Thursday, December 31, 2015

Construction & Maintenance Transparency as Life or Death Issue

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On 12-26-15 a series of tornados went over North Texas killing 11 people.  The morning of 12-31-15 this was the headline and photo (with modifications since) taken from the Dallas Morning News

Without more accountability and transparency relative to all public school construction and maintenance we can only imagine the potential public loss.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Why is name Mike Miles gone from Dallas Morning News?

In 2012 Dallas ISD had improved enough, and public agency transparency had advanced enough, that how terrible things had been for a very long time in DISD was exposed more than ever. The Dallas Mayor and others fixated on the bad news while failing to adequately study the record setting DISD improvements since 2006.

A tragedy was about to happen! The structure that led to the 2006-2012 progress (shown in record setting improvements in both graduation numbers and statewide test scores through 2013) was replaced with the disaster reflected in these charts.  Both graduation numbers and test scores fell.

Here is the same data with 10 more years of history added:


How long before the people of Dallas, and the leaders of Dallas, admit what has happened?  What is that delay in admitting a severe mistake costing our students?


While this tragedy was unfolding in DISD those supporting the main leader in the dismantling of DISD, Mike Miles, began an active cherry picking campaign of pointing to the achievements of subgroups within the Dallas ISD student body who were making progress.  They were presenting this to the Mayor and the public as evidence of progress.  These defenders of Mike Miles refused to look at the numbers for the entire DISD student body.  They clung to cherry picked subgroups with indications of progress. 

They would not even discuss the meaning of record numbers of PEG campuses within DISD.

The evidence of what happened under the leadership of Mike Miles is increasingly hard for the Dallas Morning News and other Dallas Leaders to ignore.  The name of Mike Miles is slowly disappearing from editorials and articles in the Dallas Morning News. It only remains in the comment sections where the public has not forgotten.  The editorial supporting the Mike Morath nomination for Texas Education Commissioner did not even mention the name Mike Miles!  Since Mike Morath was the strongest supporter of Mike Miles on the DISD Board, this is exceptionally interesting.  What is the Dallas Morning News saying? 


Saturday, December 12, 2015

Snapshot: Texas School District Profiles, both charters and ISD's

One of the most powerful collections of data online supporting improved education in Texas is the "Snapshot" collection of data for each public school district in Texas. This listing includes both charter school districts and ISD's and allows for a powerful comparison between them.

Due to the power of this data it may reasonably be feared that attempts will be made to eliminate this data from easy online availability.  Beware!

The data is a year old and not posted until a year after the end of the school year.  The need for absolute accuracy is valued, but we all need to request that a "subject to correction" copy of the data be posted 10 months sooner so that initial data analysis can be done in a more timely manner.



The easiest way to find the web site is to google TEA and Snapshot.  The first hit is https://rptsvr1.tea.texas.gov/perfreport//snapshot/

On that page in the left hand column you have access to year by year data for every school district in Texas going back 20 years. As is stated on that page: "From this website up to 98 items of data for each district can be accessed. The items can be browsed or downloaded. Twenty years of information are currently available at this site:2013-142012-132011-122010-112009-102008-092007-082006-072005-062004-052003-042002-032001-022000-011999-20001998-991997-98,1996-971995-96, and 1994-95. Additional text and exhibits are available from this website for 1996-97 through 2001-02 when Snapshot was published as a book. Beginning with 2002-03 a print version of Snapshot is no longer available.

On this page if you click on Snapshot 2014 at the top in the left hand column you will immediately go to: 
https://rptsvr1.tea.texas.gov/perfreport//snapshot/2014/index.html

On that page if you click on  State Totals you will immediately see a powerful comparison of all the charter schools in Texas compared with all the ISD's.

This is only the beginning of the comparisons possible with this data.

Note teacher turnover patterns which are high in charter schools and the generally lower achievement in spite of the cherry picking of students they are able to do.


Many hours can be spent on this site, but it is a powerful weapon in the war to improve our public schools!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Coalition against the relocation of the Argos Cement Plant in West Dallas

The 10-28-15 vote of 8 members of the Dallas City Council to move a 30-truck-per-hour Argos cement facility to less than 300 feet UPWIND from Edison Middle School is another reflection of the racism in Dallas.   Can anyone find such a facility this close to any school in the U.S., especially one that is also Anglo majority? Edison is surrounded by documented pollution with the RSR Smelter to the west and the GAF Roofing factory to the east.

The 8 council members supported this move are being confronted. Some of them are now having doubts. We must protect the children of West Dallas. Call your Dallas City Council Person at 214-670-4050. The record of environmental abuse in West Dallas must stop.
Argos Cement Plant West Dallas move approved 10-28-15
Please congratulate your city council member if they voted against this move, or ask to visit with them as to why they voted for this continued abuse of the people of West Dallas.  Do they know of any similar facility within 300 feet of a school anywhere in Texas or in the nation?

Please share the above poster online with everyone you know in Dallas.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Not another Uptown! West Dallas Gentrification must embrace local cultures.

The 2015 Dallas ISD Bond Program started badly.  It exposed that leaders in Dallas wanted to eliminate all schools from any areas east of Hampton Road in West Dallas.  That change moved schools over 2 miles more distant from homes in the Los Altos and La Bajada Communities.  The land would have been less valuable for families.  Was the real goal to help developers secure land closest to current the Trinity River less expensively?

Fortunately those plans have been stopped!

Families in these two communities east of Hampton Road are now asking for their current schools, Carr and DeZavala, to be upgraded to Pk-8 schools as they work on alternatives to an Edison Middle School just 200 feet downwind from a cement plant. Such a move would improve student achievement due to improvements available in Pk-8 schools.

It would also keep students away from Edison Middle School, a constantly low performing middle school now becoming the neighbor to an up-wind cement processing plant.  These plans are presenting new problems for Edison and all of West Dallas.
West Dallas Gentrification Process 2015
The gentrification goals in West Dallas must be inclusive ones, not like Dallas Uptown where families were pushed out.  With significant improvement in the quality of the schools the students of West Dallas attend these same students will be able to much more often become the gentry right where they grew up!

