Monday, December 24, 2012

Did 1994 Assault Weapons Ban save thousands of children?

Child & Teen Gun Death Record in US 1979 to 2009
(Right-click and hit open link to enlarge.)

It is obvious above that during the years the Assault Weapons Ban was in effect that children's deaths by gun went down in the United States. While this correlation does not necessarily mean that the Weapons Ban was the cause for the decrease in deaths, it certainly does indicate that more research is needed.   Sadly, due to pressure from the National Rifle Association, federal funding for research related to gun violence was stopped in 1996. 
That situation has now changed. On Jan. 16, 2013, President Obama rallied the nation behind a gun control agenda and issued 23 “executive actions.”  Ultimately the most powerful may be the renewal of federal funding of research into the dynamics surrounding gun violence in the US.  
Deaths by gun are slowly surpassing automobile accidents as a leading cause of death. This has already happened in ten states.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Child Safety

Time to turn around & look at gun safety

Monday, December 17, 2012

Cutting firearm deaths of children in half!

From 1994 to 2004 firearm deaths of children and teens were almost cut in half.  
Firearm Deaths of Children & Teens, 1979-2006
Right-click above image & hit open link to enlarge.

We cannot ignore this pattern and say we are working to better protect our children from the next time!  See details about the above graph at .  We cannot ignore what it shows!

Protecting children from guns

The tragedy in Newtown Connecticut on Friday 12/14/12 was a national disaster. A disordered young 20 year old man killed his mother at home and took her semi-automatic guns to a nearby elementary school and killed 26 people, 20 of them being first graders!

We must ask how often a gun having the feature of being semi-automatic helps save the life of a child. Then we must ask how often it costs the life of a child. This Friday, if the guns used were not semi-automatic, it is very possible some of the 20 children may have lived, as well as some of the adults. The young man may not even have attempted what he did.

There was a period from 1994 to 2004 when progress in protecting children from guns in the U.S. was constant and significant.  The child death rate by guns was almost cut in half! 
Firearm Deaths of Children & Teens, 1979-2006
Right-click above image & hit open link to enlarge.
Can we ignore this pattern and say we are working to better protect our children? The chart below is another different view of similar statistics during these same general years.

To honor the memory of the children who died Friday in Newton, Connecticut we also cannot ignore the facts related in this article from Australia, and the chart below. After a massive shooting in 1996 they enacted restrictions against semi-automatic weapons and started a weapon buy-back program.  

The United States has about 32,000 gun related deaths annually, or about 10 for every 100,000 population. While car-related deaths have been more numerous in the past, that is slowly changing due to constant improvements in car safety. This changing pattern was seen by the fact that in 2009 there were already 10 states wherein the death rate by guns was higher than the death rate by cars:
Ten states with higher death rate by gun than by car
Right-click above image & open link to enlarge above chart.
Please note that while the majority of car related deaths are accidental, the large majority of gun related deaths are intentional, either suicides or homicides.

"Strength to carry on and make our country worthy of their memory."

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Klyde Warren Park & History

Klyde Warren Park rests in the center of one of the areas of Dallas most rich with history that is undocumented, but many who lived that history are still with us.
Klyde Warren Park once was part of "Little Mexico"
(Right click & hit "open link" to enlarge and/or print.)

The 1944 map above, from the Dallas Public Library, shows the area now occupied by Klyde Warren Park as it existed 68 years ago. This park is a very positive addition to our city! It's another opportunity to remember the powerful history of Dallas.  Dallas must take every chance to connect our students to their own history. Every park is such an opportunity.

Klyde Warren Park is built on land that at one time was known as "Little Mexico," the large blue area outlined above on the map.

On the other side of Pearl, northeast from Klyde Warren Park, is land that was known as "North Dallas Freedman's Town", or the "State-Thomas Neighborhood." It is the large red area in the center of the above map, almost cut in half by the Houston Texas Central Rail Road, now Central Expressway.

Many of our ancestors who lived on the land outlined in this 1944 map are still living.  We need to record their stories before all living memory of Little Mexico and North Dallas Freedman's Town is also gone - like the homes, churches, schools and stores replaced long ago.  Such research projects by students could help personal connections to history come alive!

The high traffic, high visibility, Klyde Warren Park should include celebrations and historical markers pointing to Dallas History, especially the history of the land and surrounding area. Tens of thousands of DISD students have connections to that land. Such connections help students envision their own futures in our city. They enhance educational success.  A lived connection to history helps students find the direction and energy needed to engage themselves in study toward a more positive future.

(The above map can be enlarged to study in more detail.)

Sunday, December 2, 2012

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan in Dallas

This week U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan was in Dallas. A powerful and positive Q & A was published in this mornings Dallas  Morning News at .  It is the  most encouraging thinking on education I have read in a long time. Duncan says some things that may be hard for DISD and Texas to take.

He says:
"You have to listen. I think there’s an amazing vision that the mayor and superintendent are putting together. But if it’s the mayor’s vision or the superintendent’s vision or it’s the board’s vision, frankly, I don’t think you get there. But if it is the teachers’ vision, if it is the principals’ vision, the parents’ vision or the kids’ vision — it takes a lot of time."
A book could be written on this critical issue alone. DISD must not only listen but demonstrate consistently that they are hearing what is being said, even by students, and putting it into action. If the input is not used, then why not - it takes a lot of time.

