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How the School Board Threw Away $50 Million Last Night

I’m going to try to tell you what happened late last night/this morning at the Dallas ISD school board meeting without saying anything personal about individual school board members. That will be tough, because I was really bummed about how last night went down. But I’ve successfully been beaten down to the point where expressing my rage at what I consider stupid DISD trustee decisions seems like someone yelling in an empty room. So I’ll just try to stick to discussing what happened and why I think it was a bad decision for the district, parents, teachers, and kids.

[Give me a minute. This is new for me.]

Okay. […]

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If All the Home Rule Commission Accomplishes is Some Dialogue, It Has Failed

The DMN‘s Tawnell Hobbes has a good recap of Monday’s Home Rule Commission meeting.

In it, she outlines the various arguments commissioners make now that they’ve spent six months gathering information from the community as to what sort of charter should be written. These range from the following:

1. Don’t write a charter, don’t do anything, everything is fine just the way it is. This is the line taken by the status-quo crowd, a few dozen of whom […]

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The Trojan Horse Argument and Those Who Distrust Local Democracy

The mystery is gone. In the immortal phrase of Steve Jobs, we have “opened the kimono” so that we can now all see what had been hidden. Last month, Support Our Public Schools presented a full blown charter to the Home Rule Commission. It’s up to the commission now to parse through it and decide whether they want to adopt a charter or just throw up their hands.

The anti-home rule crowd — sample: “Eric [Celeste] … is wrong on Home Rule!” trustee Dan Micciche wrote recently on Facebook — is still throwing out the same arguments against a charter. For example, the allegation that the entire process is illegitimate because it was “conceived in secrecy.” I’m not sure where that comes from. A draft charter was presented […]

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How Storytelling Helps pre-K Kids Become Better Students

Last week I attended a really insightful panel at Momentous Institute. It was filled with education experts who discussed the latest research on birth-to-5 parent-child interactions. Among other things, they discussed how the said research is being translated (or not) into therapeutic and education practice, especially when dealing with poor English language learners in public schools. (For background on the many challenges ELL students face, read the articles in KERA’s excellent series called American Graduate: Generation One.)

The panel had some heavyweight speakers. It included […]

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Home Rule Commissioner Responds to Learning Curve Suggestions for Charter

Danaë Gutiérrez is a home rule commissioner from District 8, selected by trustee Miguel Solis for the commission. She is the PTSA President of Cigarroa Elementary, and she helped the parents at Gooch Elementary start their vibrant PTSA. She is also a board member of the Northwest Council of PTAs. Gutiérrez responded over the weekend to my 10 suggestions for the HRC. She closed her email with this note: […]

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What Dallas Achieves Failed to Achieve is Being Achieved by Destination 2020

I was heartened to see that at least some of the DISD Home Rule Commission members read my collection of posts from Monday, in which I gathered all 10 of my home rule suggestions for their (and your) perusal. Bob Weiss, the head of the commission, emailed to tell me that everyone had received a printout of the posts. As well, two commission members, Jeff Veazey and Kevin Malonson, commented on the post.

I think each of their comments deserve its own post. Today I’ll respond to Veazey, who wrote the following: […]

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Learning Curve’s 10 Suggestions for the Dallas ISD Home Rule Commission

The Home Rule Commission is scheduled to meet today at 6 p.m. In case you missed it on FrontBurner, the Support Our Public Schools group recently presented its proposed charter to the commission. I’m working on a post that looks at the major differences between what that organization presented and the 10 suggestions I put here on Learning Curve. I realized that I should probably put all these proposals in one place where not only you but also the home rule commissioners can find them easily. Here then are the 10 proposals I’ve discussed, each with a small excerpt. Enjoy. […]

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Why You Should Make Supporting Pre-K in DISD a Relentless Priority

Of the many things I’ve learned the past six months, the importance of early education, or pre-K, is the most astonishing. What’s amazing to me about it is the near-certainty of the evidence that supports how crucial it is for poor kids to be put into a quality pre-K program.

That’s because so much about education is uncertain, and because of this, politically charged: public vs. private vs. charter, mayoral oversight of school boards vs. single-member districts, teacher evaluations vs. seniority, test scores vs. college readiness vs. college completion, you name it. You can find studies or experts or bloggers or political activists who will authoritatively tell you that research is muddy on which approach provides best outcomes in large poor urban districts.

