Students, Parents and Friends Rally at the Wyly to Save Booker T. Washington's Teachers

BookerTWashingtonRally.jpg
Photos by Patrick Michels
Korey Elizabeth Parker tells a packed Wyly Theater crowd why she's going to fight to protect her teachers' jobs at Booker T. Washington.
Fired up over the very real chance that nearly half the teachers at Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts could be let go, senior Korey Elizabeth Parker paced the Wyly Theater stage last night, letting the crowd know that in the coming budget battle, she and her fellow mimes will not be silenced.

Nor will dance, music or visual arts students at the arts magnet school; nor the parents, teachers and friends -- including the Dallas Theater Center's artistic director, Kevin Moriarty -- who filled the Wyly last night, plotting a resistance to the worst-case plan released by Dallas Independent School District, which has said it could slash 42 of Booker T.'s 89 teaching positions.

"Use the rainy day money," Parker told the crowd. "'Cause it's not raining anymore. It's pouring, and a hurricane's coming."

Mike MacNaughton with Dallas Friends of Public Education, who organized the rally, told the crowd they'd need to come speak at DISD board meetings, and keep coming back. What the district faces now, he said, is "a permanent resetting of finances."

"The way it looks right now, the state is not going to bail us out. The feds are not going to bail us out," MacNaughton said. "So if you think this is a scare tactic, you're wrong."

Pointing out trustees Bernadette Nutall and Lew Blackburn in the front row, MacNaughton called Blackburn "a strong-willed voice of the people" for insisting teachers be the last thing cut from the budget. He reminded the crowd to write letters to their trustees advocating for teachers at Booker T. Washington and let them hear about it in the next election. (Carla Ranger, Adam Medrano and Jack Lowe's terms are up this year; Lowe has said he won't seek another term.)

Another student, Jillian Jones, called for more participation from her fellow students, who could turn out to the school's most articulate and persuasive advocates in the political theater around DISD's budget.

"As students, we sit on the sidelines and watch the political battle ensue," Jones said. "I am a young person who is a part of this system, and I'm not sure what this educational system holds."
BookerTWashingtonRally_MikeMacNaughton.jpg
DFPE's Mike MacNaughton speaks Wednesday night.
BookerTWashingtonRally_KevinMoriarty.jpg
Dallas Theater Center's Kevin Moriarty chimed in too.
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45 comments
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Guest
Guest

Anyone telling off Booker T. Needs to chill. These students are just trying to understand why their school is being targeted, not saying they are the only ones being targeted. Now being part of that school I see how hard these students work everyday to become better people and artists. I understand that people are saying that we get to pick our students, and this is true, we get to pick them solely on what they bring to the school. We have students, just like every other high school, that struggle acedemically, we have students that have trouble in their homes, we have students with learning disabiliteis, and yet Booker T. is a safehouse for these students to creativly show the world that they are worth something. That school gave me a place to learn and grow and give me an education in my art i would have not recieved if i had gone to a normal high school. I can not afford to persue my art any longer with out that school. I just hope that people think about what it must be like to be 14-18 and not know if the school that has changed you so much will be there for you in the years to come.

Guest
Guest

That school means more to me than anyone will ever know. Not only are they giving kids a safe environment to learn academics but also they are giving us a place to fulfill our dreams that we have had our entire lives. We know the economy sucks and thats not our fault. We are a high profile school because of the things we do and the people that our school has made famous. Without that school the art world would be a completely different place. We are not saying that we should get special treatment for being an exemplerary school, we just want to share our feelings because that's what artists do, we fight hard for the things that we hole dear in our lives. If anyone has a problem with what we are protesting about, please keep it to yourselves because we are only sharing our opinion. I love my school, so don't go around telling off our students, faculty, staff, or parents. Thanks.

GUEST
GUEST

No one is suggesting that Booker T's teachers should be spared over others. What should be said, however, is that DISD does need to own some of the fallout of this issue. It should be noted that not all TX ISDs were caught offguard and some even found a way to cover the shortfall in state funding because of prudent fiscal management.

