Find a back issue

Making Dallas Even Better

Why DISD’s Anti-Everything Critics Are Wrong on School Boundaries

Before I got vote yes on the DISD bond at lunch – tomorrow is the last day to early vote, slackers; get to it – I wanted to address a particularly silly reason anti-bond goofballs are suggesting you vote no.

It has to do with attendance boundaries. The Dallas Morning News did a pretty darn good story on it this week, wherein they quote said goofballs as well as more thoughtful members of the community who rightly point out the goofiness of said complaint.

What is the complaint, and why is it hogwash?

Read More

Why Is Hinojosa Already Talking About NOT Asking for More Pre-K Money?

I heard some disturbing news last week and called up DISD Superintendent Michael Hinojosa, who confirmed it. He says he’s been telling people within the district that unless the Nov. 3 bond election passes with a 60 percent or greater margin, he doesn’t recommend going back to voters anytime soon to pass a tax ratification election. This is important, because the bond only allows the district to pay for buildings, not the programmatic changes needed to continue meaningful reforms — specifically, expanding and improving pre-K, furthering the school choice initiative, and investing heavily in career and technical education for those students who are not going to traditional four-year colleges. To do that, we’ll need to approve a TRE, a tax increase that will add to DISD’s already very low tax rate.

I understand we are getting ahead of ourselves. There is no guarantee the bond will pass next week. I think it will, but who knows?

But to me it doesn’t matter if it passes.

Read More

Don’t Kid Yourself: The DISD Bond Fails, You Probably Won’t Get a 2nd Chance To Help Kids

Between now and the Dallas ISD bond election Nov. 3, I’m going to write often about why you should support the bond and why the honking clown show of anti-bond folks are wrong on nearly every claim they make. But today, let’s look one more time at the DMN bond story from this weekend, and the quote from it that addresses what will happen if the clowns carry the day.

Here is a quote from DISD school board president Eric Cowan at the article’s end:

“It is the voters who are going to tell us if they support these projects or they want us to go back to the drawing table,” he said. “We’re asking the public.”

Cowan is, I like to say, moderate to the extreme. He is calm, takes all opinions seriously (no matter how ludicrous), and believes reasonable people can disagree. (And that everyone is for the most part reasonable.) He is an optimist. He has much more faith in people than I do. Which is why he truly believes that, if this bond doesn’t pass, well, we’ll just go back and try to get a better one through.

Read More

The DMN’s look at the DISD Bond Was Fundamentally Flawed

As expected, the Dallas Morning News ran its package of stories on the DISD bond. (Early vote now, you lazy good-for-nothings!) The central piece was this one, which tried to frame this vote as one where you’re deciding whether to pay for new schools or to fix old ones. I found that a silly suggestion, one that the paper tried hard to make stick. In doing so, it buttressed its premise with a few fundamentally flawed notions.

From the article:

Read More

Why I’m Hopeful the DMN Is Ending Its False Balance on DISD Stories

On Monday, I told you that the coverage of Joyce Foreman’s wrongheaded rants against the DISD bond (or anything related to the district, really) generally gives you a false impression: Most sensible people don’t believe what she believes, because what she believes is wrong.

Here’s another example I came across that explains what I mean. See her quote in this story from July, which I’ve pulled out here:

“Why would we move forward talking about new schools when we haven’t talked about attendance zones to determine if some of these children could be moved to other schools?” trustee Joyce Foreman asked.

This went unchallenged. A problem, since it’s not true and easily verifiable. Clicking the June 25 Future Facilities Task Force Draft – Facilities Matrix, you see 23-page document noting recommendations by high school feeder pattern.

Read More

Susan Hawk, Joyce Foreman, and Houston Envy — It’s the SAGA Pod

Jim Schutze of the Dallas Observer breaks a little news — or at least breaks a rumor that is news-y — about DA Susan Hawk at the beginning of the SAGA Pod this week. We discuss whether the district attorney’s actions are raising any red flags. Then we talk education — why the state of Texas is making it harder to teach poor kids, and why Joyce Foreman is doing the same. We wonder why the politics of urban education make for strange bedfellows — Clinton Democrats and business leaders on one side, far left-wingers and far right-winger on the other. And we ask why Houston is kicking our ass when it comes to urban planning. I also reveal how I, on a reporter’s salary, am able to buy a townhouse in central Dallas. (Hint: My looks have something to do with it.)

You can listen below/on the jump, or subscribe on iTunes. (Takes a few hours to show up on iTunes.) As always, please listen with your ears.

Read More

Why Would a School Board Member Lie to Us?

If you’ve read any articles about the proposed bond program on the ballot this November, you have undoubtedly read a quote or two from School Board Trustee Joyce Foreman. She has been very vocal in her opposition to the bond, and she always gets quoted. This is because the media want to “cover both sides” of the issue, and she is the most vocal opponent of the DISD bond.

Actually, that’s not accurate: Joyce Foreman is the ONLY vocal opponent to the DISD bond, at least among elected officials in Dallas.

This sort of reporting – “… but opponents disagree [quotes only vocal opponent]” – is often called false equivalence, but it’s really false balance. It suggests there are a fairly equal number of proponents and opponents on either end of the perfectly weighted seesaw. This is not true. Again, we have Foreman high in the air on one end, alone, yelling at the entire city on the other end.

What we’re lacking is an examination of just why she is all alone, howling at imaginary demons. Perhaps she is a Looper who has traveled back in time to warn us of that which we cannot know. I think, though, she is what she appears to be: someone willing to lie to derail any positive reform in DISD, so that she can maintain her status as some sort of brave populist and continue to win elections in a broken governance system that we’re too cowardly to fix.

