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Dallas Diversity and Inclusion Study

Authors: Patricia Gándara, Gary Orfield
Date Published: December 31, 2020

The Civil Rights Project collaborated with the Southern Methodist University Mission Foods Texas-Mexico Center (and with the Dallas Independent School District) to conduct a case study of several of the DISD schools that were created, expanded or restarted under district leadership, with the purpose of overcoming shrinking enrollment in the midst of the area's major housing development. Researchers studies a transformation, an innovation and a dual-language program to understand how these schools operate, how effective they are in attracting a diversity of students and what kinds of challenges the schools face.
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Dallas, one of the nation’s largest central cities in its most rapidly growing metropolitan areas, has had a shrinking school district in the midst of major housing development. A surge in housing costs since the Great Recession has led to the return of middle class and white families to a number of communities but that has not been reflected in the student population. In response to the challenge of closing more schools and losing out to expanding charters, the DISD leadership decided to create some new schools and restart some older ones with programs designed both to attract new and non-public school families and to offer new choices to the families of color and low income families already in the system. This commitment to quality and diversity is still relatively modest but could hold real promise for both the city’s schools and as a national example of creative leadership. Because of our long-term interest in integration and quality schooling for all students, we decided to work with colleagues at SMU Mission Foods Texas-Mexico Center to do a case study of several of the schools produced by this effort. While the effort is very much a work in progress, this report shows that it can succeed with the right programs and leadership and it deserves further investment by the city, private foundations, and the state and federal governments.


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