Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Sixth Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Symposium

Photograph of Rosa Parks with Dr. Martin Luthe...                                         Image via Wikipedia
The Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture
Presents the Sixth Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Symposium
Just and Unjust Laws
The Core of the Civil Rights Struggle

The Sixth Annual MLK Jr. Symposium, On MLK Day: 7 p.m., Monday, January 17, 2011

At the AT&T Performing Arts Center Winspear Opera House, 2403 Flora St.
On its sixth anniversary, the Dallas Institute's MLK Jr. Symposium will consider one of the most crucial but often neglected aspects of the American Civil Rights Movement: the law. Rev. King insisted from the beginning that the fundamental challenge of the movement was to make a necessary distinction--between just and unjust laws. In his words, "A just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law." This distinction was repeatedly tested in the dangerous struggles of the 1950's and 60's, when activists willingly went to jail in defiance of segregation's unjust laws. But who worked behind the scenes to free them? Who fought the legal battles while protestors filled the streets--and the jails? The story of resisting Jim Crow while fighting to institute just laws once and for all is rich, many-layered, and compelling.
General Admission - $20
Dallas ISD Teachers, Educators & Students - $10
Groups of 10 or more, $15 per person 

FOR TICKETS: Visit the AT&T Performing Arts Center's Web site at or call the Box Office at 214.880.0202.

GROUP SALES: Contact Ashley Delaney, the Group Sales Coordinator at the AT&T Performing Arts Center, Phone: 214.978.2879.

Jeffrey Toobin - A high-profile senior analyst for CNN and staff writer for The New Yorker, Jeffrey Toobin is one of the country's most esteemed experts on politics, media and the law. Toobin has provided analysis on some of the most important events of our time, including the O.J. Simpson trial, the Kenneth Starr investigation and impeachment of President Bill Clinton, and the disputed Florida recount of the 2000 presidential election. The author of critically acclaimed New York Times best seller, Toobin's 2007 book The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court, delves into the historical, political and personal inner workings of the Supreme Court and its justices to reveal the inside story of one of America's most mysterious and powerful institutions. He received his bachelor's degree from Harvard College and graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law School, where he was an editor of the Harvard Law Review.

Fred Gray - Veteran civil rights attorney Fred Gray's legal career began in the midst of America's modern day civil rights movement. With a quiet demeanor, strong determination and secret commitment made in college, he vowed, "to become a lawyer, return to Alabama, and destroy everything segregated I could find." Gray began his legal career as a sole practitioner, less than a year out of law school, and at age twenty-four, he represented Mrs. Rosa Parks who refused to give up her seat to a white man on a city bus, the action that initiated the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Gray was also Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s first civil rights lawyer. This was the beginning of a legal career that now spans over fifty years. Gray was born in Montgomery, Alabama, and is a graduate of the Nashville Christian Institute, Alabama State University, and Case Western Reserve University.

Monday, December 20, 2010

African American males are not waiting for superman - they need mentors, coaches and heroes

They were climbing the ladder for 33 years during the desegregation era.  But the support programs of that era have been increasingly removed in recent years by design.

Dallas ISD Trustees were recently presented information on the African American Success Initiative.

The mission of the Success Initiative is stated in these words:  “Dallas ISD is committed to the achievement of each student and is moving to eradicate the achievement gap and increase access to opportunities for its African American students.”

Growing out of the Success Iniative is an offshoot identified as The African American Male Leadership Team composed of Principals and other district leaders. These leaders recently held the first Dallas ISD Speak Out.

Speak Out: Obstacles Keeping African American Males from Graduating from High School and Going to College

An Op-Ed piece by Principal Earl Jones of Kimball High School, a member of the Male Leadership team, was published today in the Dallas Morning News.  It is well worth reading.

Choose one young man to mentor

"One of the most powerful moments of the speak out came from a student who challenged each adult present to look around and choose one young man to mentor and encourage, so the young man would know someone is pulling for him."

A wish that school was a hotel
Principal Jones described “a young man who shared his story of an incarcerated father, a mother who had given up her parental rights, brothers who didn’t want him in the family - and told him as much.  This determined young man, president of his senior class, wished only that his school was a hotel so he could live there instead.”

These young men don't need a superman myth, but they do need the support and help of mentors, coaches and heroes.

Book - Black Males - An African American View on Raising Young Men - Harvey Alston Best

Little Eyes Upon You
There are little eyes upon you
and they're watching night and day.
There are little ears that quickly
take in every word you say.

There are little hands all eager
to do anything you do;
And a little man who's dreaming
of the day he'll be like you.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Students and staff spread holiday cheer

During the past week, Dallas ISD students and staff welcomed the holidays through a variety of activities.  Participating in them brightened and broadened my holiday experience.  It also provided a chance to greet, applaud and appreciate. 

