Some of the most prominent Dallas media continue to engage in "body language" promoting the "Dallas Myth" that DISD schools on the north side of Dallas always perform better than those on the south side of Dallas. They do this by refusing to adequately present the overwhelming evidence of significant indications that schools on the south side of Dallas are better than schools on the north side of Dallas. The southern half of Dallas will be defined by this map.
This week the new TEA ratings came out. They show that there is over a 100% greater probability for a DISD non-magnet high school on the north side of Dallas to be rated UNACCEPTABLE that for a DISD non-magnet high school on the south side of Dallas to have such a rating. In this north/south division we will use this map from the Dallas Morning News North-South Dallas Project pages. These ratings also show that only one of the 4 remaining (i.e. not rated UNACCEPTABLE) north side DISD high schools, Jefferson, received their rating by having "met absolute standards," without using TPM, or other related rating aids. Meanwhile, for the 15 non-magnet DISD high schools on the south side of town, 7 of them received their acceptable ratings by having "met absolute standards."
TEA ratings show 3 (43%) of the 7 non-magnet DISD high schools on the north side of Dallas (Conrad H.S. must be added) are rated as unacceptable: Bryan Adams, Hillcrest, and North Dallas High School. The same TEA ratings show that only 3 (20%) of the 15 non-magnet DISD high schools on the south side of Dallas are rated as unacceptable: Samuell, Carter and A. Maceo Smith.
It was documented that significantly higher percentages of south side 9th grade students were making it to the 12th grade from 2005 up to the present. In 2008/2009 Oak Cliff was even 11 percentage points over North Dallas in this measurement! Look closely at the graph on the last page linked above. Note that the 6 North Dallas high schools used in this rating (Conrad was too new to be included) ALMOST caught up with Oak Cliff in this promotion rate with the 2009/2010 school year. The Dallas Morning News has not mentioned this measurement of progress for the south side in print. It appears they do not want to acknowledge how far behind the North Dallas schools were for several years, and still are!
Now, with the new TEA ratings, a new and more solid indication is available. TEA shows a more significant measurement wherein 43% of the north side high schools are rated unacceptable while only 20% of the south side schools are so rated. Also, only 25% (one) of the remaining 4 north side high schools were able to make their rating by meeting absolute standards, i.e. without the TMP or related help. On the south side over 58% (7) of the remaining 12 south side high schools were able to make their rating by meeting absolute standards.
The time has long passed for these differences to be publicly shared in major Dallas print and television media. The failure for this to happen shows "body language" indicating the media want to do nothing that may damage the old Dallas myth that the south side is somehow "worse" than the north side.
It remains to be seen if the Dallas Morning News will acknowledge IN PRINT that the south side of Dallas has made tremendous progress in several educational areas while the north side appears to have fallen back.
The good news remains that, overall, the children of Dallas are ALL making progress. Dropout rates are down and graduation rates are up. The progress must continue!
We must allow this north/south gap debate to be a form of entertainment, painfully reflecting the ongoing history of Dallas where still not enough has changed. The REAL WORK must continue in the classrooms and dining rooms all over Dallas, work for the futures of ALL our students.