Allen Vaught Wants to Plant Grassroots Movement That'll Save DISD's Teachers

allenvaughtingreenzone.jpg
Allen Vaught in the Green Zone
Brother Bill Holston directed our attention yesterday to the Facebook page of former state Rep. and movie star Allen Vaught, who writes of "organizing a grassroots program focusing on the legislature and DISD to not gut our schools." I called Vaught at his office at Baron & Budd for more details, and he explained: Dallas Independent School District trustees Bruce Parrott and Bernadette Nutall showed up for Thursday night's meeting of the Woodrow Wilson Community Council to lay out the "train wreck headed toward our schools."

He's referring, of course, to Superintendent Michael Hinojosa's so-called "new reality" that could lead to 3,100 on-campus employees losing their jobs, most of whom will be teachers. And as far as Vaught's concerned, that's unconscionable -- especially since the district's only proposing to lay off a fraction of its off-campus administrators and dispose of a small percentage of its consultants' contracts.

"There has to be a top-down approach to the budgeting," says Vaught. "We know there have to be cuts, but why begin with teachers? The message we want to send to DISD is: We know you have to work with the mess the Legislature gives you, but don't cut teachers."

The "we" to whom Vaught refers is, for now, a group of Woodrow-area parents who intend to take their fight to Austin and 3700 Ross Avenue, joining the myriad protest planned in coming weeks -- especially Alliance/AFT's March 14 spring-break Lobby Day. But Vaught hopes to expand the effort district-wide via Facebook, because "if it can bring about democracy in Egypt, it can certainly do some good here too" by spreading to DISD heretofore ignored and overlooked details about how the district really spends -- and wastes -- its money.

"We don't need a mob of people with abstract ideas yelling, 'Don't cut our schools!'" he says. "Even if they do have to cut teachers -- and they will, we know that -- we'll insist parents show up to board meetings armed with information. They'll be able to point to the pie chart and ask the trustees, 'What's Red River Solutions? Why are we spending $7 million with them? Why can't you cut that instead of X amount of teachers?' We need to ask: 'Can you cut these outside vendors, these consultants, these administrators?' We need to ask those questions rather than resigning ourselves to, 'Well, we'll let Mike Hinojosa make the decision for us.'"

Vaught has no intention of becoming the face of this movement, if that's what it can become -- pending back surgery, he says, will make that impossible. Besides, he says, this is too big for any one person: The former state representative says for public education to survive this round of gutting, parents will have to take the fight to two fronts.

"We also have to focus on the source of the problem: the Legislature and the governor," he says. "I mean, the governor has his emergencies: voter ID, the sonogram bill, state sovereignty, whatever that means, but nothing about funding schools is seen as an emergency? That's because we don't have their attention. We need to get their attention. So through a PTA program there will be a respectful attempt to communicate with the Legislature, to tell them: Find the revenue. That's all they need to do. Instead of cutting $10 billion, go into the rainy day fund."

He says, for now, the Woodrow council will spearhead the movement, but that it will only be successful if it "taps into the PTA movement and educates them as well. Because we all understand things will be unpleasant, but we need to shape it. There needs to be shared suffering. So we need to get more parents involved.

"This is about the entire school district, all the children," he says. "We have a lot of parents who could step in and teach fine arts, but some neighborhoods don't have that resource. Those kids matter too. I don't understand: Why is fine arts 'off the table' while math and science are not untouchable? That's inconsistent with some of the legislation. We have to focus on the problem -- the political leadership in Austin. Tell them to find the money. And we have to focus on DISD. The pain needs to be shared equally by everyone. We need a balanced approach, and we don't have one in Austin or DISD."

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42 comments
UB
UB

Seriously, why would anyone allow Allen Vaught to act as leader on a public school finance issue? This failed puppet's every move is dictated by people who profit off public education tax dollars. He's no longer in politics for a reason - he's a goofy windbag. 

Malea Anderson
Malea Anderson

I'm a Booker T. parent, I'm in, what do you want me to do?

DallasWatcher
DallasWatcher

That should have been 2 new 2-story brick homes @ $425K each.

DallasWatcher
DallasWatcher

For the new Medrano Elementary to be built on Webb Chapel, DISD not only bought a huge church, but 2 new homes behind the property ($425 each). The 2-story brick McMansions had never been occupied and were demolished. There is no need for a school at that location. The need is south of Walnut Hill where the awful apts are crammed full of children and Burnet Elementary is overflowing. Get rid of Hinojosa and all his gang.

