Monday, March 30, 2009

Thanks to Watermark church members for giving D. A. Hulcy Middle School a makeover

On Sunday the Dallas Morning News reported that "throngs of volunteers from Watermark Community Church in Dallas spent Sunday morning painting and cleaning to give the D.A. Hulcy Middle School in Oak Cliff - District 6 an "extreme makeover."

Hulcy principal Roberto Ayala called it "an excellent opportunity to beautify our school."

Our thanks to Watermark Church members for this example of community support of public schools.

Procedure for filling a Trustee vacancy

If a vacancy occurs on the Dallas ISD Board this year, Trustees have been informed that under Dallas ISD "Special Laws", the vacancy would be filled as follows:

If a vacancy occurs with more than nine months remaining on the term of a Trustee leaving the Board, the Board will be required to call a "special election." This election would be held on the next uniform election date (that is nore than 45 days after the date of the order of the Board). The new Trustee would serve the remainder of the term of the departing Trustee.

If less than nine (9) months remain on the term of a departing Trustee, the Board shall appoint a "suitable person."

One might ask. What is a "suitable person?" That would probably be simply politics and not in the public interest.

Friday, March 27, 2009

International Studies Program at Nolan Estes Plaza is a good idea

The staff recommendation for the implementation of an international studies program at Nolan Estes Plaza is a good concept that should be implemented not merely as a temporary solution to the challenge of Spruce and Samuell but as a permanent enhanced educational study pathway open to all students of Dallas ISD.

This is one of the possibilities previously considered for use of Nolan Estes Plaza in District 6. The facility is already there, available and can easily be adapted for development of an international studies program.

It would be an effective use of the Plaza and could provide all students of Dallas ISD an important new career pathway that broadens their opportunities in our new global economy.

Of course, the International Studies Program could also benefit from the huge development of the Dallas Intermodal Terminal located just 12 miles from downtown Dallas.

Good job to staff members who worked from Monday to Thursday to present this concept.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Some Dallas ISD Teachers Feel Unappreciated and Fearful

The latest proposal to cut teacher contracts from two years to one may further weaken teacher  confidence and create greater teacher fear. Teachers crippled by fear are inhibited from doing their best work and teacher morale suffers.
My belief is that good teachers are more important than Trustees, a Superintendent, or top staff.  Teachers ought to be able to teach in a District that respects the very important role they will always play in student achievement.
It appears this proposal may not be supportive of teachers who are sometimes blamed and held accountable for everything.
The following communication explains the concerns expressed by a Dallas ISD teacher of eight years:
Dear School Board member,

My name is ... I am a resident of the city of Dallas. My address is ..., Dallas,. I am also a teacher in the DISD...

I am writing you in reference to the one year contracts that are being considered for teachers and others in the DISD.

I have been with the district for eight years now. I have watched many changes to the district. There have been many that have concerned me over these years and made me wonder what the administration of the district has against teachers. The one year contracts are yet another.

I have yet to hear a convincing argument for this change. Why? How is it advantageous to the district to put teachers in such a position as to make us fearful of our jobs? It seems to me that teachers who feel safe in their careers and appreciated by their administrators will be happy teachers and will better teachers. Worrying if we will have a job is not conducive to concentrating on the students and their learning. In a time when we are under severe pressure from all directions, feeling safe and appreciated would go a long way to helping us reach the lofty goals set by Superintendent Hinojosa, goals worthy of our best efforts. Our best efforts are not gained by the threat of losing our jobs. Quite the contrary. Fear and intimidation make people in any profession so stressed that they become less effective in whatever it is they are seeking to accomplish. We do not want that here in the DISD. I think you will agree that what we need is the feeling of a close team aimed at one goal. Not making test scores rise but making our students successful in their education. If we accomplish that the test scores will take care of themselves.

... I hear from teachers more often than others would. I can say from real knowledge that morale in general is very low. There is a pervasive feeling that our jobs are unsafe and that we are unappreciated.

Teachers should not have to feel this way. It is out efforts, after all, that have brought the DISD the accolades of the Brookings Institute. Yes, the administration can lead, but it is the troops in the trenches who make the real difference..

I strongly urge you to ask yourself how you would feel if the roles were reversed. Would you feel totally directed toward the primary calling of the profession (the education of out students) or would you feel a need to duck and cover to protect your job?

PLEASE do not vote to go to one year contracts. Let us have one thing that gives us some sense of security. By retaining two year contracts you will tell teachers you do value their diligent efforts to bringing success to our students.

Thank you,

Dallas ISD

Monday, March 16, 2009

State Representative Yvonne Davis Proposes Legislation to abolish Houston and Dallas ISD and force the creation of at least two districts in each area

The public frustration with the status of urban education in Dallas and elsewhere continues.

H.B. No. 3532

By: Davis of Dallas


relating to the abolition of existing school districts in certain counties and the creation of new school districts.


