Parents Say DISD Drives People Out of Dallas

Dallas ISD school bus | Image by Chaseyodreams101

A plurality of respondents to a poll commissioned by The Dallas Express who currently have children in the Dallas Independent School District (DISD) believes that the main reason Dallas is losing residents is the poor quality of DISD schools.

The poll results come on the heels of the Texas Education Agency’s (TEA) recent move to take over the Houston Independent School District (HISD), another big-city school system unable to provide acceptable student outcomes for the hundreds of thousands of children in its charge, despite the hard work of its dedicated educators.

According to the survey, 34.4% of DISD parents polled felt that “DISD’s terrible reputation” is the main reason Dallas is bucking the broader trend of population growth in the greater metro area. Roughly 33% blamed “excessive homelessness and vagrancy,” and 32.6% said it was a “lack of cleanliness.”

Respondent shares were similar when weighing the sentiments of Dallas County residents, with a plurality of 33.6% edging out equal proportions of 33.2% of those polled who pointed to vagrancy and the city’s lack of cleanliness.

The latest U.S. Census Bureau records indicate that Dallas lost about 16,000 residents between 2020 and 2021, putting it at odds with surrounding municipalities. As previously reported in The Dallas Express, Texas’ population has boomed, and the wider DFW metroplex has gotten more than its share of new residents and businesses.

Still, DISD’s reputation has proven an obstacle to growth in Dallas proper, as evidenced by public opinion polling. In fact, a City-commissioned poll found that education was a top concern of residents, alongside crime and the homelessness and vagrancy crisis, as previously reported in The Dallas Express.

The latest TEA accountability report found that DISD’s student achievement scores fell well below statewide averages, especially with regard to STAAR testing and graduation rates. Last year, only 41% of DISD students scored at grade level, and almost 20% of the graduating Class of 2022 did not graduate on time.

Additionally, when accounting for individual campuses, TEA logged 29 schools with student achievement scores lower than 60 out of 100, enough to drag Dallas County down to last place in a student- achievement-score-based ranking measured against Bexar, El Paso, Harris, Tarrant, and Travis counties, as previously reported in The Dallas Express.

While academic performance is a critical matter, parents and district taxpayers have also expressed that they would like to see more transparency from the district and its elected leadership following years of scandals involving alleged grade manipulation, misuse of taxpayer dollars, and workplace negligence.

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  1. ThisGuyisTom

    One of the Fluoride Activists who often speaks to the Dallas City Council during Open Mic is Joe.

    Joe has been an Art Teacher for DISD for well over 30 years. During that time, he also volunteered to help Dallas students on after-hours art projects and volunteered in the community on City art projects.

    Finally, Joe had enough of DISD. DISD became a nightmare scenario for good teachers and good students. Joe did not want to quit, but there comes a point where a person has a line in the sand.

    If I was a kid, I would find public school in Dallas to be incredibly stressful…an unsafe and inappropriate venue for nurtured learning.
    Any adult person who is exposed to that type of situation would probably quit in a hurry.
    DISD is child abuse.

  2. Mary Manning

    So many questions as I read this: How many people were polled? How were they chosen? Were those 3 answers (DISD, homelessness and cleanliness (which, by the way, is an odd caption) the only choices given?
    I think overpriced real estate and lack thereof also play a part but was that even offered as an option?
    Curious for some more details to ensure the survey was fair. .

    • Patric Neese

      Yes, a link was provided for the survey discussed in this article.

  3. Patric Neese

    Yes, a link was provided for the survey discussed in this article.

    • Barry Thistlethwaite

      Where, Patric? I see links to previous articles, TEA, and others. Where’s the link to the survey? You could, for example, have linked to it in the first sentence phrase “a poll commissioned by The Dallas Express” but didn’t. Or you could have linked to it in your answer above but didn’t. Where did you link to the survey? Or can you provide the link here?

  4. Michelle Stallings

    The whole title of this article is questionable because we have no idea when, where or who took the poll.
    Gentrification is what’s running locals out of the city. When the market rate of housing goes above what locals actually make in income, then you have a situation where the city allows this and locals are pushed out.
    I know DISD has a lot of work to do but I call this article nonsense.

