Have a Great First Day of School – Tell Us How it Goes

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first-day-of-schoolDuring the presidency of Dwight David Eisenhower, James Michener, author of Hawaii, The Source, and other mega-sellers, was invited to a celebrity dinner at the White House. In a letter Michener declined to attend: “Dear Mr. President: I received your invitation three days after I had agreed to speak a few words at a dinner honoring the wonderful high school teacher who taught me how to write. I know you will not miss me at your dinner, but she might at hers.”

A week later, Michener received a handwritten reply from the understanding Ike: “In his lifetime a man lives under fifteen or sixteen presidents, but a really fine teacher comes into his life but rarely. Go and speak at your teacher’s dinner.”

Teaching is the highest calling. Parents entrust their most precious treasures to teachers. Almost everybody who is anybody was taught to be somebody by a teacher. Teaching is the profession that teaches all the other professions.

America is a nation of teachers: The Bureau of Labor Statistics, in their 2008-2009 Occupational Outlook Handbook, counts 6,085,000 teachers in the United States. This includes 3,954,000 pre-kindergarten-to-twelfth-grade teachers, 459,000 special education teachers, and 1,672,000 postsecondary professors and instructors.

Teachers are not only a populous group across our land. They change the lives of our young people. In What the Dog Saw, Malcolm Gladwell states, “Teacher effects dwarf school effects: your child is actually better off in a bad school with an excellent teacher than in an excellent school with a bad teacher.” Study after study shows that great teaching is the most important booster of student achievement of larger consequence than class size, money spent, the school building, and quality of textbooks.

One of my favorite newspaper corrections reads: “It was incorrectly reported last Friday that today is T-shirt Appreciation Week. It is actually Teacher Appreciation Week.” In 1985, the National Education Association and National Parent Teacher Association set aside the first full week in May as a time to honor teachers and show respect for their profession. In fact, every day should be devoted to teacher appreciation and made a time to recognize members of the most unheralded, labor-intensive, multitasking, exhausting, income-challenged, and rewarding of all professions.

I believe that an apple lasts a short time in the hands of a teacher, but a bit of wisdom lasts a lifetime in the mind and heart of a student. I believe that teachers deserve the nice things people say about them. Having been an English teacher (an inmate in the House of Correction) for twenty-eight years, I’m biased of course. To George Bernard Shaw’s mean sneer, “He who can, does. He who cannot, teaches,” I would oppose Lee Iacocca’s “In a truly rational world, the best of us would be teachers, and the rest of us would do something else.”

Or I would quote Shaw himself: “To me the sole hope of human salvation lies in teaching.”

Blessed be the teachers. Harmonies of scholars, mentors, counselors, coaches, cheerleaders, traffic controllers, judges, sculptors, artists, interior decorators, janitors, nurses, baby-sitters, comedians, clowns, tightrope walkers, acrobats, and jugglers, they march in the company of secular saints. May their tribe increase and thrive.

Richard Lederer (author and broadcaster) from his book A TRIBUTE TO TEACHERS. Marion Street Press http://www.verbivore.com

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92 comments
rovebo
rovebo

P.G. is Pleasant Grove. When someone says race doesn't matter, see through the eyes of a Hispanic or African American child. Unless you have been this child, do you really think they don't need to see people like them to realize that they too can move up in the world? If you haven't been this child, (I have), you can't say that ethnicity does not matter.

disappointed with DISD
disappointed with DISD

My day was great...read a book, while a sub was in my classroom, as I wait to hear about my hearing.

Judith
Judith

I just wanted to ask how could they ask how the first day went? When there were no buses for both of my kids on the first day causing them to get late to class? What a great way to start off school

Persona non grata
Persona non grata

Miles! Miles! He's our man!

"This is a critical payoff year in regard to how much the reforms instituted last year by Miles and his team will take hold and produce results."

"Miles correctly spent much of the 2012-13 school year working on practices to improve academic achievement across the district: Teachers write out the objective of their daily lessons. Principals perform more classroom observations. And educators use real-time data to intervene with students who are falling behind."

"But Miles appropriately has been pressing for them through his meetings with principals, his regular visits to classrooms and his team of executive directors who oversee campuses."

"“This is going to be a great year. Our teachers are ready. Our principals are ready. Our students are going to be ready. Victory is in the classrooms.”"

http://www.dallasnews.com/opinion/editorials/20130826-editorial-disd-year-opens-with-hopes-of-reforms-paying-off.ece

BlueBonnet
BlueBonnet

Dear Mr. Miles,

After reading the posts from the trenches, I would have to say one thing about the state of Dallas ISD:
SNAFU!

