News for North Texas
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Dallas School District's Pre-K Engineer Is Leaving

Bill Zeeble
Dallas ISD's and Alan Cohen's goal is to put a lot more Dallas kids in qualified pre-kindergarten programs. "We know it'll change lives."

Dallas schools’ early childhood program superintendent confirmed his surprise departure today. Alan Cohen’s been an important player in the district’s pre-k initiative, earning the praise of many. He spoke about his impending departure.

Among the first things Alan Cohen makes clear - he’s still on the job, he’s still overseeing the district’s early childhood efforts.

“I’m proud of my ability to build, but sometimes, a different voice can really take something to the next level,” Cohen says.  

The Assistant Superintendent for Early Childhood and Community Partnerships calls himself a build-it guy. When he arrived a few years ago, pre-k enrollment was low. So he helped create the district’s early childhood expansion and saw enrollment grow almost 15%. That won him praise.

“If you spend any time around 3 and 4 year olds,” Cohen says, “you know that children of this age are incapable or not learning. They are just incapable of not learning.  We have this opportunity to put the right stimulus around children that’s really going to set the foundation for success, and we see it.”  

Cohen wasn’t ready to talk about why he’s leaving. He says his next job will  keep him in education and in north Texas. Meanwhile, Dallas schools spokesman Andre Riley says the district remains committed to early childhood programs.

”We want to continue to get kids ready before they enter kindergarten, to make sure they’re reading at grade level, that they’re thinking at grade level. Because evidence shows that when kids begin school on grade level they stand a much greater chance of success,” Riley says.

A Dallas schools memo says Cohen will stay another month. Cohen says he wants to stay long enough to help identify his replacement. 

Bill Zeeble has been a full-time reporter at KERA since 1992, covering everything from medicine to the Mavericks and education to environmental issues.