Down below, Dallas Independent School District trustee Bruce Parrott says he wants to know "how does the business community feel" about Superintendent Michael Hinojosa's more-than-likely departure for the top job in Cobb County, Georgia. (The Atlanta Journal Constitution is now reporting that "Dallas school chief Michael Hinojosa is reportedly going to be named the finalist for Cobb superintendent, according to people with knowledge of the search who do not want to be identified because of the confidential nature of the proceedings.") Fair question, especially since the Dallas Regional Chamber's higher-ups have made several trips to 3700 Ross Avenue in recent months to pitch their education initiatives -- specifically, the goals mentioned within its Blueprint for Economic Prosperity.
Contained within that doc is a section titled "Drive Improvements in Public Education," which has several goals, among them:
- Improve the Dallas ISD high school graduation rate from the current 67% to 80% by 2015.
- Increase the percentage of Dallas region residents who hold advanced degrees from the current 10% to 15% by 2015.
- Set detailed goals and targets, aligned with statewide assessment, to improve the percentage of Dallas ISD students who are college and career ready.
And, as we noted only last week, the Dallas Regional Chamber has spent money flying the super and other trustees to Denver, Houston and Los Angeles to study their charter schools in the hopes of importing some of those ideas to Dallas. The chamber refers to this as its "best practices tour."
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So I called the chamber for a comment, and moments ago I received a call from Jim Oberwetter, president of the Dallas Regional Chamber and former the former U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabi. He read to me the following statement:
Over the past five months, we have worked very closely with Michael Hinojosa as we have traveled to and studied other districts and education programs that have made a significant difference in student achievement. The Dallas ISD has made progress during his tenure. To support our economic development efforts, we recognize education is a key priority. Given recent studies that prove our graduation rates do not meet the needs of our growing workforce, we now need to step up efforts to ensure more students gradate college and workforce ready.
I asked if he was disappointed in the super's decision in light of the five-year contract extension, which Parrott said the business community had pushed for last year. "That is what we can say today," he said, referring to the statement above.