate on April 28.

By ED MIHALKANIN, Ph.D

Audio interview with Laura Duhon

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To read about the other District 2 nominee click their name:
Margie Villalpando

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7 thoughts on “School Board Elections – Laura Duhon

  1. Ms. Duhon,

    Thanks for taking time to share your views of the current state of and your vision for the San Marcos Consolidated Independent School District with the voters. You are to be commended for offering your experience to the District as a member of the school board. Good luck in your campaign.

  2. I’m a little confused, coming from outside of Texas. We never had these tests.

    We took the CAT every year, which was an achievement test, but I am not aware that it impacted the schools or dictated whether people moved up a grade or not.

    That was in Massachusetts. After 5th grade, I was in Connecticut and there were no standardized tests at all.

    We did have college preparatory classes and we took the PSATs and SATs and learned about all of the financial aid (and the number of scholarships that go unawarded every year, due to lack of applicants) and which schools gave more weight to grades, or SAT scores or interviews.

    People who were not on the college track had guidance counselors who worked closely with them, to examine options like trade schools, or the military, etc.

    The graduation rate was 90%+ and I know that some think that is not something we can reasonably strive for here, but disagree. With the university on the hill, more people should see college as a viable option. That, in turn, would help drive up graduation rates.

    I agree that better teachers and less turnover are also important.

    I don’t think that raising the scores should be the goal. If we raise the standards, the scores should follow.

    When I first came to San Marcos, I had to take the TASP test. I have no idea how this compares to the TAKS test, but I was within spitting distance of a perfect score and I finished an hour early.

    I graduated in the bottom 20% of my high school class, after 5 and a half years, plus summer school. I repeated my junior year after repeated suspensions and after skipping most of my classes until I failed all but two of them.

    I may be way off base, but I sincerely doubt that I would have made it to graduation in San Marcos and I’d bet that a lot of the people who graduated with me would have dropped out too.

  3. I too have always thought the focus on standardized tests such as TAKS has been leading our educational system in the wrong direction.

    If you want to educate children, you need to ‘interest’ them. Testing does not interest anyone. What interests them is possibility. What interests them is that great teacher who sparks their curiosity.

    We are not trying to raise robots here… we are trying to raise thinking, inquisitive adults. Testing does NOT expand minds, it stifles creativity and discourages free thought. When is the last time a test inspired you to go to the library and research a subject of interest? The key here is inspiration.

    Teaching is a calling… scrap the tests – raise the salaries… and allow those called to this most important of professions, to make a good living doing what they love. You will then see children loving to learn and doing it on their own.

  4. Absolutely, Chris.

    I think you hit the nail on the head with the “possibility” angle.

    If the object (in the students’ minds) is just to pass a test and finish high school, then what motivation is there to not “finish” early by dropping out? What motivation is there to do more than go through the motions?

    There are so many options out there after high school and so many ways to make them work. Our goal should not be merely to graduate students (or get high test scores). Our goal should be to graduate well-rounded students with the skills and workable plans to achieve goals that matter to them, whether that means college, trade school, the military, entrepreneurship, etc.

  5. Ted and Chirs, I agree with you 100%. I believe in quality teaching! Teaching to the test is completely against my teaching philosophy. I also agree that with effective teaching, raising expectations of the students, and motivating students with their interest then student achievement will happen. The reason I gave emphasis to the TAKS in that particular interview is because it truly is an issue and something that is stressful to school districts. I am hoping that voices will soon be heard in the state legistlation to have accountability but in a more appropirate way than just TAKS scores.

  6. Laura,

    Thanks for taking the time to read and listen.

    The statistics I cited are available here:

    http://www.tea.state.tx.us/perfreport/aeis/2007/district.srch.html

    Graduation rates and SAT scores are just part of the answer, though. I think we need to do whatever we can to engage the students and the parents. As was noted in another article on this site, many of these students have no family who have gone to college. I don’t know how much they know about small and large schools, public and private, 2 and 4 year, etc. I don’t know what they know about financial aid. I don’t know what they know about taking the PSAT and SAT and prepping for those, etc. I don’t know if recruiters visit the San Marcos High School campus.

    When I applied to college, I interviewed at a dozen schools, because I was not your typical student (graduated in 5+ years, at the bottom of my class). My guidance counselor worked closely with me, to find schools that would be a good fit for me and every one of those schools knew our high school, because they had recruiters visit and speak with students.

    My sister just finished going through all of this and even with six immediate family members who have already gone to college, she was overwhelmed. Imagine what the process must look like to an underperforming student with no family members with any experiences to share.

    Someone whispered last night that “this is the parents’ responsibility” which is an easy out for underperforming schools. The reality is that we failed those parents when they went through our schools too. The cycle needs to break somewhere and the school system has an obligation to these kids.

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