Sincerly,

FUBAR!

rovebo
rovebo

What are your thoughts out there about the following: a high school with over 80%% Hispanic does not have a Hispanic representative on the administrative staff; but does have three Anglo APs and three African American APs...where are the role models for the Hispanic population?

rovebo
rovebo

What P.G. E.D. hired her best friend as Principal? What P.G. Principal then hired the E.D.s daughter ? Hmmm....can you say, "conflict of interest?" What P.G. Principal thought she could close enrollment? What school in P.G. did not follow a regular bell schedule? Which teachers in P.G. are not going to see their students until Wednesday? Hey Miles, are you listening? Your own minions are not marching to your drum.

Pancho Villa
Pancho Villa

Floyd, I hope you are real happy with the close to F... that you have created here in Dallas ISD. TEA will take over no doubt in mind. You are too stupid to run this ship. You are in violation of tens of states Laws and codes. What is wrong with your head? You are acting like you want to get FIRE!

maestrobilingue
maestrobilingue

I am a fifth grade bilingual teacher. There are three sections, but only two teachers, so my colleague and I had to split the third section. We ended up teaching 31 kids each. My principal says we should be resilient; this is DISD!

Great start for our kids!

collateralDISDamage
collateralDISDamage

While I must retain anonymity for the sake of what I hope will be a continuing career in education, I think the first day of school is the perfect time to step just a little bit out of the closet:

I am a teacher without any students.

My position was eliminated because of the policies and decisions of Mike Miles.

For various reasons, I opted not to join the migration to the suburbs, the suggestions to broaden my certifications, and other such practical tips. Like the students, I don't do well with "one-size-fits-all." 

Nonetheless, I couldn't afford to wait around for couture either, so I took a teaching position with another school system. Sadly, it was not a fit.

Today has been very difficult, standing on the sidelines, not anywhere close to retirement (mentally, emotionally, financially, or chronologically - age.) I don't want more advice or pity... am not even sure why I am posting this. I guess I am just tired of feeling like I am some kind of untouchable, even if that is the impression I've gotten from the district. My evaluations were very good, colleagues have said I am a natural - even the leadership at the school I just chose to leave has said I was clearly born to do this. 

In the faux-reform storm that batters public education right now, I know my story is a tiny footnote. Most narratives should be about the kids. However, the kind of world for which we prepare them has narratives of its own. I won't get into the details here, since anyone who regularly reads and participates in this blog knows them all too well. 

My situation is, admittedly, bittersweet. I did not receive any spot observations today (btw, wtf? lmao.) I was deprived the opportunity to witness, in person, what is rumored to be one of the finest patent medicine shows this side of the Pecos. I have not run out of bulletin board borders.

May the universe right what has been wronged, as you all embark on this new year. I hope to rejoin your ranks soon. Keep hope alive!

Louis J Kool
Louis J Kool

What was sent to pick up our students today is a crying shame. Students were picked up in two outdated, unmarked vans along with two regular delapidated cars and one with rims. The drivers looked as though they were former foreign drug dealers that the kids could barely understand. One driver looked as though he needed a booster seat just to drive. Can someone explain why the safety of the kids seems not to be a concern? Parent should raise all kinds of $&@@ behind this one. Whose bright idea was this?

Copied the above from DISD Live.  Who made this decision??  Is it related to teachers barred from driving school bus?   Parents - don't let this happen.   Contact BOT, DMN, channel 11, whoever will listen.....  Taxpayers pay for SCHOOL BUS transportation; demand it.  How do you think Frisco parents would react????   Do these vehicles have loading/unloading lights, stops signs???  

I hope to see this reported on the news.

Pancho Villa
Pancho Villa

@rovebo That is why we have Tacos, Carne Azada, and Pozole, I can give a hoot for a burger, or a melt cheese sandwich. My dos centavos!

BlueBonnet
BlueBonnet

@Out before my time I find it very interesting that Dallas ISD did this right before the new law went into effect. There is now a fine for passing a school bus while it is stopped to load or unload students. With Dallas ISD using "Unmarked" forms of transportation, will cars have to stop? If not, won't that make it less safe for our students? Did Dallas not think of this? Oh, wait, Dallas ISD BOT and those on Ross think? Never mind... they don't think of the kids first!

MrGlen
MrGlen

@rovebo Hire the best qualified applicant no matter race. Race shouldn't matter.

Beer in Hand
Beer in Hand

@rovebo There should be balance, but I care more about competence than skin color. There have been some awful administrators in DISD, in ALL colors.

Pancho Villa
Pancho Villa

Floyd, you can bring more Bilingual teachers from TFA. Jajajaja!

A is for Abigail
A is for Abigail

@maestrobilingue I need you to spell things out for me: you have 3 bilingual sections and only 2 bilingual teachers?  

Or do you mean there are 3 sections total in 5th grade--a total of 62 kids in the grade--that had to divided between 2 teachers?

