A wise man once said, “Progress is measured in small steps.” While this last year has certainly not been an easy one as it relates to the Board of Education and the Dallas Public Schools, I can honestly point to several small steps taken that will make a difference for our schools.

This past fall, we conducted the first-ever districtwide survey, thanks to a considerable contribution from the Perot Foundation. The results provide hard data as to what we have suspected in East Dallas for some time. Schools that engage parents into improving student achievement not only get the results for which they are striving, but the parents feel a sense of empowerment and ownership of their school. With the help of Sirota Consulting, the survey’s developer, survey data will be used to make district organizational improvements.

Building credibility with the public is another “step” to be taken. I have been working quietly with my colleagues to do just that. I am pleased to report that the board has committed to a three-year extensive audit to be conducted by an outside firm. This audit will turn over every stone within the school district to make certain that we are directing our resources where they are needed most: in the classroom with our students.

The board has also been working with the administration to develop a five- year plan to improve student achievement. What makes this unique is that we have been able to get input from as many interested parties as possible, including the Greater Dallas Chamber of Commerce, the Dallas Black Chamber, the Hispanic Chamber, the PTAs and many others, including all 218 schools in Dallas.

This plan should be completed later this spring. Our plan is to keep the entire community informed of the district’s progress toward meeting the goals of the plan. Rebuilding the district’s credibility will take time. Those of us who serve on the board know that and are working diligently to set a course for improvement.

On a personal note … there is a special group I wish to thank. In the fall of 1986, there were three kindergarten classes at Lakewood Elementary (My daughter, Sydney, was a part). Those “babies” have moved through Long and Woodrow, and will graduate May 16. Special teachers, principals, parents, and community members have had much to do with the successes of the class of 1999. This community cares and I thank you!

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