Editorial: Is Dallas ISD letting bad, old-school politics creep back in?
The Dallas Morning News
by Dallas Morning News Editorial, Oct. 24, 2019
Dallas ISD may well represent the most dramatic ongoing turnaround story of any major urban school district in the nation.
In 2013, the district had 43 schools on the state’s failing list. In 2018, it was three.
Across its schools, the district has arrested a long downward slide and turned the trajectory toward success. It has boosted performance for its most challenged students. It has increased choice for parents across Dallas. And it boasts some of the finest public high schools in the nation.
DISD has done this, in large part, by rejecting the politics of stagnation and the status quo and boldly embracing difficult, sometimes painful reforms.
That’s why we were so disappointed to see what looks like the old ways creeping back in, tilting us back toward the insular way of doing business that might protect a bureaucracy but does little to help children and families realize the best public education they can get.
We are talking here about a program widely known as “1882” — so named for the number of a recently passed bill that would have provided additional state funding to public schools in Texas that partner with nonprofit operators.
This stirred a predictable and stale backlash over “privatizing our schools” and the unfounded fear that public charter schools will somehow replace traditional public schools.
That is not what this program would have done for DISD. It would have instead given the district the opportunity to at least consider collaborating with nonprofit partners to operate certain DISD schools.
The district could have gathered more money, not only from the state, but potentially from the investment of a deep-pocketed partner. Students would have won. Parents would have won. Dallas would have won.
Instead, fear did.
Dallas ISD’s board now won’t even consider this valuable tool offered by the state after Superintendent Michael Hinojosa pulled the 1882 item from a recent DISD board meeting. We found that strange, since just a few hours before deciding not to even let the board consider 1882, Hinojosa told our editorial board he supported the plan.
Dallas ISD trustees should have at least been able to debate this publicly.
Trustee Dustin Marshall offered a defense of 1882 on Facebook, correctly noting “there is value in permitting the District the OPTION of evaluating potential partnerships.”
That’s true. What sort of business would decide it doesn’t even want to consider bringing on a good collaborator?
First-term trustee Ben Mackey made the disappointing decision to oppose the plan, saying he “doubts that any proposed partnership could operate a school as well as Dallas ISD.”
Thousands of parents disagree and have shown the district as much by leaving.
Some of those parents are beginning to return. And they are returning because the district had shown that stagnant, old-school politics were a thing of the past.
DISD, don’t let them creep back in, or those parents will walk back out.
This editorial was written by the editorial board and serves as the voice and opinion of The Dallas Morning News.