Follow-Up to the 2015 Smith County 2015 Education Report, by JD Meyer

Two updates with two new links since yesterday’s initial publication!


The Smith County 2015 Education Report by Tyler Partnership for Education was held on Tuesday May, 20 at the Rose Garden–starting with an address by Mayor Martin Heines. This unprecedented collaboration between various groups, all local school districts, and the like is to increase post-secondary education credentials in this part of East Texas. Unfortunately, poverty reduces chances for success and Tyler, the county seat, and Chapel Hill are doing the worst for childhood poverty in Smith County. As a former teacher, who has taught in all grades at least as a substitute, and a Developmental English instructor at the college level, I’m in a unique position to share my observations.

My initial reaction was to recycle my publication about Intellectual Entrepreneurship (IE) at the University of Texas at Austin from 2010 as a solution to Tyler’s Industry Growth Initiative (IGI) Strategy #1: Increase money generated per college student. The…

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Follow-Up to the 2015 Smith County 2015 Education Report, by JD Meyer

The Smith County 2015 Education Report by Tyler Partnership for Education was held on Tuesday, October 20 at the Rose Garden–starting with an address by Mayor Martin Heines. This unprecedented collaboration between various groups–including all local school districts–has the goal to increase post-secondary education credentials in this part of East Texas. Unfortunately, poverty reduces chances for success and Tyler, the county seat, and Chapel Hill are doing the worst for childhood poverty in Smith County. As a former teacher, who taught in all grades at least as a substitute, a Developmental English instructor at the college level for ten years, and an ESOL teacher of all ages, I’m in a unique position to share my observations. Most of this article analyzes the dominant occupation clusters of Smith County/Tyler, such as the College/Hospital industry, in an effort to find pathways to build the middle-class.

A Proposal for Industry Growth Initiative (IGI) Strategy #1

My initial reaction was to recycle my publication about Intellectual Entrepreneurship (IE) at the University of Texas at Austin from 2010 as a solution to Tyler’s Industry Growth Initiative (IGI) Strategy #1: Increase money generated per college student. The IE program has special popularity with minorities and first-generation college students. Moreover, Tyler has a branch of the University of Texas and a global education program–GATE. As you’ll notice from the URL, my article found a home at the University of Toronto’s Creative Class website, directed by Dr. Richard and Rana Florida.

Apprenticeships: Not Just Degrees & Certifications

Post-secondary education isn’t limited to degrees or certifications; apprenticeships are a time-honored alternative. Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley signed an executive order in 2013 for state agencies to consider contractors that participate in accredited apprenticeship programs or hire in high-unemployment areas.

Furthermore, I suspect most apprenticeships are more hands-on and shorter to complete than certifications and degrees, so teens from poverty may be more likely to complete them. Upon reading this article, Dr. Bich-May Nguyen, M.D. (and Harvard Master’s in Public Health Policy) messaged me through Twitter, “I think supporting apprenticeships can help some young adults into occupations that can’t be outsourced and without as much debt.”

The Education & Medicine (“Eds & Meds”) Economy: Colleges & Hospitals: Pros & Cons

Lately, I’ve been investigating the “Eds & Meds” (Education & Medicine) concept of economic development–the hallmark of Tyler, Texas. Sure enough, the results for this model are mixed, as it’s not a panacea, particularly in mid-sized cities without much research.

But let’s start on a positive note: the new physical therapy assistant program at Tyler Junior College. “Texas is the second largest employer of physical therapy assistants in the nation. There is a large utilization of physical therapy assistants in the area and definitely job opportunity,” Dr. Christine Melius, TJC department chair and program director, said.

In “Where Eds and Meds Could Become a Liability,” by Richard Florida, Dr. Florida notes the rise of the MOOC on-line college courses, as well as cost-efficient big hospitals in larger cities being a draw for Wal-Mart as a place to send its sick employees.

