Why I Didn’t Sign Up for Summer School

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summer-schoolThousands of kids showed up for Summer School this week and I, for one, was not there to greet them.

Teaching in DISD is a hard job; teaching Summer School in DISD is even harder.

During the regular school year, teachers battle a combination of discipline problems, unresponsive parents, unreasonable test score expectations and now, with Miles, a constant stream of fishy spot observations and criticism of DOLs regardless of a teacher’s effectiveness as measured by test scores.  Additionally, the omnipresent threat of job loss based on spot obs (and supported by public comments from teachers in Miles’ last district) hangs like a black cloud over every teacher’s head.

During Summer School, the conditions worsen.  The entire student body consists of the students who failed despite all interventions.  A large percentage of these same students are disruptive and unable to behave appropriately in a classroom.  It’s a tough gig to jump in the trenches with so many below-level kids and get them up to speed so they can promote to the next grade.

In the past, however, hundreds of DISD teachers signed up to teach Summer School anyway.

This year things are very different.  This year, on top of the already exhausting conditions, teachers were promised more walk-through’s to “catch” teachers being bad, more spot observations and more scrutiny of the vaguely defined DOLs; in short, teachers were promised more opportunities to get fired.

So this year, thousands of teachers like me decided that the terrible conditions combined with Miles’ lust for churn just weren’t worth it.  As teachers, we saw the shortage of Summer School teachers coming.  We read the emails sent from Summer School principals during the last weeks of school listing all of the openings they needed to fill.  No one remembers receiving emails like that and certainly not so many of them.  We talked to teachers on our own campuses about the obvious shortage and what that would mean for the few brave souls who did sign up to teach.  We talked to teachers at other campuses and learned that they, too, weren’t up for more put-downs by Team Miles.

The public must understand that teachers are not “boycotting” Summer School; it’s not as if teachers signed up and then failed to show up.  Instead, the public must understand that working conditions and the threat of job loss are preventing teachers from doing what they are trained to do.

I didn’t sign up to teach Summer School and neither did thousands of others teachers.  If working conditions for DISD teachers do not improve, the Summer School shortage is but a coming preview of what kids and parents will face in August.

Don’t blame the teachers;  blame Mike Miles.

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101 comments
mschips
mschips

In desperation for more teachers, the former literacy coach at my school called me to help out at the summer academy for the 8th graders who needed to retake the staar for the 3rd time. Always willing to help out, I arrived on the fourth day of the eight day academy, a Thursday. I was given a test review packet that I had to use to be on the same page as the other teachers, and thrown into a class. No problem, I'm flexible. The other teachers, who had 30 to 40 students in their classes fanned their students out to me. We all ended up with about 25 to 30 students a piece. Rather large for a summer school class, but no problem...I can handle that. Student behavior was off the chain...no problem, I know many of the students are there because they have behavior problems, and many of the students just simply are sick and tired of studying for a test that is difficult for them pass...no problem, who can blame them? On the third day, in the middle of the first class, in walks a man who introduces himself as "only from downtown" and that he was there to observe. Wha...wha...what????  I continue teaching to a rather unruly class, glancing his way every now and then to figure out exactly what he was observing. I noticed he was writing down what I had on the board. Uh..oh, never occurred to me to put up a DOL and MRS. He stayed for about 15 minutes. During the lunch break I asked the AP in charge if I just received a spot observation?  Yes, I did.  Now I had a problem. I told her that I signed up to help out, not to get spot obs in this type of classroom situation. Her reply, "Calm down, he will debrief with me. Don't worry, I will be much tougher on the six week summer school teachers." Wow, really? I only stayed the next two days because we were just testing. I called my friend who was planning to teach for the six weeks there and told her to run and don't look back. Who needs this kind of micromanagement during summer vacation? Ugh! So glad to be out of there and enjoying my summer now.

OakCliffDatsMyHood
OakCliffDatsMyHood

Summer school is a waste of taxpayer dollars. The district funds summer school to re-teach students who did not apply themselves during the school year. In other districts parents have to pay to send their children to summer school.

Disrupted DISD
Disrupted DISD

This is off topic, but in reading the recent comments, it sounds as though many of those posting here were actually all present together at the board meeting last night.  Not exactly as fun as the aforementioned Happy Hour meeting would have been!

