Wednesday, December 14, 2016

DOI Presentation 12-14-16 before DISD School Board

Testimony for 12-14-16 Dallas ISD Board Meeting on planned study of District of Innovation alternatives for DISD:

President Micciche, Honorable Board, Dr. Hinojosa,

First, everything I say now is already posted, in much more detail with links to data, in the blog at (That is this blog you are now reading.)

Second, congratulations on the brilliant Highland Hills Library presentation of Dallas ISD to the community along with the International Leadership Texas schools, last night.  

Mr. Conger of ILT was brilliant and is formidable competition.  There was no Q and A. Therefore, after the presentations I went to Mr. Conger to ask about his 36% teacher turnover and teacher tenure of only 2.2 years.  When he heard my name he asked if I did an education blog.  I verified that.  He said he used the K-8 research I had collected in the February 2012 posting ( in designing his schools on the k-8 feeder pattern model.  He was very thankful.  

I wish DISD was more actively working toward a Pk-8 centered configuration for all feeder patterns such as ILT.  Without that, the Eddie Congers of the world will fragment and take over Dallas education, and students will not gain! (

I am here to speak against the District of Innovation model.  Please do not waste valuable board time in this consideration.  Mike Morath was correct when he said that not enough time is spent in board meetings discussing student achievement.  DOI is not an alternative that any research shows will help student achievement. (See more on this at and  DOI is only 18 months old! Even the two changes DISD is considering with this DOI proposal have no research to back them up.  Plus, they are changes to standards that all 1,200 districts in Texas are working under. If they are truly valuable changes, this needs research, and then a statewide legislative change.

Now to invest time on student achievement. You know I have been working for over 12 years with the Time Capsule Project.  The two oldest Time Capsule Project middle schools now have the highest SEI average over the past three years of all 31 DISD middle schools.  The next 5 Time Capsule Project schools over 3 years old have gained an average of 6.7 points in their SEI during those last three years. The remaining 24 middle schools in DISD have seen their average SEI fall 0.7 of a point during these same three years.   Are we a data-centered district?  

This project to date has cost DISD nothing beyond paper, pencil, and postage. The vaults were all donated. It is easy to find such donors.

We have struggled since 2009 trying to get parents to write a letter to their child about their dreams for them.  This has resulted in priceless letters, but they are written to only about 30% of students. This past May, instead of a letter from the principal, we experimented with students writing these request letters to their parents asking for that priceless letter back themselves about their parents dreams for them.  The results were dramatic!  In several classes as many as 85% of parents responded!  Numbers almost tripled!  Parents responded directly to their children!

(See documentation in recent blogs below.)

Since May it has been recommended to all 11 Time Capsule Project schools to expanded to all grades writing letters each year. Year old letters are returned each year to be read before new letters are written.  Only the letters written in the final grade of a school (5th, 8th or 12th) are letters planning 10 years into the future, and are the only letters that remain in the vault a decade. Now Time Capsule Projects are starting in elementary schools. 

With these improvements, and that significantly higher level of parental involvement annually, the SEI scores will rise much more rapidly at the 5 additional Time Capsule Project Schools now in development, as well as the 11 other already high performing Time Capsule Project Schools.   

This is how we need to spend more of our time at DISD Board meetings, not in discussing things like Home Rule and DOI!     

Monday, November 14, 2016

Time Capsule Project Achievements Since 2005 - a focus on the future!

  • The oldest Time Capsule Project DISD middle schools (Quintanilla 2005 & Greiner 2009) now have the highest 3-year average SEI* scores of all 31 DISD middle schools!  
  • The 5 middle schools with newer Time Capsule Projects have achieved an average 3-year SEI gain of 6.7 points per school!  
  • The 24 middle schools with no Time Capsule Project suffered an average 3-year SEI loss of 0.7 points during the same years.  
  • Sunset, with the oldest high school Time Capsule Project, has now changed one of the worst DISD graduation rates a decade ago into the highest of all 22 non-magnet high schools! (Calculated as the balance between 9th grade size and number of diplomas given within 4 years without corrections allowed in state calculations.)
  • See charts & details in October 2016 blogs at

