DALLAS — Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings is pushing the reset button on the controversial home rule initiative for the Dallas Independent School District.
Rawlings on Tuesday distanced himself from the group formally supporting local governance of DISD, and even called the campaign's roll-out "poorly executed." So how is the mayor planning to resuscitate the home-rule debate? Here is his explanation:
"The roll-out of this effort was misunderstood and poorly executed," Rawlings said. "As my wife told me, 'People don't get it.' And when people don't get it, they fear it."
The mayor was talking about the fledgling campaign to change DISD from state rule to a newly-created local form of governance.
The campaign is called Support Our Public Schools, and the publicity around it has been so negative the Mayor is trying to salvage the initiative on his own.
"I am not speaking on behalf of Support Our Public Schools," Rawlings emphasized. "That is a totally separate organization."
The mayor on Tuesday issued a fresh call for dialogue; a grass roots collaborative; and a city-wide conversation about how to fix education at DISD.
The difference, he says, is that he wants concrete ideas on the table so voters can decide whether to sign the petition to get home rule officially on the ballot.
"We need something tangible, not abstract,” Rawlings said. “We need to put real ideas down on real paper... otherwise everyone will fear the worst."
Rawlings also wants to respect the initiatives that Dallas ISD Superintendent Mike Miles already has in place.
The mayor will brief the City Council in two weeks and organize face-to-face meetings with concerned citizens from all corners of the city.
While he's in favor of local control of DISD, if it doesn't happen, Rawlings said something very important is under way.
"Never has there been more earnest and substantive conversation about the state of our schools," the mayor said.