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Dallas Mayoral Candidates Get Education Advice

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By BJ Austin, KERA News

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/kera/local-kera-967113.mp3

Dallas, TX – Dallas' mayor has no authority over the school district but each of the four candidates for the office say education is a major campaign issue. What could the next Dallas mayor do to improve schools? KERA's BJ Austin asked a former mayor and school board members for their ideas.

Former Dallas School Board member Roxann Staff says the Mayor of Dallas could help students achieve by doing his job. She says too many students live in sub-standard apartment complexes where there's high crime. She says conditions outside the classroom affect performance inside.

John Dodd, a former suburban Mayor and former Dallas School Board President says there's a lot the Mayor of Dallas could do.

Dodd: Have a summit where the city council and the school board sit down at a retreat and say how can we make education better for our common citizens, our common voter. How can we use infrastructure? Instead of building two gyms, how can we use the city gym. How can we better use our libraries.

Dodd says the city and school district could even share employees in certain situations: such as after school programs or summer camps in city recreation centers. Dodd says don't duplicate, cooperate.

Edwin Flores is a current Dallas School Board member. He would like to see the new Dallas Mayor enter into a "compact" with the local Chambers of Commerce to get involved in schools. And he recommends the Mayor issue an annual citywide report card for all schools in Dallas -- public and charter.

Flores: What is the academic achievement? Is there a ranking, one place where once a year they could say hey, this is how these schools are doing, and these are great schools, or these schools need help. Maybe we could get more mentors. We could get people to go volunteer at the schools.

Flores says the Mayor is the only citywide elected official, and the appropriate one to rally support for Dallas schools.

We've posted new videos of the candidates talking about this issue on the Voters Voice page at KERA.org.

Email BJ Austin