Sunday, August 30, 2009

Tulisoma! we read - literacy and arts

Once again the African American Museum in Fair Park was the weekend headquarters for the 7th Annual South Dallas Book Fair and Arts Festival --  "Tulisoma!"   The word is  Swahili for "we read," and  Tulisoma had something for everyone who reads or wants to read.

A Heart and Soul Tour of Sunny South Dallas kicked off the Free Book Fair and acquainted out-of-town visitors and long-time residents alike with  sites and landmarks that make up the colorful and noteworthy history of this geographical treasure of Dallas.

Festivities began at Friday night's reception, featuring Max Rodriguez, founder of the Harlem Book Fair.   Special guest, award winning author and public speaker Sonia Sanchez gave a rousing testimony to reading while asking us to look upon all children as our children and do what we can to help them read, learn and live.  

Thanks to Tulisoma for your special tribute to the 10 year anniversary of the African American Read-In and to the Dallas County Community College District for presenting this community literacy project.  We were pleased to join with the South Dallas Book Fair to encourage reading and learning.  

Activities on Saturday were met with the delight of  children of all ages.  Authors  and vendors presented workshops, discussions, and performances to celebrate literacy and the arts.   The Book Fair ended on Sunday with an inspirational Gospel Brunch.

There was fun and learning for the entire family, all ages and all groups at this outstanding week-end event.

Tulisoma! We Read!  

Friday, August 28, 2009

Mrs. Dade suffers stroke

The widow of Dr. Billy Earl Dade was recently hospitalized due to a massive stroke.  She is 90.

Mrs. Dade had been greatly disturbed by recent news of the effort to change the name of the South Dallas Middle School previously named after her educator husband - Dr. Billy Earl Dade. Mrs. Dade still lives in South Dallas.  Like most families, the legacy of her husband and family is heartfelt.

One of Dr. and Mrs. Dade's daughters, Barbara Dade Martin - a retired Principal - traveled from Chicago to Dallas to speak in opposition to renaming the middle school previously dedicated to the memory of her father on March 12, 2000 - less than one decade ago.  She stated that her mother's heart had been broken.

Decisions often have consequences to others who truly care.

Mrs. Dade has been wounded by a stroke at a time that should have been filled with peace and joy.

Our thoughts and prayers are with Mrs. Dade for improved health and recovery.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Trustees Approve pay raises for all employees

Dallas ISD trustees approved the salary schedule, which includes pay raises, for all employees during the 2009-2010 school year.  

Since the raise in teacher pay was required by the state, it is very rewarding that support staff will also finally receive a well deserved raise after three years of no increase.

Lower Flags to Half-Mast in Honor of Senator Edward M. Kennedy

Dallas ISD Notices

To All Principals and Building Facility Supervisors

In honor of Senator Edward M. Kennedy, please lower all flags (State of Texas and United States flags) to half-mast.

Please see the letter below from Governor Rick Perry.

Dear State Agency Leader:

The United States of America has lost a longtime member of Congress with the passing of Senator Edward M. Kennedy. As a mark of respect for this widely regarded leader, it seems fitting that flags in Texas be lowered immediately to half-staff.

Therefore, acting pursuant to Chapter 3100 of the Texas Government Code, I do hereby direct the immediate lowering of all State of Texas and United States flags under control of the State to half-staff in memory of the Honorable Edward M. Kennedy. State of Texas and United States flags throughout Texas should remain at half-staff today and tomorrow and lowered again on the date of interment once it is set by the family.

The First Lady and I extend our prayers of comfort to his family in their time of grief, and urge all Texans to remember and honor his life of service to our nation.



Tuesday, August 25, 2009

District 6 Recognized and Exemplary Schools

Birdie Alexander Elementary School did an outstanding job this year as they moved from Academically Unacceptable to Recognized status. Administrators, teachers, staff, and students came through with flying colors.

In addition, Adelle Turner Elementary School’s ranking moved past Recognized to earn the TEA designation of Exemplary.

Last year, no District 6 schools earned the Exemplary ranking; this year five achieved the top state ranking.

Kathlyn Joy Gilliam Collegiate Academy (KGCA) achieved the Exemplary ranking in its first full year of operation.

Schools from District 6 making the exemplary list are:

•Jimmie Tyler Brashear
•Ronald E. McNair
•Erasmo Seguin
•Adelle Turner
•Kathlyn Joy Gilliam Collegiate Academy (KGCA) (formerly Early College High School At Cedar Valley College)

District 6 recognized schools are:

•Birdie Alexander
•Leila P. Cowart
•Thomas L. Marsalis
•Maria Moreno
•Clinton P. Russell
•Leslie A. Stemmons
•T. G. Terry
•Thomas Tolbert
•Mark Twain
•Martin Weiss

Congratulations to these schools on their academic success.

Thanks to the Principals, teachers, staffs and students of all District 6 schools for their dedication and commitment to academic achievement.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Adult Basic Education (ABE) Audit Report finds serious violations

The mission of the Adult Basic Education Department (ABE) is "to ensure that all adults in Dallas have the opportunity to develop the academic skills necessary to function effectively."