In an earlier article, “Why Eds and Meds Alone Can’t Revitalize Cities,” Richard Florida warns about the skyrocketing costs of health care and education. Furthermore, regions with larger population of the elderly have a greater demand for health care, so there are more health care occupations and less workforce in other productive activities. Isn’t Tyler a Senior Welcoming City? Dr. Florida cites Charlotta Mellander whose studies showed the fields associated with greater economic prosperity: (1) business and management, (2) science and technology, and (3) arts, design, media, and entertainment. Could this indicate that there are lots of CNA’s cleaning house for the elderly at minimum wage in some cities?

On the other hand, Dr. Florida points out big cities that can thrive with Eds & Meds: Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Boston (biotech firms), and Houston–home of the world’s largest medical center. The shift to education and medicine was understandable with de-industrialization, suburbanization, and the aging American population.

Aaron M. Renn goes further on the downside in “The End of the Road for Eds and Meds” by pointing out that hospitals are typically non-profits that don’t contribute to a city’s tax base while he also notes that college prices are spiraling upward out-of-control.

I saved the best “Eds and Meds” efforts for last! The Cleveland Foundation is an initiative that helps local residents “become owners of new businesses that serve a cluster of hospitals, universities, and cultural institutions on the city’s struggling East Side, including the famed Cleveland Clinic and Case Western Reserve University.” The Cleveland Foundation collaborates with Ted Howard of Democracy Collaboration at the University of Maryland to create the Evergreen Cooperatives: (1) Cooperative Laundry (environmentally friendly), (2) Green City Grower Cooperatives (giant greenhouse for vegetables/fruit), and (3) Evergreen Energy Solutions (photo-voltaic panels and weathering improvements). I should recycle an article of mine on Urban Gardens (relevant to Cleveland #2), and it has lots of links Plus, I’m sentimental about this article because it began with my interview of a middle school teacher who was visiting a sick relative, also in intensive care like me. I had an extra bad COPD exacerbation before my Medicare/Medicaid era.

Furthermore, the University of Maryland Democracy Collaborative has developed the Anchor Dashboard It identifies twelve areas where anchor institutions can help low-income areas. Hospitals and universities spend more than $1 trillion/year and employ 8% of the population, but risk leading to “gentrification and subsequent displacement.”

Oil & Gas Production

However, let’s not oversimplify the Smith County economy as just “Eds & Meds,” for oil and gas production is a significant employer too, according to “Counties with Highest Concentration of Employment in Oil and Gas Extraction.” Only 21 states have counties with twice the location quotient (over 1), an industry’s share of employment in the oil/gas industry. Five of the ten biggest counties are in Texas. Washington County, Oklahoma is in first place with 139.8 while Upton County, Texas at 126.9 is in second place. Both Smith County, Texas and neighboring Gregg County (Longview–county seat) have a 5.1 quotient–solid if not spectacular.

Hospitality Industry (Restaurants & Hotels)

The hospitality industry–restaurants and hotels–is really strong in Tyler too. Restaurants seem to follow an “Eds & Meds” economy. Moreover, restaurants are getting more popular as a national trend. Fewer people know how to cook, and home economics courses have been discontinued, observes a chef at The Cork. Tom Mullins, Director of Tyler Economic Development Council, notes that restaurants do especially well in Tyler. Nationwide in the past year, restaurant sales have increased 8.5% while grocery sales have gone up only 2.8%.

When Tyler finally went damp in December 2012, the beer and wine sales helped the economy and many local businesses, while bringing and estimated $440,000/year in sales tax revenues.  Moreover, DWI charges plummeted 46% in two years with fewer people driving to Winona, Kilgore, and Coffee City. Tom Mullins observed that the new southermost shopping center–The Villages at Cumberland Park–probably wouldn’t have been built because the World Market is its anchor, a beer/wine seller. It was tougher to attract businesses and entrpreneurs to a dry city. Attracting conventions and conferences is also easier because special permits for a hospitality room are no longer required.

