From the Clocktower – Pride, passion and a ‘poverty mindset’

By Kathi Bliss



For several years, I’ve found it equal parts interesting and sad to visit the high school campus that was my home-away-from-home as a teenager. The sadness doesn’t come from any sense of nostalgia or yearning for days gone by. Instead, my sadness is a function of seeing so many of the exact same walls, graffiti, classrooms and problems that were an inherent part of Lockhart High School when I attended, nearly 25 years ago.

That sadness is compounded when I follow the remarkable students of LHS to other campuses across Central Texas, and I see the gifts that other taxpayers have given their students: state of the art facilities, clean, bright schools and beautiful, well-lit stadiums.

I see all that, and I think about the term “Lion Pride.” And then I wonder, what are we giving our students to be proud of?

Not just our athletes, but our scholars, our career-and-tech students, our ag students… all of our students give us, as a community, plenty of reasons to embrace our “Lion Pride.”

It’s time we return the favor.

It is high time that we stop asking our students to be proud of an antiquated high school campus that in no way fills their educational needs. It’s time we support their passions, whether, educationally, athletically, artistically and – perhaps most important – financially.

One of the Trustees made the comment during Monday’s school board meeting that she was frustrated with the “poverty mindset” we have adopted as a community. I realized, at the moment I heard those words, that she nailed it. She absolutely nailed it.

We, as a community, have been content too long and grown too comfortable in our position as “one of the poorest counties in the state.” We have allowed that mentality to permeate everything we do, everything we hope for, and everything we try.

We have largely been satisfied to believe “this is Lockhart, and this is as good as it gets.”

Yet every time I have contact with our students, I realize they have not yet developed that mindset. They still have hope. They still have plans, dreams and passion. I’m worried if we don’t start changing our way of thinking, we will extinguish that hope in our kids.

Is that really the legacy we want to leave behind? Is that the culture we really want to pass along?

Like every other property owner in the known universe, I’m not thrilled at the idea of paying more taxes. I look forward to receiving my tax bill every October about as much as I look forward to root canal work.

Then, I look at these kids, and I look at the schools that we ask them to attend, and the students we ask them to compete with, not just for prizes, recognition or athletics, but for success on the whole. And I think, $290 a year isn’t much for them to ask for to have a better shot in this life.

My high school was great for me in 1992. It prepared me well to compete in society, in that world at that time. But it’s woefully inadequate to prepare students to do the same in 2014.

Don’t we, as adults, want to set our children up to do better than we’ve done? To do that, the time comes that we have to make an investment to give them that chance. And $290 a year seems to me like a small investment to help that happen.

I applaud the LISD Board of Trustees for finally taking this bold step and calling this bond election. And I beg you, readers, parents, taxpayers and friends, to learn all you can about it; look past your tax bill, and look into the eyes of LISD students before you decide whether you can support it. Look into their eyes and tell them what you think they’re worth.

Then, cast your vote on May 10.


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