Hinojosa’s Chance to Get it Right

himojosa-1Few people are ever offered a do-over. Michael Hinojosa, however, was just granted one. Let’s hope he uses it to rectify his past mistakes and truly serve the children and, by extension, the citizens of this city.

Hinojosa knows Dallas, and he knows DISD. That’s whom he needs to serve this go-round. Not TFA, not Broad, not charters, not vendors, not political factions.

Hinojosa can finally serve just the children in DISD because he is now at the end of his career instead of the beginning. He’s raised 2 sets of children. He’s got the big house in the leafy, pleasant neighborhood. He’s a grandfather, for goodness sake.

While he was superintendent the first time, Hinojosa made several bad choices. On his watch, we suffered through a $65 million budget disaster, a searing RIF that destabilized the schools, a terrible bilingual mandate for elementary children, a P-card debacle, a suspicious college placement program that his own child(ren) used and too many crony hires to count.

In other words, his tenure was no Camelot. No hardworking taxpayer or parent liked the wild spending or the incompetent crony hires.

Now, though, he has the freedom to do the right things for the students. But what are those “right” things?

First, he must get Miles’ boot off the necks of teachers and campus staff so they can serve the kids instead of serving some bureaucrat with an iPad from 3700.

Next, he should disappear the ED layer (or at least strip them of power); the Instructional Coaches layer should likewise go away and not another person from the Fellows program should be placed as an AP or a principal.

(The Instructional Coaches, so that they don’t lose their jobs, can become small-group reading and math tutors on every campus if there aren’t enough teaching positions open in August. Ditto for Fellows and EDs).

Hinojosa, please hear this: We need as many adults as possible on a campus to be working face-to-face with students to help kids master reading and math at grade level. Only 2 or 3 certified adults on a campus should be exempt from tutoring students.

As for principals, they should continue Spot Obs to check for LOs, classroom management, reasonable teaching quality and proof that students are mastering content in each teacher’s classroom. DOLs and MRS need to be dropped as requirements.

Finally, Hinojosa should completely overhaul the back-to-school “staff development” schedule for teachers to provide teachers with considerable, unstructured time to work in their rooms and prepare lessons. He should mandate that principals cannot interrupt teachers with meetings for more than 2 hours on any day.

If possible, he should also have the TEI and Principal Evaluation looked over by disinterested attorneys to make sure they are, in fact, legal. Along those lines, maybe it’s time someone checked for and required certifications and experience in Early Childhood, the expensive (and crony-filled) Schools of Choice office and the Office of Transformation. Let’s get a real HR person in to run things while we’re at it.

And wouldn’t it be great if Hinojosa could meet with the faculties at the 5 schools where the climate surveys are the lowest in elementary, middle and high school?

A wonderful opportunity for a respected, admired legacy awaits Michael Hinojosa. We are watching and waiting for him to seize it. 160,000 children who are someone else’s beloved grandchildren are counting on him, too.

Posted in Teachers Rule Tagged with: , , , ,

For the Kids in DISD: Financial Transparency, Neighborhood Schools and Principal Accountability NOW

From the moment Miles forced teachers to give up prep time to attend his literal song-and-dance convocation, I (and about 9,000 other teachers) knew we were in trouble. We were right.

Taking teacher prep time was a very, very bad sign.

DISD is a school district that serves children, not a business that serves adult “reformers.” We need servant-leaders, not limelight-loving hucksters. But we got a limelight-loving huckster and disaster ensued.

It’s time to get things right in Dallas. It’s time for Todd Williams and Ken Barth to do the right thing for 150,000 children, as well as all of the millions of other residents. It’s time for a Greater Good mentality; Williams and Barth need to promote this mindset.

To benefit all children and all taxpayers, DISD needs to commit to 3 things: financial transparency, neighborhood schools and principal accountability. What honest, moral person could object to having these priorities?

First off, all DISD financial transactions need to be posted, spread-sheeted, checkbook-balanced, handed out at the State Fair, plastered on billboards—whatever it takes to keep daylight shining on how the money taxpayers contribute to educate the children of this city is spent. Every last dime should be accounted for and the results should be given to a Citizens’ Budget Review Committee to present at town halls independently of trustees and the superintendent.

If we can turn off the money spigot, most of the corrupt roaches (many of them white, well educated men and women) will go away.

A concurrent focus needs to be the nurturing of neighborhood schools. Children and families need a sense of community. Communities need a common denominator to rally around. Sports fans need friendly rivalries. Neighborhood schools in Dallas, like in Highland Park and Lake Highlands and Southlake, would meet these needs.

Our current magnets (which do not include the excessively expensive IDEA (personalized learning) high school) should still exist and serve their students, but comprehensive schools need the same level of funding and freedom. What we don’t need are more budget-busting, community-robbing “schools of choice.” That paradigm has not succeeded anywhere.

To immediately nurture neighborhood schools, each comprehensive school should be flooded with school psychologists, one-on-one interventionists and community outreach coordinators to stop the majority of discipline problems and disruptive behaviors at their root. For too long, comprehensives have been allowed to be cesspools of dysfunction in order to force families to move their children to charters (so that charter operators can profit).

No neighborhood school should have instructional coaches or an ED skulking around until all comprehensive schools have multiple adults (in addition to teachers) who spend 90% of their time face-to-face with either children or parents to get the schools back on track.

Finally, principals must be expected to act as servant-leaders instead of top-down tyrants. We must end the reign of untouchable principals with dismal test scores, terrible climate survey results and double-digit teacher turnover who remain only in place because of who they know.

As a commenter on DMN said, all principals should have 5 years of classroom experience and a minimum of 3 years of AP experience. Their job should depend on their ability to help teachers help students, while treating all children and adults with respect and dignity. Paper-and-pencil evaluations of every principal should be conducted each semester. All principals should be required to have a locked box where parents, faculty and staff can deliver anonymous feedback and the contents should be read weekly by the principal and a committee of teachers and at least one parent.

Personally, I also believe every DISD administrator, from principals on up, should be required to live within DISD boundaries. Everyone in charge should make the success of the city of Dallas a priority and they can’t do that from the suburbs. Enough with kow-towing to attract supposed “top talent.” If they can’t commit, they must ex-it.

With financial transparency, a commitment to building communities by building neighborhood schools and strict principal accountability, DISD children will benefit. With those stated priorities, NO superintendent will be able to ever again waylay the academic gains of students.

For once, let’s mean it when we say For the Kids.

Posted in Teachers Rule Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,

Miles to resign at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, June 23

king-authur-milesBreaking News, 9:00 a.m.

Miles to resign at 9:30 a.m.

…and two days before the budget is sent to the trustees for approval to send to the State?

UPDATE 9:40 a.m.

Miles lists achievements:

1. Pay for Performance for Teachers
2. Pay for Performance for Principals
3. Ended Patronage
4. Fund Balance at $350M
5. Largest student acheivement growth in Texas according to ERG
6. Graduation rate increase
7. More AP exams passed
8. Low teacher vacancies at the start of school
9. Public School Choice
10. Early Childhood Programs
11. ACE schools to distribute teachers to needy campuses
12. On-line newsroom called The Hub

Miles says he will stay through the board meeting Thursday, June 25, and will turn the district over to Ann Smisko as acting Superintendent at that meeting.

Update 9:45 a.m.

Quotes Camelot: “Run Boy”

 

Posted in Teachers Rule

Tonya Sadler Grayson: So Special in DISD

I think I know what tunes Tonya Sadler Grayson plays through her headphones on her way to work at the converted grocery store that is Dallas ISD’s personnel department.

Mavado’s “I’m So Special.”

How else can we explain why she is still employed by Superintendent Mike Miles after an investigative report revealed a laundry list of failings? Grayson obviously believes she is untouchable; when asked about the investigation’s findings, her reply to the Dallas Morning News was “Of course none of that could be true, I’m still at work.”

Why is Tonya so special?

There’s a long line of ex-DISD folks who can tell you about being canned by Miles for wearing the wrong shoes, looking up instead of down or failing to properly salute the commander. Every scandal in DISD is generally followed by a public hanging of sorts, and another employee finds themselves joining their fellow disgraced brethren under the increasingly crowded bus.

The human resources scandal revealed earlier this year, a collection of nasty demeaning messages circulated amongst HCM (Human Capital Management) employees, resulted in the forced resignation of two employees, mostly because public outrage demanded it. Ongoing at that time and central to the chain of cover-ups slowly revealed over the next few months was the investigation into HCM executive director Tonya Sadler Grayson’s activities. That investigation had already led to the dismissal of Jeremy Liebbe, an investigator with DISD who first discovered Tonya’s previous criminal background. Internal Auditor Don Smith followed soon after. Several other employees somehow lost their jobs in HCM in the following months, longtime employees dismissed for failure to perform, even though apparently they had their chairs and pencils taken away first and were assigned to closets with no electrical connections.

So what makes Tonya so special?

When Carmen Darville was forced out after her part in the IM scandal was revealed Tonya was named interim director, a move that raised some eyebrows and again the question:

Why is she so special?

Karry Chapman was eventually hired as head of HCM, and was generally seen as an experienced replacement that would bring integrity and professionalism to a department utterly lacking in both.

Apparently everyone that had high hopes for Ms. Chapman will be disappointed. Ms. Chapman has now, inexplicably, come forward with questions about the investigative report and now wants to investigate the investigators. . DISD chief internal auditor Mike Singleton defended his department’s report on Sadler-Grayson in an email to trustees, reminding us again of the power struggle in DISD, and who is winning.

Even so, Ms. Chapman has positioned herself precariously close to the undercarriage of the bus in order to save Tonya.

Why is Tonya so special?

