All three school board candidates endorsed by a young Dallas political action committee won seats on Saturday.
The victories reinforce reforms the PAC, and the winners, say the district desperately needs.
The Educate Dallas PAC put its money behind three candidates – each received at least $10,000 – because the organization says the district can’t wait any longer to improve. Mark Melton is a co-chair of Educate Dallas, and he attended the election night party of Dan Micciche, whom the PAC endorsed.
"The idea here is that there are kids that are suffering in the district right now and immediate action is required," Melton said. "So we’re not going to sit on our laurels for long before we start to ask those types of questions to say, 'What are you doing to make improvements now?'
A key reform the PAC wants is a new teacher evaluation system tied to student performance. The group already likes policy changes that gave principals more control over choosing their staffs. It also likes increasing numbers of public charter schools, as long as they perform. Former DISD trustee Leigh Ann Ellis welcomes the PAC’s involvement.
"We have to remember the candidates need much more money in today’s world for flyers to get the word out, for communications tools," Ellis said. "That PAC money actually supplied a support base that we never had before. I can see where all businesses, small, big, came together to donate to these PACs because we need a stronger public school system than we have right now.
In DISD District 3, Dan Micciche defeated an incumbent. Micciche said that’s always tough because office holders have name recognition and access to free publicity. Gracious in defeat, Bruce Parrott called to congratulate Micciche. The winner says involvement of not just one, but several new PACS that endorsed him, suggests a change in school board campaigns.
"We’ve got a school system that’s not performing up to par and which can perform a whole lot better," Micciche said. "We need more than rhetoric about the importance of schools. We actually need the involvement of the business community and the non-profit community in a bigger way than they’re involved now."
Micciche and the other two school board winners were those endorsed by Mike Rawlings. The Dallas Mayor said a successful, effective DISD was vital to the growth and prosperity of the city itself.