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Two Quick Notes About the Efforts To Make DISD a Home-Rule District

DISD board in January.
DISD board in January.

If you read the story in the Sunday paper, you know that there will be people at polling locations tomorrow asking you to sign a petition to explore remaking DISD. It’s a great idea, one that could lead to meaningful change. Two things that struck me:

One, as noted in today’s follow-up blog post by Matty “Ice” Haag, one of the outcomes of a reconfigured DISD charter could be that “[t]he school year could start earlier and be extended.” This is huge. A commission to rework the DISD charter couldn’t change any of the district’s accountability requirements to the state, but it could get rid of laws that allow little to no wiggle room in how long the school year is scheduled. As more research shows the value of extended school days and years, this is a problematic restriction.

Two, Timmy noted to me in an email today that it seems impossible to convince voters that they should sign such a petition, given that the volunteers hawking it will have maybe 10 seconds to make their case. If they’re smart and stay on message, that won’t be a problem, I don’t think. For free, here’s a script:

“Hello, sexy Dallas voter. We’re here because 93 out of 100 DISD graduates are not college ready after their senior year. Will you sign a petition asking for an independent commission to review the district’s charter and make reform recommendations?”

There are many, many interesting considerations such a review could recommend. (I’m partial to making the board accountable for student achievement scores/data, just as the superintendent is, by triggering new elections when goals aren’t met.) But that muddies the waters. For now, just stick to something simple, like the script above. I would sign that. Wouldn’t you?