Mike Miles’ Principals Fellows program just blew through $5.1 million dollars and what did we get for it?
The kids in my classroom got nothing—not even air-conditioning this week.
Thanks, irresponsible Board of Trustees.
The 57 or so Fellows were hired to replace all of the principals Mike “Michelle Rhee” Miles was certain he’d be able to fire before this blog came along and ruined everything.
Now that the pink slips have arrived in the mail, however, principals and parents are fighting back; some principals have secured legal counsel and are standing their ground. Parents are attending community meetings and expressing outrage.
After the backlash against Miles it seems the Fellows have been told it looks like they won’t get the principal positions they were not promised (wink, wink) after all; they’ve been told to find other jobs even it means (gasp!) getting stuck back in the classroom. For some, that could mean a pay cut. For many it will mean a job as a principal outside the district. What a great return on our investment!
Along with DOLs and LOs, the Fellows program is nothing more than another empty idea from Miles that does nothing to address the true needs of DISD students. The district relinquished contractual rights to 375 buses to Dallas County Schools for $5.3 million to cover the academy’s price tag of $5.1M. Some trustees have wondered why administrators didn’t propose getting rid of the buses earlier, instead of closing some schools. Instead of adding teachers to the already decimated secondary schools; or staffing core high school classes with permanent teachers instead of substitutes; or addressing the discipline problems that continue to wreak havoc on almost every secondary comprehensive campus; or fixing the HVAC systems; what we have is a boondoggle of epic proportions.
The Fellows who end up leaving the district will take with them skills and experiences paid for by DISD taxpayers but not used to benefit DISD students. Unbelievably, the trustees were asked about this very possibility in the fall; they were asked if the Fellows’ contracts required any kind of commitment from the Fellows post-completion to make sure that DISD taxpayers were repaid for the investment made in each Fellow. The overall response seemed to be an “Of course! We would never be that dumb.” assurance, as if some were offended the concern was even voiced.
And yet, despite that very scenario becoming a reality and the complete waste of 5 MILLION DOLLARS, the program hasn’t been dismantled. In fact, a whole new cohort has submitted applications. At the March board meeting trustee Elizabeth Jones asked Miles about the funding of the program. She said that this year’s academy was a one-time expenditure that would be re-evaluated. Miles said he expects to roll the costs of the leadership academy into the budget, trustees be damned.
DISD taxpayers and students can’t afford this constant, pointless drain on resources. If an applicant wants to become a principal, he or she should pay for their own training and they should apply for a position as an assistant principal. DISD has long been accused of being nothing more than a jobs program for adults and now we clearly see this as true.
The 5 million dollars needs to be spent on pencils, HVAC repair or additional (certified) teachers. The Board needs to non-renew this wasteful Fellows program and, while they’re at it, they should non-renew Miles as well.