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Gov. Greg Abbott on Monday appointed Dallas Independent School District Trustee Mike Morath to be the next Education Commissioner of Texas. Referring to Morath as a “proven educational reformer,” Abbott applauded the progress DISD has made in large part to Morath’s innovative leadership.

State Sen. Van Taylor (R-Plano) praised Abbott’s appointment:

“Mike Morath has proven himself a thoughtful reformer capable of tackling the challenges in our public education system,” stated Taylor. “Mike understands the success of our education system should center on our children and equipping them with the knowledge needed to pursue their dreams.”

DISD previously earned an unfortunate reputation for being the lowest performing urban school district in Texas. But over the last several years, things have begun to change for the better.

Sources inside the district confirmed that internal accountability data based on metrics tied to student achievement have improved dramatically in recent years.

Morath has been an articulate, persuasive voice on the DISD board. As a reformer challenging the status quo, his ideas have drawn both scorn and praise. Most importantly, he’s articulated a vision that has shifted the board’s focus towards raising student achievement and improving educational outcomes.

In addition to adopting a merit-based pay system for teachers, DISD is expanding intra-district school choice for parents. Although many schools districts already allow for open enrollment that allows parents their choice of campus, DISD is also offering “choice programs” that include both differing campus-wide educational models and a variety of programs within a single school.

The district plans on having thirty-five new open-enrollment campuses by 2020.

Morath’s appointment will place him inside a politicalized government education system that’s been institutionally resistant to change. Based on the self-imposed standard Morath set during his tenure at DISD, his success will be defined by pioneering reforms that result in rising student achievement statewide.

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