Up Close and Personal with the Underside of a Bus

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Thrown uner the busImagine for a moment that you are Jennifer Sprague.
You are not yet 35 years old.
You have uprooted your family and moved to a new state.
You have followed the only boss you have known for many years.
Your salary is so high it still makes the news months after it was offered.
Why in the world would you suddenly resign?

You probably wouldn’t and she probably didn’t.

Considering that this is DISD, it’s far more likely that Jennifer Sprague was asked to take one for Team Miles and that she is becoming quite familiar with the underside of a bus.  Sure, it’s one of the really nice buses reserved to take the 3700 bigwigs to the convocation in plush, air-conditioned comfort but still….she’s under the bus.

Regardless of how it went down, though, this latest episode shows that Team Miles is predictably imploding.  And even if the “reform community” tries to blame the whole disaster on resistant teachers, the public knows better.

The truth is that edu-reformers brought Miles to town, with the help of the likes of Mike Morath, Mayor Mike and Lew Blackburn.  Once here, Miles simply doubled-down on the standard edu-reform agenda:  tax dollars.  Excessive salaries, expedient policy violations, more excessive salaries, the “need” for TFA and students left in the care of substitute teachers to free up even more cash.

As the implosion continues—and it will—our community must fight back against the duplicitous edu-reformers waiting in the wings because we are all ready for real change.  Now is the time to put on our thinking caps and find a superintendent who will serve children and families instead of the edu-reformers.

Sprague’s introduction to under-the-bus realities signals the beginning of the end, but also the beginning of the beginning for students in DISD.

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108 comments
Blackout Vertical Blinds
Blackout Vertical Blinds

I know public school teachers must teach all STUDENTS who walk through the door even the disruptive students whose parents do not really care or cannot control their child's behavior or actions.

1 4 the road
1 4 the road

If charter schools seem to be the political "cure-all" for public education; Why not let Uplift or another charter take over 1 high school like Pinkston, Kimball or North Dallas High School "AS IS", with all the same amount of funding the building and the same STUDENTS who should attend. I teach in public school and the rules of charter schools are so very different. I have seen charter schools threaten students who do conform to the charter school policies will be sent back to regular public education. Charter schools pick and choose their students, whereas public schools must take all and keep all in school by state laws and local laws.My kids go to charter school cause I care they get the best education. I know public school teachers must teach all STUDENTS who walk through the door even the disruptive students whose parents do not really care or cannot control their child's behavior or actions. 

Talk is Cheap
Talk is Cheap

Today's DMN education section talks about a high school in DISD serving the needs of homeless population. As educators we shouldn't forget that amidst our adult issues, we have students to serve and educate and no matter what our issues are with the current board and Mike Miles, we stand taller than them by making our school a better place for our students through kindness and compassion. Thank you North Dallas High School for showing these virtues to your students. http://www.dallasnews.com/news/education/headlines/20121223-homeless-teens-find-shelter-from-stormy-lives-at-north-dallas-high-school.ece To all teachers in DISD, Merry Christmas!

Persona non grata
Persona non grata

•Why does our non-research "leader" imply that strict adherence to his LO/DOL/MGR rubric indicates a superlative teacher but Stanford University recommends a rich and balanced rubric with 5 characteristics? http://ctl.stanford.edu/handbook/characteristics-of-effective-teachers.html  •Why did our BOT hire FMM, support him and now appears to be going all wobbly on whether or not to fire him for lying his way to a blatant breach of contract? •Why do feet smell and noses run?

OakCliffDatsMyHood
OakCliffDatsMyHood

I say we all go down to 3700 Ross Ave and display our own MRSs on pickets!!! Who's with me!

Rear View Mirror
Rear View Mirror

The Atena Foundation in Dallas sent out a flyer as the director has been quite ill. This is quoted from the flyer; "...Athena's perseverance in the face of trubulations caused by attempts to reform teaching by standardizing the teachers rather than given them encouragement to grow as lifelong learners."

 

  Why is it that all the foundations dedicated to learning and education are all against the reform movement and yet the business community continues to push for standardization? As we standardize, we also "mediocrize" by setting the ceiling low, and yet we still aren't able to help those who need the most in lifelong skills. Maybe we need a group that will try to address the real needs of poverty kids in a better way than reading and answering questions in bytes of learning in a formal way. Wouldn't it have been a great staff development to have some new research to mull over instead of another 3 hours of DOL writing?

 

   Somehow we have to counteract the reform movement enmasse and not just quietly in our classrooms. We can't have a true union, but we can get together and make our own reform movement.

 

   Or are these the Christmas cookies talking?

Persona non grata
Persona non grata

Washington Educators Start Recruiting School Board Candidates http://educationvotes.nea.org/2011/04/25/washington-educators-start-recruiting-school-board-candidates/ "Wanted: school board members who understand what it means to work in a school, or who will at least listen to those who do." “We teachers have been sort of hemmed in here and our voice is not even considered to be a legitimate part of the debate anymore,” Knapp said. “How do we push back on that? Getting involved in school board politics is one of the ways to do that.” "The Wellstone Action program trains participants to work in recruiting teams. Frank conversations encouraging people to run for office can be difficult, but role playing ahead of time helps them prepare." 

Blog worm
Blog worm

It's all over Harrison media how bad mm is. How did we get him. How was he recommended to us. Did the board or anyone else not read that bed info on him

rearview
rearview

It looks like the teachers in this district are soon to get a great Xmas present.....Mighty Mite looks about ready to either get fired or resign.  I pray so........and I hope that audit exposes him for what he is and has always been.  I do believe the man has the most arrogant look to him that I've ever seen in my life.......makes the old taco vendor look positively angelic by comparison.  This ridiculous little man didn't realize what DISD was like and how it can be a deal breaker.  Hopefully this will mean the end of his career as a superintendent, or in education period.  God Bless each and everyone of you teachers who have had to put up with this horrible little man and his cronies.  The good guys and gals will win this thing......

Persona non grata
Persona non grata

Never too early to be thinking about some new drivers for the BOT bus! "A conviction that public education is important" jumped out at me! How many of our trustees give lip service to this idea as they prepare the way for the privatization (charters for profit) of our DISD? http://www.mnmsba.org/Public/displaycontent.cfm?ScreenID=459 "What Makes a Good Board Member? Effective school board members share a number of common characteristics, but it's important to realize they did not become effective the instant they were elected. Many qualities are acquired through experience and are important to consider: •A conviction that public education is important •The ability to make decisions •Loyalty to the democratic process •Time and energy to devote to board business, including board development opportunities •Ability to accept the will of the majority •Respect for district staff •Ability to communicate well with others •Courage"

Persona non grata
Persona non grata

It's easy to focus on the problems (mayhem?) swirling around FMM but the BOT is the source of the mess under the bus, on the bus and about the trip plan of the bus! Take a look at these characteristics for effective school boards and do your own "spot evaluation" of our BOT. WARNING: #4 and #7 may cause you to choke and/or convulse. Proceed with caution!!! Also, this is a detailed study---take a look at the entire document for some great details! http://www.centerforpubliceducation.org/Main-Menu/Public-education/Eight-characteristics-of-effective-school-boards/Eight-characteristics-of-effective-school-boards.html "1. Effective school boards commit to a vision of high expectations for student achievement and quality instruction and define clear goals toward that vision. 2. Effective school boards have strong shared beliefs and values about what is possible for students and their ability to learn, and of the system and its ability to teach all children at high levels. 3. Effective school boards are accountability driven, spending less time on operational issues and more time focused on policies to improve student achievement. 4. Effective school boards have a collaborative relationship with staff and the community and establish a strong communications structure to inform and engage both internal and external stakeholders in setting and achieving district goals. 5. Effective boards are data savvy; they embrace and monitor data, even when the information is negative, and use it to drive continuous improvement. 6. Effective school boards align and sustain resources, such as professional development, to meet district goals. 7. Effective school boards lead as a united team with the superintendent, each from their respective roles, with strong collaboration and mutual trust. 8. Effective school boards take part in team development and training, sometimes with their superintendents, to build shared knowledge, values and commitments for their improvement efforts."

mired by mike
mired by mike

Here's something fun for your holidays!

 

coloradoschoolgrades.com just released their grade rankings for schools in Colorado.

Sierra High School: C-, 68% of students who went to college needed to take remedial courses

Harrison High School: C, 75% of students needed to take remedial courses in college

 

Similar scores for the other schools I looked up (middle). Wow, we sure got ourselves a reformer, here. 

Blog worm
Blog worm

What does Jenny's husband do

Blog worm
Blog worm

Mm home in Harrison on heathrow dr was valued at 365000. His home here in dallas only valued at 275000 on hock adapt dr.

Blog worm
Blog worm

How could Jenny receive a severance package. ......she is the one who resigned......I still remember her Facebook this summer. She was so excited to tell her Facebook world that she had secured a great job in dallas and tat she was moving her entire family to dallas. She was so excited. So sad things turned our this way for her. Years ago I followed a favorite principal to a high school position and that idea was a bad one for me also

retiredteacher
retiredteacher

Where is info that Sprague received a seerance package? I saw it referenced here but no article. I no longer subscribe to DMN except on Sunday. That occurred the day I read in the editorial pages that they are proponents of vouchers. The pro-business model for education that they support was for this retired teacher a nerve was li ke chalk ob a blackboard. I could no longer conscience paying big bucks for this anti-education rag, which has lost all semblance of objectivity. Anyone long for the days when the Times Herald still existed? My holiday hope is that I soon read these headlines: Miles ousted!

DOL doo doo
DOL doo doo

2012 Rendition of “Jing Your Bells, DOls” (NO Inappropriate words)

 

Dashing through the cabinet

In a one-dictator sleigh

O'er the BOT I go

It’s the policy breaking way

I am Short Man King

Making admin. quit

What fun it is to fire and sing

BOT I ain’t your taking your Bull_ _ _ _!

 

(chorus)

Jing  your bells, DOLs,

Jingle all the way.

Oh! what fun it is to fire admin.

In a one-dictator sleigh, Hey!

Jing your bells, DOls,

Jingle all the way;

Oh! what fun it is to fire admin.

In a one-dictator sleighhhhhhhhhh.

 

(Just a little humor to what will be remembered as a bizarre school year.)

MrGlen
MrGlen

When mm is gone the next people that need to go are the BOT, except for Ranger. After that, then all the kool-aid drinkers go with them ( ineffective principals) The new board could or should recruit Alan King back. Let King clean up Ross Ave.  Promote the auditor that brought all of the fiscal mess to light. Also, the mayor must be kicked to the curb as well. There are successful districts all throughout North Texas. Learn from them on how to run a school district.

Persona non grata
Persona non grata

At what point does the TEA get involved in a district that is as dysfunctional as ours? Only when statistics (academic, financial or others) fall below a certain threshold? Anyone have any information about the TEA intervening in a district? Must a district totally implode before they assist? Are there rubrics available for framing complaints?, etc.?

Exceeds and Proud
Exceeds and Proud

The man is a snake oil salesman. I'm holding my breath hoping against hope that news will hit the airwaves that he is gone as of January 1. What a gift that would be to the staff and students of DISD! A true New Years miracle. But it doesn't end there, Abigail Adams is right, we mustn't stop until we have a BOT that is truly FOR the kids of Dallas. I was reading the comments on Dallas Observer and some rich folk want to divide the school into five parts....dontcha see? It's all about going back to Dallas' racist ways...the Haves versus the HaveNots. We don't want to have to worry about those students in the poor section of town, as long as my kid gets the benefit of a good education and my tax dollars don't go toTHOSE people - the 96% poverty stricken students in southern Dallas. Filth abounds in this city and I've been blind to it until now! I remember the racial turmoil in the '70s here in Dallas and its appalling to see that it's alive and well.

