Michael Hinojosa's Gone, But As He Begins New Job, His Time in Dallas Is Not Forgotten

Former Dallas Independent School District Superintendent Michael Hinojosa officially begins his new gig in Cobb County, Georgia, today. Hence, this morning's piece in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "New Cobb superintendent's job 1: Close students' achievement gap." Long story short: Cobb County, like most urban districts around the country, has seen an ever-widening gap in the test scores of its Hispanic and African-American students, something Hinojosa needs to address.

Problem is, the same thing happened in Dallas under his watch, prompting recently installed DISD board president Lew Blackburn to say, not so long ago, "I have a feeling that we are not paying enough attention to the African-American students." One study of the DISD school board, which was conducted a few years back, suggested it knew why: "No evidence was found of Black-Brown coalition building; however, findings suggest that different styles of communication influence the treatment African American and Mexican American groups receive and ultimately may affect their access to the scarce resources of public education."

This morning's story, with help from a familiar name, reviews Hinojosa's DISD report card on this particular subject:

During Hinojosa's tenure in Dallas, scores for all students increased on state standardized tests, and the district received national attention for reform efforts. But Hinojosa's tactics have drawn some criticism from members of Dallas' black community who believe a disproportionate amount of resources have gone to Hispanic students. Academically, the gap between the two groups has widened in every category on state standardized tests since Hinojosa took over.

"The African-American students seem to have been forgotten," said Joyce Foreman, a longtime school volunteer. "I think all students should be educated. But I don't think you should educate one group at the expense of another."

Hinojosa said the Dallas district formed a task force and used stimulus dollars to support programs to improve test scores for black students. It's too soon to tell if the efforts are working, he said.

"We've had more success with one group than another, that's why we had to recalibrate," he said.

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky