Friday, October 31, 2008

Ethics Reform To End Trustee Contracts Undermined By 5-4 Vote of Board Majority

The good ol' boy system for Trustees is still safe at Dallas ISD.

Last night, the Board voted 5-4 to keep it in place for all time - until an ethical Board is elected that will do the right thing and stop it.

The Superintendent cannot have contracts with Dallas ISD.

Employees cannot have contracts with Dallas ISD.

But Trustees still can.

More - Click Here

The Board majority says it is still okay for elected Trustees to have contracts with the same district they were elected to serve.

Five Trustees voted to put the private gain of Trustees ahead of their responsibility to protect the public interest and uphold public trust.

Another clear example of how a wrongheaded board operates.

The President of the Board previously said he would stay out of it. Instead, he voted. He voted for a revised policy that will keep the checks going to his company.

The Board President acted unethically in voting for a policy that allows his personal arrangement to continue. He should have abstained.

Five Trustees cannot bring themselves to end unethical profiting of Trustees at the public horseshoe because their political agenda is more important than true ethics reform.

... Another very clear indication that the wrong people are in charge.

Voting to Keep Trustee Contracts
Jack Lowe
Edwin Flores
Nancy Bingham
Jerome Garza
Leigh Ann Ellis

Voting Against Trustee Contracts
Adam Medrano
Lew Blackburn
Ron Price
Carla Ranger

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Dancing Around Ethics Reform

There will probably be a lot of 'dancing around' ethics reform today.

The proposed Dallas ISD Ethics policy revision- BBFA (Local) - Conflicts of Interest- is the product of a uniquely wrongheaded arrogance.

It does not do the right thing.

It attempts to take what was intended as effective ethics reform and turns it into a politically motivated defense of 'the existing arrangement.'

Our own Board Member ethics policy - BBF (Local) states:

"I will make no personal promise or take private action that may compromise my performance or my responsibilities."

Profiting from private business and financial contracts while in office is clearly "taking private action that may compromise my performance or my responsibilities."

Shall every Trustee create a private business interest in private contracts with the District we serve and make a mockery of our service?

If anything, the ethical standard on contracts should be even higher for Trustees than either the Superintendent or employees - but certainly not lower.

Trustees are elected to serve the public interest, not to profit at the public horseshoe.

There are no indispensable Trustees and there is no indispensable Superintendent. Whether by personal decision or election, we will all be routinely replaced when we leave this Board and this School District.

In allowing elected Trustees to continue profiting from contracts with the School District we were elected to serve, the Board appears to be supporting a very different standard of conduct for Trustees - the 'good ol' boy' standard.

While Trustees can easily rubber stamp this matter, great damage will be done to the public perception of the Board's lack of serious commitment to fully protecting the public interest, not the private interest of Trustees.

If the Trustees simply do the political thing - instead of the right thing - the result will be further reduction in public confidence, support, and trust.

The online public survey clearly showed the public supports ending contracts with Trustees - even though the Committee Chair - Trustee Flores - conveniently left off any direct question about the most important issue of all - whether to ban all Trustee contracts with the District. Then the Committee simply disregarded the survey results.

The ad hoc committee ethics consultant, Dr. Constantine Konstans, also clearly stated his opinion that there should be no contracts with Trustees.

As Dr. Konstans put it, "If it is good for the goose, it is good for the gander."

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

2008 Dallas ISD Mock Presidential Convention

Yesterday -- Tuesday, October 28 was a great day for memories.

After greeting and talking with Barack Obama and John McCain, I shook hands with President Bush, Hillary Clinton, Rudy Giuliani, Michelle Obama, Cindy McCain, Joe Biden and Sarah Palin.

These face-to-face encounters took place only after our crowd got past the Secret Service, candidate handlers, TV cameras, photographers and one war protester.

And there they were .... Standing before a cheering crowd of 400 red and blue shirted delegates all the way from Alaska to Florida.

We were attending the 2008 Dallas ISD Mock Presidential Convention. Held at Madison High School in Sunny South Dallas -- this was another example of exemplary teaching and learning in Dallas ISD. For planning and execution, it rivaled the other two conventions any exciting school day.

Thanks to the Gifted and Talented for a Better America teachers, along with the Dallas ISD Social Studies Department for their collaboration and commitment. G/T teachers, your dedication, extra hours and creativity paid off for student delegates (youth and adult).

