Pointing Fingers

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e-jonesThere’s probably a wiki-how page out there on it. Maybe it’s taught in Journalism 201. The reality is Dallas news media is engaging in a marathon session of POINT THE FINGER at Dallas ISD that puts Wendy Davis’s Texas Senate filibuster to shame for dogged devotedness to an agenda.

Everyone agrees the recent (and not so recent) cabinet level retires, resigns, and quits at DISD on Superintendent Mike Miles’ watch is not a good thing. What is not agreed upon is whose fault it is. The DMN lays the blame on both Miles and the trustees and wishes they would all play nicely together. Jim Schutze at the Observer’s Unfair Park blog came out Thursday with an unequivocal pronouncement that the departures are a result of “fault that lies utterly and totally with the school board.”

That’s pretty strong language. To justify his stance, Schutze drags out his tired argument that Lew Blackburn and Bernadette Nutall are waging a race-based war against those that would eliminate jobs for blacks at DISD. Heaping on the sins, he then accuses Blackburn of suggesting that staff has lied to the board, all in an effort to throw staff under the bus with the intended goal of running Miles out of town as soon as there’s no one left to cover for him.

Then Schutze goes after trustee Elizabeth Jones. We’ll have to wait for Jim’s print article on the subject, but he hints that his source was retiring Chief of Operations Kevin Smelker, a Miles hire from Colorado. Smelker apparently urged Schutze to view a Board Briefing video in which trustee Elizabeth Jones questioned staff on the School Leadership Academy. Jim sarcastically described her use of “businessy “ language and a line of questioning that he finally decided reveals that she is just flat-out “crazy.” Jim’s not the first to point a finger at Jones, and when the media finishes with her I suspect they’ll point to someone else.

So Schutze wags his finger at black trustees protecting black jobs and (one) crazy trustee that apparently just likes to harass Miles by asking questions that Jim can’t understand. The DMN and others accuse trustees of “micromanaging” the administration and burying staff under mountains of information requests. Who knows if trustees crossed the line between “micromanaging” and good governance, as no one has yet volunteered examples of these supposedly unreasonable requests.

Does that make even a lick of sense? Once a month staff has to show up and answer questions from trustees. When asked, they have to produce answers. Because of that they say, to quote columnist Eric Celeste, “I don’t need this shit”? Ghost Instructor on DMN’s rolling comment feed cracked me up, asking if ‘”Floyd” ordered commemorative stemware to go with the corny theme dreamed up for the 2013-14 budget presentation, “Transformation, The Time is Now.” Staff has time to produce power points with bells and whistles but no time to produce data for taxpayers?

Do accusations of unfair treatment by the black community make staff pack their bags and leave in a huff? Are trustees asking questions that no one wants to hear? Since when is that news? Nancy Bingham has been asking questions as a trustee for 9 years and most of the rules on public participation at board meeting were prompted by the behavior of the New Black Panthers in the 1990’s. Ain’t nothing ever new in Dallas ISD, so why the mass exodus now?

Only since Mike Miles came on board has the revolving door of top-level administrators spun out of control.

We should all remember that 6 of the 9 current trustees were wholeheartedly supported by the Mayor, the DMN, and local education PAC’s and their PR flacks when seeking office. So should the finger of blame pointing at the trustees be turned around and pointed squarely at those who supported this board? Or stay fixed on Miles?

No matter where this roulette wheel stops, it is apparent to this observer that the finger of blame is on a trigger in Miles’ hand and pointed squarely at his foot. Trustees representing their constituents and asking questions about spending taxpayer money are not the problem here. A short sighted, small-minded, my-way-or-the-highway faux leader with little reform to offer other than meaningless classroom strategies and unending staff churn is the problem. There’s where the finger should be pointed.

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Posted in Teachers Rule
84 comments
WeAreHeroesinHouston
WeAreHeroesinHouston

Apparently our resistance movement looks brave compared to Houston teachers who are simply resigning in response to Terry Grier, who looks more like Miles' twin every day:

(Houstonisdwatch.com)

Have HISD teachers been too passive in the wake of Grier's constant attacks?
Just 240 miles northwest of Houston another dictatorial, know-it-all superintendent is
wrecking the lives of students and teachers and causing heated school board meetings
over his policies.

Those opposed to Mike Miles' reign of neo-liberal school reform - a misnomer as the
war on teachers, tenure, and pensions is right out of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's
handbook on how to turn employees into serfs - may not win the war, but
they are dedicated to fighting each and every battle.