Such a change in gentrification patterns is already happening in areas of Oak Cliff.  It was addressed this past March by the Dallas Observer, http://www.dallasobserver.com/news/mexicans-saved-oak-cliff-while-they-saved-american-cities-bikos-came-later-7126267 .

The new gentrification must embrace and build from the cultures and history in place, not erase them again as has happened too often in Dallas History.  The messages from history must be embraced, not erased as in the culturally sterile development of Uptown.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Dallas County Birth Rates continue to drop

The 2013 birth rates are now available from http://healthdata.dshs.texas.gov/VitalStatistics/Birth.

Using this data the following chart has been updated to indicate that the drop in the birth rate slowed down in Dallas County in 2013, but did not stop.

Dallas County Births 1995 to 2013


Sunday, November 8, 2015

Edison Middle School feeder pattern & the Pk-8 transition opportunity

The painful data in the chart below is only a hint of the ongoing history of educational neglect in West Dallas.  Notice that the Facility Condition Index for even the "best" West Dallas school is in worse condition than the 18.24% average for DISD elementary schools. The higher the score the worse the condition of the school. All West Dallas schools are worse than average in DISD, often a lot worse!   Why else are charter schools targeting West Dallas?

West Dallas parents are seeing it and telling us something by how they move their children out of DISD before their child enters the 6th grade in a DISD middle school!

History of Neglect - Pinkston Feeder Pattern Dallas ISD

Dallas ISD is losing over 12% of all 5th graders who never enroll in a 6th grade class inside DISD.  This is due to the very negative reputations of DISD middle schools throughout the district. The 400% increase in discipline problems once a child enters a DISD middle school is well documented, and well known in the community.

DISD must begin listening better to parents, and watching where they are moving their children.  One out of every 8 parents removes their child from DISD after the 5th grade, often taking siblings with them.  Is this one of many signals showing that DISD should move much more rapidly to transition current Pk-5 schools into being Pk-8 schools?   Rosemont has shown that Pk-8 works well.

Research has been documenting the value of Pk-8 schools for over a decade!  See http://schoolarchiveproject.blogspot.com/2012/02/separate-middle-schools-vs-k-8.html.

Over 10% of DISD parents have been removing their child from DISD after the 5th grade since 2006!


******** A Solution ********


Last year the highest rated, most successful, non-magnet middle school in all of DISD was Rosemont, a Pk-5 school that in 3 years was transformed into a Pk-8 school by 2013. Now with their second 8th grade class in 2014/15, they had the highest rating of all the 33 non-magnet DISD middle schools last year!

Rosemont only mirrored the national research on Pk-8 schools that predicts such progress.

Dallas has $64 million authorized in the bond program just passed for one new Pk-8 school in West Dallas. That would leave half of West Dallas still going to Edison for which there is $14 million authorized for renovation. But Dallas is moving a cement processing plant across the railroad track from Edison! Now is the time to change all West Dallas Pk-5 schools into Pk-8 schools and work toward the Rosemont achievement! West Dallas does not need one new Pk-8 school but 7! With solid planning, within 3 years Edison could be closed!  The charter schools would no longer be as attractive!

With multiple open community meetings throughout West Dallas the information surrounding Rosemont’s success and the national research on the success of k-8 schools could be shared. Parents from Rosemont give powerful witness to their success in both Spanish and English. West Dallas parents would quickly want this change for their children. The 6 ft 8th grader and kindergarten child dangers are very well managed with the normal age separations in any Pk-8 school.

None of the 7 current West Dallas elementary schools are 100% full. They each have enough room that this year’s 5th grade could stay for 6th grade. Needed building and modifications could begin immediately to prepare for 7th and 8th grades in all schools using the $88+ million that is available. The new Pk-8 school is not needed and that $64 million plus the $14 million to renovate Edison makes the $88 million available.

At the new central West Dallas Pinkston complex a middle school sports/band/electives center could be built to serve all middle school students with such interests. With good planning and the bond moneys now available West Dallas could develop the education system that would facilitate the gentrification that is coming.

DISD is failing terribly if graduates do not have the potential to become the “gentry” in our evolving West Dallas. To see that happen as our graduates constantly upgrade their family homes should be a goal for city planners, and for all of us in DISD!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Ten Questions on the 2015 Dallas ISD Bond Plan

(Addendum: the bond election passed with the largest number of voters in history voting against it, over 16,000 voters! The money spent on the election also is a record.  Over $116 per vote was spent by bond supporters for each "Yes" vote cast while an estimated 12.5 cents was used for each "No" vote cast. The questions below are more important than ever!)
 
  1. In 2002 and 2008 the bond planning committee had meeting minutes and attendance records taken and specific recommendations they voted on.  Why was the 2015 Future Facilities Task Force started under Mike Miles allowed to operate with no minutes, no attendance records, no recorded affirmation of votes taken for the bond plan components, and virtually no record of the specific process and the details and sources for their recommendations? Why do members say that they did not vote on the 2015 Plan?
     
  2. How is DISD going to fill a new 1,500 student Pk-8 school that is still on the public 2015 Bond Plans for West Dallas without closing any West Dallas elementary schools?  Due to the public uproar it was promised no schools would be closed. Is the real plan to draw students away from West Dallas Schools with a brand new Pk-8 until several of them are actually closed due to being underutilized?  Why build one new $64 million Pk-8 and not invest that money in middle school facilities at current West Dallas Pk-5 schools to create Pk-8 schools closer to student homes?  Many parents want that.

  3. How is DISD following the priorities outlined in the 2013 Parsons Report by ignoring Facility Condition Index (FCI) measurements to spend $41 million to tear down and rebuild Rosemont, a school listed in “good” condition (11.74% FCI), and in better condition than 96 other DISD elementary schools, 25 middle schools, and 21 high schools?   Should the FCI scores be ignored to this extent?