In a March 1 interview with KTVT CBS-11, Dr. Gene Buinger, superintendent of schools for the Hurst-Euless-Bedford ISD, said that the District would not need to incorporate a Reduction In Force (RIF) for the 2011-2012 school year. The District has implemented cost-cutting measures over the last decade that give HEB ISD enough fund balance today to avoid making decisions "in crisis mode."

Preston Holler
Preston Holler

I'm behind you 100% about DISD BoT owning up to their fiscal mismanagement in this. Other schools district most certainly did anticipate this problem and took steps to avoid, or at least severely limit, the fallout. The DISD is a $1 billion orginization with more than enough resources to have prevented this problem. But they are too busy building schools that they can't fill, motoring down the Road to Broad, paying consultants to tell them they can illegally extend BoT terms, etc.

One thing I would quible with you on, though, is your statement that no one is suggesting the Booker T's teachers should be spared over others. The overall tone of the meeting from students and parents is that Booker T is the "crown jewel" of the DISD, they are special, and, as such, they should have special consideration.

The only reason Booker T is special is that they get to cherry pick their kids. They don't have to take the behavior problems, kids with special needs, or kids that just don't perform well academically. With those advantages, they darn better well be the "crown jewel." It's too paid we can't flip the student bodies of Booker T and some random other HS in the DISD and then see if the teachers and faculty can make those other kids shine.

And last of all, how hard is it to shine when you are taking mime classes for God's sake?

StopDISD.org
StopDISD.org

It's sad that teachers will get fired and schools will close while DISD moves forward in building new schools like O.M. Roberts...NOTE this school was just renovated a few short years ago now it is scheduled for demolition and 22 million more tax dollars will be used to rebuild and destroy a neighborhood to put in parking lots in-between remaining homes!

Let us re-vote on the Bond monies that were allocated for new buildings so, we can express that we want our tax dollars to go towards better education, better compensation and better preservation of schools.

What a Waste!

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...

Lolotehe
Lolotehe

What if Arts Magnet got a football team? Would there still be cuts?

Preston Holler
Preston Holler

Come on people. At the rally they talked about mime classes at Booker T.

Let that sink in. These parents and students are outraged over proposed cuts while their kids are taking mime(!) classes. Is that class next door to basket weaving? In today's competitive global economy, is there a risk of the USA falling behind in qualified mimes such that China and India are going to corner the market in people who silently come to the realization that they are encase in an invisible box.

I dump on Hiney and the BoT. I think much of what goes on down at 3700 Ross is a boondoggle of consultants milking the system. But I have to admit, I have a very hard time justifying retaining a mime program (and any other such class) before I'd touch administration.

Look at it this way: If Korey Elizabeth Parker and her fellow mimes couldn't effectively mime their anger at this rally rather than break the mime code of silence, isn't the Booker T mime program seriously failing its mime student anyway.

Rico
Rico

Ms. Parker must be one helluva mime if Patrick got all that from her performance.

frannces7p
frannces7p

I was at that rally- the adults talked about funding for ALL public schools in Texas, not just the DISD, not just Booker T. The students who spoke were Booker T students who are understandably most concerned with their school. Miss Parker will have taken mime as an elective, and also taken math, history, science, English, and foreign language classes for the last 4 years in addition to her cluster classes. She will have juggled a block schedule with 9 classes and also fulfilled her required extra-curricular activites for her cluster. She will have kept her GPA up and learned to work collaboratively in order to achieve a goal. Do you also object to the student athlete that has Athletics as one of his or her electives?

Preston Holler
Preston Holler

frannces7p: You ask if I have an objection to the student athlete taking Athletics as an elective. My answer is:

My position on athletics on the record on these blogs. With the massive shortfall, I have regularly stated that the first things to go in the District should be both the arts AND athletics. We should be preparing Dallas students to be competetive in the market place and for college admission. Arts and athletics simply are not as important as math, science, and reading.