Secretary Duncan, DISD Board Chair Dr. Blackburn, and Mayor Rawlings are standing in front of the Pinkston School Archive.  It may lead to the most consistent and powerful educational vision possible, one formed from the annual feedback of former students.

Arne Duncan also said in this interview:
"... how many ninth-graders does the state have, and how many 12th-graders does the state have? I don’t have my numbers in front of me, but I think the state has something like 400,000 ninth-graders and something like 300,000 12th-graders. That’s a 100,000 spread. So every single year, this state — and it’s not unique in this challenge — but every single year, this state is losing 100,000 kids from its schools to its streets."
Secretary Duncan was correct in his numbers. The exact numbers for 2011/12 were 393,553 9th graders and 298,379 12th graders. Only 75.8% of our Texas 9th grade enrollment is reflected in our statewide 12th grade enrollment.  Here are the same enrollment comparisons for the non-magnet high schools in Dallas ISD:
Dallas ISD Comprehensive (non-magnet) High School Enrollment as of 10-23-12
(Right-click on above image & select "open link" to see larger copy.)
Notice the wonderful fact that DISD numbers are not far from the Texas State numbers.  DISD has a 12th grade enrollment of 73% of the 9th grade enrollment compared to all of Texas having 75.8%!  DISD has made monumental progress! 

Just 6 years ago this 73% number for DISD would have been only 49.3%!  DISD in 2005/06 had 14,680 9th graders, but only 7,238 12th graders! This enrollment pattern was decades old at the time! The 12th grade enrollment was only 49.3% of the 9th grade enrollment!   DISD then started monumental progress leading to the current 73% number!  For now DISD can celebrate being the most improved urban school system in the US, but the progress must continue!  Secretary Duncan was wise to point out this measurement during his visit to Dallas. It reflects very well on Dallas ISD.
However, all of Texas is not improving as fast as Dallas. In 2005/06 Texas had 392,051 9th graders but only 65% of that, or 256,799 in the 12th grade. Now the 12th grade in Texas is up to 75.8% of the 9th grade number.  This is about a 10 percentage point improvement for Texas compared with a 24 percentage point improvement for Dallas ISD.

This also points to the sad irony in Texas somehow claiming this past week in the news to have one of the 10 best graduation rates in the nation: . Texas claimed a graduation rate of 86% for the Class of 2011. The Texas Class of 2008 was claimed to have a graduation rate of 67% according to this study:

How can the Texas Class of 2011 have a graduation rate of 86% when an average of 24% of 9th grade enrollment, that became the Class of 2011, disappeared before graduation?  Only 87.7% of that 9th grade class even made it to enroll in the 10th grade!  Fourty states are not loosing more students than Texas before 12th grade! Texas is trying to pull off another "Texas Miracle" math exercise.  Such manipulation is sadly familiar. See

Arne Duncan made many very good and painful points this last week. He gives evidence of being data driven. When will Texas do the same?  There are indications that Dallas ISD may be leading the way, but only if we can continue the progress that was happening up to 2011/12.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Priceless Student Feedback

Today Secretary of Education Arne Duncan provided some priceless suggestions to Dallas ISD.  Among them he suggested that any transformation requires collaboration, with teachers, parents, principals and students having input.

He is right. DISD needs to begin to listen more actively to more people.  But most critically DISD must listen to students.

Such a priceless student feedback system has been in the works in DISD since 2005. That year over 300 8th graders wrote letters to themselves that are now waiting in a vault inside a DISD middle school for their 10-year reunion. This was the beginning of an annual letter writing event focused on the future.  That reunion, the first of many, is now planned for November of 2014.  It is only two years away. 

These former students were told in 2005 that they would be asked to volunteer to speak to current students about their recommendations for success at their reunion. The were told to expect questions such as "What would you do differently if you were 13 again?"

Consequently, this reunion will also be a priceless time for teachers and DISD administration to be in the audience listening as these former student speak. Maybe we can even set up a session only for teachers and DISD administrators to listen.  Think of the lessons that could be learned, the information from these former students as to how well their DISD education prepared them for the world.

Such an annual feedback system needs to become normal in DISD.  We must have such a system for feedback after our students have been gone a few years so they can more accurately say what they wish they had more of, or what had turned out to be of little value after leaving DISD.  

We have much to learn from our students.

Pinkston High School, Dallas, a decade leading to improvement

The following chart covers the past 15 years of enrollment history at Pinkston High School in Dallas Texas. Pinkston used to be one of the worst schools in Dallas but is now significantly improving.   More work is needed, but we can document progress.  Enlarge the following chart and print a copy for study.

A decade of enrollment numbers for Pinkston High School, Dallas Texas
Right-click on above image and hit "open link" to enlarge and/or print.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The greatest 5 years of progress in history of DISD, & what?!

Everyone agrees that Dallas ISD has just completed 5 of the most progressive years in DISD history, progress where the seeds were sewn in 2006.

