This is a safe place to share your honest opinions of a school, whether good or bad.
West University Elementary School1
Posted November 12, 2014
- a parent
The school is incredibly misleading. Its just a name with false reputation. Kids don't learn, they get trained to do well on ranking tests to keep the school status. I had two kids that are incredibly smart (said by their own teachers) yet failing or barely making it. I was even told, your kids are too creative and too inspired. What kind of elementary program punishes creativity in such developmental stage? My older 9 years old was moved to private school and he excelled with regular/ normal effort. NO tutors, no extra work other than regular homework and projects. At West U we had to have our kids with private tutors 1/2 of the year. Of course the teachers from the same school would provide tutoring but for a rather expensive hourly fee. I was spending over $5000/ kid on private tutoring. I cannot comprehend how one of the richest schools in the state with the strongest PTO and largest fund raising programs cannot provide some sort of academic support for struggling students. I am very disappointed with the administration and the teachers poor ethical responsibility that they show.
I've had children in this school for the past 8 years. My parents were both teachers - one at the elementary level and the other 30+ years at the middle school level. Vanguard level work was entirely appropriate and challenging. I've spoken to the principal one on one on many occasions. We did absolutely nothing to prepare our K level daughter for school and she flourished. My wife and I both work. My kids have always done their own projects and received A's. The comments below are confounding.
Poster on Aug. 30th nailed it! Agreed 100%! The kids are treated like soldiers and the expectations of them are ridiculous -- in and out of the classroom! The work given in the vanguard classes are not even close to being grade or age level appropriate.
I've never seen a note from the administration inviting us parents to talk to them. It's not easy to find someone to talk to at WUES. If you are brave enough to reach out to an administrator, don't expect a warm welcoming meeting. This school is great if you never have concerns or questions or if your child is in Vanguard but not for other kids. That is why you see the huge difference in reviews on this site. Also, this is not a school for working parents. A working parent cannot hope to get the preferential treatment that non-working parents who can volunter recieve.
We spent one year in a GT Kindergarten class before moving our child to another school. It was a rough year for many reasons, some of which are reflected in the negative comments here including mounds of homework and special projects that are not age or developmentally appropriate, obvious ranking of children, and competiveness between parents. Your best bet is if your Kindergartener is an older age who can already read. They need to be talkative, and externally motivated. Introverted and shy children will be overwhelmed or may be overlooked. There are positives about the school including involved parents but overall the negatives made the school not a fit for our child. We were na ve enough to think living in this neighborhood ensured a great education, but it is just not that simple anymore. It took a lot of personal research, speaking with educators, and visiting other schools for me to come to understand that the problems with WUES are complex. I certainly now understand teaching to the test. Our new school has a wonderful art program, science labs, Spanish and music. And it is a nurturing environment for kids to explore.
We moved to this neighborhood for "the schools". There is a lot more to a school than the stars posted on the wall outside (and they get those from focusing MONTHS on practicing the tests!). When the principal threatens to "walk out" if the parents get a vote, then yes, that's a problem. The school in General has no art, no music, punishes by eliminating recess some days. The lunch ladies blow whistles to quiet the kids, silent lunches are the norm (not just during testing) and kids are put on stage (humiliation) when misbehaving at lunch (talking too loud)....I have witnessed this numerous times. The overall attitude at the school is sadly militant. Kids wet their pants because they are denied a bathroom break. It was more than any family should tolerate. Why are there 1200+ kids here? Because we all hear how wonderful WUES is. You don't see it for what it is until your children are crying about going every morning - and you are the room mom and get a front row seat to what's going on up there. No inspiration. A bunch of worksheets, worthless homework, test training....sucking the love for learning out of our children. Think hard before putting your kids here.
West University Elementary is awful. The school is a big promoter of the parents doing the projects for the kids based on the Texas History Fair with the trifold the students had on display. It was obvious that the parents did the work last year not the students. I am a teacher and I can identify student work vs fourth or second grade work. The second grade Science fair was not any better. As far as the principal he has demonstrated inappropriate behavior discussing issues with parents with the local barber using the parents name. When my children report back and tell me what the barber heard from the principal there is a problem.
The negative comments about this school are counter intuitive. Why do over 1200 people continue to chose this school when comparable schools have approx 70. ? Why do people pay $100 a square ft. for mere dirt to be zoned to this school. True, the school's after school program is inferior to others. I'm sending my kid here next year because the Principal - whom I've never met - has the guts to create all GT classes and then rank them so that the brightest in are classes with the brightest, not those who passed the GT test with a real score of 60 (another issue). Other principals are worried about how this segregation of students may affect their overall test scores, performance of those who poorer performers in the classroom or the racial quotas that they deny. It seems this guy just wants each kid to reach full potential. Sadly, a lost priority in public secondary ed.
It is a shame that a parent would "bash" a school when they are mad at someone. It is important to be factual. Here are the true facts: 1. WUES has 3 administrators and 1 Inst. Co. Three of them have their masters and have been with the district for 29 plus years. I would say they were more than qualified. 2. ELL policies are set by state and federal governments. Take your complaints to them. The school only follows policy. 3. The principal has no political aspirations- he is about to retire! The magnet coordinator has multiple jobs. She is the VIPS, Vanguard and Testing coordinator. She keeps the school calendar and sets up for all events. She is also the PTO liason and is an administrator over 3 grade levels. If she is aggressive ( which I have never seen in 6 years) it is because parents in WU don't like the word no! 4. Last,but not least - the ethnicity % is not set up by the school. It is their zoned area make-up. The school holds 1250 students and only 50 students come from outside of that zone. A parent should be a positve builder of their child's school. The school listens and updates its curr. on a yearly basis. The vanguard program is very impressive .
West U is a large (+\- 1200 students) elementary school in a GIGANTIC District (>210,000 students). The school is overwhelmingly WHITE (see data on HISD website) and most come from families with plenty of resources. West U offers ELL only for non Spanish speakers. Many families walk to school in the morning and socialize in the playground in the afternoon. That said, the school has been following a formula for the past -who knows how many- years that is overly outdated and inappropriate for learning in the 21st century. The principal is a figurehead who seems to view his position as more political than pedagogical. He hardly makes himself available to parents or students. The magnet coordinator (why the position exists, nobody can explain because the school is SUPER over subscribed -which supports the idea that Houston's magnet school system is primarily a way of selectively segregating schools.) is aggressive and under qualified for the leadership she assumes. The school runs like clockwork (part of the formula). Students must be silent in the halls, form lines, practice most of the year for exams. Many teachers are good, some are novices & a few are burned out. 0 Creativity Zone.