I’m doing something right now that I never imagined I’d be doing. I’m camped out with a dozen other parents in front of Plano ISD Headquarters, waiting for the doors to open tomorrow morning at 7:30am so I can transfer my daughter into a good kindergarden.
You see, Plano, in spite of being one of the richest cities in the country, has some really bad elementary schools. And my house is about 100 yards on the wrong side of a wrong line. We’re on the very corner of the district attached to Weatherford Elementary. Here’s what Weatherford looks like:
Now I’m sure any family living in Dallas ISD would kill to have a Recognized school for their children, but when you know Plano has so many Exemplary schools that have outstanding education programs, Recognized doesn’t cut it.
The school right across the street from us is Hightower Elementary:
It sits there, taunting us, completely unobtainable. Most the Exemplary schools in Plano are already closed to transfer, so the war for parents is to escape to some of the few remaining Exemplary elementary schools.
The following breakdown shows the challenge Plano ISD is facing:
The troubled Weathford is >50% economically disadvantaged. This is stunning for Plano, Texas. And even at an elementary school level, nearly 50% of the students are “at-risk”, meaning there is a high probability the child will drop out of school before completion.
The staff of Weatherford is spending their time encouraging kids from dropping out of school; academics is a hard target to hit. Contrast this with Hightower, where the exemplary rating in so many areas demonstrates their ability to focus on academics instead of the peripheral issues.
So here I sit, one of those crazy parents camping out for the night to try to get my daughter into a good school. Plano is only going to get worse, and this same problem will keep creeping north into Frisco and Allen.
I don’t know the solution. Every parent wants to do the best for their child, but what happens when the other guy’s drive to do the best for their child ends up dragging down your child? Dallas’s solution to this is a vast network of very good private schools. Those with money ensure their children get the best education possible, and those without suffer through with the public schools.
The problem is effectively a two-tier system, with children graduating from public schools in Dallas being woefully underprepared for the future compared to the private school kids. I’d like to think we could come up with an education system where every child has the opportunity to excel and do their best, but I don’t know what it is.