Have you heard there’s a hotly contested school board race in our neighborhood? The race to replace Eric Cowan for District 7 trustee has become totally bananas.
If you don’t have kids and you’d rather not pay attention, then you should know that our city’s school board will be chosen by women in their late 60s. That is who cast the majority of votes in the most recent Dallas Independent School District election.
As our Keri Mitchell put it: “That means senior citizens, rather than parents with school-age children, were the ones whose ballots determined whether to give the district money to build and update schools.”
A childless friend recently posted on Facebook, “I don’t have a stake in this race…” A real estate developer whose company is poised to pour millions of dollars into our neighborhood told me recently, “Now we just need to get a good charter school there…”
Those attitudes are problematic because if you own a home in Dallas, if you have a business here, if you rely on our economy, if you want our city to be successful, then you have a stake in our public school system. You should care about making our neighborhood schools the best they can be.
We are facing a potential economic crisis here.
A recent report from J.P. Morgan Chase found that people of color are far less likely to graduate from high school in Dallas, and those who do graduate are less likely to be prepared for college or technical school. Every year there are about 42,000 highly skilled jobs open in Dallas for which there are not enough workers.
Developers can build as many high-end apartments and walkable mixed-use what-have-yous as they want for the tens of thousands of workers coming from other cities to fill all those jobs. But if the people who were born and raised here are not receiving adequate education, then poverty and desperation will be the view from those balconies.
Public education is complicated. DISD is frustrating. It would be easier to look the other way and say “I don’t have a stake,” but that’s denial. We all have a stake.