Ex-State Rep. Allen Vaught Says DISD Is Too Big, So He's Pushing for White Rock to Secede

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Former state Representative Allen Vaught doesn't want to create a White Rock ISD, per se. He just thinks Dallas ISD is too big, too unwieldy to function effectively. The Whiterock ISD Facebook page he put up on Saturday was a way of "planting a flag where people can rally to talk about it."

And they are talking about it. Six hundred likes in five days and a fast-expanding stream of media coverage. Clearly, he's not alone in his opinion.

See also: Allen Vaught Wants to Plant Grassroots Movement That'll Save DISD's Teachers

Vaught traces the idea to his time in the Texas Legislature, where he pushed hard for increased education funding. When he explained this to his constituents, they would wonder why he thought it wise to funnel more cash to DISD, where it would be squandered. They would inevitably bring up the administration's scandal du jour or else mention that students at Woodrow were being forced to sit on the floor for lack of desks. Even after being unseated by Republican Kenneth Sheets in the 2010 election, the complaints didn't let up.

"The stream of people who still come to me for some reason to talk about it seems to be not getting better," he says. "You seem to have a district that's too big, that can't really take care of the local control issues."

The hurdle for an area to secede from DISD, or for a wholesale breakup of the district, is high. Under state law, any new district that splits off would have to have 8,000 students and cover at least nine square miles, which is easy enough. So is getting 10 percent of registered voters in that area to sign a petition.

See also: Sick of Waiting on DISD, Lakewood Elementary Parents Are Raising $15 Million for Expansion

The difficulty arises from the requirement that a majority of voters in both the splinter group and the rest of the district approve of the measure, and that they do so with at least 25 percent of their registered voters turning out.

Things aren't nearly at that point yet. For one thing, a decision would have to be made about the boundaries of a possible new district. Vaught has no idea what those should be other than that they should enclose an economically and ethnically diverse population and not a wealthy enclave.

He's not even sure that secession is the way to go. He's also open to an idea floated by DISD trustee Mike Morath to create a semi-independent charter district that allows communities to make more decisions locally while remaining part of DISD.

Those decisions are for another day. For now, Vaught is busy handling the flood of feedback he's received so far. He's likely to receive more. At 2,000 Facebook likes, he says he'll host a public meeting.

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32 comments
Q8DHIMMI
Q8DHIMMI

The main problem is that DISD is a ponderous, top heavy bureacracy riddled with fraud, waste, abuse of resources and outright graft.  Not unlike most public school districts or other public institutions to one degree or another.  Some smaller school districts in Texas make DISD look efficent & pure in comparison. 

The bottom line is that a child's education is primarily the function of how involved and educated their parents are- just look at the student performance of schools in Richardson per capita as compared to those of south Oak Cliff or Pleasent Grove for example. 

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

" ... He's also open to an idea floated by DISD trustee Mike Morath to create a semi-independent charter district that allows communities to make more decisions locally while remaining part of DISD."

Great!  That is all we need, another bureaucratic layer within DISD.

TexMarine
TexMarine

and with his Baron & Budd connections, he's got the "know how" to cover up a presidential candidates "baby mamma drama".

TexMarine
TexMarine

I guess I don't understand. When there was talk of splitting up the DISD at the Trinity River, it was called racist. But when a former Dem politician decides to carve out the predominantly wealthy, white, students who feed into Woodrow*, none of the banshees scream.  Weird.  Is this was a Republican, would they be silent?

*I'm sure the great segregationist Woodrow Wilson would love to know that parents of students who attend "Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson" want to segregate themselves.

I also notice that the DO omitted the fact that Vaught's kids go to a parochial private school. I guess he's hedging his bets that he'll not have to pay for BL or Parish tuition?

emmparks
emmparks

I'm presuming 'Robin Hood' will kick in in a big way if White Rock ISD is formed.  Are the taxpayers affected ready to send millions of their dollars to less affluent districts as HPISD (for example) has done since 1991-1992 to the tune of over $1 billion?

bvckvs
bvckvs topcommenter

I don't really believe the Republican, when he says there's a stream of folks continuing to lobby him on this issue, even after he lost the election.

It's probably just the same old quaeda of white separatists, angry at the fact that their tax dollars are still being spent on black students.

oakclifftownie
oakclifftownie

Will everyone who is "ALL IN " today be "ALL IN " down the road when it is time to follow up with their  commitments of TIME and MONEY ? Oh and the infighting backbiting will be on a much smaller but  more cut throat and viscous scale.And when things don't go their way "HERE" will this bunch  fold their tents and go home like the Parents as seen here at the other school  when they didn't get their way with the new leadership ? I am a former PTA "DAD"  I haven't it all but I have seen it turn  to crap fast when folks don't get their way .

ryan762
ryan762

There gets to be a point when any organization simply becomes too large to function effectively. 