Renee McKay
Renee McKay

I'm confused. How is gutting Booker T with a 47% (!!!!) reduction keeping "Fine Arts off the table"? Being a parent in DISD is exhausting. Every year there is some battle that has to be fought against the seemingly endless incompetence and short-sightedness at the administration level.

steve
steve

the real goal on Ross Ave, in Austin and in the House in Washington is to demonize teachers to the extent that the general public will be okay with moving public education into private companies hands, outsourcing to Charter school corporations and for profit schools. We have to stand up for public education because if we don't, poor students will not be able to get an education...which of course the Republicans don't mind because, well, those people are expendable anyway and should just be doing manual labor anyway.

StopDISDorg
StopDISDorg

Teachers are getting pink slips and Schools will be closing while DISD wastes $22 million to demolish and destroy a historical school and neighborhood for parking lots in-between homes!

Our children deserve a better education! ~ Our teachers deserve better compensation! ~ Our schools and neighborhoods deserve consideration for preservation not destruction!

Contact your elected DISD Board Member at 972-925-3700, or by visiting DISD’s website at www.Dallasisd.org and let them know we want their focus on improving the quality of education for our students and work on increasing the compensation for our teachers and preservation of our schools and communities!

Learn More at www.StopDISD.org

Click on the link below to view Satire Video on DISD's Land Grab

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

Skeptic
Skeptic

"We have to focus on the problem -- the political leadership in Austin. Tell them to find the money. And we have to focus on DISD. The pain needs to be shared equally by everyone. We need a balanced approach, and we don't have one in Austin or DISD."

Mr. Vaught, correct me if I am wrong, but weren't you part of the evenly-split Texas House that got us into this mess. The writing was on the wall two years ago and you ignored it! Also, when you say "find the money," are you talking about tax increases? History has proven that increase funding of education has not solved that problem. There is a systematic problem in our education system. We need to stop employing the politically convenient solution (more money) and begin addressing the real systematic problems of public education.

cheapold geezer
cheapold geezer

Gee, I just googled Red River Solutions and went to their web site. redriversolutions.comWHEREUPON I ENCOUNTER MORE TECHNO BULLSHIT DAZZLE CRAP THEN YOU CAN EVER IMAGINE. WHAT 7 MILLION SOLUTION CAN THESE BULLSHITTERS EVER PROVIDE. SOUNDS LIKE A KICKBACK SCHEME TO ME.

Parent
Parent

Thank you Allen Vaught. (I am pretty sure his back surgery is due to his injury fighting in Iraq, where he was awarded the Purple Heart Medal.) Thank you for your service to our country, state and our school kids.

Timyager
Timyager

remember all those retired rehired teachers pulling double salary (pension). just saying.

justayakker
justayakker

It is rather simple: "I get to make the decision of wheter I cut your job or I cut my job. How long do I have before iIget to make a decision?"

Save DISD Schools
Save DISD Schools

Join the Save DISD Schools Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/#!/pag... . This page will help inform citizens of upcoming Legislative and DISD meetings, serve as a forum for understanding the issues and developing plans to save our schools.

Senters
Senters

I totally agree with sharing the pain and the glory. Also, the top should share in the cuts because there has been a history of the bottom being cut first and this needs to stop too. Our teachers should be the last to be cut due to students not receiving the assistance they need within classrooms. Futhermore, Arts and Performance is parallel to the teachers being cut first. Here again, we have the last or unpopular subject areas being subject to cuts first which is a bad idea, students need to be well balance in order to compete in a global world.

Oak Cliff Townie
Oak Cliff Townie

You folks remember back in the day when a Bad A$$ kid would be telling his friends to Hold him back so he wouldn't do harm to some one ? Mostly it because he didn't want to fight himself . And then Brag how lucky the other kid was that his friends held him back.

That is the way Austin is today .

The professional Elected GOP knows exactly what is going to happen when the cuts to everything are made.

Like that kid In the past the GOP in Texas have always had the Democrats to hold them back from doing Damage to someone.

No one is there now ....

They aren't their to prevent it .

Lets see how this all turns out .

Bill Holston
Bill Holston

Thanks Robert.

I cannot agree more. CUT AT THE TOP first. If there still need to be lay offs of teachers, do it, but it should be the last, not first thing on the table.

