DISD Candidate Lance Currie: ‘All Schools Should Be Great’

Lance Currie | Image by Lance Currie/Facebook

Lance Currie, a candidate running for the District 1 seat on Dallas ISD’s board of trustees, spoke with The Dallas Express to discuss his priorities and goals if elected to office.

A real estate and construction lawyer by trade, Currie is a Dallas ISD parent and volunteer who hopes to help the district make strides toward improving student achievement outcomes.

“I think a trustee has to prioritize kids above all when they make their decisions,” Currie told DX. “And that is not necessarily a policy per se, but it’s a lens through which I will be evaluating the policies or the questions that we have to decide.”

“So, if I’m presented with two different options, I’m going to be asking the question: Which is going to help the most kids achieve the greatest student outcomes? That’s the lens through which I look,” he said.

He explained that he views student results as extending well beyond grade 12. Noting that setting goals in relation to college, career, and military readiness is key, Currie added that metrics need to be put in place to assess them thoroughly.

“I think the purpose of school is to prepare these kids for the lives and the careers that they want to have after they leave,” he told DX. “And so I think that we need to be measuring what their lives look like after they leave. Are they employed? Are they enrolling in college? Are they completing college? Have they enlisted in the military? What do their incomes look like?”

Another critical part of Currie’s election platform is supporting Dallas ISD teachers better. Referring to the fact that he has several educators and coaches in his family — including his mother, who was both a school teacher and a principal — he stressed the importance of adequate salaries and housing options near school campuses.

Combining these two priorities, Currie said he would like to institute a merit-based teacher pay structure.

“The basic idea is that we can identify whether or not we’re actually teaching our kids,” Currie told DX. “And then, once we do that and once we identify the teachers that are great at that, reward them for being able to do that.”

Just 41% of Dallas ISD students managed to score at grade level on their STAAR exams in 2021-2022, according to a Texas Education Agency accountability report for that school term. Meanwhile, nearly 20% of graduating seniors that same year did not manage to earn a diploma within four years despite the hard work of the district’s dedicated educators.

While Currie said he believes that much more work is needed to get Dallas ISD students to where they need to be, he said he thinks the district has made significant progress in the last decade or so, especially thanks to outgoing District 1 Trustee Edwin Flores, who has given Currie his endorsement.

“What I respect so much about Edwin [is] he has been in that position for 16 years, and it’s an unpaid position,” he said. “Anybody who sits in any position that long is going to have people that absolutely love everything he’s done and some that don’t.”

“But for anybody who’s willing to dedicate that much of their life to an unpaid position, you know, has to do it because they love it,” he added. “And he has been on the board during some of the most transformational changes that have happened to the district. … I’ve watched him do that, and it’s certainly something I want to try to emulate if I’m lucky enough to get the position.”

In terms of what kind of issues Currie anticipates tackling if he gets elected, he said that, first and foremost, the board needs to review and redefine Dallas ISD’s goals. The second crucial item would be the budget, which has hit a substantial $186 million deficit this school year and an all-time high for planned taxpayer spending.

Like many other public school districts in the state, Dallas ISD has seen steadily falling student enrollment numbers due in part to demographic shifts and competition from charters and private schools. Currie addressed the latter, explaining that District 1, in particular, has some top-notch private schools.

“And that’s a good thing,” he said. “It’s a good thing for parents to have choice and to have agency. And to be able to do what they think is best for them and their family and their children.”

“But I want that choice to be really hard,” he added. “I want the neighborhood school down the street to be excellent. And then if you choose to send your kids somewhere else, good for you, that’s great for you to have that choice. But all schools should be great.”

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