DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – While at the polls on Tuesday, some voters in Dallas could also weigh in on an issue that is not on any ballots. At dozens of precincts, voters will be asked to sign a petition that could change the structure of the Dallas Independent School District.
The group behind this effort is Support Our Public Schools, and they have already been rallying support on Facebook. Their goal is to see the Dallas ISD be the first district in the state to invoke “home rule,” which would exempt the district from state red tape that, the group said, only holds students back.
The initiative stems from a 1995 state law that allows Texas school districts to create their own power structure. Supporters of “home rule” want to get this issue on the ballot in November.
One of the biggest proponents of the change for the Dallas ISD is Mayor Mike Rawlings. He said that turning the district into a charter system would improve the quality of education, because it would give teachers and administrators more flexibility.
“We’ve had white flight. We’ve had black flight. We’ve had a haves flight and everybody who’s left are the have nots,” Rawlings said on Tuesday. “That’s unfair for them.”
But others have maintained that such changes would put district control in the hands of unelected people who can set their own rules and are not accountable to anyone. For example, the largest teacher association in North Texas is against the proposed changes. “It’s very frightening to me that this is being brought up,” said Rena Honea with Alliance AFT. “It’s been a very sly move on the part of just a very few many who don’t even have students in DISD.”
There are several hurdles standing before this effort. Support Our Public Schools must first collect about 25,000 signatures in order to get on the November ballot. Rawlings anticipates that there will be much discussion and debate about this topic in the months ahead.
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