Annual goal-focused letter writing is now recommended for all grades in Time Capsule Project schools. It is also recommended that the request for parents to write a letter about their dreams for their child come directly from the student in a personal letter. This was first done in May 2016 with the result that the old 30% parental response rate almost tripled! As many as 85% of parents responded with a potentially priceless letter to their child.  
The third Quintanilla 10-year reunion will be this year, scheduled as planned before Career Day.  The 8th grade class of 2007 will return to pick up their 2007 letters in time for volunteers to be secured for Career Day. Eighth grade students were told a decade ago to be prepared to give such talks. They speak with current students on Career Day about life after middle school, their employment and preparation for it, and what they would do differently if they could be 13 once again. Is it easy to understand why the SEI is rising?   
* “School Effectiveness Indices (SEI’s) are Dallas ISD's value-added measure of the academic performance of a school's students. The SEI model is an alternative to evaluating school performance with absolute measures such as passing rates. SEIs are a fairer method for determining a school's effect on student performance because they take into consideration known factors over which school personnel have no control, such as socio-economic status, language proficiency, and gender.”
      From with 18 years SEI data by school.     

Monday, November 7, 2016

Review of 2014 & 2015 Texas Education Agency Snapshot Data for Texas Charter Schools compared with ISD’s

This review uses data from the Texas Education Agency Snapshot pages for 2014 and 2015, online at This data is inserted below in three three-pages containing all 98 data items from each year for all charter schools and ISD’s in Texas, and for Dallas ISD, for these years. Items that are identified as more significant have an “X” to the far right.  Here are some of the more critical items.  They are identified with the number in the far left-hand column of the spreadsheets, starting with page 1 below.

Items 3 through 16 cover basic demographic information. While economically handicapped minority students are over represented in charter schools, items 6 and 11, this is mainly due to the fact that charters collect in urban, high poverty areas.  Within those urban areas they focus on areas like District 6 here in southwest Dallas where about 50% of school attendance is in charter schools.

Items 18, 19 and 20 indicate that the charter dropout rate is over three times that for ISD’s while charter graduation rates are between 20 and 30 percentage points worse than ISD’s.

The percentage of charter students passing all statewide tests, item 23, remains about 2 percentage points lower than in ISD’s in Texas.
Page 1 summary Texas Education Agency Snapshot Data for years 2014 & 2015 with Dallas ISD
On page 2 below, item 36 indicates a positive trend in charter school of higher percentages of children classified as economically disadvantaged & passing all statewide tests.

Items 37 through 40 indicate that while between 17 and 20 percent less charter school students are taking either ACT or SAT tests, this select group is still testing below the ISD students for Texas.

Items 43 and 44 indicate that charter schools invest about twice as much in administrative and leadership positions in their schools.  Item 46 indicates they spend over 5% less in teachers. 

Item 52 shows that the average charter teacher salary is $6,000 less than the average ISD teacher salary while the charter teacher has an average of between 1 and 2 more students in each charter class, item 55.  Items 56 and 57 show ISD teachers have over twice the average teaching experience of a charter teacher and less than half the turnover.

Page 2 summary Texas Education Agency Snapshot Data for years 2014 & 2015 with Dallas ISD
On page 3 below, items 81 through 85 show again how more money is invested in charter administration, leadership, and building expenses and less in charter school instruction.  This distribution apparently varies state to state.  In Massachusetts, this is apparently not true based on the 11-6-16 article “Schools That Work” posted in the NY Times about Boston charter schools.  This article by David Lionhardt stated that Boston charter schools “devote more of the resources to classroom teaching and less to almost everything else.”  If that is true, it is the opposite of charter schools in Texas.  (I wrote on 11-7-16 to Massachusetts education staff asking for similar data from their state to compare charter funding of classroom instruction in Massachusetts. No response received as of 12-10-16.)

Page 3 summary Texas Education Agency Snapshot Data for years 2014 & 2015 with Dallas ISD
This fast review only starts a conversation about the 98 TEA Snapshot data items for 2014 and 2015.  

