Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Reform Recommendations after "home rule" death

The evening of 1-20-15 the Dallas ISD Home Rule Charter District Commission voted 10 to 5 to end the process of changing DISD into a home rule charter district.  This image from the Channel 8 news that evening also shows the challenge in front of the Commission. 
Dallas ISD "home rule" effort ends, work to reform DISD begins

They must make recommendations to help DISD return to, and go beyond, the solid progress of 2008 through 2012.

Recommendations for Dallas ISD Change

1) Transparency

One of the most common statements made by commissioners throughout the past 7 months of these hearings was that "we need more information."  It is no accident that information is hard to come by from inside DISD.  The most critical recommendation the Commission must emphasize is increased transparency from all areas inside Dallas ISD. 

Transparency is an institutional problem with all school districts.  It has been repeatedly addressed by each successive reform effort in DISD.  It was recently addressed by Dallas Achieves 2005 through 2011. Sadly those efforts were generally ended by Mr. Miles who then also has never provided a monthly statistical profile of student achievement, staff and student attrition, and the multitude of variables that all affect student achievement in one way or another. 

It is long overdue for a permanent tradition of public transparency within DISD to be established with data posted for the monthly DISD board meeting and online for the public, and then archived online.  The report can have variables added by the DISD board as needs and focus changes.  Variables that reflect parental and community involvement though PTA and SBDM meetings should be added. 

The data should also go onto spreadsheets to be followed month to month.  Are the students of DISD making progress?   Are the variables that reinforce such progress also growing?

Any other recommendations for change mean little if transparency is not mandated by the DISD Board.   Such a tradition will help all other commissions and volunteer groups that follow to form more quickly and get to work more easily. 

Secrecy, beyond personal confidentiality, is rarely good. It is usually a warning sign.

Other recommendations for change will be posted here, but the secrecy affliction and massive staff turnover now within DISD indicates nothing is more urgent than transparency.  The public must know what is happening inside DISD.