Special Guest - Dallas District Attorney - Craig Watkins

Student Participants

Master of Ceremony - Leslie Young - Nancy Mosley Elementary
I Am An Original - Dalton Sherman - Charles Rice Learning Center
Mayor Rudy Giuliani - Taurean Babcock - Daniel Webster Elementary
Hillary Clinton - Madison Shubert - Nancy Mosley Elementary
President George Bush - Joseph C. Del Bosque - Henry B. Gonzalez Elementary
Michelle Obama - Patricia Osorio - Richard Lagow Elementary
Cindy McCain - Giavanna Ramos-Woten - Rufus C. Burleson Elementary
Senator Joe Biden - Jesnick Garcia - B.H. Macon Elementary
Governor Sarah Palin - Maria Martinez - Henry B. Gonzalez Elementary
Senator Barack Obama - Eric Carter - Daniel Webster Elementary
Senator John McCain - Ezekiel Montemayor - Richard Lagow Elementary
Be A Success - Alan Del Rio - Henry B. Gonzalez Elementary

The student Mock Presidential Election will be held on Thursday.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

TEA Commissioner Robert Scott Visits Dallas ISD

It is hard to do the right thing when the wrong people are in charge.

Texas Education Commissioner Robert Scott met with Superintendent Michael Hinojosa and others last Friday, October 24, 2008 at 3:00 P.M. It was an important update discussion.

I heard a lot more 'straight talk' from some of the legislators present - the kind that is seldom heard at the Dallas ISD Board Horseshoe.

An important comment by Commissioner Scott was reported in the next morning news:

"Mr. Scott said after the meeting in response to reporter's questions that it's up to the Dallas School Board to determine whom to hold responsible for the financial crisis."
"I'm the leader of an agency; the buck stops with me," he said, as he stood at a podium with a couple of state legislators. "If my agency makes a mistake, these members of the Legislature and many others will hold me accountable for it."
"State Rep. Tony Goolsby of Dallas emerged from the meeting saying he still has concerns, and added that administrators "danced around a lot."

More - Click Here

And Video Here

Yes, Dallas ISD 'dances around a lot' while the district is damaged one mistake at a time.

The latest news is that teachers are being hired again - just days after many good teachers were dismissed. We have seen children crying for teachers who now live with uncertain futures.

We have a very serious mis-management problem.

Still, the Dallas ISD Trustees hold no one accountable. The buck doesn't stop - it dances.

That happens when the wrong people are in charge and personal agendas are more important than public trust.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Ethics Reform Hijacked By Board Politics

In 2004, Houston ISD adopted a simple one page ethics reform that prohibits most contracts with Trustees.

The Houston ethics policy reform was adopted because the husband of the Board President was receiving substantial contracts with the school district while his wife served as a Trustee.

In February 2008 - four years after Houston ISD addressed a very similar problem - I proposed a simple one sentence Ethics Reform policy primarily because of the proposed 2008 bond election. The idea was simply to stop 'business entities' with financial ties to Trustees and members of their family from receiving Dallas ISD contracts.

The Ethics Reform policy has now been hijacked by the political agenda of the Board majority. The Board President appointed his political allies to a committee of three. You might say the outcome was never in doubt.

As of next Thursday, October 30, 2008 - eight months later - it is likely Dallas ISD Trustees will adopt a revised Ethics Policy (BBFA Local) that has been intentionally distorted to still allow the very obvious unethical Board arrangement to continue.

Unlike the Houston Board which acted with integrity, the Dallas ISD revised ethics policy has been manipulated for one primary purpose - to protect Board President Jack Lowe from a choice he has already made.

The Choice ...

Trustee Lowe has previously clearly stated:
"... he would not have run for office if TD Industries could not continue to do business with the district."
"When I was thinking about running for the school board in 2002, one of the things I checked out before I did it was, was that going to exclude TD Industries from doing business with the district?" Mr. Lowe said. "Because the district is a pretty big customer for things we sell."
"To ask the company to support me while I'm doing this rather time-consuming volunteer job [at DISD], and also to walk away from a significant chunk of business, was not something I was willing to do," Mr. Lowe said.
More Click Here
Dallas ISD hands millions in contracts to top leaders' firms

What could be more clear? A Trustee of the District has stated in no uncertain terms that contracts for his company come before public service as a Trustee. He will only serve if he can also keep his business contracts.

