The School Zone – Taos

Just before I left Dallas, I ran into a couple of SMU alumni in the ice cream line at SavorDallas. When they learned I was moving to Taos, they asked if I might like to be involved in a project there called The School Zone – Taos, an offshoot of a project that was established by SMU in West Dallas several years ago.

Some months later, with the results of the presidential election dimming the prospects for public education, I decided to become involved.

Taos is a predominantly rural, predominantly low-income community. However, the population includes quite a few people of means who’ve decided to retire here or who are part-time residents. The purpose of The School Zone – Taos (TSZ-T) is to bring to bear some of SMU’s educational resources, along with others in the local community, on the schools, the teachers, and the nonprofit community that works with school-aged children.

What TSZ-T does is foster a strategic approach and collaboration among those groups that are all working to promote success among K-12 students–and then it sets out to measure that success. In Taos, we really need that. So I am bringing my nonprofit organizing skills to bear on this program in the hope that, over time, we can make a significant difference in this community.

 

National Council of Jewish Women

Today marks the beginning of my tenure as executive director of the Greater Dallas section of the National Council of Jewish Women. It’s an unexpected change for me, after having consulted full time for the last seven years, but I have no doubt it’s the right thing for me–and for them– at this point.

NCJW is a very progressive organization that believes in advocacy AND action. For the last 100 years, this chapter has worked on women’s, children’s, and family issues, and, in Dallas certainly, they’ve had a significant impact.

Many of the nonprofits I’ve been familiar with for years–and respected highly–have been spinoffs of NCJW projects: LIFT, for example, and Dallas CASA.

As we all know, women and families have been suffering significant setbacks recently, for a variety of reasons. Although I’ve never worked professionally with a group focusing on social equity, this is the time to do it. I’m confident I can help these remarkable women do what they do even more effectively and efficiently.

NCJW serves the entire community. Their idea of “Jewish values,” as I understand it, is that if there is one person is suffering inequality in a community, the whole community is at risk and so must take action. And I agree. Wish me luck in my new endeavors!

David McCullough Jr.’s Extraordinary Exhortation to a Graduating High School Class

David McCullough Jr. Speech to Graduating High School Students

“We have of late, we Americans, to our detriment, come to love accolades more than genuine achievement.  We have come to see them as the point and we’re happy to compromise standards or ignore reality if we suspect that’s the quickest way, or only way, to have something to put on the mantelpiece, something to pose with, crow about, something with which to leverage ourselves into a better spot on the social totem pole.”

This is an extraordinary high-school commencement speech. It’s about selflessness.