Editor’s note: This editorial is written by Eric Hale, a kinder and 1st grade self-contained teacher at a Dallas Independent School District elementary campus. He is a Teach Plus DFW Teaching Policy Fellow and a father to a child in the district.
On Election Day, voters will have the chance to invest an additional 13 cents of property taxes in Dallas schools through a Tax Ratification Election (TRE). The TRE (proposition C at the bottom of the ballot) will provide our schools with the investment that they need to ensure that Dallas ISD can maintain opportunities for early learning, increase teacher and staff pay, and protect against budget cuts due to the state’s “Robin Hood” system. I will be casting my vote in support of Dallas’ kids.
I support the TRE, not only as a Dallas ISD Distinguished Teacher, but as a black man who knows the struggles of growing up poor. I know the hunger pains of going to bed on an empty stomach and dreaming about free school meals. I know from personal experience how hard it is to focus in class while enduring abuse and neglect the other 16 hours of the day. Sadly, my story is no different than that of many of my students. Because of the district’s demographics, many of the students in Dallas navigate a minefield in their home and in their neighborhood before they even step foot into their school. The untold stories of neglect and heartbreak that many Dallas ISD students face are only overshadowed by their grit, determination, and perseverance in fighting to break the generational chains of poverty.
Education is the key used to unlock the mind that allows our children to dream, plan, and achieve their goals. Like a good cook, DISD has found the right recipe for success with ingredients like investments in great teachers, support for the highest-need campuses, full-day Pre-K, dual language, science and technology education, and innovative school models.
As a teacher, I know how hard school communities in our district are fighting for the lives and futures of their students. Shouldn’t we be fighting for them also? Your vote for the TRE will provide Dallas ISD the funding needed to continue to change the odds for current and future students.
Here is what these 13 cents will get for our students and our school communities:
- Early Learning: Research shows that providing high quality pre-K programs can have a lasting effect on student success. DISD would use TRE funds to build on DISD’s successful pre-K effort and develop the building blocks of learning through pre-K.
- Teacher and Staff Pay: In order to provide DISD students with the education they deserve, we need to attract and retain outstanding teachers, including providing them with the salaries they deserve. If the TRE passes, DISD plans to spend a portion of the funds on teacher and staff pay increases.
- Innovative Schools: DISD is attracting students and providing them with schools to fit their unique needs and interests. DISD plans to use some TRE funds to expand choice schools — like the successful SOLAR Prep — in the district.
The funding will also help to avoid significant budget cuts and layoffs. Due to the state’s “Robin Hood” system, DISD will have to send funds to the state to pay for property-poor districts. Without a TRE, DISD could face significant budget cuts and layoffs, reversing our trajectory of success and putting our most vulnerable students at further risk.
Economic growth and public education walk hand in hand. An educated local workforce is critical in attracting new business and companies to plant financial roots in the DFW. A vote for proposition C is not only a vote for premier educational experiences for Dallas students, but also a vote for the Dallas economy and its continued growth and job creation. Vote for the future of Dallas by voting for proposition C this November.