Stuff It, Todd

Well, isn’t this rich.

It turns out the district has hired yet another out-of-towner to come in and do something that doesn’t involve ever interacting with actual children for what I can promise you is a hefty, 6-figure salary while kids sit crammed in classes of 40 so the district doesn’t have to pay for an extra teacher.

The new guy is from Los Angeles and worked with John Deasey, the Broad superintendent Los Angeles finally got rid of after an expensive iPad disaster and accusations of incompetence, fraud, malfeasance and other bad stuff.

Broad and Deasey are all you need to hear. Those 2 words perfectly convey the type of person the “reformers” are lining up to replace Failing Floyd now that the STAAR scores and the latest-latest financial scandal are in the news.

In the comments section of the DMN article heralding this newest “public servant,” Mike MacNaughton expressed his understandable dismay at the Deasey/LA connection of the new hire and Todd Williams popped back, saying, “Nothing like judging people before you ever met them.” (The grammar is his, by the way).

Interesting that we hear from Todd now, a week after the dismal STAAR scores came out and provided pretty conclusive proof that his supe pick Miles isn’t living up to all of the big promises. Too bad Todd’s comment didn’t address the lack of student achievement under Miles.

Does it make sense to anyone that bad STAAR scores result in crickets, but a comment questioning the wisdom of hiring another out-of-towner affiliated with Broad people results in an immediate response?

Not to me, it doesn’t.

I was happy to see that MacNaughton replied, “Todd, stuff it. This isn’t about public education or “the children,” it’s about district politics and positioning your favorites in a succession plan. Your efforts to insert yourself as the savior of the district is wearing thin.”

I mean, really. Haven’t we had enough of Todd Williams? He supported Miles and look where Miles got the kids. The achievement gap between DISD students and the rest of the state is widening alarmingly. At what point does an adult step in and tell Todd to go play somewhere else? Why would anyone listen to him?

Since Todd doesn’t work in an actual school, allow me to fill him in on the conditions: chaos, unhappiness, failure, suffering. This is what DISD has devolved into since Miles arrived and the numbers back that statement up. Thanks, Miles’ supporters!

Naturally, perhaps because the topic isn’t Miles’ glaring failure and his support of Miles, Todd countered.

He wrote, “I’ve never met Mr. Bravo, and our city and our school board is tired of watching and listening to your relentless, continued negativity attempt to poison the district, which you evidence by publicly disparaging someone you too have never met (nor know anything about) in the hope that your small but vocal “echo chamber” is reading. It’s not about you Mike.  It’s about the 160,000 kids in this system who desperately need the adults to stop treating school improvement as a battle to be “won” or “lost.” (Again, the grammar…)

I laughed out loud. Really, Todd? That’s certainly rich coming from you.

I’d say the students in DISD desperately need adults who call themselves “reformers” to stop treating schools as personal ATM machines.

Todd, if you care so much about school improvement, how about we halve the salaries of these bureaucrats who bring nothing but failure and start spending the money on more teachers, art supplies, science supplies, tutors, more school psychologists, more food, toilet paper, copy paper and replacement furniture for the kids?

I don’t know Mr. Bravo but I do know this: if he comes in and thinks he’s going to bring more of the same without pushback, he’s fooling himself.

This country is fed up with Broad and Pearson and testing. The wave is on the way to eventually excise these people from our schools like a cancer.

So allow me (and about 9,000 teachers) to join with Mike MacNaugton in saying this: Stuff it, Todd. After what the students, the parents and the teachers in this district have been through with one Broad acolyte, we don’t want a second helping.

Posted in Teachers Rule Tagged with: , , , ,

Trustees: Are These PL High School Numbers Accurate?

There are still moral, honest, ethical people working in DISD’s central offices. In fact, many of the people working in those offices are as horrified by what they see going on with the business side of things as teachers are with the academic side of things. When things don’t look right on the business side, we’re lucky that the central office staff reaches out to ask for clarification.

Case in point: the alleged budget numbers for the new personalized learning high school.

As we wait for the STAAR storm to hit the fan tomorrow, I thought today might be a good time to take a quick glance at those numbers.

As a taxpayer and a teacher, I am, of course, hoping these numbers are not anywhere near “accurate,” because if they are, it looks like some students in DISD will have thousands of extra dollars lavished upon them while others struggle in crowded classes inside broken-down portables.

Perhaps the trustees can clarify the numbers for us.

The new PL high school will open in what used to be Fannin Elementary in the fall.

It is slated to open with approximately 100 students.

Shockingly, the budgeted salary for the principal appears to be $118,000. The budgeted salary for the AP appears to be $82,000.

Is this amount accurate? $200,000 to oversee 100 students?  There are teachers in this district who teach 200 students a day for $60,000!

But wait—there’s more!