DAEP at  Nolan Estes Plaza

Recently settled in their new home at Nolen Estes Plaza, DAEP students displayed vocal talent as they delighted family and friends with rhythmic moves that made students giggle and the audience cheer.  Wearing Santa caps or reindeer antlers, each grade performed a medley of festive, with some tap-your-toes-to, songs.   Through the coordination of June Johnson, teachers helped students, some of whom arrived as late as the day before, prepare for this first holiday program.  Students were visibly overjoyed to perform, which they did so well.  Guests were proud and, recognizing  value in this activity for these students, recommended this program as the start of a tradition.

Thanks to teachers, staff and principal Eva Hunter for the holiday teaching and learning experience given to DAEP students and families.

Maintenance Northwest Division

Another highlight of the week was the annual luncheon with staff at the Northwest Maintenance Division.  Every work day,  members of this crew use their skills to maintain approximately 70 campuses in their service area. However, at this time every year,  they show off their cooking skills, bringing homemade dishes and desserts for a fun-filled lunch with secret gift-exchange and lots of fellowship. What a pleasure it was to be among and talk with these workers.    

Thanks to the Northwest Division maintenance crew for the work you do to support teaching and learning in Dallas ISD.       

El Centro Middle College High School

Middle College High School at El Centro hosted the annual Tamale and Thank You Party.  The Parent Teacher Student Association and the Site Based Decision Management committee joined students in thanking parents and Middle College friends for their support during Fall semester.  For added fun and to work off calories from the tamales and sides, students and guests learned how to do the cha cha cha and a couple of ballroom dance steps.  It was truly a fiesta in the Student Center at El Centro College. Much appreciation to all who helped.

Many students left with a tamale and holiday spirit to share.

Friday, December 17, 2010

What Diane Ravitch told Teach for America

By Valerie Strauss - Washington Post

"Education historian Diane Ravitch gave a speech at Rice University about school reform in which she directly challenged officials from Teach for America and the Knowledge Is Power Program who were present -- the very people who had invited her.
About Teach for America:
“If I were just graduating from college, which I wish were true, I would surely want to join Teach for America. I understand why tens of thousands of idealistic college students sign up for a two-year term as a teacher in a school serving poor students. I have met many many young people who are in TFA now and I have been impressed by their intelligence, their enthusiasm, their sincerity and dedication.
“But I would urge you please, stop claiming that TFA will close the achievement gap. That may be a nice slogan but nobody can teach for two or three years and close the achievement gap. Closing the achievement gap requires a lot more than really smart and dedicated young people with five weeks of training and a lot of enthusiasm. It requires highly skilled career professionals with deep experience who are willing to stick to the profession.... You send out a false message that your corps of young people is all that it takes and that’s not true.
"The TFA message is supporting efforts to undercut professionalism in every part of education. Not only do we now have superintendents who were never educators but now we have many programs to train non-educators to be principals.
"TFA supposedly proved that no professionalism was needed, just really smart people. So now we have the George W. Bush Institute, allied with TFA, planning to train 50,000 new principals over the next decade, many of them drawn from business, the military, sports and other non-educational fields.
"As I was driving into Houston yesterday, my brother pointed out to me a billboard that said: 'Want to be a teacher?' As we were driving past, I got my cell phone. You just have to put down $395 [the full cost, according to the website, of getting alternative teacher certification is $4,195]...
"Does TFA want to be remembered in history as the leading edge of a movement that destroyed the education profession?"

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Dallas ISD Trustees to extend terms for up to 18 months

Martin Luther King Jr. 
"Cowardice asks the question, 'Is it safe?' Expediency asks the question, 'Is it politic?' Vanity asks the question, 'Is it popular?' But, conscience asks the question, 'Is it right?' And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but one must take it because one's conscience tells one that it is right."                          - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

And politics asks the question, 'Is it legal.'

But a public servant - a servant leader - would ask Dr. King's question, 'Is it right?'

Former Dallas ISD Trustee Ron Price was sitting in the audience at the public hearing held Tuesday, November 30 2010 at 5:30 PM.  At one point, former Trustee Price spoke out from the audience, "You should have done it two years ago.  Vote Yes."  Or something close to those words. 

It appears Dallas ISD Trustees will again vote to extend Trustee terms of office - this time for as long as 18 months for single member districts (SMD) 2, 6 and 8.  

Since I represent District 6, my term will be extended under the current proposal for the full 18 months of additional public service with no voter approval.

At the December Board Briefing Trustee Lew Blackburn indicated that two years ago he requested  the change to four-year terms.  He then asked if the current effort to make the change is legal.

Of course, it is legal this time - until December 31, 2010.  There is a deadline now, just as there was a deadline two years ago.

However, the most important question is  not just about legality.  It is about doing the right thing.

It is also important that the Dallas County Elections Office has now confirmed that it will be even more costly to Dallas ISD to move the May election date (Saturday) to the often partisan and crowded November election date (Tuesday).

Extending Terms Will Cost More - Bruce Sherbert - Click Here
"You have a lot more supplies, a lot more personnel -- it's a huge production," Sherbet said of the November election. "There's no question, it's going to cost them more."