The Texas Education Agency (TEA) awarded $3,672,329 to Dallas ISD for the School Year 2008-2009 for Adult Basic Education programs.

The internal audit of the Adult Basic Education Department (dated August 21, 2009) includes the following observations:
  • During the audit, it was brought to our attention by various ABE employees that the ABE Manager was in violation of the district payroll policy, grant fund accounting and federal regulatory requirements.
  • The ABE Department does not have sound management practices and adequate procedures for administering federal funds in a manner consistent with rules and regulations within the grant application.
  • There is a lack of proper budget management procedures and monitoring of employee hiring practice.
  • The ABE Department does not have adequate internal controls established to reduce the risk of funds mismanagement or to prevent fraud.
  • The management style of employee intimidation, harassment, and retaliation practiced by the current ABE Manager has negatively affected the control environment and control activities set forth by the policy guidelines of OMB Circular 87-A.
  • The auditor was obstructed from communicating with employees about various ABE operational procedures.
The audit report sets deadlines for various corrective actions to be taken.

These appear to be serious problems that apparently have existed for some time and clearly must be corrected.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Grading Policy was wrongheaded then -- now it violates state law

Senate Bill 2033 is now Section 28.0216 (District Grading Policy) of the Texas Education Code.  The law was passed to protect the grading authority of teachers.

Texas Education Agency officials have emphasized that the new law "clearly applies to all types of grades."

Dallas ISD appears to be violating the Texas Education Code - again.

The state legislature has spoken with a clear and overwhelming voice of disapproval of minimum grading policies in Texas.  

The Dallas ISD policy must be changed to comply with state law.

Click Here - DMN - "Our interpretation is that our policies do not need to be changed" - August 18, 2009

Dallas Morning News Friday, February 1, 2008 by Kent Fischer -  Click Here

"Trustees voted 8-1 to keep the minimum 50 grade in policy. Trustee Carla Ranger was the lone dissenting vote.

"She cited the recent case of South Oak Cliff High School, where a principal forced a teacher to boost the grade of a basketball player to keep that player eligible under the state's "no-pass, no-play" rule. The district announced recently that the grade change would result in South Oak Cliff forfeiting a state basketball championship. 

"Mrs. Ranger said she couldn't see how a school could be penalized for wrongly increasing the grade of an athlete, while the district sanctions the whole-scale awarding of unearned grades to failing students everywhere. 

"What's the difference?" Mrs. Ranger asked. "For me this is not just an academic question, it's an ethical question."

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Mark Twain Leadership Vanguard receives free school supplies from Comerica Bank

Third grade students at Mark Twain Leadership Vanguard learned a few lessons today, the week before school starts.  They were introduced to banking and shopping convenience, patience, financial literacy and showing appreciation. 

When parents and students arrived, the media center included a bank and a well-stocked supply store. After withdrawing 65 Big Bucks from the bank, students ordered a bag of school supplies, counted out the required amount and and went to look at their merchandise.

I enjoyed serving as a store cashier for the students.

Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine Caraway also served as a store cashier.

Thanks to Dawna Alberty, Asst. Banking Center Manager, Comerica Bank and the Wynnwood Banking Center for helping Mark Twain students to continue to "Achieve Greatness Through Effective Leadership."

Thanks also to Principal Clifford Greer, teachers and staff of Mark Twain Leadership Vanguard (Recognized ranking).

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Roseland Homes students and parents get fresh start with Central Dallas Ministries

My visit this evening with parents of students who live in Roseland Homes was delightful. Not having been there in several years, I was excited to see many changes and improvements. Clearly, the residents are pleased too.

Dr. Paul McCarthy, President of El Centro College, also gave remarks.

The occasion was the first of several workshops planned by Central Dallas Ministries (CDM) to introduce a focused educational program for parents, guardians and caretakers of children. The program, designed to help parents become better acquainted and more comfortable with various aspects of public education, is part of Operation Family Fresh Start (OFFS).  

One objective of today's session was to encourage parents to think about their children's education as a learning journey which goes from kindergarten through four years of college, or K -16.  We discussed a factor that can contribute to the desire to make the journey.  That factor is children's hearing and being aware that parents expect them to do it -- go to college.  

What a lively time it was, with fathers, mothers and grandmothers participating, much to the joy of CDM and Roseland Homes community outreach staff, all dedicated to making a difference in the lives of families and the education of children. 

With knowledge and confidence, Roseland Homes parents can become better, more effective advocates for their children's education.

Parents were given DCCCD Read-In materials and booklets.  They were encouraged to read to their children.

Hats off and all the best to Central Dallas Ministries as you implement Operation Family Fresh Start.

Thanks to Rev. Gerald Britt for inviting me to participate.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Dr. Emmett J. Conrad Leadership Program Recognizes Students

Dallas Arboretum provided the perfect environment as we celebrated the growth and flowering of students in the 2009 class of the Dr. Emmett J. Conrad Leadership Program.

Founded by State Senator Royce West, the program provides leadership development training through a variety of ways, including summer internship-work experiences, cultural and educational field trips and high-profile networking sessions.

