Monday, April 25, 2011

TASB Board of Directors waive registration fees for 2011-2012 training events

A report on the April 2011 meeting of the TASB Board of Directors
Texas Association of School Boards Headquarters, Austin, Texas
As a signal of support for its members, the TASB Board of Directors unanimously approved use of the Association’s fund balance to waive registration fees to key TASB training events in the 2011–12 school year. Board members can continue to fulfill their education training requirements. More importantly, trustees and administrators can continue to learn ways to navigate through these challenging times while keeping the focus on our students.

The TASA/TASB Convention in Austin, September 30–October 2, will be the first event with no registration fees for active members. Others are the Superintendent Secretary Training Conference in October 2011 and February 2012, Large District Leadership Forum in December 2011, Fall and Winter Legal Seminars (hosted in select cities on various dates), the Winter Governance and Legal Seminar in February 2012, and the two Summer Leadership Institutes in June 2012. Additionally, paid subscribers of TASB HR Services, OnSite Services, and SMART program will be eligible for some training events at no cost, and tuition fees have been waived for the Leadership TASB class beginning September 2011.

All public school districts and education service centers are classified as active members. 

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Salute to scholarship reception and ceremony

Sixty-two stellar seniors were honored at a reception and ceremony Thursday evening at Emmett J. Conrad High School. They are the 2011 Superintendent's Scholarship Recipients, representing thirty-one Dallas ISD high schools.

District 6 parents and supporters saluted:

Jasmin N. Rivers * Alexandria Emerson -- David W. Carter High School
Andrea Acosta  *  Alex D. Watson - Justin F. Kimball High School

As students were presented and scholarships announced, we listened to their awesome bios of academic performance and service.  Hearing their college and career aspirations made beaming parents, teachers, principals and supporters proud and confident about the future to be held in these students' hands.

In addition to scholarships, students received a plaque and frequent applause to commemorate the occasion.

Deyontrius M. Stevenson, freshman at the University of Houston and a 2010 Superintendent's Scholarship
recipient from South Oak Cliff High School, returned to give her salute to scholarship.

We were delighted to greet and congratulate each one of the scholarship recipients, including parents and teachers who stood for students who could not attend.

Thanks to benevolent sponsors for providing this scholarship opportunity for Dallas ISD students.

Conrad High School culinary arts students and teachers catered the Chargers Cafe reception.

The 2011 Superintendent's Scholarship Selection Committee and Dallas ISD staff planned and implemented this evening of celebration.

Congratulations, to all 2011 Superintendent's Scholarship recipients!

Friday, April 22, 2011

San Diego community based school reform model sees schools as neighborhood learning centers

Community Based School Reform Model

The San Diego Unified School District Vision 2020 Plan describes a vision of their schools as
"true neighborhood learning centers."

Click Here

San Diego is building its entire concept of community based reform on a neighborhood learning center model.  

Dallas ISD was a pioneer of an innovative learning center concept but has sought to destroy them here. 

Schools as Neighborhood Learning Centers

Sherman Elementary studentsThe Vision 2020 sees our schools as true neighborhood learning centers, where on campus student learning extends beyond the school site to benefit the surrounding neighborhoods they serve.
The plan will seek to link neighborhood schools with community in new ways, through expanded partnerships with social service agencies and businesses. Services will be uniquely designed to each communities needs.

The Vision 2020 sets the following goals

  • Schools will be safe, attractive neighborhood centers supporting learning and interaction for citizens of all ages.
  • Neighborhood schools will promote growth though increased community participation and integration into the neighborhood, resulting in increased attendance by neighborhood students.  
  • Schools and clusters will have the flexibility to establish instructional strategies designed to assure the success of each student. The district will hold schools accountable to meet standards.
  • Schools will extend beyond the fence with broadband connections to allow home learning and collaboration with other schools.           

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Trustees must approve any restructuring of Dallas ISD magnet programs

 We have been here before.

Last Thursday evening I was told of a plan to change the organization of Yvonne A. Ewell Townview Center.  I listened, and it was indicated that all other Trustees had already been informed.

This was not a discussion of the merit of the plan.  It was merely passing along information stating what had already been decided and what would be done.  Then the press release was issued on Tuesday.

Under Dallas ISD policy it appears that only the Board can make such sweeping changes to the Magnet program organization.

