There’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.