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Making Dallas Even Better

Anchia Files DISD Reform Bill That Home Rule Foes are Certain to Love

A lot going on in Austin right now relating to education. Several bills have already been filed that could affect how school boards govern. I’ll write a post on those soon. Also, be sure to voice your support on social media for Rep. Eric Johnson’s pre-K bill, HB 1100, which will be discussed in the Public Education Committee tomorrow. But today a very DISD-specific bill was filed by Rep. Rafael Anchia (D-Funkytown). I’ll have a breakdown of it on Learning Curve when I write about all the ed bills out there, but here’s what you need to know: It’s awesome, and it would dramatically help DISD’s governance problem.

The deets: This bill (HB 2579) affects school districts larger than […]

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DMN Screws DISD With Ad Placement

As Liz mentioned in Leading Off, Sunday’s paper brought us a long front-page story about DISD hiring too many teachers and then misinforming the board about the matter. An alert FrontBurnervian sent along the image above, pointing out how funny it is that the jump of that story landed across from a full-page DISD ad seeking teacher applicants. If I were in charge of buying ads for the district, I would demand a make-good.

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The Dallas Miracle: How Data Show Mike Miles Deserves a New Contract

Over on Learning Curve, I tell you about how the most rigorous ISD analysts in the state say DISD made astounding gains in 2013. Which, when we consider that Mike Miles wants a contract extension, leads us to the classic line from Rounders, issued by Teddy KGB:

“Pay him. Pay that man his money.”

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Leading Off (6/9/14)

DISD Recruit’s Mother Pointing Fingers at the District Post Death. Tammy Simpson knew it was illegal when DISD recruited her son, then living at the Dallas County Youth Village, to play basketball at Wilmer-Hutchins High School. But she thought the move would be the best thing for him. She says DISD forged residency papers, and her son, Troy Causey, hit the court. He died March 24 as a result of injuries sustained in a fight. Fifteen DISD employees, including coaches, administrators, and staff were fired Friday.

STARR Results Terrible Despite Success Initiative. In 2009, the Student Success Initiative was expanded to cover all third through eighth grade students who were identified as at risk of failing the state exams. Three years later, the Dallas Morning News is reporting that results show little improvement with widening gaps for some of the state’s lowest-performing students overall.

A New Orleans-Style Funeral For a Not-Officially-Dead-Yet Tollway. Some 50 residents and business owners in Bishop Arts gathered Friday to bid adieu to the Trinity Tollway project. They, as many have before, pointed out funding obstacles, environmental harm, and the overall impracticality of the project.

Ted Cruz Still a GOP Rockstar. He was quite the hit at the Texas Republican Convention over the weekend in Fort Worth.

The SAGA Pod, Learning Curve-style — DISD, Home Rule, TEI, DHA, SEX, Etc.

By popular some a tiny bit of demand, the SAGA Pod is back! With all new equipment! If this doesn’t address most of Tim’s issues with sound, then I’ll just give up again. But I think we’ve got it figured out. Also, no intro, no outro, no frills. That’s fun the first half-dozen times, but it means every pod takes two hours just to edit. Now, we record, upload, and move on so we I can blog about DISD and Jim can go back to hating Tim. This week it’s all DISD: We talk about: […]

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FW’s Superintendent Resigns — Why This Means We Should Extend Miles’ Contract

If you haven’t seen this short video from Monday’s FWISD board meeting, do yourself a favor and watch. You might want to start screaming “NO!” as soon as it starts, just to get into the correct frame of mind. After that, head over to Learning Curve to read why I think Walter Dansby’s resignation as FWISD superintendent should signal to the DISD school board that it’s time to give Mike Miles a new contract.

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Compromise Group Puts Out Proposed Compromise Charter for Home Rule

I’ve got 2.5 more days to go at the day job, and then I’ll have some news for you kids on my next endeavor. (I know, I know, I’m a nomad, what can I say?) In the meantime, I can’t post all my thoughts on matters such as these until I have more time to do so, which should happen in a few weeks.

Until then, just know that the Home Rule discussion is already making me insane, and I will have much to say about it. One group that is producing reasonable discussion is the group led by attorney Mark Melton, who is trying to broker a peace between the pro- and anti-Home Rule groups. Today his group of DISD stakeholders produced a press release announcing a proposed charter that we could all vote on (theoretically) in November. From the release:

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Home Rule Backers Probably Have the 25k Sigs They Need, So What Happens Next?

