Dr. Michael Hinojosa, who served as the superintendent of the Dallas Independent School District from 2005-2011 and again since 2015, is expected to soon announce his intent to retire—perhaps as early as tomorrow, according to three sources with knowledge of his plans.
That’s the news. (Hinojosa would apparently stay on until a successor is named; he did not respond to a text seeking comment on Wednesday. This post will be updated if he does.) Maybe he announces this tomorrow, maybe he puts it off a day or a week when he sees this post because, why not, that’s the sort of petty thing I would do. But the date isn’t important. What is important: What happens next to Hinojosa, and what happens next to DISD?
For Hinojosa, two of those same sources and one other confirm he has long been considering a run for Dallas mayor. This has been the political scuttlebutt for weeks now. This announcement will allow Hinojosa the freedom to talk openly with representatives from various constituencies—big money business guys, the Black preacher network, and Hispanic political leadership—about his mayoral and fundraising prospects. He’s well liked and trusted by each of those groups. He’s a very nice guy but has a not-small ego. (Necessary for the job, fwiw.) I’d be surprised if he doesn’t run.
Hinojosa’s prospects—that’s another story. For one, he is rumored to have hired the consultant Anna Casey, who ran Scott Griggs’ bid for mayor as well as City Council campaigns for folks like Angela Hunt, Philip Kingston, and Omar Narvaez. Okay.
For two, people tend to vote for a mayor who has a strong, confident persona. That’s not Hinojosa. That’s Eric Johnson. If you don’t buy that logic, fine. Just know it’s tough to beat an incumbent. And the fence-mending Johnson has done in recent months with former Council adversaries will help him against Hinojosa or any other challenger.
For DISD, this is a crossroads moment. We’ve seen how quickly reform-minded, results-driven school districts can come undone by nutjobs attacking made-up enemies like critical race theory or “corporate school reform.” See Southlake, see Richardson, see examples all over the country. Dallas has stood its ground admirably against these forces. But just as a school’s success is quite dependent on the quality of its principal, so too is a district’s success dependent on having a sane superintendent with a strong spine.
Which brings me to the obvious choice for Hinojosa’s logical successor: His No. 2, deputy superintendent Susana Cordova. Cordova has education chops. She has 30 years of experience teaching and leading at the elementary, middle, and high school levels. She was superintendent of a reform-minded school district in Denver. Why did she come here to be No. 2? As Cordova told Dallas Morning News columnist Sharon Grigsby (who also sees her as a natural Hinojosa successor), a part of the reason is because Dallas ISD is more diverse. But you have to think she also knew the reform efforts in Denver would be at risk when teacher-union stooges eventually took over the school board.
Cordova could stand up to the coming wave of fringe loudmouths who have helped determine elections in other North Texas districts. She could continue Hinojosa’s legacy of building on programs started under Mike Miles that have led to improved student outcomes (pre-pandemic) for the poor Black and Latino kids in DISD.
She would take the sting out of Hinojosa’s retirement announcement—whenever that may be.