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Why Did the DMN Largely Ignore 35 Percent of DISD Test-takers?

Hey, I’m back! What did I miss?

[Checks Dallas Morning News, sees a three-byline story on STAAR results, sees three blog posts by editorial board members excoriating Mike Miles for said results, sees a guest column saying that Mike Miles and reformers are bad but Aldine ISD is good.]

Good sweet heavens. It’s like I came back on Christmas. So much silliness to digest, it’s going to take three posts to do so properly.

Let’s start with […]

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Guest Column: Kevin Malonson on the tension between reform, teachers, and kids

Home Rule Commissioner Kevin Malonson and I have struck up a weird friendship. We both see the need for better educational opportunities for Dallas ISD kids — especially poor kids — and we often have 180-degree views on how to achieve this. But Malonson is open-minded and sincere, an engaged DISD volunteer and parent. I think his opinions are very worthy of discussion. Here is his second guest column for Learning Curve. Treat him well in the comments folks; he’s a civilian. […]

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We Need Another Hero: Why Miles’ Fate is in the Hands of Dan Micciche and Eric Cowan

To: Eric Cowan and Dan Micciche
From: Eric Celeste
Re: Your vote later today

Eric and Dan:

I know you both think you need to fire Mike Miles today. I know you each think you should do this because a) you hear from a lot of angry people in your district who want him fired, and b) you believe he has made severe management mistakes. I understand. But let’s talk for a minute about why this is a terrible idea for each of you, for your districts, for the city, and for the kids in DISD.

Let’s start with […]

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The Best Data Available to Evaluate DISD Are Being Ignored

Jim Schutze has a good post on Unfair Park about how everything is Mike Miles’ fault, according to his critics. Even things like firing investigators who don’t work for him. But I want to highlight the first comment on that post from “MindingtheStore,” because it gives us a good place to start discussing how parents, teachers, some trustees, and other interested parties take data and frame it to suit their desired narrative.

MTS says several interesting things that are pretty easily refutable, but let’s just concentrate on the first graph (I fixed a few typos): […]

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Update: DISD Responds to Robberson Piece

If you missed my last post and the reply that came from Robberson, you can read Jim Schutze’s take here.

Yesterday evening, DISD responded to Robberson’s response with the e-mail below. I think between’s Jim’s piece and the response below, you’re up-to-date.

To note: Robberson has this thing where he doesn’t mention D or D blogs in his pieces because of course he doesn’t. But he does so in his initial e-mail to DISD (which is the last item in the thread below). To be fair, I included my response (which is the first thing you’ll read), just to show you that I can’t leave well enough alone and that I have the emotional maturity of an 8-year-old. Enjoy: […]

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Another Week, Another DISD Story That Is Just Silly

I mean, seriously — how many times do I have to do this? Forever? Is it forever? Just let me know if it’s forever, so I can change a few plans.

Let’s get right to it: a blog post by Tod Robberson about Mike Miles that sets up a straw man to knock over.

Okay, here’s the column, if you’re looking for a reason to headdesk yourself today. But if not, all you really need are the first three graphs: […]

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Incredibly Dumb Claim Made Against DISD Found to Be Incredibly Dumb

I’m irritated and I’m stumped. Irritated because I had a lot of stuff on the ol’ to-do list yesterday, and instead I was pulled into a debate between a bunch of idiots and a very confused Dallas ISD administration and board. Stumped because the allegations that necessitated this debate are so wrong-headed, so silly, so baseless, I am at a loss how to address them. It’s like trying to explain to a sane person why the crazy person claims the moon is made of barbecue spare ribs. I mean, where do you start?

Everywhere, I guess. So here is a scattershot rebuttal of the claims made by [cue the never-ending sigh] Bill Betzen and friends in their complaint about DISD’s supposedly inequitable funding system. […]

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Meaningful Pre-K Reform is in Trouble, Because Austin Reps Are Lazy

The Dallas Morning News ran a good editorial on Friday showing why we should support meaningful pre-K reform. You should read it now. I’ll wait.

