Friday, April 29, 2016

New DISD Administrative Headquarters: 9400 North Central Experssway

At the DISD School Board meeting on 4-28-16 the 8 remaining trustees voted 5 to 3 to purchase a $44 million building at 9400 North Central Expressway as Administrative Offices.  This had only been made public within a week of the board meeting and the only testimony at the meeting was against it, by me.  I gave copies of the following map to the trustees to document how this is a move away from the children.  That was apparently not important except to the three trustees who represented far south Dallas and the schools that would simply all be 6 miles more distant from DISD Headquarters.

Dallas ISD Map with Schools and IR/FIR schools indicated along with new headquarters
The body language by the 5 trustees who voted for this purchase, two of which this was their lasts meeting, was very negative toward the majority of DISD parents who will now be more distant from DISD Headquarters.
Who are the customers of DISD?

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Quintanilla Time Capsule Reunion #2 & Progress!

This Friday, 4-22-16, in the early morning, over lunch, and after school, the letters the 8th grade Quintanilla Class of 2006 wrote to themselves will be returned.  Members of this class can come to Quintanilla from 7:30 to 9:30, or over lunch from 11:30 to 1:30, or after school from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. to pick up their letter.  They must bring their ID to pick up their letter from ten years ago. Hopefully the alumni from 2006 have already received a letter with these details.

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Here is a link to the newspaper coverage of the above event that went very well: http://educationblog.dallasnews.com/2016/04/time-capsule-reveals-hopes-and-dreams-in-a-dallas-school.html/#commentsOuterWrapper
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Quintanilla achieved the status of the highest-performing middle school in all of Dallas last year with an SEI score (School Effectiveness Indices Score) of 59.3, the highest in the district! Quintanilla is a Dallas ISD middle school that has one of the highest 10 poverty levels of all 32 middle schools in Dallas ISD. The Quintanilla SEI was also higher than any of the 5 middle schools that are magnet schools.
School Effectiveness Indices for the past 2 years for 32 Dallas ISD Middle Schools 
Quintanilla has many of the same programs as other middle schools in Dallas ISD except for one program that has been only happening at Quintanilla for the past 12 years. That is the School Archive Project, or as it is now more frequently called, the Time Capsule Project.

This is the second year Quintanilla has had reunions of students who were in the 8th grade at Quintanilla 10 years earlier and wrote letters for the vault bolted to the floor in the school lobby. Having these students return is making the project more real for current students. They are realizing more that the future will be here and their letters really will be returned to them in 10 years. What they do now will make the difference for their future!

This year for the first time these returning students from a decade ago will be invited to volunteer to speak with current Quintanilla students on Career Day on May 2nd!  A priceless set of messages will be delivered about the decade after 8th grade.

Beginning in 2009 the first of 7 other middle schools in DISD with time-capsule projects will begin their own patterns of annual 10-year reunions for classes who have been writing letters since their schools' time-capsule projects started. These schools will all see hopefully similar achievement gains from an ever stronger student focus on their own future.

The photo on the left is of the Quintanilla Time-Capsule contents. It shows the 2015 shelf with the new letters from the 8th grade class of 2015 after the letters from 2005 were removed to return to the Class of 2005.  The letters from 2006 are still in the vault waiting to be returned to the 8th grade class of 2006 beginning on 4-22-16.

In the constant effort to continue to raise achievement, Quintanilla is now planning to request that all Quintanilla parents this May write letters to their student about their parental dreams for their student, and to begin an annual pattern of such letter writing.  A child changes a lot in one year.

In each of these letters we will also be asking each parent to tell one story from their family history that they want their child to remember when they are 40 years old.  What can be more valuable than to reinforce connections to a child's personal family history, along with parental dreams?

All Quintanilla students will then bring these priceless letters to their Language Arts Classes after STAAR testing.  They will use them to write a letter to themselves about their own plans for their future, and how they will achieve those goals.  Then all the letters for each student will be placed in one self-addressed envelope for each student and placed into the vault.  The 6th and 7th grade students will have their letters collected for the vault.  The 8th grade students will be writing the letter for 10-years into the future and will place their letter into the vault themselves after the normal annual photos are taken.

Next year the same process will be repeated at the end of the year except that 7th graders will receive back their 6th grade letters, and 8th graders will receive back their 7th grade letters.  The goal is to constantly write better, more complete plans for the future as the normal changes in life happen.  Parents will also be asked to write new letters each year as they observe their child's changes year to year.

With this process the achievement level at Quintanilla will continue to rise if all other factors in the school remain positive.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Texas Ethics Commission Complaint Resolved

A year ago I filed a complaint against a DISD Trustee Candidate who failed to complete campaign finance reports, failed to respond to the Texas Ethics Commission in a timely fashion, but then went on to lose the election in spite of the secrecy his failure provided.

Last week I receive formal notice that the complaint was found valid and that $750 in fines had been paid by this candidate due to this complaint and his delayed response to it.  See order entered at https://www.ethics.state.tx.us/sworncomp/2015/3150486.pdf

The system works!  It must be used. Complaints must be filed in a timely fashion and failure to respond in a timely fashion by the respondent will be held against them.