It also appears that the class sizes will not exceed a ratio of 16:1 for this high school. In other words, while kids at Skyline, for example, are crammed together in high school classes of 40, the students at the new personalized learning campus will somehow be given the luxury of extremely small classes?

That doesn’t seem fair, equitable or even moral to the students at Skyline or any other comprehensive neighborhood school.

To maintain the ratio of 16:1, the school will need 8 teachers, 1 Special Ed teacher and 2 principals. Along with other costs, the bill totals up to between $18,000-$22,000 spent PER CHILD in the first year! Where is this money coming from?

We already know that at many comprehensive high schools in DISD, less that $7,000 per child is being spent. Are the comprehensive students being short-changed so that ~$20,000 can be spent on each child at the PL high school?

Other districts have “choice” schools, too, but their budgets look nothing like the $18,000-$22,000 per child estimate of the new PL school.

Coppell Tech spent $8400 per child when it opened in 2008 and only served 270 students.  By 2013-14, the school was serving 442 students and spending $6572 per student.

If Coppell Tech can do that, why in the world does the new DISD PL high school need around $20K per student to start up?

Plano Academy, to serve 250 students, spent $8580 per student. Manor ISD New Tech opened in 2007-2008 and served 160 kids for $8760 each. Now it’s serving 348 students for $7610.

DISD might counter by saying that A Maceo Smith opened in 2011-2012 at per-student spend of $22,400 for 129 students and is now down to about $11,000 a year per student with 350 kids, so what’s the big deal?

The big deal is that this kind of excessive spending is crazy! No wonder we’re hearing rumors of $15 million dollar shortfalls and RIFs!

Trustees, there are multiple, similar schools in other districts opening and operating with far less being spent per student.  Plus, the comprehensive students in the other districts aren’t receiving TEN THOUSAND DOLLARS LESS for their education than the “choice” students in those districts!

The students at DISD’s comprehensive schools deserve equitable funding. They matter just as much as the students at New Tech and the new PL school. They are no less important to their parents.

As we wait for the trustees to have time to look into the numbers, we’ll begin researching the other facets of the PL high school, including the specifics of who presented the budget numbers, and report back.


Posted in Teachers Rule Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,

DISD STAAR Scores Are Out, But Where is Todd Williams? Where is Mike Miles?

Todd Williams, formerly of Goldman Sachs and Uplift, advises Dallas mayor, Mike Rawlings, on education issues.

He has also been a vocal supporter of Mike Miles.

But since the dismal STAAR scores were finally released to the media (on the Friday before the Memorial Day weekend), I personally have not seen or heard any comments from Todd Williams in the DMN about the scores or the methods Miles has imposed on the teachers of the district that directly affected the quality of teaching and learning (or apparent lack thereof).

Also, I have not heard Mike Miles, the highly paid DISD superintendent, outline any specific steps that he will immediately implement so that this crisis of low student achievement can be addressed with the same urgency that accompanied the adoption of the TEI.

Did I overlook comments from Todd or steps outlined by Miles? If so, please forward the links.

Or perhaps I am unaware of comments because, after being made, someone asked for them to be deleted? Or it could be because no comments were made?

Then again, it could be because Williams, Miles, Rawlings, Morath, and Solis, like many others with discretionary income, are either not in Dallas this weekend or are taking a break from whatever they consider to be professional duties.

No matter what the calendar says, however, I certainly expected Rawlings, Miles, Solis and Todd! to address the disappointing DISD STAAR scores as soon as they were released to the media. The time is now, Todd!

I realize it’s a holiday weekend for some, but I thought Miles wanted everyone to think differently.  Or were those platitudes only for the peons?

In contrast, I know for a fact that most of my students will not be out of town this weekend because I asked them. Not one student told me they had any formal plans whatsoever, other than sleeping in.

Their lack of exciting travel plans over the 3-day weekend did not surprise me because my students are not from middle or upper class families. Monday may be a day off for many people, but most of my students’ parents will still show up to work as cooks, cleaners, construction workers, etc. They can’t afford a day off; they don’t get to go out of town.

It says a lot to me that the elected and appointed rich people who weigh in about the education of the poorest kids in DISD go silent as soon as important but low scores are released. It will upset me very much if we learn the silence was due to the 3-day weekend or out-of-town travel.

Teachers are told, “the time is now” and “there’s no excuse,” so a 3-day weekend should not be an excuse for the lack of a concrete, step-by-step plan to improve the scores, especially when we are paying a superintendent as much as we are paying Miles.  If he fails to deliver student achievement, couldn’t he have at least held a press conference to answer questions about why student achievement is low after 3 years of paying him?

I want to hear specific steps from the mayor, from the mayor’s educational advisor, the school board president and from the superintendent himself about what is going to be done to address these low scores.

Memorial Day is not until Monday. Why the silence on Friday and Saturday?

I’m in town. My students are in town. Their parents are in town. We’re waiting.  Where is Miles?  Where is Todd Williams?