Using any one of a half dozen graduation rate measurements, the graduation rate has gone up more than 10 percentage points, and more than 20 percentage points by some of those measurements!  At the same time the numbers of students taking the SAT and ACT have increased, doubling the percentage taking the ACT, and scores have not gone down. (Yes, scores are low. That is an area demanding work, but average scores are not going down as the numbers of students taking the ACT test has doubled, a definite achievement.) 
Dallas ISD Enrollment 1996-2012 demonstrating attrition and graduation rate improvements
(Right click above spreadsheet and hit "open link" to enlarge and/or print.)
Each year in the above chart there are 5 separate measurements related to student movement toward graduation. Compare the five years before 2007 with the five years since.  Notice how all but one of the measurements in the most recent 5 years since 2006/07 have been positive improvements from the previous year.  (Gray blocks are ones with no progress but a step back.) During the previous 5 years, from 2002/03 to 2006/07, only 13 of the 25 measurements were positive with 12 measurements being steps backwards.  Something major changed within DISD!! 

We must not lose this momentum!  We have the staff who can do it!  That is, we used to have them. 

DISD lost too many staff with the 1,400 staff lost due to budget cuts, and now the additional staff leaving due to crowded classrooms and other pressures hindering work on student performance within DISD.

The best teachers teach because they enjoy helping students achieve. As long as salaries and working conditions are positive enough that teachers can provide for their own family, they enjoy working to help students achieve. When that satisfaction from a job well done becomes more rare and hard to come by in a district, that is when teachers leave seeking that priceless satisfaction elsewhere in another district or school.  What is happening in DISD to keep such priceless teachers? 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Report Card to be completed for 82nd Texas Legislature

Prior to 2011 two states spent less per student on k-12 education than Texas: Utah and Nevada.

In 2011 the 82nd Texas Legislature cut funding for each student in Texas by 10.4% from 2011 to 2012, and then cut more in 2013.  Only two other states had cuts to k-12 education of the same or worse percentage of funding as Texas between 2011 and 2012: Kansas and Illinois.  Statewide many Texas districts were anticipating the cuts.  They were leaving positions vacant and unfilled before the January 2011 start of the 82nd Texas Legislature. Programs were also being cut that were considered lower priorities. It was very clear that Texas schools had been enjoying a period of great progress until 2011.  For some, such as Dallas, it had been a record setting time of improving graduation rates.  Most familiar with dropout prevention knew that was about to change. 

The following “report card” was made to document consequences from the decision of the 82nd Texas Legislature to cut $5.4 billion from education in Texas. Initial results are already evident in the CPI measurement.
82nd Texas Legislature Report Card: finishing out a decade of educational progress
(Right-click on image above and open link to see larger copy.)

The Graduation Rate and the Cumulative Promotion Index (CPI) above are calculated from the same four movements of student groups through high school: 9th to 10th, 10th to 11th, 11th to 12th and 12th to graduation. The difference is that the CPI calculation only uses these four transitions that happen within the same year by four different classes.  The Graduation Rate calculation covers these four transitions for the same class over a four year period.  Therefore the CPI is more timely and predictive than the Graduation Rate.  The CPI is not dealing with events that happened 2 and 3 years ago but is reflecting what is happening in high schools this year.
Notice how the CPI improvement has leveled off for 2011, the first classes to see effects from the cuts.
More variables related to achievement should be added to this report card, but graduation rates are probably the most critical of all measurements.  They are the most direct predictors of incarceration rates.  What price will Texas ultimately pay for this $5.4 billion “savings”? What will this Report Card for the 82nd Texas Legislature look like by 2015/16?

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Little Mexico & Klyde Warren Park

Klyde Warren Park over Woodall Rodgers Freeway looks wonderful!

Klyde Warren Park once was part of "Little Mexico"
(Right click & hit "open link" to enlarge and/or print.)
The map above shows the area of Klyde Warren Park as it existed 68 years ago.  It is certainly a very positive addition to our city!  It is another opportunity to remember the powerful history of Dallas as we move forward. 

Dallas must take every chance to connect our students to their own history. Every park is such an opportunity.  Klyde Warren Park is built on land that at one time was known as "Little Mexico," generally the large area in blue on the map.  On the other side of Pearl, northeast from Klyde Warren Park, is land that was known as "North Dallas Freedman's Town", or the "State-Thomas Neighborhood."  It is generally the large area in red. This park is an opportunity for historical markers, and hopefully much more, to record the history upon which our growing and developing city is built.

Klyde Warren Park should become a place where we, and especially our children and students, remember and celebrate our own connections to Dallas History.  Such connections help student envision their own futures in our city. They enhance educational success. They will help us to build an ever more positive future.

The original of the above map is from the digital collection at the Dallas Public Library.  No changes were made to the original other than cropping and inserting changes needed to more clearly show the current location of Klyde Warren Park, and describe what is in this map.  It is the Dallas our ancestors knew, many of whom are are still living.  We need to ask them to record their memories of this history before they also are gone.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Dallas Won't Back Down

The movie "Won't Back Down" comes out this weekend.

Having seen all the trailers available on this enticing film, (see, and having read many of the reviews, I'm planning to see it for one reason: to meditate on the power of parents working together to improve their child’s school.

