The Dallas Morning News

Henry for Dallas ISD District 9


Dallas ISD board president Justin Henry is defending his District 9 seat against first-time candidate Ulana Sigler. Henry is by far the better choice for the southern Dallas district.

Henry, 39, is an attorney and former Los Angeles middle-school teacher with two children in DISD schools. He was elected to office in 2018 after he defeated longtime trustee Bernadette Nutall. His colleagues on the DISD board of trustees have recognized his leadership abilities and voted him president two years in a row.

DISD faces the daunting challenge of getting students to overcome profound learning losses stemming from pandemic disruption­s. District assessment­s last fall showed that half of all its students have experience­d slides in math and nearly a third have slipped in reading. Henry is the only candidate in this race with a good grasp of the problem and potential solutions.

Henry supports modificati­ons to the traditiona­l school year calendar to lengthen learning time, and he understand­s that the right way to get more schools to join that initiative is through better and more assertive community engagement. He also advocated for directing additional resources to schools where the learning losses are most severe.

We also commend Henry for his push to address inequities that Black students experience in the district. For example, Black students make up more than half of DISD’S out-of-school suspension­s even though they represent only 22% of the student body. With assistance from his fellow trustees, Henry drafted a resolution last summer affirming the district’s commitment to Black students.

The resolution was more than symbolic: It required the school board and DISD administra­tors to meet and develop a plan to boost opportunit­ies for Black students. Among other things, the plan calls on the district to recruit more Black male teachers to better reflect the student population, and to train mentors to get more underrepre­sented students enrolled in magnet and choice schools.

Henry backs the teacher evaluation system that is helping DISD keep its best teachers. And he recognizes the duty of the school board to be a watchdog for taxpayers who approved a $3.4 billion bond package last fall. In response to concerns about irregulari­ties in two major constructi­on contracts last year, Henry said the board had held the superinten­dent accountabl­e and approved funds to increase the number of auditors vetting projects.

Sigler, 41, is a Lincoln High School graduate and an account executive for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Developmen­t. She is familiar with the educationa­l gaps in DISD, but she offered no detailed or meaningful policy solutions.

Henry has shown the knowledge, dedication and temperamen­t needed to steer the district toward better outcomes. Voters should give him a second term.

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