11-7-16, Bill Betzen

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Dallas ISD dropout indicators as of 10-01-16 enrollment

This is a chart of the 22 Comprehensive High School in Dallas ISD and their enrollment by grade as of 10-1-16.  The balance between 9th grade enrollment and 12th grade enrollment is a general indicator of the dropout numbers that each school will be enduring.  Sunset is the best in DISD by over 10 percentage points!
Dallas ISD Comprehensive High Schools enrollment by grade as of 10-1-16 and dropout indicators.
The position of Sunset at the top of this chart is a reflection of 12 years active work in the Time Capsule Project and a reflection of the fact that Sunset receives most of their students from Quintanilla who started the Time Capsule Project in 2005, and Greiner Middle School who started their Time Capsule Project with Sunset in 2010.

The above statements still need to be researched.  There are multiple other variables that can also, and probably did, account for this monumental progress at Sunset.  Sunset used to be one of the highest dropout rate high schools in all of DISD.

To provide a little history on Sunset, here is a chart covering the decade of enrollments and graduations before 2012 at Sunset.  Notice the imbalance in enrollment that was slowly disappearing with the onset of more future planning students:

Sunset High School enrollment by grade history from 1997 to 2011
Notice how the balance between 12th grade enrollment and 9th grade enrollment began to balance once the Time Capsule Project students began entering Sunset in 2005. The changes started the next year as a higher percentage of 9th graders when on to the 10th grade, a percentage that increased almost every year from that time forward.  That is the power of students having once written serious plans for their own future.  Now we recommend such student writing happen every year in Language Arts classes in every grade.  Just once a year is enough.

Sunset installed their own vault the summer of 2009 along with Greiner. Here is a history of Sunset's graduation rates back in these early days of the Time Capsule Project:
Sunset High School & DISD Graduation Rates Compared from 2000 to 2010.
Principal Tony Tovar came to Sunset in 2005, same year Time Capsule Project started at Quintanilla.

The progress at Sunset continues to this day!  More improvement is needed even when you are on top.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

School Effectiveness Indices over 3 years & DISD Time Capsule Schools

The 11 Time Capsule Project Schools serving over 15,000 Dallas ISD students are the most rapidly improving schools in the district.

It is clearly documented that the 8 Time Capsule Project middle schools have the most consistently improving School Effectiveness Indices (SEI) scores of all 31 Dallas ISD middle schools!

Dallas ISD has a 14 year collection of priceless school achievement data in the School Effectiveness Indices (SEI) database, online at .  The SEI is a measure of how much students are improving during their years at a school.  It is one of the most valuable education measurement available in school district management.  Magnet schools do not necessarily have the highest SEI scores as the students who enter them are already achieving at a high level. Record setting progress beyond that is a challenge.

Below is a chart of the most recent three years of SEI scores for all 31 non-magnet DISD Middle Schools. The 7 schools with Time Capsule Projects are highlighted in yellow.  All 31 schools are listed in order starting with the highest most recent SEI score. The three year average is also given with the ranking by that average given.

The two schools with the oldest Time Capsule Projects have the highest average 3 year SEI scores of any middle schools in DISD. Since they were already achieving high SEI scores three years ago, their rise has slowed down. The 5 newest Time Capsule Project schools which started three years ago with an average SEI of only 42.8, are improving rapidly to catch up with the two more tenured Time Capsule Project schools.  They have improved an average of 6.7 points over the past 3 years!  The rest of the 24 non-Time-Capsule-Project schools reflect no such progress as a group.  They have lost an average of 0.7 points during the last 3 years.  
Dallas ISD Time Capsule Project Middle Schools compared with normal Middle Schools on SEI
(Since Rosemont was the newest middle school, and has a relatively small student body compared to the other schools, it was not included in this listing.)

The above chart is about improved SEI due to only having 8th graders write letters planning their futures. Many improvements have happened within the past 6 months! 
This year each of these schools began to have all three grades of students writing letters each year to practice and improve their letters year to year, building toward the 8th grade letters that stay in the schools time capsule for a decade.

In addition, now students have one additional writing project that starts off the project each year. They personally write a persuasive letter to their parents asking for a letter back about their parent's dreams for them.  This change both prepares the students to receive their parents thoughts back on this central issue and replaces a letter from the teacher or principal.  It has more than doubled the percentage of parents who write a letter to their child about their dreams for them.  Now as many as 85% of parents are writing letters to their child!

