If you go to the polls tomorrow, you’re likely to be asked to sign a petition in favor of creating a home-rule charter school district in Dallas. If the group pushing for home-rule schools in Dallas, Support Our Public Schools, get 5 percent of the voters in Dallas to sign the petition, it can be put to a ballot referendum for voters to decide in November.
The push is being led in Dallas by Houston-based philanthropist and former Enron trader John Arnold, which, regardless of one’s view on home rule, raises a lot of questions, as this editorial points out.
Creating a home-rule charter frees school districts from following most state and federal mandates. The district must still refrain from discrimination, meet enrollment requirements and offer bilingual education. Students would still be required to take the STAAR test, and schools would have to follow rules regarding funding and extra curricular activities, for example.
What can a home-rule district do that our current district cannot? Here are four major things:
1. Replace the elected school board with another governing board, which could include appointees.
2. Require no minimum pay for teachers.
3. Create a longer school day and a longer school year.
4. Give the school board the power to create curriculum that is cheaper than what’s required under state law.
DISD trustee Mike Morath supports the proposal and helped found Support Our Public Schools. Board president Eric Cowan called a meeting between the group and the board today.