Give Mike Rawlings's Education Plan a Grade

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Forthcoming are Jim's thoughts on the mayoral candidates' forum held last night at Thomas Jefferson High School, which looks like it needs every cent of the $8-mil renovation that's just commenced. But during the forum, Mike Rawlings referred to his public-educational platform, which he introduced yesterday during a press conference in front of North Dallas High School. At the forum, Rawlings said he had the support of Tom Luce and former DISD super Mike Moses; at his presser, he said:

It doesn't matter how low our crime rate is and how clean our neighborhoods are ... if our parents are forced to choose between sending their children to a school that is academically unacceptable or moving to the suburbs where a good public education is available, then we will never succeed as a city.

And we can't blame parents for doing what's in the best interest of their children.

On his campaign website today, Rawlings posted his entire Education Plan. Long story short: He wants the city to form myriad partnerships with the Dallas Independent School District, via task forces and an education alliance ("a strategy that worked for the homeless issue, where we created MDHA") and even something called an "education army," described thusly:

Recruit, train & engage a volunteer force. Dallas has the human capital to do anything we set our mind to -- so now is the time to identify and organize it. Start by engaging the more than 300,000 seniors living in Dallas, many of whom are looking for volunteer activities and ways to give back to the community. As Mayor, I will work to raise the profile of the issue and recruit a volunteer army that will feed into our DISD Education Alliance and support of schools in various ways -- from managing intern programs and reading programs to initiating PTA chapters in schools that don't have them organized -- to helping with tutoring and mentoring. The manpower is out there to help. Our job is to identify and organize it.

Coincidentally, former Mayor Tom Leppert was at last night's forum, recapping his tenure as Dallas mayor -- a tenure during which he kinda, sorta suggested the city take over the DISD, though he failed to elaborate or act on that vague proposal. Rawlings says, sorry, but getting involved in public education is just inevitable: "Some people will say education is not the mayor's responsibility. And technically it's not. But as leaders, we all have a responsibility to act."

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