  4. Why is not a fraction of the $41 million allocated to tear down and rebuild Rosemont being used to correct the problems at Rosemont, and restore this historic treasure as identified by Preservation Dallas?   Then the remainder of the $41 million could be used to help build middle school facilities for other Pk-5 schools where parents want to transform their child’s school into a Pk-8 school!   Could that not take the enrollment pressure off Rosemont, and serve as many as three times the students with the same $41 million?
     
  5. Since less than 15% of “choice schools” in DISD are currently filled to capacity, how does DISD know there is a need for more such “choice” schools?  Choice schools are more expensive per student and DISD parents are apparently showing that they prefer their own neighborhood school if it is getting the needed attention to keep it up to date.  Or, is the focus on “choice schools” part of the strategy to decimate more community neighborhood schools?

  6. Since the first Pk-8 transition school is filled to capacity, and turning away students due to their open enrollment policy, and it is the highest rated non-magnet school in all of DISD, why aren’t DISD staff meeting with parents at other DISD schools to advise them of Pk-8 alternatives so the parents could decide if they want such a transition for their schools?

  7. Why isn’t the focus of the 2015 Bond Program on neighborhood community Pk-8 schools instead of the much more expensive and less in demand “choice” schools?   Pk-8 schools are generally better supported by research as being very successful and are less expensive per student than “choice” schools.

  8. Since the increase in Pre-k enrollment at DISD has been less than 350 students over the past two years, less than 2% each year, and this year alone DISD has suffered over a 1,100 decrease in Kindergarten enrollment, over an 8% decrease below any year in 18 years, why is there urgency to create new Pre-k classrooms?   Since Kindergarten enrollment went down this year over 300% more than Pre-k enrollment went up, where is the urgency for Pre-K in 2015 Bond?

  9. When the general decline in DISD enrollment for students younger than second graders is mentioned, some say there are severe pockets of need that still demand the 2015 Bond moneys for Pre-k space.  Where are those schools?

  10. Total DISD enrollment is now down over 3,000 students below projected enrollment!   Most of this decline is in the kindergarten class which is down over 1,000 students from last year alone.  Kindergarten enrollment is now the lowest enrollment in over 18 years by over 1,000 kindergarten students! If this decline continues, what corrections are needed for the 2015 Bond?  Why aren’t such corrections listed in this current 2015 bond plan? 

http://www.Dallasisd2016bond.com

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Preservation & the 2015 Bond Plans

Three DISD schools all built in 1922 with very similar designs.
In studying the plans in the 2015 DISD Bond Program to tear down and replace the old Rosemont 1922 building a very interesting history is being uncovered.  It is one of at least three buildings constructed that year using the same general design.  Rosemont underwent major renovations in about 1970 that significantly changed the schools appearance, but the basic building remains under the sheeting and paint waiting to be restored.

Other facts have evolved in that H.S. Thompson, one of the schools closed in 2011, was rated by the Parson's Report as being in much worse condition than Rosemont with a "poor" Facility Condition Index (FCI) of 59% in 2013.  It was estimated that $16 million would be needed to restore the building to best condition.   Rosemont was rated as "good" with a FCI of less than 12% and only $2 million was needed to restore Rosemont to best condition.

Now in the 2015 Bond Plans as publicized, Thompson is only getting half the 2013 amount, only $8 million, to be "refurbished" while Rosemont is getting 20 times the 2013 amount, $41 million, to be replaced!

Is that equity?

Does the average income level in the neighborhoods surrounding these schools make a difference?   Rosemont is on the edge of Kessler Park with very nice homes while Thompson is deeply within one of the most decimated areas of South Dallas.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Dallas ISD going to Educational Heaven!

 (This is a copied 1016-15 post about what is dangerously missing in Dallas ISD.  Equity is missing, and it is missing in the 2015 Bond Plan!  That fact is only a reflection of an ongoing problem made worse these past three years in Dallas ISD!)

Noted Finnish educator Pasi Sahlberg, one of the world’s experts on education reform, told an audience in Baker Hall that both excellence and equity are needed to achieve academic success.

Sahlberg, delivering the first John Stoops lecture hosted by Lehigh’s College of Education, drew on international test score rankings, which consistently put countries such as Finland, Canada, Japan and Korea among the top scorers in math, science and reading.  He said the rankings showed an apparent correlation between student achievement in those subject areas and the equity of educational opportunities.

Using a slide presentation that put the top-scoring countries in a type of heavenly cloud, Sahlberg said that if America wants to go to educational heaven, “it’s more important to take equity more seriously and put it as a priority.”

Sahlberg’s lecture on Oct. 8 kicked off the College of Education’s yearlong celebration of three key anniversaries—50 years as a College, 100 years of education at Lehigh and 50 years of the highly regarded Centennial School for children with educational disabilities.  It also marked the inaugural Stoops lecture, established in tribute to John A. Stoops, the College’s first dean and founder of the Centennial School. 

In a ceremony preceding Sahlberg’s talk, Dean Gary Sasso and Robert Leight, professor emeriti, recognized Stoops’ significant contributions to education—he also played a key role in the formation of Channel 39 (WLVT-TV public television) and Northampton Community College—and presented Stoops’ widow, Muriel, with a gift of art glass in commemoration.  The inscription read: “In honor of Dr. John A. Stoops for his leadership, wisdom, dedication and commitment to the Lehigh University School of Education. The impact you made here will be felt throughout time.”

Sahlberg, a visiting professor of practice at Harvard University, delivered a talk entitled “Education Around the World.”  A Finnish citizen, he has been active in promoting education changes in Finland and beyond, and he has a long professional history in education and development.  At Harvard, he works with graduate and doctoral students, teaching courses about international educational change and how education policies and reforms can improve but also harm school systems, teachers and students.

In his talk at Lehigh, Sahlberg addressed what he said are the forces behind successful educational systems—collaboration, creativity, trust-based responsibility, professionalism and equity. And he addressed the factors that he said hinder the improvement of educational systems—competition, standardization, test-based accountability, de-professionalization and privatization.

