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Sunday, December 4, 2022
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DISD’s Hinojosa Leaves Behind Legacy of Failed Promises to Students of Color

Opinion

Dallas ISD logo | Image by dallasisd.org

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Superintendent Michael Hinojosa will leave his post at the end of the coming school year. Sadly, as he runs for the door in pursuit of the fame and fortune of high office, he leaves behind over 150,000 students at Dallas ISD—mostly students of color many of whom will never graduate high school let alone go to college or pursue fruitful careers. Instead, many of our students will instead fall victim to a school-to-prison pipeline that Superintendent Hinojosa lacked the courage to end.

Hinojosa called himself a reformer but failed to deal with some of the major issues impacting the racial disparity in education outcomes.

  • He refused to put in a system of teacher accountability to reward the best teachers and get rid of the worst ones. His ‘merit pay’ system had only a carrot and no stick. Moreover, the best teachers who received 6-figure compensation were rarely if ever sent to majority black schools. Our communities were burdened with the worst teachers who Hinojosa refused to fire.
  • He strongly resisted any attempt by parents to convert failing Dallas ISD schools into charter schools even when those schools have fallen to a failing grade (below 60). The student achievement scores are already subject to grade inflation (administrators want to help fellow administrators look good) so anything below ‘90’ is poor and anything below ‘80’ is more or less failing. So a school with below a 60 ranking is barely a school at all.
  • He constantly blamed Dallas ISD’s poor performance relative to surrounding ISDs to lack of funding. However, the data shows in fact this is a lie. The average Student Achievement Score at Dallas ISD is 71. The average student Achievement Score at Highland Park ISD is 96.

According to the Texas Education Agency, Dallas ISD spends $14,981 per student annually while Highland Park ISD spends an average of $15,080 per student annually. This is a difference of $99 per year per student. Does Mr. Hinojosa think communities of color are so stupid to believe that $99 per student per year is the difference between an “A+” school and a “D” school? Maybe Highland Park ISD has better performance because they hold teachers and administrators accountable for results and fire non-performers. Maybe they also have better performance because the administrators know the parents can easily afford to move their kids to a private school. Low-income communities of color lack that option so Hinojosa knows he has captive customers.

So, what do we need from a new Superintendent:

First, they must live and breathe a culture of accountability. In my opinion, teachers and administrators must be evaluated on graduation rates, college acceptance rates, and test scores. If they fail to perform, they must be fired. Period. Unfortunately, most professional school administrators do not come from the culture of accountability—we need someone who is willing to make the entrenched white power structures on the Board of Trustees and at the teachers’ unions uncomfortable.

Second, they must support school choice for communities of color. We want the same right to choose our school given to wealthy whites in Highland Park. The current education system in Dallas is not Jim Crow 2.0, it is simply a continuation of Jim Crow which never really ended here.

Third, they must never attempt to give excuses for poor performance. If they can’t get Dallas ISD to at least a 90 in Student Achievement Scores within 2 years, they must resign.

With the right Superintendent, Dallas ISD can begin to reverse its long shameful history of being a force for white supremacy and segregation and finally give students of color the education they deserve.

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Stephen Dedalus
Stephen Dedalus
10 months ago

The author of this piece exemplifies the actual problem with DISD – a lot of ink spilled about teacher accountability and not one single word about student accountability. We’re told that we must “never attempt to give excuses for poor performance.” Unless, of course it’s students’ poor performance that’s at issue, in which case the maxim evidently becomes “always, and only, attempt to give excuses for poor performance.”

Talk like that has consequences.

Children who’ve spent all their lives being told that whether or not they’re successful students is someone else’s responsibility, will never take responsibility for their own learning. Why would children get home and hit the books for hours every day if they’ve always been told that the only people who are accountable for their success or failure, are people other than themselves? Why would those children spend their formative years honing their agency when they’ve been told all their lives that they have no agency?

We know that almost all successful students share a general set of traits: they pay attention in class; they do their work; they study; and they take ownership of and responsibility for their learning.

Successful students ask “what do I need to do in order to achieve my goals?” Unsuccessful students ask “who can I blame and what excuses can I use?”

It’s far past time that we face the facts and start being honest about a primary cause of the achievement gap. Some students grow up being told that they’re responsible for their own success and that they’re expected to work hard in order to achieve success, no matter what, and that excuses won’t be tolerated. Other students grow up being told that not only are they not responsible for their own success, they can blame their lack of effort and lack of success on their teachers.

The same people who rob those students of their agency then bemoan those students’ lack of agency.

The open secret that everybody knows, but few will publicly acknowledge, is that if a child is determined to learn, no power in the universe can stop them, and if a child refuses to learn, no power in the universe can make them.

And, concomitantly, if a child grows up with their family and community leaders all telling them that their educational success is someone else’s responsibility? Then few, if any, of those children will understand that they’re the ones who are, and indeed that they’re they’re only ones who possibly can be, responsible for their educational success.

Reform starts at home.
Teach your children to make progress, not excuses.

Rose Rosales
Rose Rosales
9 months ago

Guys like him that comes back to their place they grew up rarely do it to give back to us. Didn’t accomplish anything all those years in DISD. And he wants to run for Mayor , we are not stupid to vote for one that couldn’t improve our school distric.

Pamela
Pamela
Reply to  Rose Rosales
9 months ago

I agree!

