Dallas Achieves, it says here, is "a comprehensive effort of the school district and the broader Dallas community to transform the Dallas Independent School District (Dallas ISD) into one of the best urban school districts in the country over the next four years." To which we say, of course, Good luck with all that. To achieve that goal, Hinojosa has created the Dallas Achieves Commission, which is a "collaborative effort of the Foundation for Community Empowerment with the co-sponsorship of DISD, Texas Instruments and the National Center for Educational Accountability." Among the commission's co-chairs are J. McDonald Williams, FCE's founder and the chairman emeritus of Trammell Crow; former Dallas Cowboy Pettis Norman, CEO of PNI Industries; and Arcilia Acosta, CEO of Carcon Industries & Construction.
However, Dallas Achieves appears to be in need of your hard-earned; feel free to donate here so they can wrangle some outside peeps -- pardon, "the best professionals in the country"-- to get 'er done, since there don't seem to be enough locals to develop a plan to fix the district by 2010. (Not enough talented locals to fix the district -- why is that not a surprise?) Of course, as a former DISD student myself from F.P. Caillet Elementary School all the way through good ol' Thomas Jefferson, I do wish the district well. But it has a long way to go -- by the district's own admission.
Here, Dallas Achieves lays out precisely where the district ranks internationally, nationally and on the statewide level, and it don't look too good at the moment. In short: "The United States is not competitive on international exams." Then: "Texas scores are slightly below the U.S. median." Followed by: "Dallas college readiness scores lags behind the state and most of the other large urban school districts."
The district has its eye on the prize here -- specifically, The Broad Prize for Urban Education, which last year gave $500,000 to first-place finisher Boston and $125,000 each to four finalists (Bridgeport Public Schools, Jersey City Public Schools, Miami-Dade County Public Schools and the New York City Department of Education). The prize is awarded by The Broad Foundation and is given out annually "to honor urban school districts making the greatest overall improvement in student achievement while at the same time reducing achievement gaps across income and ethnic groups." (Incidentally, it's pronounced "brode." IJS.) There's quite the gap to overcome at this point. Quick -- someone call Evel Knievel. --Robert Wilonsky
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