Dallas Considers Uplift Bonds | KERA News

Dallas Considers Uplift Bonds

Feb 6, 2012

Some Dallas teachers and city council members are challenging a plan to create a city-sponsored non-profit that would help a charter school. KERA’s Bill Zeeble reports on questions city leaders want answered about Uplift Education.

Uplift Education wants Dallas to form a non-profit corporation so the city can authorize bond sales of up to $85 million for Uplift school construction at low interest rates.

Rena Honea, president of Alliance/AFT, Dallas’ largest teacher group, worries the move is more about money than education. She says Uplift wants to open a school in Deep Ellum, adjacent to bars and night clubs.

Honea: To have a school, with young impressionable minds right in the middle of those bars, questions “Is it really for the goodness of the students, or is it a land thing, they’re trying to get hold of a good piece of property at a low interest rate?”

Honea fears Uplift could flip the property for a nice profit then build a school elsewhere. She also wants more public input on this plan before the city council votes on it. So does council woman Carolyn Davis, who says she has nothing against the charter operation, but questions Uplift’s accountability. It lacks elected officials.

Davis: A public school trustee, you can hold someone accountable. If the parents have a question or concern, Mr. Chair, they can go to the board of education. I’m a public school supporter. I think we have to strengthen DISD.

Uplift Education says it, too, is a public school, by state law. But Alliance AFT’s David Lee says there are differences between Uplift and DISD.

Lee: If students don’t perform or parents don’t stay involved, then those students end up back in DISD, and they’re replaced.

Lee says the charter operation competes with DISD, and city leaders should not be taking sides by helping Uplift. But the Dallas Economic Development Committee says creating the non-profit just aids an effective public school. The item comes up before Dallas City council Wednesday.