Dallas ISD Is Pumping Millions into Helping Parents Prepare Their Kids for School

Every time we broach the subject of improving Dallas ISD, the chorus starts in before we get too far: It starts with the parents.

District officials appear to agree. In a recent vote, the district earmarked $2.75 million for parent-education programs, including the expansion of an Israeli-born program that helps parents teach their children to read.

In all, the board approved $5 million in early-childhood education funding, including the $2.75 million for parent education, officials announced today. That includes money for Home Instruction for Parents of Pre-School Youngsters, or HIPPY, in which instructors make "weekly home visits to provide parents with literacy skills that they can teach to their 3-5 year old children."

There also will be more money for weekly parent classes for infants and toddlers and parent coaches who will help teach parents to jump-start their babies' literacy.

It's a drop in the dented bucket, to be sure. But it's part of a larger effort to improve early childhood education in the district. And there will be more funding: A bill that passed the Texas Legislature, championed by trustee Mike Morath, should soon allow some DISD high school students to graduate in three years, with the money saved being diverted to pre-K programs.

"It's a way to start thinking about the system differently," Morath told The Texas Tribune last month. "Do we view education as schools and buildings and first grade and second grade and third grade? Or do we view education as a way to enrich the lives of young people, and do we start taking these institutional blinders off and thinking about it more creatively?"

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