Updating the latest developments in DISD’s ongoing TAG/magnet/learning center funding issue…

The DMN‘s editorial board weighed in, figuratively holding its nose and reluctantly saying DISD’s board needs to equalize funding at the learning centers and cut some funds from the magnets and TAGs, too. It’s the only fair thing to do, the editorial board says.

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But Jim Schutze with the Dallas Observer offers a new twist on the issue: TAG/magnet students are being cheated out of high school athletics, based on his son’s experience at Woodrow Wilson High School in East Dallas a few years ago. I don’t know what the case was then, but these days TAG and magnet students are playing sports and cheerleading at Woodrow, thanks to what I know is a Woodrow policy (and perhaps a DISD policy) that allows students to compete in UIL-sanctioned sports and other competitions at their "home" school.

More after the jump.

Not surprisingly, some parents of the non-TAG students aren’t too excited about watching some of the best students leave a neighborhood school for a "special" school, only to return and take spots on athletic teams that in theory could/should be filled by students actually attending the neighborhood school. Meanwhile, if a Woodrow student is qualified to take, for example, an advanced English course that is only offered at a TAG school, that’s not going to happen — the reciprocity apparently only goes one direction.

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For his column, Schutze also calculates that DISD’s funding equation actually cheats the TAGs and magnets out of funding, instead of providing too much. A Schutze follow-up post online, though, quotes DISD’s communication head Jon Dahlander debunking some of those numbers and pointing out that the TEA doesn’t calculate funding the way Schutze does, and the TEA’s calculation — the only calculation that really counts — shows the magnets/TAGs are disproportionately funded.

Schutze concludes by offering some positive words about DISD and its current direction, but he concludes that what’s happening here is just another black mark on the district. I understand what he’s saying, and to a certain extent I’m sympathetic to that argument —  but in the end, his argument doesn’t hold water.

All that’s happening today is the district is doing its job, looking at its funds and trying to determine the best way to allocate them in as fair a manner as possible. The TAGs and magnets aren’t being gutted, nor are they going to disappear or be marginalized. They just should be asked to live with roughly the same per-pupil funding that the rest of DISD’s schools have — there’s no crime or conspiracy, real or imagined, in that.