Strong Marks for State of Public Education in Dallas

Many state funded reforms modeled after Dallas

Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath gave the State of Public Education in Dallas strong marks at a Dallas Regional Chamber of Commerce luncheon Monday.

Morath is a former Dallas ISD Trustee so he knows district well.

He said many of the reforms funded by state lawmakers this year are modeled after Dallas including better pay for the best teachers.

"This is a game changing reform and what the legislature just did, it made Dallas' model financially sustainable from now until the end of time." Morath said.

The legislation known as HB3 also encourages early college degree programs in high schools and provides additional money for schools in neighborhoods with high poverty rates, both programs already pursued in Dallas.

"I certainly give them a lot of credit. I think it's a strong B plus," said Dallas School Superintendent Michael Hinojosa.

Morath said Hinojosa deserves credit for turning Dallas ISD around.

"The changes that have happened in Dallas ISD under his leadership are nothing short of remarkable," Morath said.

In past years, Dallas School officials complained about cuts in state funding while requirements from the state increased.

"There were a lot of unfunded mandates, all these mandates they're putting down on the local level without funding them. But this time, they changed the approach and they put some funding behind them," Dallas ISD Trustee Justin Henry said. "It's a big step. Now, we have to execute that at the local school board level."

Hinojosa said this year's attendance of more than 154,000 students is a sign that new programs are paying off as Dallas ISD competes with charter schools for students. About 1,000 fewer students were expected after years of decline.

"I definitely believe that our decline has slowed because we have many more options for parents," Hinojosa said.

Business leaders at the Chamber of Commerce Luncheon were also challenged to support public education.

Peter Balyta with Texas Instruments said his company's goal is 200,000 hours of volunteer work with kids this year.

"We need to work together to develop students that are future ready," Balyta said.

Morath said Texas public education received a substantial boost from lawmakers this year but performance goals are high.

"We want every child to achieve at high levels," Morath said. "We are making progress. Performance in Texas Public Education is improving."

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