The Dallas ISD Board is headed by an officer who will not serve without holding on to a "significant chunk of change" for his company - TD Industries.

What do you call this? It is certainly not ethical conduct. What is it? The good ol' boy system? Just politics as usual?

No elected Trustee who takes seriously the responsibility to protect the public interest - not the personal interest of Trustees - should support this arrangement.

Since my election in 2006, I recall that it is primarily Trustee Lowe who has pushed to increase the Superintendent's salary. It is primarily Trustee Lowe who has pushed to extend the Superintendent's contract and even stated he would extend it beyond the maximum five years if it were possible. It is also primarily Trustee Lowe who has refused to hold the Superintendent accountable for anything.

The basic plan has been to subordinate the Board to the Superintendent - just rubber stamp everything with no effective Board oversight or accountability.

The result has been a potential $148 million dollar financial nightmare - $64 million deficit in 2007-2008 plus a projected $84 million deficit in 2008-2009. No one really knows even with the large reduction in force (RIF).

Who does this truly serve to have a Superintendent personally beholden to the Chairman of TD Industries - a company that has received millions in past contracts and will seek millions in contracts in the future? The taxpayers and stakeholders of Dallas ISD or TD Industries?

Such are the ways of corrupting a public institution.

This is not in the public interest.

Trustees who vote to support such a policy created to hijack the major ethics reform issue facing the Board will do so primarily to enable the Board President to continue violating the public trust.

This unethical arrangement clearly contributed to the lack of accountability that has now resulted in permanent financial damage to Dallas ISD.
"Lowe was stunned. Also, "very embarassed," he tells Unfair Park."
"The money is gone and there's nothing we can do about it," he says.
"Because if anyone should have smoked this out, it should have been me ... I should have seen this coming and I didn't do it. Shame on me."
More - Click Here

Yes, I agree and all Trustees have the same responsibility.

Shame on the Board
for supporting unethical contracting with the 'business entities' of elected Trustees and members of their family.

My vote will be NO.
"It strikes me as a conflict of interest," said Joel White, a Houston lawyer who is immediate past president of the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas. "You can't represent your own personal business and the public at the same time."
Click Here

"I think it would be horrendous to make an issue out of that," said trustee Jerome Garza.
Click Here

Carole Keeton Strayton - Board members get no pay, but does that give board members the right to profit from the districts they serve? I say no. Former Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts
Click Here

ED 13 - Prohibit School Board Members From Doing Business Directly Or Indirectly With Their Districts - January 2003 - Susan Combs - Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts
Click Here

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Teachers Pay The Price

Today hundreds of teachers will be released.

Will this be done with dignity?

There is a crisis of public confidence.

Something is very wrongheaded at Dallas ISD.

This will not be corrected by releasing hundreds of teachers to relieve the latest financial chaos.

The problem will not be corrected by covering up the very serious financial mismanagement.

It cannot be undone by deception or solved by CEOs.

Dallas ISD has a spreading disease that has infected the institution with wrongheadedness.

It will not soon go away.

Someday, some way the Dallas Public School System must be reclaimed as an institution of integrity.

It will start with a Superintendent of Public Education who would like to be a servant leader of a public institution.

It will end with a Board truly committed to public service - not wrongheaded private agendas and unethical service.

Until then we say goodbye to the good teachers and staff who now pay the price.

May your lives be blessed in spite of the unjust price you now pay for the mistakes of others.

Thank you for your service.

We hope your loss will not be in vain.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A Teacher's Life

What is the daily life of a teacher?

I remember my days as a first year college teacher. While a bit different from K-12, there is a core of experience that is probably common to teachers at all levels.

Each student is unique and they come in all levels of motivation and ability. A teacher's role is not so much to define young people with labels but to share their full measure of support with all students.

A Dallas area teacher describes this in Newsweek - October 20, 2008:
"As a teacher, I face many stereotypes about my job. But I wouldn't trade my career for any other."

We are a profession of lifelong learners ...