By comparison, teachers in Houston appear to be passive. When speakers from
Community Voices for Public Education are shot down by Paula Harris' bully
rhetoric
, there is no push-back, no public denoucing of a budget loaded with funds for
the failed Apollo project that not one community speaker endorsed at the latest
board meetings.

HISD teachers are showing their disapproval of the current board and superintendent
by resigning in mass numbers. When teacher vacancies are not filled, even though
HISD will bring in hundreds of TFA interns, parents will shrug and complain,
but they won't take action to stop the insanity in HISD.  Parent Visionaries is working
behind the scenes, we assume. 

Those parents who can afford to go to private school will quietly pull their kids
out of HISD.

Maybe we're satiated in Houston on sunshine, good food, and lots of tequila.
When it comes to stopping self-serving school reformers like Grier, we pretty
much roll over and play dead just before writing another check to defend the
RICO-accused Larry Marshall.

manyeyes
manyeyes like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 4 Like

 @Woodrow Alum I really don't remember schools in Dallas being so hot before Mike Miles, though many of our schools fared better than they are now under other superintendents, bad though they were.  As a parent and teacher in the Lakewood feeder pattern, and a veteran of south Oak Cliff schools as a teacher, I've seen a lot of things.  It seems the downward spiral started long ago in this district, and Jim Schutze has the experience to know better than laying blame on a select few when the problem is complex and systemic.  

I remember thinking:  they had the building running fine in the 1930's, so why don't we dig up the methods they used then, dust them off and get the job done?  Some principals obviously had figured out how to keep the kids in pencils and paper, how to stock the bathrooms with toilet paper, etc.   Miles is the quintessential education reformer, and may be the right superintendent at the right time to fiddle while Rome burns all the way down.  The system's been corrupt for a very long time, which made it ripe for monetization and power grabbing we are witnessing from Pearson, Danielson, TFA, and our business and investment-focused BOT.  It is by no means limited to the BOT, or to decisions made at the very top.  We need a good cleaning out, but not of the kind that's in process.  It would pay to keep in mind that our Dallas schools have been perpetuating political alliances at the expense of children and community.  

As for Schutze, I am curious about how he reconciles his work on the "catastrophe" (Schutze's word) of Newtown, CT with the bullying, both subtle and overt, that goes on in Dallas from the hazing practices at Woodrow and Long over the years to the systematic, subtle and overt harassment of teachers and staff at the hands of the school leadership.  This is a continuum, Jim.  And it's about concentrations of power and bad character, and a cycle that feeds on itself within the same shiny families and communities you looked at in your book, Bully.  Yes, it's the fault of the BOT, but there is plenty of blame to go around and the point is  to stop perpetuating this mess.  

Woodrow Alum
Woodrow Alum

From which DISD high school did Schutze's son graduate? He needs to remember what school was like before MM!

manyeyes
manyeyes

@Woodrow Alum

Starting at about 30:00, this is Schutze on the topic of evil and blame on KNON, as he reflects on why bad things happen in the context of school shootings and other major crimes committed by children.     I wonder if he considers what's going on in the district in this light.  He explores why do "we have this reflexive tendency" to excuse the criminal behavior, and why we "skip over the possibility that they chose" to do the wrong thing.   

http://youtu.be/Y4wpanqpqkA

It's worth thinking about our school culture and how much the leadership (including business leadership) has thrown its weight around in ways that are, well, questionable, and end up conditioning children in a system that relies on coercion and groupthink in the interest of personal agendas, and whitewashes wrongdoing when it serves the purpose of the group in power.

manyeyes
manyeyes like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 2 Like

While we're on the subject of blame, here's an article on Danielson and the so-called Danielson Rubric, which forms the basis for the dreaded spot observation tool used by administrators and other flunkies on orders from their lying, cheating Dallas schools superintendent: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alan-singer/who-is-charlotte-danielso_b_3415034.

Exceeds and Proud
Exceeds and Proud like.author.displayName 1 Like

"And this assumes principals know what they are doing, have the independence to actually give teachers a strong rating, and are not out to get the good teacher who is also a union representative or just a general pain in the ass like I was."

EXACTLY!

Persona non grata
Persona non grata like.author.displayName 1 Like

This article relies on truth, research and common sense: the kiss of death on the BOT's reading list.

