His overpaid, underworked crew (including a $100,000 “aide”) will no doubt develop all sorts of fruitless initiatives and programs they will expect the teachers to implement on the backs of children to justify their positions.
Memo to Mr. Miles: Top-down doesn’t work.
It didn’t work for the USSR, it doesn’t work for North Korea, and it has crushed every single urban school district in this country.
You will fail in DISD if you don’t change your focus.
If you fail in Dallas, the failure will hang around your neck like an albatross when you again run for public office.
And, no, attempting to crow about minute upticks in either test scores or graduation rates will not work because no matter how good the manipulated numbers are, parents will not drop their children off at campuses that are cesspools. The conditions of the campuses are how Dallas residents measure a superintendent’s success.
Decades of top-down management have given the campuses such incompetent principals and assistants it is shocking. Where else but DISD can principals of AU schools simply be left in place?
Much to the parents’ dismay, these same principals will not remove the worst teachers (if they can even recognize them). Personal relationships and race seem to trump what’s best for students every time. As a result of top-down management, the quality of both off-campus and on-campus leadership is absolutely dismal and poisons achievement of students.
More excessively paid administrators, feeding at the children’s trough of money, won’t fix this problem. TFA, feeding at the children’s trough of money, won’t fix this problem. Uplift, feeding at the same trough, won’t fix this problem.
In addition to the principals and teachers forced upon neighborhood schools, top-down management has also brought days-worth of benchmark testing, needlessly “reinterpreted” curriculum, and social agendas that have absolutely nothing to do with academic skills.
Mr. Miles, you need to change your focus.
You need to pull together the handful of effective principals in the district and figure out what the magnets and the few successful campuses have in common.
You then need to spread the commonalities like a virus among the other campuses and here’s what the commonalities are likely to be:
- good teachers are identified, treated well, and otherwise left alone
- ineffective teachers are identified and removed
- parents are consulted, respected, and served; the campus reflects their wishes and not the district’s or the principal’s
- student misbehavior is swiftly and certainly addressed
A good start toward better, bottom-up management would be to give the effective principals the authority to hire and fire other principals in the district.
It’s time to fix the campuses, Mr. Miles.
It’s not time to tinker around the edges with TFA and Uplift.
You will be judged at the campus level.