Downtown Dallas' El Centro College Now Has a Rooftop Wind Farm

Dallas County Community College District
For the past six years, apparently, El Centro College has been planning a rooftop wind farm for its Downtown Dallas campus. On Tuesday afternoon -- Earth Day -- the project went live as students watched on a student union video feed.

It's a relatively modest effort as far as wind farms go. The project cost $240,000. When completed, it will include 80 turbines, each about the height of an adult human, capturing enough energy to power the 2,000 computers in El Centro's computer labs and save an estimated $15,000 to $20,000 per year in electricity costs.

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Dallas ISD Has the Best High School in the Country. Again.

Ladies and gentlemen, the best public high school students in the country.
For all the roiling arguments surrounding Dallas ISD -- over governance and closing achievement gaps and teacher pay and whatever else two adults might possibly disagree on -- there's one topic over which there is little debate: Dallas ISD does magnet schools right.

Just in case you needed a reminder, U.S. News & World Report today released its annual ranking of the nation's top public high schools. Once again, for the third year in a row, DISD's School for the Talented and Gifted snagged the top spot.

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A Severely Autistic Teen Wandered Away from Dallas' Conrad High, and No One Noticed [Updated]

Dallas ISD
This post has been updated with information from a corrective action plan for Conrad drafted by DISD administrators.

A severely autistic teenager wandered away from Conrad High School in Vickery Meadow on Friday afternoon.

The boy, who police say functions on the level of a 3-year-old, was located four hours later wandering near Skyline High School -- 10 miles to the southeast of Conrad, in the general vicinity of his home -- after an intensive, four-hour search involving Dallas PD's canine unit and helicopter.

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Texans Can Academies Hits the Charter-School Jackpot, Picking Up an Old Wilmer-Hutchins School Cheaply

There's a reason you find so many charter schools in decrepit strip centers and old Walmarts. Decent, school-appropriate real estate is hard to come by. When it is available, it's expensive, and charter operators, who don't get facilities funding from the state like public schools do, are often forced to make do with whatever space they can find.

With its new Grant East campus in far southeast Dallas, Texans Can Academies is making do just fine. The school is set to open soon in what was formerly Alta Mesa Elementary, a long-shuttered campus that Dallas ISD inherited when it absorbed Wilmer-Hutchins ISD in 2006.

This could mark the first time a charter school in Texas has taken over a former public school.

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Sheffie Kadane Speaks His Mind on DISD Home Rule. It Doesn't Take Long.

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A lot of words were spoken at today's joint meeting of the Dallas City Council and Dallas ISD board of trustees. Most were on point, for or against the call to draft a home-rule charter. Some were illuminating. Almost all were delivered with passion. It was, all in all, a remarkable (for City Hall) display of intelligent, engaged adults wrestling with a serious public policy matter.

Then there was Councilman Sheffie Kadane.

"This charter district -- would there be DISD schools in the district?" Kadane asked when his turn to speak arrived.

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Dallas ISD Home-Rule Debate Has Been Great for Mike Miles

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Mark Graham
Mike Miles
You know the debate over public schools in Dallas has gone squirrely when retired teacher and education activist advocate Bill Betzen stands before the City Council and offers implicit approval of Mike Miles' tenure as DISD superintendent.

Betzen, speaking in advance of a council discussion on the home-rule proposal for DISD, stopped well short of endorsing Miles, but he argued that the district is moving in the right direction -- graduation rates have risen for five consecutive years now -- and can continue to do so without fundamentally changing the district's structure.

The man who followed Betzen at the microphone, an East Dallas resident named David Lee, agreed.

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Dozens of DISD's Bilingual Teachers Are Facing Deportation, and the System Won't Budge

Dallas County District Attorney's Office
DA Craig Watkins is not facing deportation, but he is in a classroom much like DISD's H1-B holders teach in.
Garland ISD's foreign teachers aren't in danger of being sent back to their native countries because the human resources director might have been taking all-expense paid trips to the Philippines, or pocketing fees he wasn't supposed to be charging in the first place, or illegally funneling business to his step-kids, although all those things did happen. They're in danger of being sent back because their H1-B visas are set to expire and the U.S. Department of Labor keeps denying their appeals for permanent residency.

This isn't just a Garland issue. It's an issue for every school district that recruits bilingual teachers from abroad. Like Dallas ISD.

DISD employs several hundred teachers on H1-B visas. The district can't promise the teachers it recruits that they'll be allowed to stay in the U.S. beyond six years -- the H1-B is a nonimmigrant visa -- but it can help them apply for permanent residency.

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Lawrence B. Jones, Star of the Obamacare Sting, Tries Gonzo Tactics in Garland ISD Board Race

Dylan Hollingsworth
Lawrence Billy Jones III
Garland ISD trustee Scott Luna typically has a clear path to victory. Three times he's been up for election, three times his name has been the only one on the ballot.

Not this time. He has a challenger, 21-year-old Lawrence Billy Jones III, and now Luna's become embroiled in a minor scandal.

The scandal, as reported by The Dallas Morning News, is this: On February 28, the deadline for filing to run in the May school board election, Luna put in a call to associate Garland ISD Superintendent Gary Reeves (on leave over the district's H1-B visa scandal), who Jones counts as an advisor.

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Texas Might Finally Approve a Mexican-American Studies Course Today

Mexican-American activist Dolores Huerta, who was struck from Texas' social studies curriculum five years ago.
High school students in Texas can take, and get credit toward, electives like floral arrangement, team sport officiating, and turf-grass management. But not for Mexican-American studies, something activists, education groups, and several dozen state lawmakers are pushing to change.

They came out in force for Tuesday's State Board of Education meeting in Austin, urging board members to make the course a state-approved elective for high school students. Districts can currently offer such classes by developing and getting approval for their own "innovative course," but the process can be arduous; state approval would provide a standardized curriculum and textbook, making things much easier.

Their argument seems pretty reasonable. In a state where more than half of public school students are Hispanic, the vast majority of them of Mexican descent, and with Mexican-American leaders having been expunged from the social studies curriculum, it's only fair to give students a chance to learn about their heritage, which also happens to be intertwined with Texas history.

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Garland ISD's Former HR Director Exploited H1-B Visa Program for Cash, Trips to Philippines, Investigators Say

Attorneys outline their investigation into Garland ISD's H1-B visa program.
Until now, there have been only vague hints of improprieties in Garland ISD's H1-B visa program. There was an investigation serious enough to call in the feds, possibly involving foreign teachers paying fees they shouldn't have had to pay, and a bunch of teachers' visas were set to expire.

Today, Garland ISD cleared the air with a press conference detailing the findings of an outside investigation into the program. To quickly summarize: It's all the HR guy's fault.

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