DISD Focuses on Parents and Young Kids for Two-Generation Strategy to Reduce Poverty

The two-generation system pushes at-home learning, parental education and early childhood education as a method to get families out of the cycle of poverty.
In Dallas ISD, early childhood education has been a major push in the last year. It's a move that administrators believe could one day in the future lower soaring poverty rates in a district where free and reduced lunch rates have steadily creeped toward 90 percent in recent years, and nearly 87 percent of students are classified as economically disadvantaged.

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A Duncanville Teacher Tweeted That "Dumb Duck Ass Crackers" Should Kill Themselves

Vinita Hegwood, a Duncanville High School English teacher, has some strong opinions about white people, especially as it relates to what's happened in Ferguson, Missouri. Friday night, she decided to share some of them.

"Who the fuck made you dumb duck ass crackers think I give a squat fuck about your opinions about my opinions Re: #Ferguson," she Tweeted, ignoring the grammar rules she's no doubt been dutifully teaching her students this fall. Then, her kicker: "Kill yourselves."

The firestorm was immediate. Conservative Twitter spread her tweet far and wide, calling for Hegwood's resignation. Sunday night, Duncanville ISD issued a statement.

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Dallas' Mata Elementary Has a Frighteningly Large Dungeon

It's far too early to render judgment on Superintendent Mike Miles' school-choice initiative. Eventually, he wants to open nearly three dozen specialized campuses that offer an alternative to neighborhood schools but aren't as selective as magnets. Thus far, he's opened just one: Mata Montessori, just south of White Rock Lake.

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To Keep Guns Off Campus, School Cops Count on Students and Social Media

Joe Mabel
Dallas ISD police have not seized any weapons so far this year. But how much of that is due to increasingly angelic students, and how much to kids failing to report when they see a peer with a weapon?

When it comes to reporting weapons in schools, kids are often each others' best watchdogs. In light of the recent Washington high school shooting, and the school shootings in recent years at Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech and Columbine, police departments across the country are constantly brainstorming new ways to decrease the likelihood of violent events occurring on school grounds.

Researchers at UT-Dallas compiled specific data concerning how, when and why students report seeing weapons in school. According to the study, 34 percent of students anonymously report seeing a weapon of some sort on campus sometime in the last three months.

"That number was higher than we expected," concedes Dr. Nadine Connell, one of the authors of the study. "But the flip side was on average over 90 percent reported being willing to tell someone about that. They're not ignoring it; they're not taking it on as their own responsibility."

In Dallas ISD, Police Chief Craig Miller says campus security depends on students coming forward when they see a potentially dangerous situation. "What would happen, and it's not unusual, is if social media or a friend told us someone had a weapon, we would discreetly confront or try to ascertain whether that was correct," he says.

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Gender-Neutral Restrooms Open at UNT

Are you male? Female? Both? Neither? Somewhere in between? Use this restroom.

On Friday, UNT officially began making its students' daily bodily activities a little less uncomfortable, with the opening of several gender-neutral restrooms on campus. The move comes as part of the yearlong push by the university to combat campus discrimination. The school has committed $100,000 toward building gender-neutral restrooms. Restrooms already exist in dormitories, but will now expand to public buildings.

"UNT being a state school, this is all an initiative driven by the student body in the last five years," says Oliver Blumer, who is on the board of directors for the Transgender Education Network of Texas.

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Fired DISD Employee Tried to Clean Up the Corrupt Athletics Department and Was Ignored

Troy Causey
Well before Wilmer-Hutchins High School basketball standout Troy Causey was beaten to death by a friend and on-court rival after being improperly recruited from Richardson ISD, it was clear to anyone paying attention that Dallas ISD's athletic department was rotten. Superintendent Mike Miles' subsequent house-cleaning was greeted as a righteous, if belated, step toward reform.

Among the 15 people who were fired, former athletic compliance director Anita Connally is the outlier, as DISD itself has admitted.

