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Breaking Down The Home-Rule Charter

Think 11 Comments on Breaking Down The Home-Rule Charter 514

Hour 1: The conversation surrounding the Dallas Independent School District is whether or not it should become a home-rule district. We’ll talk this hour about the pros and cons of re-imagining DISD with Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings and school board member Bernadette Nutall.

  • Bret Wooten

    This makes me extremely nervous! Education, is not like a business. In business you stay away from anything that doesn’t make you money or is not profitable. I fear there will be a lot of kids that get pushed to the sidelines and Dallas schools will turn into testing mills further disengaging more children. I’m assuming they deem success based on the STAAR test or equivalent. Or it will weigh heavily into the calculation. Keep in mind STAAR M will not be available next year.

    People really need to look at the ridiculously low passing percentage and failure rates of STAAR and the fact these scores are a moving target. Think about the relationship between teachers and students.

    Would you take a pay cut for someone else’s kid that may have a disability.

    Where would you put your toughest kids if you where a principal? With your best teachers or your worst teachers?

    In business you are constantly eliminating low performance. I can see how this model could encourage teachers to encourage students to leave or just discouraged them enough not to want to come back. This has already happened in Texas. They did get their test scores up however. I guess if that is all you are worried about then I think you need to take a look at yourself!

    I have dyslexia and I shudder to think that all those teachers that helped me would take a pay cut because I read slowly. I never did well on standardized test. But, I’ve had a fairly successful life thanks in large part to the work of some great teachers. I will never forget that!!!!

    I will be listening intently!

  • Chris Jonsson

    Hedge Funds, financial corporations, and charter
    school owners all have an interest in having charter schools take
    over US public education. Lobbyists are busily incentivizing
    lawmakers to give private corporations the green light to grab all
    they can get off public education money to create their profit
    centers planned around their own ideological proselytization, be it
    religion, history, civics, social responsibility, or lack there of,

    May 9, 2010

    Charter Schools’ New
    Cheerleaders: Financiers

    By TRIP

  • Chris Jonsson

    Say goodbye to public schools: Diane Ravitch warns some cities will soon have none

    • Bret Wooten

      I Love Diane!! She has been saying for a long time this was coming. She is an insider as well. She actually helped develop no child left behind. When
      she saw what happened when it rolled out she wisely backed away from
      it and has been fighting against it ever since.

  • Steve Horn

    I just listened to the show. Interesting and painful conversation to listen to, frankly. Seems to me the board is more concerned with retaining power than educating kids. The overall academic performance of the DISD students is well below minimum standards, and I don’t see the accountability with the board regarding that fact. That is ultimately the goal here, isn’t it? Graduate students with the ability to compete in a global market, get good jobs, create a life for themselves. Right now it seems like DISD is nothing more than a pipeline to poverty and the penal system. I moved to Dallas in 1990. After seeing the antics of the DISD board and administration I sold my house in 1995 and moved out of DISD because I didn’t want my 2 young kids in that school system. So yeah, Mayor Mike was right – big companies with employees who have kids would prefer to choose a location where the basic needs of its employees are met. That includes good public schools for the employee’s kids. I am just so thankful I made the decision to leave Dallas 19 years ago. The status quo isn’t working, and hasn’t been working for decades. Remember, it’s not about you DISD, it’s about the kids.

  • Bret Wooten

    I have even more questions now. It seems like they are asking people to sign a
    blank contract. I understand basically what they “say,” they want to do now.
    But this leaves the road wide open for them to do whatever they want later. I
    also understand they have shared some of their current large funders but they
    do not need to in the future. How do you get excited about something you know
    nothing about???? This stinks to high heaven! There is something more behind
    this. THANK YOU KERA for doing this show.

  • Michael MacNaughton

    Steve, you have touched upon many excellent points. As a parent of a DISD student for 8 years and a founder and member of the DISD Citizens Budget Review Commission for three years and very active in the dialogue I can say we are “Data Rich and Information Poor (DRIP)”. I believe that public education is one of the foundations of our democracy. Our school board does not run the schools and is not directly responsible for academic performance of students. That is the responsibility of the Superintendent. The board has three responsibilities: it accepts and approves a budget from the administration every June, it hires the superintendent, and it sets overall policies. What is out of the norm for Dallas is that the superintendent today, Mike Miles, was brought in by the Mayor.

    First, the graduation rate and academic achievement of DISD students was improving prior to Mike Miles’ administration. Can we do better? Yes. But the “status quo” is hardly such. Over the last 40 years of keeping national reading and math statistics in the U.S. student achievement has been a flat line – varying less than 1/2 of 1% at any given point and time. During this period there have been four major “reform” movements…none of which has had any appreciable effect on student achievement. However, during that same 40 years the student body has radically changed! Not only are there nearly 35% MORE children attending public schools, the number of children in poverty has increased dramatically. Now, poverty is not an excuse. But poverty IS a reality that has been proven to be the greatest hurdle to overcome in major urban districts.