So, your takeaway from that is a) Grand Prairie is doing some good things in its ISD (true, and more widespread than you probably realize); b) full-day Pre-K is necessary in Texas (true); and c) the state is going to at least give districts more money to expand from half-day to full-day pre-K under HB 4, the Gov. Abbott-backed bill currently under consideration.

That last item — c) — is true but largely meaningless. Because HB 4 is a PR event masquerading as a serious education bill, one that could harm pre-K efforts more than it helps. Unfortunately, it looks as though that is the bill that is going to pass. Meanwhile, a far superior pre-K bill, HB 1100, co-authored by Dallas representative Eric Johnson, is going to die because people in Austin are okay with half-assing education for kids in Texas — especially poor kids.

Let me hit several points about this […]

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A Home Rule Commissioner’s Open Letter to Students Back From Spring Break

Home Rule Commissioner Kevin Malonson has proven himself a smart, independent education advocate and DISD champion. Even when he voted to effectively kill the Home Rule Commission, he made clear that he believed it was still important to reform the district — but thought home rule too flawed a tool to do so. (We disagreed on this and discussed it on a SAGA Pod.) He has graciously agreed to contribute his thoughts to the blog when he has time, and he asked that he first be allowed to address the 160k DISD students. Here is Malonson’s post: […]

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A Parent’s Letter to Trustees: Please Restore Our Faith

It’s spring break, so I’m going to highlight some other voices this week, and I hope I can convince them to keep contributing to Learning Curve in the future. They offer a boots-on-the-ground perspective from different corners of the city. Each of them are DISD parents or contemplating becoming so. Each is actively involved in his or her school(s). First, I’m going to reprint a letter from Lakewood Elementary parent John Franklin Guild. He sent this letter earlier today to trustees. Spoiler alert: It’s fantastic. I’ve provided a PDF of the Trustee Letter here. Reprint is below. […]

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Breaking Down How Wrong the DMN Story on Teacher Hiring Really Was

Last Tuesday, I was at the unveiling of new Dallas County community achievement scorecard, which gives a county-wide snapshot of education data for the 2013-2014 school year. It tells us the current makeup of our county’s students, the county’s poverty rate, costs and opportunity costs, asks if funds are being spent equitably, looks at poverty rate, analyzes achievement gaps at 11 spots throughout the pre-K to postsecondary student cycle, and so forth. It’s an important event, one anyone who cares about education in this area attends — in this case, that means Mayor Mike, Paul Quinn president Michael Sorrell, DISD board president Miguel Solis, DISD superintendent Mike Miles, business leaders, education nonprofit leaders, and so on.

Before the event, I talked with several DISD administrators about the efforts of DMN news reporters to re-fire the former head of the HR department. To say they were mocking of it would be a disservice to the word. To mock, there must be some measure of respect. They were dismissive of the story in the way one is dismissive of a drunk uncle you must put up with because he’s family.

“Look, if this city wants to have a real conversation about what it wants out of its school leadership and Superintendent Miles, that’s always fair to ask of us,” one said. “But […]

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Why DISD’s Plan to Reopen Some Closed Schools is a No-Brainer, and Why Some Trustees Don’t Care

As I’ve mentioned before, Dallas ISD is embarking on a major comprehensive plan (called, conveniently enough, the “Comprehensive Plan”) aimed at radically expanding early childhood services, creating more options for parents via schools of choice, expanding specialized career options, and upgrading some dilapidated facilities. This week, the board briefing agenda includes a major first step on that path. The school board trustees are being asked to approve the “interim bridge plan,” which includes a small amount of all the items above.

The bridge plan is, IMHO, fantastic. It’s based on years of conversations at the board table with the administration about major facilities needs and strategic initiatives. It is so chockablock with changes (28 DISD schools are affected) that listing all its details would make this post more absurdly long than they usually are. So let’s touch on a few components of the specific benefits to students, then the costs, and finally end with the major issues at play.

Of the 28 schools affected, a few high points: […]

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