Monday, May 6, 2013

Dallas ISD Superintendent Mike Miles responds to former Dallas Achieves Commission Co-Chairs

Superintendent Mike Miles responds to 'concerns' of former Dallas Achieves Co-Chairs.Photo, taken 2007-02-09 10:49:00


From: Miles, Mike
Sent: Sunday, May 05, 2013 8:25 PM
To: 'Don Williams'
Cc: Bingham, Nancy; Blackburn, Lew; Cowan, Eric; Elizabeth Jones; Medrano, Adam; Dan Micciche; Morath, Mike; Nutall, Bernadette; Ranger, Carla; Sanders, Byron; Joela; Dolores Barzune; David Biegler; Adelpha Callejo; Robert Estrada; Jim Keyes; Clint McDonnough; Liz Minyard; Holly Reed; John Scovell; Sam Self; Ronald Steinhart; Victor Vital; Betheny Reid; Paula Blackmon; afarley; Mike Rawlings; Pauline Medrano; 'tennell.atkins; Delia Jasso; Scott Griggs; Dwaine Caraway;  Vonciel;  Monica Alonzo; Carolyn Davis; Sheffield Kadane; Jerry Allen; Linda Koop (Linda Koop; Sandy Greyson; Ann Margolin; Angela Hunt; Clay Jenkins; M Cantrell; John Wiley Price; Todd Williams; Arcilia C. Acosta; Pettis Norman
Subject: RE: Letter from Dallas Achieves Commission Co-Chairs

Thank you for forwarding your letter, which I read after it appeared in the Dallas Morning News.  You are obviously concerned about education and perhaps dismayed that Destination 2020 has not incorporated all of the tenets and tactics from previous efforts to change our schools. Although you and I just met last week to discuss some of your concerns and ways in which you and other former members of Dallas Achieves can participate in the new reform plan, I would like to meet again soon if that is possible.

Specifically, Don, I am concerned about your report concerning words spoken by a staffer regarding already having a board 6-3 vote on reform issues.  Nothing could be further from the truth and those words should not have been said. This board is committed to changing the delivery of education in Dallas, but each member studies the critical issues and makes his/her own decision. Be assured that I will look into that situation.

Your work with the community and in support of Dallas ISD is held in high regard and very much appreciated.  I believe we can always learn from past reform efforts and can certainly learn from the Dallas Achieves effort. 

The Destination 2020 plan has many of the same guiding principles and similar long-term goals.  It is, however, a different plan, involving different leverage points and some shifts in past practices.  Take, for example, the focus on instructional quality.  We have outlined clear expectations and objectives around improving the quality of instruction and a principal’s role in this critical area.  We have reorganized the School Leadership Department into five divisions with 21 Executive Directors.  As a result, principals have received clearer expectations, more professional development, more effective coaching and feedback, job-embedded support, and more detailed progress reports.  (And they have received these supports since June.)  Principals have had numerous visits to their schools by executive directors who are strong instructional leaders.  We have increased monitoring and the accuracy of the evaluations. 

The leaders in the School Leadership department have been on the ground and talk with principals regularly.  They have good relations with the principals and the overwhelming majority of the principals feel supported and believe they are more effective now as a result of the training they have received this year.  Our anonymous climate surveys of the principals also support this generalization.  This type of evaluation system is different than the past, and, despite some unevenness in its implementation, is a more effective system.  It is not based on one piece of student achievement data, but on multiple measures of student achievement and multiple measures of performance, especially related to improving the quality of instruction and leadership.  [Non-renewals of employees are based on criteria outlined in Policy DFBB; a person’s last evaluation is only one consideration.]

With regard to other concerns in your email, I believe more information might be helpful to you, as there seems to be some misinformation.  I would prefer to provide that information in a face-to-face meeting, rather than writing a long email (this one grows too long already).  I would be happy to meet with you again soon.

Allow me to address one overarching concern, though.  We have dozens of community partners with whom we are working closely to advance the cause of students.  We have been very collaborative in developing the Imagine2020 (strategic feeder pattern) concept.  Just last week, June Jones and Urban U-turn celebrated this collaboration at SMU stadium, where over 4,000 students and stakeholders from just three feeder patterns gathered in recognition of collaborative efforts to get students college and career ready. We have listened to numerous groups in various parts of the community, understanding that not everyone will agree with the types of programs and supports that will be needed to help advance the cause of students.  Nonetheless, I will provide a specific list of partners who have been involved in these discussions over the last several months.

I look forward to meeting with you again to further understanding and collaboration.

Mike Miles