The missing 3rd teacher--is that section a bilingual section or gen ed?  If it is gen ed, then you get the bilingual kids and some gen ed kids, right?  And the other teacher gets 31 gen ed kids?


Aztec Warrior
Aztec Warrior

@maestrobilingue Hang in there. We have a full section of bilingual kids that were assigned to a Gen. Ed. teacher. Then people wonder why the bilingual program doesn't work.

A is for Abigail
A is for Abigail

@collateralDISDamage Take a break and apply/reapply to schools in December.  In the meantime, if possible, enjoy the seasons changing and heal.

It isn't you--it's them.

You'll be back soon.  

E Kim Selim
E Kim Selim

@Louis J Kool

I like the visual of students riding in pimp-mobiles to school, amazing.
 Seriously, federally a school bus is defined as a vehicle carrying more than 10 passengers.  If there are more than 10 passengers, and I doubt it, the safety rules of emergency exits, flashing lights, glossy school bus yellow, crash protection, etc. kick in.   In Texas, a van, not a bus, can accommodate up to 14 passengers to transport students if it is designed to accommodate that many students.  That means everyone must have a seat belt.   Nobody has challenged the difference as it might mean loss of federal transportation funds.

 Let's hope everyone stays safe and that all the drivers have chauffeur's licenses and  passed background checks. If they cram students into vans more than what the vehicle allows (count seat belts) call the police.  This is beyond DISD manipulating rules.

collateralDISDamage
collateralDISDamage

@Louis J Kool What? Public school students were expected to get into old, unmarked vans to be taken to school, and Madison HS is apparently now selling candy from vending machines? I see a theme emerging here, and it is straight out of Family Guy

Quo Qu ohhh
Quo Qu ohhh

@Louis J Kool I can not believe I initially missed this vivid and amazing description... then saw Abigail's comment. I am pleading with you, PLEASE get visual documentation of these inappropriate vehicles! I am betting some of the kids have already shot pictures with their phones - maybe set up a gmail account to collect the images? I am in shock, awe... RIMS?! And the vans sound like the exact type of vehicle adults have been teaching kids not to enter, due to Stranger Danger... this is more and more freakish. Please take pictures.

A is for Abigail
A is for Abigail

@Louis J Kool Get pics or videos and upload them here.  Rims?  Seriously?  

As to why the kids' safety isn't a concern:  the money.  We have to pay all the top people 10times more than necessary.

MrGlen
MrGlen

@Louis J Kool You won't see this kind of news in the DMN or the Observer. Those people think everything Miles is doing is about reform.

Aztec Warrior
Aztec Warrior

@Louis J Kool Certainly if you contact them they would oblige. Seems to me we sold some buses to pay for principal's academy.

Pancho Villa
Pancho Villa

@BlueBonnet Here is my HYPOTHESIS. 

Our IDIOT forced 49+ Teachers/Bus drivers to choose between the two jobs. So! Dallas County School is left with minus 50 drivers to cover the bus routs. What will DCS to do? Floyd is a certify stupid creature. His head has never been in education at all. i am so happy that Dallas has marked his life for EVER! He is gone for education for GOOD. Thank you Dallas.

Pancho Villa
Pancho Villa

@MrGlen @roveboI wish you were right. However, years, I mean years of experience dictate the opposite. Two tons of color greens will not taste as good as a few leaves of Cilantro/coriander. I know several 50/50 teachers that are great but they are mixed. Take a look at Duncanville ISD and tell me who is on top and who is at the rock bottom of the graduation rate. WHY? Again WHY? What is great for John is not necessarily great for Jose. Look at the numbers again. Just one quick question; How comes cafeteria personnel throw away hundreds of rolls when they are served with lunch? I am bias towards Puerto Rican sisters. They are the closer, in my book, to do a great job. Please, do not ask me why. I said, I am bias towards them. 

Pancho Villa
Pancho Villa

@MrGlen @rovebo I wish you were right. However, years, I mean years of experience dictate the opposite. Two tons of color greens will not taste as good as a few leaves of Cilantro/coriander. I know several 50/50 teachers that are great but they are mixed. Take a look at Duncanville ISD and tell me who is on top and who is at the rock bottom of the graduation rate. WHY? Again WHY? What is great for John is not necessarily great for Jose. Look at the numbers again. Just on quick question; How comes cafeteria personnel throw away hundreds of roll when they are served with lunch? I am bias towards Puerto Rican sisters. They are the closer in my book to do a great job. Please, do not ask me why. I said, I am bias towards them. 

Pancho Villa
Pancho Villa

@MrGlen @rovebo  I wish you were right. However, years, I means years of experience dictate the opposite.Two tons of color greens will not taste as good as a few leaves of Cilantro/coriander. I know several 50/50 teachers that are great but they are mixed.

BlueBonnet
BlueBonnet

@Pancho Villa @rovebo  

I agree! Jose Plata was in it for the kids!!!!!

