"Foolishness in the Extreme": Watch the Dallas ISD School Board Debate the Budget

DISDBoardBriefingJune9.jpg
If you care at all about the fate of the Dallas Independent School District, carve out an hour over the weekend. Then, jump to the other side of this item, where I've posted the entirety of the school board budget discussion to which I referred yesterday (down below too). Now, fair warning: It's not start-to-finish thrilling; much of it's devoted to the crunching of numbers as the board debates two versions of a budget that remains in limbo till the state does its thing.

But around the 13-minute mark is where Bernadette Nutall and Carla Ranger start to make their case for keeping librarians. At the 24-minute mark, Mike Morath, the ran-unopposed rookie replacing Jack Lowe, begins his lengthy speech, telling the school board that "we're lookin' at this situation all wrong."

He says that arguing about "saving this position or that position without really any discussion of research as to the impact those positions have on student achievement is foolishness in the extreme" -- which, as you'll see a few minutes later, doesn't sit well with Nutall, who has one daughter in the district and another in private school. She doesn't have her say, though, till Morath provides a lengthy exegesis on the history of 12th grade dating back to the Great Depression. Edutainment as its ... finest?

Budget Proposal 6.0 from Dallas Independent School Dist on Vimeo.


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15 comments
DISD Teacher
DISD Teacher

Regardless of what Morath says or doesn't say, the truth is that we have plenty of money to even overstaff the campuses if we will cut all the dead weight at 3700, Buckner, etc.  

Cut IFL, cut all salaries over $100K to $100K, get rid of benchmarks, get rid of district-made ACPs (they are obviously not helping student performance on state tests)--cut all this and more and there is PLENTY of money to have art teachers, music classes, and librarians at the campuses.

My problem with Morath is that he has done nothing to consult teachers.  He reads books about education maybe and pontificates based on his readings, but he has no clue what is really going on.

No entity that completely ignores its most important, hands-on employees can succeed.  Period.

Gangy
Gangy

Mike Morath has not yet adapted to the culture of the employees and decision makers in Texas public schools.  That gives him both advantages and disadvantages.  He can see the forest for the trees, but he doesn't speak the language.  Nutall and Ranger heard a different message than the one I think Morath thought he was delivering.  Morath used words that are considered slaps in the face in school district culture, so it appears that the only thing they heard was that he thinks they're clueless and he is there to tell them how to do things.  On the other hand, Nutall and Ranger have traveled deep into the "forest" and don't realize that there are non-traditional ways of crafting a budget that may be more effective. 

I hope Morath learns how to choose his words appropriately for the culture so that his ideas will be taken seriously. 

LaceyB
LaceyB

Whatever happened to all the little budget versions in between 5.1 and 6.0? Did they get adiosed for being to "underresearched by an outside consultant" that Morath is hinting that we need before cutting something?

Snookie Pie
Snookie Pie

I tried to warn people that Morath lives in another world.  His ideas are too grand and way too hard for DISD to understand.  But, he will not accept reality.

cp
cp

But... what makes Dallas so different and special that reading books about education isn't good enough?

Michael MacNaughton
Michael MacNaughton

@DISD TeacherYou seem to think you have solutions ("cut all salaries over $100K to $100K") which sound nice in a blog post - however inaccurate and uninformed your pontifications (" we have plenty of money to even overstaff the campuses if we will cut all the dead weight at 3700, Buckner, etc. ") you surely know that  Mr. Morath is only one vote of nine.  Since you seem to know him enough to state "he has done nothing to consult teachers" I wonder why you haven't simply emailed him with your suggestions - or given him a phone call?  Having known, and worked with, Mr. Morath for the last two years I can say that he has more of a clue than you seem to think. Mr. Morath needs no defense from me he can adress your concerns himself.

youngblood
youngblood

Morath's ideas are too grand? It seems to me that Morath is suggesting that DISD base it's staffing on logic and research (maybe the librarians can help with this) and not on hunches or warm fuzzy memories of childhood story time in the library. Nutall suggests that the parking lot attendant somehow has a hand in shaping our children's lives! Really!?! The parking lot attendant? DISD's mission is not to provide as many staffing positions as possible, it is to educate our children, and now more efficiently than ever. If there is research as to where that focus should be, or where it should be not, then that should be considered. Staffing should not be based on an everyone should bare the brunt methodology, it should be derived based on where our children will benefit the most. I like Morath's "grand" ideas. He at the very least interjects some logic into the conversation.

trashtalk
trashtalk

That's because he's from Arlen, Texas and close cousins with Hank Hill.

Remember the espisode where they had to travel to Dallas for a scrabble tournament, and they got up early to go before the gangs in Dallas woke up?

That's Morath, so far doesn't have a clue as to where he is or what's going on.

