Sunday, September 29, 2013

Texas Association of School Administrators and Texas Association of School Boards convention held in Dallas (September 26 - 29 - 'Education is Everybody's Business'

Some of the TASB Officers and Directors
Trustees and school administrators for public education representing hundreds of 
Texas School Boards and Independent School Districts (ISDs) met this week-end
(September 26 - 29) in the Dallas Kay Bailey Hutchinson Convention Center.  

The Texas Association of School Administrators (TASA) and the Texas Association
of School Boards (TASB) hosted the Annual Convention to provide education and
training for 1,000+ ISDs making it a 100% Texas ISD membership organization.

The theme:  Education is Everybody's Business.

In addition to dozens of educational sessions, the Annual Convention featured the
following general session speakers: 

Mrs. Laura W. Bush, Former First Lady
Steven Berlin Johnson, Award Wnning Author
Ken Kay, Chief Executive Officer, EdLeader 21

Participants could also attend The  Lecture Series to hear four "Distinguished Speakers":

Larry Speck, Former Dean of th eSchool of achitecture, The University of Texas at Austin
                      and Current President, Texas Society of Architects
Andrew Busch, Editor in Chief, the Busch Update
Nikhil Goyal, Author and Learning Revolution Leader
Angela Maiers, author an dAward-Winning Educator, Maiers Education Services

The TASB Delegate Assembly adopted Proposed Changes to Priorities of its 2012-14 Advocacy
Agenda and Proposed 2012-2014 Advocacy Resolutions Recommended for Adoption.

TASB delegates also approved two changes for the TASB Cornerstone Principles:
  • Strong family and community engagement to create optimal opportunities for each child
  • Opposition to th euse of public funds for vouchers, tax credits, and other mechanisms
         to privitize public education

Superb student performing groups from Stephenville ISD and Aldine ISD captivated the audience.

Darrell Floyd, TASA President and Superintendent of Stephenville ISD, presided on Friday.

Viola Garcia, TASB President and Board Secretary, Aldine ISD, was presider at the Saturday General Session. 

Sunday's presiding officer was Faye Beaulieu, TASB President Elect and Board Vice-President, Hurst-Euless Bedford ISD.

Thanks to TASB Staff and Executive Director James B. Crow for another high-quality Annual Convention.  

Friday, September 27, 2013

Carter Cowboys win 33-9 over Kimball Knights in Dallas ISD Oak Cliff Superbowl

Tonight Kincaide Stadium was the site for Friday night football and the 14th Annual Jones Memorial Football Game.

The David W. Carter Cowboys and the Justin F. Kimball Knights, friendly rivals in this competition,
once again clashed on the field in tribute to the late Kimball Coach James Jones.

Often called the Oak Cliff Superbowl, this game draws students, parents, former teachers and
alumni from both high schools.  Beloved by students and colleagues, Coach Jones lived by and
asked his students to keep the following philosophy:

I will always give the best that I have.
If I should get tired, I'll sit down and rest a while ...
... get back up and fight some more.
Coaches Shake Hands
Annually, Coach's widow  Alvanetta Jones and children came with an abundance of cheer and encouragement.

Though Carter took more scoring opportunities, Kimball played hard until the very end, .   Both teams showed discipline and good sportsmanship.  

Coach Patrick Williams is Head Football Coach at Carter where he also played high school football.   Scott Jackson is Athletic Coordinator.

Coach Carlton Nelson is Head Football Coach and Athletic Director at Kimball High School.

Carter Principal Fred Davis and Kimball Principal Earl Jones were proud of their student athletes.

A Big Cheer for the Knights and Cowboys. We enjoyed your game.

Congratulations, David W. Carter High School Football Team who hold the honor of winning the 2013-14 Coach James Jones Memorial Trophy.

Dallas ISD Board of Trustees has the "final authority to determine and interpret" violations of policy

Board policy BBE (LOCAL) states: 
"The corporate Board has final authority to determine and interpret the policies that govern the schools."
The investigation reports have been accepted. The Board must now make a final decision.

The Board of Trustees must now have a fair and democratic vote on this matter. 

The Board Agenda controls the Board actions.

Trustees do not create the Agenda. 

Board Agendas are prepared by the Board President and the Superintendent. 
Board Policy BE (LOCAL) - "... The Board President and the General Superintendent shall prepare the agenda for Board meetings ..."
Agendas are posted without any advance disclosure to Trustees.

When a fair and democratic vote is placed on the Agenda, I will vote to terminate Superintendent Mike Miles for cause based on the completed investigations, the related evidence and  "for the good of the district."

