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Who will accept responsibility for DISD’s failing schools?

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It seems quite simiple.  DISD cannot continue to operate in the same manor that has produced 48 academically “unacceptable” schools.  There have been plenty of suggestions on how to address the problems, from repurposing 4 underperforming high schools, to spliting the district into three smaller ones.

But my question is when will someone step up and take the heat for this failing grade?  Will it be the superintendent?  How about the school board?  Maybe some of the principals. 

As the Dallas Morning News editorial board points out, 29 of 48 of the “unacceptable” schools are in Southern Dallas.  But regardless of where the schools are located, something needs to change.  A welcome change would be someone, anyone, stepping up to the plate and saying “we’ve got to do better….I’ve got to do better.” 

Yet that doesn’t seem to be the M.O. of DISD.  There’s no doubt that too many children walk through the doors of DISD schools not ready or unwilling to learn.  Parents should also share in these poor outcomes as well.  But it’s not a stretch to expect better results than what we’re seeing right now.  Will someone at DISD stand up and agree with me?

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  • http://www.studentmotivation.org Bill Betzen

    I am in no way an official representative of DISD. I am a middle school teacher with a dropout prevention hobby and a web site at http://www.studentmotivation.org that documents the School Archive Project. It is a time-capsule and 10-year class reunion project used to focus students onto their own futures. Two out of 32 high schools in DISD receive over 90% of the School Archive Project students from middle school at this time. Those two high schools account for 55% of the growth in DISD 11th and 12th grade enrollment since 2005/06! That is a major indicator that the dropout rates are falling!

    This growth in 11th and 12th grade enrollment at these two schools points to the value of focusing students onto their own futures, and a specific time for a future class reunion, in middle school. The second class to write School Archive Project letters was in the 8th grade in 2005/06. Since then the number of students in the 11th and 12th grade combined for all of DISD has gone up by 758 students. (Go to http://www.studentmotivation.org/dallasisd/ to see the spreadsheet with these and the following calculations. A copy in Excel format can be downloaded.) Most of this increase, 55%, happened at the two schools receiving most School Archive Project students, Pinkston and Sunset high schools. These schools together have 9% of the high school population for all of DISD. At Pinkston, with less than 3% of DISD high school students, their gain of 96 students in the 11th and 12th grades accounted for 12.7% of all the gain for DISD. (During this time the total Pinkston enrollment dropped by 3.7%.) Sunset, with 6% of DISD high school students, accounted for a gain of 321 students, or 42.3% of all the gain for DISD. (During this time Sunset enrollment grew by 11.8%.)

    Due to the popularity of this project among students, and the positive effect on motivation, four more DISD schools started School Archive Projects the summer of 2009: Greiner and Brown middle schools, Sunset High School, and Macon Elementary School. They all took advantage of a fund that had been established at the Dallas Education Foundation to provide $1,500 grants to cover the purchase and installation of a 500 pound vault in their school lobby, as well as other initial expenses. The School Archive Project is reaching more students!

    We need to have more schools step forward, and more teachers volunteer, to do the work needed in starting up their own School Archive Project. We need to allow students to have more ownership of their own educational process.

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