I can't help but picture how interesting it would have been to have had little cartoon bubbles above each person with their blog name over their heads so we could all see who we all are...... but I guess that would spoil the fun of guessing. 

My hat is off to all those who stayed for the entire meeting.  Your commitment to improving this district is commendable!

Rear View Mirror
Rear View Mirror

Well, the BOT still doesn't get it....maybe in September.

Aztec Warrior
Aztec Warrior

     Reflecting on last night's board meeting, I'd say it's been much ado about nothing. Ironically, the one thing that is seen as "innovative" is spending money on the fellows, money that could be better spent elsewhere. Yet in the classroom, "innovation" is severely limited by the micromanaged focus on L.O.'s and DOL's. So a draconian administrator is lauded as being "innovative".

     I appreciate that the BOT has a thankless job for no pay or respect. Actually, now that I think about it, I empathize as that's exactly how I feel, except I do get paid, yet my pay has not kept up with the cost of living. And apparently, I have no say in any of it.

     Watching Mr. Miles, I cannot imagine him being a diplomat. He signals his hurt and disbelief at every turn. I'll leave it to others is diagnosis his social disorder. I'm ready for civil disobedience at the kick-off. (I'll be there, as ordered as I need my 8 days for personal reasons, BUT I'm ready for something.)

Aztec Warrior
Aztec Warrior

It's 12:00 and Miles just thanked Kerri Holt for her hard work, and says that his staff doesn't get enough recognition for their hard work.

E Kim Selim
E Kim Selim

I attended my first BOT meeting in years. I am dumbfounded. Dr. Terry, the new CFO, says because about 2 percent vacancy is a natural occurance the district can assume about $18 million in savings.

Think about that. He is willing to budget for 100% of the teachers and then let 2% or 3200 kids have no teacher instead of budgeting for 102% of required teachers so all kids get a teacher. Amazing.

Also, notice that Bill McKenzie never reported that "Public charter schools serve only 5% of students in Dallas County, yet they receive nearly 40% of all direct investments in K-12 education."

Book Fairy
Book Fairy

I've not been to a BOT meeting in a long time. It is completely an Insane Clown Posse riding in a Flaming Clown Car.  It is really better than most movies (except when they have to vote to take a vote)  I hate to say it but I saw some pissy behavior at the BOT meeting.  I don't personally know Nancy Bingham, but Karma is a booger and her life form is getting lower and lower.  Maybe she doesn't understand that she comes across in such priggish manner. I think she stopped being about the kids a long, long time ago.  Morath's body language exudes entitled spoiled brat. He can go on  all the Christian missions he wants to, but that doesn't wipe away how he appears to his constituents. Jones? I don't know what to think about her. Jim Schutze had some interesting things to say but I'll wait to see what she does.  Lew, well Lew is the same Lew I've always seen.  Nuff said.   Cowan is really cute, he's got that whole Tim Robbins charm going on.  He's a corporate revenue director for a major chain.  He really should come across smarter than he does.  Cute will only get you so far.  Mighty Mite in the middle sure did smile and wink at a blonde who got up and walked across the room to speak to him during an interim.  I guess he likes blondes.  The Lone Carla Ranger is still the best bet to support the children.  My trustee Mr. Micciche sounds intelligent. I'm not sure what he is all about, but it better be what is best for the children or I'll be campaigning for his opponent next time.  Ms. Nuttall?  She seems proud of her area. She sure wanted to make sure that her name came off the items pulled for consent agenda voting. For some reason, she was listed as a trustee that wanted items pulled when it was in fact Nancy Bingham.  The right thing would have been for Ms. Bingham to speak up since she showed her rump about those items.  

I did really like the speaker who asked WHY the district wants to allot $5 Million dollars for this Leadership academy when there are numerous universities all around here who provide this training.  DOH.  As if DISD could start up something better from scratch.

I talked briefly to one of the camera men and he shook his head and said "When will that guy realize he's out of the 'burbs."  Dallas people are not just going to lie down and shut up.  He smiled and said "Making Hinojosa look like a really nice guy."  I said, "Yeah, and making Moses look like Jesus."

I wonder if there should be a sign over the door that says "Abandon Hope, all ye who enter here."

retiredteacher
retiredteacher

@Walden  To some your ideas sound radical, but they make a great deal of sense in some regard. I would argue, though, that the states and local districts have always been the prime funders of education. The federal monies are not that large, as they mainly fund Title programs, bilingual, special ed., deaf ed, etc. etc. The state of Texas has been cutting back on funds for education for decades during a huge population growth spurt (primarily Latino), long before the financial crisis occurred, when they made the 5.8B cuts.

