Dallas Is on Its Own for School Funding, and It's Time to Get Serious

We now know with certainty that our state legislators, the president and the education secretary don't care to give public schools additional funding that would allow school districts like Dallas ISD to provide an equitable and excellent education to all of our children. It's time for Dallas ISD to find its own funding, and for trustees to consider a 13-cent tax ratification election, and not a tax swap or anything less.To do anything less would be a short-term, unsustainable solution that puts our kids, district and economy in jeopardy. It will take collaboration, compromise, sacrifice and courage. If we don't succeed, I'm afraid for our kids' futures and even more so for our poorest students, who are mostly black and brown children. According to the Mayor's Task Force on Poverty briefing last year, Dallas has one of the highest child poverty rates of any city with a population of 1 million or more. This is despite Dallas' robust economy, and it's not going to get any better if we don't have the money to educate our kids for success.Last week, a group of West Dallas and Oak Cliff voters attended a town hall with Dallas ISD trustee Lew Blackburn, hosted by The Los Altos Neighborhood Association and the after-school organization I lead, Trinity River Mission. Most attendees support the 13-cent TRE and made their plea to Blackburn to support putting it on a ballot for voters to decide.One parent with children in Dallas ISD schools who favors a 13-cent TRE asked Blackburn twice where he stood. His response was the same both times: He was just there to "provide information."It's not what she wanted to hear from her trustee. She wanted an answer one way or the other.Early efforts last year for a TRE focused on expanding pre-K, adding more collegiate academies, boosting strategic teacher compensation, and turning around failing campuses with the Accelerating Campus Excellence plan, all important Dallas ISD initiatives that must remain top priorities. Funds from a 13-cent TRE would have provided up to $122 million to support these successful initiatives.Sadly, trustees Blackburn, Joyce Foreman, Bernadette Nutall and Audrey Pinkerton voted against giving voters the right to decide whether to invest in kids' futures, though their districts represent students who would have benefited the most with a favorable outcome.If President Donald Trump's proposed cuts to public school funding are any indication, the fate of education during the next three years is direly uncertain. The stakes are too high for our kids and our district to fail to approve a 13-cent TRE. For Dallas ISD trustees to deny voters the right to decide would be like placing targets directly on our children's backs.As a homeowner, I'm just as shocked by the rise in property taxes as you are. The last thing anyone wants is for taxes to go any higher. But even if you contest your taxes, which you should do, property taxes will continue to rise each year. The way I see it, if I still have to pay more and more taxes every year anyway, I'd rather the money go toward the education of our future leaders.At the town hall with Trustee Blackburn, Raul Reyes, a West Dallas resident and member of the Los Altos Neighborhood Association, said it best: "Our future's worth more than 13 cents."Dolores Sosa Green is chief executive of Trinity River Mission, an afterschool nonprofit in West Dallas. She wrote this column for The Dallas Morning News. Email: dsgreen@trinityrivermission.orgWhat's your view?Got an opinion about this issue? Send a letter to the editor, and you just might get published.  Continue reading...

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