“The school system is ruined. For Sale signs are going up. Some homeowners don’t let their children play with apartment children. As long as the liberals and socialists are elected, we will pay dearly in taxes and social engineering. The coverage by the media is unfair. We’re not racist, but…”

Is this the atmosphere in Dallas, circa 1970? Perhaps the next quote will clue us in.

“There is no longer a Richardson school system.”

For those of us who stuck with the Dallas public schools through the perceived turmoil of the past 26 years, these comments culled from recent publications constitute a rich irony.

The Richardson Independent School District, which borders our northern edge, has found it necessary to make attendance zone realignments to relieve overcrowding in the southern part of the district.

The upshot is that many Richardson school will be about 40 percent minority – and growing.

Many urban Texas public school systems have experienced changes in racial makeup during the past 20 years. But in a district that served as a landing strip for the white flight from Dallas, this information is cataclysmic to some people.

Perception versus reality has been a frustrating issue for loyal Dallas public school supporters. In 1975 at Woodrow, the Dallas Times Herald did an “expose” on violence in the schools. It concluded that blacks carried razors in their hair, white girls packed pistols in their purses, and Hispanics flipped out switch-blades for protection.

The reporter’s source was someone waiting outside Woodrow to take a bus to Skyline High School.

Yes, there had been a few racial incidents at Woodrow, but the hyperbole of the article surprised all of us. It really galvanized the school, as members of all races wrote letters to the editor and almost every student signed a petition.

Recent news indicates the suburbs are now experiencing what are called “inner-city” problems. The Arlington police spokesman is becoming a regular on the nightly news after the awful abduction of Amber Hagerman, which revealed that many convicted child molesters live in her neighborhood.

In Plano, crime increased 9.5 percent during the past year while the Dallas crime rate continued to fall. A drive-by shooting and a kidnapping/murder were reported in the same week in Plano. And the city was skewered last summer by Esquire magazine as a place where parents are afraid to let their children play in the front yard.

The point is that the Arlington schools are still pretty good, although I know parents who live there and opt for private schools. In Plano, even the mass-production method produces many fine students. Richardson produced as many National Merit Scholars as ever before.

Retired School Board President Sandy Kress and former Neiman-Marcus CEO and Lakewood resident Stanley Marcus, both products of Dallas public schools, have recently called for more corporate involvement in our children’s future. It seems when a district becomes a majority-minority, some corporate titans meet such requests with a vacant reticence.

We could say that we’ve been lucky here in East Dallas, where businesses and alums regularly contribute to our schools while hard-working parents and teachers ensure our students every opportunity to succeed.

Look at the Woodrow seniors featured in last month’s Advocate. Why would anyone be afraid to send their children to school with them?

Instead, we should be honored.


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