Could it be that our predominantly Anglo,  Republican legislators haven't much interest in funding education for Spanish speaking kids whom they expect will not vote for them? Does the fact that so many legislators are rural and have no interest in big city problems figure in their lack of interest in urban education? Do businesses really want an educated workforce whom they'd have to pay higher wages? These questions, along with the ones you raised come to mind more and more as we look at our Texas legislators' voting record---a legislature who is lead by the Neanderthal Rick Perry.

James Boutin
James Boutin

Where did Miles get credentialed?

I think the only way to combat this BS is to have tons and tons of conversations with parents and school board members about the fallacy of high-stakes tests as legitimate measures of student/teacher/school/district achievement. I spent time teaching in DC while Michelle Rhee was in charge, and every horrible way that teachers were treated could be traced back to that belief. The same ridiculous notion is at the crux of nearly every silly policy being pushed in districts around the nation, and around the world.

Persona non grata
Persona non grata

"Price maintains the majority of the board of trustees is under the thumb of Dallas business leaders.

“I expect them to continue to validate what the business community says is best for children of color and poor kids," Price said.

And what's not right for DISD, he said, is Mike Miles."

http://www.wfaa.com/news/John-Wiley-Price-213402911.html

Walden
Walden

Just curious.  Has it ever occurred to the teachers that the current state of public education chaos is exactly what the extreme right (I include TX leadership in their ilk) wants.  For some decades federal funding for state public education has been drying up -- much like the water supply in TX (let's all frack some more).  Public education has been forced into the hands of the state.  When the state's funding is deficient, local school district taxing bodies provide funding.  Oddly, wealthy school districts can ensure funding for "quality" schools much more easily than poor districts.  So, how does that play into the extreme right wing agenda?  Education is the tool that created a large, educated middle class.  A very large middle class.  The only way that the powers of the extreme right can be stymied is at the ballot box.  An aware, sophisticated, educated electorate is the weapon the right wing fears.  They saw what it could do in the 60's and 70's.  They do not intend to allow such a force to frustrate their agenda.  While making America a much more stupid country is not good for the country, the wealthy and powerful do believe it to be in their best interest.  And they are correct.  And they also do not care one whit about America.  They care about their particular interests.  Public education does not have a place in the right wing agenda.

retiredteacher
retiredteacher

I just got a call from a cousin who told me his daughter had been let go at her school in California with no warning. I said, "She was working in a charter, wasn't she?" He said "Yes, but 4 people were not renewed and there was no warning." He seemed shocked but we aren't. Unfortunately DISD's practices are becoming the same way. Alas. The decimation of the teaching corps continues.

retiredteacher
retiredteacher

Here's a poetic adaptation of Maya Angelou's "And Still I Rise," posted on the BAT Facebook site:

Here is an AMAZING poem by Sue Doherty as she writes "Here's my stab at adapting Maya Angelou's poem "And Still I Rise" to teaching, as suggested by Mark Naison"

And Still I Teach

You may paint me as a union thug
who’s nothing but a leech.
You may say I’m dumb and greedy
but still, with love, I’ll teach.

Does my experience upset you?
... Why are you filled with such hate?
‘Cause I don’t need your manuals
to hook students with canned bait?

Just like Socrates and Montessori,
with the certainty of each,
just like Annie Sullivan, with passion,
still I’ll teach.

Do you want to see me standardized?
Head bowed, voice monotone,
following a corporate script of
knowledge stripped to the bone?

Does my individuality offend you?
Don’t you let it get you down,
‘cause I teach like H.D. Thoreau’s
residing in my crown.

You may smear me with your media lies,
you may displace me with your foundation’s reach,
you may diminish my voice with your money piles,
but still, with truth, I’ll teach.

Does my honesty upset you?
Does it dismay you to know
that I’m a thinking human being
who sees through your selfish show?

In neglected and isolated country schools,
I teach.
In leafy and high pressure suburban schools,
I teach.
In overcrowded and decaying city schools,
I teach.

I’m a wise ocean
in tune with the sun,
ready to save my students
from a tornado or a gun.

