Will Dallas ISD turn to charter schools to avoid the state’s accountability hammer?

Will Dallas ISD turn to charter schools to avoid the state’s accountability hammer?

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Dallas ISD Superintendent Michael Hinojosa wants to close down two schools and convert two others to charter schools to avoid harsh punishment from the state for their poor performance.

He declined to say which of the four failing campuses would be closed or change under his plan, which will be presented to trustees at a Nov. 2 board meeting.

Hinojosa knows the decision to close a campus is difficult and emotional, but he said DISD needs to take action before the state does.

There are three Dallas ISD campuses that have failed to meet state academic standards five years in a row: Edward Titche Elementary in Pleasant Grove, Thomas Edison Middle Learning Center and C.F. Carr Elementary School. J.W. Ray Learning Center has failed four years consecutively.

If one of those schools misses the mark again this year, that would force Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath to either close down the campus or replace the entire school board and superintendent.

“If I take a chance and they don’t make it, something is going to happen in August,” Hinojosa said of the failing schools. He added, “We’re not running from the accountability. We have something great we went to replace it with.”

Key to Hinojosa’s plan is using a loophole in a new state law aimed at promoting partnerships between traditional districts and independent charter operators. Legislators wanted to encourage such deals by giving districts that turns schools over to charters more money per student and a two-year break on state accountability standards.

But a provision in the law also gives the same benefits to a charter created and operated by a traditional school district working with a university or nonprofit. Hinojosa said he’s considering that option for two of the failing schools as well as for others campuses across the district.

Hinojosa estimates that the district could get an additional $1,400 per student at campuses that are converted to charters. That could quickly mean about $400,000 to $1 million more for those schools.

Charter schools are public campuses that operate free from some regulations that traditional schools must follow.

Hinojosa said he didn’t consider partnering with an existing charter operator, as the Fort Worth school district is. Dallas has had a contentious relationship with charters, and has lost about 34,000 students to such campuses.

“Three of my board members love charter schools. Three of my board members hate charter schools. And three are in the middle trying to figure out what I’m going to do next,” Hinojosa said. “If I put on the agenda that I want to partner with the charter school, they’ll put on the agenda that they want to fire me. ‘What are you doing collaborating with the enemy?’”

Hinojosa said he expects the four campuses to meet academic standards this coming August after benefiting from additional resources the district has been pouring into the schools. But waiting until August to know their fate would create too much chaos and uncertainty going into a new school year, he said.

Hinojosa did say one of the schools under consideration for closure has low enrollment and one is in a bad location.

The plan is likely to face considerable criticism from trustees who’ve balked at previous attempts to close J.W. Ray Learning Center and have actively fight against the charter school invasion.

Texas has increasingly found ways to boost charter schools in recent years by easing limits on how many are in operation and by passing legislation that will help them grow. Just this month the state received a $60-million federal charter school grant. Authorities want to use a portion of that to encourage more district-run charters.

Morath, who was a Dallas ISD trustee before he was named education commissioner, told charter school operators at their conference in Grapevine last week that he hoped the new law would spur innovation and ease tensions between them and traditional districts.

“I see regularly a fairly high level of animosity between the traditional sector and charter sector of our public schools,” he said. “It doesn’t have to be that way.”

Morath said he’s created a new division within the Texas Education Agency to work on district/charter partnerships under the new law. He also noted that many of the state’s most prominent charters — such as IDEA Public Schools and KIPP — grew out of programs within traditional districts.

While praising Dallas ISD’s existing specialized school-choice options — such as the new all-girls Solar Prep and the Barack Obama Young Men’s Leadership Academy — Morath said Texas districts tend to not scale up innovative programs like charters do.

“Then you’ve helped hundreds of kids when we had the opportunity to help hundreds of thousands of kids,” he said.

David Dunn, Texas Charter School Association executive director, isn’t worried that any move by traditional districts to create their own charters will further drive a wedge between them. He noted that Fort Worth and districts in the El Paso and San Antonio areas are all considering partnerships with charter operators.

“It’s not going to be an ‘either or’ but both,” he said. “We think it’s a good thing to have school districts open to innovation, to trying new things.”

He noted that a few districts — most prominently Houston ISD — already have district-run charter schools.