Next year all 7th and 8th grade students, and their parents, will receive back the letters they wrote this year to read before new letters are written.  The quality of the letters being written will hopefully continue to improve.

With this increased focus on the future, and planning by both parents and students every year, the schools SEI scores will continue to rise.  None of these improvements are reflected in the above SEI scores.  The SEI scores should continue to improve as these changes become normal annual events in Time Capsule Project schools.

At this time one elementary school is planning to apply such a future planning system to their language arts writing projects, storing the letters in a vault they have in the school.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Increasing Student Resilience with a Time Capsule Project

As students know they can, and will, and must, know how to change, they become more resilient. That was underlined in an article in today's Dallas Morning News, page 1 of the Arts and Life Section.  The article was by Jan Hoffman, titled "Cultivating resilience," and was originally published in the New York Times.  See it at

The message is simple.

As students in the active Time Capsule Project schools read letters from their parents about their parental dreams for them, and then have written their own plans for the future, and then re-reading those plans the next year before writing new ones, annually modifying the old plans, they develop the ability to change.  They see the ability to change. They understand it is good.  They understand it is normal. The most critical component to resilience is reinforced.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Dallas ISD Achievement Gains - Constant Improvement

The School Archive Project started in 2005. This note was posted in a December 2005 national school newsletter:

Once Quintanilla 8th graders started planning 10-years into their futures, graduation rates at Sunset High School, where most students attend, began a steady rise from 33% in 2006 to over 70% by 2013. By 2009 the Sunset Principal had noticed the differences in Quintanilla students and started the Sunset Time-Capsule Project. That same year a teacher at Greiner Middle School had read about the project and started the Greiner Time-Capsule Project.  There are now 11 DISD schools in 2016 with active Time-Capsule Projects. 

In the process to name "School Archive Project" changed into a more descriptive "School Time-Capsule Project" name.

Also in 2009 a Quintanilla Language Arts Teacher, Ms. Thomas, had the idea of asking parents to start the process with a letter to their child about their dreams for their child.  A letter was sent from the principal to 8th grade parents asking for such letters to the students.  That priceless parental letter was read by the child before they wrote their time-capsule letter, and was then placed with their child's letter into the vault for a decade.  That started a very positive process that continues to this day.  

Sadly, in the years that followed not all schools were able to get letters written each year.  Also, with the addition of parental letters, only 30% of parents on average would write such potentially priceless letters. That low response rate continued until 2016.  That is when the Language Arts Coach at Quintanilla, Ms. Lincoln, had the idea of having students themselves write a letter to their parents asking for that valuable letter back.  This idea was great! The results were parental response rates as high as 85%! 

Quintanilla had already achieved the highest School Effectiveness Index (SEI) of all 35 middle schools in Dallas ISD by 2014/15.  Since that achievement the 10-year class-reunions have started with the first one in May of 2015. With the 2016 Class reunion the tradition of returning students speaking with current students was started with very positive results. Also in 2016, not only was the parental response rate more than doubled, but this goal identification process and letter writing was spread to 6th and 7th grade students at Quintanilla, with plans for the updating of goals happening each year for all students and all parents. 

It is almost certain that the SEI for Quintanilla will continue going higher.  

Identified and updated goals affect motivation. That drives achievement.  In the process almost all negative behaviors, including crime, gang involvement, and unplanned pregnancy, are lowered! 

The goal from involving all grades is to expand the achievement gains to earlier grades while giving all students practice writing goal-centered letters.  The quality of the final 8th grade letters will improve.  The 8th grade letters are the letters that will remain in the Time-Capsule for a decade.

Students also ask in their request letter to their parents for one story from their family history to be included in the letter from their parents.  It should be a story the parent wants to be passed on to their grandchildren, an important piece of their family history.  Parents and grandparents have lived critical years in U.S. History.  Where were they when critical events happened in U.S. History? Such stories help a child realize their own place in U.S. History.

