Michael Hinojosa's Gone, But As He Begins New Job, His Time in Dallas Is Not Forgotten

AnnRichardsMiddleSchool_Hinojosa_skosh.jpg
Photo by Patrick Michels
Miss him yet?
Former Dallas Independent School District Superintendent Michael Hinojosa officially begins his new gig in Cobb County, Georgia, today. Hence, this morning's piece in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "New Cobb superintendent's job 1: Close students' achievement gap." Long story short: Cobb County, like most urban districts around the country, has seen an ever-widening gap in the test scores of its Hispanic and African-American students, something Hinojosa needs to address.

Problem is, the same thing happened in Dallas under his watch, prompting recently installed DISD board president Lew Blackburn to say, not so long ago, "I have a feeling that we are not paying enough attention to the African-American students." One study of the DISD school board, which was conducted a few years back, suggested it knew why: "No evidence was found of Black-Brown coalition building; however, findings suggest that different styles of communication influence the treatment African American and Mexican American groups receive and ultimately may affect their access to the scarce resources of public education."

This morning's story, with help from a familiar name, reviews Hinojosa's DISD report card on this particular subject:
During Hinojosa's tenure in Dallas, scores for all students increased on state standardized tests, and the district received national attention for reform efforts. But Hinojosa's tactics have drawn some criticism from members of Dallas' black community who believe a disproportionate amount of resources have gone to Hispanic students. Academically, the gap between the two groups has widened in every category on state standardized tests since Hinojosa took over.

"The African-American students seem to have been forgotten," said Joyce Foreman, a longtime school volunteer. "I think all students should be educated. But I don't think you should educate one group at the expense of another."

Hinojosa said the Dallas district formed a task force and used stimulus dollars to support programs to improve test scores for black students. It's too soon to tell if the efforts are working, he said.

"We've had more success with one group than another, that's why we had to recalibrate," he said.
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18 comments
Joyce Foreman
Joyce Foreman

DISD Teacher- I have never said the teachers are at fault for the policies that are set by the board and carried out by the superintendent.  I am well aware of the politics of creating bi-lingual jobs. I am still concerned  about all children having the same access to learning in DISD schools.  I know the difference between ESL and Bi-lingual and hope that others will learn the difference also.

Avacenna
Avacenna

Significant gains are made with the largest single group in DISD:  the Hispanics.  Yet instead of seeing the glass as as 3/4 Full, the chronic complainers see it as 1/4 empty.

No matter what happens, there are factions who must find something to complain about.

Many of the same folks who last year were saying that Hinojosa "needed to go", were the first ones to bash him when he announced this year that he was leaving.

One of the biggest problems with DISD is not internal ... it's hate-filled rants coming from the peanut gallery, who will never be satisfied.  No wonder Hinojosa bailed out.

Bettyculbreath
Bettyculbreath

Why does DISD need special programs to teach people of same age,grade and in same classroom.Something is wrong when money goes to all these Special programs.Teach kids same material make sure they learn whats being taught test and graduate.I am dam sick of special need to teach different people.Also all student should learn English.

Baddatesindallas
Baddatesindallas

What's interesting to me, as a tutor, is that I've only had one white student who has really wanted to learn and keep up, and it was like pulling teeth to get her to pass her exams/study. My African-American students all come prepared, ready to work, and, do much better. They may be doing worse in school, but, they are actually motivated to work and try. I had a Hispanic student who was the same way--she passed, but worked hard.

Here's my question: You can throw money at ESL and teaching English to people whose main language is not English. But, how do you throw education dollars at the African-American race, unless they are starting with a language that is not English? That was always the concern when I was teaching--get the students to know what the test is saying, first and foremost--then work from there.

We won't miss Hinojosa, but this job will be a challenge for anyone who takes it.

JustWondering
JustWondering

And the whole time most of the Board of Trustees and the Dallas Morning News sang his praises and walked in lockstep behind him. We picked Hinojosa utilizing the same methodology we've used for years and got what often get: more talk than results.  Suggestion: The BoT and those Dallas Achieves types should visit with parents & faculty of the schools in DISD that ARE improving and "home-grow" DISD's next big idea. They can reward their own people a fraction of what they pay Broad, IPL and the others and get real bang for their bucks.

Joyce Foreman
Joyce Foreman

I wish Hinojosa would tell me who was on the task force, what their remedy was and how much money was spent?  Maybe Claudia Rodriquez  and Alan King can get the answers to those questions.  Recently in a meeting they admitted that they did not know what was going on the close the gap. The program that they mentioned had met with some preachers for mentoring.

Mister_Mean
Mister_Mean

It reminds me of Denis the Menace not wanting to eat his vegetables and instead mushs them around on his plate until it is unrecognizable.   I use this analogy in that there has been an effort by the DISD to effect grading standards that was in the news a couple of years ago where the administration wanted to prevent teachers from giving a student a failing grade and trying to force a minimum low grade that could be given (seem to remember that it was around a C or 70 percent).  In other words if you lower the bar then little Bobby is doing all right when he is really failing.    So for me when I look at these figures I come away with the feeling that I really do not know WHAT is going on with student achievement.   Seem that the trustees used the same type of methodology when they reviewed Superintendent Michael Hinojosa after the 2010 mess where he hired too many teachers and then had to figure how to pay for it (seemed to recall, could be wrong on this point, that his ass was saved by the federal government monies dolled out to try to keep the economy from tanking).   Otherwise the budget issues we have this year would have occurred last year.