But if I'm suppose to pat Miss Parker on the back for pretending to me encased in an invisible box, I should at least pay Moose on the back busting through the line of scrimmage, shaking off a linebacker, and stiff arming a safety.

Instead of a PC requirement to pat both of them on the back, I think it is more reasonable to view both activities as interesting hobbies which they each might excel at in their own way but neither of which are essential to the core purpose of the DISD -- preparing kids for college or the workplace.

Oak Cliff Townie
Oak Cliff Townie

It will be the Sports turn soon enough right now it is easy to turn the attention on the "ARTS".As for the MIME stuff , a better choice perhaps a modern term could have helped.

Acting just isn't words on a script .

Preston Holler
Preston Holler

FYI -- sorry about the grammer in the above. Forgot to proof it before sending.

Travisdad
Travisdad

The most humbling moment I've had this week was finding my picture in the Observer and seeing an old, fat, balding guy who looks like he's been rode hard and put up wet. Thank God I can easily drift back to my self-delusion that I am a studly looking 20-something - ah, vanity.

As I harken back to several hours long conversations with Jim Schutze regarding racism and elitism and that accursed word "equity" I am reminded, "All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act on their dreams with open eyes, to make them possible." (T. E. Lawrence).

May we be dreamers of the day when all children receive an education worthy of their potential and when those children say aloud that they "deserve" and "are entitled to" a great education that the adults responsible do not feel nauseous because they think the children are vain but feel nauseous because they realize that they themselves have not done enough to provide that great education to all the children who want it.

Joshua
Joshua

what part of science, math, and english do they not understand. Our public schools are broke, and we cannot afford to pander to the potential NFL players or the Dancing with the Stars and American Idol wannabes.

Time for the PARTY to come to an end, and get purely down to basic EDUCATION.

It was a great ride before the credit card got maxed.

Now we eat beans and rice awhile.

jcs
jcs

BTW has many presidential scholars. I can't remember the ranking, but it is considered to be extremely high. So these kids are getting educated. I would rather be paying the extra money for the kids in the magnet schools who are excelling academically and working hard in their passion/ interest, than spending that same money on special schools for pregnant teens and alternative schools.

bbetzen
bbetzen

In this time of a true outside crisis it saddens me to see the crisis internalized within DISD by people fighting about issues that, while valid, only amount to pennies on the dollar related to the huge size of deficit coming from Austin. If that is not true, detail the potential savings by the dollar that will avoid teacher layoffs. Yes, these internal battles are needed, but now is a time to unite to focus on Austin and correct the budget chaos Texas has walked into over the past decades. We need a more reliable taxing system that is NOT regressive - requiring the poorest to pay the most in proportion to their meager incomes while leaving those most capable of paying with almost no tax bill. Study the report on Texas taxation found at http://www.itepnet.org/wp2009/...

These facts need to be digested, corrected, and considered as a responsible way to manage the resources our wonderful state has available to it. My father, as conservative as any Texas, strongly believed in always paying his fair share of taxes. He also believed in watching closely how it is spent, and speaking up when there are problems. This is what we all must do more of. Right now we have a problem.

See www.TexasFlatTax.com for one solution that will eliminate the deficit and save our schools, and our state. The cost? For each of the 100,000 families who have an average annual income of almost $2,000,000 a year to pay almost $98,000 in taxes. This would bring them up to paying about 70% of the proportion of taxes that are now payed by the poorest of Texans. If this idea of raising the taxes for the rich is wrong, why is not not wrong for the poor to have been paying 4 times the proportion of their income in taxes as are paid by the rich for years in Texas?

