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Saving Sick Schools
Activists, Concerned Citizens Vow Turn Around For Academically Challenged Schools
Lone Star Power Pages
Dallas- Activists and concerned citizens have plans to work to prevent other Dallas Independent School District Schools from ending up on the state’s academic chopping blocks.
The Rev. Ronald Wright says nothing is more important than finding out which schools have needs, are in trouble and work to organize and find ways to improve performance.
“We are not going to let another school suffer at the hands of DISD like Spruce High School did,” he said. “Our goal is to identify these issues before they get out of hand.”
Wright is calling for school board representatives to meet with constituents on a regular basis and give periodic updates on the status of schools in the danger zone.
Unfortunately, it was too late for Spruce High School. School Board Trustee Nancy Bingham should have known that school performance did not meet standards, but little was done or she did not make a diligent enough effort to call on or speak with parents and concerned citizen in the Spruce High School area before changes came to the school.
Earlier this year, the Board of Trustees approved a plan to move 10th- and 11th-grade students from H. Grady Spruce High School to Lincoln and James Madison high schools.
Spruce will serve ninth-graders and seniors who choose to finish their 12th-grade year at Spruce.
Spruce 12th-graders were given the option of completing their senior year at Spruce while incoming ninth-grade students will be able to choose from three academic pathways at the school: Engineering and Information Technology; Health and Human Services; and Business and Financial Management.
The changes are necessary because Spruce is likely to be rated by the Texas Education Agency as Academically Unacceptable for the fourth straight year and because student achievement did not make significant gains this past spring.
For the past three years, Spruce has been rated Academically Unacceptable by the Texas Education Agency, and student achievement did not make any significant gains this past spring.
The repurposing of Spruce was part of the high school redesign created under the Dallas Achieves initiative. Dallas Achieves is a collaborative effort to bring the entire Dallas community together to transform the district and make Dallas ISD the best urban district in the country.
A pending lawsuit hopes to reverse the decision allowing students to return to the school and changes be made to meet the needs of the students without sending them across the city to other schools.
“We don’t want other children to fall into the same trap,” he said. “Our top priority as pastors and activists is to organize this and develop successful plans that will work in any education setting.
According to TEA figures, as many as a dozen other DISD schools have been rated below academic performance standards and could end up on some future school board list and slated for closure or changes similar to Spruce.
District 9 School Board Trustee Ron Price said his number one focus and priority is the success and education of the children no matter where they attend school.
Price was involved in the transition of students from Spruce into schools in his district and was also actively involved with Vision Generations and other youth organizations and volunteers who walked neighborhoods and talked to parents and others about the transition.
“We prepared to them to come into schools that are in my district,” said DISD School Trustee Ron Price. “Education is my focus and we made it clear that these are our children too and wanted things done right and wanted each welcomed as part of our family.”
Price said the district added extra teachers, counselors and staff to accommodate the education needs of students coming in from Spruce.
Price said the success of the transition is due primarily to past experiences working with the evacuees of Hurricane Katrina and the closing of Wilmer Hutchins High School.
According to Wright, his goal is no more transitions with the focus and emphasis on restoring respect for education and learning in those schools.
One of his solutions involves improving communication and keeping the lines open running in both directions and to talk often with parents and the community.
Another goal is to work to endorse better discipline that breeds respect for authority.
“Some things have been allowed to get out of control,” He said. “We must demand the board untie the hands of principals, teachers and educators so they can teach.”