Of course, there are plenty of small school districts that are run like shit, too.

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

Whatever the formula, the parents and the teachers MUST have a direct say in the education of their kids.  It only makes sense.  Think of a Norman Rockwell painting where otherwise timid citizens stand up.  They stand up because they are comfortable enough, and have confidence in a small grass roots system that will . . listen and act.  

How can we participate if there is no hope?

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

It seems that they need to break the district up into 4 districts, with revenue sharing so the South doesn't fall off the cliff.  I would imagine that would make getting the larger vote much more tenable. 

LeroyJenkem
LeroyJenkem

But what about the high school football teams? You can't talk about seceding from the DISD without answering the important question: how will this affect high school football for next year? (And you think I'm kidding. I've noticed that every time someone in the Legislature talks about saving millions on administrative costs by getting rid of all of these ridiculous little ISDs and setting up maybe six to ten real districts, all anyone has to do is ask "So how will that affect football?", and the discussion goes straight to hell.)

DavidLee
DavidLee

I'm intrigued by this idea and think that it at least merits further discussion. East Dallas has been historically underserved by both DISD and the City of Dallas. Up until the 30s and 40s, our part of town was made up of small, independent communities that each had their own school. Right now DISD Trustee Districts are the size of State Legislative Districts. That's too big, especially when you consider Trustees are unpaid volunteers. 

wilson.ethan
wilson.ethan

Hexter Elementary is one of the best in the country, I can't imagine someone wanting to take their kid from that school and starting at a new, untested school.

RoscoeJ.
RoscoeJ.

@TexMarine Woodrow is a diverse school and was a pioneer in desegregation, actually cited by the Supreme Court during the law suit as a "model of natural integration". This is one of the school's greatest assets. Sure, the white population has almost doubled there and at J. L. Long Middle School over the last few years, but nobody wants segregation. 

Daniel
Daniel

@oakclifftownie Tsk tsk. White Rock ISD will be run in good faith and total transparency, just like the Arboretum.

bvckvs
bvckvs topcommenter

@ryan762 

A lot of fools say that - but they can never put a number on how big is too big. They just have this vague, unintelligible *feeling* of impotence.

bvckvs
bvckvs topcommenter

@scottindallas 

Break it up AND keep it together.  That's a lousy way to respond to the problem of a too complex bureaucracy.

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

@LeroyJenkem I don't think DISD spends all that much on football.  That was one of the lessons of the Aledo game, inner city schools simply don't have the football programs the suburbs can build

bvckvs
bvckvs topcommenter

@oakclifftownie 

If the past is any indication of the future, then they'll complain about getting what they asked for, and start voting out the folks they voted in. 

observist
observist topcommenter

@wilson.ethan I'd be very interested in seeing the national rankings of elementary schools.  Got a link?

bvckvs
bvckvs topcommenter

@wilson.ethan 

Not everyone fears change - some embrace it.  That's how progress happens.  And "Best" is a subjective term.  It changes from year to year.

Guest
Guest

@wilson.ethan Nobody would be taking his or her kid from that school.  Hexter itself would be in the new district- ideally one with a more responsive administration than "downtown" and maybe it would feed into a much improved Hill Middle School and Brian Adams High School.  Right now all Hexter does is offer a 6-year "discount" to Old Lake Highlands property owners with children because they only have to pay for private school for middle and high school.  Personally, I think it's an idea worth exploring.

TexMarine
TexMarine

@RoscoeJ. You missed my point, so it's safe to assume you're a WW Alumni.  Woodrow Wilson HIMSELF - segregationist.  

spotter_91
spotter_91

Well said, @TexMarine.  Is there anything you wish to add, @bvckvs ?  Maybe just a simple 'mea culpa?'  Maybe it was easier for me, having lived in Dist 107 for several years, but my ears instantly twitched up after seeing Democrat Allen Vaught begin pushing this distinctly non-Democrat concept.  I suspect enough searching will find cancelled checks made out to Mr. Vaught; I'm just curious to see who the ones writing them are.

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

@bvckvs @scottindallas The tax district can distribute the funds on a per pupil level--no extra bureaucracy.  Then the federated districts would be autonomous with budgets--that would be four smaller bureaus with more local control.  That's the only "added" bureaucracy, but generally smaller is better.

RSFII
RSFII

@Guest  It seems like half of Hexter has ended up at J. L. Long in the Woodrow feeder system.  Maybe they are transferring in for IB.  The Hexter mascot has even been at The Long Run.

RoscoeJ.
RoscoeJ.

@TexMarine I'd hate to get in the way of your point but shouldn't that be "a WW alumnus"?

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