Mike Miles, Your Focus is Wrong

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Mike Miles' FocusWith all of the expensive hires, it’s clear that the focus with Miles is going to be more top-down management. This is exactly what DISD doesn’t need.

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.

Posted in Teachers Rule

Old posts have a small number of comments. That can only mean that things were better off before miles arrival.

Ground Zero
Ground Zero

A thousand kudos for the insight contained in this blog. Miles' first priority should have been the removal of the consistently AU high school principals with a second priority the removal of the middle school principals with shoddy records. Instead, time and money were completely wasted on putting out a sign for TFA novices who are paid $100K or more than their worth in order to build political capital with whom? Belo? The Bush Institute? Obama? So Dallas taxpayers have to spend millions to position Miles for his next political career while students have the same lousy principals and central administrators for at least another year. Instead, a principal with a consistent track record of AU and failure to meet AYP is promoted. Others with previous records of scandal are left to create more scandal in sports programs. Instead of making sure the PR person received $100k more than she is worth, Miles should have been out recruiting secondary principals so that another year of the worst academic record in the state at the high school level isn't repeated. Instead, Miles' priority list was bringing in his smoke screen, promoting multiple TFAers with 2-3 years of teaching experience, and hauling in everyone in the state that he thought might be able to do his job for him. How hard is it to fire a principal with 4 straight years of AU for a track record? Why blame shoddy teaching when loser principals are simply ignored? What about those with sudden upswings in their math TAKS scores this year while their EOC results are some of the worst in the state? Twenty point increases in math scores only at the 10th grade to make AYP shouldn't simply be ignored, but they will be. Belo is playing dead possum on any real investigations but springs to life on public relations. They did the exact same thing for Hinojosa who left the district with the largest percentage of failing high schools in the state. Instead, the board allowed King to develop a budget that doesn't address the biggest elephant in the room--the complete debacle of the EOC exams. Instead, Miles the narcissist is out recruiting at least two layers too many of administrators to do his job for him. Why aren't the 20 EDs reporting directly to the superintendent. Why the waste in millions of dollars for another layer including SIN? Are these overpaid administrators a layer of convenient scapegoats? Miles has an excessive need to feel important. The fact that his need to feel important hasn't had a reality check by the trustees indicates they are totally clueless or need to be covered in wool since they have a herd instinct instead of brains. They just passed a budget they cannot even explain and they have allowed the new clown to waste months surrounding himself with overpaid administrators instead of addressing the primary problem in DISD--pathetic campus leadership. So DISD will be left with another year of very incompetent secondary principals and teacher vacancies filled with subs. Yes, Abigail, all education issues are actually campus-based, but reform in America is focused on changing the clown at the top instead of cleaning out the mess on the campus. Hinojosa's accommodation with SIN has left a disaster on high school campuses. Miles has been around for 4 months and the only name identification he has in Dallas is for wasteful spending.

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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 [Mike Miles] lacks the pedagogical, leadership and integrity qualities necessary to lead Dallas ISD and recommend the Board terminate his contract."

Citizens wanting to speak at regular board meetings and briefings must sign up by calling Board Services at (972) 925-3720 no later than 5 p.m. on the day before the meeting.

Contact the Superintendent and Trustees:
3700 Ross Avenue, Box 1
Dallas, TX 75204

Interim Superintendent Mike Hinojosa
Email coming soon

Lew Blackburn, 2nd Vice President
District 5
Term Expires May 2016
(972) 925-3718
Oak Lawn, West Dallas, Wilmer, Hutchins and portions of East Oak Cliff

Miguel Solis, 1st Vice President
District 8
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Love Field, Northwest Dallas, and Central Dallas

Eric Cowan, President
District 7
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North Central Oak Cliff and parts of West Dallas

Nancy Bingham, Secretary
District 4
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Southeast Dallas, Seagoville, Balch Springs

Edwin Flores
District 1
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Northwest Dallas, including North Dallas, Addison, parts of Carrollton and Farmers Branch

Mike Morath
District 2
Term Expired Dec 2015
(972) 925-3721
North and Near East Dallas

Dan Micciche
District 3
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(972) 925-3722
Northeast Dallas

Joyce Foreman
District 6
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Southwest Dallas

Bernadette Nutall
District 9
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South Dallas and parts of Downtown Dallas, Pleasant Grove, Deep Ellum, Uptown, and East Dallas

"Republics are created by the virtue, public spirit and intelligence of the citizens. They fall when the wise are banished from the public councils because they dare to be honest and the profligate are rewarded because they flatter the people in order to betray them." --Joseph Story, Commentaries on the Constitution, 1833