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Cotten seeks another term on school board

By BOBBY HORN JR.
HIGHLANDS—Weston Cotten knows Goose Creek CISD.
He has seen the school district from the perspective of an employee, a parent and, for the past 18 years, a trustee. Now, he is asking for voter support as he seeks another term on the board of trustees.
Cotten has served as a trustee since 1990 when the school district changed it board format from all at-large positions to single-member districts. Cotten represents Position 3 on the board, or the Greater Highlands area of the district.
Of all the board members who now serve, Cotten has served the longest. While a person can learn the job in a year, he said, if it helpful if a trustee knows the history of the district.
“If someone brings up an idea, I can tell them ‘been there, done that.’ And whether the idea worked or not,” he said.
The biggest issue facing the district, Cotten said, is discipline. Cotten said that a higher level of student discipline would be transferred to test scores. “If we can get a handle on that (discipline), you will see scores go up. Students are stressed out from the atmosphere at the schools. They feel threatened.” Cotten said that only when students feel safe could school become the learning environment it is supposed to be.

He got a first hand lesson in how students think when he served as a government, economics and sociology teacher at Lee High School in the late 1970s.
Cotten’s wife also served as a teacher at San Jacinto and Harlem Elementary Schools, and B.P. Hopper Primary.
Cotten has seen the district from the parent’s perspective with daughter Chrissa and sons Nathan and Chet graduating from Sterling. “I have a niece attending (Goose Creek schools) and a grandson coming soon,” Cotten said. “I want to do the best I can for them and for the district.”
Going along with discipline, Cotten said that Goose Creek must focus on getting a higher percentage of students to pass the TAKS. “We need to modify the curriculum and see what’s working and what’s not working.”
He noted that districts have a dilemma when it coming to standardized testing. “We’re teaching the information. But do we teach them the test or do we give them a well-rounded education and believe that the skills they have will naturally take them through the test.” Since the state only considers test scores, he said, districts often are forced to concentrate on the tests.
But education is more than taking tests, Cotten said.
“There are a lot of students who are not college material,” Cotten said. “Or they don’t want to go to college. They just want to graduate and get a job.” He said that the district needs to focus more energy on its vocational training programs. “We could work with Lee College to get them (the students) a certificate so they can get that job when they graduate. The jobs are there they just need someone to fill them”
“I’ve really enjoyed my time on the board,” he added, “and I think that I have a lot to offer with my varied background of occupation and education.”
Early voting begins on April 28 and goes through May 6. Early voting will take place at the Goose Creek CISD Administration Building on I-10, the Baytown City Hall on Market Street and the Cedar Bayou Community Building on Highway 146. Polls will be open April 28-May from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; May 3, 5-6 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and May 4 from 1 to 6 p.m. Election Day is May 10. The only polling location in Highlands will be on election day at the Highlands Elementary from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.