Few Tyler businesses, if any, hit the jackpot like Stanley’s Famous Bar-B-Q. Already highly regarded for its food, alcohol sales with live bands in a much larger building led to an increase in sales of 145% in 2013 over the previous year–a total of $2.5 million. Owner Nick Pencis was named the Small Business Association (SBA) Dallas-Fort Worth District Small Business Person of the Year in 2014

Home Construction

Tyler and Smith County is enjoying a home construction boom, despite the national dip, ever since 2008 when the economic recession ended, according to Tom Mullins—Director of Economic Development. Texas overall is issuing thousands more building permits than California and Florida. It’s a situation that brings in high-skill jobs. Prices for land and homes are less expensive as well. Nevertheless, there’s less development in local rural areas. .

“Demand is on the rise—especially for high-end homes ($300K +)–but housing inventory is dwindling, creating a tremendous opportunity for builders in East Texas.” The average new house in Tyler sells for $238K. The median days for a new house on the market is only 42 days, the lowest in 20 years and under half the ten-year median average of 90 days. Thanks go to Wes Hart for alerting me to the home construction boom.

Bilingual All-Level Academic Vocabulary (BALAV): Improving in English through Cognates Awareness

On a more controversial note, I sent a summary of my research on Bilingual All-Level Academic Vocabulary to some civic leaders. Spanish subtitles for Limited English Proficiency (LEP), aka. ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) children after elementary school is normally considered a damnable heresy in education–even though most secondary textbooks contain Spanish and English glossaries. Simply, the major roots of English are as follows: Informal-German, Technical-Latin, and Formal-French. The latter two are in the Romance languages with Spanish, so we could do a search for cognates with our students! This link branches into three, including the outline at my WordPress site. If the newcomers have just learned how to ask where the cafeteria is located or lament, “Mr. Meyer is complaining again,” then they need cognate awareness for science and social studies. Just imagine, “inundacion” is the Spanish word for “flood,” and “inundated” is a really advanced English word! The booklet from the 2015 Smith County Education Report (pg. 13) observes that the Hispanic child population is larger than the total Hispanic population here (29% vs. 19%) while the Caucasian percentage is declining (60% vs. 48%) and African-Americans are remaining constant (18% vs. 19%).

College Student Retention

College readiness, retention, and completion are the thrust of the Smith County 2015 Report on Education. Catch the Next was one of three winners in the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Academic Advising Challenge (2013). It’s “a non-profit organization focusing on college readiness and completion.” Catch the Next is based on the Puente Project of University of California at Berkeley–an interdisciplinary program–focusing on Language Arts, Counseling, Mentoring, and Professional Development. CTN has several partners in Texas–including four colleges and the University of Texas at Austin’s Division of Diversity and Community Engagement, a group affiliated with their Intellectual Entrepreneurship program! A staggering 83% of developmental education students complete their remedial classes with help from CTN.


Well, I’ve written enough for now. We’ve examined the Intellectual Entrepreneurship program at University of Texas at Austin, some pros and cons about the “Eds and Meds” economy model, other Smith County industries (oil/gas, restaurants/hotels, home construction)and Bilingual All-Level Academic Vocabulary (BALAV), and the CTN retention program. By the way, I bet a major reason for Developmental English/Writing courses in community colleges and open-admissions colleges is the over-emphasis on literature in high school. Let’s end for now with my review for the Developmental English/Writing exit exam. It’s based on the actual THEA Practice Exam.  Stay tuned.

References for Follow-Up to 2015 Smith County Education Report

1. Tyler Area Partnership 4 Education “Did you know that the single greatest indicator of economic prosperity and quality of life is the percentage of the population with a post-secondary credential or degree?”

2. “Intellectual Entrepreneurship at The University of Texas: An Answer to Industry Growth Initiative Strategy #1: Higher Education Consortium,” by J.D. Meyer. Originally in The Daily You. June 15, 2010.

3. “Maryland Procurement Gets More In Line With Stable, In-State Employment,” by Bill Bradley. Sept. 24, 2013.

4. “TJC Offers New Physical Therapy Assistant Courses,” by Betty Waters. Oct. 27, 2015.

5. “Where Reliance on ‘Eds and Meds’ Can Become a Liability,” by Dr. Richard Florida. Nov. 26, 2013.