Former NASA astronaut Dr. Mary Ellen Weber, now at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, was keynote speaker. Her message offered a valuable tip -- going on an adventure or trying something new and different can spark a significant and positive turning point for one's career and life. That's how she became an astronaut.

A ballroom full of smiling parents, sponsors, and internship supervisors watched as students received scholarships and recognitions. Their accomplishments and service made us proud.

Along with Mrs. Eleanor Conrad, Mrs. Carolyn West and program director Lajuana Barton, several alumni were there to help, give guidance and share their experiences.

Congratulations and best wishes for a successful freshman year to all students in the 2009 Dr. Emmett J. Conrad Leadership Program.

Thanks to Senator Royce West for continuing this outstanding student leadership program.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Dr. Billy Earl Dade was an icon in education

Statement of Dr. Harry L. Robinson, Jr. concerning the Billy Earl Dade Learning Center, August 12, 2009

Mr. Ron Price, DISD Trustee, District 9, has recommended removing the name of Dr. B. E. Dade from the new middle school to be built in our neighborhood. Dr. B. E. Dade was an icon in education in Dallas for over a half century.

He was well educated having earned a bachelor’s degree from Bishop College, a master’s degree from the University of Chicago, a master’s degree from Prairie View A&M University and the doctorate from North Texas State University (now University of North Texas). His tenure in the Dallas Independent School District included principalships at Frederick Douglass, Paul Laurence Dunbar, John Henry Brown, C.F. Carr and Pearl C. Anderson. Prior to rising to administrative positions in DISD he taught mathematics at Julia C. Frazier Elementary School and mathematics and Latin at Booker T. Washington High School. His post secondary stints included teaching at El Centro, Bishop and Paul Quinn Colleges and Prairie View A&M University. During the time that the State initiated the required TECAT exam for teachers and administrators, he provided “free” workshops for hundreds of teachers and administrators. He mentored many former and current administrators in the DISD. Dr. Dade was well respected in the education profession and the community. On March 12, 2000, the Dallas Board of Education dedicated the school located at 2801 Park Row in his honor.

We, respectfully, request that the name of Dr. Billy Earl Dade be maintained for the new middle school to be located near the current B. E. Dade Middle School. He lived in the school community and was a principal and teacher in that area. Mrs. Dade (87 years old,) lives on South Blvd., daughters (Billie and Barbara), grandsons and great grandchildren are proud of the legacy of Dr. B. E. Dade and request that the school name be maintained for the new middle school.

Submitted by Dr. Harry L. Robinson, Jr., Chair
Committee to Name a DISD School for Dr. B. E. Dade, Organized in 1998

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Renaming Schools for President Obama and Justice Sotomayor violates board policy

The latest suggestion to remove the current names of two schools to be rebuilt and rename them in honor of President Barack Obama and Justice Sonia Sotomayor clearly violates Dallas ISD Board policy.

Neither the President, nor the Associate Justice would support their names being used in this way.

It would be delightful to have schools named after both. However, neither one is anywhere close to the Dallas ISD required age of 70, and the April 1 deadline - for considering recommendations this year - passed months ago.

Of course, the Dallas ISD Board has been known to disregard board policy, state law or anything else that gets in the way.

My vote will be against any effort to use these two outstanding trailblazers for what appears to be a solely political agenda.

It is quite simple and easy to make recommendations in a timely manner that meet the requirements of Board policy. There are many deserving people at all levels - local, state and national. Trustees have had plenty opportunity to make recommendations. It is done every year.

However, Trustees have shown a willingness to violate this policy.

In fact, Trustees Price, Garza and others spent plenty of effort one month ago joining with Trustee Blackburn to undermine the appropriately submitted recommendation of outstanding African American scholar and educator Dr. John Hope Franklin for a new elementary school in the district I represent - District 6. They did it in a dastardly way and in violation of Board policy.

Dr. Billy Earl Dade's widow is now 90 years young.  I will not join in wounding her in the evening of her life by voting to remove the honor previously given to her husband - a local African American South Dallas educator and former Principal of Pearl C. Anderson - who was honored for all the right reasons by a previous Dallas ISD Board .

The names of President Obama and Justice Sotomayor should not be used in violation of board policy and for a political agenda.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Congratulations to Associate Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor

After having been sworn in this morning,  new Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor raises the expectations of many that she will administer justice "fairly and impartially" - especially in important educational cases.


Aug 8, 11:22 AM EDT

Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) -- It's Justice Sotomayor now. Sonia Sotomayor has been sworn in as the Supreme Court's first Hispanic justice. She's only the third female justice in the court's 220-year history.

Sotomayor took the second of two oaths of office Saturday from Chief Justice John Roberts in an ornate conference room at the high court, beneath a portrait of the legendary Chief Justice John Marshall. She swore a first oath in a private ceremony minutes earlier.

Sotomayor's mother, brother, other relatives and friends joined her for the occasion.

In one oath, she promised to support and defend the Constitution. In the second, she pledged to "administer justice" fairly and impartially.