Dallas Mayor Urges Citizen Support To Help Education | KERA News

Dallas Mayor Urges Citizen Support To Help Education

Sep 25, 2013

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings says it’s time citizens do more to improve education, even if they have no kids in school. His friend Todd Williams, who founded an education nonprofit, says more kids need to know they can go to college. Both will be part of an education convention in Dallas beginning today, where participants will share emerging best practices.

More than 350 elected officials, civic leaders and educators will be here for the 4th annual Strive-Cradle to Career conference. Retired Dallas business executive Williams, who created the local non-profit Commit! two years ago to help the region’s schools, says the conference chose Dallas thanks to Commit!’s fledgling success.

“And so we basically said let’s use data to figure out what’s working and what’s not working and figure out how to get more resources to the schools. Whether it’s technology, whether it’s leveled libraries, whether it’s additional support for teachers.”

Reform-minded Williams loves data. Commit! crunched publicly available numbers and found, for example, that students in some Dallas schools in the Molina-South Oak Cliff feeder pattern did better than others. Williams wanted to know why. After all, they’re all filled with  low-income minority kids. Whatever’s working, he said, is worth copying.

“Whether it’s instituting a college-going culture in the classroom, so every classroom is named after a school – the Longhorn room, the Mustang room. Kids are known as scholars, Mustangs, or Longhorns. You’re here to go to some level beyond high school.”

Williams says those and other ideas will get shared at the 3-day conference. Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings says it’s past time to share best practices, no matter where they come from. Because he says, every city’s kids deserve the best education the system can deliver. But he says we’re not delivering yet.

“We sit too passively back and say I hope it’ll work. Hope is not a strategy. The truth of the matter is, if you care about this city, you’re really concerned about what’s happening to that 6th grader across town. Because if that 6th grader is being educated in the right way, and we’re demanding the most out of him and giving the teachers the tools they need, this city is going to get better.”

Rawlings said it’s everybody’s problem.