  • Board Policy AE (Local) - "The District shall maintain a program of magnet schools, including Montessori schools.  The program shall offer unique educational opportunities through specialty curricula that cannot be found within the neighborhood schools..."
  • "Nothing herein shall limit the ability of the Board of Trustees to add additional programs or to modify or eliminate existing programs in accordance with the recommendations of the District's evaluation."

That seems to be pretty clear.

This is a major restructuring of Yvonne A. Ewell Townview Center with no official Board approval before it is done.

The administration recommends.  Only the Trustees can restructure the magnet school program.

These are difficult times, and difficult decisions must be made.  Trustees might decide to make other changes or simply accept the recommendations of the administration.  That is understood.

What is not understood is the failure to follow Board policy.

Decisions cannot be made by Trustees outside of an official Board meeting.  This would be a violation of the Texas Open Meetings Act.

And nothing has been presented to the Board for an official decision.

Board Policy AE (Local) - Declaration of Commitments and Covenants - Magnet Schools

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Senate Passes Charter Expansion Bill

TASB Legislative Update
April 13, 2011

Senate Passes Charter Expansion Bill

The Senate on Wednesday passed SB 127 (Patrick, Dan), which would expand the number of and provide fewer restrictions to opening new charter schools.

An amendment was adopted on the Senate floor to replace charter in many instances with license. The bill, as passed, would:
  • require those seeking to open a charter school to apply for a provisional license that would be issued by the State Board of Education. The provisional license holder would have to meet certain accountability standards before being awarded a charter after three years;
  • allow for an additional 10 licenses per year in addition to the current cap of 215;
  • allow the SBOE to award an additional number of charters to replace any revoked charters;
  • allow the opening of two new charter schools that educate students with disabilities;
  • authorize the commissioner of education to impose penalties on any charter holder that violates any rule or statute that pertains to charter schools;
  • require that new charters only accept students that attended public schools in Texas the year prior to seeking acceptance to a charter school;
  • increase the commissioner of education’s authority to revoke a charter/license; and
  • allow charter holders to establish additional campuses without seeking TEA approval.
Of course, this is not the time to expand charter schools, which are also publicly funded, while the legislature is ordering significant cuts to public school funding.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Texas senate panel gives schools more flexibility

By SOMMER INGRAM , 04.14.11
Associated Press

Educators who have begged Texas lawmakers for more freedom to deal with lower funding got a small victory Thursday when a state Senate committee voted to let school districts cut salaries and furlough contract personnel for a limited period.
They also agree more work needs to be done.
The bill allows districts to reduce contract employee salaries and furlough personnel for up to six non-instructional days - but only while the Foundation School Program entitlement remains below 2010-2011 funding levels.


by ANDREW HORANSKY/KVUE News - April 14, 2011

More Here

Thursday, April 14, 2011

District 6 Community Forum - Justin F. Kimball High School

Tuesday, April 19, 2011 - 6:30 P.M.

Vision: Dallas ISD seeks to be a premier urban school district
Mission: Educating Students for Success

District 6

Community Forum

Hosted By

District 6 Dallas ISD Trustee Carla Ranger is hosting a community forum to inform and engage parents, teachers and community members in discussions about the impact of the state budget deficit on school district operations. The meeting will include an update on the 2008 bond program and focus on the following and other questions:
  • What is the potential impact of the state budget deficit on Dallas schools? 
  • How can community members express their concerns? 
  • When will Dallas ISD officials know if schools stand to lose teachers and staff based on the projected budget deficit? 
  • How will district officials make decisions about cuts to staff and programs?

District 6 Community Forum 
Date and Time:

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

6:30 p.m.

Justin F. Kimball High School
3606 S. Westmoreland Road • Dallas, TX 75233
  Please contact 972-925-3700 for additional information

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Charter Campus policy pulled from the agenda

Item Pulled From the Agenda:
Policy Briefing (Items for Discussion)
5.C.1.b. Discussion of Board Policy EL (Local) Charter Campus or Program (First Reading)
This item will not be discussed at the Thursday Board Briefing.

Summary of school district finances for the 2010-11 school year

The Texas Education Agency has posted a revised Summary of Finances (SOF) for the 2010-11 school year. The report includes projected student counts; budgeted tax collections; tax rate updates; EDA and IFA information; state aid reduction for WADA sold data; and state compensatory education information.