Straining under constantly changing mandates and high stakes tests,
I teach.
Stepping into my classroom where youthful energy never rests,
I teach
Knowing that learning is messy and social and sometimes wild,
in my room, I’m the guide and mentor for every child.
I teach,
I teach,
I teach.

Persona non grata
Persona non grata

Oooooo...national news about Dallas. Ouch!

See the Dallas business leaders trying to remake the district in their own image.

See Rick Perry touting pro-business Texas to other states.

See DISD near anarchy on national news...

Yeah, big business types. Relocate in Dallas!

"Oops" indeed!

13th Year
13th Year

@mschips Wow...all these observations make me think of the Dr. Suess story about the watchers, then the ones who watch the watchers, and those who watch the watcher-watchers....ad infinitum. What kind of teaching happens within this environment?  How is this improving student outcomes?


Persona non grata
Persona non grata

"I appreciate that the BOT has a thankless job for no pay or respect."

Given the corpus of the actions, positions and opinions of the BOT this past year, I share no appreciation whatsoever.

Do their actions, positions and opinions demonstrate that they:

1. Work deeply, passionately and fervently for ALL DISD children?

2. Stay clear of and denounce all outside interests seeking an inside advantage.

3. Keep their personal financial interest TOTALLY separate from their public service?

4. Have a deep respect for the 10,000 teachers in their employ.

5. Value input from stakeholders?

6. See the face of a low SES minority child on every vote?

7. Are 110% behind PUBLIC education vs. for-profit charters?

The buck stops on the BOT conference table. No, I have no respect whatsoever for this brood of vipers and their venomous superintendent.

13th Year
13th Year

Did they approve the budget with the principals academy?

Pancho Villa
Pancho Villa

@ E Kim Selim it is always about the money you s... h... There isn't any where else to steal from. The empire is going belly up.

DISD soaps
DISD soaps

@Book Fairy Your blow by blow recount is pretty good.  Wish I had been sitting next to you to compare notes.

dallasparent
dallasparent

@Walden You forget Miles is a democrat and then there is Arne Duncan in the Obama administration.  Least not forget Michelle Rhea is also a democrat.  Common Core Standards is also a "left wing" push.  So,  you can't play partisan on this issue. 

It's also still in the courts about properly funding education in this state. 

 Look at the businesses and "corporatists" pushing the reform movement and those involved like the chamber of commerce (National Chamber of Commerce) and you will discover this is not a right wing agenda. 

That being said, the ones who suffer through all this political mess are the kids.  Nationally you will see that the educational reform movement isn't working and it is about money.  Greed is bipartisan.

Quo Qu ohhh
Quo Qu ohhh

@Walden I assumed everyone was aware, yes. Perhaps I was mistaken... Rick Perry's Texas is certainly the right terrain in which to continue "fracking" public education into extinction.

Pointless
Pointless

@1 4 the road  And the graphic artist here is much better than DO's.  Poor job,  Jim. Poor Job. just like your story. Can't wait for the full length version. Surely one of the writers here will take him on. 

retiredteacher
retiredteacher

The Observer article conveniently ignores ALL the Anglo and Latino teachers, principals, custodians, etc. who know Mike Miles is bogus. It is NOT about Bernadette Nuttall or Lew Blackburn or Elizabeth Jones' comments. The Observer seems to imply that Miles deserves carte blanche when in fact he deserves the boot for myriad reasons: 1) unqualified. 2) his plans are bogus 3) favors firing people over working with them 4) is gutting classroom teachers to hire more administrators/quasi-administrators 5) mandating teaching strategies that are absurd.

Disrupted DISD
Disrupted DISD

@retiredteacher 

THAT is powerful.  Thank you for sharing. 

Do you think that the board members would even listen if a teacher read that to them tonight at the board meeting?

Tired Tech Teacher
Tired Tech Teacher

@Vendetta I just love the messages that some of the people post in reply when it's about teachers... And we wonder why things get the way they do.

manyeyes
manyeyes

How are those watchers walking around in ill-fitting, cheap suits helping DISD students? They're not. If they would stop to ask a child to read to them or write something they would figure out that these kids need real, deep learning experiences. Some of the students will tell you straight up that they never read anything they liked in their lives. The "bring your own books" joke in the graphic at the top of this post is spot-on, and could be part of the solution if the students actually had books at home to bring.

