Friday, April 11, 2014

Why does DISD need Home Rule?

What should DISD Schools have?   These charts in English and Spanish, were designed by the Texas Organizing Project.  They make a very simple one chart summary of what "home rule" will achieve for DISD relative to some of the most common answers to the "What should DISD Schools have?" question.  Please complete the online survey's below that include one of these charts in the survey. 
Dallas ISD Home Rule Advantage
(Click on above chart to enlarge or print.)

Dallas ISD Home Rule Advantage
(Click en la tabla de arriba para ampliar o imprimir.) 
Here is the survey, available in either English or Spanish:
Please complete the survey in the language you prefer.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Five Questions for DISD Trustee Candidates

Five questions given to each of the 9 candidates for DISD Trustee positions as of 4-10-14.  Other working to lead reform within DISD are also encouraged to answer these questions.   Challenges to the numbers behind these questions, and the interpretations of those numbers, are welcomed.   We must get to the truth before DISD children suffer more.

1) Since DISD suffered the first drop in senior enrollment in 7 years this year with the Class of 2014, and it was the largest drop in 29 years, does the history of even greater drops in senior enrollment (totaling 33%) under Mike Miles during his last 4 years in Colorado bother you?    Why or why not?

2) When you are a DISD trustee, what will you do if such senior class enrollment losses continue to happen in Dallas ISD, especially if they near reaching the 33% total in losses recorded over the last 4 years Mr. Miles was in his district in Colorado?

3) A strict strategy of not passing low achieving students on to the next grade leads to greater student attrition, but also certainly helps to raise ACT grade averages as such students leave.  Do you support such a strategy in DISD?  In other words, when is graduation a priority for you?  When are higher average ACT scores a priority over graduation?

4) Would you demand the creation of a system that would allow every parent to know as soon as the school knows if their child’s teacher is being replaced by a substitute, and whenever that teacher is less than a fully certified teacher in the area being taught?   Should such data be tabulated monthly for public reports and for the trustees?

5) Will you be vigilant and demand more transparency and precision in numbers used when the percentage of students being tested goes down, as happened with a 23% reduction in minority students taking the ACT test this past year, or when the precision of numbers is made less?   (This allowed DISD to claim a full point gain in the average ACT score by using a rounding trick never used before, when the real gain was only 4/10ths of a point.   In 2013, due probably to the 23% decrease in the minority percentage tested, the scores increase from 17.2 to 17.6.   Then, for the first time in history, these results suddenly were reported to the nearest whole number only.   The result was that it appeared the scores went from 17 to 18 instead of the 4/10 of one point improvement that actually happened, going from 17.2 to 17.6.)

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Why "home rule" will fail in Dallas ISD

Monday evening, 4-7-14, we had a powerful meeting that often showed anger and disruption as about 150 people, mostly from the south side of Dallas near Fair Park discussed the "home rule" petitioning effort now happening in Dallas. The gathering included 2 DISD Trustees, who were on the panel, and 2 Dallas City Council Members.

The audience was angry about "home rule." Three known members of the Support Our Public Schools were present with one on the panel to defend the "home rule" idea.  They certainly saw what anything endangering single member district voting power over board members does to those concerned about our schools.  Reverend Hickman said it well: "Do you remember the day when African Americans did not have the right to vote for school board representatives?"

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Dallas ISD "Home Rule" and Information Sources

The following links provide information from different perspectives on the "home rule" petition effort now under way within the service area for Dallas ISD: is the web site for Support Our Public Schools (SOPS.) Under "Resources" are multiple links that help explain the 1995 law under which this effort is happening.  The first question under FAQ's has the following wording that gives reason for concern: "Only through discussions with parents, teachers, and education and community leaders can we identify changes that will free us from the cookie-cutter approach of Austin, and allow us to operate our schools in a manner that better suits our children and our communities."    Does not that wording remind you of the wording used 50 years ago to justify "separate but equal?"