Sahlberg called on audience members to do some mental math, presenting them with a multi-step addition problem that they collectively solved out loud. In the group dynamic, the total came out wrong.

“If we make a mistake with a simple thing like this,” Sahlberg said, “then we’re going to make mistakes many times, and in a much more serious way, with complex things like reforming education.”
What’s happening now has happened before, Sahlberg said. 

Around the world, in areas of education policy and reform, people are doing things because it seems as if everyone else is doing those things, and they are taking missteps. “What we need to do with this one is to stop and think,” he said. “And always ask, does it make any sense? Is this the right way to go?”

Sahlberg acknowledged Finland’s education success story, noting the country’s ascent from a mediocre educational system to one of the best in the world.  It consistently ranks high in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OEDC) rankings of school performance across 76 countries.  People are curious about Finland because of that turnaround, he said, not because of the high test scores. They want to know, he said, what reform looks like and how Finland was able to change.

“Forty years ago, we decided to redesign the school system, where there was a lot of inequality or inequity, and we had an issue with excellence,” he said. “We decided to turn everything around and make a system that is good for everybody.”

Sahlberg said that many countries focus their resources and politics on educational excellence, with equity being a secondary concern. For those who want to build reforms on international evidence, he said, they should note that the highest performing countries invest their resources in both areas.

In a question-and-answer segment that followed the lecture, Sahlberg took issue with the ways that schools are funded in America. In many cases, he said, districts’ funding formulas are funding inequality.

Looking ahead, Sahlberg identified three issues that are likely to be part of future conversations about education: whether there’s a need for less technology and more human interaction in schools, how to help young people realize their talents, and the importance of children’s play in education.

As the College of Education continues its anniversary celebration, it is planning an awards ceremony next spring that will honor distinguished educators from each discipline of the College. There also will be a book published that chronicles the history of education at Lehigh.
Posted on: Friday, October 16, 2015

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Manipulations a year before 2015 Bond Election

An October 2014 HUB article mentions a questionnaire designed within DISD for public input and circulated in September of 2014 for opinions on schools of choice.  It was still online as of June of 2015 at www.surveymonkey.com when I made a copy of it.  It has now been removed.

This questionnaire has 5 main questions were designed to direct those taking the survey toward results that favored school choice programs, giving almost no other alternatives. It did not mention neighborhood school improvement alternatives. It did not mention k-8 schools or community schools to eliminate the multiple problems DISD has had for decades, especially with middle schools.

Here are the 5 main questions:

==============================================
1. Which types of choice schools would you like to see in your area? Please rank your top 4 choices in order of preference (descriptions of the types of "choice" schools were given below the question to select from)

2. Other comments or ideas regarding type of choice schools (An open question):

3. If a Dallas ISD school in your neighborhood attendance zone offered one of your top four school choice preferences and bus transportation was provided, would you choose that school for your child?
Definitely, Probably, Maybe, Probably Not, Definitely Not

4. If a Dallas ISD school outside of your neighborhood attendance zone offered one of your top four school choice preferences and bus transportation was provided, would you choose that school for your child?

Definitely, Probably, Maybe, Probably Not, Definitely Not

5. What is an acceptable amount of time for your child to travel to school either on a bus or by car?

Less than 30 minutes, 30-40 minutes, 40-50 minutes, 50-60 minutes, 60+ minutes
=============================================
Below is the list of "choice school" alternatives to select from for the answers to Question 1 above in this questionnaire circulated in September of 2014:


* 1. Which types of choice schools would you like to see in your area?  Please rank your top 4 choices in order of preference (The areas for the selection and ranking were followed by these descriptions of the types of schools. No other alternatives were mentioned, especially as to improving neighborhood schools!)

Descriptions of Types of Choice Schools

Advanced Placement (AP) School
Advanced Placement (AP) classes are college level courses offered in high school. Schools are able to choose from up to 34 AP courses in various subjects to meet students’ needs.  Students who score well on an AP Exam may earn college credit.
International Baccalaureate (IB) School
The International Baccalaureate (IB) program offers a range of rigorous programs from kindergarten to high school graduation. One of the central features of the IB program is that it encourages international awareness in its students, such as learning a second language and developing the skills to thrive in an increasingly global age. IB students can also earn college credit.
Early College School
By partnering with a local community college, Early College Schools allow students to earn two years of college credit at no cost while they simultaneously earn a high school diploma.
Career/Technical Education (CTE) Academy or Pathway
Career and Technical Education (CTE) academies and/or pathways provide high school students with the opportunity to explore their career interests.  Students learn how core subjects, such as math, science, and writing, are used in the real-world. They also participate in internships, job shadowing, and hands-on practical training.
Community School
At community schools, public schools partner with other organizations throughout the community, such as non-profits, health clinics, and businesses.  Together, they provide various programs and services to promote academic success for diverse learners, youth development, family support, and health and wellness.  They are designed to be the “hub” of a community.
Dual-language School
Dual-language schools teach academic material in two different languages.  The two main goals of these schools are high student achievement and bilingualism.  Subjects are taught to students in both English and a second language.
Leadership Academy
A leadership academy provides students with rigorous educational opportunities that are combined with leadership training.  The school is designed to promote academic success and increased levels of responsibility, communication, and self-confidence.
Military Academy
At a military academy school, students participate in a demanding four-year JROTC program. The school provides a structured environment that is designed to promote academic excellence while developing students’ sense of citizenship, patriotism, responsibility, and leadership.  Even though the school has a military theme, students are under no obligation to enlist in the armed forces after graduation.
Montessori School
Montessori schools emphasize student self-discovery and independence.  Teachers will determine a range of options from which the students can choose and then students choose learning activities that best fit their interests.  Students are given uninterrupted blocks of time to learn and to move freely around the classroom as they explore their interests.  Montessori classrooms often contain students of different ages.

Personalized Learning School
A Personalized Learning school adapts content and instruction to meet the needs of diverse learners. It is designed to deliver a unique learning experience for every child through a customized approach, often enabled by technology. Personalized learning schools help enhance learning opportunities by giving students more choice about what they learn, when they learn, and how they learn.

Single Gender School

In single gender schools, male and female students attend separate classes or attend separate buildings.

Specific Content Theme Schools
A Specific Content Theme school specializes in an area of interest and offers a unique learning experience to students.  At these schools, the core curriculum would be explored through a particular content lens.
  • STEM or Math/Science Program
    STEM education integrates the content and skills of science, technology, engineering, and math.  STEM classrooms encourage problem-solving, inquiry, and investigation.
  • Business/Entrepreneurship
    Business/Entrepreneurship themed schools enable students to explore the opportunities and challenges of managing private businesses and non-profit organizations.  Students engage in many practical exercises, such as developing a business plan and managing day-to-day operations.
  • Environmental Sciences
    Environmental Science themed schools enable students to explore environmental science. Students examine critical issues such as protecting today’s environment and sustaining the environment of tomorrow.
  • Health Professions
    The Health Professions content theme provides students with focus courses in areas such as anatomy, medical terminology, and health science technology.  Students can also gain practical healthcare experience by shadowing at various healthcare facilities, which would help prepare them for a future profession in the healthcare industry.
  • Humanities/Communications
    Humanities/Communications themed schools would focus on courses designed to develop students’ communication, reading, and critical thinking skills. Students would improve both oral and written skills, which is essential for any college or career transition.
  • Law/Government/World Affairs
    Law/Government/World Affairs themed schools expose students to diverse areas covering topics such as American and foreign politics, international relations, law, local government, and political philosophy.  Students will refine their critical thinking and research skills so that they can participate effectively in domestic and international affairs.
  • Visual and Performing Arts
    Visual and Performing Arts themed schools expose students to academic classes and specialized training within the Arts field, such as ceramics, sculpture, drawing, music, graphic design, theatre, and dance.
  • Social Sciences
    Social Sciences themed schools challenge students to evaluate and analyze social concerns and the relationship among individuals in society. Students would be deeply exposed to subjects such as anthropology, economics, political science, psychology and sociology.
* 1. If a Dallas ISD school in your neighborhood attendance zone offered one of your top four school choice preferences and bus transportation was provided, would you choose that school for your child?
Definitely
Probably
Maybe
Probably Not
Definitely Not

* 2. If a Dallas ISD school outside of your neighborhood attendance zone offered one of your top four school choice preferences and bus transportation was provided, would you choose that school for your child?
Definitely
Probably
Maybe
Probably Not
Definitely Not

* 3. What is an acceptable amount of time for your child to travel to school either on a bus or by car?
Less than 30 minutes
30-40 minutes
40-50 minutes
50-60 minutes
60+ minutes

Monday, October 12, 2015

Vote No on DISD 2015 Bond for a better plan in 2016


There are many problems with the 2015 Dallas ISD Bond Program that demand a "No" vote.  Problems were first exposed with the first presentation to the DISD Board on 7-22-15 that is documented here.  At that meeting some of the most basic documentation was missing related to meeting minutes, attendance by the public, and the sources for the plans being presented.

This is where a comparison of the 2015 Bond planning with the 2008 Bond planning should be made, and here is a very painful comparison of those differences: http://disdbond2015.com/2008-bond-vs-2015-bond/

As the 2015 Bond Plans were exposed many members of the DISD community, especially parents in schools to be closed, became angry.  Here is one of those meetings in response to this anger with DISD.

Those specific school closing plans have now allegedly been changed.  But multiple questions remain!

Where is DISD going to get students for the new 1,500 student Pk-8 school they are still planning to build in West Dallas without closing other schools?

When you ask about the sources for these plans it is repeatedly said they come from the Future Facilities Task Force, members listed here. The members of that Task Force say they never voted on these plans as a group. Apparently there are no minutes available documenting Task Force meetings.  The Task Force also held many other public meetings allegedly seeking input, but there are no minutes or listings of the people who attended those meetings either. Again, there are no records.  The bottom line is that it appears as if all plans came from DISD staff at 3700 Ross, or from other unnamed community sources.

One by one additional more specific bond planning concerns emerged.  Links below provide more details about each of these areas of concern in the 2015 Bond Program:



==========================================

1) The plans for the closing of all elementary schools east of Hampton Road in West Dallas were stopped due to the public uproar. Nobody would admit to making those plans but they were in writing in official Future Facilities Task Force Documents. See plans for Pinkston Feeder Pattern dated 8-5-15, on page 12 of 23.  You must download the document titled
"
Updated Facilities Planning Matrix by Feeder Pattern


| 8/5/2015 (Old)" to find this page.


2) Plans for the rebuilding of Rosemont remain on the books. This is in spite of multiple conflicts due to the relatively good condition of this building compared to hundreds of others within DISD according to the Parson's Report, the 2013 report allegedly guiding the planned work on school buildings.  Again, see the details to this issue about Rosemont here.  Here is a graphic that demonstrates a pattern too common in all of DISD for this election, but this is for only District 7 where Rosemont is:



3) DISD enrollment is falling faster than at any time in a decade.  It is now over 3,000 students below budgeted enrollment for 2015/16.  The massive drop in student achievement over the past two years, due to educational "top-down" mismanagement repeatedly documented by hundreds of teachers as over 6,500 teachers and other professionals left DISD, cannot be ignored.  IT is a major reason for this drop in enrollment.

4) While the benefits of the transition of Pk-5 schools into being Pk-8 schools are verbally accepted in DISD Administration, there is too little focus on educating DISD parents of the values of such a re-configuration, and too little focus in the 2015 bond program on this remedy to multiple DISD problems.  The 2015 bond program is even investing tens of millions of dollars to add more classrooms to existing middle schools in spite of the evidence of nationwide patterns of problems due to separate middle school configurations such as those that dominate DISD.  These same problems documented nationwide are also well documented in DISD.  They are a major contributor to the student achievement problems in DISD.

5) Efforts were made to try and create documentation to indicate that DISD families wanted "choice" schools often far from their homes.  But, even now less than 15% of choice schools inside DISD are full.  Here is listing of all "choice" schools in DISD. Notice that ONLY two of them are at or over 100% utilized.

The 2015 Bond wants to invest tens of millions of dollars into more "choice schools" instead of improvements to neighborhood schools, even when current "choice schools" are rarely full.  Click here for details of a questionnaire circulated in September of 2014.


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Can Dallas ISD voters ignore these and many other facts?

The DISD 2015 Bond Election will happen November 3, 2015. Please vote against it.

Tell your trustees that you want a more public, well planned and efficient bond program in May 2016.   Early voting for the current 2015 Bond Election starts this week.

A bond election is certainly needed to repair the many DISD school buildings needing such repair, but the above evidence of the planning that happened to date leaves great concerns about the currently planned use of the relatively meager funds DISD will have.  It is better to plan well, with ample transparency and true public input that is recorded and used, than to push forward with the currently vague plans from uncertain sources.

It appears that most of these plans grew out of three years of very destructive and questionable DISD management when over 6,500 professional staff left and student achievement fell within just the last two years to levels not seen since 2007!

The 2015 Bond Program has transparency problems that were overwhelmingly evident at the 7-22-15 board meeting, documented here.  Public trust must be restored with ample transparency so that a well planned and truly transparent bond program can pass in May 2016! Our students need it!


Top-down DISD school management has been destructive for DISD these past 3 years.  Top-down Bond Planning is just as destructive!
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These Dallas ISD 2016 Bond pages will change as more information is available.  Once the 2015 Bond is defeated these pages will focus on the replacement of three trustees who helped the disaster of the past three years be inflicted on our students.  It will be very good that a better planned bond and these three elections will be happening at the same time.  Dallas will for once see some real progress in securing leadership that is more focused on students than on those supplying massive amounts of money for political campaigns.

Until then, study the official DISD Bond pages carefully at 

http://www.dallasisd.org/bond2015.  Also attend the public meetings about the bond that are scheduled and posted on this link to the Dallas Morning News web site. Then vote!

Report any errors in the documentation above to Bill Betzen at bbetzen@aol.com. Questions are welcomed. 

An additional web site that has collected a good set of facts regarding this 2015 Bond Plan is at http://disdbond2015.com/.

In summary, as of 10-17-15 here are the questions that remain regarding the 2015 DISD Bond Program:

  1. In 2002 and 2008 the bond planning committee had meeting minutes and attendance records taken and specific recommendations they voted on.  Why was the 2015 Future Facilities Task Force started under Mike Miles allowed to operate with no minutes, no recorded affirmation of votes taken for the bond plan components, and virtually no record of the specific process and the details and sources for their recommendations? Why do members say that they did not vote on the 2015 Plan?
  2. How is DISD going to fill a new 1,500 student Pk-8 school that is still on the public 2015 Bond Plans for West Dallas without closing any West Dallas elementary schools, as was also been publicly promised?
  3. How is DISD following the priorities outlined in the 2013 Parsons Report by ignoring Facility Condition Index (FCI) measurements to spend $41 million to tear down and rebuild Rosemont, a school listed in “good” condition (11.74% FCI), and in better condition than 96 other DISD elementary schools, 25 middle schools, and 21 high schools?   Should the FCI scores be ignored to this extent? 
  4. Why is not a fraction of the $41 million allocated to tear down and rebuild Rosemont being used to correct the problems at Rosemont, and restore this historic treasure as identified by Preservation Dallas?   Then the remainder of the $41 million could be used to help build middle school facilities for other Pk-5 schools where parents want to transform their child’s school into a Pk-8 school!   Could that not take the enrollment pressure off Rosemont, and serve as many as three times the students with the same $41 million?
  5. Since less than 15% of “choice schools” in DISD are currently filled to capacity, how does DISD know there is a need for more such “choice” schools?  Choice schools are more expensive per student and DISD parents are apparently showing that they prefer their own neighborhood school if it is getting the needed attention to keep it up to date.
  6. Since the first Pk-8 transition school is filled to capacity, and turning away students due to their open enrollment policy, and it is the highest rated non-magnet school in all of DISD, why aren’t DISD staff meeting with parents at other DISD schools to advise them of Pk-8 alternatives so the parents could decide if they want such a transition for their schools?
  7. Why isn’t the focus of the 2015 Bond Program on neighborhood community Pk-8 schools instead of the much more expensive and less in demand “choice” schools?   Pk-8 schools are generally better supported by research as being very successful and are less expensive per student than “choice” schools.
  8. Since the increase in Pre-k enrollment at DISD has been less than 350 students over the past two years, less than 2% each year, and this year alone DISD has suffered over a 1,100 decrease in Kindergarten enrollment, over an 8% decrease below any year in 18 years, why is there urgency to create new Pre-k classrooms?   Since Kindergarten enrollment went down this year over 300% more than Pre-k enrollment went up, where is the urgency for Pre-K in 2015 Bond?
  9. When the general decline in DISD enrollment for students younger than second graders is mentioned, some say there are severe pockets of need that still demand the 2015 Bond moneys for Pre-k space.  Where are those schools?
  10. Total DISD enrollment is now down over 3,000 students below projected enrollment!  If this decline continues, what corrections will be needed for the 2015 Bond and who will identify them that Dallas can trust? 

Bill Betzen, bbetzen@aol.com, www.Dallasisd2016bond.com 

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Dallas ISD Enrollment Crisis

Dallas ISD is facing the most massive loss in enrollment since the White Flight days of over a decade ago!  

The current kindergarten enrollment posted this morning shows a drop of 1,136 from last year’s kindergarten enrollment. This is a drop of 8.5% and over 1,000 students smaller than any kindergarten class in 18 years!

Most of this kindergarten drop can be attributed to the 5.9% drop in births in Dallas County between 2009 when there were 42,276 births, and 2010 when there were only 39,769 births. Look at the birth numbers in Dallas County for the last 25 years below.  The birth numbers have not been this low in 18 years!




