Three years after Mike Miles arrived, DISD is still glutted with low-performing schools. In fact, the number of low-performing (or Improvement Required) schools has gone up under Miles.
So, because the “disruptive change” and expensive “reforms” didn’t work out as Miles had promised (and as we’ve predicted all along), DISD is attempting to distract taxpayers with Plan B, also known as the ACE initiative. Under the ACE initiative, teachers will be paid a bonus to move to low-performing schools where the students will stay later at school and be expected to complete up to 90 minutes of homework a night.
The ACE initiative is nothing more than a tired rehash of ideas that don’t work. They don’t work because the premise on which they are based is, frankly, wrong. The premise is as wrong as a doctor attempting to treat cancer with leeches.
The premise, of course, is that schools filled with low-income children who perform poorly on standardized tests are the fault of the teachers. The teachers must be “bad” or the students would perform on level, right?
Acting upon this flawed premise, DISD has invited a few hundred teachers deemed The Best by an equally flawed, completely subjective TEI system to move to ACE schools for a bonus.
Personally, I wouldn’t touch the ACE deal with a 10-foot pole.
First of all, I have big questions about the pay scheme. A recent DMN editorial supporting the ACE plan (what a surprise—DMN hearts Miles) stated that the bonus would be up to $12,000, depending on the teacher’s final evaluation.
Whoa! That’s new fine print. Do teachers considering a move realize that this wording means that a $2,000 bonus instead of a $12,000 bonus is possible? Do teachers realize that a $12,000 bonus is not guaranteed?
So when will teachers be told the exact amount of their bonus? Before or after they agree to move? And once determined, will the bonus be paid in a lump sum, over 12 months or over 60 months? (The thought of a 60-month payment plan isn’t as crazy as it sounds because teachers were told in TEI trainings that there was a limit on how much of any raise they could receive in a year. In other words, a teacher might be due $10K based on TEI, but that $10K would need to be paid out over time for budget reasons. We could ask Milan Sevak to clarify this, but he quit).
Then there’s the issue of base salary. If, under TEI, the teacher gets a base-salary raise, will they get an additional base-salary raise to compensate for the extra hours they will work, as well as a bonus?
In my opinion, no teacher should transfer schools unless they receive a TEI raise and an additional-hours raise and a $12,000 bonus, but good luck with that. There was plenty of money to pay off Carmen Darville, of course, but don’t expect the same treatment if you’re a teacher.
I also wouldn’t move to an ACE school because DISD has a really bad track record of sticking with any initiative for more than a year or two. I don’t have the space or energy to list all of the promises, products, plans, fixes, new directions, reorgs, superintendents, requirements, schemes and scandals DISD has been through in the past 10 years, but the number approaches the mathematic concept of infinity.
Any teacher who moves to an ACE school must be certain that’s where they want to stay for the rest of their DISD career even after the pay raise and the bonus goes away. Once at one of those schools, it will be difficult and time-consuming to move back out if you’re mostly there for the money.
I also have multiple questions and uncertainties about some of the principals already selected to lead ACE schools. Why would Miles, who supposedly believes in his own TEI system, appoint principals his own system has deemed as only Progressing? What am I missing?
Would a soccer/football/basketball coach, after deciding that a player is not Proficient but merely Progressing, then choose that player to start in the upcoming playoff game? Shouldn’t Miles, if he believes in the validity of his own system, insist that only principals with the highest rating possible be chosen to lead the ACE schools?
Will it be a surprise if, 6 weeks into the year, the principal is floundering and immediately removed by Miles? And do I want to be in the middle of all of that? (My answers: No and No).
Finally, I wouldn’t go to an ACE school simply because I know better. I know that as long as Miles’ mandated LO/MRS/DOL system, the complete refusal to address discipline issues and a bloated, overpaid bureaucracy are in place, no true progress can be made. I know that the real problems start with Miles, the mayor and the “reform” community who ignore all the data we do have regarding Miles’ failures in the past 3 years.
I would not move to an ACE school and I implore any DISD teacher considering it to separate the flattery and the hype from the bottom line. Ask tough questions, use common sense and remember that Miles’ past performance is the best indicator we have of his future performance.