I have largely been critical of her since she was elected and even more so when she voted to deny voters the ability to make a decision to raise their own taxes to support Dallas ISD and programs that are working. I'm so still sore about her lack of interest in chatting with me. That said, when someone gets it right, I'm going to say it.
Recently, I attended a community meeting she held to talk about District of Innovation (DOI). She said the idea was "neat" and seemed genuinely interested in continuing to explore it. She made a decision with her head and her heart rather than a political one and I applaud her for that. She is showing me that she has it in her to be a strong trustee that puts kids first and is willing to do whatever it takes to see our students succeed. I wasn't a believer before. I am coming around.
DOI is an interesting thing because it could give the District more tools to compete with other educational options and bring in people with exprtisee in certain areas without requriing them to be certfied to teach. Early start date? Could very will improve performance. Auto tech exprts and college professors teaching our kids? Sounds like a plus.
It's not that I don't understand the arguments presented by folks that are against it. I do. I'm just not persuaded by them. That doesn't mean they aren't perfectly understandable/valid/reasonable, but they just don't do it for me.
1. Pandora's box - This is not home rule like people are trying to make it seem. President Micciche has been very clear and transparent about the parameters around which the DOI would be established. Trustees also have the power to change and/or remove, to my understanding, the DOI if it is not having the impact that we need it to. Again, do your own homework, but it seems to me like this is NOT the "burn the district down and start over" option that people are making it out to be.
Also, it is not lost on me that some of the people that don't want to "take tools away from teachers" don't want to GIVE TOOLS to the district. Maybe this is a teachers need tools but districts don't kind of thing. Maybe this is a Goldilocks situation where we need just the right amount of tools and too few or too many are both bad? Seemed interesting. I just think all options should be on the table when we're talking student success, opportunity, and achievement.
2. Early start date didn't help then. It won't help now. - This was one of the arguments Dr. Blackburn made last night and followed with a huge smile. It's clear he thought it was a good one. It wasn't, but it's still deserving of some kind of response. I think of this as a piece of the puzzle. When DISD had an earlier start date, it didn't have many of the pieces it has now. To say that we are doing fine now with the later start date is to ignore everything that has changed since the start date changed. It was a good piece. We took it out and set it aside, but now it is time to put it back in to make a more complete picture (successful district).
3. Uncertified teachers will be teaching our kids. - Now this is the one that is the most tricky. I can't speak to what it is like to have been traditionally certified and gone to college for education. I'm in an education master's degree program, but that's not the same. It is a hard pill to swallow that perhaps the paper that you spend so much time and money to obtain, especially through a for profit institution, doesn't mean anything. In fact, it is through no fault of your own that you put your blood, sweat, and tears into obtaining your degree and/or certification and there are people with the exact same credentials that do a fraction of what you do every single day to help your students be the best that you can be. I'm alternatively certified, but I'm certified none the less. I teach with other teachers every single day with 0 certifications that teach circles around me. It hurts to admit it but it's true. Our kids deserve do have the best in front of them regardless of where they come from and how they are certified.
What i'm trying to say is this: Do not be afraid. It's not the paper that makes you a great teacher. It was in you all along and it still is.
The last thing I will say is that I was particularly moved by the words of a DISD alum that wrote to Trustee Solis to ask him to send DOI to the next level. It didn't make the news, but it should have. She told him that she is grateful for what DISD gave to her but realizes that it wasn't as good as it could have been and could be. She has family still in DISD and wants DOI to give them a chance at a better education. That is it. That is what we should be focused on. That is why we need to explore DOI. No DISD student should have to look back and say that they wished it was better.
It can be, and it should be.
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