That still does not account for the remaining 2.6 percentage points, or 30% of the loss which is probably equivalent to the loss in most grades in DISD that are happening due to the DISD reputation deteriorating since 2012, teachers leaving, and the continuing growth of charter schools.


An even greater loss happened to the 12,105 students DISD had enrolled in the 5th grade last year.  Only 10,566 have returned to enroll in a DISD middle school in the 6th grade!  This is a 12.7% loss, one out of every 8 students!  It is the largest such loss on record this year!  Prior to the beginning of moving 6th grade into middle schools this loss was less than 5%!  The reputation of DISD middle schools is powerful and apparently making families move out of DISD!


Total DISD enrollment fell by 10-2-15 to only 158,593 which is 1,660 less than last year’s enrollment, and 3,162 students less than the 161,755 that were budgeted for the 2015/16 school year. 

DISD must face many issues, among them a dropping birth rate, the need to accelerate Pk-8 transitions, and the absolute necessity to restore and enhance the professional status of teachers.  Scripting classroom teaching would only be acceptable to less than life-long professional teachers.


According to DISD Data Portal, DISD now has only 214 more Pre-K students than 2 years ago.  It also is reported that over 800 Pre-K students not counted on Data Portal are being served in daycare centers by certified DISD teachers so as to avoid student transportation costs and time in the half day program.  That is a good investment.

Note, all of the above counts of current enrollment are not official except for the day recorded.  The official annual counts are made in one more month.  Given the pattern of the past month it can be anticipated that these numbers will go down even more.  If DISD staffed for the budgeted enrollment that may mean that as many as 150, or more, teachers may have to be let go once the final numbers are known.


Yesterday an article was published about the history of Dade Middle School over the past three years.  It helps explain why DISD enrollment is dropping.  See http://www.dallasobserver.com/news/taming-dade-the-fall-and-rise-of-dallas-worst-public-school-7639704 

The "Dallas Miracle" by Mike Miles, Third Future Consultants

On the web site for Third Future Consultants you will find in their blog the following chart.  It is located online at http://www.thirdfutureconsultants.com/blog/dallas-miracle:


While the above chart is generally consistent with progress in DISD up to 2013, the measurements since 2013 are impossible to justify.

In 2013 DISD had the highest  DISD student achievement in recent history as measured by the smallest DISD/Texas student achievement gap in history.  The DISD/Texas achievement gap is the Dallas ISD statewide test passing rate subtracted from the Texas passing rate.  The 2013 achievement followed 7 years of progress.


In 2013 Dallas ISD had a student poverty rate of 89% while all of Texas had a student poverty rate of 60%.  In spite of this 29% "poverty gap," the percentage of DISD students passing all statewide tests taken fell within 8 percentage points of all of Texas, the smallest Texas/DISD student achievement gap in history!  This was wonderful progress to celebrate as this gap had been 14 percentage points in 2007, and 20 percentage points in 2000!

Sadly, due to dramatic changes in DISD since 2012, and resulting record setting teacher turnover that continues now in 2015, the DISD/Texas student achievement gap exploded in 2014 and again in 2015. By 2015 the DISD/Texas student achievement gap had expanded again to 13%, loosing over 7 years of progress in just 2 years!

Here is a decade of history for the DISD/Texas student achievement gap:


Dallas ISD must return to eliminating this achievement gap!

Multiple concerns have been raised about the accuracy of the ERG measurements including this series of articles in the Dallas Morning News:

Fact check: Was the DISD miracle real? on 6-28-15

Is this new evidence of a “Dallas miracle” at Dallas ISD?
on 9-1-15

Simple auditable data is what Dallas should focus on in tracking what is happening in our schools.

This chart contains the data used to create the above DISD/Texas Student Achievement Gap chart:

More such data on DISD is collected at http://www.dallasisd.us.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

The 2015 DISD Bond Program & replacing Rosemont

The 2015 Dallas ISD Bond Program has encountered several problems that are slowly adding up. The first was the planned closing of all DISD elementary schools east of Hampton in West Dallas.  See those events recorded here.

The 2015 Bond plans to replace Rosemont are out of place when you study the Parsons Report that was completed in 2013 on all DISD schools, studying the condition of all DISD buildings and giving a numeric value to the need for replacement called the Facility Condition Index or the FCI.  The average FCI for all buildings in DISD was 22.1% indicating that half of all DISD schools and buildings are above that and in worse condition. Rosemont has an FCI of only 11.74%, or about half the FCI of the average DISD building.

The following two pages were taken from a 6 page spreadsheet on the Facility Condition Index for all of the buildings in DISD.  The first three pages were on the elementary school buildings.  Here are the first two of those pages listing the buildings from those in "poor" condition (pink), to those in "fair" condition (yellow), and finally to those in "good" condition (green), which is where Rosemont is listed.

The FCI score is a percentage of the buildings cost that is needed to put it in "as new" condition. These scores are all recorded in the Parsons Report that is located here online.

Rosemont has one of the lowest scores in DISD with 96 elementary schools with higher/worse scores than Rosemont.  The only other elementary schools being replaced in this bond election have FCI scores all over 37%!  Rosemont is only at 11.74%!  I have asked many Futures Facility Task Force members why Rosemont was chosen for destruction and replacement and have yet to receive an good answer.

Yes, improvements are needed to the Rosemont building to help it better meet the needs of students and teachers, but that could be done without spending $41 million to replace a building in good condition when improvements are so much more urgently needed in over a hundred other elementary, middle and high schools in DISD in worse shape!  Is the relative affluence and high voter turnout of a large segments of the Rosemont feeder pattern a factor, along with the fact that the DISD Board President's child attends Rosemont?

The painful bottom line is that Rosemont is a wonderful success with their dual language two-way Spanish-English program and their transition into being a Pk-8 school.  They received the highest awards available from TEA this year for their middle school, and were the only non-magnet middle school in DISD to receive those honors.  They are also very popular with parents and have 41% of their students from outside their attendance zone.  They have a lottery for those outside of their attendance zone.  DISD must spread that success!  