6. “Why Eds and Meds Alone Can’t Revitalize Cities,” by Dr. Richard Florida. Sept. 18, 2012.

7. “The End of the Road for Eds and Meds,” by Aaron Penn. Sept. 9, 2012.

8. “Jay Walljasper: How to Revive Low-Income Neighborhoods,” by Jay Walljasper. April 9, 2014.

9. “Urban Gardens: Interview with Ray Cook–Middle School Science Teacher for Athens (TX)
ISD.,” by J.D. Meyer 14 Links. (Once at KLTV in your community).

10. “The Anchor Dashboard: Aligning Institutional Practice to Meet Low Income Community Needs,” by Steve Dubb, Sarah McKinley, & Ted Howard August 2013. 52-page PDF from the Democracy Collaborative at the University of Maryland.

11. “A Guide for Your Local Eds and Meds to Become Better Neighbors,” by Bill Bradley. Sept. 25, 2013.

12. Bureau of Labor Statistics: “Counties with the Highest Concentration of Employment in Oil and Gas.” Jan. 9, 2015.

13. “Tyler Texas Jobs in the Hospitality Employment Sector.”

14. “Report shows Americans spending more at restaurants than on groceries,” by Kim Leoffer. Oct. 21, 2015.

15. “Beer, Wine Sales Boon to Tyler, Bust to Outlying Areas,” by Ron Maynard. June 15, 2015.

16. “SBA Announces 2014 Small Business Award Winners,” by Ahmad Goree. April 20, 2014. {Nick Pencis, Owner of Stanley’s Famous Bar-B-Q: SBA Buisness Person of the Year for DFW District}.

17. “Home construction booming in E.Texas,”by Alex Osiadaez. March 16, 2015.

18. “Tyler Prepares for a Building Boom,” by Wendy Wilkerson. May 19, 2015.

19. “Bilingual All-Level Academic Vocabulary (BALAV),” by J.D. Meyer ( link goes to 3 articles. WordPress outline article April 19, 2014).

20. “Texas college success program a winner in Gates Foundation Competition for Educational Innovation,” by Maria Chavez. Sept. 25, 2013.

21. “Study Guide for the Developmental English/Writing Exit Exam,” by JD Meyer )In copyrighted textbook 2008).

My Google Plus Argument with Donald Trump?! By J.D. Meyer
posted in Donald Trump for President 2016

JDM: Prepare for war if #DumpTrump gets elected. What if Mexico refuses to pay for the Second Great Wall? Now he wants to squash Freedom of Religion, yet stated he’s never asked God for forgiveness!

DT: Islam is a death cult NOT a religion…wake up…and bring the war if you will

JDM: Try telling that crap to the Liberal Islam of Indonesia, the Jaringans. Please don’t attack them too. There was a missionary at the local MHMR handing out leaflets about becoming Christian or face eternal torture last week, so don’t tell me about death cults!

DT: and you don’t see the difference between being threatened with enternal torture in the afterlife and the raping and murdering Muslims do in every country who lets them in eh…stfu and sit down moron

JDM: First of all, there’s only one “n” in “eternal.” It’s just a few deranged Moslem groups that do a bunch of violence. My IQ is 120–not a moron, a retired teacher and published author. I don’t believe in obscene acronyms. Am I in a fussing match with The Donald himself? Sure hope not.

DT: You could not be more naive

DT: Being a teacher makes you a progressive liberal which does not bode well for your level of intelligence. Any idiot can get published. I’ve been published several times so either you think I’m an idiot or you are. If you’re a retired teacher that means you had tenure a long time and given the lack of competition in the profession it also means according to the psychological nature of activities that lack competition that you slacked for a very long time. I can count the number of good teachers I knew from school on on one hand and have fingers left over. Those kind of credentials might play well with the dregs of society that vote for Democrats but not so well with people who have had to live in the real world and not the shelter of unions and tenure. I have more respect for someone who has dug ditches their whole lives. At least they have lived in the world as it is not in a false utopia of protectionism….now go vote for Sanders like a good useful idiot.