(Had trouble with your link: http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/3415034)

Aztec Warrior
Aztec Warrior like.author.displayName 1 Like

@Persona non grata It could so easily be Dallas. What's missing in this whole process, from what I've seen, is no time dedicated by the evaluator to  helpful, constructive criticism.

"But as far as I can tell, the new evaluation system is mostly a weapon to harass teachers and force them to follow dubious scripted lessons."

Book Fairy
Book Fairy

@Aztec Warrior @Persona non grata I would document every time that I asked an evaluator to model proper procedure.  It seems that if that documentation was attached to every 1.5 then it would blow up in admin's face at some point. 

BestEverEverEver
BestEverEverEver like.author.displayName 1 Like

OMG-this is like a tall glass of water after walking LBJ in the heat:

https://dianasenechal.wordpress.com/2013/05/03/its-all-about-the-brute-struggle-says-schools-deputy/

So is this why Miles is so enamored with sticking kids in crowded classrooms like they are kindling for misbehavior?

It's all intentional to test teachers?

Must be! 

Aztec Warrior
Aztec Warrior like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 4 Like

@BestEverEverEver Cowan complains because the board meeting was "unruly". Let him substitute for a summer school middle school class for 5 hours and let him see what unruly is.

TermsofDeparture
TermsofDeparture like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 2 Like

Please pass around:

http://dianasenechal.wordpress.com/2013/06/15/the-low-inference-room/

Author won an award from the Dallas Institute of Humanities.

manyeyes
manyeyes

A play on Kurt Vonnegut 's "Harrison Bergeron." A scary variation on the theme of enslavement to mediocracy and loss of freedom of thought and expression in the education system.. Thanks for posting.

Persona non grata
Persona non grata

Wow! What a great read! Thanks!

BestEverEverEver
BestEverEverEver like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 2 Like

@Persona non grata

It gets even better!!!!!! Did anyone know this woman was out satirizing Mike Miles at a national level. Wahoooo!

http://dianasenechal.wordpress.com/2012/10/14/principals-do-you-know-your-power-words/

Quo Qu ohhh
Quo Qu ohhh

@BestEverEverEver @Persona non grata Yes, and at the recent BOT meeting, the phrase "that is the expectation" must have been uttered a dozen times by MM's remaining people when asked about questionable, potentially illegal and certainly unethical areas of the new budget. He has them creepily well-trained, since it seems impossible to get Miles or his minions to speak in anything but that coded slush.

Petpau
Petpau like.author.displayName 1 Like

This is great

Persona non grata
Persona non grata

Fantasy 1:

I think we need to adopt the British format of PMQ's: Prime Minister's Questions". The Prime Minister must stand every Wednesday and answer any and all questions from the members of the House of Commons. Imagine FMM having to do that every two weeks with the BOT! No votes are made. No policies enacted. Just a solid peppering with any and all questions. Also, use the full British model that allows the BOT to laugh, talk, boo and openly mock FMM at any time.

Here's a 3 minute sample of the fun we could be having!

http://youtu.be/m8dXDvWQvzM

Fantasy 2:

I wish they'd engage in Finger Pointing Royale by pointing at each other and asking (well, yelling would be cool): "Do YOU..."

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 your personal financial interests TOTALLY separate from your public service?

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

5. Value input from stakeholders?

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

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

8. Believe FMM is the best we can do for the children of DISD?

Call It Like It Is
Call It Like It Is

Protest was much ado about nothing.  But then, Joyce Foreman was in charge, so no surprises.  Never has someone accomplished so little so often while constantly trying to draw attention to herself.  She defines ineffectiveness and self-promotion.

East Dallas
East Dallas

mschips:  The Dallas Morning News is reporting a dozen protesters.

Quo Qu ohhh
Quo Qu ohhh like.author.displayName 1 Like

@East Dallas  Well, no one posted the danged address! Of course, since I still hope to work for the children of this crazy district, I would have had to disguise myself in some kind of protest burka!

Persona non grata
Persona non grata

@Quo Qu ohhh @East Dallas  

If only there was a recognized standard costume for MRS. DOLLO...

A nun with a ruler would be perfect but that's so trite. However, if it was a themed costume protest with the theme being "Your 'Favorite' Dictator", the nun/ruler would work.


Persona non grata
Persona non grata like.author.displayName 1 Like

Hurry! Hurry! Hurry! Step right up folks!

Your little one sluggish at school? Well, I've got what Lil' Turnip needs!

MRS. DOLLO's caster oil elixir! Yes, sir! It'll have him in AP classes in two short weeks!

