Friday, November 30, 2012

Dallas ISD Trustees have final authority to interpret board policy DK (Local)

Dallas ISD Board policy states that only the Board has final authority to interpret a policy.  All policies adopted by the Board are effective immediately unless otherwise stated by the Board.


Board Policy BBE (Local) 


The corporate Board has final authority to determine and interpret the policies that govern the schools and, subject to the mandates and limits imposed by state and federal authorities, has complete and full control of the District. Official Board action shall be taken only in meetings that comply with the Open Meetings Act.
Board Policy BBE (Local) 


Local policies become effective upon Board adoption or at a future date designated by the Board at the time of adoption.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Dallas ISD board policy DK-Local - Teacher Schedule


Proposed amendment to Board Agenda revision of board policy DK (Local) - Thursday, January 29, 2012 - Agenda Item 9-A-3:

On page two, under the heading “SCHEDULES,” remove the strikes of the second sentence from the proposed revision.  The entire paragraph then will continue to read:

Schedules shall be determined and approved by the Superintendent of Schools or designee and shall conform to TEA requirements.  Time schedules may be arranged to suit the needs of individual schools, taking travel schedules into consideration, but must contain a minimum of seven hours and 45 minutes.
This is the identical policy language that existed before the current language below was adopted by the board on January 26, 2012.


The revision currently on the Board Agenda

Schedules shall be determined and approved by the Superintendent of Schools or designee and shall conform to TEA requirements. Time schedules may be arranged to suit the needs of individual schools, taking travel schedules into consideration, but must contain a minimum of eight hours and 30 minutes 

Texas Schools Face Bigger Classes and Smaller Staff

From New York Times - 3-16-12 - Click Here

Jennifer Whitney for The Texas Tribune

One gym period combining two classes gives Raul Orozco about 50 children at Wanke Elementary in north San Antonio. 

The Texas Tribune
Expanded coverage of Texas is produced by The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit news organization. To join the conversation about this article, go to

“I live on a timer,” she said. 

Every minute is accounted for in her meticulously planned workdays. To some extent, that is true every school year. But last fall, for the first time in her 12 years of teaching, 23 students were enrolled in her San Antonio elementary school class — making those minutes even more precious. 

“As a teacher, when you know you are planning the day out for 23 kids, every single minute counts,” she said. “It’s an art and a science to balance out everybody.” 

Many Texas teachers have found themselves in a similar predicament. Texas Education Agency data for the 2011-12 school year show that the number of elementary classes exceeding the 22-1 student-teacher ratio has soared to 8,479 from 2,238 last school year.

Texas has had the 22-student cap for kindergarten through fourth-grade classes since 1984, and districts can apply for exemptions for financial reasons. But during the 2011 legislative session, to ease the pain of a roughly $5.4 billion reduction in state financing that did not account for the estimated influx of 170,000 new students over the next two years — and after an attempt to do away with the cap failed — lawmakers made those exemptions easier to obtain. Texas schools, which have shed approximately 25,000 employees this school year, including more than 10,000 teachers, have jumped at the chance to trim costs.

Research is mixed on the effect of class size on learning, but many educators agree that adding just two students to an already full classroom can intensify the challenge for teachers. Some worry that increasing class sizes hurts the neediest students most.

Budget cuts have affected all of the state’s 1,200-plus school districts and charters, but the 102 fastest-growing districts, which have absorbed 92 percent of the growth in student population since 2007, have been hit the hardest by increasing class sizes. About 46 percent of these fast-growth districts have campuses with waivers, compared with 28 percent of non-fast-growth districts, according to an analysis of T.E.A. data by the Fast Growth School Coalition. 

The coalition advocates for districts that have an enrollment of at least 2,500 and have grown by at least 10 percent or have added 3,500 students over the past five years. Those districts educate about 40 percent of the state’s students. 

In the past, these schools have been able to add staff members and build facilities as the number of students increases. But now, even as the student body continues to grow, the schools have had to drop employees and delay building projects to cut costs, said David Vroonland, the chairman of the coalition and superintendent of the Frenship Independent School District, outside Lubbock. 

His district has avoided requesting class-size exemptions for now, but h“We’re anticipating we’ll be at 24 or above,” he said. “And there’s very little we can do about it.” e expects that to change next year.

Some fast-growth districts may be better prepared to take on larger classes, because they have had to plan for ever-increasing student populations, and they are already familiar with methods like dividing students into smaller groups for instruction. 

In Northside I.S.D., where Ms. Causey teaches, 64 campuses had requested class-size waivers as of early February. Brian Woods, the district’s deputy superintendent for administration, said the district is used to dealing with more students, who enroll throughout the year. What is different this year, he said, is that the budget has made it more difficult to hire a new teacher when a class hits 23 students. 

