12:51 PM on Tue., Sep. 27, 2011 | The official launch of Mayor Mike Rawlings' Commit! initiative kicked off today with a "State of Education" luncheon hosted by the Dallas Regional Chamber featuring keynote speakers from the Los Angeles Unified School District.
LA superintendent John Deasy and board president Monica Garcia were invited to discuss reform efforts for the nation's second largest public school system, which serves nearly 680,000 students on more than 1,000 campuses.
Deasy, who was named LA superintendent early this year, said it's the right of every youth to graduation college-ready. That's a huge goal in LA, where only about half the students graduate and only 30 percent of them are graduate college-ready, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Among the LA reforms is an issue the Dallas ISD board is taking on: the system for teacher evaluations. The LA district is pursuing new principal and teacher evaluations that will include some measure of student achievement. Deasy said he has agreed that no more than 30 percent of a performance evaluation would be based on student achievement numbers, but the final figure has not been decided. The current evaluations have no measure of student achievement. "What we have today does not serve the kids well," Garcia said in a meeting with The Dallas Morning News editorial board.
The change in evaluations is opposed by the teacher's union, though 1,400 teachers volunteered to be in a pilot program that will use student achievement as a measure an educator's success, Garcia said. Deasy said teacher evaluations must help build teacher skills, spotlight the best and brightest and exercise quality control so that underperformers are let go. "We are dead serious about the quality of who gets to be in front of our schools," he said.
In seeking a new superintendent, Deasy and Garcia recommended that Dallas find someone who can lead and manage, who understands the role of an instructor, who can adopt innovative approaches to improving the district and who can collaborate with the community and entities will to reach out to help.
The Dallas board of trustees hopes to have a new superintendent selected by next summer, in time for the second year of Commit!. The mayor's initiative will bring a number of entities together to work in the district to educate Dallas children from "cradle to grave." Some initial partners the chamber, the Dallas Citizens Council, the Real Estate Council, Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase. Read about it in this report from DISD staff writer Tawnell Hobbs.