Dallas ISD has a long, strange history of problems. From the credit card scandal, the fake Social Security number scandal, last summer’s drop-in-the-bucket $86,000 Chick-Fil-A issue, and now this story about a movie theater field trip that cost taxpayers $57,000 (and excluded the girls to boot). Is it any wonder Michael Hinojosa left for greener pastures?
So, taxpayers paid for about 5000 movie tickets, to send fifth-graders to see the World War II film Red Tails. The money came from Title I federal funds for disadvantaged kids, and state and federal investigators are now trying to determine if the trip violated anti-discrimination laws. Emails obtained by the Dallas Morning News (behind pay wall) show that school principals had an actual discussion about whether Red Tails was appropriate for both boys and girls – but they never disagreed about spending federal money for the trip. That money, incidentally, is earmarked to be spent on an early childhood initiative for disadvantaged kids. I somehow doubt that sending fifth-grade boys to the movies for an afternoon is what that means.
Excluding girls from the trip may be a Title IX violation. Spending the money for something this frivolous aside for a moment, it is at least disconcerting that public educators in the 21st century really think that segregating boys and girls like that is appropriate. The reason Red Tails was chosen is because it is a film about the Tuskogee Airmen. It’s a movie about overcoming discrimination, and the officials in Dallas ISD clearly thought it would be a great supplemental tool for teaching kids about World War II. But apparently they don’t necessarily believe girls deserve that same consideration in their education. I’d sure like to know what the girls were doing back in the classroom to supplement their own education – but then, with 5000 boys descending on the Mesquite theater, maybe there weren’t any educators back at the schools to take care of them.
By the way, a district spokesman says that girls weren’t included because there were not enough seats at the theater. Yeah. I’ll let you think about that one.
Okay, now, the money. $57,000 out of a $300,000 fund that is meant for early childhood education. It is things like this that completely undermine the district’s plea for money when budgets are tight. They are given grants and special considerations for the disadvantaged kids in their care, and instead of focusing on the classroom, instead of ensuring that the money they are given is used as it was intended, they throw the money away. If Red Tails was a good tool for education, why not wait for the DVD to come out and show it in class? Why not contact the film company about organizing special viewings in the school cafeterias or auditoriums? Either option would have cost much less, and that money could have gone for early childhood education as it was intended.
Dallas ISD repeatedly fails when it comes to good stewardship of your money, and now they’ve gone further and failed to prove they understand the basic mission of education. I don’t know about you, but it gives me heartburn to think that Dallas ISD is suing the state over school finance (contending that the state fails to provide adequate funding!). It makes me sick to know that this time next year, Dallas ISD will have taxpayer-funded lobbyists begging for greater funding and threatening voters with teacher lay-offs if they don’t get their way. This school district is the poster child for why we must be diligent. Dallas ISD fails students and taxpayers repeatedly and far too often.