A Prayer for Pinkston: SMU, DISD Team Up to Go Cradle-to-Career in West Dallas

Pinkston-High-School.jpg
By most measures, LG Pinkston High School is failing. The school, which neighbors Fish Trap Lake in a poor area of West Dallas, has higher dropout rates, lower graduation rates, and lower test scores than the rest of Dallas ISD. It is considered academically unacceptable by the state and has been for several years.

That's not to say that people aren't trying to improve things. A coalition of nonprofits and community groups, with a big assist from SMU, has focused on improving Pinkston and its feeder schools as a means of revitalizing a long struggling part of the city. But those efforts will enter the next phase come Saturday when, right after giving Mike Miles until July 2013 to obtain his Texas superintendent's certification, the DISD Board of Trustees will decide whether to sign an agreement with SMU's Simmons School of Education, the city of Dallas and about 20 nonprofits to transform West Dallas into a Promise Neighborhood, the federally assisted versions of the Harlem Children's Zone, the by all accounts very successful program that tracks every child's education from cradle to graduation.

The stated goal of the project, dubbed The School Zone, is to "improve school performance, raise graduation rates, and increase college readiness," which is straightforward enough, but it's the same goal that's has aimed for and missed for a long time. The key is the new cradle-to-career approach that tracks kids through their educational career.

The thought is, per the partnership agreement, "that if we increase early childhood educational opportunities, provide families with targeted resources from a coordinated social sector, improve teaching and learning, and engage parents in their children's development, then students will be more likely to graduate from high school prepared for college and careers."

Doing all that won't be free, which is the coalition will seek a planning grant from the U.S. Department of Education. They seem poised to move forward whether or not they get it. Already, participating groups have pledged more than $6.5 million, which seems like a pretty good start.

Update at 1:45 p.m.: I spoke with Regina Nippert, executive director of SMU's Center on Communities and Education and the point person for the push for the DOE grant.

The School Zone initiative, she told me, is in its third year. The first was devoted to forging relationships and establishing trust between community groups and principals, building a foundation for future collaboration. The second was for establishing metrics by which they could measure the project's success.

"That was all happening under the old regime (of Michael Hinajosa), and there was not a lot of cooperation," Nippert said. The principals on the ground welcomed the input, but the administration kept the project at arm's length. "Then, all of a sudden, something changed. They got some new school board members who are really terrific, a new superintendent, a new team."

The district's full cooperation is what has enabled the coalition to vie for the $500,000 Promise Neighborhood grant.

Already, Nippert says she is asked to give talks to surrounding communities about The School Zone, but she's hesitant. HCZ was around for 11 years before organizers felt comfortable talking about the success, and The School Zone's been around for just three.


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16 comments
guestasaurus
guestasaurus

"The school, which neighbors Fish Trap Lake in a poor area of West Dallas, has higher dropout rates, lower graduation rates, and lower test scores than the rest of Dallas ISD. "Maybe the underachieving students need to get their act together, turn off the TV, acquaint themselves with the concept of a "library," and consider making a priority of their school work, in spite of the obvious lack of concern shown by their parents.  Or, maybe they're just too stupid.  Both of these possibilities are perfectly possible.

guestasaurus
guestasaurus

"By most measures, the students and parents of Pinkston High School are failing in their responsibilities to themselves and society."

 

Fixed that for you.

LandMan
LandMan

BloodintheWater and UserFriendly are right on the mark. The DISD Trustees voted 8-1 this morning to approve the SMU "MOU". Carla Ranger voted "No".  This was a watershed vote.  Why? First, the Trustees voted to approve without even seeing the grant application - Nippert will not make that available until next week. DISD did not post the MOU documents until late Friday afternoon for Saturday morning's vote (meeting began at 8:30 a.m.). Second, District 6 Councilwoman Monica Alonzo was left out of this process entirely. She can not be a happy camper at this point.  That was not a mistake although Nippert will pretend it was.

flyguy
flyguy

Man. The cognitive dissonance in this comment section is strong.

bbetzen
bbetzen

Why do you pick out Pinkston?  Yes, there are problems as there are in about 100% of the non-magnet high schools in DISD. Many schools have worse academic ratings!  In 2010 Pinkston was rated as Acceptable, then last year if fell down to Unacceptable.  Bryan Adams, North Dallas and Carter have all three had nothing but Unacceptable for three years.  Why do you not mention them? Look at the list comparing DISD non-magnet high schools: http://schoolarchiveproject.blogspot.com/2012/07/equity-disd-problem.html  It will provide many more details. On that list you can see that 7 schools have lower SAT scores and many more, 14 to be exact, have a lower percentage of students taking the SAT.   In many other areas Pinkston has improved much more than other DISD schools, even while having the highest poverty percentages in the student body of all but 4 other schools.  All this data is on the above linked chart.  If you see any errors please let me know.