DISD Teacher
DISD Teacher

This just makes me crazy.Poverty is the result of underachievement, not the cause.Personal behavior is the main cause of underachievement.Race is often used as an excuse for behavioral choices.

Look at this way: for decades we have poured bajillions into teaching with "race" and "poverty" in mind and note what's happened:  performance/scores continue to tank in certain groups.  And that would be low SES groups of all races.

MIddle class families of all races have pretty much bought into the reality that effort and behavior = outcome.  Being middle class, they have fled the district.

We have the largest concentration of poor kids in the area in DISD.  The 1 thing 90% of them have in common is the economic level of their parents.They do not fail bc of their race, so addressing thru the lens of race will not work and has not worked.  If Hispanic scores have gone up, it is bc the district has been pretty wiley regarding how it codes and tests Hispanic kids.

Solutions:-fail the state test and you go to a different campus designed to remediate you for the entire next school year.  Those failing bc of behavior will wise up and pass the first time;  those failing bc they are weak will get help.-set up behavior "magnets" for the kids who sell drugs, fight, etc.  Again, get them off the comprehensive campuses and separate them for at least a year. Have intensive counseling and behavioral modification training at those campuses.

Watching
Watching

What a jerk!  Anyone will be better!

El Rey
El Rey

"We've had more success with one group than another, that's why we had to recalibrate," he said.

Always adjusting the bar, but never raising it overall. - the Hinojosa way.

Joyce Foreman
Joyce Foreman

So the over 40,000 African American students do not matter?  Do you think that we should go back to segregated schools - seperate and not equal?  All students should have access to a quality education.

Cliffhanger
Cliffhanger

Significant gains?  Test scores all over Texas rose faster than in DISD and Hinojosa is leaving town with more AU campuses then when he got here.  Oh, yeah, he did Hispanic students--and other kids--a whole lot of good.  What flavor is the Kool-Aid you're drinking?

DISD Teacher
DISD Teacher

Hinojosa bailed out for more money.  Period.  After he publicly promised he wasn't leaving.  Breaking a commitment publicly ruins one's reputation.  He did that to himself.  Even my child's pediatrician brought the topic up the last time I was in his office--he looked at me and said, "Can you believe that lying superintendent?" Also, I"d bet that support for him from the Citizens Council, etc was waning as more and more problems came to light and the public began complaining.  Although he toed the line with the bigwigs in Dallas, he went too far in areas they didn't previously care about, which brought unwanted attention to the district and them.

One person's truth-telling is another person's "hate-filled rant."

DISD's problem is the confluence of unmonitored tax money, a complicit school board, a puppet of a superintendent, and a profiteering business community.

After you've worked several years in a building that is either so cold the kids have to wear gloves in May or so broiling all the windows are open in January, after you've watched kids miss lunch bc the line is too long due to overcrowding, or after you've seen kids beaten to a pulp in the hallway bc thugs are left on campuses, then you can criticize the peanut gallery.

I won't miss Hinojosa, but I'm smart enough to know that he was only 1 part of a destructive machine that is a cancer on Dallas.  Tens of thousands of parents who live in Dallas but send their kids to private school don't buy the "glass 3/4 full" either.

Joyce Foreman
Joyce Foreman

I think the board should have a citizens committee to help them choose the next superintendent.  We do not need the Citizens Council or the Dallas Regional Chamber making the choice. 

DISD Teacher
DISD Teacher

Joyce and Betty--Pls know that teachers, even the lousy ones, do not treat students differently bc of race.  I have never, ever seen it or heard about it.  Teachers generally like any student who is honest, works hard, and behaves in class, regardless of what 3700 decides to emphasize.

Also, most teachers I know would not agree that the Hispanic kids really rec'd anything helpful.  -Textbook vendors benefitted bc the district ordered a whoooole bunch of new Spanish-only textbooks.  -Anyone related to the travel industry benefitted when tax dollars were spent to go overseas to recruit people who speak Spanish (most of them were not teachers in their home countries).  -District bureaucrats benefitted bc a slew of new positions were created to process all the Spanish-only nonsense.

The kids themselves have been deprived of immersion and, as a result, will lag far behind immersed students.  CA and AZ abandoned the model DISD so gladly spent millions of dollars on.  Parents who desperately wanted immersion were talked out of it.

In other words, you probably should be glad the district didn't focus on the AA kids.I know that at one training, I was given a zither and told that AA kids need rhythm to learn.  I am not making that up.  Very demeaning to AA kids.

AnotherTeacher
AnotherTeacher

perhaps it is 3/4 of what was in the glass, but over half of that glass had evaporated to private schools and the suburbs earlier.

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