Enter Dallas ISD County District Number - 057905

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Rolando Rios Conflict of Interest - Redistricting Counsel

Trustees are scheduled to interview applicants for redistricting counsel on Thursday morning.

Attorney Rolando Rios of San Antonio has clear Conflicts of Interest and should not be considered for redistricting counsel of Dallas ISD. Last spring (in 2010) at the beginning of this process, this was again brought to the attention of Trustees.

Contributions of Rolando Rios to individual Dallas ISD Trustees:

Trustee Jerome Garza - District 7 - $300.00 - March 26, 2007
Trustee Edwin Flores - District 1 - $500.00  - August 21, 2009
Trustee Lew Blackburn - District 5 - $350.00 - April 1, 2010

This shows a bias in favor of certain Trustees.

The Request For Proposal states that "by signing this Executing of Offer, affirms that no gifts have been given to public officials."  Rolando Rios signed the Execution of Offer on November 16, 2010 stating that he had given no gifts.  Yet he had done so, past and present - most recently on April 1, 2010.

Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct - Rule 7.08 - Prohibited Solicitations and Payments - "(a) A lawyer, in order to solicit professional employment, shall not pay, give, advance, or offer to pay, give, or advance anything of value, ... to a prospective client or any other person ...

Rolando Rios has clear conflicts of interest.

In November, 2006, Mr. Rios was directly involved in the switch of two precincts relating to District 6 that had absolutely nothing to do with the Wilmer-Hutchins redistricting for which he was hired.  Wilmer-Hutchins is located in the extreme south portion of our area.  The switched precinct includes Molina High School, which is located in the extreme north. The precinct also included the Early College High School at Mountain View College that was later re-named for Trustee Garza's father

The precincts were switched solely because I was an African American Trustee.  Jerome Garza, an Hispanic Trustee, decided to use the redistricting of Wilmer-Hutchins to engage in racism.

When I asked Rolando Rios which Trustee had requested switching precincts in my district, Rios first claimed he did not recall.  Then he later claimed it was a confidential lawyer-client matter.  Only problem - I was also his client entitled to equal, fair and honest representation.

Mr. Rios should be disqualified on the basis of both Conflicts of Interest and his obvious bias and attempt to cover-up Trustee Garza's racist agenda in the November, 2006 Wilmer-Hutchins redistricting.

Rolando Rios was also later involved in the Dallas ISD illegal change of terms to 4-years where he advised that it was legal to make the change but failed to address the very important matter of a December 31, 2007 deadline that was clearly being violated.

Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct Rule 5.08 - Prohibited Discriminatory Activities
A lawyer shall not willfully, ... manifest, by words or conduct, bias, or prejudice based on race, color, national origin, ... towards any person involved ..."

Jerome Garza's Shocking Behavior Caught on Tape

"... we pieced together a video of exactly what happened last November in the redistricting meeting.

Carla Ranger was visibly concerned that another trustee would surreptitiously alter her district's boundaries--then try to conceal the act.

After almost an hour, Jerome Garza finally admitted it was him."

"The silence of the other board members, not coming to Carla's side in favor of open, honest government, are just as guilty as the consulting attorney (Rios) who said the information Carla asked for was "confidential."


DISD trustees divvy up W-H voters

Precinct change not related to new students angers board member

09:24 PM CST on Friday, December 1, 2006
By KENT FISCHER / The Dallas Morning News

"The big debate of the night, however, wasn't over the new boundaries, which were approved on a 7-2 vote. Instead, passionate words were exchanged over the unexpected swapping of two voting precincts in West Dallas that had nothing to do with the Wilmer-Hutchins district.

Lawyer Rolando Rios told her he couldn't recall why the switch was made. When asked if it was done at the behest of a trustee, the lawyer claimed attorney-client privilege and wouldn't answer. When she turned to her fellow trustees for help, none offered an explanation."

More Here


by Scott Bennett  

Lawyer Rolando Rios told her he couldn't recall why the switch was made.
When asked if it was done at the behest of a trustee, the lawyer claimed
attorney-client privilege and wouldn't answer. When she turned to her fellow
trustees for help, none offered an explanation.

More Here

DISD Board Member Engages in Sneaky Tactics
And uses district lawyers and your tax dollars to do it!