If you want to get a preview of where all of this is headed, take a look at the special election recently held in Houston to fill a vacancy created by the resignation of a Trustee who happened to represent an Hispanic District.

Stipechie wins Houston ISD school board runoff - Click Here 

There were about six candidates for the vacant position.  Two candidates participated in the run-off held on Tuesday, November 30, 2010  - one an attorney and one a homemaker (former Teach For America teacher) - raised almost $200,000.00.  

The runoff vote total was 2,052.

The attorney won the runoff by 44 votes (1,048 to 1,004 = 2,052 vote total) - this was the result in a school Trustee runoff election in Houston between two candidates who together had to raise $200,000.00. 

The homemaker and former Teach for America candidate was heavily backed by the Houston Business Education Coalition.  The attorney who won was backed by teachers and community.

The winning candidate Juliet Stipechie stated: "My agenda is based on what the community wants and needs as opposed to somebody telling us what our community needs."

Is this what is ahead for Dallas ISD - $200,000.00 school Trustee elections where money will dominate?

Please note - this important item is now buried as the very last item to be discussed on the Thursday evening Board agenda.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Four hundred Dallas ISD students deck the halls with music at 18th annual Christmas concert

If you were not at the Black Academy of Arts and Letters (TBAAL) Saturday evening, you missed an outstanding seasonal concert. Combined choirs and musicians from eleven Dallas ISD high schools and one elementary school decked the halls with a superb performance on the Naomi Bruton main stage. It was the 18th Annual Christmas Kwanzaa Concert. 

Name your favorite musical genre, classic to contemporary -- they performed it, with vocals and instrumentals for everyone. Parents, families, friends, teachers and staff were in awe, stilled by exquisite renditions of the more complex seasonal music or arrangements. They also found themselves swaying to traditional, toe-tapping to swing, calling and responding to rap, clapping to pop, bobbing to jazz, and testifying to spirituals. 

The grateful audience got plenty of exercise, up out of their seats over and over with applause and praise throughout the performance. And what a boost for these 400 students -- vocalists, musicians, helpers and technicians, all handsomely attired in red, green and black. Guests saw a packed stage of student performers who were pristinely-disciplined, keenly-attentive and highly-prepared. The high-quality concert was another affirmation of the value of music and the arts in education. By participating in choir, orchestra and service, these students are acquiring knowledge and skills to help them be productive and responsible. 

We appreciate the teaching and dedication of the choral directors and band conductors who worked with our students to present the concert. The music team represented Umphrey Lee elementary and the following high schools: Carter, Kimball, Lincoln, Rangel YWL, Roosevelt, Samuell, Skyline, South Oak Cliff, Spruce, Sunset and Yvonne A. Ewell Townview Center.

Thanks to Craig Welle and the fine arts, choral and general music administrators and staff for on-going efforts to present Dallas ISD music and fine arts programs to the community.

Special gratitude to TBAAL founder/director Curtis King and the staff of The Black Academy of Arts and Letters. Thank you for consistently demonstrating the importance of partnerships in education for student success.

Students -- Congratulations and Thank You! Your 18th Annual Christmas Kwanzaa Concert celebrated the season and beckoned the happy holidays that you and your directors deserve.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Carter high school hosts seminar for parents and male students

There was no sleeping-in late this Saturday morning for several students at Carter high school. Members of the Man Up Group were preparing to greet and assist their peers from other schools who would attend “It’s Time--A Seminar for Male Students.” Dressed in uniform t-shirts with the printed message, “No sagging pants allowed," these young men were ready to give and receive positive lessons throughout the day.

Founded by Carter High teacher Curtis Ferguson, the purpose of Man Up Group is to “transform the lives of boys and help them become responsible men. This is achieved by providing a secure, positive peer environment where males regain hope and belief, earn trust and self-respect; and learn skills to lead a constructive lifestyle--free of gangs, drugs, violence, cycles of failure, mental” welfare” and poverty. Realizing that partnerships can lead to greater influence and broader results, Man Up Group partnered with Project Student Leaders, Inc (PSL) to present the seminar today.

Project Student Leaders is the creation of Richard Davis, because of his passion to help youth and his 29 years in education. PSL focuses on providing “challenged but talented” students with training that will empower them to make good decisions to improve their lives and communities.
Along with hearing positive rap and experiencing other entertainment, students and parents were scheduled to interact with several presenters during four sessions: 1.) Who Am I for Real? 2.) Who’s Listening to Me? 3.) Don’t You Have Dreams and 4.) Catch the Rope and Live! (Helping Teens Reconstruct Their Lives).

I was glad to welcome eager parents, students and supporters. How refreshing it was to see the male students carry out their different duties with respect, helpfulness and an attitude of service. They are being well-taught, thanks to their sponsor and trainers.