The district has an internal policy to keep class enrollment in kindergarten through second grade at 23 students or fewer, he said. Third and fourth grades, he said, allow for 24 students. If all of the classes at an elementary school have hit those numbers, he said, as a last resort the district transfers students to a different school, which is usually farther from their homes.

“We just flat don’t do that,” Mr. Woods said of exceeding the 24-student limit. “Our classrooms aren’t built to hold that number of students.” 

His district, the state’s fourth largest, eliminated 973 positions this school year. Mr. Woods said that many of those were support positions — staff members who helped teachers reach children who need extra attention or who struggle with language. 

“Students struggling at 22 to 1 who are now sitting in a class of 23, that’s not a dramatic difference,” he said, “But the person that was there last year to help them with their math and help them with their reading who may not be there now, there is a dramatic impact for that child.” 

About 90 minutes north on Interstate 35, Leander I.S.D. has designed classrooms in its newer buildings to handle larger classes in anticipation of rapid growth — they are shaped like an L to create strategic pockets of space for small group work and to reduce potential distractions. 

Faubion Elementary was not built for such growth. Many of the rooms in the school, which was converted from an open-classroom concept building, are small and windowless.
Patti Mosser, who teaches at Faubion, has 24 students in her third-grade class, 6 more than she had last school year. As her students filed in one Friday after recess, they pushed the desks — which are carefully arranged in the one configuration Ms. Mosser has found that they all fit — to clear space on the carpet in the center of the room. With Ms. Mosser and a student teacher, there was barely enough room for all to sit cross-legged for their weekly class meeting. 

“It is what it is,” she said. “We just have to do a lot of creative grouping.” 

Things have improved since the beginning of the year, Ms. Mosser said, when she felt like she was “being pulled in all directions from nurse to counselor to referee.” With almost 28 years of teaching experience, she knew to establish firm expectations about behavior and classroom procedures from the start, and her students have become more self-sufficient. However, if she were a first-year teacher, she said, her perspective would be different. Still, her students did not seem to notice the crowded classroom. In fact, when her class recently added its 24th student, she said, they were excited to have a new face. 

Ms. Causey also said she thought many of her students were doing fine with the extra bodies in the classroom. But she worried about the children for whom school is a “safe place” — the only place where an adult listens to them, where they get warm meals and feel secure. 

“If you get a lot of children like that in the classroom, it’s really going to hurt them because you can’t spend as much time with them as they need,” she said. “It will change the way instruction looks.”

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is not an educator and pushes a business model in education reform that does not work

"When President Obama’s Education Secretary, Arne Duncan, was the head of Chicago’s Public Schools, his office kept a list of powerful, well-connected people who asked for help getting certain children into the city’s best public schools. The list — long kept confidential — was disclosed this week by the Chicago Tribune. We speak with the Chicago Tribune reporter who broke the story and with two Chicago organizers about Duncan and his aggressive plan to expand charter schools." (Democracy Now, Friday, March 26, 2010) Click Here

Educators Push Back Against Obama's "Business Model" for School Reforms - Click Here

JUAN GONZALEZ: It’s back to school, and as millions of children around the country begin a new school year, the Obama administration is aggressively moving forward on a number of its education initiatives. On Thursday, federal education officials announced that forty-four states have joined a new $330 million initiative to replace year-end English and math tests with new national exams. The funds are drawn from the Obama administration’s $4.35 billion Race to the Top fund. The new testing systems are scheduled to be rolled out in the 2014-15 school year. The tests are a part of an effort to create a new set of national academic standards known as Common Core Standards, which nearly forty states have already agreed to adopt. Critics have suggested that national standards would erode state and local control of schools.

Meanwhile, through Race to the Top, Education Secretary Arne Duncan has also pushed states to lift caps on charter schools and link student achievement to teacher pay. The initiative has come under fire from civil rights organizations, community groups and teachers’ unions.

Before being appointed Education Secretary, Arne Duncan was the head of Chicago’s Public Schools, the nation’s third-largest school system. During that time, he oversaw implementation of a program known as Renaissance 2010. The program’s aim was to close sixty schools and replace them with more than a hundred charter schools. This year, the Chicago public system is facing a $370 million deficit. Hundreds of teachers and city school workers are facing layoffs as part of cost cutting measures and budget cuts.

Well, for more on the Obama administration’s education initiatives, we’re joined by two guests. Lois Weiner is a professor of education at New Jersey City University, and Karen Lewis is the president of the Chicago Teachers Union.

I welcome you both to Democracy Now!

KAREN LEWIS: Thank you.

LOIS WEINER: Thank you.

JUAN GONZALEZ: I’d like to start with Karen. Arne Duncan comes from your city.

KAREN LEWIS: Yeah, sorry.

JUAN GONZALEZ: And he is now basically heading up education policy for the Obama administration.


JUAN GONZALEZ: Your sense of his legacy in the Chicago public schools?

