The Commit partnership, an education philanthropy that works in Dallas schools, released its annual scorecard on Tuesday night, with hard numbers about how students in the region are faring. The data cover pre-kindergarten through college graduation, and show a mixed progress report.
The Commit executive director Todd Williams led off the presentation of this year’s numbers with graphs and stats showing that students are doing better in math and science in fourth and eighth grade, and worse at being ready for college and staying in college.
“We’re not here to admire the size of the problem,” he said, but rather focus on creating a sense of urgency in focusing on the most glaring gaps.
He and dozens of others addressed educators and philanthropists at the Dallas City Performance Hall Tuesday night.
When Commit started working in Dallas schools three years ago, their first goal was to measure how students were doing. The poverty and racial inequality in the results has been striking to him and many of the Commit partner philanthropies.
Focus On The Little Ones
This biggest takeaway from the data was in favor of early education.
Susan Hoff, chief strategy and operating officer of the United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, was one of many speakers who called on the Texas state legislature to give every kid a full-day of pre-kindergarten.
“Each dollar that we invest before a child enters kindergarten returns seven times that through better grade progression,” she said, citing the seminal study by Nobel-prize winning economist James Heckman of the returns to early education.
The study found that early childhood education correlated with higher levels of employment, less dependence on state welfare services, and less involvement with the criminal justice system.
When Apathy Is The Enemy
Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings asked people to simply care more about the city’s kids and schools. Apathy got us to this point, he said.
“We were, in many ways creating a death spiral between the haves and have-nots in this city, for those that didn’t have education," Rawlings said.
The mayor said his motto for the city’s schools is “no excuses, no whining.”