Friday, May 05, 2006

Number 1 High School in the Nation


Newsweek magazine (May 8, 2006) ranked the Dallas Independent School District's School for the Talented and Gifted at Yvonne A. Ewell Townview Center the top public high school in the nation.

The School of Science and Engineering, also located at Townview Center, was ranked eighth in the country.

From the perspective of Newsweek, high schools receiving these rankings do the best job of preparing students for university study.

Newsweek's analysis ranked 1,139 high schools by adding the number of Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate tests taken by students in 2005, divided by the number of graduating seniors at each school.

In April, D Magazine ranked the Talented and Gifted Magnet and the School of Science and Engineering one and two, respectively in its listing of the best high schools in Dallas.

In addition, the Science and Engineering magnet has been named a U.S. Department of Education 2005 No Child Left Behind Blue Ribbon School.

The Talented and Gifted magnet was also named a No Child Left Behind-Blue Ribbon School in 2003.

Dallas should be proud of these schools and of the entire Townview Center and itaccomplishmentsts. This southern sector, very urban school has performed in an amazing way in leading the entire district.

Yesterday Don Williams, Chairman and founder of the Foundation for Community Empowerment and ex-President and CEO of Trammell Crow Company, spoke to our monthly Urban Engagement Book Club.

Randy Mayeux provided a very helpful synopsisis of Jonathan Kozol's latest book, The Shame of the Nation: The Restoration of Apartheid Schooling in America. I asked Don to respond to the book in view of what is going on in Dallas' public schools.

During his insightful comments, Don "told the rest of the story" concerning Townview.

The DISD spends an average of $6,300 on each of its high school students annually.

It spends $11,100 on each of the students at Townview.

Care to guess what it spends per student at its 16 lowest performing schools? If you guessed $4,300 you would be correct.

Hmmm.

I can just hear some of my friends telling me that things can't be changed by "just throwing money at problems." That comment always makes me smile. I don't get caught in too many money downpours around here!

The Texas Legislature is in special session today, under court order to find a new and legal solution to the state's school finance plan. Every report I read from Austin tells me that this fine bunch of leaders will come up with a legal plan that will grossly underfund our public schools.

Ladies and gentlemen of the legislature, please take a look at the Townview story.

There is another interesting twist to the Townview experience.

Demographically the DISD student population is almost 50% Hispanic, around 45% African American and less than 10% Anglo. Of course across the district, white students have opted out for private schools and many families have abandoned the city altogether for the suburbs and their school systems (also increasingly ethnically diverse). In the City of Dallas today, Anglos are a minority group.

At Townview the student population was much more balanced. The largest ethnic group among students at Townview is Anglo.

Hmmm.

Something good here I suppose about students from every corner of the community learning together, working together, spending time together in a school with adequate funding.

Maybe Townview Center is more than a success story. Maybe it provides a model.

9 comments:

Chris Field said...

Wow, further proof that there is huge systemic change that can and must happen for all people to have equal chances at success.

Larry - Could you send me a list of 4-5 of the best books you know of dealing with poverty, how to help, Christian social justice, working class poor, etc. Thanks.

owldog said...

How does a school district get away with this? I thought they would have to spend the same number ON each student. Your article needs to be in the Dallas morning news in response to the article yesterday bragging about the TITLE.

Larry James said...

Owldog, to the contrary, the article that needs to be written for the Dallas Morning News is one that asks why every student in the DISD doesn't receive the same funding as Townview? The problem is not with the school district--they are doing all they can to perform according to current state and federal guidelines under No Child Left Behind.

The fault is with our public policy leaders and our funding system for public schools.

The current legislature needs to be thinking in terms of funding at a minimum two to three times what they are now intending to do.

I think it is unfair to blame the victim. Dr. Hinojosa intends to lead the DISD toward real excellence, but he cannot do it for every campus without adequte funds

Janet said...

I told a friend of mine in Allen about this funding inadequacy. She said that Allen only receives a ballpark of $4000 or so per child because of the Robin Hood law. She didn't know if that encompassed building costs or not. Is that true?? She said she sees the figures in their reports all the time.

If that is true, and Robin Hood does affect them so greatly, how does Allen make their $4000 stretch so far? They have carpeted, painted schools with computers in every room and kids who are doing Power Point presentations in the 3rd grade or earlier!

Anonymous said...

The problem I have with all of the innovative "example" schools is that they tend to start with the kids that either apply for or are cherry-picked. By definition these students will be more committed to doing whatever it takes to get ahead. Of course they will tend to be more successful. What about the kids that were like me in high school? I cared a lot more about basketball (and other stuff) than I did about school. I certainly wouldn't have been one of the kids tha would have sweated out an application process to get into a better school. Kids shouldn't have to be extraordinary in order to receive a good education. We have got to figure out a way to educate kids where they are. I want to hear success stories of whole urban school districts. Do those success stories exist?

Brandon

Larry James said...

Right on, Mr. Toombs! Totally agree. I think if Dr. Hinojosa has his way, one of the success stories could be Dallas.

You are right about special programs, etc.

What is needed is a fully-funded system that provides great educational opportunities for every student.

Janet, I am sure your friend is correct. Allen only receives that from the state, but that is not all they spend on each student. Their other sources of funding makes up the difference for them. Plus, I am sure there are other factors as well, including special projects, grants, etc.

KentF said...

Bottom line is our Legislature has it's work cut out to find a solution. I can assure you that rural schools in deep East Texas are inadequately funded - and we are generally on the receiving end of Robin Hood.

Anonymous said...

This cracked me up . ..

"I don't get caught in too many money downpours around here!"

Also makes ya cry, in a way.

Anonymous said...

Consider using 'white' versus 'anglo' since all whites are not anglo (aka anglo saxon descent). Does anyone ever wonder if some of the problems are with the students themselves? Money isn't the end all solution.