KAREN LEWIS: Well, Arne’s legacy was — you know, let’s look at the fact that he’s not an educator, never had any experience. As a matter of fact, he would be arrested if he went into a classroom and tried to teach, because he’s uncredentialed completely. So his legacy is: "I don’t know what to do. Let me just give it over to the privatizers. Let somebody else do" — I mean, basically, under his aegis, the Board of Education abrogated their responsibility towards education and gave it away, because he literally had no idea, and still doesn’t have an idea, of what to do.

The problem is the system is obviously broken. I don’t think anybody will argue with that, that the system is broken. It is — it has not basically changed since the 1900s — 1800s, for that matter. And as a result, it has never been able to absorb real innovation. And the problem is it’s just a lot easier to test, test, test children. Our curriculum has narrowed in Chicago. If you look at the average day for an elementary school kid, it’s reading, reading, reading, reading, reading, reading, math, math, math, reading, reading, reading, reading, math. I mean, kids are bored to tears. They’re hating school at an early age. There’s no joy. There’s no passion. And the results show that. They’re very indicative of that.

JUAN GONZALEZ: But now, what’s wrong? The supporters of Arne Duncan, superintendents like Michelle Rhee in Washington, DC, Joel Klein in New York City, and others around the country, are saying, what’s wrong with having higher accountability standards for teachers? What’s wrong with encouraging experimentation and entrepreneurship, in terms of how you deliver public education to the millions of children who so far have not been served by the public education system? So what’s wrong with that?

KAREN LEWIS: Well, the problem is that the whole idea of the business model doesn’t work in education. In the business model, you can select how you want to do something. You have an opportunity to innovate in a way that discriminates. It’s very easy to do. Whereas in a public school system, where we do not select our children — we take whoever comes to the door — what we need is actually more resources and more support for the people that are there and the work that’s being done. However, again, Arne Duncan, Michelle Rhee, Joel Klein — I don’t know about Joel Klein — none of these people are superintendents. You have to have, again, credentials for that. These are business folks. Look, the business model took this country to the brink of Armageddon in 2008. And yet, we want to follow a failed business model and imprint that on top of public education? No. And these things are not innovative. What they are is they’re terrorism. They’re "my way or the highway." And they’re still not producing, quote-unquote, "results."

Nobody disagrees with accountability. That’s not the issue. The issue is, what do you use? We still know that high-stakes testing basically tell us more about a student’s socioeconomic status than it does anything else. And until we’re honest about that and want to deal with the fact that we have neighborhoods in our cities and across the nation that have been under-resourced, have been devalued for decades, and for some reason or other, the schools are supposed to fix all that and change that.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Lois Weiner, you’ve been, in your research, conducting what I would, I guess, call a macro analysis of the education reform —-


JUAN GONZALEZ: —- comparing not only what’s happening here in the United States, but around the world, in terms of these so-called reform initiatives. Could you talk about that?

LOIS WEINER: Absolutely. And I think it’s important to understand that Race to the Top is not unique to the United States, and what Arne Duncan did in Chicago is not unique to Chicago. And in fact, the contours of this program were carried out first under Pinochet in Chile. And this program was implemented by force of military dictatorships and the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund in Latin America. And the results have been verified by researchers there. They produced increased stratification. So I think what we’re seeing right now are the results of that increased stratification, a stratification, inequality of results, because if you think about it, No Child Left Behind is almost a decade old. And what are the results? The results are a growing gap between poor minority — achievement of poor minority kids and those kids who come from prosperous families who are — who live in affluent suburbs and in those suburban schools.

And I think it’s also very important to understand that this focus on educational reform is replacing, is a substitute for, a jobs policy. We need to understand that. Education can democratize the competition for the existing jobs, but it cannot create new jobs. And when most jobs that are being created are by companies like Wal-Mart, education cannot do anything about that. So, we need to — we really need to look critically at Race to the Top and understand the way that it fits into this new economic order of a so-called jobless recovery and that what’s really going on is a vocationalization of education, a watering down of curriculum for most kids, so that they’re going to take jobs that require only a seventh or an eighth grade education, because those are the jobs that are being created in this economy.

And so, I think that while we — while it’s important to look at the particulars of each state and each city, each school district, it’s also important to see this large picture, because almost anything that you can point to me that’s being done in Chicago or New York or San Francisco, we can find another place in the world that it was already done, and we can look at those results. And the results are not good.

JUAN GONZALEZ: But those who are at the forefront of this so-called reform movement —-


JUAN GONZALEZ: —- say that the charter schools that they’re creating, the small schools that they’re creating, are doing a better job, by the testing model of educating children, especially minority children, than has occurred in decades past under the existing public school system. What’s your response to that?

LOIS WEINER: My response to that, first of all, is that I want to see the evidence. And what’s really incredible and disastrous is that this enormous social engineering that’s going on to transform — I would say destroy — public education has not been accompanied by government funding for serious, objective evaluation. We have this so-called Institute for Education Science, but if you look at the sorts of research that they’re funding, they are not funding the kind of large-scale evaluative studies that we need to determine whether these reforms are going to be effective. And we shouldn’t permit that. We should identify this as what it is, which is an ideological venture that does not have a scientific basis, and it doesn’t have a basis in evidence.