JWGMD
JWGMD

Can someone please explain to me how she gets a severance package after resigning? I should would like to work for a few months, resign and get paid.

TeacherClosetoRetirement
TeacherClosetoRetirement

 @Rear View Mirror

 The Athena Foundation is and has been a treasure for Dallas teachers. In contemplating Its reverence for the creative acts of teaching and learning and its acknowledgement that the search for meaning through literature enriches teacher and student alike, I am struck by the absurdities of DOLs and MRS and all the other nonsense. The contrast between the lack of respect for teachers as shown by mm and the profound respect as shown by the dedicated scholars of the Athena Foundation is stark, indeed.

manyeyes
manyeyes

 @Rear View Mirror Bravo, and absolutely.  It speaks volumes that a quality organization like the Athena Foundation would make such a statement.  They realize that the trends in the DISD have been downward, and for years they have done heroes' jobs in providing chances for teachers to study great works seriously; something the DISD simply does not afford them.  

 

I heard this week that Herschel Gower passed away just before the holiday.  Dona and Alison Gower remain and their organization will continue.  Peace to them in their grief, and may many more teachers and learners come to know and support them.

disgruntled
disgruntled

 @mired by mike I don't doubt the veracity of your statements, but, for our sake, can you point to a source?

disgruntled
disgruntled

 @Blog worm  Who cares?.  Changing your screen name doesn't mean you're not the same troll.

disgruntled
disgruntled

 @Blog worm It's called cost of living Cardiogirl.  Where MM chooses to live doesn't bear a whit of difference on his leadership.

Exceeds and Proud
Exceeds and Proud

@MrGlen As for the BOT, you get what you pay for...oh, right, we don't pay the BOT, so who can afford to have that expensive hobby? Right, those people who make enough money to afford to work for FREE, and who have personal agendas. Now factor in the cost of a campaign. Finally, teachers cannot run for the district they work in.you are left with rich businessmen or retirees. Sorry, but once I'm retired, I'm hitting the beach in Florida.

Beer in Hand
Beer in Hand

 @MrGlen  Until teachers who work in DISD but  live in the suburbs actually make it a priority to help us in Dallas ELECT competent leaders,  this will go on. The day s of not worrying about DISD once you go home to Mesquite or Rockwall or Duncanville are over.

Exceeds and Proud
Exceeds and Proud

@Persona non grata The TEA is run by phonies in Austin, cronyism is alive and well in the state of Texas. Now I see that the whole "school reform" movement is a way of getting tax dollars out of the schools and into enterprenurial hands to create an elitist system where the haves keep getting and the have nots are too ignorant to care. We must stop this!

Persona non grata
Persona non grata

@Exceeds and Proud Might be interesting if the 4 districts were carved out vertically do that there would be equal north/south schools. But we all know the districts would be created in quarters: 2 north of I-30 and 2 south of I-30.

Beer in Hand
Beer in Hand

 @JWGMD ight I suggest you send in a Freedom of Information Act request on this matter? Ask for all emails, memoes, call logs and so on. See if there is policy on contracts providing severance packages.If you workin DISD, get someone who doesn't to do it for you. The MORE people demand accountability, the MORE change will come SOONER.

maui73
maui73

 @JWGMD

 I don't know how. Hinojosa got a big fat check. Just remember that ill-gotten money will find its way out of their pockets and that KARMA is a real construct.

