The Dallas Express recently polled Dallas residents on transparency in their local school district, and the results overwhelmingly reveal that a strong majority feel school leaders are not doing enough to communicate with them.
The survey asked participants, all of whom were residents of the city of Dallas, if they supported “more transparency for [their] local school district.” The survey did not ask whether the respondents had children in the Dallas Independent School District (DISD).
Of those who responded, 67% answered “yes,” 15% answered “no,” and 18% were “unsure.”
Interestingly, there was a large discrepancy in attitudes between respondents who self-identified their political leanings as “far right” and those who self-identified as “far left.”
A large majority of “far-left” respondents — 76% — answered that they supported more transparency from their local school district, while only 6% said “no.”
On the other side of the aisle, while still a majority, only 54% of “far-right” respondents answered that they support more transparency from the local schools, with 36% saying “no.”
The group most strongly in support of greater transparency was self-identified moderates or “centrists,” 84% of whom answered “yes,” and only 5% of whom answered “no.”
Those who identified as “center-right” were the most “unsure” on the question, with 35% answering neither in the affirmative nor the negative. Another 52% of “center-right” respondents answered “yes,” and 13% answered “no.”
Only 7% of “center-left” respondents were “unsure,” while 67% answered affirmatively, and 27% answered “no.”
While “center-right” and “far-right” respondents represented the most mixed results, both groups narrowly topped a majority in support of more transparency with 52% and 54%, respectively.
The Dallas Express reached out to Dallas ISD through its official media relations channel, as well as to each trustee of its governing board, for comment on the overwhelming desire for greater transparency from the district but had not heard back by press time.
However, The Dallas Express did secure comment on these findings from Kelly Neidert, the executive director of Protect Texas Kids and an outspoken critic of Dallas ISD and its management.
Neidert and her organization are particularly interested in how public schools address issues of sexuality and gender, as well as what books and materials are accessible to children.
“DISD lacks transparency across the board. There [have] been many headlines recently from schools around the country who have been caught assisting in child transitions and keeping it from the parents,” Neidert said via email. “I would be interested in knowing what the DISD policy is when a student wants to transition or is encouraged to transition [by teachers or staff]. Does Dallas ISD hide that from parents?”
Neidert continued, “This district also has more explicit, inappropriate books than any other district in Texas. I think there needs to be more transparency on their book review process and what vendors they are using.”
Lack of transparency is only the latest charge against the district, which has suffered for years from serious teacher retention issues and alarming student achievement outcomes, with nearly 20% of the graduating class of 2022 failing to graduate on time and only 41% of students scoring at grade level on last year’s STAAR exam.