JUAN GONZALEZ: You’ve also taken a look at the impact of No Child Left Behind on teachers. Could you talk about that?

LOIS WEINER: Well, I think it’s important to understand that there are — No Child Left Behind is part of this global project to deprofessionalize teaching as an occupation. And the reason that it’s important in this project to deprofessionalize teaching is that the thinking is that the biggest expenditure in education is teacher salaries. And they want to cut costs. They want to diminish the amount of money that’s put into public education. And that means they have to lower teacher costs. And in order to do that, they have to deprofessionalize teaching. They have to make it a revolving door, in which we’re not going to pay teachers very much. They’re not going to stay very long. We’re going to credential them really fast. They’re going to go in. We’re going to burn them up. They’re going to leave in three, four, five years. And that’s the model that they want.

So who is the biggest impediment to that occurring? Teachers’ unions. And that is what explains this massive propaganda effort to say that teachers’ unions are an impediment to reform. And in fact, they are an impediment to the deprofessionalization of teaching, which I think is a disaster. It’s a disaster for public education.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Well, you know, one of the — I’ve been, for several years now, looking deeply into these charter schools, and especially their tax forms. And one of the things that has struck me as I look at their various audited financial statements is that, generally speaking, the pay levels of the teachers in the charter schools are far lower than they are for normal public school teachers, but the pay of the executives —-



JUAN GONZALEZ: —- of the charter schools is far higher —-

KAREN LEWIS: Higher, yeah.


JUAN GONZALEZ: —- than it is for superintendents. So you’re, in essence, creating a much bigger wage gap in the schools through the charters —-


JUAN GONZALEZ: —- between management and the employees who actually cover the work.


JUAN GONZALEZ: I’m wondering what you found.

LOIS WEINER: Well, that’s part of the — you know, that’s part of the thinking here, that teaching really is not — does not have to be a skilled profession, because we’re not going to teach —- we’re not going to educate kids to do anything more than work in Wal-Mart or the equivalent. They only need a seventh or an eighth grade education, at most a ninth grade education, and so we don’t need teachers who are more than, as Grover Whitehurst, a former Undersecretary of Education, said, "good enough." That’s all we need is teachers who are "good enough" to follow scripted curriculum and to teach to these standardized tests. And if you only need teachers who are good enough, you don’t have to pay them very much. And that’s the project. And regardless of the rhetoric, regardless of the intentions of some of the people who are supporting these reforms, people like the Education Trust, whose work I respect, I think it’s important that we look at something beyond the intentions and the rhetoric, and we really look at this project as being a project that’s global in its nature.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Well, Karen Lewis, you led basically an insurgent movement within your own union to win the presidency of the UFT -—


JUAN GONZALEZ: — of the Chicago Federation of Teachers.

KAREN LEWIS: No, Chicago Teachers Union.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Teachers Union, I’m sorry.

KAREN LEWIS: Yes, that’s OK.

JUAN GONZALEZ: And could you talk about how you did that and the relationship of the teachers with the community, in general, in terms of dealing with these education reforms?

KAREN LEWIS: Well, the Caucus of Rank-and-File Educators, or CORE, spent two years basically organizing with parents and community groups against school closings, against the turnarounds, and against the Duncan policies. We did not have an electoral strategy, to be perfectly honest with you. We just wanted to see a change in this whole idea of privatizing schools. And what we found was that, in general, there is this animosity between teachers and parents and communities, because we haven’t been working together. And yet, we are still seeing the devastation of our communities based on the fact that our institutions have been underfunded.

So, what we ended up doing was spending a lot of time talking to our members across the city. And the more we got ready to speak — and in addition with that, we changed the way the Board of Education does business. They would put schools on a hit list, and they were closed down, and that was it. We forced the board to start coming to these community meetings. They had never shown up. They just basically rubber-stamped whenever Arne Duncan wanted. And, of course, when Arne Duncan left, the guy that came in, equally as unqualified, had a slightly different vision. So six schools were taken off the hit list. That had never happened. But in addition, our union leadership was nowhere to be found during these hearings. We went to every school closing hearing, every charter school opening. And in addition, we had data that showed that these charter schools not only did no better, but that in some cases actually did worse than the neighborhood schools. And the problem is that those studies never get publicized, and certainly not in mainstream corporate media. So we had an uphill battle, because nobody would talk to us, nobody paid any attention to us. But, school by school, building by building, that’s how you build consensus. That’s how you build capacity for change.

JUAN GONZALEZ: You are a veteran chemistry teacher.

KAREN LEWIS: I am, yes.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Could you talk about the impact of these so-called reforms on your own ability to teach chemistry?