JDM: I only had help from a teacher’s union once, and that was when I went from long-term sub to full-time teacher, and I was owed back pay. Sorry you haven’t had many good teachers. I used to haul sheet rock to the dumpster and do groundskeeping at a hospital to keep an adjunct instructor job going in healthier days. I learned how to install vinyl floors by working fast, and I graded papers at lunch. Isn’t that neato? I was in a competititve field. Let’s draft Michael Strahan for President in 2020!!

Tyler, TX Transit’s Two Bus Hubs: Why It Works in a Rectangular City/Introduction to Riding the Bus

The Tyler Transit changed to a two bus hub structure a few years ago for its five lines; four meet downtown (210 E. Oakwood ST) at the central offices/train museum, and three meet at the Bergfeld Shopping Center (9th & Roseland). Tyler, TX is a rectangular city with most of its territory considered to be South Tyler. These are the five Tyler bus lines: Red (north-south), Blue (west), Green (east), Yellow (southwest-southeast), and Purple (north-south with east jog to Hospital District, aka. Midtown).

The four bus lines at downtown are Red, Blue, Green, and Purple. Purple doesn’t go further north than downtown–unlike the other three. Thus, only three of the five bus lines run in small North Tyler: Red, Blue, and Green. The Red Line goes to the northern edge of the city. The three bus lines at Bergfeld Shopping Center–six to 13 minutes south of the Transit Depot–are Red, Yellow, and Purple. The Yellow Line doesn’t go further north than the Bergfeld Shopping Center. The Blue (west) and Green (east) Lines don’t meet at that southern hub. The Yellow Southwest goes to FRESH, an upscale branch of Brookshire’s Grocery Store. The Yellow Line Southeast goes to University of Texas at Tyler. The Green Line unites all three colleges: Texas College (north), Tyler Junior College (east-central), and UT-Tyler (southeast).

The Red and Purple Lines usually run parallel to each other on Broadway–Tyler’s major street: a north-south street that runs its entire length. The Red Line’s southernmost point is the Carmike Shopping Center, while the Purple Line’s southernmost point is the new Cumberland Shopping Center in far south Tyler at the intersection of South Broadway and Loop 49. The Purple Line is the newest transit line in Tyler. It includes a twist to the east down E. Houston Street to S. Beckham–where the two hospitals are located–followed by a turn on E. 5th back towards the center of the city.

To conclude, the bus hub transit structure of Tyler, Texas makes sense because it’s a rectangular city with most of its land in the south. A circular city would benefit from one big hub in the center. I was motivated to write this article as a response to a friend’s nostalgia for the one bus hub era. Plus, you got to do something for the National Day on Writing, especially if you taught English!

Why I Teach for World Teachers Day (2nd Edition)

I love to teach because I enjoy research and explaining it to students. I’m a people-person who is very extroverted, despite spending a lot of time reading and writing. The highlight of my 20-year teaching career was ten years in Developmental English/Writing, a pre-College Composition course. It’s one of three remedial college courses; the others are Developmental Reading and Math. I’ve substitute taught in every grade from PK-12 and in most subjects, aside from upper level math and science. Writing this article poses a challenge since the prompt is “Why I Teach” rather than a biography of one’s teaching career. Yet the latter would be supporting details.

I should answer why I taught Developmental English/Writing. I prefer teaching grammar and writing to literature, partly because the former two seem more essential. For me, literature is watching a re-run of The Rockford Files or JAG. My first five years were as an adjunct at Mountain View Community College, a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) in North Oak Cliff. My last five years were full-time at Texas College, an HBCU (Historically Black College and University) in Tyler. Remedial education presents a boom area. It’s a fixture at community colleges and open-enrollment colleges. The USA has the paradoxical reputation of the world’s best colleges but fairly weak elementary and secondary education. Sounds like developmental education is ready for the rescue!