Hinojosa said he’s talked with Houston and Grand Prairie, which has a partnership with Uplift Education charters, to gain insight. He’s in talks with at least three universities and two nonprofits that have “technical expertise” in the area he wants future DISD-run charters to focus on, he said, He declined to provide more details other than to say he’s been talking with a former longtime superintendent now at a university and with officials at a program that has helped train principals.

If approved by the board, at least two campuses would move forward for charter conversion for the next school year. Others could come online if partnerships are approved in time

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Three More Of The Top Restaurants In Dallas TX

Three More Of The Top Restaurants In Dallas TX

It’s time to take another look at a few of the best restaurants in Dallas TX. There are some good ones for sure, and I mentioned in the last article that there are over 3500 of them, 3509 to be exact according to a top travel site. You need the complete Dallas experience, and you can’t have that when you eat at a crappy restaurant. So let’s get to looking at three more of the top restaurants in Dallas TX.

Lark on the Park is one of them, and it can be found on Woodall Rogers Freeway. How does brunch sound? Would you like a nice hanger steak? How about some cauliflower soup? I don’t know about that last one for me, but I can tell that this is a good place to enjoy a meal.

Wild Salsa is another good spot to get some food, and it is on Main Street. The picture of the tacos I saw on a travel site look great. They have queso blanco, which is a favorite of mine, and they also have beef barbacoa and so much more. People also say it is a good place to visit to have drinks, too.

Off The Bone Barbecue is the 3rd pick, and it is on South Lamar Street. This place serves up baby back ribs, pulled pork, charro beans, burnt ends, peach cobbler and potato salad. Need I say more? Well there is more for sure, and I would have to say that this is my favorite pick out of the three.

What would you say? Which Dallas restaurant are you going to visit first? I have to scroll up to remember the other two now after writing about Off The Bone Barbecue, what about you?

The Electrifying Dallas String Quartet Plays The Berman

Presenting a fusion of classical and contemporary music on traditional and electric strings, Dallas String Quartet Electric is an extraordinary act that comprises composer and violinist Ion Zanca, violinists Tatiana Glava and Melissa Priller, and bassist Young Heo.

Dallas String Quartet Electric will take you on a journey to the nexus of classical music and modern pop; where Beethoven and Bono collide.

"This will be one of the most spectacular musical performances of the season," says Elaine Hendriks Smith, Senior Director, The Berman Center for the Performing Arts. "Dallas String Quartet Electric has such a broad appeal with its blend of classical and contemporary music. It’s an excellent opportunity for the two worlds to unite at our beautiful venue," she says.

To learn more about Dallas String Quartet Electric, please visit www.dallasstringquartet.com. To purchase tickets, visit theberman.org or call 248.661.1900 from 10 am-4 pm Monday through Friday. Groups of 10+ call or email theberman@jccdet.org.

Download The Berman app, which is available at iTunes and Google Play. The Berman app features the latest news and information on the theater and its performances, the ability to purchase tickets, and the option to receive personalized notifications.

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The Berman Center for the Performing Arts is located at the Jewish Community Center of Metropolitan Detroit, D. Dan & Betty Kahn Building | Eugene & Marcia Applebaum Jewish Community Campus at 6600 W. Maple Rd., West Bloomfield, MI 48322.

The Berman Center for the Performing Arts is a beautiful, 600 seat state-of-the-art venue. The Berman showcases an eclectic variety of world-class entertainment for all audiences of Metro Detroit while showcasing the Jewish Community Center’s exceptional events.

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Lawyer with cybersecurity expertise primed to become Dallas’ new U.S. attorney

Lawyer with cybersecurity expertise primed to become Dallas’ new U.S. attorney

Dallas’ likely new top federal prosecutor brings with her a career battling cybercrime.

That happens to be one of the fastest-growing and most damaging crimes in Texas and across the nation. Which is why those in the local criminal justice community think Erin Nealy Cox is a good pick to lead the office.

Cox, a cybersecurity expert and former federal prosecutor in Dallas, was nominated by President Donald Trump to be U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Texas — an area that covers 7 million people in 100 counties in northern and western Texas.

Texas Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz recommended her, and the Senate is expected to confirm her nomination. If so, she will become North Texas’ top federal law enforcement officer. Continue reading →

Nation’s Hispanic business leaders meeting in Dallas will put Wells Fargo on the hot seat

Nation’s Hispanic business leaders meeting in Dallas will put Wells Fargo on the hot seat

The chilling effect of immigration policies on some industries is expected to be a topic of discussion as the leaders of some of the largest Hispanic-owned businesses in the country gather in Dallas for a three-day convention starting Sunday.