We are pleased when teachers and educators connect to implement programs that benefit students and parents. This morning’s seminar for males presented at David W. Carter high school, where Mr. Gail Dupree is principal, was a fine example of collaboration to benefit parents and students.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Students and elected officials meet at annual reception

Middle College High School at El Centro  M. F. Bailey Concert Choir - Lincoln High 

City Club was the gathering place this evening for the Elected Officials and Student Advisory Committee Reception. The annual event is hosted by Sen. Royce West.

Planned by Education Director LaJuanna Barton and implemented by the senator’s staff, this is an occasion for students interested in leadership and public service to meet and talk with elected officials in various offices throughout the city, county and state.

The festive atmosphere is a comfortable setting for easy talk and laughter among parents, teachers, school sponsors students and public servants.

Serious and not-so-serious conversations were interspersed with talent of students from Booker T. Washington HSPVA, Yvonne Ewell Townview Magnet Center and Lincoln High school respectively.

Student teams representing several schools and IDS were excited to learn that the annual service project to gather canned goods netted over 25,000 pounds of food donated to the North Texas Food Bank.

Congratulations to the winners and all of the student leaders and teams. Special hats off to our own District 6 T.W. Brown Middle School, 3rd place winner.

Thanks to Sen. West for hosting this opportunity that includes many Dallas ISD students.

Much appreciation to parents, teachers and sponsors for your help and support of these student leaders.  

Monday, November 29, 2010

Dallas ISD Trustees should be more accountable to the public - not less

In 2008, I was re-elected by the good people of District 6 to serve a 3-year term ending in May, 2011. Of course, there was nothing on the ballot for the voters to approve that would allow me to extend my own term.

While it may be tempting to rationalize extending my own term for good reasons, I find it unacceptable to do so in light of personal experience showing how power will be abused.

In 2007, the Texas Education Code stated in plain language that school Trustees could not extend their terms of office after December 31, 2007.  In spite of that clear restriction, on November 20, 2008 - one year after the clearly stated deadline - Dallas ISD Trustees extended their terms and canceled the May 9, 2009 school election.

To listen to the Thursday, November 20, 2008 Board discussion on extending Trustee terms to 4 years (Item #6 under items pulled for a separate vote) , Click Here.

Why Rush To Violate State Law - November 20, 2008

I requested the assistance of the Texas Commissioner of Education in obtaining an opinion of the Attorney General to clarify what had already been confirmed by the Legal Office of the Texas Secretary of State - that the December 31, 2007 deadline applied to all Texas school districts.

After the Texas Attorney General issued an Opinion (GA-0712) on April 30, 2009 that Dallas Trustees had no authority to extend their terms after the clearly stated December 31, 2007 deadline, some Trustees still attempted to minimize the importance of the decision.  The decision was not accepted as simply the "right result" that must be followed.

We have had two elections since the Opinion of the Attorney General was issued - November 3, 2009 and May 8, 2010.  Neither election would have been held without the Attorney General's Opinion upholding the Texas Education Code.  Three new Trustees were elected who would not have been able to run without an election.

This time the deadline is December 31, 2010.  I believe it is sufficient for a Dallas ISD Trustee to serve 3 years.

Dallas ISD Trustee - 3-year term
Dallas City Council - 2-year term with 8-year term limitation
Texas State Representative - 2-year term
U. S. Congress - 2-year term

Dallas  ISD Trustees are already less accountable to the public than the Dallas City Council, Texas State Representatives or members of the U.S. Congress.  In the same 6-year period, these elected officials are accountable to the public in three elections, while Dallas ISD Trustees are currently accountable to the public in only two elections in six years. 

Public service is a privilege given by the citizens who elected us. 

Three-year terms make Trustees more accountable to the public. Four-year terms make Trustees less accountable to the public.  Four-year terms also make change in governance more difficult.  The opportunity for other citizens to serve is also reduced.

A four-year term will give more power to Trustees and less power to the public.

Elections matter and democracy wins when public officials must stand before citizens for re-election.

Thursday, November 25, 2010


For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food,
For love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.

- Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Magnet Fair on Saturday, Dec. 4

Parents and students are encouraged to attend the district’s Magnet Fair on Saturday, Dec. 4 from 8:30 a.m. to noon at Skyline High School, 7777 Forney Road to receive information regarding the application process, the general program requirements, the timeline for the selection process and a schedule of each magnet school’s open house. 

Beginning Dec. 6, the magnet school application for the 2011-2012 school year will be available at 

On last Thursday, November18, 2010, Dallas ISD Trustees adopted an updated Magnet policy EGA (Local).  The vote was 8-1.  

I voted against the revised policy due to concerns about equity and fairness for all students.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Texas Association of School Boards (TASB) adopts public school finance plan

TASB Headquarters Austin
At the fall meeting of The Texas Association of School Boards (TASB), the Board of Directors  re-affirmed approval of the TASB School Finance Plan adopted in September.

