Learn more about the Dallas ISD home rule charter fight

Whether or not you live or work in Dallas, there are good reasons for you to pay attention to the current movement to try to convert Dallas ISD to a home rule charter district. The success or failure of the movement is likely to spur similar discussions in other districts, as well as legislative changes in 2015 that could impact the entire state.

Texas law currently provides a mechanism for a school board to convert its entire school district to a charter school format, thereby exempting the district from many of the provisions of the Texas Education Code—laws such as teacher contract requirements and student discipline regulations. The move requires local voter approval and has never been done in Texas. Now an organization led by a wealthy philanthropist and former Enron executive has partnered with Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings and a handful of others in pushing a petition drive to send Dallas ISD down the home rule path.

The group advocating for home rule in Dallas calls itself “Support Our Public Schools.” It has kept the identify of many of its backers secret, but billionaire John Arnold is at the group’s forefront. Arnold’s foundation has also advocated for public pension reform in several states and was a leader in the unsuccessful effort last legislative session to create a controversial “Achievement School District” for low-performing Texas campuses, whereby they would be put in a charter school district scenario similar to home rule.

The Dallas Morning News has provided ongoing coverage of the home rule fight. Earlier this week, Mayor Rawlings acknowledged that the controversial home rule proposal has divided his city. Yesterday, Dallas Morning News columnist Steve Blow referred to the movement as “going nowhere.” But the home rule proponents released a new promotional video today in an effort to revive the movement. A public briefing is also planned for April 16, after a prior public inquiry by Dallas City Council members went off the rails. The Houston Chronicle also wrote about the home rule fight on one of its blogs this week, hinting at the possibility of a similar movement in Houston, where John Arnold actually resides.

To learn even more about the home rule controversy in Dallas, read the Texas Observer’s recent feature article by Patrick Michels, “Hot for Charter: Inside the Radical Play to Reinvent Dallas Schools.”

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3 thoughts on “Learn more about the Dallas ISD home rule charter fight

  1. Bill Betzen

    Information is critical in this apparent effort to confuse the public. They only spoke of a static photo of DISD achievement, which is certainly not positive. It is only when you compare year to year that you see the record setting progress in DISD from 2006 to 2012: http://schoolarchiveproject.blogspot.com/2012/11/the-greatest-5-years-of-progress-in.html

    DISD must not endanger the system that was providing this progress. Sadly it has already been damaged and the most predictive of graduation rate measures are already going down since 2012: http://schoolarchiveproject.blogspot.com/2013/12/blog-post.html

    See more links to documents and studies on “home rule” here so you can form your own opinions: http://schoolarchiveproject.blogspot.com/

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  2. William P (Bill) Matthews

    TEA needs to be taken down a notch or two and the legislature as well. I appreciate that ATPE is looking at this from the job protection angle, but a more appropriate view would be from the “what is best for kids” angle. The TEA/Texas Legislature team has given us what we have today. “Local Control” is little more than a popular buzz word they trot out occasionally to gain popular support but has always resulted in more state rules and more state control. When I joined ATPE over 20 years ago, I did so because it had no connection with any union. Some, if not most, of the current language coming out of ATPE sounds like something a union would publish. I’m for BREAKING both TEA and the legislature from control of local schools.

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  3. Pingback: Legislative Update: Senate sacks debate rule, Congress contemplates testing, Dallas ditches home-rule | Teach the Vote

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