We are about to loose 100,000 teachers. That is about one teacher for each of the 100,000 families who are among the 1% of the most wealthy. They would pay about $98,000 on average, easily covering one teachers salary with much money left over for the many other services being cut in Texas for children and the poor. How much will those with an average of $2 million in annual income suffer from such a tax? How will that compare to those loosing jobs and services with currently planned cuts? Without such a solution as that offered by HB 354, how much will the future of Texas suffer?

busterkeaton
busterkeaton

Why not just cut all Public Education funding completely out. Then the, Corporations, could move all the factories back to the U.S. and we would have homegrown(American) folks to pick the fruit, vegetables, and cotton. Imagine we could kill two birds with one stone! We wouldn't need immigrants, from other countries, to do our menial labor(housecleaning, lawn mowing, etc) and we could pay down the deficit! What'd ya say, folks! You with me? Si Se Puede!

FlyAwayButterfly
FlyAwayButterfly

You want action, then here's a thought...have 3100 campus and 800 non-campus employees take the same day off to show everyone the marvelous possibilities of a worst-case "new reality." Oh, and don't use substitutes. That's "on the table."

Since there's no subs, all additional personnel "hands on deck." Anyone certified can be put back in a classroom, right? That would show who's jobs are truly necessary. It would be informative, I'm sure. Probably even entertaining...

Michael MacNaughton
Michael MacNaughton

An important correction -- The Booker T. Washington community of engaged parents and benefactors organized the rally. DFPE was asked to speak and I had the pleasure of addressing the enthusiastic crowd and hearing the wonderfully talented students speak.

I hear that the Administration is backing off its worst-case scenario citing a $50M savings in the recent incentives that paid teachers to resign (this $50M "savings" is a delusion and may actually cost the district $7M and some great teachers if the cuts can be made largely without touching teacher's jobs in a "better-case" scenario); a possible 20% ($50M) payment from the rainy-day fund; a possible 10% improvement in the shortfall ($25M) after the comptroller adjusts the state budget numbers; and a probable $50M from a federal jobs bill.

As Dandy Don Meredith used to say, "If wishes and buts were candy and nuts, we'd all have a Merry Christmas."

I hope that the shortfall is not as dire as originally estimated and that the State continues to support public education in a meaningful way but as a parent I am not going to be lulled into a false sense of complacency by these statements from the Administration.

There are two separate but interconnected issues:(1) Continued adequate State funding of education, and(2) Halting the fiscally irresponsible management of the district and the flow of cash to contractors and vendors.

We need folks to mount their horses and tilt at the State windmills but I will continue to fight for transparency and responsible financial management here at DISD. It won't matter how much the State gives us if we don't spend it wisely and for the benefit of our children.

scottindallas
scottindallas

Michael, the money spent to retire early may be money well spent. I'm not sure these districts can simply make these cuts. I know lawyers are perusing (used correctly for a change) the law and trying to comply with the code. It's not a simple process and getting some out may likely make severance cheaper.

DISD will have to be like DPD. They will pay less, have a younger staff with higher turnover. They will have to rely on new teachers many of whom will scurry off to wealthier districts. There's something to say about savvy, but youth (energy) has got to be an advantage in many classrooms--especially in the lower grades.

DISD Teacher
DISD Teacher

Your comment about youth and energy in lower grades exposes your ignorance.

Especially in lower grades, where kids are learning to read and grasp the difficult concepts of math, kids need EFFECTIVE teachers and the ones with experience are almost always stronger. No parent in their right mind would choose a "fun" or "active" first-year teacher over a 20-year vet with a great track record. I didn't understand that mentality myself until I was a parent and then you'd better believe I got the old gal who was In Charge Marge, All Business, No Nonsense. My kids have breezed through school and I completely credit the teachers they had their first 4 years of school.

And, no, I'm not offended bc I'm old (I'm not); I'm offended at a blanket statement that so confidently asserts something completely untrue.

The problem with all public education is a bloated-beyond-belief administration.

Cut the H*LL out of administration. Cut them all down to 90K a year. If they don't like it, they can leave. Of course they won't bc they're so overpaid to begin with.

THE ADMINISTRATION IS PAYING THESE TEACHERS TO LEAVE--AT GREAT TAXPAYER EXPENSE--BC THEY KNOW THEY HAVE PUSHED THE PUBLIC TO THE LIMIT. By buying off these teachers now, the firings will be lower, the overpaid admins will all keep their jobs, and the public won't realize they've just been ripped off. Again.

