It seems Dallas ISD Superintendent Mike Miles and Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings have added another Mike to their roster of ill-informed and murky dealings.
Without the knowledge of school trustees or city hall politicians, Rawlings’ city hall Office of Economic Development, with input from Dallas ISD’s Chief Innovation officer Mike Koproswki, just submitted an application to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, dubbed the” Promise Zone,” that would send federal dollars off into the same Broad and Teach for America inspired rat hole that currently constitutes Dallas ISD under the reign of Superintendent Mike Miles.
The third Mike is a former Broad intern from Tennessee where Broad and TFA just had big strike-outs with a statewide reconstitution district. Koprowski, with not a single credential to certify him to practice public education in the state of Texas, was recruited to Dallas and awarded a salary of $165,000 a year at the age of 30 with only two years of education experience in Tennessee’s current failure of a state reconstitution district. Why transport experience in failure across state lines?
The state of Tennessee has finished enough of its experiment with education commissioner Kevin Huffman (ex-husband of Michelle Rhee and former TFA public relations expert) and Chris Barbic, former CEO of YES charters, to know they have a grand failure on their hands. Huffman resigned a couple of weeks ago before he could be booted out of office. Koprowski worked for Huffman in Tennessee. Forcing the lowest performing schools in Tennessee into a state reconstitution district (based on the total failure of reconstitution in New Orleans) has resulted in a backlash of Tennessee parents, superintendents, and politicians, but not before Huffman awarded a no-bid six million dollar contract to TFA and not before Barbic was sued over a crony deal involving his former charter, YES, being awarded charter contracts in Tennessee.
So why bring Koprowski to Dallas ISD at a huge salary when Dallas teachers are currently buying paper and toilet paper for their campuses due to the shortage in supplies? Is this yet another Broad crony hire? And why didn’t Koprowski inform Trustees before assisting Dallas City Hall in writing the Promise Zone application? Does the Promise Zone designation buy loyalty for Miles by greasing the palms of local nonprofits?
The Promise Zone initiative was announced by President Obama in 2013, touted as a way for the Administration to “partner with local leaders to create jobs, increase economic activity, improve educational opportunities, and reduce violent crime”. For communities selected, the federal government will “partner to help the Promise Zones access the resources and expertise they need. To date, there are twelve federal agencies working in close collaboration to provide resources and expertise to urban, rural, and tribal Promise Zones to expand economic mobility and opportunity in their communities.”
In other words, federal largesse to a favored few.
A read through a portion of the Dallas Promise Zone application finds it rehashes two former failed grant applications; the Obama administration’s Race to the Top, submitted to open a $30 million stream of federal funds to Superintendent Mike Miles’ Imagine 2020 initiative, and the School Zone, a public/private partnership in West Dallas that was denied a Department of Education Promise Neighborhood grant. It’s hard to determine from the application language exactly what Koprowski or Rawlings understands about Dallas poverty, Dallas public schools, or even basic American capitalism, but the same institutions are involved—SMU, UTD, and a group of nonprofits whose efforts have not improved school ratings but have at least generated reams of data for the university researchers.
In another repeat, someone at Rawlings’ office continues the mantra espoused by Rawlings that high poverty in Dallas, Texas is caused by bad schools. As the application states, “…disinvestment and higher poverty rate is [sic] a function, in part, of the poor condition of public education in the Promise Zone.”
We can only wonder if the mayor of Dallas has ever visited Uptown, currently thriving, as it sits adjacent to North Dallas High School, one of the lowest rated high schools in the state. We can only wonder if the mayor noticed that all the construction and new restaurants and retail adjacent to the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge on Singleton are thriving even though Edison Middle School and Pinkston continue to fail under the leadership of Superintendent Miles and his Imagine 2020 failure.
Private capital dollars follow potential profit, Mayor Mike. Welcome to reality. There seem to be huge amounts of business capital pouring into West Dallas and North Oak Cliff without any improvement in the schools. Business capital investment is predicated on profit outcomes, not quality of schools or federal nonprofit dollars. New York City’s Harlem Zone is a philanthropy zone that cannot be repeated in Dallas with federal money.
As if to make a bigger muddle out of the correlation between failing schools and capital investment in a neighborhood, the writers of the Dallas Promise Zone application then state that building Townview in the middle of blight in East Oak Cliff had no impact on the neighborhood. The authors failed to mention Obama and Irma Rangel, both South Dallas success stories, have also drawn no investment into their respective neighborhoods. So why blame poverty-filled public schools for the dearth of private capital investment?
On the other hand, Kessler Park real estate values continue to climb at the same rate that residents’ call for the firing of Mike Miles continues to gather steam. A coalition of these parents and the White Rock parents is in the making. Unless the Mayor of Dallas wants to see more middle class flight from Dallas public schools, on top of a failed bond election, cutting Mike Miles loose needs to occur sooner than later. Miles’ name appears nowhere on the Promise Zone application, probably prescient of the fate of the application when the feds do a simple Google search on Miles. If Miles is toxic, why ask for federal money for his failed initiative?
If the Mayor wants in-migration of middle class parents to Dallas, there needs to be safe, middle class housing which is absent in Dallas. But the Promise Zone plan wants more funding for Miles’ failed initiatives and schools of choice which are not neighborhood schools.
And why ask the feds for a million dollars to fund yet another layer of DISD middle management for the Promise Zone rather than address churn in teachers and lack of campus supplies in Dallas schools? Is there no end to the Broad model of stripping campuses of every dime while loading up on high-priced managers?
But, wait, next on the menu of illogic for the Promise Zone are “choice schools” which as mini-magnets, are supposed to lift up neighborhoods and attract capital investment. If choice schools are placed in the Promise Zone and pull out the most able students from low-rated neighborhood schools, what is the long-term plan for Roosevelt, Pinkston, South Oak Cliff, Madison, and Lincoln? Exactly what is the vision for these schools other than more teacher and principal churn based on Miles’ failed initiatives? Or is their failure assumed? Where do poor neighborhood students in the Promise Zone attend school?
The Promise Zone application is nonsensical. Asking for federal dollars when the justification for the grant is based on faulty logic, a failing school superintendent, and a mayor who can’t analyze the flow of business capital in Dallas neighborhoods is unrealistic.
Three Mikes and still no cigar.