The resulting parental letters should be immediately shared at home by parents with their child.  They should be studied by the students at home so any questions can be answered by parents.  This will often lead to valuable family discussions.

Then these parental/relative letters are brought to school and used in Language Arts Class to give ideas to students as they write letters to themselves about their own plans for the future.

Parents and/or relatives should be prepared to write such letters to their child every year from 6th through 12th grade, until their child graduates from high school. 

A child changes greatly in just one year.  Each letter will be different. Each letter will contain a different story from the family history.  The more a child knows about their family history, both painful stories and wonderfully positive stories, the better.  It all helps ground a child in a valuable personal heritage providing a solid foundation for life, and for school work needed to better prepare for life. 

A written record is being created.

All the letters for each child (more than one relative can write a letter) are placed together into one self-addressed envelope for each student, along with the student's own letter to themselves.  This valuable envelope is then stored in the school time-capsule, a 500-pound vault bolted to the floor in a prominent place in the school lobby.

The vault is not necessary if teachers have other ways of storing such priceless letters. 

If parents immediately see how priceless these letters are, they can certainly ask to keep the letter at home and only send photocopies to school to place inside their child's time-capsule envelope. Or a photo copy can be kept at home with the original in the vault.  Such requests are certainly understandable regarding these valuable letters. 

Each year the letters from the previous year are returned to the child and their parents for use in preparing to write new letters. Reading of previous letters will help improve the 8th and 12th grade letters that are written with plans for 10 years into the future. The 8th and 12th grade letters remain in the middle school and high school time-capsules for a decade. 

A student can also choose to collect all the letters from each year leading up to the 10-year letter so all can be placed together into that one final envelope, the one kept secure in the vault for a decade.  It is a potentially powerful record of the evolution of life plans during middle and high school years. (This is why the vault should be at least as large as having 26 cubic feet of interior space.)

Students must know that upon their return in 10 years to get back their letters they will also be invited to speak with current students about their recommendations for success.  Such priceless mentoring has already started at Quintanilla Middle School with the reunions now happening every year.  It is an event that will be making the future ever more real for Quintanilla students. Achievement at Quintanilla will continue to improve.

Imagine how powerful high school 10-year reunions will be as students read their letters, and their parents letters, once again.  Most important, imagine the power of what these former students can say to students sitting in the same seats they were in a decade earlier!

These are the plans working within the School Time-Capsule Project as of Fall of 2016. We are now planning the third 10-year reunion at Quintanilla Middle School this April or May for the 8th grade class of 2007.

Here are links to the most recent School Effectiveness Index (SEI) for Quintanilla, the highest of all 35 middle schools in Dallas ISD!  The chart below was made from the listing of all SEI scores for middle schools in DISD found in the DISD Data Portal at  
School Effectiveness Indices (SEI) details and history are online at 
These achievements happened in spite of the 96 percent poverty rate for Quintanilla students, which places Quintanilla within the most poverty stricken third of all middle schools in Dallas ISD!  In addition, discipline problems and pregnancy rates at Quintanilla have dropped dramatically since 2006.  

The best birth control is active personal planning for the future!

Again, this year was the first year that all students from all three grades wrote letters for the Quintanilla Time-Capsule.  It used to be only an 8th grade activity, but Quintanilla wants to raise their record SEI score even higher than the 59.3 in the above chart.  This change will intensify the focus on a future grounded in family heritage for all students in all grades.  With the return of the previous year's letters it should help lead to improved letter writing and planning in the 7th and 8th grades.  

Quintanilla will stay on top with the highest SEI unless the other 7 middle schools who have their own Time-Capsule Projects continue to have an increasingly active and ever more effective future focus with all of their students as well.  

This is the best competition possible for Dallas ISD students!

A shortened report on the project was published in the Dallas Morning News on Ocober 4, 2016.  It is found at

************  Technical Notes  **************

1) Addressing of the envelopes to contain these valuable letters is critical.  It is recommended the envelopes be addressed first, before the letters are written. Thus teachers will have time to walk around checking each of the envelopes to verify that the address form is correct with all needed information. 

