Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Dallas students have no time to be waiting for Superman

Dr. Hinojosa will be staying in Dallas.  That is good.  If he can continue, and maybe even accelerate, the progress of his first five years, he may achieve that status of "Superman." 
Right click on above image to enlarge or print.
Graph is from .
But Dr. Hinojosa knows that the real super heroes are our students.  It is the students who do the needed work to achieve graduation, often with honors while living in poverty with very difficult family situations. DISD must motivate and support them. With an ever increasing transparency as to what is happening within DISD, combined with an active district-wide focus by students on their own futures, DISD will see this progress continue.

Our students have no time to wait for a super hero. Their future is being formed now! Progress must happen now. There can be no "waiting for Superman."

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Dallas Mexican American Historical League (DMAHL): 2010 Texas State Fair Exhibit & Presentations

On 9-25-10 an exceptionally positive presentation was given at the DMAHL exhibit in the Nature & Science Museum on the State Fair Grounds. The first four Hispanic members of the DISD school board spoke of the individual years they served on the board during the years since 1969.  It was an exceptionally powerful exchange of ideas and history.  This was the first time these four pioneers had ever all sit down together to discuss this shared history as DISD School Board members. In addition to being a reflection of DISD history, this was a powerful affirmation of growing up Hispanic and pushing for equal rights, a process still evolving.

Below is the schedule for the next few weeks of the Texas State Fair for DMAHL presentations, including today's presentations and the names of the speakers. All presentations are being video-taped for the archives of the Dallas Mexican American Historical League, and hopefully will be available to the public through the web site now under construction. These State Fair presentations are open to the public and scheduled on the second floor of the Nature and Science Museum at Fair Park, near the DMAHL exhibit. More exhibit details are at .

Dallas Mexican American Historical League
Speaker Forums - 2010 State Fair
Crozier Tech High: The Mexican American Experience 1940's to 1970's

Sept 24, 2010, Sat. - 1pm DISD Historical Reflections
Former School Board Members
Trini Garza 1969-1970, 1991-1994
Roberto Medrano 1974-1986
Rene Castilla 1986-2005
Jose Plata 1995-2001

Sept 30th, Thurs - 1pm 1940's – The Greatest Generation – Remembering Crozier Life -
Our men leave to war
1940's Alumni
Philip Revillas
Anita N. Martinez
John Zapata Gonzales

October 3rd, Sun – 1pm The Tri Ethnic Committee 1971 Desegregation Court Order
Rene Martinez
Trini Garza
Frank Hernandez

Oct 7th, Thur – 1pm 1950's – The Silent Majority – Tech guidance counselors created the workforce
1950's Alumni
Jerry Maldonado
Robert Miramontes
Pedro Aguirre
Cipriano Munoz
Rev. Isabel Gomez
Rafael Gomez

Oct 9th, Sat – 1pm Mike Gomez – Pursuing acting “Milagro Beanfield”

Oct 14th, Thur – 1pm 1960's – The Baby Boomers – The Rebel Wolves/Civil Rights – Vietnam
1970's – The “Me” Generation – Crozier Closes,  Trade vs Technology
1960's & 1970's Alumni
Mary Bocanegra
Gloria Velasquez
Frances Rizo
Tom Lazo
Armando Esquivel
Richard Medrano
Alejandro Oballo
Luis Sepulveda
Johnny Moa

October 16th
The History of The Bill Harrod Church
Elsa Cadena
Olga Uribe
Benita Villa

October 17th
My Time with Jack Ruby
Richard “ Chick” Ramirez Tech Alumni

Friday, September 24, 2010

No Las Vegas Gamble

While we are in the middle of the Michael Hinojosa job application for superintendent in Las Vegas, one thing is certain, most students in both Dallas and Las Vegas are not watching. What are students worried about? Their interests go to the millions of issues created by social networks and advertising media that occupy the evenings and weekends of our children: video games, movies, purchases, passing time with friends and family, and occasionally some study. 

Our goal as teachers is to tilt those millions of interests so that school work and study gain in popularity. Without a more realistic vision of their futures by our students, that will never happen.

It is not a gamble to spend more energy and time focusing our students onto their own lives 10 years into the future. Until that future vision is more real, until students can easily and credibly talk about it by the time they are finishing middle school, cities like Dallas and Las Vegas will both continue to have only about half of their students graduating high school within 4 years.

Hopefully somewhere, someday, a superintendent will cut these dropout rates in half within 6 years. It will only be done using some of the methods from the School Archive Project.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Las Vegas, Clark County School District , & Dr. Hinojosa

What is happening in Las Vegas carries some lessons for the School Archive Project.