Don't push now, there's plenty for all...

Persona non grata
Persona non grata

@Quo Qu ohhh @East Dallas  

HEY! 

BTW, dibs on Dolores Umbridge!!! Don't even try it!

Although, I would relent if everyone in the district would agree to attend the Propaganda Pow Wow on August 20th dressed as Umbridge. A sea of god-awful pink!

Meryl Streep's "The Devil Wears Prada" character is still open...

mschips
mschips like.author.displayName 1 Like

I heard on the channel 5 news this morning that a hundred or so people plan to protest against Mike Miles in front of his home at 10 a.m. this  morning. Are my prayers being answered? That Mike Miles will be revealed to the public for the sleazy creep that he really is? Does anybody know who these people are that organized this protest? God bless them!

Quo Qu ohhh
Quo Qu ohhh

@mschips Since he managed to squelch/dodge this one, and so many cried out about potential violations of his personal/professional boundary, perhaps there should be a band of traveling stalker-protestors who follow him around during his business day! Nothing threatening, merely an exercise in free speech as is taught in public school social studies curricula. As a nearly life-long employee of the government in one form or another, certainly he should know our nation's laws and policies in this area (Freedom of Assembly and all of those good things.)

Even better - throughout the day, assorted posses could offer Spot Evals! Start low, people... no one gets over a 1.5 until the late afternoon!

Book Fairy
Book Fairy like.author.displayName 1 Like

@mschips The protesters were held to the corner of Hockaday and Snow White. The police were there and would not allow the protesters to go on Hockaday (because there are no public sidewalks on Hockaday). 


Quo Qu ohhh
Quo Qu ohhh like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 2 Like

@mschips I know many believe this is too much, and could be a kind of public relations backfire... I see it as acceptable because he crossed the line SO far into people's lives. Also, it's not as though protesters are going to go inside his residence! ("hey, any birthday cake left?") 

I find it odd that his address is not posted anywhere. How are people supposed to protest if they don't know where to go?

DOL doo doo
DOL doo doo like.author.displayName 1 Like

Expect Floyd Miles to run the district at least one more year. The BOT will measure year 1 against year 2. The Mayor, McKenzie, Shultze, and others would like nothing more than to prove how wrong teachers are. Most of all they are embarrassed about selecting yet another scam artist superintendent. After spring 2014 if there are respectable gains, get ready for a long journey with the ranger. If test scores decline, just maybe Miles will take the money and run.

Have you all noticed that the cabinet members who have abandoned ship are not speaking out? Did they sign a silent agreement and received a bonus to get out of Dodge?

TermsofDeparture
TermsofDeparture like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 2 Like

@DOL doo doo 

Miles' strategy is to prove his pitiful model a success somewhere and then leave for a profitable consulting business. He has no intention of remaining superintendent of Dallas public schools. It is too stressful, and he will have to prove himself over again each year. He can't stand the scrutiny and what he is doing leaches capacity off campuses. Over time, he will bleed any district so that it becomes weak and feeble. He has to leave when the patient is appearing to make a recovery, but before death.

He is looking for one big hit to boost himself into a consulting career. If trustees paid any attention, they would look at the school district that hired his firm and found his model to be a total failure.

Grier is having his come to Jesus moment in Houston. EOC scores are back, and nothing happened over last year. Grier refused to release them until he got his budget in place.

Destroying public education is occurring in Houston and Dallas with the same model.


TermsofDeparture
TermsofDeparture like.author.displayName 1 Like

@DOL doo doo 

Appears to be common knowledge that resignation packages were put together to keep these nationally known cabinet members quiet.

These packages need to be made public through PIRs. The public needs to know how much of their money Miles blew through and how these trollops made off quite well for doing so little other than keeping their mouths shut about the inner doings of the emperor.

OhComeOnNow
OhComeOnNow like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 2 Like

The Dallas Observer is a profiteer of soft porn and Jim Schutze is the king of it.

The DO isn't running out of money like the Morning Snooze because sleaze and more sleaze are its endless revenue generators.

Kind of hypocritical for Schutze to take every position of drivel he stakes out as a moral imperative when it is hosted off sexually explicit commerce.

As far as Elizabeth Jones impressing others with her brains, she is soft spoken and humble compared to Morath who lives to hear his own arrogance. As mentioned below, Dallas media gets their panties in an uproar over women with brains. This is supposed to be a boys' game as demonstrated by Morath and Todd Williams, both very sophomoric boys. Add Schutze whose brains appear to have been eaten by ear worms, and it's the perfect storm of stupidity.