2) Envelope information includes the schools return address with the date and grade in school for the student above the schools' return address.  The date the letter is written is critical as is the grade the student is in.  You do NOT want letters getting mixed up with other classes.  Next, be as certain as possible that address is correct and complete.  Email addresses and cell phone numbers should be included to help in locating students if they move.  

3) The envelopes for the 10-year letters need to have students place on the back side of the envelope two additional addresses of relatives or friends to help in their being located in 10-years, along with phone numbers and email addresses for these two people.  We want to be able to locate students in 10-years to return their letters, which remain in the library for at least one additional decade to be picked up, with proper ID. 

4) To help students collect all of the above mentioned envelope information you may want to send a blank form home to help the student.  They can then have all the address information recorded in one place to bring it back to school.

5) The vaults we have been using in Dallas ISD since 2005 are 520 pound vaults with about 26 cubic feet inside. They each serve schools of about 1,000 to 2,000 students.  We now have 11 schools.  The initial 2005 vault was only 16 cubic feet and is now jammed full of letters with all 10 shelves full.  It is proving to have been too small due to above recommendations to now have letters written by all three grades each year.  There is no space for the extra letters these two overlapping years.  It should have been a 26 cubic foot vault. It needs to be replaced with a new vault.

6) The best location for the vault is in the highest visibility location possible,a place of respect, where the most students will pass it each day.  Our first vault we bolted to the floor inside a closet in the wall with a glass door.  I now think that was a mistake and minimizes vault visibility too much.  Vandalism fears have been unfounded. Since 2009 an additional 10 vaults have been installed and there has never been vandalism other than stealing of the knobs to the vault.  That problem is solved with superglue being used to seal the knobs to the vault permanently. It is best to have the vault out in the open and very visible. The practice of bolting vaults to the floor in one permanent location has continued, but that remains a school decision. The more students see the vault and are reminded of the contents inside, and the letters from their mother or father or relatives, the better.  It appears that a respect for the vault develops in each school as the contents become well known. The goal is to reinforce a focus on the future and increase the number of opportunities that exist for parents, teachers, and students to discuss plans for the future. 

Bill Betzen

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Failure to admit cause for Civil War, & ongoing cost for that failure.

The Sons of Confederate Veterans are having their national convention this week in Richardson, an excellent opportunity for exploring U.S. History.  

Most Confederate Monuments were erected, and Confederate names given to buildings, over 60 years after the Civil War. 

More significantly, the monuments and Confederate names only began to appear in greater numbers a decade after the founding of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.  

It would suggest that the naming and raising of monuments was associated with active work to defend “separate but equal” and segregation.  It ended by 1960 with few if any such monuments, or Confederate names given to buildings, after the end of the 1950’s. Even though the legal foundation was laid with the Brown v Board of Education 20 years earlier, the last major city to legally integrate all schools was Dallas in 1976. The reason for Confederate names and monuments was gone long before 1976, but the failure to discuss and admit the reason for the Civil War has continued to this day at great cost.

The attempt to create a sanitized history of the motivation behind the Civil War was universal across the south.  The large majority of slaves were owned by less than 2% of the wealthiest citizens of the south who were the major architects of the Civil War. That justification for the war disappeared after the war. “States’ Rights” were fabricated as the central cause. This happened in spite of the ample historical documentation, most recently recorded in the 2015 book The Myth of the Lost Cause: Why the South Fought the Civil War and Why the North Won,” by Edward H. Bonekemper III.

There is little doubt that this sudden appearance of Confederate names and monuments across the south, especially during the final 30 years before “separate but equal” was declared illegal, was only another method used by those fighting to keep “separate but equal” required by law. What else would explain this 30-year focus on the resurrection of Confederate names and memorials, then suddenly it was stopped?

The Sons of Confederate Veterans Convention this week is an opportunity to revisit critical U.S. History.  If there is agreement as to the true main causes of the Civil War, we will have taken a first step toward a peaceful resolution of the agony now being faced in our streets.  It is no accident that those who are fighting against groups such as Black Lives Matter are also groups who erect monuments like this:

Here is a review of “The Myth of the Lost Cause” that helps shed light on this history that is part of today’s battle.

