A petition is being circulated by Stand for Children that calls for extending Superintendent Mike Miles’s contract. Reading through the comments on the Change.org petition, one constant thread emerges-the district needs stability to make progress in the schools.
This from one of the few signers who claimed to be a DISD parent:
The district cannot handle the distraction of finding a new Super, and will not attract quality Supers if they do not support the current one.
Consistency of leadership is proven to be so important for student success we need to keep Mike Miles here and focused.
We are making progress at DISD, and we need continuity at the leadership level.
Give the man time to continue to implement changes that are needed. We can’t change leadership every year and accomplish anything necessary.
Umm, yes, other than the statement about “making progress at DISD” you are all correct. Stability in leadership is important.
Perhaps these petition signers can let us know if they think the same rules apply to the rest of the administration. Is it OK that out of all of Miles’s original cabinet level appointees, only one remains, and she has changed positions?
During the first two years of Mike Miles’s leadership, the revolving door at 3700 Ross has become something of a joke. Some of Miles’s hires not only did not last a year, some jumped ship before they even set sail.
What about principals? Is stability at that level important? When Miles first came to Dallas, he told principals to “look to your left, look to your right, one of you won’t be here next year.” And he was right.
Principal turnover has approached forty percent.
The last two years have seen thousands of veteran teachers leave the district. Some have been non-renewed, but most have left voluntarily, tired of fighting an administration that doesn’t value the skills and experience they bring to the profession.
Is stability in the classroom important?
A recent op-ed in the DMN spotlighted a principal in training at a southeast Dallas campus. She talked of the struggles the students in that neighborhood face, the gangs, the drugs, poverty and discrimination that face these “desperate human beings.”
Jennifer Madding, the author, defines the time she gets to spend working with these children. 45 minutes a day for 180 days. She breaks up fights, leads discussions on resolving conflicts, and does her best to keep her students engaged and interested.
Too bad she won’t be there next year.
As one of the SMU/ Teaching Trust Ed-Leaders, she will move to another school next year as she continues her pursuit of a M.Ed. degree and completes her required residency as an administrator. Like Leslie Austin, a DISD Leadership principal in training at the same school and whose picture accompanies the article, she has done her classroom time and is moving on.
45 minutes a day for 180 days. Is that all this new breed of leadership can give to children? Whatever happened to 45 minutes a day for 180 days for 20 years? Whatever happened to enough time to get to know families and communities? Whatever happened to teachers who have taught not just for two or three years and have maybe learned the names of a few dozen kids, but teachers who know the names of hundreds of kids, their brothers and sisters, their cousins and uncles, their soccer coaches, the summer jobs, the fathers who are in prison, the family struggles and the family successes?
Miguel Solis, in his first speech as Board president, told a story of how he attended graduation at WT White High school this past year, hoping to be there to congratulate a student he had mentored at Marsh Middle School as a Teach for America hire. Only the student never appeared in the long list of graduates.
If Miguel Solis had continued on as a teacher and had been there to continue supporting this student might he have walked the stage? Will Jennifer Madding ever know if her advice on getting along without fighting had a lasting effect on students at Ann Richards Middle School?
For many Dallas students, school is the only stability they know. It is the only safe place they know. A revolving door of teachers and principals is not what they need.
Mike Miles is a hypocrite to call for extending his own contract while he institutionalizes a continual turnover of teachers and principals through Teach for America, principal replacement programs that do not support developing and supporting existing administrators and disruptive programs and policies that drive experienced veterans away from Dallas classrooms.
Maybe it is time for disruptive change at the top. After all, don’t superintendents peak at three years like Miles claims teachers do?
Let Dallas ISD trustees know you want disruptive change. Sign and send this letter: today.