Tex Ex
Tex Ex
9 months ago

The author comes close – without knowing it, of course – to naming the real reason for underachievement in the district. He’s correct when he says it’s not about the money. He’s also right to some degree about teacher and administrator accountability. But, he fails to compare and contrast the biggest difference between HPISD and DISD. That would be the percentage of pupils coming from singe parent homes.

There’s not much a school superintendent can do about this problem. Change must come from within the community. Until then, no amount of money or teacher firings will change achievement scores.

P C
P C
Reply to  Tex Ex
8 months ago

I agree

Tina
Tina
Reply to  Tex Ex
8 months ago

Agreed. The poster is comparing apples to oranges. Lost all credibility there.

Marsona Jackson
Marsona Jackson
8 months ago

I have worked in inner city and suburbs schools and they are the same kids but different expectations of the schools via policies and culture. The systems currently in place from the parent house to the school house are being implemented to produce just what we’re getting.

LK Funes
LK Funes
8 months ago

Sorry but no! For starters, I have yet to meet a teacher who goes into this profession not caring about a child’s education. That’s like saying a health care provider doesn’t care about his/her patients health.

Secondly, the first set of people that should be held accountable for a child’s education is the child and his guardians.

Yes, teachers spend a lot more time with a child but than their parents do…but they do it while also spending time with 15+ kids, covering different topics. It is a parents job to sit down and tutor, do homework with them, instill a love for learning that goes beyond school.

Stop handing your kids an electronic in lieu of your attention. Stop letting your kids watch Squid Games instead an animal documentary or at the very least a family friendly movie with a message and values. Stop exposing them to the world of tik tok and expose them to experiences. Stop expecting a teacher to raise your kids when that teacher only has them for a school year…you have them for a life time.

Evelyn
Evelyn
Reply to  LK Funes
8 months ago

So true

Anonymous
Anonymous
8 months ago

I’m a teacher in DFW in one of the districts. Being honest with you guys, the performance of the STUDENTS unfortunately it’s more related that lower income people doesn’t want to study at all. I can’t tell what district or school I work with, though I can tell you that minorities, not all, though many of the students don’t want to get ahead or really study, both black and some latino students, on White upper middle class and beyond is way different because they want to study a little bit more, that’s the reason the performance is much better. I apologize with you though it’s the truth and guess what, I’m Latino!!! Thanks!

Raquel Olmos
Raquel Olmos
8 months ago

Hmm 🤔. Ok, I agree about teacher and administrator accountability. We should all be held accountable. I agree that DISD’s “merit” pay has NO stick. I’m a hard-working teacher, bilingual, creative, masters degree and with a proven record for advancing students. My pay is a joke. God willing, I’m just holding on long enough to get my business off the ground, and I’m out! Districts will continue to lose great teachers like me and keep the mediocre ones because of policies implemented by the state and districts. Also, you can’t put everything on the educators. A major difference between successful students and unsuccessful students is the family unit. Students from single-parent homes with little or no support, unfortunately tend to perform poorly in school. There are communities, parents who simply don’t value education. Their mindset is that we are babysitters during the day. If they feel like it, they’ll send their kids to school, providing no support to the teachers, indifferent about their child’s education, thus handing down their generation of learned helplessness, apathy and victimhood to their child(dren). In my 20 years of public school education, most of my successful students from low SES were successful because their parent, family unit, big or small, found a way… a way to work more than one job to provide for their family, to ensure that their child attend school every day, completed all work, supported the teachers, held education in high regard.

Dee Parrish
Dee Parrish
Reply to  Raquel Olmos
8 months ago

That’s absurd!! If the parents are at fault, why does Dallas have a Racial Equity Office? Why do they have a superintendent? If the parents are the only key predictor of student achievement, let’s lay off teachers and administrators of students living in low socioeconomic-homes and just hire babysitters. If what you’re saying is true, we shouldn’t even try to educate them.

Paul
Paul
8 months ago

Students of color??? Some people are still using that segregating and exclusionary term\slur? Not nice.

Paul
Paul
8 months ago

NDURE CAIN is an Anti-White RACIST

IYG
IYG
Reply to  Paul
8 months ago

This is exactly why there is a nation wide shortage of educators right now. Those of you shouting get rid of the bad teachers, I agree that bad teachers should not be in the classroom, but who determines who the bad teachers are? The bad principals? That’s only a sliver of the problem. Teachers are given their classroom assignments based on what they are certified to teach and the makeup of a particular classroom. Classes are not made up of tidy bundles if 20. Numbers play a huge role in how positions are filled. I just have to say, people need to lay off the teachers. They are put in an impossible position, the pay is so horrible, they retire and still have to work somewhere else to supplement their income. You who are worried about “bad teachers “ why don’t you worry about the hundreds and maybe thousands of classrooms across the nation that are filled with untrained, and uncertified substitutes, because we can’t stop mistreating our qualified teachers!

D.Barta
D.Barta
8 months ago

And where is the parent accountability in all this?? Parents are a child’s first teacher, and must continue that role indefinitely, (mentor, supporter) even into their child’s adulthood.

Dee Parrish
Dee Parrish
Reply to  D.Barta
8 months ago

This article is about what the district has failed to do to help students, not the parents. If the leaders in the district can’t help, they should step aside and let other people do it.

Dee Parrish
Dee Parrish
8 months ago

How many millions of dollars has he spent on his racial equity plans? He has a full office of people who are supposed to be making sure the stuff doesn’t happen. They have webinars about it all the time. Where is that money going? Maybe they could split that up to the students and find the $99 they need