Quo Qu ohhh
Quo Qu ohhh like.author.displayName 1 Like

I just told Schutze that he might need to get off District lawn. 

He called Bernadette Nutall a Profiteer of Inferiority. http://blogs.dallasobserver.com/unfairpark/2013/06/bernadette_nutall_and_other_pr.php

I found it more than a tiny bit ironic, given his recent MIles-backeries.

I hope no one minds a re-post...


Hold the phone, Schutze. For one thing, Nutall has gotten wise to how edu-things work when "Midas" Miles touches them- people run screaming, and success is not the outcome (see Colorado.) He flees town to climb to the next rung on his imaginary ladder to Washington DC.

For another, Nutall's motives and realizations aside, there are areas of extreme need throughout the district! Miles is incompetent in attempting to run a district of this size, so he's trying to break off a manageable bite. 

And OH Lookie Loo, that slice just happens to be at the end of the Mayor's pretty new bridge.

Miles needs to go. Shame on Rawlings, Todd Williams, and all the others who brought him to town. Shame on Arne Duncan. Shame on Lew Blackburn's consulting firm and shame on the BOT (minus Carla Ranger) who let it all happen.

Yes, there are ridiculous racial issues in this city and within DISD, but that is NOT the primary narrative here! 

Please, sir, if you cannot grasp the true profiteers of inferiority within DISD, I would ask you to get off its lawn.

ghost X
ghost X like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 2 Like

Carla Ranger pointed a finger briefly but beautifully last night. She made a comment to and about Miles in which she reminded him that he has acted as though he answers to the Mayor, rather than the BOT! Indeed! 

Exceeds and Proud
Exceeds and Proud

Sorry about the previous post, had problems with my editing skills.

I am so glad that you wrote this article, Red. I read the DOodoo opinion piece and felt like I needed to jump in the shower after I finished. Schutze is a misogynistic, abusive, egotistical HACK who has certainly been paid his thirty pieces of silver. Those advertising dollars go a long way at that shite rag.

It doesn't matter who disagrees with him, whether it's an elected trustee like Jones, a community liaison like Michael McNaughton, an interested party like Bill Betzen, or a rank and file teacher who has NOT been fired, let-go, or non-renewed. Any comment that has even a whiff of not agreeing with the bilge he spews is received with what amounts to a two-year-old's temper tantrum. I think that his writing has become more shrill and hysterical as time passes-perhaps there is a reason? Possibilities include drug-induced dementia, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, a brain aneurysm, a tumor, or sunstroke....

After attending Board meetings for the past six months, I do have to say that Ms. Jones and Mr. Micciche both ask reasoned thoughtful questions...but then they go along with the party line. Disappointing to say the least.

If you watch the archives, you'll be able to see that when it is time for the BOT to report about their areas, the ONLY people who bother to speak up are Ranger, Nuttall, Jones, and sometimes Lew. It makes me wonder if the others ever bother to visit their district?

Petpau
Petpau

Bingham does not visit her district. She has no idea what is happening

Pointless
Pointless

Questions should be directed to the superintendent.  He can then show his ignorance or  ask those on his staff to answer as he chooses. Then if they cannot answer or are not truthful, the superintendent can deal with them.  The board holds the superintendent accountable.  The  present and recent past sups have hauled in the staff , put them under the heat lamps to be grilled in order for the sup to be bypassed and the board can be accused of micro-managing. He sits in the horseshoe, let him ear his money, let the board hold him accountable and let us hold the trustees accountable as well. 

Beer in Hand
Beer in Hand like.author.displayName 1 Like

@Pointless First thing they should do is remove him from the lofty perch. PUT HIM ON THE FLOOR, with his staff BEHIND him. It is disgusting how they have put the last few superintendents up on the horseshoe with the trustees. NOBODY ELECTED HIM. He does not work WITH them, he works FOR them, and as such, needs to be physically below them.

I guess how he forgot his Army training, where soldiers, who SERVE the elected officials, sit in front of them, not beside them.

Michael MacNaughton
Michael MacNaughton

@Pointless 

Exactly how it should be done.  That way the Trustees are not accused of badgering staff but they get the answers they need to conduct the business of the board...or not.  If we evaluated the superintendent on his ability to flow timely information to the trustees he'd receive an "F".

(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."

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milesfm@dallasisd.org

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District 7
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District 4
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