The question needs to be: Why aren't there more cuts at administration?

Doubts42
Doubts42

"senior Korey Elizabeth Parker paced the Wyly Theater stage last night, letting the crowd know that in the coming budget battle, she and her fellow mimes will not be silenced. "

If this is literally true then the real tragedy is that tax payer dollars have ever been spent to teach people how to be mimes.

Daniel
Daniel

I know, and that's just the drama stuudents. You should see the music students -- they teach them how to play scales. Scales! Who the hell ever listens to scales? Of course, the regular high schools aren't much better, what with teaching football players to do push-ups. Um, hello, people? Last time I checked they didn't do push-ups in a football game?

Your tax dollars at work, I guess. Thanks for the refreshingly intelligent comment.

Preston Holler
Preston Holler

Daniel: Firstly, you are wrong that they don't do push-ups in a football game. When you get pancaked on the ground, you have to get up off the ground.

Secondly, athletes don't have a separate push up class in addition to there other athletic classes.

I know it's un-PC to dump on the arts. But when it comes to budget cuts, something has to go. Reading, writing, math, and science have to trump arts. Period. Athletics also. But especially mime.

KM
KM

As a parent of a Booker T. Washington music student, I was offended by your smug remark- "they teach them how to play scales. Scales! Who the hell ever listens to scales?" I personally invite you to come hear what these music students can do. Believe me, it's not "Scales!" My son was invited to audition at four of the top music colleges in the country this past month. He, along with another BTW student, was invited by the Thelonious Monk Instutite (look it up if you don't know) to be part of the Thelonious Monk Institite All Star Jazz Sextext and this May will traveling to Washington D.C. to play with jazz artist Antonio Hart.

Besides the accomplishments my son has made this year, he is first and foremost a student who works his ass off to make good grades and keep up with all his commitments. He loves his Science teacher and English teacher as well as his Jazz director, all who have made a difference in his life and have made learning interesting, fun and challenging. That is what our tax dollars are doing. To hire and pay for great teachers like the ones he has this year and the ones he has had over the past three years at BTW. Teachers who inspire and make learning a wonderful experience for their students. All the rallying is to save those teachers and for all children to have what is rightfully theirs to have - a good education. If the cuts are as deep as they keep saying then BTW and all schools in DISD and across the state stand to lose great teachers and just become a babysitting service with a 35-1 ratio. It's sad that you and others would poke fun of a young woman who is exercising her right as a student of DISD and a citizen of Dallas to speak out against these budget cuts.

Preston Holler
Preston Holler

KM: I am very happy that your son was invited to be part of the Thelonius Monk Institute All Star Jazz Sextext and gets to trael to Washington D.C. to play with jazz artisit Antonio Hart. That sounds like a marvelously enriching experience.

While that was going on, there are thousands of other students in the DISD from families of immigrants who don't speak English; can barely put food on the table; and/or simply neglect them. These kids are struggling just to graduate so they can join the military or get a decent job rather than mow lawns for a living, flip burgers until they are 60, or simply live on welfare.

You accuse me of "poking fun" at a young woman. You are incorrect. I am critizing a school system that looks like it might protect classes in jazz and mime while allowing more essential classes to be further compromised.

I have no problem if Miss Parker wants to become the world's greatest mime or your son becomes a great jazz musician. To each his own. I just think that in an economy with increasingly scarce resources, protecting your son's enriching experiences shouldn't be done if it results in others losing out on basic opportunities.

Daniel
Daniel

mime not mome

And I've been listening to Thelonious Monk for 30 years. Best wishes to you and your son.

Daniel
Daniel

I'm sorry I offended you by not making my sarcasm sufficiently obvious. I was responding to a commenter who disparaged the teaching of mome. My point was that it's an important part of a drama education -- just as scales are integral to a musical education, or physical exercises are to sporting endeavor. Really, I think you should have gotten my point, but given the travails you're already going thru vis-a-vis the fate of Booker T, I'm genuinely sorry for causing you additional vexation.