Passionate discussion during the Saturday, November 13, 2010 Austin board meeting revealed TASB Directors are committed to investing time and resources to help Districts learn more about the proposed School Finance Plan.  It replaces the current Target Revenue and two tiered formula systems with a simpler single-tier guaranteed yield plan.   No school district loses revenue as a result of the TASB plan.
  •  Find out the history and resources regarding current issues facing school finance on TASB's site -  Click Here.
  • To learn about the TASB School Finance Plan and see a video that introduces and explains it - Click Here.
  • To see the TASB plan frequently asked questions - Click Here. 

 TASB supports a school finance system that:
  • provides districts with an adequate amount of state and local funds to prepare students to achieve rigorous academic goals, covers districts’ rising operating costs and funds state and federal mandates;
  • gives school boards local control over the tax rate and access to more golden pennies without voter approval;
  • provides formula-funding to close the equity gap among districts as soon as possible; and
  • attributes statewide property value growth back to the school finance system.
Exhibit 1:  A Visual Comparison of the Current School Finance System and the TASB Plan
Exhibit 1:  A Visual Comparison of the Current School Finance System and the TASB Plan
TASB supports state funding that includes, but is not limited to: 
  • career and technology (CTE) courses, beginning in middle school, that allow students to meet the state’s graduation requirements;
  • free prekindergarten programs for either a full-day or for more student groups, at local district option;
  • curricular interventions and programs to help at-risk students; and
  • construction and renovation of public school district facilities to meet the state’s growing student population.
TASB opposes the diversion of taxpayer dollars to private schools, including vouchers, tuition tax credits, and other such programs funded with public tax dollars.

TASB opposes the use of the Permanent School Fund for open enrollment charter school facilities.

TASB Directors represent large and small districts throughout the state and promote educational excellence for all Texas school children. 

My initial committee assignment will be Budget and Finance.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Texas Association of School Boards poll shows support for public schools

(Austin) – Eighty-eight percent of Texans agree that Texas’ public schools need more money from the state, a 12-point increase from March 2004, according to a survey recently commissioned by the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB) and conducted by Texas Poll. Only 10 percent disagree that schools need more money and 2 percent don’t know.
Of Texans polled who have children attending public schools, 89 percent believe Texas’ schools need more money from the state. Even an overwhelming majority of Texans 60 years of age and older—66 percent—say the state should provide more funding to schools.

Texans also say they are willing to pay higher taxes to get more funding for public schools. The Texas Poll asked if they would support higher taxes to help fund new school buildings, higher teacher salaries, and smaller classes. Responses were favorable in all categories.

In other findings:
  • A majority of Texans—60 percent—also agree that Texas public schools are better than schools in other states.
  • Sixty-three percent of Texans agree that Texas public schools are doing a good job educating a challenging student population.
  • Most Texans—81 percent—also agree that Texas public schools are burdened with federal requirements.
  • Fifty-nine percent of Texans say Texas public schools are doing an excellent or good job in preparing students to succeed, compared with 40 percent who say fair or poor.
The poll, conducted by the Texas Poll in July 2010 for TASB, surveyed 1,000 adult Texans by phone in a random sample of active phone exchanges statewide.

For a full report on the survey Click Here

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Community signs support beam at ceremony for Wilmer-Hutchins Elementary School

 Senator Royce West gave remarks

Parents, retired educators and community leaders joined Dallas ISD officials today to mark the end of one journey and the beginning of another for young students in Wilmer, Hutchins and near-by city of Dallas areas.

The event  was part of a "topping-out ceremony," where guests lined up to sign a support beam to be  placed in the roof of the school, scheduled for completion by summer 2011.

Located in the city of Dallas, the new school was designed to serve 800 students in kindergarten through fifth grade. There will be 34 classrooms operating in an environmentally sustainable design which utilizes life-cycle building materials, reduces water and energy consumption and depends on more than 200 geothermal wells drilled 250 feet deep for its heating needs.

Guests were able to see the framework of the new school, as well as an eight-foot-tall display of building materials, siding and windows.   This made it easier to envision the structure where children will soon come to  learn, develop, grow, experiment, and play.

Musical performances were provided by two schools:  the Whitney M. Young Elementary School Chorale, Vicky Brooks , Director and the Birdie Alexander Elementary School Choir, Nelda Washington, Director.

Superintendent Michael Hinojosa expressed appreciation for the successful 2008 Bond passage which made it possible to build this and other new schools.

In his remarks, Senator Royce West praised the district's progress in the southern sector of Dallas and gave assurance of future support for school success.  Hutchins Mayor Artis Johnson encouraged community involvement and participation at the new school. Deputy Chief of Operations Phil Jimerson outlined project details and  the construction time line.

Southeast Elementary Learning Community Executive Director Shirley Ison-Newsome served as mistress of ceremonies.

The topping-out ceremony for Wilmer-Hutchins Elementary School helped to "raise the roof" on expectations for Dallas ISD students who will attend this new school.

We appreciate State Board of Education member Mavis Knight, Wilmer Mayor Jeff Steele, University of North Texas Dallas President John Ellis Price, Larry Johnson representing Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, and former Dallas ISD Trustee Robert Price for their attendance and support.

