As I pen my first article as president of the PAISD Board of Trustees, I reflect on how quickly this school year is passing. Our exceptional group of educators and administrators may take issue with that statement, especially in light of the pressure that the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) test puts on them. I have every confidence our teachers will have the students properly prepared and that their scores will reflect those efforts.
I have struggled with which topic to write about. For instance, our district is nearing completion of a monumental, multi-year effort to write and publish an online, aligned curriculum. What is an aligned curriculum? It is a roadmap of planned experiences and strategies used by educators to facilitate instruction. It is a collection of lesson plans starting with kindergarten and continuing through 12th grade. Each lesson in each subject area is compared with and "aligned" with the Texas Essential Knowledge Skills (TEKS) adopted by the Texas Education Agency. These are the things the state says our children must know and what the TAKS test is intended to assess. This aligned approach eliminates gaps and overlaps in instruction, and allows parents to quickly see where on the learning roadmap their children are at any given point in time. The written curriculum is particularly beneficial for newer teachers, while still allowing veteran teachers to include parts of their own proven lesson plans or resources into the learning experience.
Then, the topic to end all topics hit me like a ton of bricks: Head lice! Yes, those pesky little critters that you may have had the pleasure of dealing with. There are only two types of kids: Those who have gotten head lice and those who will. I want to be on the record as saying the school nurse will kick my child out of school just as quickly as any other! With a warm, sandy environment and kids who share everything from Little League helmets to sleeping bags at campouts, a case of the "bugs" is just a matter of time. Having just recently had an up close and personal experience, I thought I'd share some useful information. Head lice are parasitic insects that live on human scalps. Nits are their tiny white eggs, and they cannot be brushed off like dandruff. Here are some common myths…
Myth: Lice "jump" from child to child.
Truth: Lice cannot leap. Lice are transferred by contact, either directly or through another device (such as a comb, hat, furniture and or bedding).
Myth: I should use a pesticide on every surface of my house if my child has lice.
Truth: Off the body, lice can only survive for a day or two. Nits that hatch will die if they don't find food within hours. There is no need to clean every inch of the house. Concentrate on the hair, bedding, hats, toys, and furniture instead.
Myth: Using mayonnaise and a shower cap is the way to kill lice.
Truth: This is gross. It is also ineffective.
Myth: Gasoline or kerosene is a good lice treatment.
Truth: Every year someone manages to kill or maim a child because they believe that these are effective lice killers (they are not). Are you crazy?
Myth: Lice are dangerous and carry disease.
Truth: Lice will cause itching and a rash, but there are few serious health risks. Mostly, it is an embarrassment issue.
Myth: Only dirty kids get lice.
Truth: Personal hygiene has little to do with it. Lice can survive 24 hours underwater, and they are not killed by soap and water.
Myth: Once you kill the lice you are done.
Truth: Lice eggs (nits) will hatch after about 7-10 days. If they are not removed after you shampoo, it is likely you will be reinfested shortly.
How about some interesting facts?
• More than 80 percent of schools will have a lice outbreak each year.
• Some mummified remains of ancient Egyptians showed evidence of lice.
• 10-12 million Americans will be infested with lice each year.
• Lice and nits will die at temperatures over 130 degrees Fahrenheit. So washing cloths in hot water or using the dryer can effectively eliminate the problem.
If you're unlucky enough to be forced into a confrontation with these horrid little creatures, follow this simple advice: Go to the store, buy a package of RID and follow the directions to a tee!
On a more serious note, I want to thank you for the trust you place in me and the entire board of trustees. I assure you we take that trust seriously and consider it an honor to serve the residents of Port Aransas.