The paper reports that he also used District Lawyers to make the swap, and never consulted Ms. Ranger about such a move. Equally important, he also never informed the residents of DISD District 6 about such a move.

I have learned that the under-the-table swap involved Precinct 4417, which surrounds Molina High School, and Precinct 4419. Unlike Garza would lead you to believe, Precinct 4417 is a diverse district of many races. Precinct 4419 is overwhelmingly Hispanic. I believe this is all about payback and dilution of the African-American voting bloc. I will back that up with statistics later on in the article.

More Here

San Antonio College - March 12, 2011

"District 6 trustee Gene Sprague said he was not in favor of Rolando Rios's firm because in 2008, it was hired illegally with four votes and showed a preference toward specific board members. A quorum of five trustees is required for agenda items at a regular board meeting."
"In 2011, I want us to start with a clean slate," Rindfuss said. 

Monday, April 11, 2011

Why I don’t believe in “reform" - educator explains

"Education and student achievement are not the same."

The educator who wrote 'Why I Don't Believe In Reform' is concerned about the people he has worked with in the past.  He comments:  "I am trusting that these people will welcome the dialogue.  But I am scared nonetheless."


Marc Waxman has been an educator for 17 years, including 12 in New York City, and the last two in Denver.

"I don’t believe.  I wish I could believe.  I am supposed to believe.  But, I don’t. I don’t believe in education “reform” in our country.
I don’t believe charter schools are a panacea, I don’t believe that linking student achievement to teacher evaluation will significantly impact education, and for that matter, I don’t believe student achievement” should be the ultimate goal of education in our country.
I am supposed to believe in all this, especially if you look at my resume and follow the major media discussion of education “reform.” Let me explain.

When I graduated from college in 1994 I joined Teach For America.  I taught two years in Paterson, NJ (made famous by Joe “Batman” Clark from Eastside High School – which was just across the street from the 1,000-student K-8 school where I taught.  After my two years of TFA service I became one of the first teachers and administrators at KIPP in the South Bronx.  After three years at KIPP, I spent the next nine years co-founding and co-directing a new school in Harlem which started as a school-within-a school, was part of a take-over of a failing school that was closed, became an official New York City public school, and then converted to become one of only five conversion charter schools in NYC."

Friday, April 8, 2011

Truth About Schools Web site

To provide accurate information and make it available to everyone, the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB) has established the Truth About Schools Web site.

It is regularly updated with facts and insights about Texas public schools.

More Here

Texas School Finance–How Did We Get to This Point?
... what ultimately became the undoing of school finance in Texas.  All of this began in 2006.

Analysis of Educator Roles and Responsibilities in Texas: 1991-2011
Studies found that charter schools—not traditional public schools—were top-heavy with administrators.
Tracking the Dollar in Texas Public Schools
...salaries and benefits account for 80 percent of basic education costs.
School Daze 
Education funding is grossly inadequate ...

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Is education in Texas on a fast track to mediocrity?

Congressman Lloyd Doggett of Austin made the following comments in the Austin American Statesman:
"...a devastating flood of wrong..."

Congressional Republicans demand less federal education aid for science, math, early education, disadvantaged schools and students with disabilities. Lowering the maximum individual Pell Grant by more than $800, with total student financial assistance reduced by billions, and slicing initiatives to improve college access and graduation rates means a weaker workforce. This is not a path to success; it is a fast track to mediocrity.

No economic justification underlies this nonsense, only a belief by those in power that it's good politics. When enough people speak out against the harm being caused, this assault on education can be stopped. Closure of neighborhood schools and termination of educators can be prevented when enough Texans say, "No way!"

An umbrella from Republican reign. Facing much more than a rainy day, our schools are being overwhelmed by a devastating flood of wrong. There is no excuse for a state that ranks near the bottom on so many indices to do even less, nor for federal support to shrink. As leaders boast about the Texas economy, we should apply more of the fruits of that success to ensuring an educational system that will sustain success.

Last year, 12 Texas members of Congress responded to concerns voiced by teachers, school boards and administrators about prior state misallocation of $3.25 billion in federal education aid from which they obtained no additional help. The federal education law we authored represents a small but important part of the ongoing struggle over our future. It has one simple purpose — ensuring that federal aid to education actually aids local education instead of being redirected to plug a mismanaged state budget.