Take a cleaver to the budget. Consultants, what for? Who are the experts on education? How about Principals and Teachers. Cut those contracts.

Oak Cliff Townie
Oak Cliff Townie

The DISD is doing every thing right....Just ask them. If you can find them ,

And know how to translate it out of faked academia speak.

Clearly Ross Ave shares the franchise on this With Austin.

IF YOU CAN'T DAZZLE THEM WITH BRILLIANCEBAFFLE THEM WITH BULL $HIT.

trashtalk
trashtalk

The fine arts programs are off the table for two reasons. The Wallace Foundation is undewriting much of the elementary and middle school programs through top-heavy BigThought which is a mirror image of DISD in terms of being bloated by BigSalaries.

Second, if Hinojosa cuts fine arts, there is no reason not to take a chain saw to athletics. Athletics is the sacred cow at all the failing comprehensive high schools.

Great questions are being raised. If teacher contracts can be broken, why not vendor contracts? Why not the superintendent's contract?

Why the continued need for consultants?

Flo Shapiro has stated the state legislature is rewriting educational policy in Texas. Her Tea-party rewrite is having only the effect of harming teacher salaries and jobs since she has jus handed superintendents the right to treat all teachers as day labor. Nothing the Tea Party is proposing does anything to rein in central administrators, their crony contractors, or consultants.

Leaving those millions intact will translate into hundreds of teachers being unemployed during the worst economic climate since the Great Depression. How do these actions increase instructional effectiveness?

It's time to call out Flo on her phony balony "reforms" that decrease teacher salaries. She needs to remember that teachers and parents in Collin county can vote her sorry butt right out of office.

Angry Parent
Angry Parent

Why is Fine Arts off the table?2 reasons: WT White and Booker T.Look at who feeds into White and who has applied to Booker T.

Snookie Pie
Snookie Pie

This is the best idea I've seen in 10yrs. Get all the District's PTA's involved.

Let's start out by demanding that DISD Trustees, revoke their extension of Hinojosa's contract.

And, we should demand Claudia Rodriguez go back to her pre-December salary. She had no HR experience when she was made HR director June 2010. And rec'd a very high (40%) salary increase for that position. Then, 6months later, Dec. 2010, the Board of Trustees, for no explainable reason, decided to raiser her salary another $33k and make her the highest paid HR director in any Texas School system. Even higher than the HR Director for Univ. of Texas, Austin.

DISD Teacher
DISD Teacher

And don't forget the $66,000 spent to rent out conference rooms at the Infomart and the Ritz.

I have been to many of those "meetings" where we just basically sst around and listened to (in one case) Ivonne Durant muse alound into her microphone for 30 minutes or more. Note to Ivonne: get an agenda so you don't ramble. I have NEVER heard one teacher or administrator say those meetings were anything more than worthless.

But they are expensive. And they do have a free, fancy table set up for coffee, pastries, and other drinks (not the kind you need to survive one of those meetings, but still). And sometimes we got FREE boxed lunches.

Meanwhile, hundreds of subs babysat kids who need their teachers.

Chris Danger
Chris Danger

The real problem w/ DISD and other school districts in this state is over-bloated administration that usually have their "pet projects" and contracts they've tied up. I agree we need a top-down cleaning of house. One thing that would solve many of these large districts problems would be to spin them off into smaller, locally-controlled neighborhood districts that make their own decisions when it comes to spending and hiring of teachers and staff, not to mention deciding on how to generate their monies for the school, be it selling sponsorship of a stadium or allowing a company come in and underwrite their arts/music departments. In essence, let the neighborhood districts keep their local tax dollars instead of sending them to the state to help out "PigsKnuckle ISD" down in south texas. Robin Hood has been a total and complete failure, its time its put down like the sick and dying beast it is.

DISD Teacher
DISD Teacher

Instead of marching on/ lobbying /complaining to Austin, we need to direct our justified ire at the members of the Dallas ISD School Board.

THEY are the people deciding how to spend and misspend the money.THEY live among us and constantly shake us down for more money.THEY want to roll around like big shots, handing out our money to whomever comes along selling some shiny thing that catches their eye. And why not? It's not their money!

THEY have okayed: -a $32,000 raise for Claudia Rodgriguez, when she was already making around $150,000. They did this is December when they knew the cuts were coming.