Furthermore, I wrote, copyrighted, and illustrated a textbook for my course. Several chapter sections have been published as articles–partly to build an audience.  Connexions of Rice University is the most prestigious. was discontinued in summer 2014. Writing a textbook really is taking your teaching to a higher level. The toughest part of my task will be transferring hard-copy back to documents in the computer. Some chapter sections no longer live in cyberspace due to the “passing away” of computers, flash drives, CD’s, and the possibly extinct floppy disks.

I struggled with required Spanish in my mediocre B.A. era, but I started self-study of Spanish again after completing secondary certification in English and Social Studies. I found myself drawn to substitute teaching and adult classes in English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL). My first lesson for me was how to order a meal in a taqueria. An early lesson for adult ESOL classes was “At the Construction Site” for the men, and “Cleaning Supplies” for the wives.

Later I subbed in Bilingual Elementary and Spanish, up to 4th year. I published  a clothes unit article and a songs article at Lesson Plans Page. I taught ESOL partly to see the world while staying in north and east Texas; plus it fits in with my meat-and-potatoes approach to Language Arts. Later I developed Bilingual All-Level Academic Vocabulary (BALAV). It’s a search for cognates because technical English is descended from Latin and formal English is derived from French–both Romance languages like Spanish. Informal English is descended from German. Most Texas secondary textbooks have a glossary in English and Spanish.

I communicated with a disability rights group to see how I could make some extra money without losing SSDI or Medicaid/Medicare–ideally through my textbook. To summarize, a trial work period can be nine non-consecutive months. COPD & asthma started me on disability before other issues were discovered. However, my Medicare D would crater if I made little over $100 in a month. So if I finally do something with my textbook again, it better be Open Source (aka. “free”).

I serve on the transportation committee of East Texas Human Needs Network (ETHNN), and teach people how to use the Tyler bus map. Together with explaining the practicality of the two-bus hub structure of Tyler Transit for a rectangular city, I’ve written a couple of articles on nearest bus stops for the five lines and organized three transpo. committee field trips. I’m so excited that we went to Tyler’s newest Mexican grocery store during Hispanic Heritage Month 2015–Supermercado del Pueblo in the northwest side of the city. Otherwise, North Tyler is a virtual food desert unless you go to the Super One (a branch of Brookshire’s) on the southeast edge of the Northside. Thank goodness for dollar stores!

My aptitude for teaching showed at a remarkably early age. I watched Spanish on the local PBS channel as a five-year old. There’s a laminated Dallas Morning News article tacked to a wall in my place about me getting on the show! Unfortunately, I flaked out and quit studying Spanish because of my disapproval for my weird elementary school’s methods.

I developed an passion for paleontology in 1st grade. I gave nine lectures that year, even to 8th grade. I still remember the geologic time table. On a humorous note, I wrote song called, “Diplocaulus, I’ll Never Stop Loving You,”  a song dedicated to large boomerang-headed amphibian of the Permian.

I developed an interest in Japan in 3rd grade, followed by the Mayas and Aztecs in 4th grade. Seventeen years later, I wrote a M.S. thesis entitled, “Approaching Cognitive-Behavioral and Existential Therapy through Neo-Confucianism.” A few years ago, I downloaded my thesis onto my site at  A Twitter fan since late 2011, my thesis was “favorited” by the South Asian Psychology Conference of Sri Lanka. I added information to “The Boston Confucians,” a Wikipedia site. I was invited to “Friends from Afar”  a closed Facebook group and the Ruist Fellowship–two Boston-based Internet groups; the former has discussions and the latter gives and checks essay homework!

To conclude, I keep up with my beloved Twitter site at bohemiotx, write articles at my two Word Press articles, and work on my textbook. I belong to the East Texas Human Needs Network (ETHNN) and the Community Health Workers Coalition (CHW). Studying and tweeting about my health issues has really gotten me recognized in the health care social media field! I got a big charge the other idea by explaining how to make pho, the national dish of Vietnam, to a veteran on the bus. That same day, I gave a list of Maya cities on the Yucatan Peninsula (after the Toltec invasion) to a newlywed, who could only afford to sail around the coast. Old teachers may retire but they never stop teaching.