Monday, September 23, 2013

Dallas ISD 2013-2014 Teen School Board kicks off the school year

Dallas ISD 2013-2014 Teen School Board Members

Senior and junior class presidents from several campuses traveled to the Dallas ISD Central Administration Building to participate in the first 2013-14 Teen School Board  meeting.

They are an enthusiastic, smart group of representatives!  

The Teen Board serves in an advisory role to communicate and address student concerns with the Superintendent of Schools and the Board of Trustees.  

Students are provided opportunities to further develop their leadership and communication skills as they become more familiar with democratic processes and public service. 

Two students from each of the 34 Dallas ISD comprehensive and magnet high schools make up the Teen Board.  

Anticipating a full year of activities, they may have opportunities to work with Dallas ISD Trustees, the Superintendent of Schools, district staff and community groups.  

As a group students expect to plan and implement a minimum of two community service projects. 

In addition to attending monthly meetings, teen board members will represent the Dallas ISD at district, community and city-wide 

The Dallas ISD Teen School Board is off to a great start.  

Jacki McFarland is coordinator.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Waiting for a Superintendent - no excuses reformers always excuse themselves

"... lack of accountability has corroded public respect"

There is a full court press now on to prevent the Dallas ISD Board of Trustees from holding Superintendent Mike Miles accountable for the damage he has done to Dallas ISD and himself - self-inflicted damage.

No excuses reformers are often ready to excuse themselves. The rules don't apply to them. Wrongdoing is merely swept under the rug and covered up.

Some Trustees are being pushed to ignore their governance responsibility to hold the Superintendent accountable for the numerous serious issues raised in recent internal and external investigations.  

Yet, no other Dallas ISD employee would be allowed to obstruct or interfere with an ongoing internal investigation of their conduct or contact important witnesses and remain a staff member.

No other employee would be allowed to publicly damage the Superintendent of Schools or Board of Trustees by plotting and carrying out 'a plan' to disparage the Board - "to assist Smelker with the drafting of a resignation letter that was negative toward the Board in order to generate positive publicity for the Superintendent Miles and negative publicity for the Board."  - using district resources and the help of other district employees. (footnote 31 - page 46)

No other employee would be allowed to refuse to be interviewed or cooperate with an internal investigation when that employee is the subject of the internal investigation.

No other employee who is the subject of an internal investigation would be allowed to read everyone else's notarized statements.

No other employee who is the subject of an internal investigation would be allowed to take over all evidence and have internal legal staff copy and review it all for the purpose of discovering if there is anything that will stick.

No other employee would be allowed to set their own terms and escape serious consequences for 'troubling' violations of district standards of conduct.

No other employee would be allowed by Superintendent Mike Miles to simply pass on through and reset their own button.

In fact ...
  • no excuse would be accepted. 
  • no pass would be given.
  • no button would be reset. 
  • no second chance would be considered without serious consequences.
But then most employees don't have ... 
  • political connections.
  • an overreaching Mayor unethically meddling in the affairs of an Independent School District and trying to interfere with the authority of an elected school board. (There is no Mayor in the Texas Education Code - only Trustees.)
  • plutocrats and wealthy sponsors and patrons protecting them.
  • newspaper editorial writers making excuses and blaming others.
Former U.S. Attorney Paul Coggins stated:
"This outside investigation would never have taken place if Superintendent Miles had followed the advice given him by at least three District officials to allow the underlying OPR (Office of Professional Responsibility) investigation to go forward."
In other words, it was not necessary for Trustees to spend up to $100,000.00 on an external investigation. Superintendent Mike Miles simply needed to "follow the advice given him by at least three District officials."  

The suspended OPR Final Report also mentioned problems with staff attorneys carrying out the orders of Superintendent Mike Miles:
Don Smith-OPR Director-page 36 - "I also requested that the direct intimation of Dallas ISD General Counsel's Office and attorneys be excluded from any action in the personal investigation of the Superintendent, as this legal service is a benefit not available to other employees in the District regardless of position or title during an OPR investigation.I stated that this is a misuse of District resources and a means of intimidation to OPR employees doing their job."
Attorney Paul Coggins also stated:
"... for a target of an investigation to suspend the investigation raises troubling issues, and any damages to Superintendent Miles' standing with the Board, the District or the community at large were self-inflicted." (p.5) (Also "... troubling documents" that had a "troubling appearance" ... p. 26)
footnote 16 - page 28 - "(Justin) Coppedge provided a statement to OPR that, on June 14, Superintendent Miles explained his decision to pull the RFP from the agenda stating "there is a political nature to the district that has to be considered and there is nothing wrong with approving vendors who have influence in the community ... According to Board policy, political influence is not one of the factors that can be considered in awarding a contract (CH (LEGAL) ... (Rebecca) Rodriguez had a similar recollection, but Superintendent Miles denied making this statement."
Superintendent Mike Miles owns total responsibility for the "troubling issues" raised by his inexcusable refusal to take very good legal and professional advice to simply follow established internal investigation procedures.

