The following story aired on KERA public radio on January 20, 2012. Ellen Wood, co-executive director of the Ed-Entrepreneur Center in SMU’s Simmons School of Education, provided expertise for this story.
January 20, 2012
The Dallas School District held its first public meetings last night about eleven under-populated schools set to close. The district hopes to save millions of dollars with the move, as it faces a huge budget shortfall from state funding cuts. KERA’s Bill Zeeble reports the plan to save money could also mean the loss of quality education.
Usually when schools close, it’s because students have repeatedly performed poorly on standardized tests. But none of the Dallas schools are failing. In fact several soar. James Bonham Elementary boasts an impressive nine Exemplary scores. But none of its teachers, including Ann Vogel Vargas, the Talented and Gift instructor, are assured of jobs next year. . .
Ellen Wood says research confirms the importance of the (teaching) team. Wood is co-executive director of the Ed-Entrepreneur Center in SMU’s Simmons School of Education. The center helps train aspiring principals.
Wood: We feel like one of the building blocks to great student performance is to have a high performing team with principals and teachers in a building with a very tight culture themselves. To have them working together is critical to have the students perform.
Wood says if Bonham closes, the team breaks up, and students will suffer. That’s what could happen at all eleven Dallas campuses. Wood says it could take years to re-assemble a great team of teachers. She understands DISD’s financial problems, but says the teacher team helps make schools like Bonham so effective.
Wood: The people side of teaching and education can’t be focused on enough. Really, the people are who make the difference for the students. And so respect for that position and for the best way to retain the highest performing people should be top of mind for the district.
The DISD administration does not see a downside to school closures. In fact, the district says students from closed schools will benefit by transferring to larger schools with more and better resources.
The Dallas School Board votes on closures next Thursday.
Read and listen to the full story .
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