Debate over Deep Ellum school emotional for mayor, council

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by DEBBIE DENMON

WFAA

Posted on February 8, 2012 at 6:53 PM

Updated Wednesday, Feb 8 at 11:16 PM

DALLAS - The new year has brought tough choices for the Dallas Independent School District, including closing 11 schools and extending teachers' workdays without increasing pay.

On Wednesday, the Dallas City Council was set to make another tough decision - this one concerning a charter school set to open in Deep Ellum.

But passions about the previous choices delayed a decision on the school.

"I'm not going to personally stand for poor people to get bad education any more!" Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said.

The Council was supposed to approve a plan that would let Uplift Education obtain lower-interest bonds for a proposed charter school in the Deep Ellum nightclub district.

But emotions ran high at Wednesday's meeting.

Council member Carolyn Davis doesn't want the charter school. She said five of the 11 inner-city schools DISD is preparing to close are in her district.

"Why would we give charter schools the opportunity to open schools if we don't have the students there?" she asked. "It doesn't make any sense."

But Uplift Education says there are 6,000 students on a waiting list and the education provided would be priceless.

"We can only speak to our track record, which is 100 percent college acceptance with the education models we use to deliver on those results," said Yasmin Bhatia with Uplift Education.

Rawlings said only 12 percent of students graduating from DISD are prepared for college. He says that's not good enough.

"When it comes to our poor kids in this city, we can't do it," the mayor said. "Guys, we've got to come to terms with this."

The Council will vote on the issue in two weeks.

E-mail ddenmon@wfaa.com

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