============ Letter to the Editor as printed 10-13-18 ==============
Rise up on closing
Wednesday night an emotional, standing-room-only community meeting at Reagan Elementary in the Bishop Arts District reacted against DISD plans to destroy Reagan, Hogg and Peeler elementary schools to create one mega-elementary. Similar meetings will be repeated across the school district if schools continue to successfully inform their families about plans to destroy schools. Only meetings hidden from the community will be quieter.
Public debates about research on mega-elementary schools as opposed to smaller community schools must come first. The research is far from conclusive. In no way does it justify spending hundreds of millions of dollars to not only destroy schools but also to destroy the history and communities that go with those schools. The communities will rise up!
For the $900+ million DISD plans to spend, the community schools could be updated to reflect community pride in their history. They could become open-enrollment magnets like Rosemont Pre-K-8, integrating the poor with the middle class and the wealthy. We all know that through education, within one generation, the most poverty-stricken family can become gentry.
Families can gentrify in place!
Bill R. Betzen, Dallas
The central issue to be faced is a presentation of national published research documenting a consistent benefit to the elimination of smaller 300-400 student elementary schools and replacing them with mega-elementary schools as large as 1,200 schools described by Dr. Hinojosa.
This is an email sent to the Dallas ISD Board following up on plans to destroy as many as 47 smaller elementary neighborhood schools so as to move students into larger mega-elementary schools, often over twice the size:
Dear President Flores, Dr. Honojosa, and Dallas ISD Trustees,
The move from smaller community schools to larger mega-elementary schools drives the current Long-range Facilities Master Plan centered mostly on destroying 47 smaller schools.
Since DISD staff has provided no research supporting mega-elementary schools as superior for student achievement the district credibility is being damaged!
After several hours searching for research to justify the move from small community schools to larger mega-elementary's, no such justification could be found to merit what DISD is risking and investing in these poorly justified Long-range Facilities Master Plans.
The overwhelming research conclusion discovered repeatedly is that schools near the 350 student size are superior to help in parental involvement, student achievement, and teacher job satisfaction. Attached is the best summary of research found that describes why smaller elementary schools are better for students, parents, and teachers. These conclusions are reinforced by the large majority of studies published since this 2006 summary.
The conclusion that smaller schools are better, especially for high-poverty and minority students, is repeated over and over!
Please read the attached two-page summary.
DISD staff must provide significantly overwhelming research contradicting these attached research results so as to justify:
spending hundreds of millions of dollars,
displacing over 40,000 DISD students,
risking student achievement with mega-elementary schools, and
risking the loss of thousands of students by DISD.
The meetings now happening are overwhelmingly painful and negative for the DISD image among our families and students. The one at Reagan Elementary this week was planned for the cafeteria but due to the crowds was moved to the auditorium where all the seats were quickly taken and all the spaces along the walls were taken, often two or more people deep. The community did not like the plans!
The DISD image is suffering from these poorly documented and researched plans now being presented in school meetings.
Can we have one or more larger DISD public meeting to discuss the research on small schools vs mega-elementary schools first? We must present a more solid plan. We must avoid damaging the DISD image more among DISD parents! We cannot risk giving our parents reasons to enroll their children in charter schools. That is what is happening with the current plan being presented at school meetings.
Corrections and/or additions to the materiel shared about the Long-range Facilities Master Plan must be made first, especially before there are more meetings!
Better yet, can this plan be pulled back for revisions, and nothing else made public, until after the November 6th elections. My greatest fear is that continuing to make the Long-range Facilities Master Plans public now, and generating the massively negative publicity that the Reagan meeting could have generated if the media had been better represented, could lead to our losing the November 6th TRE and the funds that are so urgently needed.
You are playing with fire! We all want the TRE to pass!
Bill Betzen, volunteer
The School Time Capsule Project,
An open source project, free to use if sharing improvements
Below are the two pages of the attachment that is a summary of school size research as of 2006. I would welcome research that goes against these conclusions.
Below is the most recent book, 2014, found so far on school size research: School Size Effects Revisited. Here are two pages from it that summarize.
Anther Literature Review, this one from 2007 with the same results. Notice last finding at bottom of page stating "Students from advantaged backgrounds preform well in larger schools." All 41 pages of this review are at http://www.educatetogether.ie/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/Research-lit-review-school-size.pdf .
|2007 Literature Review of research on primary school size research|
Reading the above summaries, and especially how small schools appear to most benefit children of poverty, how can Dallas ISD be considering destroying such smaller community schools so as to move our high poverty students into larger, mega-elementary schools?