Did you know that two years ago, Dallas ISD hired someone to overhaul its approach to pre-kindergarten? Or that, as a result of implementing his strategies, the district has seen a 13-percentage point gain in the number of its students who start school prepared for kindergarten? Did you know that Dallas philanthropists and national grant foundations are pouring millions of dollars into summer learning programs that provide enrichment during the June through August gap? Or that, 45 years after forced desegregation, the district is making new efforts to voluntarily integrate its schools?
Just one of these initiatives would be huge. All three are backed by decades of data showing substantial gains in student achievement. But it’s pretty likely that Advocate readers — most of whom pay thousands or even tens of thousands to the district in property taxes annually, many of whom have school-age children, some of whom send those children to Dallas ISD schools, and a few who vote in school board and bond elections — don’t know they exist.
Why? Because they don’t really pertain to “our” neighborhoods and “our” children. These initiatives are designed for children whose families are poor, whose parents didn’t attend college, who are “working the third job to pay for gas to the second job,” as Mike Koprowski, the district’s champion of choice schools, puts it. Our readership’s demographics are, well, starkly different.
The thing is, these children make up nearly 90 percent of Dallas ISD’s student population. That’s roughly 140,000 children who will grow up in our city and could become our future workforce, maybe even our movers and shakers.
Without such efforts, the statistics stack up against these children who are, in reality, “our” children, too.
So what exactly is the district doing? And will its administration and board of trustees pull it off or screw it up?
We’ll be writing about this in a series of stories over the next couple of weeks, with more specifics about how these initiatives impact our neighborhood’s schools.