Parents have awesome power in today's political climate. Their neighborhood schools, and not charter schools, should be the target for everyone. Look at what Rosemont Elementary parents have already done right here in Dallas ISD! Such involvement and transitions everywhere in each of our 230 schools will change Dallas ISD into the envy of the nation!

Every parent should put their dreams for their child into a letter to their child. Then go to school often and help it happen. Such "dream" letters need to be written every few years for a child. It's the only focus that counts as a parent.

Every neighborhood school should be facilitating such parental dreams. The mothers in these movie trailers do not seem crazy to me. The solution they apparently chose may not have been the most practical, but their ultimate goals seem to be on target.  But let's see the movie.

========= after seeing the movie =========
I've now seen the movie. It is certainly choreographed to maximize emotion. Parents demanding school improvements for their children and chanting “We will not wait!” was one such moment. Another was the presentation on prison construction planning using student performance in elementary school to project the future need. Again parents chanted “Hands off my kid!” in response to such designs on their children. Otherwise the movie was not connected to reality. (Yes, such prison planning is reality!)

The movie was idealistic, presenting a tragic school that neglected students and then a solution that is simply not credible. It deserved the “C” rating printed in the Dallas Morning News.  It did not reflect the recent change in focus by the American Federation of Teachers, the largest teachers union, to change their mission statement this summer to focus on students and their families first. Now if you see AFT members acting in any other way, remind them of their mission statement. It is powerful and positive!

We still need to be working on solutions to the inadequate performance in too many public schools, real solutions, like moving toward a k-8 centeredschool system, with actively involved, future-focused parents and students.


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Parents move students to avoid middle schools

It has been obvious for decades that the greatest loss of students within Dallas ISD, and most school districts, happens from the 9th to the 10th grade. Most dropouts never made it to the 10th grade. But in Dallas that has wonderfully changed but another loss is taking its place.  While our officially calculated dropout rates have gone down, more students are leaving at an earlier grade, before they enter into the graduation rate calculation.  While DISD is setting graduation rate records every year, it is also loosing record numbers of 5th graders before they enter middle school in the 6th grade!
Dallas ISD Student Loss Centers, transitions 5th to 6th & 9th to 10th
(Right-click and hit "open link" to enlarge and/or print.)
Parents are removing their children from DISD between 5th and 6th grade to avoid DISD middle school, as is reflected in the graph above.  Notice how the blue line goes down.  That represents the decrease in the percentage of 5th graders who actually make it to 6th grade.  Now over 11% of 5th graders are missing in the 6th grade. The solution is not as obvious as the other transition.  This is a transition initiated by parents facing middle schools with terrible reputations, most DISD middle schools!

Dallas must begin to indicate they are paying closer attention to the research which is all pointing the same direction, toward K-8 schools as the answer.  (See the research at  The K-8 alternative is more popular with most parents. Student achievement stays higher and the multiple other problems in middle school are lessened with K-8 schools.  A community can focus more intensely on their local school and the PTA will be a much more vital organization in each school.  There will be less need for busing of students as attendance zones will be more compact.

Yes, this will be a very gradual transition but parents need to demand it.  It can happen school by school.  Ultimately it will help guide future building in DISD.  We do not need more middle schools!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Hispanic Student Progress in Dallas ISD: Closing the Gap!

August 13, 2012 the Dallas Independent School District released 18 charts documenting the wonderful progress in DISD closing the gap with all the other schools in Texas.  From 2007 to 2011 DISD students improved all their graduation rate numbers at about twice the rate as the rest of the students in Texas.  But the best news is that the Hispanic students in DISD improved at the best rate of all student groups! 

Hispanic Student Progress, Dallas ISD, 2007-2011
(Right-click on above image to enlarge and/or print)
More details about this wonderful progress can be seen on the DISD web site, just click here.

(A note about data accuracy: Anyone who has read my blogs knows I am very critical of the TEA graduation rate calculations, the same calculations used in these statistics showing student progress.  While I continue to be critical, the formulas I use in the calculations I trust show the same progress that the TEA data shows.  Thus I am certain the progress is happening as reported.  No matter how you calculate graduation rate, we are going forward by almost identical percentages!  That is what counts!  This is not the place to continue the accuracy debate.  The progress is real!)

Dallas has much to be proud of, especially among the 54% of our 106,000 Hispanic students who are classified as LEP.  In 2007 the LEP completion rate for Dallas ISD was 8 percentage points below the state of Texas.  By 2011 this rate was 4.5 percentage points ABOVE the state of Texas!  This demonstrates the power of a hiring focus on bi-lingual staff, and many other factors, that have helped this success happen in Dallas.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Dallas ISD: 34 Noisy Schools & 48 Quiet Schools

In 1978 I replaced old windows in my home with double pane windows. I immediately noticed my home was quieter. I could no longer hear the occasional siren in the distance. Yes, I have continued to save hundreds of dollars annually in utility bills these past 34 years, but the change to a more quiet home was immediate!

In July of 2012 I saw renovations happening in a nearby DISD school.  All the windows were being replaced.  It was good to see.  But then I looked more closely.  They were installing single pane windows!  I was amazed! 

I immediately began contacting people.  They were all likewise amazed. Over 30 years after double pane windows had become normal for energy conservation and noise abatement, DISD was still putting single pane windows into a school!  The amazement was universal.  Not a single person I contacted knew this was happening, even DISD Board members!