There is nothing in Grayson’s past professional experience or current DISD performance that would indicate she is indispensable or even desirable. The recent investigative report reveals her to be a liar and a bully, “deceptive and dishonest.”

Most employers would not have found her qualified for the job she holds now, and certainly would have walked her out the door after such a scathing report documenting her questionable behavior.

So why is Tonya so special?

Posted in Rotten in Denmark Tagged with: ,

Make Miles Stay

Notice this: Mike Miles and Todd Williams are just about the best thing that’s happened to the Dallas Morning News in a long time.

Thanks to their involvement with DISD, scarcely a day goes by without a story on Miles, complete with outrageous posted-but-then-deleted commentaries by the likes of Todd Williams, et al. The sound of readers clicking on links and tapping out responses is deafening.

The students in DISD might be losing ground, but Belo and the Dallas Morning News, a two-bit rag in the middle of basically nowhere, are certainly not. I’d love to ask the head of Belo if Miles and Todd are on the payroll. If not, they should be. If not, I think Todd should get an agent or a manager or something because he deserves a cut.

Personally, I’m done playing the sucker. I’m tired of this soap opera. I’m tired of the Dallas Morning News supporting Miles because it’s good for their bottom line.

I believe Miles should be ignored from here on out, but not fired. Firing him will net him a big severance and he’ll get to blow out of town before the extent of the damage that has been done to DISD students is reported and realized.

I also want him to stay because it’s so obvious to me the DMN is whipping up public sentiment against Miles as a prelude to “firing” him. Was this part of some deal? A deal where Miles becomes a public pariah in exchange for a huge severance immediately after he’s been fully vested in the Teacher Retirement System?

Because that’s what it looks like to me.

I believe that only if Miles stays will he and Todd and Eric Cowan and the rest of them be treated like they deserve to be treated: with contempt and disgust.

Don’t fall for the DMN’s new game of now excoriating Miles so Cowan can come off like a hero for voting to fire him (while also sending him off with a hefty severance of tax dollars that should have gone towards the education of low-income, minority children).

Don’t fall for the ploy that makes you think firing Miles was your idea…as he rides off into the sunset with bags of cash that should have gone to our kids.

Personally, I pity anyone who has supported Miles because their support reveals to me the complete lack of character and discernment they possess. As a commenter on the DMN said, these types of people have cash registers for hearts.

That’s their problem.

I’d rather be poor than corrupt. I’d rather be honest than dishonest. I’d rather be me than Mike Miles or Todd Williams or Eric Cowan or Mike Rawlings. I pity those men’s wives, their mothers and their children.

Keep Miles. Keep Todd. If weak, defenseless children are going to be trampled as grown men rush for more riches, let it be exposed. Let the “reformers” destroy a public institution that could have done so much good for so many. Let them stuff their souls with cash. But don’t send Miles off with a severance; make him stay as the schools continue to spiral into chaos and failure.

Because only then will the extent of the destruction be known and remembered for generations.

Posted in Teachers Rule Tagged with: , , , , ,

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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 [Mike Miles] 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
Dallas, TX 75204

Interim Superintendent Mike Hinojosa
Email coming soon

Lew Blackburn, 2nd Vice President
District 5
Term Expires May 2016
lblackburn@dallasisd.org
(972) 925-3718
Oak Lawn, West Dallas, Wilmer, Hutchins and portions of East Oak Cliff

Miguel Solis, 1st Vice President
District 8
Term Expires 2017
miguelsolis@dallasisd.org
(972) 925-3721
Love Field, Northwest Dallas, and Central Dallas

Eric Cowan, President
District 7
Term Expires May 2016
ecowan@dallasisd.org
(972) 925-3721
North Central Oak Cliff and parts of West Dallas

Nancy Bingham, Secretary
District 4
Term Expires May 2016
nbingham@dallasisd.org
(972) 925-3722
Southeast Dallas, Seagoville, Balch Springs

Edwin Flores
District 1
Term Expires 2018
edwinflores@dallasisd.org
(972) 925-3722
Northwest Dallas, including North Dallas, Addison, parts of Carrollton and Farmers Branch

Mike Morath
District 2
Term Expires 2017
mmorath@dallasisd.org
(972) 925-3721
North and Near East Dallas

Dan Micciche
District 3
Term Expires 2018
danmicciche@dallasisd.org
(972) 925-3722
Northeast Dallas

Joyce Foreman
District 6
Term Expires 2017
joyceforeman@dallasisd.org
(972) 925-3722
Southwest Dallas

Bernadette Nutall
District 9
Term Expires 2018
benutall@dallasisd.org
(972) 925-3721
South Dallas and parts of Downtown Dallas, Pleasant Grove, Deep Ellum, Uptown, and East Dallas

"Republics are created by the virtue, public spirit and intelligence of the citizens. They fall when the wise are banished from the public councils because they dare to be honest and the profligate are rewarded because they flatter the people in order to betray them." --Joseph Story, Commentaries on the Constitution, 1833