The central flaw, repeated constantly by both SOPS and by Mayor Mike Rawlings,  is that they describe DISD in terms of a snapshot in time, not progress over time.   Such static measurements always place DISD in a negative light!   The public was never told how badly DISD was doing for decades!  As recently as 2006 DISD staff were claiming in public that DISD had single digit dropout rates when at the same time 60% of 9th grade enrollment was not present at their class graduations.  The dropout rate was much closer to 60% than the rates below 6% that were claimed.  That is why the current graduation rate that is just now passing a valid 60% graduation rate is both terrible, due to the work we still need to do, and a wonderful celebration, due to the monumental progress made within just 8 years!   Any reporting on DISD must report multiple year and show changes over time.  Then, at least from 2006 to 2012, DISD looks good.  Sadly, since 2012, the numbers are going back down. is the web site for Dallas Friends of Public Education, a group of professionals, parents, and DISD staff who have several hundreds years of experience within DISD among them.  They are against this effort and have collected multiple documents on their web site documenting the multiple reasons for such concerns.

CASE, the Coalition for an Accountable System of Education, is an association of mainly African American Professionals representing well over 500 years of experience within education, mostly within Dallas ISD, who have voted unanimously to take action against the "Home Rule" efforts.   They organized a powerful press conference uniting other organizations in speaking out against "Home Rule" the morning of 3-26-14:

The most powerful collection of data on the "home rule" effort to date is by Professor Julian Vasquez Heilig from the University of Texas. It was only released 3-27-14. It is published online in multiple locations including his own web site at , and specifically linked here.    The Dallas Morning News published the Heilig study at

While there are multiple meetings happening across Dallas, the biggest one I know of as of 4-5-14 is the one planned for 4-7-14 7PM at Salem Baptist Church where both sides of the "home rule" issue will be presented.   Here is the flier advertising the event:

4-7-14 7 PM meeting at Salem Baptist Church
Click on to enlarge and/or print.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Dallas ISD Anti-Home-rule Petition

The SOPS group has their petition online for use in gathering signatures for starting the "home rule" process in Dallas ISD.   That would be similar to placing your family in a car designed in 3 months by a collection of 15 people, only 4 of whom are automative design professionals, and they only worked on certain parts of the car, not the entire thing.   Is that the kind of car you want?   If not here is a version of the SOPS petition but negatives have been inserted in large letters to make it clear those signing do not want "home rule" in Dallas ISD.

Please print these on legal size, 14" x 8.5" sheets.

Please bring these to our next gatherings, or email me at to pick them up.  The point must be made as to the number of people upset about what is being done with this untested home rule effort to destabilize Dallas ISD.   There is much tested research that shows us all very clearly what must be done for our improvement to continue!  We must spend time focusing on those factors and on proven research.  No more experiments with our children!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Unanswered questions killing Dallas ISD "home rule" effort

Last night there was an overcrowded meeting with 70% of the people standing and/or unable to even get in the room at Preston Royal Library.  Many left in frustration unable to get into the room.  The meeting was tense with too many questions unanswered.  People were angry.
Support Our Public Schools North Dallas Meeting 3-20-14

Support Our Public Schools North Dallas Meeting 3-20-14

Based on what reportedly happened last night at the two other SOPS meetings in South Dallas and Pleasant Grove, the "home rule" effort is dying due to inability, or refusal, to answer basic questions:
1) What specific changes, impossible in the current system, are wanted?  Why are those changes not being specifically pursued?
2) Who will pay for the operations and professional support of the 15 member commission?  Taxpayers?  Dallas Redistricting Commission, with a MUCH simpler task over a much longer time period, cost over $500,000!
3) HB 5 is new with many more alternatives for schools.  Why this rush before HB5 alternatives have been better tested?
There are too many unanswered questions. We are witnessing the death of this misnamed "home rule" effort.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Best Five Years for Dallas ISD Graduation Rate: 2007-2012

Best Five Years for Dallas ISD Graduation Rate on Record: 2007-2012
(Click on above chart to enlarge and/or print.)
The above chart contains data taken from the two charts below that together cover the past 18 years.  One confusing factor is that the above chart contains a sixth measurement that the first chart below did not contain: the comparison of current 12th grade enrollment with current 9th grade enrollment.  This measurement is a short hand way to look at school enrollment and know how their graduation rate is doing.   See more details below these two charts.