KAREN LEWIS: You know, I’m going to be honest with you. Being a veteran teacher, I have basically ignored them, to be real honest. But I’ve had that ability because of the fact that I’m so passionate about teaching and that I care about what I do and that the results I get, which are not test-driven, as far as I’m concerned, are what speak for themselves. I mean, ultimately, administrators want to know how well you relate to your students, how well you relate to parents, and I’ve always had that ability to do that. So, as far as I’m concerned, these so-called reforms — just get out of my way, as far as I was concerned.

JUAN GONZALEZ: And Lois Weiner, could you compare what’s happened in Chicago with the teachers there to some of the bigger unions, to the United Federation of Teachers, to what’s been happening with the NEA, in terms of confronting some of these changes?

LOIS WEINER: Well, you know, I think that CORE’s victory is really a watershed. and I’m just delighted. And I have to say that I spoke at a rally of CORE earlier this year, and I heard Karen speak to teachers in the audience. And what struck me in the way that Karen talked about the reforms and what’s going on in public education was her passion about teaching. And I think it’s — the fact that CORE contains teachers who are committed to social justice, they’re committed to a new form of teacher unionism, and they’re committed to facing racism, it really makes it a model for what we want to do in unions elsewhere, I have to say especially the UFT here in New York.

But we’re beginning to see in other large city locals a renaissance of activism among young teachers, because, unlike Karen, they’re not protected. And these reforms, they’re losing their jobs. They’re being terrorized by principals. Their schools are being shut down, because very often they teach in the most vulnerable schools, because they’re new and that’s where the jobs are. And they want a union. They want a union that’s going to fight for them. And the message that we have to bring them is, I think, that CORE does, is "You are the union. Nobody can do it for you."

And I think in New York City we’re beginning to see that. I’ve been working with this group called Teachers Unite, and I think it’s a ginger group for a new — the kind of reform that we need in New York City. Los Angeles already has a reform leadership. Detroit has a reform leadership in the AFT. And I think that that’s going to pull — those changes are going to be — pull, I’m hopeful, the national unions to more progressive, more militant, and more pro-parent and pro-education stances.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Let me ask you also about the intervention of other elite forces on this education reform debate —-


JUAN GONZALEZ: —- the right-wing foundations, the Walton Foundation, the Eli Broad Foundation, as well as all of the hedge fund and Wall Street people that have gotten involved in funding schools and creating charter networks. What do you analyze is behind this?

LOIS WEINER: Well, I mean, their effect has been, really, all-encompassing and quite pernicious. And we have a great deal of research about what’s going on with this, if we want to take a look at it. It’s never — it’s never mentioned in the popular media, in the corporate mass media. And they are controlling the education agenda. They are controlling these new core curriculum standards. And if people really looked at these core curriculum standards, I think they would be aghast. You know, vocationalization of the curriculum is beginning in first grade. They’re doing career education in first grade, if you look at these standards. What is that about? That we’re preparing kids for the workforce when they’re in first grade? And the foundations, the right-wing foundations, including the Gates Foundation, they are absolutely driving this. They’re funding it. They’re funding the media campaign to persuade people that this is necessary. And they are funding the —

KAREN LEWIS: Research.

LOIS WEINER: They’re funding the research.

KAREN LEWIS: They’re funding the research, mm-hmm.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Well, I want to thank you both for being with us. Karen Lewis is president of the Chicago Teachers Union. Lois Weiner, professor of education at New Jersey City University. And we will continue to follow this story.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Dallas ISD Teachers are not motivated by merit pay

Changing the name of controversial reforms like 'merit pay' to 'performance pay' does not change the underlying, well researched truth: merit pay is not what motivates high performance teachers. 

If good teachers are not and never will be primarily motivated by moneythen what is the reason for imposing merit pay on school teachers?

All teachers should be respected as professionals and paid well.


Click Here - Show Them the Money? Why Merit Pay Doesn’t Work-11-22-12


"Schools are not businesses and school districts are not corporations, but like businesses and corporations, schools and school districts are operated by humans, which means that basic laws of human nature apply. Educational leaders would do well to explore some of the literature and research on motivation and leadership that has been so heavily marketed to the corporate world. Almost all of the business and social science research from the last decade on motivation, drive, leadership, management, retention, and job satisfaction agrees: it’s not about the money.

Again and again, research shows that the carrot/stick approach fails to motivate people. Daniel Pink, the author of Drive: The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us, draws on 50 years of behavioral science research to argue that external rewards like money are not motivators for high performance. Instead, Pink’s research shows that the best motivators are intrinsic: autonomy, mastery, and purpose. When implemented strategically, these motivators lead to increased job satisfaction, higher retention rates, and stronger organizations."