Thanks to all who came out to participate on a bright fall afternoon filled with the sunshine of a glorious new day for young students.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Wilmer-Hutchins Elementary School topping out ceremony

District 6 - Topping Out Ceremony
Wilmer-Hutchins Elementary School
7475 J.J. Lemmon Road
Dallas, Texas 75241

Tuesday, November 9, 2010 - 2 p.m.

Everyone is invited.

Wilmer-Hutchins Elementary School

Sunday, November 7, 2010

US Department of Education issues updated guidance on bullying

The U.S. Department of Education recently issued updated guidance to educators on dealing with bullying in schools.  The guidance, issued in the form of a letter to schools, colleges, and universities from Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, clarifies when bulling may violate federal anti-discrimination laws.

The guidance was issued after two high-profile student suicides, which police say were the result of bullying.  While this latest guidance makes clear that current laws enforced by USDE do not protect against harassment based on religion or sexual orientation, they do include protection against harassment of members of religious groups based on shared ethnic characteristics, as well as gender and sexual harassment of gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, and transgender individuals.

The White House and USDE also announced that they will take additional steps to address bullying and harassment in schools.  

Early next year, the White House will host a conference to raise awareness and equip young people, parents, educators, coaches, and other community leaders with tools to prevent bullying and harassment.  

USDE also plans to hold technical assistance workshops around the country in early 2011 to help educators better understand their obligations and the resources available to address harassment and bullying on school and college campuses.   

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Zan Wesley Holmes Jr. Middle School groundbreaking celebrated by community

Rev. Dr. Zan Wesley Holmes, Jr. speaking at a ...REV. DR. ZAN WESLEY HOLMES, JR.

Jimmie Tyler Brashear Elementary School Glee Club performs

Senator Royce West speaks for elected officials

Rev. Holmes and Dr. Frederick Douglas Haynes, III
T. W. Browne Middle School Students and Rev. Holmes

Sen. Royce West, Rev. Holmes, Carrie Holmes, County Commissioner John Wiley Price

Supt. Hinojosa, Rev. Holmes, Carrie Holmes and Savannah

                 Official Groundbreaking Ceremony

For Immediate Release: November 2, 2010

School honors community leader, features green design

DALLAS Parents, students, community leaders and elected officials turned out in large numbers Oct. 29, for the groundbreaking of Zan Wesley Holmes Jr. Middle School, Dallas Independent School Districts fifth event of the 2008 Bond Program.

      "The new school will improve the community and students lives," said School Board Second Vice President Carla Ranger, who serves District 6.  "It is very fitting that we have named this 21st century middle school in honor of Rev. Zan Wesley Holmes Jr. who served this community extremely well over several decades and made Dallas a better place for us all."

      The new three-story school located at 2910 St. David Dr. will serve 1,250 students in sixth through eighth grades. Opening in 2012, plans for the 195,000-square-foot building include nine science classrooms, three ESL and two world languages classrooms as well as softball, baseball and football fields. Architectural plans feature a number of sustainable design elements that will reduce water consumption by 35 percent, include a geothermal HVAC system, improve energy efficiency and take advantage of natural lighting.

      While we focus on creating the best facility to prepare our students for the future, it is important to remember we have responsibilities for safeguarding our planet and resources for the next generation, said Superintendent of Schools Michael Hinojosa. Zan Wesley Holmes Jr. Middle School will be a school building that seamlessly merges both ideals to create a learning environment capable of supporting our natural environment.

       West Secondary Learning Community Executive Director Cynthia Goodsell welcomed the crowd to the ceremony. The T.W. Browne Middle School Leadership Cadet Corps presented the flag and the Jimmie Tyler Brashear Elementary School Glee Club performed Gloria Estefans Get On Your Feet.

      Deputy Chief of Operations Phil Jimerson reviewed project details and the construction timeline. Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price, former State Board of Education Member Eleanor Conrad and Friendship West Baptist Church Senior Pastor Frederick D. Haynes III reflected on Holmes leadership and the many lives he has positively influenced.

      The school is named to honor Rev. Zan Wesley Holmes Jr., retired SMU theology professor, civil rights leader and Pastor Emeritus at Dallas St. Luke Community United Methodist Church where he served for 28 years. Holmes was tapped in 1968 to complete the unfinished term of the late Joseph Lockridge, the first African American elected to the Texas House of Representatives. Subsequently, Holmes played a key role in the desegregation of Dallas schools as a member of the Tri-Ethnic committee that negotiated the school districts court-ordered desegregation plan, and he also served as the first African American member of the University of Texas Board of Regents.

      AECOM is the project manager of the new school, Rogers-OBrien serves as the general contractor and the architectural firm of Perkins + Will designed the building.

