Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Dallas County Birth Rate nearing Zero Population Growth

As we plan new schools in Dallas ISD we must focus on improving all of DISD.  The numbers are very clear that beyond people moving into Dallas County, the birth rate is lowering.  It is closer each year to that magical Zero Population Growth level that most sources say is near 14 births per thousand population.   Here are the most recent numbers in Dallas County:
Dallas County Birth Rates 1990 to 2012
With Dallas County birth rates per 100,000 getting constantly closer to 1,400 births a year, and the pressure from charter schools, Dallas ISD must plan to focus more on improving schools than on expanding capacity for more students.  Unless the progress being made 2007-2012 can resume and accelerate, DISD student population will not be growing. As the community understands the damage of the past 3 years, the charter schools will have more students.  It is as if that was planned.

But one truth survives all the Dallas education debate over charter schools, choice schools, and student achievement.  Most families prefer their neighborhood community school.  Problem is, DISD has lost the “community” aspect of our local schools too often.  It must be regained, especially as the birth rate continues to drop!

In the 1960’s communities were built where almost all homes had many children attending local schools.  Schools were full. Now grandparents and smaller families occupy most of those homes. Many Dallas k-5 schools are below 70% utilization. 

If the currently planned 2015 Bond Election ignores too many of those underutilized schools DISD will be missing a golden opportunity to transform those schools into k-8 schools, utilize that now vacant space, and use some of the current bond election moneys to build needed labs or other facilities for the 6th 7th and 8th graders.  These schools could slowly then keep their 5th grade classes on into the 6th, 7th and 8th grades. This would take advantage of the teachers who already know them well.  

The research all points to the same direction, return to K-8 schools!  See http://schoolarchiveproject.blogspot.com/2012/02/separate-middle-schools-vs-k-8.html

Behavior problems should never be allowed to grow 400% as they do now between 5th and 6th grades!  That is what is now happening when students move into the middle schools in DISD!

Local community k-8 schools are the answer to the majority of the problems now afflicting DISD. Parents who realize the value of dual-language, two-way schools could request that alternative be available in their local school.  The first school to make this transition was Rosemont, now one of the 12 highest rated school in all of DISD!  It is the only middle school in this category!  DISD must have more!

DISD must allow parents to be truly involved in forming their local school.  The parking places closest to the front door of every school must be re-dedicated to “Parents/Volunteers/Community” so that the transition is very obvious.  This is a Community School!