Local advocacy group Dallas Justice Now strongly believes there is an education crisis in the city, so much so that it has led protest marches, spoken at board of trustee meetings, and issued scathing press releases about “injustice and inequality” within the school district.
The group “is currently shining a light on the failing schools of the Dallas ISD along with those who have no choice but to send their children to these institutions,” said Michelle Williams, the organization’s founder.
Williams said there’s a “shocking level” of dysfunction within DISD leadership that has eroded teachers’ passion for educating and jeopardized students’ futures. She added students are being short-changed in the arts and trades, saying courses such as gym, arts and crafts, and shop classes are often being replaced with courses designed to help students pass standardized tests.
“Public schools shouldn’t be reduced to industrial conveyor belts that produce broken young adults,” she said.
But industrial conveyor belts are what DISD is producing, especially in “underserved” neighborhoods, Williams said.
DISD has several ongoing themes, she said. The first, she explained, is inequality between zip codes. While students in “underserved” neighborhoods are forced to attend poorly rated or ‘not rated’ schools, Williams noted, students attending schools in wealthier zip codes are afforded opportunities to aspire to be a doctor, lawyer, engineer, architect, or some other high-earning occupation.
“And the cost is our future … which is our children,” she said.
Williams said the DISD needs to invest more in vocational education. She believes this would help students in the district find a career path in welding, truck driving, mechanics, or heating and air conditioning repair/installation.
“Not all of us were meant for the kind of higher education proposed by a liberal American model,” she said. “There are opportunities in trade schools and as well as agriculture that lead not only to gainful employment but to business ownership and entrepreneurship as well.”
DISD is plagued with failing schools. One example, at Samuell High School in South Dallas, less than a third of students scored at grade level or above on this year’s STAAR examination, 10 percentage points below the district’s already meager 41% average.
Samuell High also suffers from an alarming on-time graduation rate. Only two-thirds of the students in the graduating class of 2021 earned their diplomas in four years, 14% less than DISD’s lackluster graduation rate of 81.1%.
The Dallas Express’ calls to the DISD and the Dallas Regional Chamber of Commerce went unreturned as of Friday afternoon.