The bad news: At last night’s DISD board meeting, the trustees voted 5-4 to cut positions at the city’s magnet schools, vanguards and learning centers. This affects not just the arts program at Booker T but also the science and engineering magnet, the government and law magnet, the business and management program, the health services program, the talented and gifted magnet, the vanguard programs in the elementary schools that feed into the magnets, the learning centers designed to boost low-income students — and on and on.
Most of the DISD board’s claims that they had to do this because of federal and Texas education regulations were shown to be muddled or false the past several weeks. The calculations are very complicated, the numbers can be spun various ways and exemptions for particular schools can be asked for and have regularly been granted in the past. As the News reports this morning, “Even federal authorities have challenged the dire claims by school officials.”
And, of course, some of these schools are the most successful ones in the district.
Didn’t matter. The board went ahead anyway.
The worse news: According to Jim Schutze (and my wife, who was also there), this was an ugly meeting with snarling dismissals of the learning centers and magnets from the board, plus shouted, scolding remarks from audience members, and a final promise by board member (and newly elected vice-president) Carla Ranger to challenge the vote legally.
One sign of how divisive things were: The vote didn’t take place until this morning, just after 1 a.m. following hours of debate and backroom consultations. Another sign: This is probably the bitterest report I’ve read from Schutze. He argues that DISD has defiantly thrown out the advances it made with the desegregation order (which imposed the magnets, vanguards and learning centers on the reluctant district). As I noted in an earlier post, the issue plays to racial and class conflicts, pits schools and against schools, teachers against teachers.
And here is Eric Celeste over at Frontburner explaining his take on exceptional programs vs. equitable access.