It was discovered that 82 DISD schools are having windows replaced from the 2008 Bond Program.  Of those, 48 are having double pane windows installed.  But the remaining 34 are schools in "quadrants of the city judged to have high glass breakage."  They are only having single pane windows installed.  The additional expense of replacing broken dual pane windows was given as the reason!

I wonder which "quadrants" have students that are most often distracted in class by sirens?

What is the extra expense of replacing a broken double pane window compared to replacing a single pane window?  Is the difference greater than the monthly utility cost savings from double pane windows in a school?  Is it greater than the improved student achievement from a quieter classroom?  Is it greater than the value of having a stronger window to protect students from anything hitting a window?  Where are these 34 schools located?

I attended the 8-23-12 DISD Board Meeting and spoke before the board about this issue.  Everyone was amazed to hear about these 34 schools.

How will Dallas respond?  Will Dallas allow single pane window installations to continue in the rest of those 34 schools that may not yet have been renovated?

As more information unfolds it will be posted here.

============= update 9-6-12 ============

Today I received in the mail the response to my open records request to DISD.  It appears that the single pane schools are evenly spread throughout the city, and among schools that have roughly the same poverty levels in all schools.   My first concerns have been unfounded. Children appear to be treated equally no matter what their income levels.  In a spreadsheet I have entered a 1 or 2 for single or double pane windows.  I also entered the Free and Reduced Lunch percentage for each of these schools.  Then the lists were separated and the difference was found to be minimal: an average of 84.6% free or reduced lunch percentage in the schools with newly installed single panes and an average of 85.3% free or reduced lunch program for those schools which received the double pane windows.  The distribution is good and appears to be virtually equal for poverty levels throughout Dallas.

The other concerns remain:
1) the energy that will continue to be lost in the single pane schools, and
2) the additional noise students will hear from outside the schools with only single pane windows.

Here is a list of the schools that had their windows replaced as part of the 2008 Bond Program. The numbers do not match what I was originally told as reflected in the title of this blog.  If you see an error in the following list, ESPECIALLY if your school is listed one way or the other and it is wrong, please let me know:  It is rather easy to check new windows and verify if they are double or single pane.  Just ask around and finding a person who can demonstrate should be easy.
Here are the schools which received single pane windows:

Adams, Bryan High School Madison, James High School
Allen, Gabe P.1 Elementary Marsalis, Thomas L. Elementary
Bayles Elementary Moseley, Nancy Elementary
Blanton, Annie W. Elementary Peabody, George Elementary
Carr, C.F. Elementary Reilly, Martha T. Elementary
City Park Elementary Reinhardt Elementary
Dorsey, Julius Elementary Roosevelt, F.D. High School
Dunbar, Paul L. Elementary Runyon, John W. Elementary
Gaston, W.H. Middle School Seagoville H. S. High School
Hall, Lenore Kirk Elementary Sequoyah Elementary
Ireland, John Elementary Stockard, L.V. Middle School
Jackson, Stonewall Elementary Urban Park Elementary
Johnston, Albert S. Elementary White, W.T. High School
Lagow, Richard Elementary Wilson, Woodrow High School
Long, J.L. Middle School Callejo, MS Middle School
Longfellow, H.W. Middle School Obama MLA
Macon, B.H. Elementary

Here are the schools which received double pane windows:

Anderson, William Elementary North Dallas High School
Blair, W.A. Elementary Pease, Elisha M. Elementary
Bryan, John Neely Elementary Rice, Charles Elementary
Burleson, Rufus C. Elementary Roberts, Oran M. Elementary
Bushman W.W. Elementary Russell, Clinton P. Elementary
Caillet, F.P. Elementary Seagoville Elementary
Cochran, Nancy Elementary Seagoville M. S. Middle School
Cuellar, Sr., Gilbert Elementary South Oak Cliff High School
Dade, Billy Earl Middle School Stemmons, Leslie A. Elementary
Dealey, George B.(PK-6) Elementary Storey, Boude Middle School
Ervin, J.N. Elementary Sunset High School
Franklin, Benjamin Middle School Terry, T.G. Elementary
Hill, Robert T. Middle School Titche, Edward Elementary
Holmes, Oliver W. Middle School Travis, William B. Middle School
Lee, Umphrey Elementary Walnut Hill Elementary
Marcus, Herbert Elementary Webster, Daniel Elementary
May, Jose Elementary Wilmer Hutchins High School
Miller, William B. Elementary Winnetka Elementary
Mills, Roger Q. Elementary Zumwalt, Sarah Middle School
Again, if you see any errors in these lists and any schools do not have the windows indicated, please let me know.  Double pane windows, if they are of as good a quality as the windows I installed in my home in 1978, should create significantly quieter classrooms compared to single pane windows.

If you would like a copy of the spreadsheet please email me at bbetzen@aol and say you want the single/double pane spreadsheet.

Bill Betzen  9-6-12

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Dallas Mosquito Outbreak due to Budget Cuts? Uncertain.