Click on either of the above charts to enlarge them and/or to print them.
Record Setting Dallas ISD Graduation Rate Progress 2007-2012, then it stopped!

1.      From 2007 to 2012 Dallas ISD enjoyed the five most progressive years of achievement in memory!  While DISD "college ready" rates edged up far too slowly, all of the graduation rate measurements soared! 

2.      This combination increased the number of college ready graduates over 60% from 1996 to 2012, during years that Anglo-non-Hispanic enrollment in Dallas ISD dropped 60%.

3.      Dallas ISD graduation rates improved faster than the rest of the state of Texas in all demographic groups served from 2007 to 2011.  See the set of 12 graphs posted on the Dallas ISD web site in 2012. They are linked from the bottom of the page at the first hit when you google "Dallas ISD's graduation and dropout rates"

4.      Since 2012, under Mike Miles, the graduation rate progress has stopped.  This is illustrated by 6 measurements related to graduation rate and student movement on the above chart, and the fact that this year DISD suffered the greatest drop in 12th grade enrollment suffered in 29 years!

When any of these six measurements are in a cell with a red, or grey, background in the chart that means the number has gone down and progress has been lost since the previous school year. 

Six measurements: row 6 to row 11 in the first chart above

·         Row 6: “% 9th Grade Bulge Gone” reflects how well 8th graders are prepared for 9th grade work, and how well 9th graders are managed, so as to not repeat 9th grade.   For over 30 years the so-called “ninth grade bulge” has cursed school districts across Texas, especially urban districts.  For decades DISD would have only 11,000 students in the 8th grade but would then have more than 14,000 9th graders due to failures.  This bulge was slowly eliminated from 2007 to 2011! That progress stopped during the 2012/13 school year! It appears DISD is going backward according to measurements for the current 2013/14 school year.

·         Row 7: “Last year’s 9th now in 10th reflects the reality that for decades most dropouts never made it to the 10th grade. That is no longer true! DISD passed the 70% barrier in 2009 for this measurement for the first time, and has never gone back that low. This is a measurement that continued to improve though this year.  It is now over 89%!

·         Row 8: “Current 12th as % 9th" is a short-hand measurement of how a school is doing with their graduation rate.  Just compare 12th grade enrollment with 9th grade enrollment at any school any time.  The bigger the difference the greater the problem.  For decades DISD had total senior enrollment that represented less than half the 9th grade enrollment.  DISD passed this 50% barrier during the 2007/08 school year, zoomed up to 73.8% by 2011/12, but has now reverted back to pre-2010 levels!

·         Row 9“Promotion Rate” is a measurements widely used by the John Hopkins University Professor John Balfanz and colleagues who established the term “Dropout Factory” back in 2007 using this measurement formula.  At that time all DISD non-magnet high schools were classified as “dropout factories.”  That is no longer true due to significant progress made!

·         Row 10: “Graduation Rate” passed the 50% barrier for the first time with the Class of 2011.  Due to the progress eliminating the 9th grade bulge, the 60% barrier will probably be passed this year in DISD unless progress deteriorates more than anticipated.

·         Row 11: "CPI - Cumulative Promotion Index" is the most valuable measurement.  It’s the most timely, complete, and predictive.  It shows what is happening now, and what may happen in the near future. The CPI only uses measurements collected within one calendar year for each of the four student groups in any high school: 9th graders moving to 10th grade, 10th moving to 11th, 11th moving to 12th and 12th graders who graduate.  The DISD CPI rose from 40.7% for the Class of 2006 to 66.1% for the Class of 2012!  After six years of constantly higher CPI measurements, the 3.6 percentage point drop to 62.5% for the Class of 2013, a measurement lower than any class since 2009, is a stern warning that things are not well now in Dallas ISD.  (CPI also dropped over 15 percentage points under Mike Miles in Harrison!)

If there are any comments or questions about any of the above data please email Bill Betzen at   Your comments are valued.
Bill Betzen