To Tell the Truth is an American gameshow which has aired in various forms since the 1950’s. The central premise is that one contestant is supposed to tell the truth and the other two are allowed to lie in order to fool the panel. The panel of four celebrities has to figure out who is the honest one, and who are the imposters, by asking questions of each contestant.
DISD seems to have its very own version of To Tell the Truth. In this case, the trustees have to figure out who is telling the truth, if anyone, about the actual number of teacher vacancies in the Dallas ISD at any given time.
We have seen different numbers from varying sources over the past several months. News sources have been grasping at straws as well, stating only estimates, as the district has refused to give any real details to the public.
However, at the August 8, 2013 Board Briefing, Superintendent Mike Miles emphatically stated that the current number of vacancies is only 430. “We have much fewer vacancies this time of the year than we’ve had in the last couple of years and maybe further back. I have the data on the last 2 years. Last year at this time we had about 1500 and some vacancies, the year before we had about 1260 vacancies and at this moment we have 430 vacancies. We’re well ahead of last year.” (time 2:08 on video of the board briefing)
Amazing. Mike Miles proclaims that actually, rather than being in desperate straits, DISD is in BETTER shape this year than last year. So, is all this talk about teachers resigning en masse and teacher shortages just gossip to make Mike Miles look bad?
Except that a quick search of last years’ numbers reveals that the district website proclaimed 335 vacancies at this time last year, as reported on this blog. Simple math says that 335 is less than 430, and is far less than 1500.
So were they misrepresenting the truth last year, or this year?
The difference between 1500 vacancies which Miles now says were present last year at this time is vastly different than the number his administration actually publicized last year (335). Or could it be that they had no idea then and have no idea now of the true number of teacher vacancies?
The only way to know for sure will be for parents and students to check their classes when they arrive at school on the first day.
Elementary students (K-4) should be in classes of 22 or less by state law. If there are over 22 students in an elementary class, the district will have to request a class size waiver from the TEA and will have to justify this request. Will they have the gall to say they are under financial hardship, after they have proudly announced an increase this year in the fund balance from $201 million to $275 million?
Oversized classes may be an indication that there are unfilled teacher vacancies. Other clues may be found by comparing the number of teaching FTE’s (Full Time Equivalents) allotted to each campus to the number of actual teachers on the campus. (The number of teaching FTE’s can be found in the DISD budget, pages 105-110) If the numbers do not match, there are most likely vacancies on that campus. Classes may be overloaded, some classes may be taught by substitutes not qualified to teach that subject, and some classes may not be offered when vacancies exist.
Parents of DISD students should start asking questions and making sure that their tax dollars are being spent as allocated in the budget by the trustees to educate their children.
This is where the rubber meets the road: the student and the teacher in the classroom. The children are the driving reason to hold this administration’s feet to the fire. The number of vacancies is important because if the superintendent has instituted practices which do not ensure that there are enough teachers to meet the needs of the DISD students, then he is failing at the number one job of the district: educating students for success. It is for this reason that the Dallas public needs to know the true situation of the actual number of teacher vacancies in the district.
Will the real number of teacher vacancies in the Dallas ISD please stand up?