Here is a record of those groups who were supporting this candidate:  http://www.dallasisd.org/Page/13930.  You need to download the various reports for the most complete image of who was supporting this campaign.

If you study the campaign finance reports over time, and in the current election, you will find a consistency in that the same collection of PAC's and individuals is supporting candidates who most strongly supported Mike Miles and the well documented destruction of DISD since 2012.

There is also a high correlation of investments in charter schools, and people serving on charter school boards in these groups and among the candidates they have supported.

Notice the large amount of the support for Demarcus Offord that came from Dallas Kids First:
Dallas Kids First support for Demarcus Offord in 2015 election
Notice who Dallas Kids First is endorsing in the May 2016 DISD Trustee elections:

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Dallas ISD District 5 Candidate Forum 4-5-16

DISD District 5 Candidate Forum
League of Women Voters AND West Dallas 1 Neighborhood Coalition

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

6 to 7:30 p.m.

El Centro West Campus
3330 N. Hampton Rd., Dallas, Texas 75212

Cosponsors: NAACP, Women’s Council of Greater Dallas
www.lwvdallas.org   214-688-4125   www.vote411.org

Come Join us and hear:

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Texas Charter Schools, ISD's, and Dallas ISD compared, using Snapshot data

The most consistent and powerful data base on school districts, including charter school districts, in Texas is the Snapshot data base maintained by the Texas Education Agency at http://tea.texas.gov/perfreport/snapshot/index.html .  It is a data base going back to 1995 that has tracked and reported on 98 data items ever since this date for ever ISD and charter district in Texas.  Here is the most recent report for Charter schools, ISD's and Dallas ISD for the 2013/14 school year.  It is a report with about half of the 98 data items reported on.  Go to the above link for 2014 for the full report.


Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Questions for DISD School Board Candidates in 2016

I have suggested answers but these are certainly NOT the only answers.

1)    What are the three the most positive accomplishments approved by the DISD Board during the past five years of DISD History?  Why were they the most positive?
First - Early Childhood Education expansion.  That was long overdue and will greatly improve student achievement.
Second - Moving forward with a bond program to improve DISD schools that was also long overdue.  Too many DISD schools are in terrible condition.  However, the specifics of how this bond program was done was embarrassing.  The relative secrecy and lack of documentation surrounding the process of the work done by the Future Facilities Task Force is NOT the way DISD should run such planning. There are not even minutes to any of the meetings or lists of who attended. Even with those issues, the moving toward the discussion of the bond needs was a positive. It simply should have been handled more publicly. Here is a video documenting in questioning by former trustee Elizabeth Jones of Future Facilities Task Force Co-Chair, Isaac Faz, about the documentation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x9Aco49WP28&feature=em-share_video_user 
Three - rehiring Dr. Hinojosa. The current healing process would never have happened as quickly under anyone else. He was the right choice but needs to hear more from the public so that the right decisions can be made.  That business community segment that supported Mike Miles still has great power. Dr. Hinojosa cannot do what needs to be done alone.

2)    What are the three greatest mistakes made by the DISD Board during the past five years and why were they the worst?
First- hiring Mike Miles to be the superintendent with the least education experience of any superintendent in memory.
Second, - allowing Mike Miles to then operate in remarkable secrecy both from the Board and the public with almost no public accountability to create one of the most negative teaching environments in Texas leading to the departure of over 6,500 teachers.  This was the greatest teacher turnover in DISD History.
Third - refusing to have public presentations and accept public questions as a group regarding student achievement and the progress or lack thereof.

3)    The five years from 2006 to 2011 stand out in DISD History, why?
This was the greatest period of improvement in the graduation rate in DISD History which was accompanied by academic improvement and the lowering of the Texas/DISD Student Achievement Gap to the lowest levels in history! In 2011, for the first time in over 3 decades, the size of the graduation class was over 50% the size of the 9th grade class three years earlier! This progress led to the largest DISD graduation class in 32 years with the Class of 2013. See chart below on the Texas/DISD Student Achievement Gap: 

4)    Given this history, what should your goals be as Trustee?
Transparency (see below) and talking about the data revealed constantly so that actions can be designed to respond to the data revealed, and then be held accountable as these changes are implimented.  I would work to encourage parents at every elementary school in Dallas to study the history of Pk-8 schools both inside Dallas ISD and in the nationwide research.  I would encourage parents to decide if they want their child to attend such a Pk-8 school.  Then work to allow schools to transition to Pk-8 and close middle schools but always have some for those students who want to be in a separate middle school.
True centering on data! We cannot ignore that schools that have parents writing their child about their dreams for them, and then students writing about their own plans for the future, from 6th grade on, annually, have higher achievement and higher graduation rates.  The focus on the future works!  It also costs next to nothing compared to other academic solutions!

