After attending the Meet and Greet for new Cobb school Superintendent Dr. Michael Hinojosa at Sprayberry High School on June 2, I decided to conduct my own online search of Hinojosa, checking the accuracy of his comments as well as those in recent news articles. After an extensive search, I was pleasantly surprised at his honesty, qualifications, achievements and commitment to education.
Here are a few facts I discovered:
* Hinojosa graduated from Texas Tech University with a 4.0 GPA.
* When Hinojosa was superintendent for the Hayes School district, he had the Hayes High Rebels' Confederate Battle flag removed as their school symbol.
* He believes students should graduate ready to compete globally and become academically literate in two languages, learning English as non-negotiable. Some Dallas 5th graders are already trilingual.
* A budgetary scandal occurred during Hinojosa's first year involving his administrative staff using district credit cards and car allowances for personal gain. Does that sound familiar to those who watch our own state government's scandals?
* In 2004, a yearD to stop making up Social Security numbers for foreign-born hires. After the budget scandal in 2005-06, Hinojosa created the Office of Professional Responsibility, led by retired IRS agents. The practice was stopped and the problem was cleared up.
* Hinojosa did hire teachers from various countries when he had a severe teacher shortage. So did the Marietta schools. In Marietta, they were called the "International Visiting Faculty." In Marietta, they were the first teachers to be laid off when their budget crisis hit.
* In 2005, after the budget scandal, Hinojosa successfully led the Dallas District in absorbing thousands of students from the cash-strapped Wilmer-Hutchins School District and a month later absorbed thousands more from the hurricane-battered Gulf Coast.e was able to accomplish this and still stay under budget.
* The reason the DISD is in budgetary crisis now is because the state severely cut school funding for the 2011-12 school.
* Hinojosa did not share the current DISD ACT and SAT scores at the meeting and I could not find them online. For 2008, they were quite low at 17.2 and 855 respectively, much lower than CCSD scores.
But there are other academic markers that should be looked at when determining if a school district is educating its children and improving its schools each year. Seven thousand students will graduate from Dallas schools this year.The DISD made the College Board of Advanced Placement Achievement List for making significant gains in AP Classes and student performance. Under Hinojosa's leadership the number of students taking AP Classes increased from 4,883 to 6,319. The students scoring three or more on AP tests improved by 25 percent. College ready students grew from 20 percent in 2005 to 35 percent in 2010. Academically unacceptable schools in Dallas declined from 27 percent in 2007 to 15 percent in 2010 and Exemplary schools increased from 14 percent in 2007 to 66 percent in 2010. The Dallas District has the top magnet schools in the nation. In 2010, USA Today voted the Dallas Independent Talented and Gifted High School top in the nation.
* Hinojosa was not a fan of charter schools for the DISD, but when the school board wanted them, he began the process of implementing their directive and developing a plan. He visited several other cities to study their charter schools.
Is Hinojosa perfect? No. Some in Dallas say "he is not known for politicking, schmoozing or coalescing opposing forces." They say he doesn't always communicate well with the public. But Hinojosa did say at the Meet and Greet he would implement what the board directs and is willing to work with community groups, students, teachers and others. I like the idea of him visiting schools unannounced, getting an unfiltered look at what is going on in the "field." Aren't these attributes the public has been seeking in a superintendent for a long time?