(Since posting the following I have received information that adds to this many other reasons that contribute to this crisis, and places very credible doubts as to the following report on Mr. Becker being a significant factor.  See details below following post.  This does NOT mean the people involved in gathering the following data were less than very well intentioned.  8-24-12 @ 5 PM Bill Betzen)

How the mosquito outbreak was caused by Dallas gov not replacing progressive city entomologist who retired

by Amy Martin on Tuesday, August 21, 2012 at 5:12pm ·
FYI from AMY MARTIN Passing along info I received on how the mosquito outbreak was caused by Dallas government not replacing progressive city entomologist who retired and how he's back now! I've attached a 2010 news article about Mr Becker.

from Mike McBride - the real story behind the West Nile outbreak

For more than four decades, the City of Dallas employed a degreed entomologist named Will Becker, with a team working under him whose sole responsibility was to control the mosquito population in the Dallas metro area. They accomplished this with the proactive, preventative, cost effective, and organic method of keeping urban bodies of water (ponds, drainage ditches, stagnant creeks, unkempt swimming pools) stocked with schools of Gambusia minnows - a small fish that eats mosquito larvae.

This method was so successful that for 45 years, the need to spray chemical insecticide to control mosquitoes in the Dallas area never arose.

After decades of tireless service to the city, Will Becker retired a couple of years ago. In its infinite wisdom, the City of Dallas decided to dissolve Mr. Becker's department as a cost cutting measure rather than hire a qualified replacement. So the practice of keeping mosquito-friendly bodies of water stocked with larvae eating fish stopped.

Last year's extreme drought dried up nearly all of the urban bodies of water in which mosquitoes thrive, and of course, the abundant rainfall in Dallas during the early part of this year refilled all of those ponds, creeks, ditches, and unkempt pools. An ecosystem in which mosquitoes thrive was reintroduced to the Dallas area, but with the notable absence of the Gambusia minnows that eat their larvae.

The result? The Dallas mosquito population exploded uncontrollably, an outbreak of West Nile virus ensued, 16 people are now dead, hundreds more are extremely sick. Millions of dollars have been spent on the reactive, environmentally threatening method of controlling mosquitoes with chemical spray, and Dallasites routinely wake up to the acrid, pungent scent of insecticide in the air.

Realizing their error in judgment, City of Dallas officials have begged Will Becker out of retirement, his team has been reassembled, and the tedious process of restocking urban bodies of water with minnows who eat mosquito larvae is underway.

Hopefully, when Mr. Becker re-retires, the city will exercise better judgment in its evaluation of the need for his department to continue its operations. As far as I'm concerned, the people who decided to dissolve it in the first place are guilty of murdering 16 people.

How do I know all this? Will Becker is my uncle - my mom's brother. And if you're a Dallasite scared of being bit by a mosquito and tired of inhaling pesticide spray, he's about to be your hero, though he may never get the public recognition he deserves (and frankly, he's a humble man who doesn't want the notoriety.)

One of the saddest elements of this story is that you're hearing it from a South Texas sportscaster on Facebook, and not from a Dallas news outlet. Doesn't say much for the alleged "journalists" who are employed to keep you apprised of such things, or for the spineless city officials who want to keep the truth behind the West Nile problem hidden from citizens who have the right to know about it. you know.

Article from long ago about Will Becker
and his work to keep us healthy
(Right-click and hit "open link" to enlarge and/or print.)

===== Fact Checking by Bill Betzen ======

This article is posted here with the permission of Amy Martin at the  The article has been spreading online.  

I emailed Eric Nicholson, who wrote the article inserted above with Will's photo.  He now works for the Dallas Observer.  He emailed me back saying he remembers Will Becker and is following up on this story.  Regarding Will Becker I found this article with his name and Dallas City employment verified on it regarding the minnows he uses:

A fascinating discussion of this article and related details is on Facebook at!/notes/amy-moonlady-martin/how-the-west-nile-problem-was-caused-by-dallas-not-replacing-progressive-city-en/10151029919909163

I have located a Mike McBride who is a South Texas sportscaster.  I've sent a message to ask if he wrote the original article above.

According to a 8-2-12 news report, Gambusia Minnows are in short supply in Tarrant County: .  What is that situation in Dallas County?

Update 8-24-12 @ 5 PM: Today I spoke with another entomologist who very convincingly gave me many other reasons, mostly related to local climate change, for this crisis unrelated to the minnow population which has apparently been maintained both before and after Will Becker was a Dallas City employee. I no longer believe that the minnow population issue is more than a side issue that does not account for the extent of the current crisis. 

An article has been posted this evening by the Dallas Morning News at .  I am unable to locate any information that indicates this article is less than factually correct.   It appears the information was simply mis-interpreted about the importance of the minnows and the connections with Will's retirement.  Many other factors were involved.

If anyone sees any errors above, please email me at with the sources of the correct data so corrections can be posted here. At this time I think we may have the complete story as now posted.

8-24-12  5:00 PM
Bill Betzen

The American Federation of Teachers New Mission Statement

The AFT approved a new "mission statement" for its union, the first revision in several decades, at this summers convention. Here it is in its entirety:
"The American Federation of Teachers is a union of professionals that champions fairness; democracy; economic opportunity; and high-quality public education, health care, and public services for our students, their families, and our communities. We are committed to advancing these principles through community engagement, organizing, collective bargaining, and political activism, and especially through the work our members do."
Wondering what the previous version stated?
"The mission of the American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO, is to improve the lives of our members and their families; to give voice to their legitimate professional, economic, and social aspirations; to strengthen the institutions in which we work; to improve the quality of the services we provide; to bring together all members to assist and support one another; and to promote democracy, human rights, and freedom in our union, in our nation and throughout the world."
What do you make of the difference?