    • Jenn

      I also wonder about the survey methodology, given that I (a dallas proper resident with a school age child and reader of the Dallas Express) was not invited to participate. The conclusions may be overstated, but certainly schools are a big, big problem for families in Dallas. If you aren’t admitted to a magnet or other specially designated school (many of them are lottery based), you are stuck with whatever neighborhood school you are zoned for. Our child is just beginning PK4 in the Fall, but depending on our experience, the ‘burbs may be calling.

      Our taxes are wayyyy too high for me to consider paying for private school.

  5. Bill

    The DISD has been an issue since the 80’s. We moved to Richardson because of the schools in DISD were terrible.

  6. Bob

    I put my kids through parochial and private schools to avoid DISD schools and I still have to subsidize DISD with my tax dollars to the tune of $3500 per year. And what do we get for our “investment”? A crap school system where they think the solution to any problem is to throw more money at it instead of fixing the root problems.

    • Anna W.

      Bob I am a senior citizen and I pay my taxes. We Senior hope that children get a good education. Well my taxes were $4,000 on a fixed income. Parents don’t attend School Board Meetings, don’t attend parent teacher conferences. What the hell does cleanliness and homeliness have to do with teaching.

      I agree with Ms. Manning, how many people were surveyed? That STAAR test
      Is taught in minority communities. STARR is nothing more than people getting richer. I grew up in segregation. we had one test school, the IOWA test.

      Teachers had time to work with students.
      Now I guess they need to cleanup the City and give the homeless a bath. And you wonder why teachers are retiring and leaving this profession.

      Now Congress want to Pass House Bill
      HR 5, more segregation! If these parents are so damn smart fill out a application.

  7. Brian

    I agree, I live in Dallas and own other properties in Dallas. I am so disappointed in how the city is managed. We need more police #1! Then fix the schools, then the roads. The amount of taxes we pay is not acceptable for what we get in return.

    • Anna W.

      Brian, agree the police hire but small cities recruit from Dallas because their Academy has a larger and longer training program. Dallas need to extend the terms of their contract 5years or more.

      These cities like McKinney, Allen and Frisco are stealing their candidates. Dallas has to pay more. Starting Pay $95,000, if they have experience $100,000 or more. Treat them like they pay CEO’S and Athletics. Bonuses if they live in Dallas.

  8. Keepin it real!

    I’m afraid we have met the enemy, and it is us.

    Too many parents care more about having kids than raising them. How many parents actually read with their kids? Help their kids with homework? Remove the screen from their hands and replace it with a book?

    It’s easy to blame the system and the teachers, but never stop to consider the environment where the child spends the majority of their time.

    • Concerned Voter

      Educators and reporters should compare the academic performance of children enrolled in private Dallas schools against public Dallas schools. Then compare the performance of NT rural school districts against urban school districts.

      My assumption is that public school systems in large urban areas do a worse job at educating the children under their charge. Rural parents are busy too but IMO rural parents are ok with educators disciplining bad behavior and rural school districts concentrate on the basics.

    • Jenn

      Really? We are the enemy?
      I only have one child. He is f***ing exhausting. Sleeps ~8 hours a night, no more. Ever.
      He can’t read on his own yet, but I read to him every night. He do homework with him.
      I work full time. In a stressful job, but most would consider my son to have ” a silver spoon in his mouth”. Yet he has had a tablet and spends several hours a day watching it because his father and I are freakin tired and want to de-stress ourselves after a long day at work.
      The ipad is a godsend.

      • Nanette

        I understand how you justify outsourcing your parenting to an iPad. But please consider the price you will pay for this. The effect of neglect is the same, no matter what the reason was for the emotional neglect. I am a parent of five adults. I have seen a lot. Trust me, you don’t want the consequences of the lifestyle you are living. Change whatever you have to so that your child gets the parenting attention he desperately needs.

  9. Betsy Whitfill

    Parents don’t make this decision based on polls. Every parent wants the best for his/her child, and apparently DISD isn’t providing the best education. Vouchers are the only counterweight to the failing public school system…The old question applies..”.are you going to believe me or your eyes?” The Private School Review reports “For the 2023 school year, there are 126 private schools serving 32,202 students in Dallas, TX (there are 376 public schools, serving 221,207 public students). 13% of all K-12 students in Dallas, TX are educated in private schools (compared to the TX state average of 6%).”

    • Anna W.

      Private Schools don’t have 35-40 students in their classes. Their average class size 10-18. Teachers in DISD would love to have class sizes like that.