It reflects confidence in local school trustees to decide on appropriate use of aid, not Gov. Rick Perry, who arrogantly avoids accountability. This is the same governor who insists he doesn't fire teachers, but he would deny monies for their pay.

More Here

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Bob Ray Sanders speaks out for Texas public school teachers

Bob Ray Sanders of the Fort Worth Star Telegram speaks out against the attacks on public schools and Texas public school teachers.

sandersIt makes me mad to hear people, most especially sanctimonious so-called leaders, run down our public schools.

I become even more riled when those bloviating windbags on talk radio and cable TV berate public school teachers as lazy, incompetent, dues-paying union sympathizers who only care about a paycheck and don't give a hoot about children.

And when they label public school students as ignorant or otherwise "worthless" -- a waste of taxpayers' money -- it makes my blood boil to the point almost of a volcanic eruption.
Confession: I am a teacher.

While I have never been hired full-time as an educator, I am a certified teacher.

More Here

...I figured out a long time ago that most of those who complain about public education and do everything in their power to destroy it haven't been in public schools in years, if ever.

...They accept and perpetrate the stereotype, play to the whims of misinformed disgruntled constituents and, thus, are flag-bearers for dismantling one of the strongest pillars of this democracy.

...The government fails education, and when it does it looks for scapegoats in local districts, teachers, unmotivated students and uncaring parents and community.

...As the fight for education gets tougher in Austin this legislative session, I will stand on the side of students, which means I will stand with the educators against the pontificating politicians.

Monday, April 4, 2011

May 14, 2011 Dallas ISD trustee election canceled

Dear District 6 neighbors,

Thank you for the opportunity to serve as your school Trustee these last 5 years.

On Thursday March 31, 2011, Dallas ISD Trustees officially canceled the May 14, 2011 election for Districts 2, 6, and 8.  While only one candidate filed to run in each district, election packets were picked up by an additional potential candidate in each district.

In District 2,  Vince Murchison obtained an election packet on February 14, 2011 but did not run.

In district 6, Lew Blackburn, Jr. obtained an election packet on February 7, 2011 but did not run.

In District 8, Warren Westmoreland obtained an election packet on March 1, 2011 but did not run.

In District 6, not only was there interest in running, but political consultants were secured, key district 6 people were asked to help, informal polls done, precinct chairs were contacted for support - and more.

The effort was definitely made, but at the end of the day no other candidate filed to run. The interest was kept hidden because the efforts did not succeed.

I certainly support the right of any citizen to run for a public position. This is a good thing when done for the right reason.

For the school board there is only one right reason - a desire to serve public education - not to impose private agendas.

I never expected to be a school Trustee.  I love education but there was never an ambition to serve in a public position.  It happened because one day I was asked to run.

I have consistently fought to protect your right to vote and to have democratic elections. I have consistently refused to support any agenda that would have denied your opportunity to elect Trustees of your choice.

I believe in public control of public schools.

I love students. All students are special and all deserve a quality education.

I appreciate and respect teachers, campus staff and administrators.

I believe in parents and the difference their personal involvement can make in the education of their children.

I strongly support public education and believe in public accountability.

I do not support privatization of public education for profit and greed.

Destroying public control of education will help destroy democracy itself.

I strongly believe in the Texas Freedom of Information Act (TFOIA) and the Texas Open Meetings Act (TOMA). These laws protect the right of citizens to know what is going on in their government - at all levels - local, state or federal.

We now face new challenges, even more so than in past years.

It will take the dedication and support of all citizens to preserve public education.

Thank you again, District 6, for your kindness and support.

Carla Ranger
District 6 Trustee
Make Education A Priority

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Texas Association of School Boards Advocacy Agenda Principles

The Texas Association of School Boards is calling upon school districts to submit new Advocacy Resolutions that will help form TASB's responses to issues before the Legislature and other governmental entities during the legislative session.
The following Cornerstone Principles guide TASB's Advocacy Agenda and organizational conduct:
  • Excellence in student achievement for all Texas students
  • Locally governed and locally controlled public schools
  • Rigorous accountability for academic progress
  • Adequate funding levels to provide exceptional education programs
  • Efficient and effective school management
  • Working with parents to create optimal opportunities for each child
Change is one constant: the evolving needs of school districts and the availability of state funding for public education.

And there are others: resistance to taxation, underfunding of public educationerosion of local control, and the need for continuing educational improvement.