But the benefits of quality pre-K (the adjective is important) keep being proven. Let me be clear: that doesn’t mean that there aren’t […]

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Programming Note

Should have mentioned this Monday, but I’m out of pocket all week, arriving back in Dallas on Monday evening. Big plans for next week, though: a look at DISD’s early education plans; a home rule update with all 10 proposals compiled and suggested as legislation; a look back at why the Dallas deseg case no longer applies to DISD; maybe a school choice update; and coming soon a deeper look at schools like the Momentous Institute, as well as a dive into the local chapter of Teach For America. Maybe even a few more surprises. Okay, that looks like the next two weeks. But you get the idea. Back soon. Cheers.

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DISD Special Board Meeting Only Delays the Coming Showdown

The most important event at 3700 Ross yesterday wasn’t covered by any mainstream media in town, which isn’t surprising. Alan Cohen, DISD’s early education chief, presented his 99-page, 30-initiative report for early education/pre-K strategy in Dallas ISD. (In the meeting he said it was a 245-page plan, but that includes 146 pages of individual school profiles/data that we don’t need for our discussions.) I spent time yesterday talking to early education experts in Dallas, and they spoke in unanimous praise of Cohen and his efforts. The problem, of course, is how to properly fund it. I’ll have to get to these issues next week, because this is an incredibly important issue that change our city and this region over the next two decades.

Today, though, we need to deal with the special meeting that came after the board briefing, the one dealing with the Miles-Nutall Dade incident. You can watch the meeting in the video above and draw your own conclusions. I’ll give you a few bullet-point thoughts below:

• The DMN headline says that trustee Miguel Solis was “removed” from his position running the meeting, suggesting he abdicated his role unwillingly. Technically, sure, but watch it yourself and you’ll see how it went down. Joyce Foreman has several times […]

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Suggestions for Home Rule Commission No. 10 – Mayoral Involvement

I know I’ve been beating the drum quite a bit on Home Rule for Dallas ISD. Our district clearly has governance problems, and home rule is a way for us to write a new constitution for the district to try to improve the governance model a bit, given the extensive evidence that suggests this will lead to ultimate improvements for our kids.

I’m not the only one who thinks we need clearer lines of authority under the current governance model. Board president Miguel Solis yesterday, in explaining the agenda for this Thursday’s special meeting over the Dade incident, said:

“It is my hope that any action the board chooses to take will lead to a better definition of governance and management and to ensure that events leading up to and occurring on October 13th do not repeat themselves.”

I think that’s a worthwhile goal, which is why I’ve been writing for months about governance reform in DISD. I’ve offered nine reasonable, workable suggestions for the Home Rule Commission to include in any charter document that must go in front of the voters. I’ll stop with the nice round number of 10. This one may be the most strategically important. It is also the most controversial. Before I get into the details [..]

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A Proposal for the Haters: Why Don’t You Take Over a School?

I’m pretty concerned by the most recent it’s-all-about-me-not-kids move by Dallas ISD trustee Bernadette Nutall. I’m worried because reading between tea leaves tells me that a) Nutall isn’t getting the reaction she wants from the board in response to the Dade incident, and that means b) she’s going to continue being as destructive as possible in her attempts to get Mike Miles to leave the district. And let’s face it: She does almost nothing well when it comes to being a trustee, but she is a SPECTACULAR destructive force. I’m worried that Miles just might decide he’s had enough and leave.

Regardless your complaints with Miles — and I think current ones about implementation and oversight of TEI are very legitimate — that would be horrible for the district. If we once again allow status-quo ward-heelers to win the day, we set reform efforts back another decade. There are big implementation problems Miles is currently undergoing with his reforms, difficult details concerning both style and substance that need to be addressed. But if we blow all this up now to suit the Miles haters … the thought depresses me.

But this latest news from Crazytown did give me an idea.

I know […]

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DMN Story on DISD Salaries Suffers From Bad Case of Overreach

SWEET MOTHER OF ALL THAT IS HOLY, does this story make me crazy. No need to read it, because I’m going to reprint it all below, with comments. Let’s get to it.

HEADLINE: Record number of Dallas ISD administrators make more than $100,000, analysis shows

Analysis! Oooh, analysis, analytics, analytical — I love all those words. And, my stars, $100,000? In American dollars? Nothing arbitrary about that figure: That’s the devil’s number! Let’s get to the story proper:

Two years after Superintendent Mike Miles admitted he paid administrators too much money, a record number of top officials in Dallas ISD are making more than $100,000 annually.

Okay, sure. Go on.

An analysis by The Dallas Morning News found that 175 administrators had six-figure salaries — up from 130 in Miles’ first year in the district and 111 the year before that.

Wait, 175? Are we sure that’s right? I’m supposed to be outraged, right? Except, DeKalb ISD in Georgia (part of Atlanta) has not quite 100k students, and in 2008-09, it paid 223 administrators $100k or more. Other nearby districts there […]

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