"Certainly she wasn't part of the problem. No one is suggesting that. Her job is compliance," Carlos Lopez, an attorney representing DISD during Connally's recent appeals hearing, told The Dallas Morning News. "The question is did she do that properly. Did she do that with the fervor that the administration thinks you need for that [position]? No."

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Dallas Parents Keeping Kids Home from School, and "Wondering How Much to Freak Out"

Emily Mathis
One student at Conrad High School has been possibly exposed to the ebola virus. Many parents kept their kids home from Conrad, and other DISD schools yesterday.
As a rule, high school sucks. Now imagine going to high school thinking you could get infected with one of the most deadly viruses known to man.

There are a few caveats to that, of course. One, ebola is not nearly as deadly as we like to think -- far more people are killed by, say, the common flu every year than by ebola. Two, the chances of anyone at these schools becoming exposed to the virus is almost absurdly miniscule.

See also: Dallas ISD Puts Parents on High Alert for Ebola Symptoms as CDC Monitors Five Students

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Dallas ISD Puts Parents on High Alert for Ebola Symptoms as CDC Monitors Five Students

Google Maps
At least one student at Emmett Conrad High School has been exposed to Ebola.
Early this morning, Dallas ISD received word from the Centers for Disease Control that five district students have been exposed to the Ebola virus. The students attend Emmett Conrad High School, Sam Tasby Middle School, Dan Rogers Elementary, and Hotchkiss Elementary. Jack Lowe Elementary, which is located close to Tasby and Conrad High, is also being closely monitored.

See also: Ebola Has Landed in Dallas

The five students have been identified as within the patient's immediate family circle. They are being kept at home for the 21-day incubation cycle of the virus, but are not being quarantined. While CDC and local health officials are in close interaction with the families, they will be allowed to leave their homes until or if they exhibit symptoms.

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Dallas ISD Prioritizes Pre-K (Just Don't Ask How They'll Pay For It)

Kids who receive pre-K education are less likely to end up in jail or on welfare, and more likely to graduate high school and get into college.

"Universal pre-K" is the universal mantra of every school board member and education official in the city. It's the elusive idea that all future, predominantly poor, kids in Dallas ISD will have gone through an aggressive early childhood education program, and that earlier exposure to vocabulary and learning will put DISD kids on a more even playing field with more privileged children.

A new reportfrom the Houston-based non-profit Children At Risk points to the importance of early childhood education in preventing later academic struggles. The study focused on several districts, foremost among them Dallas ISD, and drew attention to the district's financial prioritization of pre-K. Representatives of Children At Risk, along with Mayor Mike Rawlings, will be speaking in Dallas today to release the report and discuss continued efforts to expand pre-K education in Dallas.

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How Do We Determine What Books Are and Are Not Appropriate For Kids?

Joe Crawford
Should parents have a say in what classroom books their kids read? Actually, probably not.

Highland Park ISD announced at the end of last week that it would be suspending seven books from the high school reading list: Herman Hesse's Siddhartha, Garth Stein's The Art of Racing in the Rain, John Green's An Abundance of Katherines, Toni Morrison's Song of Solomon, Sherman Alexie's The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, David K. Shipler's The Working Poor: Invisible in America and Jeannette Walls' The Glass Castle.

See also: Highland Park ISD Bans Books Because Sex

The books were removed after parents decried the books over the last several months. Many object to the books on the grounds that they are not age-appropriate for high school kids. In a letter sent out to parents in May, HPHS Principal Walter Kelly defended the selections, saying the school works to "meet the developmentally appropriate balance of challenging our students' thinking while upholding community values and standards." Now, it seems the district is more anxious to brush the controversial selections under the rug, rather than defend them to angry parents.

Still, the books' inclusion in school curriculum raises the question: How do teachers, parents, publishers, writers, and students determine whether or not a book is "developmentally appropriate?"

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