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Dallas ISD's 'State Of The District' Showcases Urban School Success

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - Dallas ISD is back with its annual State of the District, an event that is part celebration, part report card for the community, but also a plea for North Texans to rethink what's possible in urban public schools.

"People used to have low expectations of us," said Superintendent Michael Hinojosa to the enthusiastic crowd of DISD staffers, elected officials, business leaders and community members, "and they didn't think we could be successful. I take it personally."

Hinojosa, who was educated in Dallas ISD schools and spent much of his professional career in the district, has always worn his Oak Cliff upbringing proudly, but shares that often families will visit a successful DISD campus but then "turn around" when they see the black and brown faces.

"You can get a great education in Dallas," says Hinojosa, "but you've got to get over race and class."

The event showcases successful programs within the district, provides a brief overview of plans to address challenges, but mostly just reinforces that there's still much to be proud of in Dallas public schools, regarding innovation and students.

From the music to the speakers to the expertly prepared center pieces on the table, compliments of the floral design program at Skyline High School, student success stories were on display.

"Some people are surprised that 'oh, you're not in private school? or in a suburban district', and I'm like no, I'm in DISD," says Lily Lane.

Lane is a student as the School of Health Professions at Yvonne A. Ewell Townview Center.

She plans to become a pediatric cardiothoracic surgeon.

"I'm very proud of my school," shared Lane, "and they've given us opportunities that not a lot of schools have."

District leaders acknowledged the devastating impact of COVID-19 on academic progress, but also spoke confidently of innovative programs, like alternative school calendars that provide more instruction time, to summer learning opportunities that they say is helping students regain lost ground faster.

"Nobody wants a whiner," said Hinojosa when taking questions from reporters following the event, "they want a problem solver and we've got to solve these problems because our community is depending on us."

The State of the District will be the retiring superintendent's last, and the emotion was at times evident. Still, he remained coy about future plans.

"Right now, I've got to land this plane safely," he shared with a chuckle, "and then figure out what else I'm gonna fly."

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