This blog on Texas education contains posts on accountability, testing, postsecondary educational attainment, dropouts, bilingual education, immigration, school finance, environmental issues, and Ethnic Studies at state and national levels. I am also covering COVID in my attempt to get the right information into the right hands.
Here’s how to fix Fort Worth. (It’s not about Dallas, or pilots, or the cow.)
Ft. Worth is the name of one of Texas' largest cities captured in the better-known "DFW" acronym that stands for the Dallas-Forth Worth airport. Beyond that, much less is known worldwide beyond the acronym, if that much, which is what this piece is about. Here are a few data points noted within:
▪ One in 12 city residents has to go to Dallas for work. ▪ Some outsiders see Fort Worth as hostile to young adults, people of color and foreigners. ▪ Worst of all, Fort Worth doesn’t cross anyone’s mind at all. We’re No. 16 in population but No. 48 in Google searches — less sought than Tulsa or Oklahoma City, down there with Buffalo and Fresno.
I can see how many there would have a love-hate relationship with Dallas, Texas. This piece by Bud Kennedy offers a few guideposts to the future, including learning to love "DFW."
Molly the Longhorn and the Livestock Exchange building have long been a large part of the cattle history in Fort Worth. Max Faulknermfaulkner@star-telegram.com
If anything sinks Fort Worth in the long run, it will be the city’s and county’s historic indifference toward K-12, college and graduate education.
From the reaction when the new city business plan was announced, the problem is twofold:
▪ Fort Worth does not have the schools, colleges or spirit to compete in an age of research and innovation, and . . .
▪ We think we do.
In a city built on blue-collar jobs in packinghouses, oil and defense plants, our readers often post social-media comments claiming schools here are better than Dallas’.
(The test scores are about equal. Dallas has more top high schools.)
Thriving cities have major state research facilities or technology centers.
Fort Worth has a good college football team.
Texas Christian University’s new medical school is a strong step forward, and the city also has a state medical school and a state law school. UT Arlington is prized.
But overall, the education system across Tarrant and Parker counties lags Dallas-Fort Worth. Education must become a cherished civic treasure, not a basic public utility.
2. SHOW THE WORLD THE MODERN WEST
Readers saw a new city plan and feared losing Fort Worth’s “Cowtown” image or Molly, the city longhorn symbol.
Folks, it’s not about the cow.
Denver and Houston have cows, thriving pro rodeos and Western tradition. But they’re also regarded as modern international cities.
Fort Worth has more worldwide nonstop flights than either of those cities.
If we can think past the brim of our Shady Oak hats, we can become a world business hub.
That’s in the city plan. But the plan also mentions how Fort Worth is not considered warm or welcoming to outsiders, particularly not to immigrants or young people, meaning talented artists, musicians, actors and professionals.
The Cowtown image isn’t worn out. What’s tired is the image of a stubborn, bigoted old cowboy.
The real story of the West is a story of men and women of all colors and cultures, and how they came together from around the world to help shape Texas. If we’re not welcoming all people, we’re not true to our past.
There’s also a race problem that involves more than image. A new city race and culture commission will address long-standing inequities.
That takes changing old attitudes, and maybe some police officers and civic board leaders. And it means east and southeast Fort Worth get the same attention and help as the north and west.
We can treasure our Cowtown legacy. But look at Colorado, Vegas, California: The spirit of the American West is all about the future.
But let’s face it: Right now, we’re hanging on by a hyphen.
A Google search is how the world learns about Fort Worth. It’s one of the few edges we still have over Plano or Frisco.
“Dallas-Fort Worth” is the most common web search term. (“North Texas” is a university.)
I know this is a tough sell. But friends who live in Keller or Colleyville don’t say they live in “North Texas.” They say DFW.
(Of course, a few Star-Telegram readers still cling to the 1955 idea of a separate Fort Worth airport. But it took 40 years to get Dallas to agree to keep Love Field small. Let’s not visit that again.)
Look — I know everybody’s worried about getting pilots and airline crews to say “DFW” and “Dallas-Fort Worth.”
The more we say it, the more everyone else will.
5. GET US MOVING
Fort Worth and Tarrant County have shorted transit and transportation money for 40 years, and it’s caught up.
Our transit tax rate is half of Dallas’, but we raise only 1/10th as much money.
So we get 1/10th of a big-city transit system.
We can’t get to work by bus or car on congested roads. We don’t even have an easy way to get to or from the airport.
Technology is changing faster than public transit can keep up, so today’s rail system might not be the best idea tomorrow.
I guarantee that if we don’t spend more on transit, we won’t get more.
6. DO IT OURSELVES
In four telltale years between 1964 and 1968, local voters OKed a county baseball stadium in Arlington, a convention center in Fort Worth, two county college campuses and a regional aiport that remains our No. 1 asset.
But that was 50 years ago. Since then, Fort Worth has built — what?
A cargo airport. A speedway. And — finally — a new civic arena.