I think it is a wonderful change. It mentions our students!  Why else are teachers in the classroom?  Such a change should make a difference.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Dallas ISD improving faster than Texas!

This week a wonderful set of reports were released by Dallas ISD regarding student achievement and graduation rates since 2007.  The first chart below is for all DISD students. It shows Dallas ISD is improving at more than twice the rate of Texas!

Dallas ISD Completion Rates compared with Texas 2007-2011
(Right-click on above image and select "open link" to enlarge and/or print.)
 What used to be a 13.4 percentage point difference between DISD and Texas in 2007  shrank to only a 4.4 percentage point difference in 2011. 

Below are more specific reports for the different population groups who make up DISD.

Dallas ISD Completion Rates for African-American Students 2007-2011
(Right-click on above image and select "open link" to enlarge and/or print.)

Dallas ISD Completion Rates for Hispanic Students 2007-2011
(Right-click on above image and select "open link" to enlarge and/or print.)
Mention must be made of the wonderful progress for our Limited English Proficiency students in Dallas ISD, reflected in the chart below.  The progress has been so positive that DISD is now almost 5 percentage points better than the state of Texas!  We have much to celebrate!
Dallas ISD Completion Rates for LEP (Limited English Proficiency) students 2007-2011
(Right-click on above image and select "open link" to enlarge and/or print.)

Dallas ISD Completion Rates for Female Students 2007-2011
(Right-click on above image and select "open link" to enlarge and/or print.)

Dallas ISD Completion Rates for Male Students 2007-2011
(Right-click on above image and select "open link" to enlarge and/or print.)
Dallas has much to celebrate with these reports, but the progress must continue.  We must continue to improve.  (Copies of the above charts and more are still available online as on 3-15-14 at
Go to the bottom of that page for a link to a 12 page slide show with all of the above charts an a few additional one.)

The above reports are from data that is already 15 months old.  All of this progress happened just before the current $5.4 billion in cuts to Texas schools by the 2011 Texas Legislature began to take effect.  We must now collect current and future data and fill out this Texas 2011 Legislature Report Card below as we watch what is happening in our schools.  Now tens of thousands fewer staff are working and they have over 100,000 more students.
82nd Texas Legislature Report Card 2012-1016
(Right-click and select "open link" to enlarge or print above chart.)

The Cumulative Promotion Index (CPI) is the most timely and predictive of the above measurements as it only uses data from the current school year.  All other measurements go back 4 years. With the CPI there are already strong indications that the progress documented on the charts above is about to end.  The CPI has been improving wonderfully for DISD until now.  See the chart below:

Cumulative Promotion Index improvement from previous year
Dallas ISD and Texas

(Right-click and select "open link" to enlarge or print above chart.)
In 2009 and 2010 Texas received almost $4 billion in Federal Stimulus Funds for education that allowed thousands of teachers to be hired. That was almost certainly one of the factors in the improvements documented in the chart above for 2009 and 2010.  Then the staff cuts began to take effect in 2011 and have continued in 2012.

One factor that may continue to improve attendance in Texas Schools is the new deportation waiver program now starting.  It should encourage students to remain in school, and/or return to school, to finish their education.  It may counter some of the negative effects of loosing these tens of thousands of teachers.  Hopefully the improvements will return.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Graduation Rate Dangers, Texas & Dallas

The progress appears to be ending in both Dallas ISD and in all Texas public schools since 2011 and the education cuts. 
Cumulative Promotion Index improvement from the previous year in Texas & Dallas
from 2006 to 2011
(Right-click on above image to enlarge and/or print.)
The graph above shows similar annual improvement patterns for both DISD and all of Texas.  The only difference is that Dallas ISD improved more each year since 2006 than the rest of Texas!

By 10/20/10 a total of $3,978,383,814 in State Fiscal Stabilization funds had been awarded to Texas to be invested in education. It was a factor in the 2009 and 2010 improvements seen in this graph.  Then the loss of thousands of teachers started in 2011 when that year's Texas Legislature cut $5.4 billion from Texas education funds. The children counted the end of October 2011 were in more crowded classrooms, and it appears that the student numbers in those classrooms had stopped improving.  Those were the students numbers used in calculating the Cumulative Promotion Index (CPI) for 2010-2011.  The 2010/11 CPI almost stopped the improvements from previous years, but was not yet a negative number.

The loss of teachers due to budget continued and by this November of 2012 we will know if the 2011-2012 CPI goes up or down from last year.

The Cumulative Promotion Index (CPI) is the most timely and predictive of the graduation rate measurements.  It only uses student enrollment figures from within the current calendar year, unlike other graduation rate measurements that spread out over as much as four years.  The CPI includes the movements of four groups: that year's 9th graders to the next year's 10th grade, that year's 10th grade to the next year's 11th grade, that year's 11th grade to next year's 12th grade, and that year's 12th graders who make it to graduation that year.  This gives a more timely measurement that better reflects what is happening in the school that year.