5)   How could this history have changed if the DISD Trustees, supporting transparency, had designed a monthly report with the 20+ most critical data items on it reporting on events inside DISD that have never been shared with the public in a timely fashion?  Such reports would include consistent measurements of student performance, student turnover and movement, and teacher movement and resignations. They would also include summaries of the most recent statewide testing. (Data in these areas given monthly would have warned Dallas of what was happening within DISD much more quickly during the damage done these past 3 years.)
See above.  This is only a small start for the many changes that would come with transparency.

6)    Would you support such transparency and a Board requirement that a monthly report be designed and mandated by the Board to encourage more public involvement in our schools?  
Absolutely!

7)   When the DISD Board is considering a major change generating public debate, would you support public debate events with each side able to present a team for open public questions in front of an audience at a very well-advertised venue?
Absolutely!

Monday, February 15, 2016

Segregation in Dallas ISD

The current debates regarding the name of John B. Hood Middle School in Dallas ISD provide a priceless time for the students to both explore history and be actively involved in the decision making process.

DISD students need to study this issue more before they make any recommendation to the school board.  A super-majority of 80+% agreement among students should be required before there is any recommendations due to the importance of such a decision. This is an issue that can be studied every year until that level of agreement is secured one way or the other.

Until then do not change any of the names on our schools.  Why are we in a rush?  This is a priceless learning experience.  Based on the debate online, it will be a discussion that is of value to the entire city of Dallas!

Students must demonstrate a good understanding of both when "Jim Crow Laws" were thriving in the south, why they existed, and their relationship to what is called the Great Migration.

Jim Crow Laws required and reinforced segregation throughout the South.  They were born after 1877 when Reconstruction ended after the Civil War. They ultimately helped create part of the conditions that drove the Great Migration from 1910 to 1970.  That is when an estimated 6 million African Americans moved north to both escape such laws and find better economic opportunity. It was two generations after slavery before the ability and motivation for such moves was common enough for the victims of Jim Crow to escape the South.

It was in 1909 that the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People was founded. The name of that organization does not appear in the Dallas Morning News Archives until 1913, and does not appear again until 1923.  Then in 1930 it begins to appear almost every year in the 1930's.  By 1940 there had been a total of  9 mentions of the NAACP in the Dallas Morning News. Within just 5 years that number was up to 22. By 1950 the work of the NAACP was being reported on almost monthly. From 1945 to 1950 there had been 55 more mentions of the NAACP!   By 1955 there were several articles each month as work toward integration accelerated.

While few Confederate names existed on school buildings anywhere in the US before 1920, by the 1930's they became more common.  The first in Dallas was Robert E. Lee Elementary in 1931, then Stonewall Jackson in 1939.  In 1954 Albert Sidney Johnson was named and the next year John B. Hood Jr. High was named.  Do you think these selected names are related to the growth in visibility of the NAACP and the push to racial integration?

In Dallas the White school board reflected the White community that overwhelmingly did not want schools to be integrated. The battle for equal rights heated up leading to the 1954 decision declaring "separate but equal" unconstitutional.

Did the political climate at the time had nothing to do with the naming of a new school after a Confederate War hero?

The chart below reflects the magnitude of the Great Migration happening from 1910 to 1970.


The Great Migration of African Americans from the South to the North
Jim Crow laws were gradually weakened with Supreme Court decisions.  Finally the Voting Rights Act of 1965 legally ended their power.  But enforcement was slow.  It was not until 1970 the full integration of public schools was becoming normal and arrived in Dallas ISD.  The chart below shows what happened in Dallas ISD. 
Dallas ISD enrollment by racial group, 1970 to 2015

In 1970 DISD was a school system with over 164,000 students, 95,000 of whom were White. DISD has never had a total enrollment that large since, and White Flight led to the current White enrollment of less than 7,500, a disproportionately high percentage of whom are attending the magnet schools, some of the best schools in the nation.
The "Great Migration" ended with the legal integration of public schools.



News articles since 2-4-16 with hundreds of comments:
Hundreds of comments have been made over the past week online as the Confederate School Name/Rename debate waged in Dallas.  It followed the two initial articles in the Dallas Morning News, the one about the planned vote in the middle school on the name, then on the results of that vote.  Multiple comments also followed an opinion piece, an editorial supporting the name changes, and many letters to the editor that were published this past Sunday.
Too many of those commenting to the above articles posted the idea that the major reason for the Civil War was not slavery.  That is not true for Texas for a multitude of reasons that are often covered in articles such as this one from the Texas Observer.     Part of that documentation is in the Declaration of Causes written and approved by Texas leaders for entry into the Civil War:

Here is a link to the full Declaration of Causes document for Texas.
Similar statements exist for most states entering the Civil War against the North.  Several of them are linked here.
From the Texas Declaration of Causes 02-02-1861

Dallas ISD must not waste this priceless learning opportunity for DISD students.
Dallas continues to be the center of a very segregated area of the US where progress has been slow. DFW media provides ample evidence of the segregation:


Normal advertisement 2-16-14 in Dallas Morning News