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Good News Dallas
by Guillermo Galindo    Wed, Oct 26, 2005, 10:53 PM

Dr. Michael Hinijosa
Six months ago, Dr. Michael Hinojosa, was selected as the superintendent of the Dallas Independent School District . The challenges that he faces are numerous. Out of 220 school campuses, 20 are low performing. As you look at the breakdown, the figures are alarming when you analyze the traditional middle schools and high schools of the district. Forty percent of the traditional high schools are low performing and twenty six percent of the traditional middle schools are also low performing. The elementary schools show very good improvement, but the district is still not out of the woods. The district is highly decentralized and therefore creating mini-independent school districts. It makes it extremely difficult for the superintendent to get a true and objective picture of all the schools’ needs.

In order for the superintendent to be able to implement true reforms and improve the academic achievement of the students from the elementary through the high school levels, principals and assistant principals in DISD must provide the resources needed by the teachers to do their jobs. That includes the elimination of all unnecessary paperwork. Principals and parents must become advocates for teachers to do what they were hired to do and that is to teach. Central administration must buy into this and eliminate all the bureaucratic obstacles and mandates. This can be achieved by the true involvement at every single campus of parents in partnership with the local principals and teachers in the quest for high academic achievement and standards of all students.

Dr. Hinojosa is going to have to encourage open dialogue and critical discussion with principals and teachers as to what is the best method to achieve the academic standards that are needed and required. He needs to eliminate job promotion in DISD by who you know instead of what you know. He is going to have to achieve tighter fiscal accountability in all schools and departments. Dr. Hinojosa also should assess and evaluate all departments to determine whether they reflect the ethnic composition of the community as a whole in areas such as teachers, principals, assistant principals, department heads, cafeteria, janitorial and maintenance personnel.

These are only a few challenges that Dr. Hinojosa faces that past administrations did not address. Past administrators also neglected to make appropriate changes to reflect the demographic transformation in the school district. There has been too much cronyism in DISD and too much willingness to accept mediocrity as the standard. That has to change – and soon.

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