Teaching isn't simply perching at a lecturn and pontificating
to hungry minds; it's being an educator, a mentor, a nurse, a
social worker, a friend, a diplomat and an expert on the curriculum.
In short, we are professionals."
More - Click Here

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Superintendent's Performance Review Ad Hoc Committee Meeting

This reminded me of an effort I made almost two months ago to address the issue of the Superintendent's yearly performance evaluations. The email below was sent to Board President Jack Lowe on August 21, 2008, along with a copy to all Trustees and the Superintendent.

I requested a meeting between the Superintendent and all Trustees.

The request was ignored and never answered.

More Click Here

And Here

The Agenda - Superintendent's Performance Review Ad Hoc Committee Meeting - Thursday, October 16, 2008 - 5:00 P.M.

I will also point out that the scheduling of the meeting this week was handled in a way that might have violated the Texas Open Meetings Act. Board decisions to schedule such a performance review must be made in public. This decision was made in private.

Committees are usually structured to control the result.


From: Carla Ranger
To: Jack Lowe
Date: Thursday, August 21, 2008
Subject: Mid Year Review of Superintendent Michael Hinojosa by the Dallas ISD Board of Trustees conducted on August 15

The information received concerns me greatly. I do not agree with the Mid-Year Review.

The review does not include the full range of opinion of all Board members.

This continues the practice of autocratic Board governance which appears to be designed to achieve a particular result you desire as Board President by excluding others from full participation who have a different viewpoint.

The final draft of the Mid-Year Review was to be provided to all Trustees before any discussion with the Superintendent.

The document you have now given to the Superintendent implies unanimous agreement with the comments you drafted. There is not unanimous agreement with this Review document.

All Trustees did not see this final document before it was discussed in your private meeting with the Superintendent. This is clearly disrespectful of the right of all Trustees to also fully participate in such an important discussion with the Superintendent.

I request a meeting between the Superintendent and all Trustees that provides the opportunity for every Trustee to deliver their own concerns directly to the Superintendent.

All Trustees should be present for every discussion with the Superintendent that relates to a Mid-Year or any Review or Annual Evaluation - unless they decide not to do so.

Trustees should also meet at the beginning of the new school year to discuss the format to be used for the 2008 Annual Evaluation to occur later this year in order to have a greatly improved and comprehensive 2008 evaluation process that is not rushed and correctly reflects the opinions and concerns of all elected Trustees.

I would also like a discussion of the Board President's authority and what I believe to be an abuse of the position and the manner in which all Trustees are not kept fully informed by the President and other such matters.

I have previously requested this discussion.


This Is A Public Document

Monday, October 13, 2008

Dallas ISD and Civic Leaders To Announce Massive Efforts To Help Workers Find Jobs

For Immediate Release: October 13, 2008

Dallas ISD, community leaders and businesses will launch a massive effort to help hundreds of teachers and other staff released from the school district to find new jobs.

At a news conference at the Dallas Convention center, Ballroom C, Monday, October 13, at 10:30A.M., Dallas Independent School District officials will join with leaders of the United Way, the Dallas Regional Chamber, city hall officials, and others to announce details of the community-wide effort to help teachers and other employees find new jobs in education or other careers.

Dallas Superintendent Michael Hinojosa and Chief Human Development Officer Kimberly Olson will make the announcements for Dallas ISD at the news conference.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Wrongheaded Ethics Reform Policy Doesn't Pass The Smell Test

Columnist James Ragland writes - "Dallas ISD Ethics Proposal Doesn't Go Far Enough."

"And I don't want to hear any nonsense about how further limiting Trustee business dealings with the district would shrink the pool of qualified candidates. One word comes to mind: hogwash."

Hogwash - meaningless or insincere talk, writing, etc.; nonsense; bunk.
- Worthless, false, or ridiculous speech or writing; nonsense.

"Sorry, meant to say Houston."

More - Click Here

And Here

WordNet - wrongheaded
adjective - obstinately perverse in judgment or opinion; "a wrongheaded policy"

Ethics reform turned on its head is wrongheaded.

For Young African American Males the Sun Is Up on Project Still I Rise

"Empowering today's youth for academic and social opportunities through mentoring and leadership development."

Project Manhood Leadership Institute targets young African American Male Students.

More Click Here

Saturday is not a school day, but don't try telling the 5th, 6th, and 7th grade boys I met this morning.

Three Saturdays a month they gather from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Cedar Valley College for classes ranging from reading, writing and math to chess, self-confidence building and manhood.