"In spite of overwhelming research to the contrary, education “reformers” still think waving a fat check in front of teachers will somehow lead to higher test scores. This is insulting. It indirectly suggests that teachers are not already doing everything in their power to teach students successfully. It implies that by sweetening the deal with a few grand, teachers will magically whip out a secret arsenal of teacher tools they’d been holding out on until the district ponied up the cash. Oh, there’s a check at the end of the line? Well, I guess I’ll teach Johnny to subtract, after all! Sound ridiculous? It is."

Merit Pay Misfires 

Friday, November 23, 2012

Dallas ISD Trustees should rescind the 45 minute daily teacher extension passed on January 26, 2012

The Dallas ISD policy on teacher hours was extended by an additional 45 minutes daily on January 26, 2012.  The Board policy was changed by Trustees (voting "Yes"- Blackburn-Flores-Bingham-Morath-Cowan) in a 5-3 vote on the same night eleven (11) schools were closed. 

Former Trustee Edwin Flores promoted the change in these words:
"We're going to pay for eight hours, we're going to get eight hours." (Unfair Park-Mon.1-30-12 -
If Nothing Else, They Won't Run Out of Things to Ask DISD Trustee Edwin Flores Tonight)

Like Dallas ISD before the Board policy was changed on January 26, 2012, some school districts such as San Antonio ISD have a specific time limit stated in Board policy that is also less than eight hours.
San Antonio ISD Board Policy on Assignment and Schedules (DK-Local) - Employee Work Schedules - states: "Teachers shall be on duty seven and one-half hours each day, between 7:15 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. ..."

What is now being suggested by Board President Lew Blackburn will delegate the Board police-making authority to the Superintendent at a time when teachers are already feeling violated. 

Rescinding the Board action will restore the policy as it existed prior to the change. What is now being proposed will not do so.

Dallas ISD Board Policy DK (Local) before January 26, 2012 - "... Time schedules may be arranged to suit the needs of individual schools, taking travel schedules into consideration, but must contain a minimum of seven hours and 45 minutes."

Trustees made the change. Trustees should correct the mistake  by rescinding the action taken on January 26, 2012.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Abraham Lincoln’s historic Thanksgiving Proclamation of 1863

From Abraham Lincoln Online 

Proclamation of Thanksgiving

Hon. Abraham Lincoln    

President of the United States of America

Washington, D.C.
October 3, 1863

By the President of the United States of America.

A Proclamation.

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consiousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln

William Seward
Secretary of State

Is That You God? - Goodie Mob

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Dallas ISD Board President Lew Blackburn's interview on Superintendent Mike Miles - Colorado Gazette - April 3, 2012

Broad Academy trained Superintendent Mike Miles (2011 Class) was selected as tough-no-excuses-reformer. Apparently, most Dallas ISD Trustees were impressed with his approach and wanted it for Dallas ISD teachers and staff.

On Tuesday, April 3, 2012, one day after Dallas ISD Trustees selected Supt. Mike Miles as the lone finalist, the Colorado Gazette published an interview with Board President Lew Blackburn. The interview mentioned "controversal reforms" previously implemented by Supt. Miles in Harrison School District 2. 

Miles dropped in at Dallas schools during interview process


The Colorado Gazette article states:

"Miles for six years has visited Harrison schools daily, watching how teachers teach, how students react and how  leaders lead.

"Dallas Board President Lew Blackburn said in an interview Tuesday that they want him and the other top administrators in the Dallas district to start doing the same thing.

"Miles will begin the job July 2 if the Dallas board gives final approval April 26."

The Colorado Gazette article further reported:

"That tough and visionary approach to education is what impressed the Texans.  Blackburn said that they liked the steps Miles took to improve Harrison, including pay for performance and the intense performance evaluations.

"Asked if they were ready to deal with "potential controversies Miles might create" as he did in Colorado Springs, Blackburn said, “For the last seven years we have taken the heat with changes in policies, staff reductions and wanting to retain better teachers if it’s a choice between them and those lagging.

"Blackburn also noted that Miles’ belief that poverty and family problems are no excuse for low achievement dovetails with their mission. About 85 to 90 percent of its students are poor."


Dallas ISD Trustees never met again about this matter between the April 2, 2012 selection of a lone finalist and the April 26, 2012 appointment of the Superintendent. There was no Board discussion of the contract until one hour before the Board meeting on April 26, 2012.

Also, no opportunity was provided for Board discussion of the visits of eight Board members to Colorado Springs - Harrison School District 2. Four Trustees visited on Friday, April 13, 2012 - Blackburn, Morath, Nutall and Cowan. Four Trustees visited on Monday, April 16, 2012 - Medrano, Flores, Parrott and Ranger. Trustee Nancy Bingham did not visit Harrison School District 2.

On Thursday, April 26, 2012, Dallas ISD Trustees voted 8 Yes-1 No to employ Superintendent Mike Miles and approved a three-year contract of $300,000 base salary per year plus up to $200,000 in performance bonuses and incentives tied to tests.

I voted "No."