      You smart people try teaching size’s like that. Ignorance is running rampant through this country.

      • Betsy Whitfill

        35 – 40 students is too many. Are there not enough schools and classrooms and teachers to reduce this size? Suggest experimenting to bring the population down. I went to a public school growing up, with 30 in the classroom..it was good education.

  10. Jay

    People are saying they moved because of schools? That is a lie. Dallas has some of the best schools in the state. I can assure you no one is leaving a $400,000 home because of the local schools. People sale their homes to trade up. Trading up usually means leaving the neighborhood where you live and move to a more affluent address. PEOPLE MOVE FOR MONEY, not schools.

    • Jenn

      I commented above, but will reiterate here that my family would absolutely leave Dallas proper if we have issues getting into a decent high school (we are zoned for Sunset, which is one of the poorer quality neighborhood schools) we will absolutely leave. Here is my response from above…

      … certainly schools are a big, big problem for families in Dallas. If you aren’t admitted to a magnet or other specially designated school (many of them are lottery based), you are stuck with whatever neighborhood school you are zoned for. Our child is just beginning PK4 in the Fall, but depending on our experience, the ‘burbs may be calling.
      Our taxes are wayyyy too high for me to consider paying for private school.

      • Anna W.

        Jenn if you are tired, just think about the teachers in some schools who have over 30 students. My granddaughter is a teacher and has two small children. Where she teaches the school had Parent-Teacher night. Only 1 parent showed up, she couldn’t leave but her husband works too. He had to cook and give the children a bath, he works.

        They use flash cards with numbers and words on them. They oldest is 2 and the youngest 9 months but they make it work. My husband and I have 5 children we were members of the PTA and attend the School Board meeting. All my children are grown when they can’t attend meeting I do.
        We worked but we know what we had to do for our children. All of our children are college graduates.

        Stop the excuses and take care of your children. You drop the job when when you leave work and pickup your families need when you come home.

  11. gloria

    High property taxes play a bigger role in driving people out of the city. DISD unfortunately still has a bad reputation even when they have made some progress. I am happy with the choice schools I selected for my children; they do very well.
    Many people want into the “better” DISD schools – they are better because of the parent/teacher partnership. Get involved!

  12. R. Fisher

    I graduated from a DISD high school. My son graduated from a DISD high school. My grandchildren will NOT graduate from a DISD high school. Under no circumstances today would I want any of my family members attending DISD schools.

    • Scooterville

      Colin Allred graduated from the DISD and he voted in favor of late term abortions and recently lectured an award winning journalist about how our federal government should be allowed to violate the first amendment rights of Americans.
      In other words, a real meathead. DISD’s finest.

      • Anna W.

        Scooterville, the meatheads are those
        who tried to kill people in the capital, Oh wait they did. A policeman and injured 100 more.

        Collin Allred with another Congressman, ready to fight. You see Rep. Allred is one of very few ex-military men who was willing to give up his life. He called his pregnant wife and informed her, that he might not make it out but let his children know he-gave his life to preserve Democracy. You see if he had a Bone Spur, he still served in the military. Was not a Meathead, Sucker or Loser!

        • txchic57

          you need to source your news information from a more centrist outlet—-no police were killed during the Jan 6 riot. And your congressman is all for late term abortions which predominately are performed on minority women. He got his college education in a left wing radical California University. He does not have Texas values in his voting record and does not care about you or your family unless you are a rich elitist.

          • Anna W.

            We know he’s not an idiot and fights for the country. Maybe you need to be a lefty because the right are a bunch of idiot’s. Yes they killed a policeman and your lying Eyes know it.

  13. James Anderson

    One of my Uber passengers was a third grade teacher in DISD. She said NONE of her 32 students could read or write. Their spelling was nonexistent. She would lecture and the children watched videos during the school day. Only 5 parents came to the Parent-Teacher Conferences. She was planning to move to another job soon. We are doomed.

  14. Nanette

    Kindergarten teachers at DISD were recently informed that *coloring* is no longer allowed in DISD. This came from the top. Everyone with common sense can draw the same conclusion as I have. DISD should stop micromanaging classrooms, hire an outstanding principal for each and every campus, and loosen the iron fist of bureaucrats. Each individual school would do better if money were taken from central administrators and put to excellent local campus employees.


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