Two more signs yesterday that Dallas mayor Tom Leppert’s DISD power grab is dead: A key Texas legislator declared the idea dead, and a national education study found that DISD was among the top 10 most-improved large urban school districts.
First, the legislative news: Rob Eissler — chairman of the Texas House Public Education Committee — said if Leppert really wanted to make a difference in DISD, he should work with the existing school board, according to the DMN. Short of a bill passed by the legislature authorizing Leppert and the city to "take over" DISD, the only other way Leppert could wind up in charge would be if he was appointed to the position by Texas Education Commissioner Robert Scott, who hasn’t publicly shown any interest in doing so.
Now, the education news: A study conducted among the 37 largest U.S. urban school districts found DISD in 2nd place for improvements. The study tried to compare how urban districts are doing when compared with suburban and rural school districts, adjusting test scores to somehow make that comparison. The conclusion was that DISD is among the leaders in gains, even though overall, urban districts lag far behind suburban and rural districts in overall achievement.
Here’s a direct quote from the DMN story: "In 2000, Dallas was outscored by 100 percent of the state’s school districts. By 2007, just 90 percent of suburban and rural districts did better than Dallas – a significant improvement given its demographics, the study’s author said"
Now, I agree that climbing ahead of 10 percent of the districts in Texas isn’t cause to break out the champagne, but it shows DISD is moving in the right direction, albeit slowly. Many of us who have been in town for awhile know that’s actually remarkable news, given the district’s history of achievement.
That’s what stability and a legitimate emphasis on academics in the classroom will do for you, I suspect.
Finally, the Dallas Observer had a couple of interesting stories on its blog. One, by Jim Schutze, discussed Leppert’s play for DISD. The other, by Robert Wilsonsky, featured a report on Supt. Michael Hinojosa’s visit to W.T. White Tuesday night as part of the district’s new effort to get out in front of parents and teachers to take questions and tell its story. Both the stories and the comments that follow make interesting reading, no matter on which side of the fence you’re sitting.