Slowly but surely, the Dallas ISD School Board is making progress towards enhancing the educational experiences of Dallas ISD students and their families. Most notably, this is evident in recent discussions the Board, and subsequently, city stakeholders have had related to pre-kindergarten quality and access, in addition to a (much needed and much overdue) discussion around the validity of recess as it pertains to addressing the social and emotional needs of children. Both Trustee Solis and Trustee Micciche should be applauded for the manner in which they have championed these initiatives – which hopefully is a foreshadowing of sorts of more Board action moving. While the exact outcomes of both proposals are yet to be determined, and will be deliberated at the upcoming January (and potentially February) Board meeting(s), the fact that recent Board discussion is (slowly) shifting towards policy that directly impacts student academic outcomes is promising.
While a step in the right direction, it must be noted that without purposeful and intentional implementation, the intended impact of these specific policies (and any others that follow), will not reach their fullest potential. Bill McKenzie, former Dallas Morning News columnist, and current Editorial Director of the George W. Bush Institute, raised a similar question in a recent commentary discussing newly appointed TEA Commissioner, Mike Morath. Amongst other key ‘items’ McKenzie addressed throughout the piece, the following question(s), closely resemble the importance of moving beyond policy recommendations and proposals and rather, towards implementation. He states:
“…”Will Texas ensure local districts really use quality research to guide interventions? The new law says that districts must use evidence-based research to guide their interventions in the lowest-performing schools. But what will that look like? … ”
Dallas and Dallas County have the potential (and capacity) to pave the wave for innovation and best practice(s) within the education space. Whether or not this innovation ultimately leads to optimal outcomes will largely depend on the authenticity of program implementation. Given that much thought and political capital has been spent on developing such proposals – ‘one’ hopes that a similar level of intentionality is focussed on ensuring these proposals ‘work.’