Sunday, December 28, 2014

Dallas ISD Climate Survey, November 2014, a worsening crisis!

Today’s Dallas Morning News editorial at  is a mathematical embarrassment for the Dallas Morning News and the city of Dallas.  The DISD online publication, The Hub, like the Dallas Morning News, claims the most recent climate survey is a sign of progress.  See . 

claim that this climate survey is a sign of progress can only be done if the record numbers of DISD teachers who are resigning in growing numbers, constantly breaking annual turnover records, are ignored.  Teachers are not even waiting for the end of the year, or winter break, to leave!  They are now leaving during this school year at a rate of about 11 teachers separating each school day! 

DISD lost over 2,241 teachers in the year leading up to the 11-1-14 to 11-16-14 survey. It can safely be presumed that the 2,241+ teachers who left the year before this survey probably represented some of the most negative comments on last year’s climate survey. With over 2,241 new teachers to replace them, why was the increase in positive responses less than 300, less than 1/7
th of the number of new teachers?

Would you not expect more positive responses from new hires if there were no negative factors in the district environment?  Did the 2,241 new teachers turn NEGATIVE that fast in their opinion of DISD?   Are more tenured teachers who were positive in the survey last year now turning negative to make up for last year’s negative responses among the 2,241+ teachers who left?  

Somewhere there are over 1,900 current DISD teachers who were not negative last year, or are new to DISD and already negative before their first year is up.

This climate survey is NOT a positive reflection of improvements in DISD when such massive teacher turnover is still happening.  When positive responses to a climate survey are only increasing at rate that is a tiny fraction, about one seventh, of the recorded teacher turnover, DISD under Mike Miles remains an evolving disaster!

See page 17 on the DISD Data Packet for 2014/15 Planning, online at to see the 28.5% turnover rate last year.   See turnover history and current teacher turnover numbers in the 30% range at .

Thursday, December 25, 2014

"Educating all students for success" - the mission of DISD?

Today The Hub republished an article from last month.  It's about the financial improvement of DISD.  Below is the chart they included.  My comments are inserted on the chart:

A tiny fraction of the Fund increase could have eliminated the need for any overcrowded classrooms in DISD whatsoever!  Below is the history of the DISD Fund Balance since 1993:

This is a 19 year history of the DISD Fund Balance
Notice how for at least 19 years the fund balance was never above $120 million.  Now we are allowing classrooms to remain overcrowded so that DISD can have a fund balance that is over $340 million.   Why?  Has the mission of DISD changed?

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Parents, students & teachers speak out 12-18-14 to DISD Trustees

The 12-19-14 editorial in the Dallas Morning News about not letting the Home Rule Charter District debate die was continuing the distraction from the current crisis in DISD that it appears this "home rule" idea was designed to achieve!   It is trying to avoid talking about the many issues inside DISD that parents, students, and teachers are crying out to the school board about.  These issues need attention!  The crisis is growing.

The 12-18-14 Dallas ISD Monthly Board Meeting was a powerful reflection of parents, students, and teachers working to restore integrity inside our school system.  THE MORNING NEWS VIRTUALLY IGNORED THEIR TESTIMONY!  The video of the meeting where this progress in community engagement is visible can be seen at     

Go down that page to the board meeting for Thursday, December 18, 2014. 

Click on the “View Video” link for that meeting and go to the 56 minute mark on the tape where the public testimony starts. What follows is a powerful affirmation of the power of public involvement!   During most of these 20+ speakers there were an additional 70 people standing in support of each speaker.

The first speaker, Amy Lee, is a parent who gives a very good summary of the issues addressed by most speakers in one way or another.  Every speaker made additions.

A powerful series of first person testimonies followed, by parents, students, and teachers about the evils of TEI (the teacher evaluation system) and the resulting testing fixation in DISD.  (Again, home rule is a distraction from these issues we need to address that have nothing to do with home rule!)

At 1 hour 21 minutes into the tape possibly the most powerful and terrifying testimony given was started by Elizabeth Akin, a History teacher for the past decade at Greiner Middle School.  She speaks of students being tremendously stressed by testing.  

As she spoke I asked myself: WILL IT TAKE A CHILD COMMITTING SUICIDE before DISD TRUSTEES OR THE MORNING NEWS realize the dangers of this testing fixation!

The next testimony immediately following this powerful presentation by a teacher was a junior at Erma Rangel. WOW!  She was an exceptionally perceptive and articulate student who received the loudest applause and affirmation of the evening!

Similar powerful witness from other parents and students on the crisis in DISD continued for another half hour.  Many of the parents were professionals.   Audrey Pinkerton, at 1 hour 33 minutes into the tape, an experienced ORGANIZATIONAL CHANGE professional, spoke of how Mike Miles is not following good change management practices! She pointed out that change in high performance agencies is only achieved with committed employees, a quality reflected in low turnover!  (I am requesting a transcript of her presentation to post.)

Will Dallas allow the DISD Board, OR THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS, to ignore testimony like this about our students being abused, stressed, and endangered for reasons NOT NECESSARY for learning?  

This process of active public involvement is how the broken DISD system will be healed.  Yes, the Home Rule Charter District Commission process has been a factor in helping this dialogue to begin, but we do not need a Charter to do this!  We must return to the century old basics of teacher/student relationships as the foundation of education.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Dallas ISD Teacher Effectiveness Initiative Confusion 12-4-14

Nothing is more directly changing DISD at this time than TEI (Teacher Excellence Initiative) described online at .  The TEI is based on the presumption that teachers are driven by higher salaries.  The linked research on the DISD TEI web site shows it is based on some $200 million in research by the Gates Foundation using student testing to measure teacher performance.  But the Gates Foundation themselves in June recommended delaying the use of tests in the evaluation of teachers.  See

DISD ignored that advice and continued to moved forward with TEI.   DISD parents are seeing the results and groups around Dallas ISD are gathering to complain.

On December 4th was the Board Briefing at which many trustees questioned elements of the testing problems being presented by DISD parents.   If you go to and go down the page to the December 4th briefing, you can see the videotape of the 12-4-14 meeting.   In the left hand column, under the Agenda, you will see the link for the video.  Click on it to load the video.  (My talk, as the only public speaker at this meeting, is 29 minutes into the tape, summarizing many of these issues.)

Go 1 hour and 40 minutes into the tape where a staff presentation titled Teacher Excellence Initiative Update starts.  The 12 slide PowerPoint used in the meeting is on the web site at

As you listen to this presentation and the discussion that follows pay close attention to the level of confusion about TEI.  The discussion goes on for over 2 hours. Does Dallas want such a costly experiment to continue on Dallas children? 
Parents in DISD need to be concerned and willing to sign up and speak at this Thursday’s Board Meeting.

By February 2015 DISD will have lost 6,000 teachers (out of a teacher number that is normally about 10,000) in the 31 months since Miles was hired and turnover accelerated due to changes represented in TEI.  See the data at

Thursday, December 11, 2014

A 20 year old letter writing project in a high school in Canada.

Here is a wonderful video about a teacher with another letter writing project now over 20 years old in Canada.   See

It shows the potential power of the letters our students are writing to themselves.