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07/15/04  Yes, Dr. Moses is leaving but?the glass is only half full.

The departure of Dr. Mike Moses as the General Superintendent of the Dallas Independent School District came as a surprise to some, yet was expected by many. I think it is fair to say that his resignation is a disappointment for most if not all. Few will dispute the value of his accomplishments to education and to the entire Dallas community. But the nagging question in most people?s minds now is: Who?s next?

A visionary by most accounts, Dr. Moses realized that he was swimming upstream against a current that was getting stronger and stronger. There is more and more pressure for higher test scores and greater student achievement, pressure from Austin for more and more ?accountability? ? all in an environment where sources and amounts of funding to do his job effectively are increasingly in question. The next Superintendent almost needs to be Wonder Woman or Superman. The search for the next Superintendent should begin expeditiously and earnestly and should include members from the citizen and business community. However, Dallas needs to seriously evaluate the OTHER SIGNIFICANT YET LARGELY DORMANT FACTORS that impact the quality and level of educational excellence in Dallas: involvement on the part of parents and community members.

The bone that I pick with Dallas (some, not all) is that we expect the Superintendent and DISD to be ultimately responsible for the education of our children. In my view, this is wrong! As parents and guardians, we are primarily responsible for the education of the youngsters with whom we are entrusted. DISD should be viewed as a resource to assist us in this endeavor. Any other view cedes so much of our power as citizens, guardians and Americans as to be retrogressive and unconscionable -- a slap in the face of our forebears who fought so arduously for the rights of every child to receive a quality education.

Currently, I have the honor and privilege of serving as President of the Dallas Council of PTAs. The Council is responsible for oversight and nurturing PTAs at more than 200 schools in DISD. A little-known fact is PTA is the largest child advocacy organization in the United States. Yet as a community we have forgotten, overlooked or ignored the well-known fact that when parents are involved in kids? education, the kids do better in school.

I believe that it?s time for the Dallas community to roll up our sleeves, declare our commitment to our public institutions and get to work ? with or without Dr. Moses or someone of his caliber. EVERYONE should be a member of their local PTA. (No, you don?t have to have kids in the school to be a member. For more information visit the PTA web site: www.ptadallas.org)

Membership in the Dallas Council of PTAs numbers just north of 24,000 (which actually makes it larger than DISD as an organization that has just over 20,000 employees.) When compared with the membership of PTA Councils across Texas, Dallas? membership should exceed 50,000. This says that as a community we put more faith in the coach of the education team than in the players ? and we ARE the players. This is not acceptable.

The bottom line is this: there is tremendous room for growth in participation on the part of stakeholders, community members and business leaders alike ? parents reading to their kids and vice-versa, volunteer opportunities at school campuses themselves, becoming more involved in organizations like PTA, Site Based Decision-making committees, and participating in the Dallas School Board just to name a few.

So is the glass half empty or half full? It depends on your perspective. Dr. Moses very astutely realized that in order to bring his vision to pass, he would need something that he has not had -- the ongoing, hands-on support of the parent community. I believe this was a major impetus behind his decision to leave. From where I stand, Dallas has a tremendous opportunity to build upon the foundation that he has laid and capitalize on the momentum that he and his staff have generated. His vision of the best urban school district in the United States should not leave with him. We should embrace it and make it our own. Now it is up to us as a community to pick up the slack and get to work.

Personally, I believe the resources are here to bring that vision to pass: our kids can learn. Our teachers can teach. Our facilities are being upgraded. The business community supports education. Last, but not least, parents and guardians will do what they can to support their kids? education?if asked. Well, on behalf of PTA, students, parents and educators everywhere I am asking: will you join in and help us?

As with Aaron and Moses in the Old Testament, Moses did enter the Promised Land with the Israelites ? he guided them and passed the baton to the right person at the right time. Well, now is the right time. While we do not yet have our Aaron, nor have we reached ?the Promised Land,? we as a community ought to embrace Moses? vision.

We should  --  with our time, our talent, our energy and our money --  give even greater support to the next Superintendent than we gave to Dr. Moses because the job has simply gotten harder. Then, and only then, will we ? like David in the Old Testament ? be able to say, ??my cup runneth over,? as surely it will if we all do our part.
 

                                        

    





                            

 

  Ward politics is the Devil's key to the soul of the city council.  It is how some council members got themselves in trouble in the past.  It is the bait that will get others in trouble in the future. 4/6/8