Clark County School District has been as manipulative and misleading as any school district in the public reporting of their dropout rates! As recently as 2-26-10 they have publicly claimed
( ): “The overall dropout rate for ninth through twelfth grade students in the Clark County School District (CCSD) has improved for the second consecutive year, down to 4.6 percent in 2008-09 from 5.8 percent in 2007-08.”

The real dropout rates are much closer to 46%!

A long history of similar manipulative communications in Dallas ISD have blogs repeatedly accusing Dr. Hinojosa as being responsible for dropout rate disasters that plagued DISD long before he came in 2005.  The real DISD dropout rates were simply never made public. Still, since 2005, significant progress has been made within Dallas ISD as reflected in the graph at .

It is strongly recommended that the finalist chosen for the superintendent position demand that Clark County School District clearly communicate their real dropout numbers to the public. They should demand this before they accept the position. It will lead to the greatest progress possible in Clark County and will help them avoid the groundless, mindless criticism that Dr. Hinojosa is receiving on Dallas blogs.

Once such dropout rate transparency is given, the power and progress of the School Archive Project can much more easily be proven. The power of focusing a student into full ownership of their own history and future will be seen.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

School Archive Project starting at Pinkston High School in Dallas

The morning of 9-11-10, School Board Trustee Eric Cowan, Pinkston Principal Norma Villegas, DISD Superintendent Dr. Michael Hinojosa, and Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert  posed together before they boarded a bus to knock on doors and bring back students who had not yet returned to school.  They are standing in front of the School Archive, a 540-pound vault bolted to the floor in the Pinkston High School lobby a few weeks earlier.  It is part of a 10-year time-capsule and class reunion/mentoring project that is helping more students graduate through a constant reminder of their own plans for the future. This will be the first year for the School Archive Projects starting at both Pinkston and Edison. 

Here are the instructions for starting a School Archive Project that were shared with Edison Middle School staff, which are, with a few changes for 4 years in a high school, the same 8 steps shared with Pinkston staff:

1. All students and parents write a letter the first month of school. The first meetings with parents will involve a description of the School Archive Project and the need for them to write a letter to their child about their dreams for their child. They should write stories from their family history providing the roots from which they are sending their child into the world, as well as their dreams and hopes for their child. They should write about how they are willing to help their child achieve these goals. This letter may someday be a priceless possession for their child, and even their grand children, and great grand children. It will be a document for the family history just as the letters their children will write may also become valuable family history documents. These parental letters are then used by students to write their own letters to themselves in Language Arts classes about their plans for the future.  Such letters will help students focus on their critical long term goals.

2. Both these letters, the parent's letter and the student's letter, are then placed together into one envelope. Each student seals their envelope and places their name and home address on it. These envelopes are placed into the School Archive, 530-pound vault, bolted to the floor in the school lobby in a location passed by all students many times each day.

3. These envelopes stay in the vault during the middle school years, until the last month of 8th grade, just before students leave for high school. Hopefully what these letters represent is a common topic of conversation during the middle school years. Teachers may use the existence of this letter, and the plans for future letters and the eventual Class Reunion, in times where future focus and motivation may be needed to help a student focus on work.

4. The letters are pulled from the vault the last month of 8th grade, returned to the students, to be used to write a second set of letters by both parents and students. Their dreams and life goals are updated to focus 10-years into the future. Both new letters are then placed into another self-addressed envelope.

5. This time the students themselves place their envelopes onto the shelf for their class inside the School Archive Vault. This happens on “Archiving Day,” a day at the end of 8th grade when 8th grade students pose with the class in which they wrote their letters for a photo. They stand together, in front of the School Archive Vault, holding their letter. After the photo they place the letter into the vault themselves. They know they will receive their letters back as they return for their 10-year 8th grade class reunion.

6. They each receive two copies of the photo taken that day, one for them and one for their parents. On the back of the photo are the details of the Archive Project including the estimated dates and details for their 10-year 8th grade class reunion.
7. It is recommended that the 10-year reunions happen the week of Thanksgiving. Then the current students will have 6 months to digest what they hear before they write their own final 10-year letters focusing 10 years into their own future. A school tradition has been established.

8. The details on the back of the photo include the fact that, at the Class 10-year Reunion, they will also be invited to speak with the then current 8th grade classes. They will be asked to talk about their recommendations for success. They should be prepared for questions from the decade younger students such as:  "What would you do differently if you were 13 again?"