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SAGA Pod / Learning Curve with City Councilman Philip Kingston

Shy, quiet District 14 Dallas City Councilman Philip Kingston stops by world SAGA pod headquarters to discuss his ongoing opposition to the Trinity toll road — including, but not limited to, bashing the mayor and his “dream team” of architects and urban planners. We also discuss the new PAC co-founded by D Magazine Group chairman and D Magazine publisher Wick Allison, and its efforts to back politicians for city council who support restoration of urban neighborhoods by replacing and rerouting I-345 and I-30*. We then touch on what the city could learn from DISD and its comprehensive plan. And, oh yeah — we talk about […]

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To Suggest the Coggins Report Vindicates Nutall is Absurd

Bernadette Nutall is a master at certain things, one of which is orchestrating media coverage to her liking. She leaks documents, she demands documents that days later are requested by media in freedom of information act requests (in very specific language), and she gets ahead of stories. Really, she should be making Tony Robbins-kinda money leading media-training seminars. She’s brilliant at it.

The latest example was the coverage of the Coggins report that sought to determine if Nutall had violated school board policy in three instances. The reporting on this document has been consistent: Nutall was vindicated. This from today’s story in the Dallas Morning News: […]

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Quick Hits: Bernadette Nutall’s Weird Definition of Vindication

Couple quick-hit things going into the weekend:

• I’ll have more thoughts next week on yesterday’s board briefing. Among them: A look at why the board can’t wrap its head around a simple, effective financing plan, and how the status-quo crowd doesn’t mind hurting children so long as they damage Mike Miles in the process.

• Hope you saw the report by Steve Pickett at Channel 11 (he’s really good, btw) about how the Miles-Nutall-Dade report is in DISD’s hands, and how Bernadette Nutall says […]

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The Most Important DISD Story the Morning News Isn’t Covering (This Week)

Last week, Dallas ISD released a draft report to the media and the public the same day it presented said report to a 27-person task force. The district calls it its “Comprehensive Plan.” It is an incredibly important document, one that has been in the works for a long time, one that we foreshadowed on Learning Curve back in August, calling it the “story of the school year.”

You didn’t read about this report in the Dallas Morning News‘s news pages, even though it was released to the paper. (It was mentioned at the end of an editorial, because actually covering big-picture education is left to the paper’s opinion writers, because hell if I know why.) You see, as the paper told the district, “We’re too busy trying to get Mike Miles fired.” (Quote may not be 100 percent accurate.) This is understandable. The paper only has two education editors and four education reporters out of a news staff of more than 300. They have important work to do, like filing open records requests to see any and all communications between myself or Jim Schutze and the district. (Yes, that’s true.)

So, let’s try to catch you up on what is, without question, the most important story going on in DISD right now, one that will affect our poorest kids for decades to come. Because soon we’re going to have a conversation about this effort as a city, as concerned citizens, as parents, as taxpayers. And you need to do this extra reading on your own time, because the DMN is a little too busy polishing its rock of truth to bring you this information. […]

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SAGA Pod / Learning Curve: Jim Schutze on DISD, DMN, and Mayor Mike’s Money

Jim Schutze stops by the World SAGA Pod Headquarters to discuss all things DISD: the current HR scandal, a huge DISD effort not covered by the local media (warning: I say bad words), and how Mike Miles has survived every attempt to run him out of town. Then we seque to talk about the squishy accounting system used by Mayor Mike Rawlings and endorsed by City Hall: where sitting officeholders […]

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Why the DISD HR Scandal Should Make You Sad — And Then You Should Forget It

It’s taken me about a week to fully absorb the fall of Carmen Darville, the HR chief from DISD who resigned last week because the Dallas Morning News printed awful instant messages she had written to colleagues. As I do with most matters concerning DISD, I vacillated between outrage and pity, sadness and gallows humor. But I feel like I should weigh in, so here’s my attempt to make sense of the senseless.

• Obviously, Darville had to go. She was […]

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SAGA Pod for Learning Curve: Home Rule Commissioner Kevin Malonson

Dallas Home Rule Commissioner Kevin Malonson stops by to discuss the pros and cons of Home Rule: Why he voted against writing a charter, why he isn’t against reform, and what critics on both sides of the debate can learn from parents and educators. He also declines my offer to take a swing at me. Malonson is a longtime education advocate who currently works as a DISD vendor with his nonprofit Education is Freedom. I think this conversation will help wrap a bow on the HRC discussion. […]

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The End of the Masturbatory Exercise That was the Home Rule Commission

I’ve been arguing with myself all morning, wondering how much I should say about what I know/think/believe regarding the Home Rule Commission and its decision last night to not write a charter. Part of me says just unload on the HRC, because it had a chance to do something substantial but instead chose the most spineless path possible. The HRC voted last night 10-5 to NOT put out a recommended charter, which would have been voted on by the citizens of Dallas, but decided to instead write a series of recommendations to the school board, a document that will carry with it the political weight of carbon aerogel.

But part of me says, hey, take it easy. This commission just castrated itself. […]

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Mayoral Candidate Marcos Ronquillo the Latest to Get Home Rule Wrong

Just spent 90 minutes talking to mayoral candidate Marcos Ronquillo about many city issues, which I’ll write about in the March issue of D Magazine. About 20 minutes of that time was spent talking education. Ronquillo is a passionate advocate for public education, and we see eye-to-eye that (paraphrasing his words here) just because the city charter doesn’t mention the word “education” doesn’t mean city leaders can’t lend support to DISD in many ways. Bottom line: Like Rawlings, Ronquillo would be an advocate for the city taking a greater share of its responsibility in helping DISD reform itself — i.e., produce better outcomes for poor kids.

THAT said, I want to complain about Ronquillo’s stance on […]

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Last Week’s Board Briefing Was Damn Good Because of Achievement Gap Discussion

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but it’s true: Last week’s Dallas ISD board briefing was a pretty damn good meeting.

That’s because at said briefing an actual policy discussion broke out. In fact, much of the discussion was just the sort a school board should engage in every week: trustees looking at the biggest challenges faced by a large urban district, and debating the best ways to tackle the problem. (Which is far better than the board spending most of its time micromanaging procurement, in other words, debating how much it the district should or shouldn’t spend on contracts and second-guessing decisions that have already been made.)

I’d like to say this is going to be a regular occurrence, but […]

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SAGA Pod / Learning Curve: DISD President Miguel Solis

DISD School Board President Miguel Solis stops by to chat about all things education. We talk about the current testing controversy, the controversial teacher evalution system, the controversial battles between Mike Miles and certain school board members, my controversial impersonation of Arnold Schwarzenegger — it’s a controversy-heavy discussion is what I’m saying here, people. Also, it’s very clear I need to do more of SAGA podcasts in 2015, because, man, are my hosting skills rusty. I think I break a personal record for most “uhhhhhh”s in the first three minutes alone. But don’t let my terribleness distract you from Solis, who will actually make you feel hopeful that the board can make substantive progress this semester. [ … ]

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