With the $41 million planned for spending on tearing down this 1922 Historic Building, which Preservation Dallas wants to save, and has on their 2015 Most Endangered List, linked here, DISD could transition three other Pk-5 schools in the area into being Pk-8 schools.   The success of Rosemont could spread!  The enrollment pressure on Rosemont could be lessened.  This is a much more reasonable alternative for the limited funds that Dallas ISD will have in this $1.6 billion 2015 Bond Election.

The passage of the bond election this November is endangered due to decisions like this that are being blamed on the Future Facilities Task Force, but I am beginning to think were decisions made by DISD staff instead.  The search for the logic behind it is continuing.

Why is DISD not seeking to serve thousands of more students with scarce bond funds rather than replacing one historic building in "good" condition but with overcrowding that could be quickly eliminated by upgrading several neighborhood schools to have similar Pk-8 programs?  This could all be done to several area schools with the same $41 million now planned for removing and replacing only the historic part of the Rosemont campus.   Other much less expensive modifications could be done to that building to achieve changes that are needed and at the same time save the historic reality of a 1922 building, and serve thousands of more students with the money saved in the process.

Dr. Carol Dweck and Student Motivation

This is a chat I was honored to have in August of 2006 with Dr. Carol Dweck.  Her message has been an encouragement to me ever since.  This is copied from http://www.edweek.org/chat/2006/08/30/transcript_08_30_06.html and is part of a chat described as
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Student Motivation: What Works, What Doesn't
 
August 30, 2006
Guests: Edward L. Deci, professor of psychology at the University of Rochester; Carol Dweck, professor of psychology at Stanford University; and Susan Graham, middle school teacher at Gayle Middle School, Stafford County, Va.
Kevin Bushweller (Moderator):
    Welcome to today's online chat about what works and what doesn't work to motivate students to do better in school. We have a large number of very interesting questions waiting to be answered. So let's get the discussion started ... 

Question from Bill Betzen, Technology Teacher, Quintanilla Middle School, Dallas ISD:
    It often appears that the goals we invest the most time in for our students are relatively short term goals, such as just one year for the TAKS tests here in Texas. Is it not also necessary to invest time encouraging students to have long term goals, often focusing on those goals, to achieve the most productive growth mindset? Is the failure to invest more time encouraging long term goals for our students a major current failing of our educational system? (We have our middle school students focus on 10 year goals through a rotating time-capsule letter archive system [www.studentmotivation.org]. I shared it with Dr. Dweck this summer. It is great to see Dr. Dweck on your program! I hope she has time to address the mindset concepts which have so much potential for helping us improve the educational process.)

Carol Dweck:
    This is so important. Many students do not understand how what they are doing in school now plays into their long-term goals. Yet if teachers convey that students are growing and building their brains every time they learn, students will think about their effort as an investment that will yield benefits well into the future. It is tremendously empowering to students to understand that they have the starring role in their own intellectual development and that they are in charge of who they will become--with of course the help and guidance of their teachers.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Reverse Swiftboating, making Dallas ISD's achievement disasters since 2013 look good.

In February of 2012, recorded by the Dallas Observer, at http://www.dallasobserver.com/news/mayor-mike-rawlings-gives-dallas-isd-board-central-staffers-a-lesson-in-marketing-101-7104526, is an article titled "MAYOR MIKE RAWLINGS GIVES DALLAS ISD BOARD, CENTRAL STAFFERS A LESSON IN MARKETING 101." 

It helps explain why Mike Miles supporters pulled out the statistical fabrications from Education Research Group (ERG) and their analytics to help provide deniability for the failures that are obvious in DISD achievement data since 2013. See the preparation for such tactics in the description of this February meeting in 2012:
"Before the night was through, Blackburn would introduce "one of my special buddies," Mayor Mike Rawlings, who asked to remove his "mayor's hat" before delivering a lengthy monologue on ways to polish DISD's rotten apple. But before that, Blackburn turned over the floor to Merrie Spaeth -- the same woman who captained the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth's branding campaign and who served Craig James's accomplice, for lack of a better word, in getting Mike Leach fired at Texas Tech. Much of her presentation consisted of a series of ads and viral video clips intended to remind the board that "negative words" are bad because they're "memorable" and "positive words" are good because they're .... positive? Said Spaeth, if you use "positive words," well, then, "People will hear what want them to hear." (All of which sounded very, very familiar.)"

Does the use of the complex unauditable ERG algorithms sound like the same type methods that guided the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth's branding campaign? All they had to do was create a minimally credible "hook" for Mike Miles' defenders and alleged "reformers" to hang their hat on. But they will never meet in a public forum to discuss the issues!

The Dallas Morning News article "Fact check: Was the DISD miracle real?" was exceptionally mild in pointing to the manipulations by ERG, but did not swallow it all either. See www.dallasnews.com

DISD massive achievement failings since 2013 have been hidden by a deniability campaign probably directed by the exact same people who ran the original Swift Boat Veterans for Truth campaign.

How does that help our students?

See the ERG web site at http://educationresourcegroup.com/ and study it closely.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Dallas ISD - 18 years of improvement and two of decline

Today Mr. James Ragland had an opinion piece published in the Morning News following 25 years of DISD Superintendent History that is linked here.  I took that list of superintendents and imposed it on the 20 year history of the Texas/DISD Student Achievement Gap.  That gap is a measurement of how far below the average for the State of Texas the achievement for Dallas ISD is.  Over the first 18 years of these 20 years we virtually cut the gap in half.  Then two years ago a record setting decline started.
Two more years in DISD like the last two years and the entire achievement gain since 1995 will be gone!

Texas/DISD Student Achievement Gap Chart 1995-2015
The above chart came from the data below:

Texas/DISD Student Achievement Gap Spreadsheet 1995-2015
While Mr. Ragland's article covered 25 years of history, it was only 20 years ago that the Texas Education Agency first published the Snapshot used to provide 95% of the above data.