Instead, Superintendent Mike Miles followed his path of fear and intimidation, and demanded that staff follow his orders to interfere with an ongoing internal investigation.

No one made Superintendent Mike Miles reject very good advice. 

There is no shared responsibility for his own flawed conduct. 

He alone is responsible.

The Coggins external investigation found that there is "good cause" for dismissal of Superintendent Mike Miles.

The clear duty of  elected Trustees is to protect Dallas ISD from further harm and damage "for the good of the district."
17 We watched and watched, wore our eyes out looking for help. And nothing. We mounted our lookouts and looked for the help that never showed up.

Would Mike Miles tolerate a subordinate who conspired to undermine him? - 9-10-13

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

North Texas Area Association of School Board Trustees and Superintendents hold bi-monthly meeting

Officers and members of the North Texas Area Association of School Boards
Early this evening the North Texas Area Association of School Boards (NTAASA) convened its bi-monthly meeting at the Grapevine-Colleyville ISD Professional Development and Education Center.

Grapevine-Colleyville Trustees and Superintendent Robin Ryan welcomed a full room of fellow public servants and introduced a talented, enjoyable group of student entertainers.  

Representative Bennett Ratliff, former Coppell ISD School Board member and first term legislator/member of the Education Committee, provided a current legislative and freshman view of the state Capitol political dynamics. 

School Boards from Regions 10 and 11 make up the North Texas Area Association of School Boards. 

In addition to training sessions, NTAASB meetings provide ISD Board member and Superintendent information.

Trustee Karen Ellis, Richardson ISD, is president of the North Texas Area Association of School Boards. 
NTAASB vice-president is Trustee Jesse Rodriguez, Grapevine/Colleyville ISD.

Thanks to all NTAASB officers and executive committee members for planning this informative meeting and the 2013-14 calendar of events to support School Boards and Superintendents.

Businessman Don Williams calls Bill McKenzie's DMN editorial on Superintendent Mike Miles 'seriously flawed'

From Don Williams
Wednesday, September 18, 2013
To: Bill McKenzie
Subject: Your September 17 Editorial


Although I have great respect for you, your Op Ed piece is seriously flawed:

1) Any tour or appearance with Miles, as well as his public presentations, are carefully choreographed events – spin control – and are quite different when done directly with teachers and principals; your piece echoes fellow traveler journalists getting a “special inside look” into a totalitarian state hiding the truth, the everyday control of its citizens.

2) You refer approvingly to the Todd Williams piece, which repeats his mantra of “focus on classroom instruction and concern for the kids vs. adult issues,“ which is used as a blunt instrument to silence critics and deflect legitimate differences and conversations about important issues needing public debate – everyone I know in this debate is equally concerned about the kids; in fact it is the teachers who are daily on the front line helping the kids learn and develop and whose opinions should be garnered and carry the greater weight. You (along with Williams and Morath Op Ed pieces) refer to “uptick” in student achievement but you ignore the evidence from Colorado Springs and here, e.g., ACT test scores being manipulated by testing 18% fewer students year over year to reveal a better but false picture.

3) You and the editorial board blame conflict within and questioning by the School Board for problems in fact created by Miles himself. It is the Board's responsibility to deal with these issues and raise questions about legitimate concerns, particularly when the CEO has given them inaccurate or misleading information, violated board approved policies, and is orchestrating a public and private campaign to keep his job.

4) Please, no one is worried about Miles’ lack of jocular style, but many are worried about his lack of integrity.

5) You say “his style is not berating, belittling or autocratic…” and question allegations of his bullying style,” despite scores of teachers and principals reporting such tactics, as you heard from their representatives last week, and as I and many others have heard directly.

6) Of course, change agents can be “disruptive,” for good or bad; remember Bill Rojas at DISD and Ron Johnson and Dick Brown as the new CEOs at JC Penney and EDS respectively who were indeed disruptive but were soon fired by boards before destroying their organizations – that’s what is at risk here and now. That Miles should not have been hired is no excuse for keeping him here.

Frankly, it’s hard for me to understand how such whimsical and musing Op Ed pieces crowd out serious interpretive reporting and opinions on hard news issues such as those raised by Tawnell Hobbs and Matthew Haag in posts on the DMN education blog and those raised by Channel 8’s Brett Shipp.