-Another big-ass raise for Ivonne Durant who was again making over 6-figures and had barely been in her newest DISD job. Again, they knew the cuts were coming.

-The building of new schools (not replacement schools) even though enrollment is declining and the schools will sit empty bc they can't afford to operate them. Why'd they do this? Construction contracts for potential campaign contributors.

It goes on and on and on. The Administrative Org Chart alone is over 300 pages! That is a mind-boggling amount of bureaucrats living off of US!

This isn't a pro-Perry or anti-Perry deal. This is a "they don't need more money to waste" deal.

OF COURSE they're threatening to close schools. They want you and me to pester our legislators into coughing up more of OUR money for THEMSELVES.

Enough is freaking enough. If a billion dollars isn't enough for an unbelievably lousy district, what will be?

Snookie Pie
Snookie Pie

yeah, you're wrong. so I'm correcting you.Vaught was not the problem. He perpetually tried to vote for support for public school. And, because you are also wrong about the Texas House being "evenly-split" which it was not, the Republicans outnumbered, the bills stalled. Vaught did not "ignore the writing on the wall"--he was the one who was pointing to the writing on wall.

Alas, you are are again wrong, and obviously cannot read the article above. Vaught IS NOT advocating raising taxes. He is advocating dippping into the State's Rainy Day Fund. This solution is being put forth by many sharp, concerned citizens.

I'm wondering if you are truly misinformed or really just trying to undermind Allen Vaught's good work for your own political reasons.

Concerned Alumni
Concerned Alumni

I think there needs to be cuts across the board and not just focused on the Arts and Magnet schools such as Townview. Students who cannot express themselves best through academics learn to do so through the arts and these programs and magnet school have helped so many students, me included find ourselves and what our true calling in life is. It is so hard in this generation to be a young student. So many opportunities are not allotted to low income neighborhoods and these schools and programs help provide these types of opportunities.

It sickens me when I think that the Texas Legislature lost over 700 million dollars. We spoke on this topic in my Senior Seminar at Texas Woman's University and it upset so many of us. It kills me how they think the answer is cutting education. Another issue that I am upset with is the idea that the 12th grade is unnecessary for students to succeed in life. Speaking as a student who has benefited from all the experiences I gained in high school, many of which were during my senior year, this pisses me off. I am so sick of people in Congress who have not been in school since the 50's attempting to tell those who were recently out or are currently in or who have family or friends that are currently in school that it is unnecessary when they clearly have no idea the importance of an education through grade 12.

I think it is high time that our government realize that had they made proper use of its spending habits that we would not be in this mess and stop attacking education whenever they screw up.

Sincerely,

Concerned Alumni

Mister_Mean
Mister_Mean

What is the amount of budget that is spent on football (or other athletics). It seems that football is the sacrid cow of the school districts.

teacher123
teacher123

All cuts should start at home first. Texas elected officials causes me to be dumbfounded and people keep electing the same one and expecting different results. Education isn't a priority and why. Keep the people dumb and I can continue to do what I want and pad my own pockets with no one to stand up against me. Why not cut out all the bilingual programs and vendors, everything. From this point on Enlish only, period. That would same lots of money.

William
William

Call Flo out? You must be joking. This the same woman who votes for Voter ID bill, the same woman who wants forced sonograms? That bitch? And, you think we should just go "call her out" for her gutting public education money?

She WANTS to gut it. The more she guts it, the more the public will be inclined to finally vote for using taxes to fund private schooling.

They have an agenda, and by golly, we (the people) will not be getting in their way!

Also, just to correct you: "Teachers" in Collin County, cannot vote her out of office. Only registered voters in Flo's district can vote her out of office. Teachers do not necessarially LIVE inside Flo's district.

Chris Danger
Chris Danger

In the DISD, those are about the only two shining examples of what to do right. Id rather have monies spent on the arts/humanities than another facility for a HS sports team. I say pay for the core curriculum and let those parties, especially in the sports depts, go out and request external underwriting/sponsorship from a company such as Nike, Reebok or Adidas.

Senters
Senters

Snookie Pie,

This is more of one hand washing the other and to think education is a priority, so said the fox to the chickens.

trashtalk
trashtalk

Hinojosa will play the same game he played last year. He will withhold any info on what he intends to do until so late in June that the board has to approve the budget without fully understanding what is in it. No superintendent in the state has waited this late to address these issues except the one in Dallas.