SECTION 1. Subchapter E, Chapter 13, Education Code, is amended by adding Section 13.206 to read as follows:


(a) This section applies only to a school district that:

(I) is located in a county with a population of more than two million that is adjacent to a county with a population of more than one million; and

(2) has a student enrollment of more than 150,000.

(b) A school district to which this section applies shall be abolished and two or more districts shall be created from the territory of the district.

(c) An election is not required for the abolition or creation of a school district under this section.

(d) The commissioner shall adopt rules to implement this section.

SECTION 2. This Act takes effect immediately if it receives a vote of two-thirds of all the members elected to each house, as provided by Section 39, Article III, Texas Constitution. If this Act does not receive the vote necessary for immediate effect, this Act takes effect September 1, 2009.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Career Day At Leila P. Cowart Elementary

Friday, March 13th was Career Day at Leila "Patience" Cowart Elementary.

"What do I want to be when I grow up?" was a question children pondered this morning.

For answers, they learned about a variety of opportunities, from careers with salaried pay --"lady firefighter," to ones with commission pay -- real estate broker. They were even introduced to "part-time" volunteer careers -- school board trustee.

The sixth grade students who visited with me had many questions--revealing, "We're paying attention to what's going on at our school and in Dallas ISD."

Much to the delight of Principal Marta Jourdan, teachers, and staff several parents and community members came to assist with Career Day at Cowart Elementary.

Since I discovered that Leila Cowart's middle name was "Patience", in my remarks I mentioned "patience" as one important quality that will help with their future careers.

Thanks to Principal Marta Jourdan and staff for making this a successful activity for the students.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Comerica Bank Partners with Adelle Turner Elementary School to Launch Youth Savings Program

 This morning was a rich experience at Adelle Turner Elementary.

I enjoyed visiting with students and staff at the kick-off of the Comerica Bank 'Youth Savings Program' initiative. When bank representatives announced, "The 'Bank' is now open," dozens of piggy-bank-toting first grade students giggled with anticipation. They were in queue to open their first bank accounts with deposits ranging from four quarters to twenty-one dollars.

Parents and grandparents smiled as children listened to banking instructions, signed their papers and received their very own bank books. Were they ever proud! We all were -- the excitement was wonderfully infectious.

Thanks to Comerica Bank and Vice President Lueretha Slack, Principal Wendy Hawthorne, teachers, staff and PTA of Adelle Turner. Your teamwork made this event a success with compound interest.

During Tough Economy No Better Time Than Now to Learn to Save

DALLAS, March 11, 2009 – Today, first grade students from Adelle Turner Elementary took their first steps toward becoming financially independent by opening their own savings accounts through the Comerica Bank Youth Savings program. First grade students lined up with piggy banks and savings jars in hand for the inaugural "Deposit Day" at the makeshift banking center in the Adelle Turner Library.

The Adelle Turner first grade class was chosen by Comerica Bank for the pilot program designed to aid in the financial development of area youth. As part of the program, Comerica Bank professional staff members also teach a monthly series of financial literacy classes to Adelle Turner parents to help educate adults on how to manage their money during these difficult economic times.

"Now more than ever, it’s critical that our youth understand the importance of saving money and becoming good financial stewards," said John Sergiovanni, executive vice president of retail banking for Comerica Bank - Texas Market. "By working together with Adelle Turner Elementary School, we can help provide students with a solid foundation in financial literacy so they can have a better chance to be successful with their savings plans throughout life."

Comerica Bank employees staffed the banking center desk to record transactions and issue deposit slips to the six and seven year-old students. The participating students will be able to make additional deposits each month during "Deposit Days" and will receive quarterly statements for their new fee-free savings accounts.

"We’re encouraging our teachers, parents and students to get behind this meaningful partnership with Comerica Bank to expose our students to important financial information," said Wendy Hawthorne, Principal, Adelle Turner Elementary School. "Many children today don’t understand how hard their parents must work to buy their clothes, books or toys. By participating in Comerica Bank’s Youth Saving program, our students will gain a better appreciation for saving money and the value of the dollar."

Dallas ISD Trustee Carla Ranger attended the inaugural school banking day to speak with first grade students and congratulate them on starting to plan for their futures.

"Our students and parents are fortunate to have the support of a strong community partner like Comerica Bank," said Carla Ranger, Dallas ISD Trustee, District 6. "Comerica Bank is setting the right example by encouraging our youth to have a responsible outlook on their financial futures."

Youth Savings Program Facts:

Minimum opening account balance is $1.00 for minors
Minor service charges, monthly maintenance fees, phone-assisted and excess activity fees are waived
Students receive quarterly statements from Comerica Bank
Each student is given their own passbook and account number
Students can make deposits during school banking days or at any Comerica banking center during normal business hours
No withdrawals are allowed to be processed at the school during school banking days

Comerica Bank