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Stop What You’re Doing and Watch This Inspiring Video of Mayor Mike Rawlings

Click through for the video.
Click through for the video.

I read the front-page DMN story today about the home-rule movement for DISD, and I thought, “Oh, man, they still don’t have their messaging together.” Here’s how the story in the paper wraps up:

Rawlings and the group said they did not have a grand vision for a DISD charter. When asked why the community would support a plan that hasn’t been outlined, some group members said the effort would give the public a blank page and lets them write the future of Dallas ISD.

“The power is the blank page,” Rawlings said. “The citizens for the first time get to decide what they want to do.”

What? They have no vision? The power is the blank page? No, no, NO. People are going to hate that. This effort is being funded, in part, by a rich guy in Houston. As someone said in our comments section yesterday, rich guys don’t give money so that we can practice democracy. What’s the agenda, and why is it being hidden? That’s how people will react to that lack of message. Tell me you want to lengthen the school year (as opposed to spreading it out, a distinction that the DMN story fails to make clear). That’s your goal. Tell me we’ve got to compete with other nations that all have longer school years. Make that your message. Or pick another one and hammer that. But pick one.

That’s what I thought after reading the story in a hard copy of the paper. Then I went online to find the link for this post, and I watched the video that the DMN provided with their story. And there’s Mayor Mike Rawlings making an impassioned speech, flat-out preaching, telling us that people are fleeing the city because our school district isn’t getting the job done, pointing out that incremental change won’t fix the problem. And then I thought, “Wow. I think I just got a little choked up. Give that guy a bigger platform. Let him make the case. Because when he puts it like that, I’m in.”

UPDATE: The paper has come out in support of the home-rule movement.

(Note: apologies for making you click through to the DMN site to watch the video, but their system makes it impossible to share video using WordPress.)

22 comments on “Stop What You’re Doing and Watch This Inspiring Video of Mayor Mike Rawlings

  1. “People are leaving town. This is the elephant in the room nobody wants to talk about.” I do, Mr. Mayor.

  2. Walkable. A few days ago, I tried to make the point that while “walkability” was all well and good, it was not the big issue that was going to keep people (particularly families) in the central Dallas area. Schools are. So what Mayor Rawlings is talking about is music to my ears.

  3. great video. and if you really want to make a change then introduce vouchers so that the poor can have a choice. Rawlings said that if you are “wealthy” you flee the public schools. I disagree there are many in the middle class who are far from “wealthy” who are sacrificing to send their children to private schools (this includes the Catholic parochial elementary schools), others are deciding to home school and others are moving out of the district. want to improve the schools then eliminate the counting of heads (how many of this ethnicity, how many of that), get back to basics and more.

  4. I suggest they have someone from St. Philip’s School and Community Center involved from the start. They are not held back by elephants in the room.

  5. So it’s about participation, accountability, and agreeing on tools to improve the schools. Why can’t they just say that? A blank page is not something most people can wrap their brain around (as he points out) so stop asking people to do so.
    FYI: They’ve posted an FAQ on their website:
    http://www.supportourpublicschools.org/faqs/

  6. I agree with Mike on all counts. The blank sheet is the opportunity. A revolving door of superintendents is not the solution. The system is broken. The superintendent-as-savior is naive. A new person at the top can’t influence and fix a sprawling, unwieldy, erroneously structured organization. So many internal and political problems. Not to mention the fast-changing, amazingly-competitive global marketplace in which future graduates must compete. Staying where we are is not a defensible position, given the truly scary statistics that comprise the DISD truth. What’s the worst thing that can happen in blowing up the status quo and trying something new? We can always go back to the current scenario. But it’s highly likely that we’ll learn and do something better in the interim. There are so many innovative education initiatives underway in pockets of the city, both inside DISD and beyond. Let’s structure the new system to build on what is proven and promising — in privately-funded innovations, STEM movements, as well as impressive joint ventures such as Garza Early High School College (DISD+ Mountain View College). Scale it up to benefit the greatest number of students and families. For those at the bottom of the economic ladder, education is the key to a productive, satisfying future. It’s why my grandparents came to America from Italy and Lithuania. They wanted their families to have the privilege of education and potential for upward mobility. It’s why my sisters and I came to Dallas in that great 80s era of Yankee influx — seeking and reaping career opportunities on steroids. The homegrown children of Dallas deserve a similar shot. P.S. If you are still not convinced of the severity of our education problem, scope a new book The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technology. I heard an amazing synopsis/presentation at AGC/Association for Corporate Growth meeting last night — complete with 10 pages of sound bites and statistics that summarize the challenges and realities of a changed world. If it doesn’t put you into the fetal position (it is quite daunting), it might motivate you to investigate and support the movement to help our children and the city we love.

  7. “I disagree there are many in the middle class who are far from “wealthy” who are sacrificing to send their children to private schools”

    Most certainly. Tim is one of them. Tim, does any of what the Mayor is saying make Hill more attractive to you? Would you send your kids there if we just had more instruction time? What about different teachers? If not, what can be done to attract parents of choice (but limited means) such as yourself?

    ps thanks for quoting me, Tim!

  8. Unsolicited comms suggestion for a slogan/message: “It’s time to ACT up. Accountability of leaders. Community engagement. Turnaround the district.”

  9. The mayor has done so well managing the city that we now have a ten billion dollar infrastructure pothole to fill. The mayor, who has no kids in public school nor is an education expert, needs to take care of his own city responsibilities before trying to eliminate democratically elected trustees and replace them with hand picked billionaire cronies.

  10. While generally sympathetic to vouchers, they have their limitations as well. Education is a HUGE issue, but its also symptomatic of other deeper issues. Much of the failure of urban school systems stems from poverty (and I’m not speaking of lack of funds for education, but poverty at home). Whether due to lack of effort or lack of time, poverty and a dearth of parental involvement in the education of their children go hand in hand. Poor non-school environments, which fail to value education and encourage students, can undue the benefits of even the best educators. Of course, one of the benefit of year-round schools is to maximize time in school, and minimize time in less helpful environs.

    Might some success of charter schools be attributable to the fact that every charter school parent had a parent involved enough in their child’s education to get the kid into a charter school?

  11. Yes, this has been very frustrating. I hit their “share” button, grab the code for their video (iframe), paste it into WordPress, and it works a couple times. But repeatedly, the video disappears from this post. Finally gave up.

  12. I like the ad hominem move, Alexander. Sharp.

    But the questions you ask are some of the right questions. I’d hope that if SOPS gets enough signatures, those would be the questions that the commission to draft a new charter would tackle.

    And you’re welcome.

  13. The real “elephant in the room” is the fact (yes, I think it’s bordering on being an established fact) that the single biggest predictor of a student’s success is the degree to which his/her parents emphasize the importance of an education. All the money in the world – and the best teachers that money can buy – won’t make much difference if the school doesn’t have the support of the kids’ parents. No one wants to acknowledge this for fear that it will offend some people, but there’s no getting around it.

  14. Just so I’m clear, are you suggesting that 1) there is a $10B infrastructure shortfall, and 2) that it is Rawlings’s doing?

  15. People have been “leaving town” since the desegregation order was implemented at the high school level in fall of 1971. It was called “white flight”. Mayor Rawlins should have said, if you can’t roll up your sleves and get busy helping our schools as an instructional volunteer or a mentor, then get the hell out of our city! I am guessing that somebody from Houston, and about 70% of the people who say they know what is wrong, have never worked in education or stepped foot inside a Dallas school.