• November 13, 2019

TEXAS VIEW: Major donors support Dallas schools after tornados - Odessa American: Texas Opinion

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TEXAS VIEW: Major donors support Dallas schools after tornados

THE POINT: This should encourage donors to seek out schools to support through capital campaigns.

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Posted: Thursday, November 7, 2019 3:00 am

We know Dallas is a generous city. But it’s also a thoughtful city, and money usually flows where donors believe it will do the most good.

That’s why we have been so heartened to see the philanthropy of individuals, foundations and corporations flow to Dallas ISD in the aftermath of the tornadoes on Oct. 20 that wiped out homes and businesses and destroyed three important public schools: Thomas Jefferson High School, Cary Middle School and Walnut Hill Elementary.

So far, we have seen $1.6 million in major donations flow to the Dallas Education Foundation, including $1.1 million from Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban. That doesn’t include $1 million Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones gave directly to Thomas Jefferson for the construction of a new football field. Together, Cuban and Jones account for more than 80% of all major donations so far, and the city should be grateful to both of them.

We are also encouraged and grateful to see other donors jump in, and we want to list them here. Southwest Airlines, Wells Fargo, Toyota, Santander Consumer, PNC Bank, HEB Central Market, Atmos Energy, Reliant Energy, Texas Instruments Foundation, Microsoft, the Lyda Hill Foundation and the Hawn Foundation.

All of these have stepped forward with significant donations to the district.

To us, that spells confidence in DISD and in the reborn Dallas Education Foundation that we hope other donors will match.

DISD didn’t always have the trust that it would do what is best, and the struggles of the Dallas Education Foundation over the years reflected that. But through the enactment of serious and effective reforms, especially the Teacher Excellence Initiative, that trust is being re-earned.

While unrestricted donations like many of those received already are often easiest for the district to manage, we also want to encourage the Education Foundation to make it simple for donors to create and support capital campaigns for specific campuses.

It should also be a top priority of the district and of Dallas as a whole to rebuild Thomas Jefferson as a signature campus that stands as an emblem of the best of public education. The physical structure, its beauty and its endurance, should suggest the seriousness with which our city approaches the education of our children.

This sense should infuse all philanthropy towards the district and encourage donors to seek out schools to support through capital campaigns. If a single donor can build a new ballfield or supply a science lab, it will free up district funds down the line for operations. We ought to make sure donors have a simple way to do that. We would love to see a day when every amenity carries the name of a DISD grad who paid for it.

That’s probably wishful thinking. But it’s not pie-in-the-sky to say people want to give back to our schools, whether they went to them or not.

We have seen it already. And, as this town’s newspaper, we thank those who have shown they care deeply about the future of Dallas and its children by writing checks that will make a difference in where and how these kids learn.

DISD deserves this generosity. Let’s keep it coming.

Odessa, TX

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