 

Why did you pick out Pinkston?

G_David
G_David

Like I've always said, 2 in the Pinkston, 1 in the Stinkston.

userfriendly
userfriendly

Let's play a dot game. Regina Nippert is an old real estate hack who appointed herself as the pointperson on west Dallas education reform AFTER her BFF Butch McGregor and buddies entered the area for a huge land flip. They already tried to get the feds to hand them milions for their version of the Harlem Zone, but didn't get it.

They are back at the trough. Go out and do some actual investigating and draw the lines between all the dots. None of these folks were interested until the land had the potential for making millions, that is, if they can get the city council to zone it the way they want.

EastDallasResident
EastDallasResident

Hopefully they'll get away from "participation points" and non-failing grading and any other silly stuff DISD has done to push students through without embarrassing administrators.

CelebrateDivershitty
CelebrateDivershitty

"a poor area of West Dallas"... as opposed to all those rich areas in West Dallas.

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

 @guestasaurus It's a matter of poor parenting.  We were not allowed to do anything until our studies were completed and checked by our parents.

bbetzen
bbetzen

 @flyguy

 Does looking at the data indicate cognative dissonance?  What are you trying to say?  Speak more clearly.

Bloodinthewater...
Bloodinthewater...

The real estate Bill.

Poor Pinkston. Pinkston is in West Dallas where Nippert/DFCC Wise/Cienda cultivate influence. Ask trustees Cowan and Ranger how impressed they were with DFCC/Nippert face-to-face rolling out her education nonsense back when the DMN rocketed her to education credibility a couple of years ago (her kid's a TFA teacher.) A real estate hack turned education authority.

 

Media turns off its pea brains when it likes the cause/NONprofit and doesn't ask for financial statements, tax returns, and other bonafides. Just cranks out the precious free PR based on websites, Facebook, Vimeo, and Googled prior 'news' coverage. A flimsy, manufactured social media reputation, inept/lazy reporters, and embarrassed funders (Meadows, Rees-Jones) keep the Nippert/Wise bandwagon rolling.

 

Now DISD and SMU are going to set them up at the Federal trough by pushing them for a Promise grant.

Bloodinthewater...
Bloodinthewater...

POW. BAM.

But BFF is Phil Wise, not McGregor. DFCC, Dallas Faith Communities Coalition aka Faith Communities Coalition of Dallas. A FORprofit corp formed by Wise in March 2008 and what Nippert has been ED of until DFCC got caught for not being an actual NONprofit. Whereupon she and her team slithered over to SMU, slowly shedding their DFCC skin. 

 

Got started when Wise's Infomart went belly-up and Wise slithered over to West Dallas and co-opted the sleepy DFCC task force formed by Mayor Miller. Now (per his ever puffing bio) HE was appointed by Miller( and every mayor since) to rule West Dallas via DFCC, founded the West Dallas Chamber of Commerce, runs Brother Bill's/Voice of Hope/Mercy Street, saved democracy, and discovered the God Particle. 

 

Throw in slithery lawyers (Shank, Meadows), slithery bankers (Kirkham, Bagwell) and pompous, unwitting Faithers (Budd/Britt/Stern) and you have a PowPow team slithering from one unwitting organization to another nominating themselves for boards/commissions, padding their resumes and siphoning off contacts/credibility and DOLLARS.

bbetzen
bbetzen

 @Bloodinthewater...

 I cannot say that what your are saying is wrong.  That is a very real danger.  Any effort to lessen the potential for our Pinkston students to become the "gentry" who help gentrify West Dallas as it develops is a very strong red flag.  Sadly the national reputation of charter school intervention is significantly less than positive. We must be vigilant!  You are right.

userfriendly
userfriendly

 @Bloodinthewater...

 Wait a momento...you left out the superdot of Uplift and its real estate ties in the middle of the fake nonprofit and the "West Dallas" Chamber--a true hoax. Nippert--with her fake nonprofit--has leached on to Todd Williams for more influence and money. Commit is part of the sham. Not one of these folks was around when West Dallas didn't translate into potential landflips, and not one of them has a history in education. So Goldman Sachs is in charge of education reform just like the felon Milken. Like West Dallas, public education is being sold, piece by piece. And yes, local media can't get their heads out of their computers and out to the streets where they could have assembled the links. Just ask those in the neighborhood about the sudden outpouring of concern with one focus---increase the worth of the land deals by the slither group.

userfriendly
userfriendly

 @Bloodinthewater...

 And now Mike Miles is officially part of the ruse. His priorities do match the slither group quite well--$$$$$$$$$$ and more $$$$$.

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