Last week, people who know people were telling me that Support Our Public Schools, the group trying to gather 25,000 signatures so it can put a home rule measure on the November ballot, have met that goal. Now I’m hearing that number is closer to 30k (which makes sense — always build in a buffer) and that the group could present them at any time. Officially, the group’s PR firm, Allyn Media, says it won’t confirm or deny numbers.

So why hasn’t it presented these signatures and started the home rule-on-the-ballot process? And will they present them soon? And what happens then? All those questions have different answers, but they are linked to another question that is much harder to answer: Will the DISD board implement Home Rule-style changes and make this entire movement moot?

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Leading Off (4/23/14)

Preliminary Findings Show a Lack of Oversight Contributed to the West Explosion. Five days after the one-year anniversary of the fertilizer plant explosion, the Chemical Safety Board released the initial findings of its investigation, stressing that the ammonium nitrate wasn’t handled properly and that this was a “preventable accident.” The federal agency has been criticized in the past for moving too slowly, and West Mayor Tommy Muska voiced disappointment in how long it’s taken to get “preliminary” results. The investigation is ongoing.

DISD’s School for the Talented and Gifted Ranked Best in the Country. That’s according to U.S. News and World Report’s latest ranking of the best high schools in the nation. At the Dallas magnet school, students must take 11 AP classes to graduate, and 100 percent of those graduates are ready for college.

Arlington Council: Leave Your Guns at Home (or in the Car). The council approved an ordinance Tuesday that bans weapons and “simulated weapons” in City Hall. Concealed handguns were already prohibited, but the new ordinance extends the ban to the antique black-power pistols, replica pistols, and long-barreled guns that can be openly carried in Texas.

Dallas Charter Review Commission in Favor of Raises for Mayor, Council Members. Eric Celeste recommended an even greater increase in the April issue of D Magazine, but the commission voted on a 20 percent pay hike for the mayor Tuesday night and a 32 percent increase for council members. That would take salaries to $71,864 and $49,530 respectively. A month remains before final recommendations must be submitted.

Plus, Holy Road Rage. Be careful out there.

Inside D Magazine’s April 2014 Issue

When Zac Crain set out to profile Dallas ISD Superintendent Mike Miles, the goal was to humanize the man with what could be the hardest job in Dallas. We’d seen his very public flops and read about the troubled district over and over and, yes, over again. But Miles was a bit of a mystery. Who is he? And why is he here while his family is back in Colorado? Oh, and does he have a shot at doing anything productive with DISD? Frankly, a cursory glance of local media, including D Magazine, would have you believe Miles was a lost cause. That disdain, in fact, has already surfaced in the comments of “Who’s Out to Get Mike Miles?

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Stop What You’re Doing and Watch This Inspiring Video of Mayor Mike Rawlings, Ctd.

The paper is coming around. On Wednesday, James Ragland wrote a column that clearly took aim at the home-rule movement, saying its backers wanted to “blow up the district.” An accompanying news story about the signature-gathering efforts painted a picture of confusion. Now this.

The DMN just put up an editorial endorsing the home-rule movement, saying, “It’s clear to this newspaper, as it has been for some time, that this is the conversation we must have to reform and improve public education. If it takes signing this petition, you should. It beats running to the suburbs.” Tod Robberson, too, posted an item a few minutes ago that supports the movement. You know who made that happen? Rawlings. As Robberson writes, “It’s wonderful when a politician throws caution to the wind, abandons political niceties and tells it like it is.”

It’s too early to say for certain, but we might be watching the defining moment of Rawlings’ tenure.

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Stop What You’re Doing and Watch This Inspiring Video of Mayor Mike Rawlings

I read the front-page DMN story today about the home-rule movement for DISD, and I thought, “Oh, man, they still don’t have their messaging together.” Here’s how the story in the paper wraps up:

Rawlings and the group said they did not have a grand vision for a DISD charter. When asked why the community would support a plan that hasn’t been outlined, some group members said the effort would give the public a blank page and lets them write the future of Dallas ISD.

“The power is the blank page,” Rawlings said. “The citizens for the first time get to decide what they want to do.”

What? They have no vision? The power is the blank page? No, no, NO. People are going to hate that. But then I watched this video.

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