A July 5th Washington Post article this year quoted Patricia Hardy, a member of the State Board of Education in Texas, as stating that slavery was a “side issue to the Civil War. There would be those who would say the reason for the Civil War was over slavery. No. It was over states’ rights.”

Ms. Hardy should read Ed Bonekemper’s latest book, "The Myth of the Lost Cause." In this, his sixth Civil War book, which is perhaps his finest, Mr. Bonekemper uses his gifts as both an historian and a lawyer to shred revisionist history that has tried to sanitize the reasons Southern states seceded from the Union. Mr. Bonekemper’s research is thorough; his arguments are compelling. The high percentage of slaves compared with the total population in the seceding states (57 percent in South Carolina) and the high percentage of slave-holding families in those states (49 percent in Mississippi) are strong indicators of the importance of slavery in the decisions of these states to leave the Union. The reader is provided with the actual language from the declarations at the state secession conventions. Mississippi got right to the point: “Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery.” At that time, the issue of states’ rights was not on the agenda of the seceding states; Southerners were dissatisfied instead with the Northern exercise of their states’ rights – failing to return fugitive slaves in accordance with the Constitution and Federal law! Additionally, the South’s rejection of the use of slaves as soldiers and the South’s failure to promise to end slavery to gain the diplomatic support of Britain and France demonstrated that the independence of the Confederacy was a lessor priority than the preservation of slavery. It is clear that the only states’ right the Southern states were interested in was the right to maintain slavery.

I agree with one reviewer’s assessment that the first 95 pages alone are worth the price of the book. After refuting the states’ rights myth, the author refutes other popularly held beliefs: (1) the Confederacy had no chance to win the war; (2) Robert E. Lee was one of history’s greatest generals; (3) General Longstreet, not Lee, was responsible for the Confederacy’s loss at Gettysburg; (4) Ulysses S. Grant was a “butcher” who won the war with superior numbers and brutality; and (5) the North won because it waged total war against the South. Mr. Bonekemper explains that the allegation that the North won by waging total war is a myth, because it fails to distinguish between “hard war,” which involves the destruction of enemy armies and property, and “total war,” which adds the deliberate and systematic killing and rape of civilians. As the author demonstrates, unlimited, large-scale attacks on civilians are absent from the Civil War.

There are two reviewers who inexplicably gave this extraordinary book only one star. One reviewer said that the book was intentionally deceptive, but he failed to say in what way. He further claimed that the author omitted important facts, but he failed to clarify what these were. It is questionable whether this reviewer even read the book, and I find his unsupported conclusions to be a disservice to potential readers. Although the second one-star reviewer did provide specific objections, they were either irrelevant to the author’s points or they were factually incorrect. The reviewer states that only 10 percent of whites were wealthy enough to own slaves, even though a chart is provided showing that the percentage of slave-owning families in the 11 states that seceded ranged from 25 to 49, with the average being 31. Moreover, Mr. Bonekemper points out that fear of Negro equality by Southern whites who were not slave owners helped to reinforce the institution of slavery. This is an exceptional book, well written and meticulously researched, and should be read by all who want to truly understand the history of the Civil War. I challenge the State Board of Education in Texas it to make "The Myth of the Lost Cause" part of its curriculum.

The Myth of the Lost Cause by Edward H. Bonekemper, III

Monday, June 27, 2016

Enrollment dropping - DISD staff claim otherwise 10-22-14

A series of posts to agonize over dropping enrollment not reflected in DISD 2016/17 Budget. They also bemoan the 10-22-14 meeting where misleading information from DISD staff claiming enrollment over budget was used to get approval for $6.4 million for additional staff while that day the enrollment was 1,033 under budget and the official 2014/15 school year was recorded as being 1,268 below budget. 

Sadly the video of the 10-22-14 meeting documenting this series of events, that was online a week ago, now cannot be located.

DISD now has a budget projecting an increase in student enrollment when Dallas County Birth records and the growing number of charter schools both indicate DISD enrollment will be going down again in 2016/17.

Following are these posts made to TALKDISD Blog.

 44,414 births in 2007 remain Dallas County record. 2011, 2012, 2013 births stable, within 100 of 38,700.