Sitdown with Commit2Dallas Members

May 22, 2012 § Leave a comment

This post was written on May 6. It addresses a new education initiative called Commit2Dallas.

Two weeks ago, I attended an event called Rise Up presented by the Urban League of Greater Dallas Young Professionals (ULGDYP) at the University of North Texas at Dallas. The event, which which targeted high school students “from underrepresented ethnic and economic background,” promoted the importance of education, college enrollment, and public image. I attended the event, among other reasons, to sit down with Jonathon Feinstein, a core member in the new initiative called Commit!

When Mayor Rawlings ran, apart of his platform was to improve public education. When the mayor was told about the Commit! effort following his election, he elected to get behind it as a partner as did several other entities.

I know Dallas citizens, including myself, are weary of any more efforts to “fix” public education but the group is like something the city has to experience.

Commit!’s stated goal according their website is “a collaborative of Dallas area stakeholders who are both highly committed to the transformative power of education and who are willing to work together with mutual accountability to ensure that all students graduate and succeed in college and/or the global work force.”

That didn’t say much for me so I decided to dig a little deeper and speak with Feinstein and the executive director, Todd Williams.

Feinstein: Non-profit leaders looked at Dallas and decided to start from a place of learning. Dallas’ struggles are not unique and other areas like Boston, L.A. and Cincinnati  have experienced similar problems. Commit! will act as an infrastructure to link all the districts for collaboration.

Commit! follows an emerging national model for creating systemic change called “collective impact”–a separate ‘backbone’ organization to increase the collective capacity and coordination of an entire field.

Commit! has the image of an micro-management firm but Feinstein assured me this is far from the truth. “Our job is not to micro-manage. First and foremost we want to bring attention to [the education] challenges facing this country,” stated Feinstein. Commit! will be a collaborative action network and serve as a hub to link early-childhood providers, primary and secondary schools along with high schools and colleges together to share information that would be beneficial to all the districts.

Feinstein: We have 1500 early-childhood providers. How are they able to prove the value of their programs if they can’t view the outcome of the student as they enter school? The data isn’t being shared between the providers and school districts.

The group will not be meddling with or creating policies or programs either. “It’s about practice–not program. What are they doing differently that we should be learning.” says Feinstein commenting on schools learning from successful schools.

While there are no updates on the governing council yet, Williams informed me it would be “representative of various institutions from K-12, higher ed, early childhood, non-profit, business, parents and foundational community.”

Lastly, if you or anyone you know is interested in playing a hand in helping Commit!, the organization is still looking for volunteers and partners. That process will start later this summer.

I invite you to join the conversation and subscribe to Minds Alike, follow me @BAdetiba, or e-mail me at BabAdetiba@gmail.com

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