Our Public Schools Are Terrible

By Monty J. Bennett, Publisher

If your feelings get hurt when our elected leaders are criticized, you might want to skip over this article and keep reading. In fact, you probably shouldn’t be reading The Dallas Express at all because we are all about accountability at this newspaper – especially accountability for our elected officials. And if our local government isn’t absolutely excellent, then our leaders will be hearing from this newspaper. So prepare yourself. Back to the point:

Our public schools are terrible. They really are. But no one wants to say it. Why is that? How can we possibly improve something unless we objectively call it out? Our failing public schools are one of the reasons we founded The Dallas Express two years ago. For reasons we don’t understand, other publications in town refuse to hold our public school administrations and board trustees accountable. It seems like they actually want our schools to be awful year over year.

By and large, our teachers are fantastic, hard-working people. But the top administrators and the elected Trustees are just awful. They have these monthly meetings where they rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic while it’s sinking lower and lower into the Atlantic. Many, many schools in DISD are absolutely, completely, and wholly terrible. Shame on our elected officials and our top administrators. Shame.

The opening Op Ed of this newspaper two years ago was by the former Superintendent of DISD. The crux of the article was about how naughty those Jan 6 protesters were in D.C. (what does that have to do with Dallas secondary education?) and more or less that the schools are terrible because of ‘systemic racism.’ The irony was lost on that former superintendent that for years he oversaw (and was responsible for) the very structure that produced this system racism …. Yet somehow as he implied, it wasn’t his fault. I wonder if he knows what he was hired for if he couldn’t solve the problems the district was facing?

The Trustees seem to employ the same failed programs year over year expecting different results. They spend over a billion dollars annually trying to educate our kids, and they still fail. Can you imagine? A billion dollars and still performing so terribly? My fellow Dallasites, the king has no clothes. We at The Dallas Express will not stand for such under-performance, we know that many, many of you are with us on this.

So we developed “The Bad Apple of the Quarter” to highlight those DISD Trustees (and trustees in other ISD’s in the coming months and years) that are performing exceptionally poorly as measured by the number of students in their geographic districts that have atrocious academic performance despite the repeated, valiant efforts of our hard working teachers.

You may have heard that Houston ISD has just been taken over by the state of Texas because they’ve performed so poorly. My question is why has DISD been spared this fate? I imagine it’s just a matter of time.

In launching this publication, we put forward that the only reason it was started was so that we could help make Dallas a better place to live and work. That’s impossible with such a terrible school system. Businesses don’t move to the City of Dallas (they move to the suburbs) – and one of the main reasons cited is because of the subpar schools. Who’d want to move their business here and then face their employees and tell them their kids have to go to DISD? Absolutely no one.

So every quarter we’re going to call out that Dallas ISD Trustee that has abandoned and failed the most students by having the worst schools in their geographic district. Don’t feel sorry for them …. They signed up for this. They decided to run for Trustee. And how else should their performance be measured if not by reviewing the Texas Education Agency’s scores for the schools in their districts?

Hilariously, DISD overall has received a score from the TEA of “B.” This is from a creative use of non-academic factors and COVID-19 exceptions because we live in a world where everyone wants a trophy – no matter how poorly they may perform. Make no mistake fellow citizens, DISD is not a “B.” If it were graded fairly, I estimate it would get a “D.” And don’t be fooled by the selected metrics the district will roll out in response to this article no doubt. They’ll try and explain that despite the fact that tens of thousands of district students are in terrible schools, somehow everything is fantastic. That’s why we’re here. We will cut through the public relations and give you the truth.

We’ve done this for the Crime Boss series. We give you the unvarnished truth (as reported by the city itself) on crime statistics. It’s amusing for us to see city officials claim – erroneously of course – that crime reduction is making massive strides. Again, that’s why you have us.

So sit back and review our coverage about those DISD Trustees that are letting us down. We wish it weren’t so and do not celebrate this fact. But we will not ignore it either. Let’s hope this coverage inspires our Trustees to improve the awful state of education in our city.