 

maestrobilingue
maestrobilingue

@A is for Abigail @maestrobilingue There are 5 sections in total in the fifth grade: two gen ed, three bilingual, BUT there are only two bilingual teachers hired (another colleague and I). That third bilingual section has had to be divided between us two bilingual teachers (kids can't be in a gen ed class). That's how I end up having 31 kids in each section. Real sad. My only hope now is to get the parents to apply pressure and get that third teacher hired. We'll see! Thanks for asking!

Pancho Villa
Pancho Villa

@Aztec Warrior @maestrobilingue What? Bilingual students to gen Ed. Teachers! Is she at least ESL certify?What a F.. Mess. That is misappropriation of funds. The students are coded Bilingual they get the funding and If they do not get services DISD is  committing FRAUD.

A is for Abigail
A is for Abigail

@Pancho Villa @maestrobilingue Whose race are you asking about?  The principal's?  The other teacher's?  

And why are you asking?  Why does race matter?

maestrobilingue
maestrobilingue

@Pancho Villa @maestrobilingue There are no subs picking up! They are all covering the other positions that were left by the many bilingual teachers that left. She is black, by the way.

MrGlen
MrGlen

@Louis J Kool FMM has had zero success as a Superintendent. I think that is why he was hired. I think he was hired to completely muck it up as only he could, so that DISD could be broken up into charter heaven for all of the privateers laying in the weeds.

collateralDISDamage
collateralDISDamage

@Aztec Warrior @Louis J Kool From what I understood, buses were sold to pay for the Principal Fellows Academy. This meant that any child who was attending another DISD high school by choice, not because of NCLB, could no longer do so unless someone drove them. Some high schools have different specialty programs, one of the true advantages to having a district this large. Yet Miles decided to strip that away from the children of this district, trading their opportunities for PAID training camp for a bunch of minion wannabes. Meanwhile, there are plenty of excellent assistant principals who could have been promoted from within the district. However, Miles is pure destruction - throwing away anything and everything in his cheap attempts to give the impression of radical change. Yes, much has been changed, but not for the better! 

Many students would travel from 12-15 miles away each morning to attend schools which were not even magnets, but had a particular program that suited their plans and choices (Culinary/Restaurant, STEM, Criminal Justice, etc.) Those students experienced disruption in their lives yet again at the hands of this administration in having to return to their neighborhood schools.

What I don't get is why MM decided to mess with the bus drivers and bus system even further, especially right before school began. Does anyone else here have even a remote idea of what this was supposed to accomplish (or what other pet project was funded by taking away more services for the students of DISD?)

MrGlen
MrGlen

@Pancho Villa @MrGlen @rovebo respectfully, I disagree with you.  I taught at a school that was 98% brown. I am white. The kids achieved more than they ever thought possible. Was it because of my color? No, it was because of my skill.

manyeyes
manyeyes

@Aztec Warrior @maestrobilingue Try calling the TEA and have them tell you that you should report it to the principal.  See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.  The TEA turns a blind eye but still manages to land these kids right under the bus.

collateralDISDamage
collateralDISDamage

@MrGlen @collateralDISDamage @Louis J Kool I didn't either, but I remember hearing something by accident on the radio one day and thinking "this guy could be trouble if he gets elected."

I am outraged that he's adopted (the prevention of) Violence Against Women as his pet issue, yet sponsors and supports this Superintendent who has perpetrated plenty of hostile acts against females (and men too!) for ample pay! The worst part is, as taxpayers, we're basically paying him to do it to us.

I see that you use simile and metaphor too, sometimes - to that, I say that Rawlings looks kind of like Cap'n Crunch. Miles seems to fancy himself Captain of the Starship Enterprise sometimes during his special PowerPoint time.

I just wish Cappy Dick would come in and save us from these two... "Did I hear someone banned the use of crayons?"

collateralDISDamage
collateralDISDamage

@MrGlen @Louis J Kool Perceptive. I mean, didn't this Rawlings character literally weep with emotion over charter schools when he was campaigning for his current job?

MrGlen
MrGlen

@collateralDISDamage @MrGlen @Aztec Warrior @Louis J Kool they are trying to find out something that he has done against his contract, so that they don't have to pay him, hence the Coggins investigation. He is trying to hide enough stuff, and mess up enough so that they will let him go with a settlement.

(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
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Superintendent Mike Miles
milesfm@dallasisd.org

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lblackburn@dallasisd.org
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Oak Lawn, West Dallas, Wilmer, Hutchins and portions of East Oak Cliff

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District 8
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(972) 925-3721
Love Field, Northwest Dallas, and Central Dallas

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District 7
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ecowan@dallasisd.org
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North Central Oak Cliff and parts of West Dallas

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District 4
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