Dallas Public Schools: Bridge Now, But Remember Later

Photo courtesy DISD

Photo courtesy DISD

Last night, the Dallas ISD board of trustees voted 9-0 to approve an amended bridge plan that will pump much-needed funds into improving some long-neglected schools, as well as set up more Pre-K classrooms.

But it is a drop in the bucket, which explains the long night and the wrangling that went in to coming up with a compromise. It’s saying something that of the schools that need improvements, the 20 schools that were picked included one that could’ve killed students and teachers with carbon monoxide fumes. If impending death is the benchmark for needing improvement, you can start to grasp at why some trustees needed assurances that their schools – that aren’t on the list – would indeed see improvement, too.

Trustee Eric Cowan passionately asked the large crowd who came last night to remember his vote when it came time to pass a new bond. And we should. We should remember it as a leap of faith that if we start improvements now, we will remember the schools not on this list, where children are also attending in portable buildings, in schools that need improvements. We should remember that if every single potential qualifying student signed up for Pre-K, we would not currently have the room to teach them all. I’ll have more on this next month, but early education is imperative.  It is absolutely vital to stopping the cycle of the school to prison pipeline.

So we need to remember these things in two or three years, when it comes time to vote on a bond package. If you’re a parent whose child will now go to a school that will be improved thanks to the bridge fund, it will be time to pay it forward.

Why? Because we’re in this together. I like to think of Dallas public schools as a body. We can get so caught up in the health of our one part that belongs to us, that we forget – decay and delayed improvement (both in a physical sense and educational sense) in one part can affect the health of the whole. So the health of Dunbar Elementary, for instance, goes, so goes the rest of the entire feeder pattern. So goes the health of that feeder pattern, so goes the health of the district.  And to take the point further, so goes the health of the district, so goes the health of the city, including the desire to move in to Dallas and send our children to our neighborhood schools.

The bridge plan is just that – a bridge, a step in the right direction of addressing neglect and overcrowding brought about through a variety of historical issues. This shouldn’t – and can’t – be a bridge to nowhere.

 

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