Lefourojh09
Lefourojh09

to Daniel and Doubts42Why are tax payers teaching people how to mime, play scales, to a high kick, paint a picture? Because that is the only way those students can speak. The speak their craft, their art, it is their language. The tax money isn't just going to the teachers teaching. But also to the equipment used to enrich the lives of those talented students. So, before you go sticking your nose at performing arts schools, think. Take your no talents tales of the computer!

Pete Freedman
Pete Freedman

Joke all you want about it, guys, but anyone who has paid even the slightest amount of attention to the local arts scene can tell you how large a role Booker T alums play in the scene, both locally and abroad. The school is a true treasure -- and a feather in Dallas' cap that few other towns can match.

Anything that can be done to help the school move forward without losing strength, should be done.

reid robinson
reid robinson

Good point Pete! I was just talking about the incalculable value Booker T. They are one of the few successes within DISD, and a bargain for the residents and taxpayers of this city.Was hoping to see more established representation from the local arts and music scene at the Wyly last Wednesday.

Reid Robinson
Reid Robinson

Good point Pete! I was just talking about the incalculable value Booker T and Dallas magnet schools are one of the few successes within DISD, and a bargain for the residents and taxpayers of this city.I was hoping to see more established representation from the local arts and music scene at the Wyly last Wednesday.

Daniel
Daniel

I should hope it was obvious I was being sarcastic, and that I highly value the arts and consider Arts Magnet a jewel in the DISD's ... er, let's just say "a jewel in search of a crown."

Joshua
Joshua

From the readership comments on DMN, etc...Dallas is all about Super Bowl and Friday nite lights and not the Meyerson. Public School isn't Juliard and the Public School Teachers at Booker T haven't exactly created any Sandy Duncans lately.....so, the party if over and Dallas arts classes will have to settle for garage bands and mariachi lessons.

scottindallas
scottindallas

It would be nice to see some of the artists that have come through Booker T. to start an endowment. Maybe Edie will get some of Paul's cash and can do that after his crusty ass is gone. Sadly, she hasn't kept at it, which is a real pity. There's so much "girl" music, Edie had a view and attitude that I'd like to see more of.

Guest
Guest

Why should Booker T. Washington's teachers be spared when others will not? And why devote so much anger to the DISD board when it's the Texas Lege. that's making the budget cuts? Unless teachers want to be paid in IOUs, the DISD can't absorb a quarter billion dollar budget cut without draconian teacher layoffs.

Bill Holston
Bill Holston

here's an idea, how about reducing the salaries of administrators, before you cut teachers. There's a huge bureaucracy. Take some of the 90k salaries to 75, lots of room to cut, before teachers go.

DISD Teacher
DISD Teacher

Bill, you are the voice of wisdom.

Cut admin salaries to equal the daily rate of a teacher, pursue an aggressive policy of shrinking personnel numbers through attrition, and quit paying consultants a million dollars a pop for anything and everything.

A cut of 800 at the administrative level is insulting. What sort of people would choose to cram kids into classes of 40 rather than cut administrative salaries?

Who is our school board serving? Certainly not the kids.

Guest
Guest

I'd agree with cutting those salaries first, but that isn't going to get you anywhere close to covering the gap. For example, let's say there are 1000 of administrators making $90k, your proposal only saves $15 million or 6% of the worst case budget gap.

Erich S
Erich S

"Discipline" them? What are they 3 years old? Ha ha. You sound like an authoritarian. I work with a lot of people like you. All stick and no carrot!

Guest
Guest

Cynical old bastard - True, but then teachers wouldn't come into work (why, no one to discipline them), maintenance wouldn't be performed (who would decide what work to do?), etc., etc. And you still have a $200 million budget shortfall to cover.

Jay Hawk
Jay Hawk

Let the Lege know now that you don't want cuts - then when the DISD board knows exactly what must be cut, let them know what to save.I admire the initiative, but they've got the process backwards.

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