These Dallas ISD students voluntarily participate in Project Still I Rise, a leadership institute to prepare young males for high school and post-secondary educational opportunties. In addition to academics, youth learn career-building and life skills, effective communication and philanthropy.

Project Still I Rise embraces the core values of collaboration, compassion, servant leadership and stewardship.

Did I mention? It's FREE!

Introduced last Spring to this program for young males, I was pleased to help open the door to this important collaboration.

Now in partnership with Dallas County Community College District and The University of Texas at Dallas, Project Still I Rise is stretching. In a few months, even more young men will benefit when this same Saturday opportunity will be offered at Eastfield College.

Kevin L. Mondy,President and Founder, along with Project teachers, tutors, counselors and advisors hosted the Open House breakfast for community and lunch for parents.

Guests included Dallas ISD staff, college and university reps, AKA sorority members, NAACP president, local business owners, UNCF staff, project advisory board and community boosters.

Following an orientation about the vision, curriculum and activities, everyone was invited to visit classes.

It is an impressive mentorship program.

It's brightly clear-- this outstanding project and young males have opportunity to rise AND shine.

"Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.

I rise
I rise
I rise."

Maya Angelou

Oak Cliff Super Bowl Sees Carter Cowboys Win Over Kimball Knights

Ask District 6 high school students, parents or fans, "Where was the big football game today?" They'll tell you, "Kincaide Stadium -- The Oak Cliff Super Bowl."

This match up of the David W. Carter Cowboys vs the Justin F. Kimball Knights is a highly anticipated annual event. The game has been played for the past eight years in memory of the late Dallas ISD Coach James Jones.

Coach Jones would have been proud of the way both teams performed. Throughout the game it was obvious that all players and their coaches were charged, ready and determined.

Kimball Knights in full armour battled well. But Carter Cowboys prevailed, 39 to 16.

Along with Mrs. Alvanetta Jones, Coach Jones' widow, and his family, during a closing ceremony I was delighted to congratulate both teams for their sportsmanship and participation and to present the Super Bowl trophy to the Carter Cowboys.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Ethics Reform - Mixing Private Gain Causes Public Pain

Statement by Carla Ranger
District 6 Trustee - Dallas ISD
Presented Thursday, April 24, 2008 at Dallas ISD Board Meeting

Conflict of Interest of Board President Jack Lowe

Sometimes we must speak inconvenient truth simply because it is the right thing to do. I believe this is such a time.

There is a difference between what is legal and what is right or ethical. For example, the doctrine of “Separate But Equal” was once legal in America. However, it was never right, and finally on May 17, 1954, nine judges dressed in black robes took a moral stand and declared that “in the field of education, the doctrine of separate but equal has no place.”

This Board now has the opportunity to declare that in Dallas ISD the doctrine of mixing “private gain with public service” has no place.

On Sunday, April 20, 2008 an article appeared in the Dallas Morning News under the headline “Dallas ISD hands millions in contracts to top leaders’ firms.”

In that article the Board President is quoted as saying “to ask the company to support me while I’m doing this rather time-consuming volunteer job (at DISD), and also to walk away from a significant chunk of business, was not something I was willing to do.” Is that an accurate statement of what Trustee Lowe said? If so, I am greatly troubled.

Because some don’t like the message–they attack the messenger. Since the article was first published last Sunday, at least one Board Trustee has made several accusations against the Dallas Morning News. Yes, this is the same Dallas Morning News that has regularly been a cheerleader for Dallas ISD and has supported practically every agenda of this administration. Just yesterday, the Dallas Morning News editorial staff again endorsed the May 10th bond proposal.

This board is now faced with an ethical choice–to correct a situation that is not right or to cover it up and refuse to correct it because doing so serves a political agenda.

This is not a question of what is legal. It is a question of what is right and ethical. Ethics has always been a higher standard than politics.

Two months ago on Thursday, February 28, 2008 at our monthly Board meeting, in order to strengthen community confidence as we approach the May 10th Bond election, I requested that our Ethics and Conflict of Interest Policy (BBF A Local) be placed on the agenda for review and revision. At that meeting, the Board President agreed to do so.

I submitted the following one sentence Ethics Policy Reform for the full Board to
consider at the Board Briefing:

Proposed Addition to BBFA (Local) — Ethics - Conflicts of Interest

“After April 24, 2008, the Dallas ISD (the District) may not contract with a business entity in which a Trustee or anyone related to the Trustee has any financial interest.”

