Debating 'home rule' for Dallas public schools

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by JOBIN PANICKER

Bio | Email | Follow: @jobinpnews

WFAA

Posted on April 26, 2014 at 5:49 PM

Updated Saturday, Apr 26 at 6:14 PM

DALLAS — The debate over "home rule" for the Dallas Independent School District took to the steps of City Hall on Saturday morning, where more than two dozen opponents gathered.

“There's a lot of things they are trying to tear down that's good for boys and girls,” said retired educator Dr. Roscoe Smith.

But the real noise over the weekend is coming in the form of signatures. The Support our Public Schools group stationed outside Preston Royal Library in Dallas was getting valuable ink on the dotted line. Their petition fights to change district governance, take control from the state, and keep it local.

A representative of the group would not talk on camera, but did issue this statement:

"The benefit of becoming a home rule district is that it allows Dallas ISD to re-imagine itself to fit the needs of our children instead of the one-size-fits all approach of Austin.”

But there were signatures in the opponents' camp, too — an affidavit seeking to clear their names from that same petition, claiming they were duped.

"They would take their names off the list,” said Juanita Wallace.

Proponents of home rule continue to tout how it will improve graduation rates and help kids be college-ready, and that was enough to get Elizabeth Spies to sign.

“If kids are getting to 4th grade and can't read, need to make sure there are changes,” she said.

“There are people who want to protect the status quo, but we think our students deserve better,” wrote a representative for SOPS.

But the former, and some current, educators who gathered on the steps of City Hall say home rule is not about kids or teachers — but power.

“Home rule will only make our jobs harder and Dallas less worthy of living in,” said Diane Birdwell of NEA Dallas.

E-mail jpanicker@wfaa.com

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