      The next bond-related event is a topping-out ceremony for Wilmer-Hutchins Elementary School, set for 2 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 9, at 7475 J.J. Lemmon Road.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Waiting for a Superintendent who wants to live in Dallas

While others are "Waiting for Superman", a myth that never existed, I'm waiting for a Superintendent who wants to live in Dallas.

How strange that Dallas ISD elected Trustees would now bring forth a policy that would allow even the Superintendent to live in another city on Dallas taxpayer money while making decisions about the education of children in a city not good enough to live in.

How strange - after the current Superintendent declared himself to be the "perfect fit" for the Las Vegas (Clark County) public school system and Trustees rushed to increase the liability of Dallas taxpayers by over one million dollars - now a new policy comes forth that would allow even a Superintendent of Dallas ISD to live outside the city.

What is really going on here?

I don't really know the real story behind this strange and peculiar new policy push to enable any five Trustees to make a special arrangement with a Superintendent in his contract - even though the official school district policy requires the same Superintendent to live in the Dallas community.

I only know that a Superintendent who does not want to live in the city of Dallas is a Superintendent who should not be here.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Dallas ISD Officials To Break Ground On Zan Wesley Holmes Jr. Middle School

Ceremony set for Oct. 29 at site of new middle school 
2810 St. David Drive  Dallas, TX. 75223

DALLAS – Dallas ISD and community leaders will celebrate the beginning of construction of Zan Wesley Holmes Jr. Middle School at 10 a.m. Friday, Oct. 29, at 2810 St. David Drive. At more than 192,000 square feet, the new facility will accommodate up to 1,250 students in grades 6-8. 

The building’s design comprises environmentally sustainable features such as a geothermal HVAC system, reduced water consumption and a system for easier separation of waste materials for recycling.

Speakers slated for the groundbreaking ceremony include Second Vice President of the Dallas ISD Board of Trustees Carla Ranger, District 6; Superintendent of Schools Michael Hinojosa; Cynthia Goodsell, executive director of the West Secondary Learning Community; Dallas County District 3 Commissioner John Wiley Price; and honoree Zan Wesley Holmes Jr. 

Special remembrances will be provided by former member of the State Board of Education Eleanor Conrad, and Friendship West Baptist Church Senior Pastor Frederick D. Haynes III. 

A civil rights advocate, theology professor and former state legislator, the Rev. Holmes was the first African American appointed to the Board of Regents of the University of Texas System. 

He is Pastor Emeritus of St. Luke Community United Methodist Church in Dallas, where he served for 28 years.

The event will feature the T.W. Browne Middle School Leadership Cadet Corps and the Jimmie Tyler Brashear Elementary School Glee Club. 

Everyone is invited.
– 30 –

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Board of Directors of Texas Association of School Boards

The Delegate Assembly of the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB) met Saturday, September 25, 2010 during the 50th Annual Conference of trustees and administrators.

Board members appointed from TASB Active Members, the TASB Board and the four Legislative Advisory Council members of the TASB Legislative Committee --all make up the Delegate Assembly.

This state body determines the direction the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB) will take in terms of leadership and interaction with state and federal officials and with other organizations. The Delegate Assembly also elects the Board of Directors of the Texas Association of School Boards.

There are 44 Directors, representing TASB's 20 geographical/Education Service Center regions, as well as their own school district boards.

Article VI, Section 3, of the TASB Bylaws empowers the TASB Board of Directors to actively promote the purposes of the Association, oversee its fiscal affairs, and establish Board policies. Some of the specific duties of the Board include employing the Executive Director, adopting the TASB strategic plan, approving new programs and services, monitoring ongoing service offerings, adopting the annual association budget, and recommending action to the Delegate Assembly.

Having been elected by Trustees on June 24,2010, to represent Dallas ISD, I was confirmed as a new Texas Association of School Boards Director at the convention this past weekend.

Thanks to TASB Immediate Past President Sarah Winkler, President Sylveser E.Vasquez, Jr. and the Directors  for their welcome.

I look forward to the opportunity to serve public school students, teachers and citizens at the state level.

Thanks to the Dallas ISD Trustees who supported my nomination and the TASB Delegate Assembly.

I look forward to representing Region 10C for the 2010-2013 term in Texas Association of School Boards (TASB) public service.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Vegas envoys get positive reports on Hinojosa by Craig Civale
September 27, 2010 at 7:16 PM

School trustees from the Clark County (Nevada) School District were in Dallas to meet with the NAACP, the Chamber of Commerce, and current and former DISD board trustees.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Texas school boards and administrators celebrate 50 years

Celebrating 50 years of educating leaders!  was the theme of the Texas Association of School Administrators  (TASA) and Texas Association of School Boards (TASB) 2010 Convention.  The annual conference convened this week-end, September24-26, 2010. at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston, welcoming over 6,000 public school officials.

The weekend Convention featured more than 200 best-practice sessions, distinguished lectures, and general sessions that focused on creativity, motivation and vision.  Conference events and presentations were designed to provide knowledge and skills training, as well as networking opportunities, to enhance school district success.