This is the second time the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, which claims to represent more than 4.2 million businesses that contribute over $668 billion to the national economy, is holding its annual gathering in Dallas.

The convention comes at a critical time for the Dallas-Fort Worth area, where a severe labor shortage has been stifling the construction industry that relies heavily on an immigrant workforce. And, as President Donald Trump seeks to implement more restrictive immigration policies, business owners are worried about the impact. Continue reading →

Brass Ceiling: Dallas Has Three Minority Women in Top Law Enforcement Jobs

Brass Ceiling: Dallas Has Three Minority Women in Top Law Enforcement Jobs

Forty years ago, it was rare to see a female police officer out on patrol. Now, three extraordinary women in Dallas are breaking brass ceilings in more unique ways than one.

Chief U. Renee Hall joined the Dallas Police Department earlier this month, becoming the first woman to serve as their police chief.

“This is a male dominated field and it has been for many years. And often times it’s been asked, ‘Are they strong enough? Can they do the job?’ We have to be twice as smart in order to do the same job that a man does,” says Chief Hall.

Fans Stunned As Loretta Swit Blurts Out Why She Left M*A*S*H Continue reading →

Injury bug attacks Denver Broncos, Dallas Cowboys

Injury bug attacks Denver Broncos, Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos wide receiver Bennie Fowler celebrates his two-point conversion pass reception against the Carolina Panthers in the fourth quarter in Super Bowl 50 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California on February 7, 2016. Photo by Brian Kersey/UPI

DENVER — Injuries struck both the Broncos and the Cowboys with alarming frequency during Denver’s 42-17 win over Dallas on Sunday.

Midway through the second quarter, Broncos wide receiver Bennie Fowler left the game after landing on his head trying to make a diving catch near the goal line. Denver lost rookie left tackle Garett Bolles to a lower left leg injury during the third quarter.

Cowboys rookie cornerback Chidobe Awuzie left in the first quarter because of a hamstring injury and did not return. Then, during the second quarter, Dallas cornerback Nolan Carroll sustained a concussion and was ruled out for the remainder of the game. Continue reading →

Texas sues Dallas area gas station operator over Hurricane Harvey price gouging allegations

Texas sues Dallas area gas station operator over Hurricane Harvey price gouging allegations

Consumer complaints about price gouging was making waves across social media channels following Hurricane Harvey. Now, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office is holding some businesses accountable for their actions.

Paxton’s office filed lawsuits today against three companies — one of them a local gas station owner — alleging price gouging. His office received 3,321 complaint related to Harvey.

A statement from Paxton’s office said Bains Brothers, which appears to own Texaco-branded gas stations in Carrollton, Richardson and Arlington, charged $6.99 a gallon for regular unleaded gasoline at two of its stations on Aug. 31 — a week after Harvey made landfall on Texas coast. The signs at those stations still displayed prices in the $3 to $4 range while charging the higher price, according to the attorney general’s office. Continue reading →

Opposition group rises in effort to slow Dallas City Council vote on Robert E. Lee statue

Opposition group rises in effort to slow Dallas City Council vote on Robert E. Lee statue

Special Contributor

A new group is making a last-ditch effort to keep the Gen. Robert E. Lee statue standing in an Oak Lawn park.

Dallas Citizens for Unity and Reconciliation hopes the City Council will hold off on its scheduled vote Wednesday on a resolution that calls for the immediate removal of the Lee Park monument while a task force deliberates on what to do about the city’s other Confederate symbols.

“It looked like it was just moving too fast,” said Hank Tatum, one of the group’s leaders. “We wanted to slow the train down a little bit.”

Tatum said the sculpture of Lee and a young soldier astride horses “is a handsome statue” that doesn’t deserve the bum’s rush. Continue reading →

Then and now: Dallas teachers reflect on own first-day-of-school memories

Then and now: Dallas teachers reflect on own first-day-of-school memories

The first bell has already rung, and students and teachers are finding their groove in the classroom.

While they settle into their new routines, some instructors can’t help but notice how different the classrooms that they lead are from the ones they sat in as students.

Lunches, recess, teaching styles — all of it has changed.

Teachers from Dan D. Rogers Elementary shared memories from their own school days as they worked to prepare their northeast Dallas campus ahead of Monday’s start.

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