Rear View Mirror
Rear View Mirror

 @JWGMD I don't know. But SIN got a 23K raise then took that with her when she was let go. So the severance package may be a legal way of  giving a bonus; again, taken out of the schools' pockets and put into the pocket of his friends.

Rear View Mirror
Rear View Mirror

 @Beer in Hand  @MrGlen

 I assure you ALL teachers who found it cheaper to live outside of Dallas proper do NOT forget about DISD when we go home. By living outside of the city of Dallas, and NOT paying the large housing prices back when I bought my house, I have been able to provide shoes, food, socks,  the bulk of my school supplies for the kids, printers, cartridges, etc. for the DISD school I am in. We are totally vested in DISD whether or not we live within the city limits or east or south of the city. The ONLY thing I can't do is vote for the school board and the mayor. My kids attended the local PUBLIC school. I haven't left DISD - didn't take another disctrict's offer 10 years ago, and certainly don't abandon my kids just because I live outside of the city limits.

 

Please folks, we're all in the together. Let's not start picking on each other over where we live!

 

abcteacher
abcteacher

You are so correct.  When DISD  teacher's children attend DISD schools, that might change matters also.  Worked in a DISD school and most teachers and the principal's kids went to private schools.  Didn't understand it then nor do I now.

Beer in Hand
Beer in Hand

 @Exceeds and Proud  @Persona They eant DISD to fail, so they can spend the oney on charters, hence Todd Williams being an advisor and teamplayer on all matters DISD, while also creating a set of charter schools. Oh, and his kids go to HP schools, so he literally is a hypocrite.

Rear View Mirror
Rear View Mirror

 @Beer in Hand  @MrGlen

 I understand your point. I do write, have been writing, get a form reply. No, no retailiation, but I am in a school where good teaching is encouraged and we mostly ignor the crap from FMM. I appreciate the insight.

   I DO live in Dallas County so I pay county and Parkland taxes. At least I help pay for the buses!! :)

teachergirl
teachergirl

 @Beer in Hand  @Rear View Mirror  @MrGlen I do not live in Dallas, either. But I have started going to every board meeting, except the last one. It was worth it to sit and jeer and grumble at him with everyone else. I agree that we need more teachers at every meeting. From my school there are only 1 or 2 besides me that go. Just the presence would say something. I do not ever get done in time to make it to open mike. I do send emails, but not brave enough to sign my real name. Has anyone been retaliated against after they have spoken?  

MrGlen
MrGlen

 @Beer in Hand  @Rear View Mirror

 you are right about getting active. The worst thing really for teachers is that there are so many groups/organizations representing them. One big presence is better than a splintered many little voices. Parents can't be left out of the equation either.

Beer in Hand
Beer in Hand

 @Rear View Mirror  @MrGlen You misunderstood. NOT picking, pointing out. Look over the detailed reports all candidates for the trustee positions have to fill out. Notice how many teachers give money? Not many at all. But companies, yes. RIch people, sure!  Unions give some, AFT gives way more than the other one, but they area much bigger gorup. Still, in the last election, candidates backed by the new PACs--which support the system we are dealing with--- received upwards of $45-60,000 in an election that normally costs about $10 grand. They sent a message that they can outspend any challenge to the way things are done in Dallas. What can overcome that? Well, teachers working on campaigns, walking door to door, making calls, donating money. You don't have to live in Dallas for that. But when you go home and your taxes don't pay for this mess, you are just simply not as involved. Do you teach in Southest Dallas? Whom will you find to run against Bingham? After saying this term would be her last, it seems not so. Seagoville, Pleasant Grove, Baclh Springs? Help find someone NOW. Same for the other tqwo seats. What about coming to the trustee meetings? There should be an overflow at every meeting. There should be 10-20-30 speakers signed up every month. We have over 10,000 of us. Why so quiet? Why always the same ten, over-exposed people at the microphones every month, year after year? (Not that they don't speak well, but we are tired of them.) Come to the Open Mike forums. Be brave enough to speak up. Write emails to the trustees. Drake taught them that they cannot mess with us by merely asking a question. Maybe if they got 100 emails PER WEEK, that would send a message. When you go hunting, there are always more ducks than there is buckshot. Time to stop being afraid of getting shot.... Get visible.