The three engaging general session speakers were:  Daniel Pink (best-selling author), Emmitt Smith (NFL/Cowboy champion) and Bill White (Texas gubernatorial candidate).  (Gov. Rick Perry was also invited but declined to speak at this educational conference.)

Economist Todd Buchholz, PBS education correspondent John Merrow and Texas Commissioner of Education Robert Scott were distinguished lecturers.

Most memorable were the student performers, representing three school districts..  They were outstanding ... from kinder to seniors!  Applause, applause, students!  Thanks again, teachers and coaches.

Much appreciation to outgoing TASA President John Fuller and TASB President Sarah Winkler for dedicated service and for chairing a fulfilling convention.

As always, the efficient TASB staff organized and implemented an effective annual convention. They continue to earn our gratitude.

Congratulations Texas Association of School Boards (TASB) and Texas Association of School Administrators (TASA).  On to the next 50  years of service ...

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Superintendent Hinojosa says he is "a perfect fit" - for Las Vegas

"My energy and enthusiasm will be a perfect fit for the fifth-largest district in America."  - Superintendent Michael Hinojosa

These are the words of Dallas Superintendent Michael Hinojosa to the Clark County School District (CCSD) in Las Vegas, Nevada.

This statement reveals the Superintendent has already decided he will remain in Dallas only if Las Vegas (CCSD) says "No."

And what is the responsibility of Trustees to the citizens of Dallas who elected us?

It is certainly not to rush into making another bad decision under false pressure.

The special Board meeting on Thursday should be a discussion only.

Trustees should not go behind closed doors and rush into making another wrong decision.

If any decision is made, it must be made in open session before the citizens of Dallas.

It would not be be responsible for Trustees to take any action regarding Superintendent Hinojosa on Thursday.

That is exactly how very unwise decisions have been made before.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

One finalist drops out of CCSD superintendent search - News -

One finalist drops out of CCSD superintendent search 

One finalist drops out of CCSD superintendent search

Some weigh in on qualifications of remaining two candidates

Confidence in the Clark County School District's superintendent search was shaken Monday when one of three finalists dropped out.

James Browder, superintendent of the Lee County School District in southwest Florida, withdrew to take a job as vice president of operations at Edison State College, also in Lee County.
The Clark County School Board will proceed with community meetings on Wednesday and interviews on Thursday with the two remaining finalists: Dallas Independent School District Superintendent Michael Hinojosa and Colorado Education Commissioner Dwight D. Jones.

The School Board also could decide Thursday to ask the McPherson & Jacobson search firm to produce a third finalist as it seeks to replace retiring Superintendent Walt Rulffes. The School Board's goal is to name a new superintendent by mid-October. 

Browder's decision to withdraw and questions about the backgrounds of the two remaining candidates have some wondering about the quality of the search process and what appears to be a rush to make a decision on the part of board members.

"This will very likely be the most important superintendent selection in recent memory," said longtime political strategist Sig Rogich, who is chairman of the board for the Public Education Foundation. "I see no reason why they need to pick someone overnight."

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Superintendent Hinojosa wants to leave - time for succession plan

Michael Hinojosa - Dallas, TX -  "I am ready, willing and able to lead Clark County."  Clark County School District - CCSD

What could be clearer than that?  The Dallas Superintendent is thrilled about another opportunity.

Superintendent Hinojosa intends to leave Dallas for Las Vegas if his new suitor will just say, "Yes."

The full Board was never officially informed that the Superintendent had applied for another position.

That is more than bad faith.  That is deliberately withholding very important information from Trustees about the future of the district.

What do you owe your employer of the last five years with a current contract for two more years? Of course, certain Board members probably have known about this for some time. Others were not informed until this week.

The Superintendent informed me the day before the public announcement in Las Vegas.  He indicated he was contacted by a search firm. I asked if he had applied, he said, "Yes."

Since these matters take months, this Las Vegas application process has been underway for some time.

After reviewing a video discussion of the 3 finalists, I suspect the choice has already been made. That is how many school boards operate.  There is the public face and there is the private reality of a certain board clique making decisions in private.

One candidate from Florida heads the 62nd largest school district in the nation.  He is nearing retirement.  The other two finalists are much younger.

Another finalist is Colorado State Commissioner of Education but has never headed a large urban school district.

The only finalist who has actually headed a large urban school district for the last five years is Superintendent Hinojosa.

The Dallas Board of Trustees has a responsibility to the taxpayers, students and teachers of Dallas ISD to preserve and protect the District.

It is now clear there is an immediate need for a succession plan for Dallas ISD.  The Board should develop such a plan immediately - rather than being held hostage to the decision of another school district.

At the meeting of the National School Boards Association in Chicago, April 10-12, 2010, I attended a session on succession planning for school districts.  I am now glad I did.

The odds may be the Dallas Superintendent has already been chosen in Las Vegas.

If he is not chosen, it remains clear he intends to leave.

The Board's responsibility to prepare for the future of Dallas ISD is clear.