Miles dropped in at Dallas schools during interview process

Trustees tour district of DISD superintendent finalist in Colorado

New Dallas ISD leader was a polarizing figure in Colorado

Mixed messages heard for DISD lone finalist Miles  

Harrison School District Two Web site  

Monday, November 19, 2012

Dallas ISD Chief of Staff automatically becomes Interim Superintendent in event of vacancy

 Chief of Staff Leonardo Caballero

Dallas ISD Superintendent Mike Miles has selected Leonardo Caballero as the new Chief of Staff. 

For the past two years Mr. Caballero served in the role of Special Assistant to Lamar University President James M. Simmons (Beaumont,Texas)

In making the announcement, Superintendent Miles stated:
“I looked for an individual with a wide variety of skills and experiences in the public and/or private arenas. Mr. Caballero has demonstrated a track record of success in the management of inter-organizational efforts and external projects in an efficient, collaborative and effective manner."
Should a vacancy ever occur, the Board previously created a succession policy requiring that the Chief of Staff automatically assume the position of Interim Superintendent.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

40th Annual National Alliance of Black School Educators (NABSE) conference

Educators focus on teaching and learning at NABSE

For its 40th Annual Conference, well-planned by the host committee in Nashville, TN this week-end, the National Alliance of Black School Educators (NABSE) scheduled workshops and sessions in support of the theme: Teaching & Learning:  What is Working in America's Classrooms that Impacts the Success of Children of African Descent."

Founded in 1970, NABSE is the nation's largest network of African American educators.  With a membership of educators from diverse ethnic backgrounds, NABSE's mission is to:  Improve the educational accomplishments of African American youth through the development and deployment  of instructional and motivational methods that increase levels of inspiration, attendance and overall achievement.

In addition to wide-ranging general interest workshops, the NABSE Conference included a Youth Symposium and sessions in five designated strands: Educators, Principals, Superintendents, Higher Education and School Boards.   Popular pre-conference activities were a Parents Day Summit, an Aspiring Superintendents Academy, and instructive K-12 and Collegiate Tours.

The following Keynote Speakers delivered education messages of advocacy and inspiration  from varied perspectives:  Dr. Zollie Stevenson, Jr. --  Howard University Associate Professor of Educational Administration and Policy, Roland S. Martin--nationally syndicated journalist and CNN analyst, Dr. Melba Patillo Beals--educator, journalist, author and member of the Little Rock Nine and Se7en--teacher, Spoken Word Artist and inspirational speaker.

During a deserving tribute, NABSE expressed gratitude to Chief of Staff Quentin R. Lawson who is retiring after 16 years of dedication and quality administration.  Under his professional and caring leadership, NABSE grew in general memberships, affiliates, partnerships and corporate representatives, while tapping into a national pool of superior talent in the education of under-served children and youth.  

Thanks to presiding immediate-past NABSE President Dr. Carrol A. "Butch" Thomas, Superintendent - Beaumont TX., for providing three years of responsible leadership and highly distinguished service.

Congratulations to newly installed NABSE President Dr. Bernard Hamilton, a former Superintendent and now Jefferson County Public Schools Title I Administrator, Louisville, KY.

The 40th Annual Conference of the National Alliance of Black School Educators (NABSE) welcomed attendees from across the country participating in workshops, visiting over 250 exhibits, and networking with other members and friends of the nation's premier association of African American educators. 

WHO ATTENDED: NABSE members, supporters, superintendents, principals, school board members, education human resource professionals, deans, professors, education department heads, administrative/educational support staff, teachers, parents, curriculum specialists, students, employers, job seekers, clergy and individuals/organizations concerned about the education of our nation's children.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

"Fight to Win" - our thanks to Dallas ISD veterans on Veterans Day

Thanks to all veterans who have given their lives and their honor in the service of our nation.

"Fight To Win"       
By GOODIE MOB    Featuring  Cee Lo Green

Fight to win.  Stand up straight.                                             
No debate.  Pushed by hate.
Concentrate.  Penetrate.  Generate.
Motivate.  Live by faith.
Keep believing.  I know the reason.
It’s the season.  Now's the time.
Keep on dreaming.  Keep on leading,
And keep on fighting!

I am fighting for the liberation
Of voices with something to say.
Like many before me, for glory
You'll  have to stand in harm’s way.
I’m no savior, just a soldier,
Soldier with an order.
So I have no choice but to trust the God
Because it must be done.  Yea!
And my only fear is what might happen
If I didn’t fight to win.

You must fight to win.
    If I lose, then it was worth fighting for.
You must fight to win.
    If I win, I only live to fight again.
You must fight to win.
    If I lose, then it was worth dying for.
You must fight to win.
    If I win, I only live to fight again.

You are.  We are.  They are too.
Can't turn back, come too far to.
You are. We are.  They are too.  (I'll be there.)
I'll be fighting right beside you.

