The crowd was alive tonight. Event with Dr. Blackburn as the MC for the event, the crowd was vocal, attentive, and full of energy.
The +$1b bond proposal up for a vote by the board, and potentially for tax payers in November has been hotly contested in Dallas education discussions lately. The night started off pretty dry with Paula Blackmon, who handles intergovernmental relations and community engagement for DISD, and others from central staff prepared to present a few powerpoints to the roughly 50 concerned community members that showed up for the event.
That didn't last long. Not 5 minutes into the presentation a community member interrupted saying the whole presentation was in the packets and handouts given to people that showed up and that they didn't need the "dog and pony show." The crowd, largely in agreement, agreed to hear about the programs the bond would focus on which included Early Childhood Education, Choice Schools, and Career and Technical Education. Afterward, the audience began to pepper the presenters with thoughtful question and concerns.
Does this read like play by play to anyone else? Of course it does. That's what it felt like watching. A pretty vibrant back and forth.
What was the main concern? That Roosevelt would be closed. Everyone in attendance, including Dr. Blackburn promised that wouldn't happen. But what was this such a huge concern? Why did so many people have the same question?
It seems that there is quite a bit of information out there on this and other issues, some true and some just kind of made up and accepted as fact. This is not the fault of the askers, but a bigger symptom of a lack of information and mistrust of the district by some its patrons.
Trustee Foreman is one of the most vocal opponents of the bond saying that it is unfair and ignores her district, D6. Of the roughly $700m being spent on school improvement, between 10-15% will be going to schools in her area. That's rough math based on looking at the charts and math isn't my strong suit, but of does that portion seem fair? Up for debate especially if you bring in historical spending patterns. Fairness is subjective, but there's an argument.
What's not up for debate? Dallas schools need some serious work. The no equality no bond argument to some seems selfish and petty and just to others. In the last DISD town hall I went to, Trustee Eric Cowan urged folks to vote for the bond and then argue about how it's split up after we have the money. Tonight, Lew tried to calm fears saying that in 5-6 years the district is going to come back and ask for another bond because you "can't fix every school" in one go. Who is making the best argument here?