I recall in the 1990s when there was finally some money coming to the county to fix up some of the worst parts of Cameron Park.
The colonia residents had been waiting for decades to receive some of the state and federal monies from the Texas Water Development Board and the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs to address the issues facing that afflicted part of southeast Cameron County.
Just when everything appeared to be in place and then-commissioner Carlos Cascos saw some hope to fix some of the needs in his precinct, there was a glitch: the colonia was located in a flood zone and no state or federal monies could be spent there.
The issue was tossed around for a bit before someone came up with a neat idea. When was the last time we had updated the county's flood map? Hadn't there been improvements made by the surrounding City of Brownsville and nearby drainage districts that could possibly – might possibly – affect the flood zone designation and remove Cameron Park from a flooding level and make it eligible for funding?
Sure enough. After a few alterations to the flood zone maps, Cameron Park was deemed to be in a no-flood zone and the funding went through.
This comes to mind after reading in the local daily that the Texas Education Agency released their 2013 accountability rating and that under the new State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness (STAAR) – unlike the results of the former Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) – virtually all of the schools in the local districts made the grade.
Instead of ratings like "unacceptable,"recognized," and "exemplary," schools now are ranked with simpler, more barrio-friendly rankings like “Met Standard” or “Required Improvement.”
Now the Brownsville Independent School District can boast that all but one of its 54 campuses achieved the “Met Standard” measure and 11 made the “Triple Distinction” list on par with (ahem) the Austin Independent School District.
Now, we know that during a heavy rain much of Brownsville – including some parts of Cameron Park – still flood despite the changed nomenclature. And we suspect that despite the more facile ranking of the local schools, its graduates will still have to take remedial classes to be able to handle college-level courses.
But just as Cameron Park residents were able to make believe that their colonia no longer floods by changing the flood-zone map to receive federal and state funding, we're sure that BISD administrators will also make believe that changed ratings will result in more prepared public school graduates.