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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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The DMN is Starting to Tackle the ’16-Dimensional Chess’ of School Reform

I’m going to ask that you put off reading this post for at least a half hour, as I’d like you to first find time to read the fantastic New Yorker article “Schooled,” which describes what is happening in Newark as it attempts the “16-dimensional chess” of radical public school reform. It gives you a first-rate look at the many vested interests leading the current school reform debate around the country. It shows how and why administrators, reformers, teachers, and politicians clash when reform efforts are undertaken.

As I noted, the big quote for me that sums this up is when school reform is called “16-dimensional chess.” Every move made affects play at several other levels. As well, reform efforts at one level may prove useless if the strategy isn’t carried out at many other levels. Here, let the New Yorker explain: […]

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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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