Today is April 24, the day I had hoped the full Board would vote on this proposal. Make no mistake, I am well aware of the current dynamics of this Board and how decisions are sometimes made.

It is likely the majority of this Board would have voted against this proposed ethics policy. Yet, this matter must be cleaned up in order to remove this new ethical cloud now hanging over this Dallas ISD Board and its current President.

The Ethics Reform I requested did not appear on the Board Briefing agenda until April 10th — two weeks ago. Then an effort was made to refer it to a committee that I was asked to chair–but in a manner that I believe violated Board policy. After waiting two months, it was expected that this matter would be handled as most others–by the full Board at the Board Briefing.

But there was no discussion of the policy recommendation I had made–only extended discussion about delaying the matter to a subcommittee. I later declined to chair that subcommittee because of reasons I have already shared. It appeared to have been created in a manner which violates Board policy.

The reform I presented was based on the policy of the largest school district in Texas–Houston ISD. In 2004, 4 years ago, Houston established a policy that prevents elected School Board Trustees from doing business with Houston ISD while serving in office. Today I have distributed a copy of the 2004 Houston ISD ethics policy to every Board member.

Prior to the Board Briefing on April 10th, I also presented information to the Board from Susan Combs, Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, who in 2003 stated that it is clearly unethical for Board Trustees to do business with the school districts they represent while in office–either directly or indirectly.

Click Here

Now the Dallas ISD Board must act on this matter with full integrity. The Board should adopt a tough Board policy to end the unethical situation which currently exists, or the District should not contract with any business entity in which the Board President has a financial interest–as long as the current Board President serves as Trustee of Dallas ISD.

Either one or the other. That is the ethical question before us. We must work to build trust and confidence in the community.

This is a serious and necessary matter to address.

President Lowe, I ask that you again schedule this ethics reform proposal I have submitted to be placed on the May Board Briefing action agenda and for a vote at the Board Meeting in May.

This is my request.

I await your reply.

Carla Ranger

An Early End to the '08 (Education) Campaign

"The privitization of schooling would produce a new highly active and profitable industry."
Milton Friedman, "Capitalism", 1950.

Bill Gates Eli Broad

Bill Gates (left) and Eli Broad
(l. to r.) Jason DeCrow / AP; Josh Reynolds /

Time Magazine
"In choosing the next president, American voters have their fair share of crises to consider, be it the economy, healthcare, or national security. But will education be on many voters' minds on Nov. 4? Increasingly, the answer appears to be no.

The latest evidence is the decision by two of the country's largest philanthropies to stop funding Ed in '08, a nonpartisan campaign created to make improving education a top priority in the 2008 presidential race. When Ed in '08 launched 16 months ago, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Los Angeles-based Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation promised $60 million to finance the single-issue project. Now, however, $24 million into the campaign, both organizations have decided to pull the plug. "

More - Click Here

Friday, October 3, 2008

Kimball Knights Step High for Homecoming

Kimball High School was full of energy. On this Homecoming Day the Knights were hoping to see friends, alumni and a football victory.

They got their wish.

The afternoon pep rally featured the Prairie View A and M Step Team. It couldn't have been better.

PTA parents and neighbors from surrounding communities cheered the band, a line of floats and school groups marching in the annual Homecoming Parade -- a big crowd pleaser.

I was honored to serve as Grand Marshall and enjoyed this festive opportunity to interact with students, teachers, staff, parents and surrounding residents. It was a successful school-community event!

Topping off the day, the Knights won their Homecoming game-- Kimball 32, Adamson 7.

Hard Day At The Horseshoe

Thursday was a hard day at the Dallas ISD Board meeting horseshoe.

The lives of many dedicated, loyal, and totally innocent employees will be changed forever by the decisions made today.

The business before the Board:

Consideration and Possible Approval of Resolution Directing the
Administration to Implement a Reduction in Force for Employees

Motion made to adopt the resolution by Jerome Garza.

Seconded by Ron Price.

More - Click Here

And Here

And Here

And Here

CBS11TV: 3:55 PM: School Board Trustee Ron Price urges the board to act today on the proposed layoffs. Price says if the board fails to act today, the Texas Education Agency is almost certain to intervene and take over DISD.