OakCliffDatsMyHood
OakCliffDatsMyHood

 @Aztec Warrior  @abcteacher Amen Aztec! Mr. Miles has consistently redirected questions about parent accountability back to classroom effectiveness.

 

...OopsI I forgot, holding parents accountable for their child's academic well being goes against today's standards of child-rearing. Sorry!

Exceeds and Proud
Exceeds and Proud

@Aztec Warrior @abcteacher I can tell you exactly how teachers afford private school-they marry someone who has a "real" job, making real money, with real benefits, and nice perks. We chose a private school for our daughters because I didn't want to have to deal with the public school system in the suburb where we lived. It wasn't even Dallas! There are problems in private schools, too. They are far from perfect-I was persona non grata at our elementary, because I questioned EVERYTHING! Poor educational practices abound, it all boils down to who you know, not what you know.

Aztec Warrior
Aztec Warrior

 @abcteacher

Some of the best teachers around are in DISD. Problem is not with the teachers, it's frankly with the kids those teachers have to put up with. There, I said it.

 

If my children read, do their homework, come to class prepared, respectful, ready to learn,  have outside interests that they can talk about, have passed TAKS, and will pass STAAR while their current district spent no time at all on testing strategies, tell me again why I should send them to DISD?

 

They can't have recess, teacher spends too much time on what others haven't done (homework, etc.) then discipline, then the ADD child is acting up again, differentiation really means remediation, the higher kids aren't ever challenged to their capacity, little time is spent teaching, state mandated gym is never provided daily as required by law, too many principals with dubious quirks abound, good students are siphoned off to the academies. etc. etc.

 

I chose to work for DISD because all children deserve a good teacher, and those things don't scare me, but why should I subject my children to those things? Do we expect Dallas police to live in the heart of the areas they patrol?

 

Now, how a DISD teacher affords private school, I don't know, but why should someone be criticized for choosing a good public school system for their children just because the one they work for can't get its act together?

 

 

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We know words are powerful and ideas even more so. Profanity isn't really necessary for emphasis or a substitute for passion here. Thank you.

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."

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

Superintendent Mike Miles
milesfm@dallasisd.org

Lew Blackburn, 1st Vice President
District 5
Term Expires 2016
lblackburn@dallasisd.org
(972) 925-3718
Oak Lawn, West Dallas, Wilmer, Hutchins and portions of East Oak Cliff

Miguel Solis, Board President
District 8
Term Expires 2014
miguelsolis@dallasisd.org
(972) 925-3721
Love Field, Northwest Dallas, and Central Dallas

Eric Cowan
District 7
Term Expires 2016
ecowan@dallasisd.org
(972) 925-3721
North Central Oak Cliff and parts of West Dallas

Nancy Bingham
District 4
Term Expires 2016
nbingham@dallasisd.org
(972) 925-3722
Southeast Dallas, Seagoville, Balch Springs

Elizabeth Jones, 2nd Vice President
District 1
Term Expires 2015
elizabethjones@dallasisd.org
(972) 925-3722
Northwest Dallas, including North Dallas, Addison, parts of Carrollton and Farmers Branch

Mike Morath
District 2
Term Expires 2014
mmorath@dallasisd.org
(972) 925-3721
North and Near East Dallas

Dan Micciche, Board Secretary
District 3
Term Expires 2015
danmicciche@dallasisd.org
(972) 925-3722
Northeast Dallas

Joyce Foreman
District 6
Term Expires 2017
email coming
(972) 925-3722
Southwest Dallas

Bernadette Nutall
District 9
Term Expires 2015
benutall@dallasisd.org
(972) 925-3721
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