The enrollment data and CPI calculations used in the above chart come from two similar charts, one for Texas and one for Dallas.  You can find the chart for Texas at the bottom of the posting at .  The chart for Dallas from which the same CPI measurements were taken can be found at .  The data source for enrollment data used for both Texas and Dallas is the Texas Education Agency Reports Page at .

Pray that the enrollment data secured at the end of October will show CPI improvements for both Dallas, and all of Texas. The progress in student achievement must continue!  (Note: Texas statewide data is not available to the public until March of 2013 so that will delay the calculations for Texas.)

Friday, August 10, 2012

DISD & Texas: Boy-Girl distribution-by-grade compared

The following charts are created from enrollment data for DISD and all of Texas from the TEA web site reporting page at .  Go to Enrollment Reports under Student Reports in the left column on that page.
Boy/Girl Distribution Dallas ISD 2011/12
(Right-click on image, click "open link" to enlarge or print.)
In the above chart for Dallas ISD, notice how the boy/girl percentages flip between the 9th and 10th grade. The slight male majority provided by mother nature is lost as more boys drop out. However, this chart shows much less of a boy/girl ratio imbalance than the chart that would have been created for the enrollment in 2004/05 when the senior class had 8.2% more girls in it than boys. The above chart has only has 1.9% more girls than boys in the 12th grade. The 8.2% difference for the Class of 2005 would not have fitted on this chart, as well as other more extreme differences for other grades in 2004/05.
Boy/Girl Distribution all Texas Schools 2011/12
(Right-click on image, click "open link" to enlarge or print.)
Study the differences in these two charts. DISD is doing better than the rest of Texas in eliminating the large differences in the 9th grade, but then DISD still looses many more boys before graduation than the rest of Texas.  DISD is loosing boys at a more rapid rate in the transition between 8th grade and 10th grade.

This issue will be the topic of a Dallas Morning News Editorial on 8/11/12. 

Friday, August 3, 2012

Dallas ISD Progress Increasing Male Graduation Rate

Dallas ISD went from a 9th grade enrollment that had 5.4% MORE boys than girls in 2004/05 to one that was only 2.9% more boys by 2011/12. Again, this was in the 9th grade.  Boys have historically had a more difficult time passing out of the 9th grade, but as the 9th grade bulge disappeared, this difference has gone down.

The boy/girl ratios have always flipped on the way to graduation. The 5.4% more 9th grade boys disappeared in 2005 to become 8.2% fewer boys at graduation, a 13.6% difference between 9th and 12th grade in 2005.  That 13.6% 9th grade to 12th grade flip in 2004/05 has now shrunk to only a 4.8% flip in 2011/12.

During these same 7 years, 2005-2012, DISD 12th grade enrollment went from 8.2% FEWER boys than girls, to only 1.9% fewer boys with the Class of 2012! That is real progress in helping all of our students graduate! Go DISD!

Now the boy/girl division is greatest in elementary school!  Does it really deserve that much attention in high school? 
Female/Male Student Distribution by Grade in Dallas ISD 2011-12 School Year.
(Right-click on above image, then click "open link," to enlarge and/or print.)
The above chart shows the difference in the 2011/12 school year, grade by grade, between the percentage of female students (blue) and male students (red). The same snapshot taken in 2004/05 would have been very different, not even fitting on this graph due to the 8.2 percentage point 12th grade difference that would replace the much lower 1.9 percentage point difference now.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Texas Birth Rate dropping faster than U.S. Birth Rate.

While the number of births in the City of Dallas dropped 11.5% from 2007 to 2010, the number of births in Texas dropped by 5.6%.  For Texas this was a drop from 17.0 births per thousand to only 15.3 births per thousand population.  See data at where it shows that only 385,746 babies were born in Texas in 2010.  Since there are multiple indications that immigration into Texas has slowed down, it is very possible Texas will not have enough first graders in 2016 to go above the 2011-12  first grade enrollment record of 392,276.  The 2012-13 first grade enrollment may set a new record for Texas, but birth rates indicate that 2012-13 enrollment may remain the record for the next several years, unless immigration reductions are not as significant as some estimates say.

From 2007 to 2010 the birth rate per 1,000 population for the entire U.S dropped from 14.3 to 13.5, the lowest birth rate in a century for the U.S..  While the Texas birth rate dropped 1.7 percentage points, from 17.0 to 15.3, the U.S. dropped .8 percentage points, half as much as the drop in Texas.  (See )   If this rate of change in Texas continues, Texas will achieve the same low birth rate of the rest of the US within a few years.  It is even possible that by now, 2012, Texas may have already dropped below a replacement birth rate and is below a 14% birth rate.

If you googled news for "birth rate" on 7-29-12 there were over 52 hits within the previous 48 hours.  Here is an example of one of the headlines: "Birth Rate Plunges, Projected To Reach Lowest Level In Decades."

11-18-12 update:  Googling "birth rate" today showed that two weeks ago multiple headlines reflected that the US now has the lowest recorded birth rate in history.  The replacement rate required for a stable population is 2.1 babies per woman.  The current birth rate is 1.9 and therefore below the replacement rate.