Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Student Exodus from DISD to charter schools: motivation to change!

Dallas ISD leadership has finally acknowledged the loss of students from DISD to charter schools that has been happening for over a decade!  As is quoted in a 1-21-16 Dallas Morning News Article:
Superintendent Michael Hinojosa says Dallas ISD has acted “fat, dumb and happy” for too long as charter school enrollment exploded within the district’s boundaries, taking away millions in state funding.“We kind of fell asleep,” Hinojosa recently told the school board. “We were losing kids without even realizing it.”
This loss is well documented as going on for over a decade in DISD.  Dallas population was growing and DISD enrollment remained flat and even dropped.  The constant annual loss of over 1,000 students between the 5th and 6th grade has gone on for a decade in DISD!  Was anyone watching?

12-year history of Dallas ISD enrollment by grade 2004-2016
The dysfunctional dynamics and damage from the forced middle school move have been documented in research also proving the value of Pk-8 schools.  It is long past time for DISD to pay attention to that research!   Charter schools have been following that research for years.  Of the 61 charter schools now within the DISD boundaries, only 21 are not on campuses allowing for the Pk-8 configuration on one campus:
61 Charter Schools within Dallas ISD Boundaries & PK-8 combinations on one campus.

The reasons for the value of Pk-8 boil down to teacher/student relationships.  The start of each year at Quintanilla Middle School involved after school duty to keep our students away from the elementary school next door where our middle school students would often enter that school to visit their former teachers.  We had to break that bond!  Why were we not using that bond to motivate more achievement?
When a child is in the middle of, or about to start, the puberty transition is about the worst time possible to tear them away from the adults in the schools that they have often known most of their lives to only place them among strangers.  It is any wonder that documented discipline problems increase 400% in 6th grade, and stay that high until 9th grade when they again go down in DISD?  
Dallas ISD must have a team that will both inform parents about the values of, and problems with the transition of Pk-5 schools into being Pk-8 schools, and allow the parents to decide within DISD, without having to leave for a charter school to have that alternative!

If enough parents in a school want this change, will DISD allow more Pk-5 schools to become Pk-8 schools?  

Two factors in West Dallas make this Pk-5 to Pk-8 transition especially timely.

First, the current middle school serving West Dallas is Edison Middle School.  It is located in about the worst location possible with pollution and noise on all sides of the campus with more in the planning stages. A 30-truck-per-hour cement batch plant was approved by the Dallas City Council for construction within 300 ft upwind of Edison.  This will add to a roofing factory on the east and a former lead pollution super-fund site to the west. 

Second, families in the 7 elementary schools that feed into Edison are already avoiding Edison for their children to such an extent that less than 1/3 of the children from those schools actually attend Edison!   Study these  numbers from the Edison Feeder Pattern:
Pinkston/Edison Feeder Pattern West Dallas, loss of over 65% of students!
DISD must allow these seven schools feeding into Edison to study the Pk-8 alternative and use the $100 million already allocated to Pk-8 education improvements in West Dallas to be used for the transition of these 7 schools, but ONLY if the parents at those schools want the change.  This should include the development of a middle school band/sports/elective center near the new Pinkston High School so that in the afternoon students wanting such involvement would travel from the 7 schools to Pinkston for such activities.

With these changes West Dallas may develop some of the best sports teams, and the highest academics!