UNT-Dallas: Is Education the Salvation?

What is the difference between Dallas and other big cities in the United States? A better question would be; what does Dallas lack, that all other municipalities it's size can already boast of having? That question probably has lots of answers; including the lack of a vibrant nightlife, the lack of a viable downtown, and lacking a park system of which its residents can be proud.

But think about this statement: Dallas is the largest city in America that does not have a public institution of higher learning.

Think about that. Now many of you probably thought immediately of SMU, but Southern Methodist is a private university. No Money, No SMU. L.A. has UCLA and USC. New York has NYU. In Texas, Houston is home to both the University of Houston and Texas Southern (TSU). Even San Antonio has UTSA. And I'd be remiss if I didn't at least acknowleged the school housed in the state capital (that's the best an A&M grad can do). While each of these cities realized sooner (NYU founded in 1831), or later (UTSA established in 1969) that it was important to provide college level education to its masses, Dallasites have sent their students to Arlington, Denton, or Commerce – yes Commerce, Texas – for a pseudo local education.

Is this a big deal? Apparently Dallas finally believes that it is. Construction is currently underway on the University of North Texas at Dallas campus (http://www.unt.edu/unt-dallas) And why is that important to this blog? Because that construction is taking place in the southern portion of the city of Dallas. If you travel on Interstate 20 between I-35 and I-45, or better yet take a trip to the corner of Houston School Road and Camp Wisdom, you will see a new building taking shape in one of the most scenic portions of North Texas.

Education is literally rising up from the ground, as the university is being built in a historically underserved community. As a matter of fact, much of the area lacks basic sewer or water services. The immediate area surrounding the campus is populated 90% by African-Americans, but you can rest assured that there are some who are already planning a demographic shift. If black folks aren't careful, the city will gentrify 75241 to the point that it looks like the State-Thomas section of Uptown (Oh you didn't know that Uptown used to be the black part of the city?).

Due in large part to the efforts of State Senator Royce West, a rose is sprouting among what has long been considered a row of thorns. We cannot allow those outside our community plan our future for us, and be left to wonder what happens when the makeup of the neighborhood has totally changed. Imagine a day when graduates of Carter, Kimball, South Oak Cliff, and Roosevelt, can be educated in their own backyards, literally. The University of North Texas Dallas Center currently operates at 8915 S. Hampton Road, just South of I-20.

The campus currently offers undergraduate degrees in Computer Science, Elementary Education, Criminal Justice and other disciplines. Graduate Level Courses currently include Business Administration, Counseling, and Education Administration. The Mater Plan calls for there to be 16,000 students at UNT Dallas by 2030. Will our kids be in that number? I feel that it is imperative for Black Dallas, to grab as stake in this school, and make this a place where we can one day send our children to get one of the best educations in North America.

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