Posted in Teachers Rule

DISD STAAR Scores 2014-2015: They’re In

staarBy the end of the school day tomorrow, most DISD teachers in grades 3-8 will know the STAAR scores for their campus.

It’s not likely that the scores will show the record growth Team Miles has promised. The district has had the scores for at least 24 hours (probably longer); one can infer that if the scores lived up to Miles’ salary and his promises, the Dallas Morning News would have already splashed the scores across the front page.

Low scores (and if they stay stagnant, they’re low) will not surprise DISD teachers. We’ve been terrorized and demoralized by Miles’ incompetent principal picks and his ridiculous top-down, one-size-fits-all teaching formula for 3 years. DISD teachers know how badly things are going. A total breakdown of discipline, TEI, teacher churn and the rigid adherence to foolish ideas like open doors have created chaos on almost every campus.

I propose that if the scores do not break all state records for student achievement, Miles should NOT be fired. Instead, the Board should slash his salary in half.

Taxpayers should not pay an over-achiever’s salary to an under-achieving superintendent. All of his perks should be stripped from him (bye-bye private driver) as well.

How could even Todd Williams justify overpaying Miles if the results aren’t among the top in the state?

Climate Surveys are also out. Again, one can infer from the silence that the results are not positive.

Over the long weekend, please post the results from your campus. No one will know it’s you. You will feel empowered and you will be providing a public service. Let’s publicize what’s happening on the campuses.

Posted in Teachers Rule Tagged with: , , , ,

Miles Loses a Big One and DISD Teachers Cheer

miles-strings-cutOn Monday, the school board voted to ignore Floyd Mike Miles.

Miles wanted 3 principals fired (the euphemism is non-renewed), but the board said, “No.”

This is a significant loss for Miles. The non-renewal of 3 principals, after so many others have been fired, should have been a slam-dunk. After all, what’s the big deal? 3 measly principals are nothing compared to buzz-word ideas like “transformation” and “disruptive change.” And since when have any district’s trustees ever interfered with a superintendent’s ability to hire and fire?

But this vote was about much, much more than firing 3 principals. This vote was really about neutering Mike Miles; this vote was about telling him, “Enough.”

Miles lost the vote because Dallas has had enough. Miles has lost the confidence of just about everyone in Dallas. His results are dismal and his staunchest supporters (Todd Williams and Mike Morath, for example) face an informed blogosphere that reports Miles’ failures and explains them. For the first time in history, ordinary people can immediately speak truth to power in the comments sections of blogs (like this one) and newspapers (like the DMN). Every misleading claim or false assertion or pathetic attempt at propaganda can be instantly (and effectively) refuted. It must be very frustrating to be a rich person with bad ideas these days, because claims and spin no longer go unchecked.

The news that the board sided with the public and against Miles, “reformers,” and profiteers quickly spread across the district and teachers cheered.

Teachers cheered because teachers are tired of seeing the damage inflicted upon children by many principals who were placed in their jobs by Miles. Know-nothing principals who show up, move classrooms around, force kids to shake hands with them and then ignore plummeting scores and bad results on the climate surveys are chasing off the effective teachers and replacing them with people who are inexperienced, ineffective and, sometimes, unstable. It’s hard to watch as children endure this.

Many of Miles’ Know-Nothing principals also seem unwilling and unable to solve the problem of escalating violence and drug use on most secondary campuses, which subjects the good kids to beatings, bullying and fear. No child should have to dodge flying fists or witness drug deals while they are at school simply because their principal is incompetent.

The loss of Brining and Escanilla would mean that thousands more children would be exposed to a Miles’ hire. This thought horrified teachers, especially the ones who have seen first-hand how quickly some of Miles’ hires have destroyed schools.

As Little Red Hen foretold, the puppet-masters will start snipping the strings used to support Miles as soon as either his usefulness wanes or his results become too bad to ignore. I think I heard a very loud snipping sound today, followed by very loud cheering.

Posted in Teachers Rule Tagged with: , , , , ,

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Foundation for Empowerment (FCE) released 3 papers:

1. Disruptive Change: Mike Miles and the Crisis In Dallas ISD, which has been prepared with consultation by education academics, extensive research, review of data and education literature, and meetings and interviews with people of Dallas holding varying and sometimes conflicting points of view;

2. Digging Into Data and Evidence: Mike Miles, Dallas ISD, and Trickle-Down Education Report, by Dr. Julian Vasquez Helig, Lindsay Redd, M.A. and Dr. Ruth Vail; and

3. The Challenge of Disruptive Leadership in Dallas ISD, by Decoteau J. Irby, Ph.D. and Matthew Birkhold, M.A.

"You will see from these papers that, after much research and discussion, we believe the current Superintendent lacks the pedagogical, leadership and integrity qualities necessary to lead Dallas ISD and recommend the Board terminate his contract."

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Superintendent Mike Miles

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