Let’s do some fact-checking to see if I’m right.

From Facebook, posted Sept 28:

Read More

Inequality and Texas Independent School Districts

Today Rudolph Bush responds to criticism he’s heard from some Park Cities residents since last week he argued the unfairness of the way schools are organized in Texas — via independent school districts. It’s this governmental structure, more than any other factor, that has turned Highland Park and University Park into island communities increasingly out of reach of any residents other than the uber-wealthy. The ISD creates a cycle in which the great public schools result in higher property values, which can then pour even more money into those great schools:

I can understand the sentiment of people in HPISD who have sent me notes over the past week. Their home is often their life’s major investment. And they made that investment in Highland Park precisely so they could send their children to school there. And any suggestion that the ISD system we have is not a good system feels like reaching into their pockets, or worse, chipping at an important foundation of their family life.

But they are benefiting from government no less than the welfare recipient. A structure was put in place that benefits them according to their means. And they are taking advantage of that structure in the same way the welfare recipient is.

Neither should be blamed for that. We accept what is given to our best advantage and to the advantage of those we love. That’s human nature.

But without casting stones at one another, we can step back and consider whether the system we have is the best system we could have.

Bush proposes a system wherein ISDs would have to accept a certain number of students from outside their geographic borders, chosen by lottery. I think we’d be better off blowing up ISDs entirely and administering schools at the county level, which is how it is done in many other states. That way tax revenue generated by homes on Beverly and Armstrong could find its way equally to South Dallas.

His idea is likelier to get off the ground. But, yes, we need a change.

Hawk, Hinojosa, and Highland Park — it’s the return of the SAGA Pod

We’re back! Jim Schutze promises to make this at least a bi-weekly exercise. We’ll see. This week we talk about the D Magazine story on Susan Hawk’s return, why Democrats are wrong to call for her resignation (at least over this), the real story behind the end of Michael Hinojosa’s honeymoon, and whether Highland Park has a pocket of racists located within. Oh, and we ask Jim why he’s such a baseless speculator. There’s also a some light cursing. Fun for the whole family.

Because we live in a wondrous era, there are many ways to listen. You can click on the link on the jump. You can subscribe on iTunes here. (There’s usually a delay before it shows up there, FYI.) The direct link is here. You can find all episode direct links here. As always, please listen with your ears.

Read More

Larry Wilmore Gives Ahmed Mohamed an Apple Watch

The Ahmed Mohamed story is right in the wheelhouse of the sort of stories Larry Wilmore prefers to cover on his Comedy Central show. It’s no surprise then that Wilmore had Ahmed on for an interview last night. You can watch the clip above.

I didn’t notice any awkwardness from Ahmed in talking about what happened, which Mark Cuban had spoken about. Ahmed already seems pretty media savvy, for a scientifically-inclined 14-year-old. And he keeps raking in the gifts.

Read More

Larry Wilmore on the Arrest of Clockmaker Ahmed Mohamed

Last night on his Comedy Central show, Larry Wilmore addressed the controversy over the arrest of 14-year-old Irving high school student Ahmed Mohamed for having brought a clock to school. His opener included a crack about how it’s another step in the ongoing effort to get education out of Texas schools.

Later he acknowledged that he could understand how a teacher might be a little suspicious of the mess of wires and boards that was Ahmed’s clock, but still: “Once they determined it wasn’t the kind of clock that counts down, how does he end up in handcuffs?”

He also ridiculed the Irving police chief’s comment that Mohamed was taken into custody because he “wasn’t forthcoming with other details” besides the fact that it was a clock.

“That’s because there were no other details!” Wilmore said. “It’s a clock!”

Read More

What Hinojosa Will Have to Do to Succeed This Time

The paper’s story today about the expected naming of Michael Hinojosa as the sole superintendent candidate has a telling quote right at that top from a longtime Skyline parent:

“I’m not excited about it, but at this time that’s the best we can do. He’s a great guy. He seems to want to do the right thing. But don’t tell me; show me.”

Behind the scenes, that’s the prevailing sentiment on Hinojosa.

Read More

Leading Off (9/11/15)

Hinojosa to Get Dallas ISD Super’s Job. To the surprise of no one, interim district superintendent Michael Hinojosa is likely to be named the lone finalist to keep the gig permanently. DISD board president Eric Cowan said last night that’s what he expects to happen at a meeting on Tuesday afternoon. Hinojosa, who was previously superintendent from 2005 to 2011 before jumping ship to take a job in Georgia, has been back in the saddle for the last two months following the resignation of Mike Miles.

Jerry Jones Gets Second Hip Replaced. Indications are the Dallas Cowboys owner is recovering well after surgery last Friday, about six weeks after having his other hip overhauled. There’s no indication that Arlington voters were required to kick in half the cost.

Hall Arts Brings New Light Show to Downtown. Add the Arts District building to the growing list of structures that are Las Vegas-fying the Dallas skyline.

WARNING: Mid-Life Crisis Man in Uptown. The neighborhood’s walkable live-work-play environment is attracting a “new generation of renters.” Twenty-somethings are advised to be on the look out for older fellows who dress and style their hair like John Tesh, boast about how many people they can crowd onto their apartment balconies, and are known to be afflicted by goose bumps whenever seeing all that’s on display at Whole Foods. While unconfirmed, the scent of patchouli and the frequent playing of the trendiest world music are other possible warning signs.

Read More