You should be proud for the courage,
The courage to think out loud.
You’ll find your way if you’re foolish enough to be faithful.
Believe me, it won't be easy,
But it’s surely not impossible,
And if they won’t listen,
Save your breath, and save yourself.  Yea!
And as soon as you see sunlight again,
Get up and find your way.

You must fight to win.
     If we lose, then this was worth fighting for.  Yea!
You must fight to win.
     If we win, we only live to fight again.  Yea!
You must fight to win.
      If we lose, then this was worth dying for.
You must fight to win.
      If we win, we only live to fight again.

Keep your presence felt,  felt, felt, felt,  ...     Fight!
'Til your last breath,  breath, breath, breath, ..     Fight!
For your spirit, for your mind,  mind, mind, mind  ...    Fight!
For your soul,  soul, soul, soul, ...     Fight!
Never lose sight,  sight, sight, sight ...    Fight!
Keep up the fight, keep up the fight  ...   Fight!
When all fails and you done tried everything in life, fight, fight, fight, fight, ...    Fight!
Keep your head up,  keep, keep, keep, keep your head up.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Education Reform ‘insanity’ in a single chart


Reform ‘insanity’ in a single chart

From the Answer Sheet - The Washington Post
by Valerie Strauss on October 30, 2012
Click Here


'Insanity is sometimes defined as doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results. Below is what Paul Thomas, an associate professor of education at Furman University in South Carolina, calls his “insanity chart” that starkly shows the problems facing public schools and the (same) approach taken to fix it by the “no excuses” brand of school reform espoused by Michelle Rhee and her supporters. This was first published on the Schools Matter blog. Thomas writes his own blog addressing the role of poverty in education.'

Public School Problem
“No Excuses” Reform
Poor, Latino/Black, special needs, and ELL students assigned disproportionately inexperienced and un-/under-certified teachers
Assign poor, Latino/Black, special needs, and ELL students Teach for America recruits (inexperienced and uncertified)
Public schools increasingly segregated by race and socioeconomic status
Charter schools, segregated by race and socioeconomic status
Three decades of standards-based testing and accountability to close the test-based achievement gap
Common Core State Standards linked to new tests to create a standards-based testing and accountability system
Inequitable school funding that rewards affluent and middle-class schools in affluent and middle-class neighborhoods and ignores or punishes schools in impoverished schools/neighborhood
Drain public school funding for parental choice policies that reinforce stratification found in those parental choices
State government top-down and bureaucratic reform policies that ignore teacher professionalism
Federal government top-down and bureaucratic reform policies that ignore teacher professionalism
Rename high-poverty schools “academy” or “magnet” schools
Close high-poverty public schools and open “no excuses” charters named “hope” or “promise” [see above]
Ignore and trivialize teacher professionalism and autonomy
Erase experienced teachers and replace with inexperienced and uncertified TFA recruits [see above]
Poor, Latino/Black, special needs, and ELL students assigned disproportionately to overcrowded classrooms
Poor, Latino/Black, special needs, and ELL students assigned to teachers rewarded for teaching 40-1 student-teacher ratio classrooms
Poor, Latino/Black, special needs, and ELL students tracked into test-prep classrooms
Poor and Latino/Black students segregated into test-prep charter schools; special needs and ELL students disregarded [left for public schools to address—see column to the left]
Teacher preparation buried under bureaucracy at the expense of content and pedagogy
Teacher preparation rejected at the expense of content and pedagogy
Presidents, secretaries of education, governors, and state superintendents of education misinform and mishandle education
Presidents, secretaries of education, governors, and state superintendents of education [most of whom have no experience as educators] misinform and mishandle education
Fail to acknowledge the status quo of public education (see above): Public schools reflect and perpetuate the inequities of U.S. society
Fail to acknowledge the status quo of public education [see above and the column to the left]: NER reflect and perpetuate the inequities of U.S. society

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Dallas ISD 45 Minute teacher extension adopted on January 26, 2012

On Thursday, January 26, 2012, the same evening 11 schools were closed and citizens were denied their right to participate in a Dallas ISD board meeting, Dallas ISD Trustees voted 5-3 to extend the teacher day by 45 minutes. 

Voting "Yes" to add 45 minutes

Lew Blackburn
Edwin Flores
Nancy Bingham
Mike Morath
Eric Cowan

Voting "No" against adding 45 minutes

Adam Medrano 
Bruce Parrott
Bernadette Nutall

I did not vote on this matter because I remained in the auditorium when the board meeting was arbitrarily changed to the small board room in a manner that appeared to violate Board policy, Robert's Rules of Order and the Texas Open Meetings Act.

Teachers have been complaining about this 45 minute extension of their day since January 26, 2012.  

I repeatedly requested that this item be placed on the agenda. My requests were ignored by Board President Lew Blackburn.

I would not have voted for the change on January 26, 2012 but the result would have been the same - 5-4 instead of 5-3.

I would have voted "No."