Bill, if you truly believe in the corporate reform movement, high stakes testing, students as ciphers and teachers as assembly line managers, please just say so. But don’t insult the public intelligence of this community by trying to defend Miles as a good guy or a good leader. The weight of evidence is clear that he is neither.



Friday, September 13, 2013

Dallas ISD meeting to discuss the Paul Coggins Final Investigation Report should be open to the public

 Board Members Ethics
I will consistently uphold all applicable laws, rules, policies, and governance procedures. BBF (Local)
Dallas ISD trustees approve audit on hiring practices and moving expenses-DMN-1-10-13
("Dallas school Trustees on Thursday approved a final internal audit that found senior management did not follow certain procedures, mainly dealing with hiring and relocation expenses. For about 90 minutes, trustees asked various questions, which were mostly answered by Miles and interim internal auditor LaNita Ray"). This was an open meeting.

Dallas ISD Trustees will meet in secret tomorrow to discuss the Final Investigation Report prepared by Attorney Paul Coggins relating to a complaint made by former Dallas ISD employee Rebecca Rodriguez against Superintendent Mike Miles.

This  Final Investigation Report is clearly a public document under the Texas Public Information Act. 

The Report is already fully public and has been discussed throughout the Dallas community. 

The Board Meeting is not called to discuss a personnel matter. It is called to discuss a public investigative report as stated in the Texas Public Information Act.

This appears to be a potential violation of the Texas Open Meetings Act to hold the discussion of a public report in a session closed to the public.

Presently, Trustees will have a private discussion and the meeting will be adjourned with no action. We will not even be able to set a meeting to make a decision.

The public is paying up to $100,000.00 for this important report.

The public ought to hear the discussion of a public investigative report.


Texas Government Code - Chapter 552. Public Information
"(a) without limiting the amount or kind of information that is public information under this chapter, the following information is public information and not excepted from required disclosure unless made confidential under this chapter or other law:
(1) a completed reportaudit, evaluationor investigation made of, for, or by a governmental body, except as provided by Section 552.108 (Exception: Certain Law Enforcement, Corrections, and Prosecutorial Information)"

Fraud reports by Dallas city auditor don’t tell a full story By RUDOLPH BUSH-DMN-1-31-13

"Under state law, government auditors may withhold from the public draft audits, along with investigative files. Only the final report is subject to public disclosure. Citizens must rely on that document for an understanding of what the auditor found.
That’s what makes the lack of detail in Kinton’s reports so troubling, said Wayne Shaw, a professor at Southern Methodist University’s Cox School of Business and an expert in corporate governance.
“You’re defeating the purpose of the law if you allow the final report to basically say nothing. It means we are going to protect everything that happened in the process and the public will never know,” he said.
Auditors’ reports, in the public and private spheres, should name names and detail events, Shaw said.
Bill Aleshire, a former deputy comptroller for the state, wondered why a public auditor would want to withhold pertinent material in a final public report.
“I would think that a public auditor would be so instilled with the principles that these are public funds, and the public had a right to know,” Aleshire said."

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

W. H. Atwell Middle/Law Academy celebrates 9/11 Freedom Day sponsored by Entrepreneurs For North Texas

September 11, 2013

Joining America's national commemoration, Entrepreneurs for North Texas (EFNT) were also "Honoring Lives Changed on 9.11.01 by Changing Lives Today." This morning in district 6, over 500 volunteers from more than 60 EFNT member companies came together for their 12th annual Freedom Day event. 

W. H. Atwell Middle School/Law Academy Choir Members
Stevon Harris, Director

W. H. Atwell Middle School/Law Academy, Selena Deboskie, Principal, was this year's recipient of the EFNT vision.  Volunteers arrived early and worked late helping to transform the tragic memories of 9/11/2001 into triumphant images for today and years of brighter tomorrows.  

Volunteers Attend Opening Ceremony

Freedom Day was a huge, lasting gift for Atwell Middle School students, faulty and staff as EFNT volunteers painted, landscaped and redesigned the Atwell campus.  Groups worked on various projects --  updating hallway decor, installing inspirational signs and re-desiging the "Archer" mascot (based on student focus group participation).  
Atwell Students Enjoy Perot Museum Musical Stairs

Especially for teachers and staff, volunteers created wonderful appreciation gifts of completely refurbished lounges, stocked with treats and surprises.

While hundreds of volunteers worked on campus, dozens of others served as guides on a field trip for the entire school of nearly 1,000 students. They, along with Atwell teachers, staff and parent chaperones, visited the Perot Museum of Nature and Science.  

