The Failure of the McKinney ISD Socio-Economic Policy

The City of McKinney uses the slogan “Unique by Nature” and McKinney Independent School District (MISD) leads Texas with the highest tax rate and the only district in Texas, to utilize use student Socio-Economic status to integrate and balance attendance zones.  While most school district across the United States have stopped forced busing, in favor of options, such as magnet or charter schools, MISD leadership overrides parental choice and dictates which students, typically minority students from poorer neighborhoods, will be forced to ride a bus, rather than walk to their closest neighborhood school.

Ironically, MISD outraged parents in 2004, by closing the districts only exemplary, magnet style school, Act Academy, citing “budget cuts”.

Predictably, the cost of transporting students is high, and increasing rapidly.  Since 2000, MISD transportation cost per student has nearly doubled, from $176 in 2000 to $338 in 2013. In 2013, MISD spent over $2 million more  for transportation, than the average comparable school.

Busing

Over the years, the district adheres to the belief that the policy improves the academic performance of Economically Disadvantaged (ECD) youth.An analysis of the standardized testing data provide by the Texas Education Agency (TEA) proves otherwise. It shows the policy may actually be hurting the academic performance of the minority students, rather than helping.

This graph shows the passing rates of McKinney ECD students compared to comparable non-busing districts, indicates a severe drop-off beginning in 2006, the same year that Boyd High School was opened.

  • ECD Test ResultsThe following graph shows that White MISD students have experienced a drop in academic performance, they have never scored worse than comparable non-busing districts.
  • WhiteThe test passing rates for McKinney Hispanic students has fallen below the Hispanic student average of comparable districts.
  • HispanicIt is clear that the busing policy has done nothing to improve the test scores of  African American students.

Black

Over the years, MISD leadership routinely disregards parental complaints about the policy. In 2008, the Dallas Morning News stated:

 “McKinney school officials should stop talking and start listening. Trustees and Superintendent Tom Crowe need to quit defending the district’s divisive busing plan and listen to the chorus of parents who despise it. The administration recently blew a perfect opportunity to ditch busing, a concept as outdated as disco. The district plans to open a new middle school next fall, its fifth. Instead of returning to neighborhood schools, trustees adopted a new gerrymandered busing map to accommodate the campus. They chose to perpetuate a problem instead of carrying out the will of people who elected them.”

MISD Trustees and Administration adhere to the belief that that busing, leads to academic success for ECD students:

Some officials admitted there were looming problems with Student Redistribution:

Trustees have typically dismissed parents, over their complaints and concerns. In 2005 Kever stated that dealing with transfer requests were too time-consuming noting “If we’re not firm in the boundaries and transfers are something that are easily solicited on the part of the citizenry, you end up spending significant manpower on those types of issues.” Trustee Wade Johnson told parents they should just “deal with” the inconvenience.

Student Redistribution is alive and well in McKinney in 2015:

There are hints, that MISD is aware of the academic shortcomings of their targeted demographic students. In his 2011 dissertation, Daniel Ledbetter, now a vice principal at Evans Middle School concluded that the “academic indicators appear inconclusive” and blamed “lack of academic outcomes” on low enrollment in advanced courses.  This chart shows that MISD does have higher African American students enrolled in the advanced courses. Unfortunately, MISD still has lower passing rates.

Advanced

If the district is aware of the policies shortcomings, they are keeping it quiet. In 2013, they boasted MISD “outperformed state averages”.

It is time for McKinney ISD administration and trustees to stop the policy and the attitude, that was described as “We’re the education experts, and we know what’s best for your kids.”  Although the policy probably did help minority students in the early days, recent history shows no clear evidence that MISD’s pioneering Student Redistribution policy is improving the academic accomplishments of McKinney minority students.

The evidence is clear. It is time to look for new methods of helping the students who are the most needy.

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