Can you imagine a where teachers could freely plan for teaching reading without fear of Mrs. Dollo interfering with the children's educations? Yes, you can, and that is why teachers are resigning from this district.

retiredteacher
retiredteacher

@dallasres  You are quite right that the reform movement has supporters in both parties. I like to think that the Dems who support these draconian reforms are simply misguided, but that's my bias showing. The corporatists from both parties have been having a field day with education.

The national Chamber of Commerce, on the other hand, is one of the most right-wing groups out there in the sense that they are totally anti-government and firmly contend that NO tax is a good tax. They are Tea Partiers, throwing all their money behind right-wing candidates, and they are big supporters of charters, vouchers, etc.  

However, you are right that greed is bipartisan, but while the Dems don't wish to demolish the school lunch program or after school programs; the Republicans do.  I'll take off my partisan hat now in agreement with you that both parties are misguided when it comes to public education, high stakes testing as a solution, and corporatizing of education.  

On that we can agree.

Persona non grata
Persona non grata

Normal franking: taps natural gas reserves.

DISD fracking: taps public funds reserves.

Persona non grata
Persona non grata

@Disrupted DISD @retiredteacher 

My guess is "No" because their personal and political agendas trump what's best for their employees and the children of DISD.

Given the chain of events from the very beginning of FMM's tenure, how can any thinking person come to any other conclusion? Every day that they delay cutting him loose reinforces the perception that their priorities are located 180 degrees from those of their employees and the students of DISD.

A is for Abigail
A is for Abigail

@Tired Tech Teacher The good news is that the results of DISD's deplorable working conditions are getting national attention.

The Dallas business leaders who support MIles so much need to get a clue that this sort of national attention is not the sort they really want to keep getting.

manyeyes
manyeyes

@retiredteacher Awesome.  What a gift.  I've seen teachers do similar and the results can be life-changing and I don't think that's an exaggeration.

Here on the summer school thread, think of the irony:  Summer could be the time kids caught up on their reading (teachers, too).   Along with just catching up with life.  I agree.  All teachers should have an in-classroom library.  

retiredteacher
retiredteacher

I taught high school, but I had a classroom library in my room. An avid reader myself, I brought books to school when I finished them.. The students could check them out from me and return when finished. When I retired, I left most of the books for the woman who took my place. All teachers should do this I think. It doesn't take many years to build a substantial library.

13th Year
13th Year

@Aztec Warrior @13th Year So, DISD will not be officially raising classroom size in middle school, and the Principal Academy has another year to prove it is training effective leaders?  How did that affect the bottom line of the budget---where did the extra money come from, or did that not get addressed?

dallasparent
dallasparent

@retiredteacher @dallasres Take a look at the National Chamber of Commerce.  It surprised even me.  As far as "big money" goes, most of it was donated to the dems in the last national election.  Both parties are on the charter ban wagon.  There is money to be made with the non profits by taking tax money.  (School closings in Chicago, Los Angeles, Philly to name a few so charters can spring up.) Don't let the lunch or breakfast programs fool you either.  Vendors are profiting on the backs of tax payers.  How much of that food is thrown away?  I would go on, but it is pointless.  Politics as usual is at play on both sides.  As far as taxes go, I'm glad I live in this state instead of where I used to reside, California.  It is a tax and spend state.  Businesses and people are fleeing due to the high cost of living and the unemployment rate.  Also, in CA, how would you like 32 - 34 first graders in your class?  I understand that is the norm in NY as well.  I wish I had all the answers.  If  I did I would have heavy pockets as well.

Disrupted DISD
Disrupted DISD

@Persona non grata @retiredteacher

Well, we need to continue to expose that truth so that the good citizens of Dallas can be informed about this travesty, and can rise up and very publicly demand better for the children.

(1) DISD Fall 2013 Climate Survey (223 page, 4.5 Mb PDF)

(2) Public Education Grant (PEG) List of 57 Failing DISD Schools

(3) View school master schedules. Fall 2013. Sort by teacher, class, grade, etc.

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

Eric Cowan, President
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
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

Carla Ranger, 2nd Vice President
District 6
Term Expires 2014
cranger@dallasisd.org
(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

Open Mike Community Meetings 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm
DATE LOCATION • ADDRESS
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May 12
Seagoville High School • 15920 Seagoville Rd., 75253