Refuse to re-elect a single incumbent. Even Carla Ranger seems to vote in favor of consultant contracts.

DISD Teacher
DISD Teacher

You're 100% correct.

Private schools do GREAT without all the middlemen like the superintendent and all the b'crats downtown thwarting teachers at every turn and dreaming up a bunch of dumb, expensive new ideas.

Instead of Robin Hood, we need laws that regulate how much can be spent on nonteachers and nonprincipals.

Mister_Mean
Mister_Mean

So very true. What about the school board? I agree 100 percent that that is where the problem is in the administration.

trashtalk
trashtalk

William--Flo's brilliance crosses county lines. There are teachers in Dallas who live in Collin County, and those teachers who teach in Collin County are well aware their few contract rights will be gone. They will suffer layoffs and potential cuts in pay also, along with big class sizes.

Teachers across the state represent a huge voting block if they can get past the Tea party rhetoric and understand these representatives are out for blood.

Some teachers didn't understand "furlough" meant salary cut. They need to take more care of their own needs and translate the political doublespeak. Flo means to cut all salaries across the state.

Angry Parent
Angry Parent

At this point, William, vouchers are looking better than districts like DISD.

The DISD taxes I pay just go down the rathole and my child still has to apply and be accepted to magnet schools that those taxes pay for, but where the numbers of whites accepted is capped.

Visit Spruce or Kimball High School for a week and then tell me you'd send your child there if they didn't get into a magnet.

My 2 choices seem to be: 1. Give us your taxes and take what we see fit to give you2. Give us your taxes and pay private tuition on top of that

That's not right.

Angry Parent
Angry Parent

I agree with you that magnets are examples of what's right.

My point is that how tax money is spent depends on the interest of the person spending it, and that shouldn't be the case. In addition to fine arts, "Coach" Hiney recommends ZERO athletic cuts, for example.

Also, science and math are core curric that the board wants to cut (read:Townview TAG) so that the smart kids will suddenly flock back to the failing comprehensive campuses and pull up those scores. It won't work out that way, of course, but they'll dismantle Townview in the meantime. I guess no children of "important" people are applying to Townview.

DISD Teacher
DISD Teacher

I believe that Carla Ranger did indeed vote this summer to give a $600,000 contract (was that the amount?) to an elderly African American man who was involved with the civil rights movement back in the day.

His contract had nothing to do with civil rights, though; I think he was paid to help remediate struggling teachers. Huh? He had no background in that and seemed, frankly, too old and out of the loop. I don't believe he had ever even been a classroom teacher. He does, however, volunteeer at a Las Vegas elementary school where he was surprised to learn that many kids struggle bc they need glasses (that is not news to DISD teachers; free glasses are everywhere but the parent has to take the kid in. that's where the breakdown happens...)

It seemed like he got her vote for racial reasons. Maybe not, but after hearing him speak and seeing what he was then paid to do, that's how it seemed. I can't believe anyone who heard him would think he was the best choice for remediating struggling teachers who need concrete, real-world strategies.

There is no room in this economy for race-based favoritism or cronyism or nepotism.

Townview Teacher
Townview Teacher

Get your facts straight. The number of whites is not capped. Students are taken from each area of town (north, east, south, west) in proportion to the number of students in the district from that area. And 30% of the seats at any magnet are given to the top scorers, regardless of neighborhood. Race plays no part.

Conscerned Alumni
Conscerned Alumni

This really upsets me. I am an alumni of the 2008 graduating class of Yvonee A. Ewell Townview Center. I was in the Law Magnet. It hurts and frustrates me to hear how the legislature and school board are so quick to cut funding for education when clearly education should be the focal point in ensuring the future of our nation. I personally benefited so much from the education that I received at Townview. The connections that were possible along with the hands on experiences, such as visiting D.C., Austin, going to courts throughout the week for observations really helped teach me about who I am and the field that I am so eager to be involved it. So many people have shined from their experiences that they have learned and as we hear about how quick they are to want to diminish the institution that has paved so many futures, it really hurts us.

Many of my fellow alumni are attempting to protest tonight at the meeting and voice our opinions. Many of us will not be able to be there in person because we are in school, however letters of support have been submitted and we will definitely make sure that our voices are heard not only for our school but for all of the schools in DISD and faculty.

Sincerely,Conscerned Alumni

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