Voting for a Reduction in Force: Lowe, Garza, Flores, Ellis, Medrano

Voting against a Reduction in Force: Blackburn, Ranger

Abstaining: Ron Price

Absent and not voting: Nancy Bingham

The Board discussion lasted for over three hours. Many issues were addressed. Others were not.

In the end, the vote supported a Reduction in Force. A vote, I believe, made before more good teachers could be saved.

Last week CFO Steve Korby confirmed that to delay would not cost significantly more money. In fact the $1 million per week spending would continue through December or early January, the date agreed upon by the administration to continue paying teachers who would be victims of the RIF.

The real tragedy - this day at the Board horseshoe did not have to come. This day did not have to be.

It is a day that I will remember forever.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Dallas ISD Students Speak About Their Concerns But Must 'Press On'

Angelica Perez formerly attended Spruce High School before it was dismantled on a 5-4 Board vote.

Voting for dismantling Spuce High School - Lowe, Bingham, Garza, Price, Flores
Voting against dismantling Spruce High School - Blackburn, Ellis, Medrano, Ranger

I remember Angelica well.

She fought extremely hard to save her High School. Angelica was the Student Council President and a cheerleader. She now attends Sunset High School.

In a Dallas Morning News article, Angelica Perez and other students discuss their fears relating to the current financial crisis.

You must 'Press On' Angelica in spite of these challenges. You can reach your goals.

More Click Here

Friendship West Baptist Church Community Teacher Support Meeting

The Wednesday evening meeting at Friendship West Baptist Church was well attended by what was a large turnout of teachers, staff and and community stakeholders of Dallas ISD.

All were greeted by Senior Pastor Dr. Frederick Douglas Haynes, III with words of support and encouragement.

Many Dallas ISD employees were present to state their concerns. It was an evening of heartfelt expression by all to support those who are deeply affected by the current financial emergency.As a Trustee, it was a humbling reminder of the very personal consequences of the difficult decisions ahead.

Thanks to Pastor Haynes and and the great Friendship West congregation for this very successful effort to support the Dallas ISD teachers and stakeholders.

Adelle Turner Elementary Student Council Prepares Students To Lead

Students at Adelle Turner Elementary School are being prepared to lead. Twenty-four of them told an auditorium of classmates just how ready they are as each candidate for Student Council office stepped up to the lectern Wednesday morning. Teachers and parents watched, beaming with pride -- together.

On yesterday I was honored to give the Charge to the Candidates, who eagerly accepted and proclaimed, "I am a great leader in my school. I will always follow the Golden Rule."

They are public servants in training. These young leaders showed respect and listened attentively to each other. It was a great exercise in democracy for our students.

Hats off to our students and the team of teachers working with the Student Council.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Saving Dollars Or Saving Schools?

The Board has had this latest disaster for three weeks. Three whole weeks to gather information and consider how to adopt a sound solution based on fairness and Dallas ISD policy DFF (Local).

Some information has been requested which has not been received. Addional information is still being sought.

Can dollars be saved without destroying schools?

That is the $64 Million, $84 Million, $148 Million dollar question. Which is it? As usual, nobody seems to really know.

The decisions are not simple or easy - they are difficult.

Real people with real responsibilities will be greatly damaged by decisions that must now be made.

These decisions must be fair and even, not arbitrary and petty. There must be a standard to be followed by all - not just a quick fix that attempts to merely hide the financial mismanagement.

The problem will still be there.

No, there are no easy answers, but there are answers that can be implemented in a way that creates a more just result for all employees.

Simply rubberstamping decisions is a recipe for further disaster.

That is exactly how we got here. The wrong decisions were made as a result of not asking the right questions at the right time.

National Community College Hispanic Council

On Monday September 28, 2008, I was pleased to make a presentation at the 13th Annual National Community College Hispanic Council Leadership Symposium in Fort Worth, Texas.

The theme of the Leadership Symposium session in which I participated was "Stepping Out to Step It Up: Running for Elected Office to Improve Education Attainment in Our Communities."

It was a pleasure to join Dr. Cindy Casteneda of Richland College, Trustee - Garland ISD and Trustee Diana Flores, Dallas County Community College District, in this discussion of the role individuals can play beyond K-16 partnerships to improve educational outcomes and access in our communities.