Dr. Marsha Farney (above) has always been an advocate for education excellence in Texas. She has been a teacher, trustee, Board of Education director and a Texas legislator and has combined her years and diverse experiences into a research consulting effort that shares student success in public schools across the state.
Texas Public School Proud is a research organization born out of Farney’s three-fold mission to celebrate student success and achievement in public schools across the state. One principal motivation is to correct what Farney believes is a misconception that Texas public schools are failing. “Individuals at the capital have called it an epidemic and most people are unaware of how well we’re really doing. It’s positive, not political.” Second, she believes the data and news repository she is building will be instrumental in demonstrating to Texas taxpayers that their money is being well spent in the public education system. Third, her compilation will show potential partners or sponsors the strong correlation between community support and school success. “We have three high schools in the state, including Georgetown HS, that have aerospace engineering programs and have actually built and flown a plane. Granberry ISD is building F1 cars and racing them. We are not just consumers of great technology, we are producers.”
Aside from the mission, the work itself—finding, interviewing and spotlighting superlative student achievement—has brought great joy to everyone involved. “People need to be aware of the amazing accomplishments. We have fifth graders in Burleson ISD who worked on a science project called ‘The Kidney Stone Conundrum’ and came up with a process to dissolve kidney stones in space. Most people aren’t even aware that zero gravity causes unique health problems and 11-year-old Texas geniuses created a solution for astronauts on the International Space Station.
Farney highlights all the advances being made with 3-D printers; “Children as so much more creative and it’s amazing the things they come up with. Students are making prosthetics for human and animal use; they are creating things to help people and the only limitation is their own imagination. With these printers, you don’t need hundreds of items, just one box of material that can be printed into hundreds of things in any location.”
Texas Public School Proud is furiously researching and posting stories from all over the state and they have a podcast that has thousands of hits every month. “We are gaining momentum,” Farney says, “We always feature an exemplary student or an expert in a field. Some of our shows have more than 1500 listeners and I am so proud to bring about a change in the misconceptions of our success. Plenty of people see our athletic triumphs but now we are also celebrating STEM, fine arts, foreign languages and all the students leaving high school with college credit or certifications to go right into professional technical jobs.”
Farney intends that taxpayers around the state will understand the student success in public schools outside of their own districts. “Too often, people don’t know where their tax dollars are going but I want to show everyone that, among other things, our SAT scores are above average and our dropout rate is very low; below 2 percent. I want to show that our investment in public education is paying big dividends and if we have a reduction of funding in public schools, we will not be able to offer so many great four-year or integrated professional and arts programs. So we are highlighting the balance between and among STEM, technical and professional students who will be self-sufficient and financially independent tax-paying citizens. We are showcasing a rich, dynamic curriculum that lets students think outside the box. ”
Dr. Farney is continuing to grow her non-profit at TxPublicSchoolProud.com, on Facebook and Twitters and continues to add ambassadors and communication channels every month. “Our only limitation is our ability to visit and speak to more than 1200 ISDs in the state. We hope to get the word out and that the news will come to us too.”