Dallas ISD lone administrator race contestants differ over choice of school, ‘Black Lives Matter’ resolution
The Dallas school board will see little, if any, change as the district seeks to find its footing amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Only one of the three races is contested: the District 9 competition between the chairman of the board of directors Justin Henry and the challenger Ulana Sigler. The oldest council members, Edwin Flores in District 1 and Dan Micciche in District 3, are both unopposed in Saturday’s election and will serve another three years.
Henry and Sigler differ notably on how funding should be distributed among schools, as well as what DISD’s “Black Lives Matter” resolution and its racial equity policy mean for black students.
Over the past decade, the district – which serves approximately 144,000 K-12 students on 226 campuses – has dramatically increased its offering to students and families, creating a variety of school options outside of neighborhood campuses. .
This decision was motivated, in part, by student mobility, as thousands of families left DISD for charter schools. Most charters within the district boundaries are in South Dallas, attracting students from District 9, which includes South Dallas and Fair Park, as well as parts of downtown, Deep Ellum, Uptown, East Dallas, and Pleasant. Grove.
Henry, a 39-year-old lawyer for healthcare supply chain giant McKesson, said DISD’s expansion of school choice provides opportunities for students in neighborhoods “who need it most.”
He touted recent DISD efforts that have increased the variety of school models within District 9 to include a personalized learning campus, an arts academy and, potentially, an International Baccalaureate elementary school.
“Parents showed us they wanted diverse options,” Henry said.
Sigler, a 41-year-old account manager for the US Department of Housing and Urban Development and graduate of Lincoln High School, argued that school choice too often comes at the expense of neighborhood campuses.
As an example of what she sees as misallocated resources, Sigler brought up the district’s multi-million dollar lease for Ida B. Wells Elementary, a downtown Montessori campus that – with 215 students – did not meet registration expectations.
Instead of choice schools, Sigler said, the programmatic elements of these campuses should be incorporated into neighborhood schools, reflecting the wishes of those communities.
She also criticized the March 2020 decision to transfer students from the JJ Rhoads Learning Center in South Dallas to a reconstructed HS Thompson STEAM Elementary School, redeveloping Rhoads as an early learning center. Sigler said the district would be better served by relying on existing child care providers and community groups in this neighborhood to provide early learning opportunities.
“We are closing a school for the benefit of a group of students… where we can use the community to educate them,” Sigler said.
Henry argued that early learning is a central part of the district’s post-COVID campaign and that Rhoads would be key to that effort in South Dallas.
“It is extremely important that we invest in our children as early as possible, so that when we get them to traditional kindergarten they are not late,” said Henry, noting that such early efforts can change the situation. trajectory of the pupils.
In an interview with The morning news from DallasThe editorial board, Sigler criticized the district’s adoption in 2020 of a “Black Lives Matter” resolution as lacking in bite and questioned why it was necessary “a situation that happened miles away. for our council and district ”to act.
Henry said the resolution recognized “our board’s commitment and DISD’s commitment to the lives of black people – a statement that has never been made before.”
Since then, he said, the DISD has taken steps to refine its racial equity policy to include monitoring and reporting requirements, elevated the racial equity department to a Cabinet-level position and stepped up efforts to recruit black educators from historically black colleges and universities.
“Yes, there was a statement, but that’s not where the action ended,” Henry said.
When it comes to fundraising, Sigler faces a daunting challenge.
From mid-January to April 26, Henry raised $ 48,690, including 5,000 donations from Garrett Boone, co-founder of The Container Store, the Dallas Regional Chamber Affiliate Political Action Committee, Educate Dallas and the non-profit group. lucrative Leadership For Educational Equity, which supports Teach For America. old students. (Henry taught for two years in the TFA program in South Los Angeles.) Henry also received a donation of $ 4,000 from the Dallas Education PAC Dallas Kids First.
(The Dallas Regional Chamber supports the Dallas Morning News Education Lab.)
In contrast, Sigler only raised $ 1,145, a majority of which was from his father, Lorece Sigler.
The DMN Education Lab deepens coverage and conversation on pressing educational issues critical to the future of North Texas.
The DMN Education Lab is a community-funded journalism initiative, with support from The Beck Group, Bobby and Lottye Lyle, Communities Foundation of Texas, The Dallas Foundation, Dallas Regional Chamber, Deedie Rose, The Meadows Foundation, Solutions Journalism Network , Southern Methodist University and Todd A. Williams Family Foundation. The Dallas Morning News retains complete editorial control of the education lab journalism.