    The argument that Dallas is somehow losing new business because of the education system is also an untruth. Dallas is surrounded by other cities that, by the way, also are having public education problems that mirror DISD as their minority population grows and the number of families in poverty increases. Dallas is “landlocked” and has increasingly expensive housing and nearly ten billion dollars in infrastructure expenses (roads, bridges, sewer system, etc.) that are a hindrance to new development. The mayor should keep his own house clean before trying to “reform” DISD.

    The final myth is that Dallas somehow has failed to educate children because of “bad teachers”. The myth of bad teachers, and its twin, the magical teacher, needs to be put to rest. Just Google “myth of bad teachers” to find relevant and current research. Teachers wouldrelish a fair and equitable evaluation system that integrates 360 degree peer review and valuable professional development. However, the current “value added” methods that are being touted by the current administration have failed in every single major urban district where they have been adopted with most of those districts trying to disentangle themselves from that mess.

    So where does that leave us today? SOPS is a sham and a scam. No plan because the only plan is to control the $1.4B annual budget. As trustee Edwin Flores told me 5 years ago, this whole thing isn’t about educating children, it’s about jobs for adults and contracts for their friends. I would much rather put my trust in democratically elected trustees than in a private board with no accountability to us…the folks who pay the tab..the taxpayers.

    The real issue? Miles, Rawlings, Morath, etc. are all public servants who seem to forget that WE are their bosses! They not only work for us, but they forget both the “public” and the “servant” part of their job description!

    • Chris Jonsson

      I concur Michael MacNaughton.

  • Let’s explore what the commission comes up with. The petition is to get the process started. If the commission’s plan is poor then we vote NO in Nov, But we have to see how we can change course quickly. Kids are graduating every year and many are not ready for adult life due to our failing school system.
    I live in a burb but in DISD and I know from years on the city council that the lack of economic development and sustainable families to our town was our school system. By middle school the middle class families are gone to better schools (or so they think)!

  • Herman Torres

    Every time the issue of public school reform is brought up, the knives come out. What isn’t in dispute is how schools have strayed from ‘reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmetic. Students that can read, write and add should be intelligent enough to identify a profession and seek specialized education. The public school today has devolved into a fiefdom for the trustee, a source of income for a vendor, daycare for a parent and lab rats for the testing industry. And while we should sympathize with the students with special circumstances (peanut allergies, broken homes, the alphabet soup of learning disabilities, etc. etc. ), we should not focus on the few at the expense of the many. To justify spending less money state-wide, the legislature has weakened academic standards and forced students to pick a vocation in the 8th grade. Anyone care to guess how that is going to work out?

  • Sandbox

    I also just listened to this podcast and to use Ms. Nutall’s word, I was disappointed. The talking point about governance vs. administration may be crucial to the current board, but it feels like passing the blame. And sadly it fails because: 1) we, the citizens, cannot affect management directly by firing anyone (so administration still seems to fall to the board from our frame of reference. AND 2) it’s the board who is responsible for the long train of superintendents we have had. Where they each bad hires? Were they good hires but the board got rid of them anyway as scapegoats? Or were they good hires who faced too many problems (from above or below)? Who should we look to about these problems?!? Why should I be hopeful that replacing a board member with a new person will fix these problems if any candidate can win with a “I-can’t-be-worse-than-the-last-guy” strategy?

    I am an African-American Yuppie from Houston and I have my own metrics for how well the system is doing and I would challenge the elected members of the board to consider them. 1) How do potential middle and upper middle class parents feel about sending their child to DISD schools (K-12)? 2) How many students are leaving (graduation or otherwise) DISD and graduating post-secondary programs or entering careers within the next year? “Careers” must include trades and vocations that could offer a middle class standard of living (read: retail and food service are excluded). 3)
    What extraordinary things are being done to counter the systemic and cultural challenges many DISD students face? This last may not sound fair – and it’s not – but it is a common denominator at most successful charter schools.

    I expect traditional public schools to use charters as the pilot programs they can be. How do we attract teachers who expect to work 70+hrs/week for marginally more pay? How do we create a system where the most innovative and energetic teachers are not stymied? How do can we instill a positive culture in students that is likely countered by their neighborhood or parents? And how do we pull it off politically? As ELECTED board members these are your actual tasks because we hire you to be leaders with the political talent to get things done.

    PS: Dallas has had a challenging history, but self-selected economic segregation has been increasing significantly over the past couple decades everywhere and this city cannot afford any factors that exacerbate that. The Board is responsible for hiring and firing the administration (through its head), for the budget, and for policy. If the board is still powerless to make big changes using those tools, what value is there in electing board members? And who do the citizens that want a change need to go to?