DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Two South Dallas elementary schools have been chosen to become the area’s first stand alone schools for the talented and gifted, provided the DISD board gives the okay.
“We work in this neighborhood, we play in this neighborhood, we shop in this neighborhood, so we need the same academic advantages in this neighborhood as well,” says Derrick Ross, principal of what is now the Mark Twain Leadership Vanguard.
A vanguard school is an elementary magnet with a particular focus.
At Mark Twain, near Hwy 67 and Polk, the focus is leadership, but Ross says shifting the focus to additional academic rigor and college readiness will benefit all students.
“We want to foster the belief and the love of all students being college and career strong,” says Ross. “We want them to go to college, but not just go: when they get there, they thrive. Being a part of the TAG program, it puts them on an advanced academic track.”
Supporters also say creating stand alone campuses for the talented and gifted sends a much needed message about the ability that’s already found in the community and the equity that is coming.
DISD Trustee Joyce Foreman is a strong advocate for the proposal.
“While we always talk about the children that may not be performing, this is is an opportunity to talk about the children that do perform and do perform well and give them something in their immediate community, without going all the way across town to be able to glean that,” says Foreman.
Roger Q. Mills Elementary is also being tapped to become a TAG campus.
Right now, TAG students are pulled out of their regular courses for additional enrichment during a portion of the day. This, as district data shows that there are already some 2,000 students in the area who meet the TAG criteria.
“One of our big issues over here is the large number of charter schools, so this gives us another opportunity to compete with the charter schools to bring our children back to DISD,” says Foreman.
Prospective students will have to meet the criteria and apply for the available openings, but Principal Ross says the current students will not be displaced.
“We are absolutely not pushing out the students that are currently here,” says Ross. “We’re going to take the TAG model and apply it to all students, so each and every student benefits from the opportunity that we are creating here at Mark Twain.”
The board is expected to vote on the proposal next week.