But, hey, McNaughton thinks money should be targeted to the needs of the instructional program? Where does he think he is, a school district? This isn't a stinking school district. It's a retirement home for administrators. The board's never sure of what crap they are being fed, but it all seems to go down pretty easy.

trashtalk
trashtalk

Institutional memory and institutional knowledge, moron.

Can't find them in books or google them. What is interesting about Morath is that he can't seem to even find unfiltered student data and make some simple computations without having an overpaid suit spoon feed him assumptions that are in the self-interests of the suit, not the public paying the suit's salary. Morath's little white paper on CEIs was the height of arrogance. Ask any Dallas teacher about the convuluted real world practices and amount of cheating. Then compute all that into a number.

Morath ever taught in an inner city high school with no security in the parking lot? It's that kind of instititutional knowledge that facilitates real world decision making.

This budget process looks exactly like the previous decade. Alan King won't threaten the brotherhood of administrators and equates every spending decision to how many teachers need to be thrown under the bus.

Take the entire curriculum department once and for all and dump it. Half the number of fools who continue to feed crap to the board at every meeting. Cut administrative salaries.

Alan King may be more amenable, but he is selling the same shit.

DISD Teacher
DISD Teacher

As an actual DISD employee, I can promise you I am not at all uninformed.

Please tell me what prevents us from cutting all salaries over $100K to $100K? How is that inaccurate or uninformed?We can't cut salaries?

Why not?  I await your more accurate and informed perspective.

And we do have plenty of money for campuses if we cut all the dead weight.Every on campus person knows that.

As for Morath, I hear plenty of theory, but no real substance.He's pro-CEI and he doesn't think we need parking lot monitors?

Sorry, I'm just not as impressed by him as you seem to be.  Why? Because I'm an actual DISD teacher who works with actual kids.

DISD Teacher
DISD Teacher

So why isn't Morath calling for the elimination of district-made benchmarks and ACPs?  How much do we pay to have those made, printed, distributed, collected, scored, curved, and statisic-i-fied?

They cost a fortune and they obviously are not helping student performance on state tests.  Teachers like me have been complaining that they are actually counterproductive.

So where is our learned Morath on this point?

Silent so far.So much for logic.

And not understanding the need for monitors in the parking lots shows a lack of understanding when it comes to what is really going on at campuses.  Unless you want rampant and open drug-selling, sex, and fights in the parking lot, I'd recommend keeping those parking lot monitors ("attendant" is just a nice-sounding euphemism so all of Dallas won't realize how out of control many campuses are).

cp
cp

 It wasn't Scrabble, it was Boggle, you moron. And Hank said there's nothing good in Dallas, just thugs and the Dallas Cowboys.

Michael MacNaughton
Michael MacNaughton

And thanks, sincerely, for teaching our kids, especially under the difficulties faced at DISD.  I couldn't do it. As for Morath?  Well, he's only been to one board meeting and some briefings.  How effective he will be in helping re-shape a district that is a "jobs program for adults and contracts for their friends" that is also mired in cronyism will have to be seen. 

DISD Teacher
DISD Teacher

--Teachers were sorta busy getting their students ready for all the state testing, and then, you know, we have our own families.  Teachers not attending was more a function of the time of year the meetings were held (out of necessity, I understand).--You have gone above and beyond any school board member out there to get the district in good circumstances.  You have been more available than any board member or employee--I still am not a fan of Morath, though.

Michael MacNaughton
Michael MacNaughton

I never said you couldn't cut salaries. I did say you are completely inaccurate and uninformed when you state " we have plenty of money to even overstaff the campuses if we will cut all the dead weight at 3700, Buckner, etc."  The reality is simple.  DISD will have to cut (as of today, it will change) $96M from the budget.  You could fire every administrator including HR and Payroll and still be short by $54M. As a Commission member I recommended a combined $120M in cuts including a tiered cut to all non-contract personnel to an average of 3% for an immediate savings of $5M but it is up to the Trustees to grow some backbone and make the cuts we recommended.  The commission meetings were open to the public for 10 weeks.  I fought hard to retain teachers, security, custodians and to keep the student/teacher ratio at 25:1.  I published every document to www.BudgetReview.org at my own expense.  I put my phone number and email address out there to the public and asked for input.  The Dallas Morning News and the Dallas Observer both reported the meetings and web sites and contact information. Our site www.dfpe.org asked for public and teacher input to the budget process three weeks before the district was embarrassed into doing the same. In the ten weeks of public budget commission meetings I saw less than 5 teachers attend. Based on my experiences of the last eight years of being a parent in the district and the last two years deeply involved I will say that teachers have a very different perspective than parents and most of the public and that perspective has great value...I just wish there were more teachers as outspoken as you.

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