While block walking in my neighborhood of Kidd Springs with Giovanni Valderas during his run for Dallas City Council, I met an older gentleman who was sweeping his sidewalk.

I explained who I was and why I was supporting Giovanni’s efforts to build a stronger, safer Oak Cliff by investing in our people and our neighborhoods. We talked about the pressure that rising property taxes were creating on his fixed income budget, and about the large apartment developments that seemed to be coming closer and closer to his small, single family home.

He explained to me that when his family…

From Laura McKieran, a professor of public health and Executive Director of CI:Now.

The Dallas-Fort Worth region — “DFW” for the rest of this post — now has its first official case of community spread.[1] What that means is that as of March 12 there is now proof that COVID-19 has already been being transmitted in DFW among DFW residents with no known risk — no travel or close contact with a known case required.

DFW has 14 official, confirmed cases as of Friday afternoon 3/13: six in Collin County, seven in Dallas County, and one in Tarrant County,[2] with…

Jefferson Boulevard, Photo by Danny Fulgencio

I was invited to speak at a campaign event for Giovanni Valderas, a candidate running to represent Oak Cliff on the Dallas City Council for District One. The following were my remarks.

When I moved to Oak Cliff nearly 18 years ago, the neighborhood was a little different. I was a little different too.

For one, I had hair. I was still in my 20s. I was kidless. And I viewed Oak Cliff not for what it had, but for what it lacked. I thought it lacked restaurants, and coffee shops, and places to get a beer or cocktail. …

Earlier this week I attended a community meeting hosted by my Dallas ISD board trustee to provide information on Propositions A-D that benefit Dallas ISD on the November ballot.

During the meeting a question was raised about the financial efficiency of the district, and whether there were cuts that could be made to the current budget. The trustee stated that the administrative level of the district is higher than surrounding districts, and then pulled up several slides to demonstrate her point.

The trustee focused on the Early Learning department of the Dallas ISD, and questioned the percentage of the Early…

What’s The Deal About School Choice?

We’re having a conversation in our neighborhood this week about picking a public school. The meeting is entitled, “Public School Choice: Navigating Choices Within Dallas ISD”, and I was struck by how the idea of ‘navigating choices’ when it comes to public schools comes with subtext and implicit messages that parents quickly pick up.

Image used by Dallas ISD to market their school choice programs.

The conversation about school choice is largely framed around making public schools more attractive to parents who have the agency to make a choice. And the common perception that drives the need for choice is that many of our traditional…

Margaret B. Henderson Elementary School, Dallas TX

The Texas Education Agency released their first set of ‘A-F’ accountability rankings for school districts and campuses this week. There has been lots of news coverage on the topic, and if you really want to dig in and more deeply understand the rankings you can check out this analysis that the education non-profit I work for created.

There was significant criticism of the proposed rankings before they were released, as many people suspected that the A-F rankings would be simply based on standardized test performance. Lots of research has been done that indicates that too often standardized tests are a…

What Message Are We Sending Our Kids?

In mid-December a call went out from Dallas ISD’s Dade Middle School to men across the city. The school was hosting an event entitled “Breakfast With Dads”, but school officials and event organizers were concerned there may not be enough dads for every student to have a male father figure in attendance, and so they put out a call to the public. The result made national news. The school was looking for 50 men to attend, and nearly 600 showed up to mentor and encourage the students at Dade.

Dallas ISD announced last week that the number of Improvement Required schools in the district has made another significant drop. In the 2015–16 school year the district had 37 IR schools, 21 in 2016–17, and will only have 14 for the 2017–18.

This is not an insignificant achievement. As a comparison, during the same time period, Houston has had 58, 40, and 40 schools on the IR list. But let’s remember that to qualify as an Improvement Required school, you must be in the lowest 5% of schools for academic performance across the entire state of Texas.

So while I…

When I moved to Dallas more than 15 years ago my first apartment was in a little duplex a block off Greenville Avenue, just down from the Blue Goose. I had a friend that lived in the area and he spoke highly of it, so on his recommendation I checked out the area. At first glance it seemed like a great neighborhood — a collection of well loved older homes with sidewalks leading to a collection of shops and restaurants. But it didn’t take long after moving in to feel like something was missing. …

Rob Shearer

Rob is the father of 4 daughters, a proud Dallas ISD parent at Hogg Elementary, and a citizen of Oak Cliff — the best neighborhood in Dallas.

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