After viewing a film about 9/11, produced to inform and encourage them, students discovered the many engaging areas of the Perot Museum.   

Volunteer Wrap-Up

Throughout transportation, the tour and lunch, Atwell Archers expressed excitement and appreciation for the Perot experience.   

It was gratifying to hear museum staff and visitors give impromptu compliments about the high quality of Atwell students' questions and behavior.

A big THANKS to all EFNT volunteers, including: project manager Pam Gerber -- EFNT Executive Director; campus coordinators Debbie Pon and Chip Bensing -- Freedom Day 2013 Co-Chairs ; guest speaker Tim Doke -- SVP Community Engagement for UNT Health Science Center (formerly 2001 American Airlines Communication Manager); and Perot Museum adventure coordinator Shannon Streeter -- EFTN member.

93 Years Young Helen Small Inspired Students
Perot Museum Volunteer 

Much appreciation to former Dallas ISD Trustee Adam Medrano for arranging museum admission and for supporting our students and the implementation of this Entrepreneurs for North Texas project.

Long into the future,  W. H. Atwell Middle School/Law Academy students, teachers, staff, administration and community will remember and benefit from Freedom Day, September 11, 2013.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America's Public Schools - Diane Ravitch

"From one of the foremost authorities on education in the United States, former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Education, “whistle-blower extraordinaire” (The Wall Street Journal), author of the best-selling The Death and Life of the Great American School System (“Important and riveting”—Library Journal), 

The Language Police (“Impassioned . . . Fiercely argued . . . Every bit as alarming as it is illuminating”—The New York Times), and other notable books on education history and policy—an incisive, comprehensive look at today’s American school system that argues against those who claim it is broken and beyond repair; an impassioned but reasoned call to stop the privatization movement that is draining students and funding from our public schools."

Diane Ravitch Biography

Thumbnail image of Diane Ravitch
Diane Ravitch

I was born in Houston, Texas, in 1938. I am third of eight children. I attended the public schools in Houston from kindergarten through high school (San Jacinto High School, 1956, yay!). I then went to Wellesley College, where I graduated in 1960.

Within weeks after graduation from Wellesley, I married. The early years of my marriage were devoted to raising my children. I had three sons: Joseph, Steven, and Michael. Steven died of leukemia in 1966. I now have four grandsons, Nico, Aidan, Elijah, and Asher.

I began working on my first book in the late 1960s. I also began graduate studies at Columbia University. My mentor was Lawrence A. Cremin, a great historian of education. The resulting book was a history of the New York City public schools, called "The Great School Wars," published in 1974. I received my Ph.D. in the history of American education in 1975. In 1977, I wrote "The Revisionists Revised." In 1983 came "The Troubled Crusade." In 1985, "The Schools We Deserve." In 1987, with my friend Checker Finn, "What Do Our 17-Year-Olds Know?" In 1991, "The American Reader." In 1995, "National Standards in American Education." In 2000, "Left Back." In 2003, "The Language Police." In 2006, "The English Reader," with my son Michael Ravitch. Also in 2006, "Edspeak." I have also edited several books with Joseph Viteritti.

My last book, "The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education," was a national bestseller. It addressed the most important education issues of our time. It was read by teachers, parents, and students and was a source of great joy to me.

My newest book "Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America's Public Schools" is a call to arms. It documents the false narrative that has been used to attack American public education, and names names. It also contains specific and evidence-based recommendations about how we can improve our schools and our society.

To follow my ongoing work read my blog at, where there is a lively conversation among educators and parents about the future of education.

Diane Ravitch

Friday, September 6, 2013

Dallas ISD Final Investigation Report - OPR Case No.11335 - Rebecca Rodriguez - Superintendent Mike Miles

The citizens of Dallas pay the bills at Dallas ISD. Taxpayers and stakeholders have a right to know.

The Texas Public Information Act clearly states that a completed report or investigation prepared for a public institution is public information and is not excepted from required disclosure.

Texas Government Code - Chapter 552. Public Information
"Sec. 552.001. Policy; Construction.
"(a) ... The people, in delegating authority, do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for the people to know and what is not good for them to know. The people insist on remaining informed so that they may retain control over the instruments they have created. The provisions of this chapter shall be liberally construed to implement this policy.
"(a) without limiting the amount or kind of information that is public information under this chapter, the following information is public information and not excepted from required disclosure unless made confidential under this chapter or other law:
(1) a completed report, audit, evaluation, or investigation made of, for, or by a governmental body, except as provided by Section 552.108 (Exception: Certain Law Enforcement, Corrections, and Prosecutorial Information)"