"Commit!" to This Sneak Preview of Dallas Regional Chamber's Plan to Rescue DISD

dallasachieves.jpeg
Commit!'s no Dallas Achieves, swear
At its August 11 board briefing, Michael Casserly, executive director of the D.C.-based Council of the Great City Schools, told the Dallas Independent School District's board of trustees: It could be a good, long while till you find a suitable replacement for Michael Hinojosa. Casserly, invited by board president Lew Blackburn to come to Dallas to "impart his wisdom" about the process of hiring a schools chief, told the trustees this will be a long, torturous process (could last up to a year and a half) made especially difficult because Dallas is one of 15 big cities -- including Fort Worth, Seattle, Little Rock, Anchorage, Atlanta -- looking for a new chief. "Get on with the search process," he said. "Do it ahead of the competition."

He told the trustees they need to find a good search firm, not just one that recycles same-old-same-olds. He said the cost of finding a new super will run upwards of "50, 100 grand," perhaps even much higher. He said "non-traditional" candidates, those who come from government and the military, "struggle" when it comes to "academic achievement." He suggested the board do a little self-searching before moving ahead: "What kind of person do you want? What kind of district do you want?" And he begged the board to do this without community committees, which tend to "slow down" the process, and to act as a unified front. "They're going to be interviewing you," he said, "and if there's dissension or a fractured board in this process, your best candidates will smell it."

But let's be honest: The board won't be the only ones involved in the search process; far from it. No doubt Mayor Mike Rawlings, who campaigned on a platform of DISD overhaul, will offer his input. So too the Dallas Regional Chamber, which has included DISD in its five-year "strategic plan," Blueprint for Economic Prosperity, and has expended much time and money in recent months flying DISD officials cross-country to study "best practices" while crafting its own platform for reform. Why, as a matter of fact ...

On Thursday, the DISD board will take a long look at the Dallas Regional Chamber's plan to "Commit!" to the district with "a collaborative of Dallas area stakeholders, each highly committed to the transformative power of education, who are willing to work together and be mutually accountable to each other for their respective roles in strategically ensuring that all students graduate from Dallas-area high schools and succeed in either college or the work force."

That's from a draft of the Commit! manifesto, which follows. There's also a lengthy PowerPoint, in which the chamber says that among the initial stakeholders who will commit to Commit! you will find the mayor's office, the Dallas Citizens Council, the superintendent and J.P. Morgan Chase.

The chamber hopes to have this in place within months, well before a new super's been hired. And what the chamber's doing here isn't anything particularly new. Dallas Achieves, anyone? Road to Broad? And there are national precedents. But the PowerPoint below insists: Commit! will be more effective than Dallas Achieves, swear, because Dallas Achieves "didn't have ability to drive adaptation of all recommendations or ensure internal staff capabilities to drive plan implementation." Says the presentation, Commit!'s "strategic plan will be much broader than that envisioned by Dallas Achieves." How so?
‣ It will likely be Pre-K to college graduation (vs. just K-12).
‣ It will involve multiple education providers (higher ed, other districts, etc.) in the greater Dallas area and not just DISD.
‣ It will involve numerous non-profits focused on various educational, strategic "pillars", ranging from parental education/engagement, after school and summer programs, college access, human capital/leadership training and many others.

[And] accountability/implementation will be driven by Commit!'s evaluation and communication of results. As results become more transparent, funders will fund those who have the most demonstrated impact, and parents will move their children to educational institutions who achieve. Commit! should be viewed as an impartial communicator of results, good or bad.
Other cities have similar public-private compacts. The Boston Private Industry Council, for instance, is a longstanding effort to connect the classroom with the workplace. Cincinnati has Strive Together, counting among its partners the public schools, Procter & Gamble, Xavier University and Toyota. And in Los Angeles, there's the L.A. Compact, which last year raised $5 mil in school-reform grant money, has the blessing and backing of L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and had a major say in the hiring of reformer and former Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation-layer John Deasy as LAUSD super in January. In other words: When it comes time to pick a superintendent, prepare to Commit! More to come in coming days. Till then, a little Sunday-afternoon reading. Commit! GoalsCommit Power Point

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32 comments
Bbetzen
Bbetzen

Anyone who says there have been no improvements within DISD over the past 5 years is not looking at the data on enrollment, retention and graduation rates.  See http://schoolarchiveproject.bl...

The almost elimination of the 9th grade bulge over the past 5 years is a powerful achievement!

Have there been enough achievements?  Absolutely not!!  Are we still doing terrible in too many schools?  Absolutely!  The only people who say there have been no improvements are people not looking at the districts except with some other agenda than seeing what is there.

Cliffhanger
Cliffhanger

If these people want to make a difference and help save DISD, then enroll their darn kids and grandkids at DISD schools, sign up for the PTA, Cub Scouts, coaching teams, chaperoning field trips, school fundraisers and get to meet the actual students, teachers and parents of DISD.  I know doing something is a little more complicated than making power points, but then again doing something actually, you know, DOES SOMETHING.

Urbandweller203
Urbandweller203

If this "Commit" plan goes through I will no longer be a Urbandweller. I will find a way to get rid of my house and become a rural-dweller. I can't  handle no more of  my  tax dollars for another level of confusion  within another ego driven organization. I can't point it out right now, but something is fishy about this plan. It started during the Rawling campaign. There is a tax dollar twist to this because tax payer 's money is the easiest to obtain in the form of contracts, campaign payback, etc. The DISD trustees were elected to do the job indicated in "Commit".  Everyone knows that the problem is layered politics as the children learning abilities  get worse.  I have a kid in my father's community who did not know he was not suppose to write within the red margin...10th grade. The attitude; get him on out of the system at his stage, just graduate him.

There is the issuse with the good teacher (there are plenty in DISD) vs SOME of the alternative teachers who couldn't find a job in their field or who have been laid off in their industry; buying time until the economy gets better. The issue with the teacher who has been in the district for 40 years and don't give a crap and is visionless. Then the ego driven principle who plays politics with the Ross Ave executive vs the Principals who are running a great campus base on administrative competence. Now you have corporate executives that says we can fix it. First, fix the communties or invest in the environments these kids come from, then  change the thought process of the parents who think their kid can't do no wrong (good luck). Get rid of the cell phones and ipads in schools, these devices are competing with the teachers.  I volunteer frorm time to time and I see it. Sad case. They will pick the best schools to support and leave the ones that really need help in the dust.

They should let the new Super come in with his/her own vision for DISD, not the vision of the Chamber. Whoever takes this position will get caught up and later tagged as the wrong choice.

Oak Cliff Townie
Oak Cliff Townie

So someone is going to come in and suggest what this school board needs to do ?

Fat Chance of anything happening .

Except the Ruckus and Race Card playing we have all come to know and love.

Yeah Right...
Yeah Right...

Same old, same old. A group says commit to their plan, and we wonder how long it will last.Here's a plan: DISD has some exemplary schools. Get a SMALL group to find out what makes them tick. (Maybe NON "shareholders" so that it's not affected by what they want or get ($) from the district.) Then have someone wake up and realize that involved parents, involved kids, and involved teachers are at the core. No matter how many "stone tablets" are handed down by Admin, Board of Trustees, City Council, Regional Chamber, Austin, DC or others, it's all peripheral.

Guest
Guest

Needs more exclamation points.

DISD Teacher
DISD Teacher

Another thing middle-class parents will not stand for is the CONSTANT testing of kids so that some adults have a job.

See, if we didn't have a bunch of district-written tests, we wouldn't need all those people in the Testing and Evaluation dept (or whatever it is called this week).

Funny how private school kids all go to college in spite of never being subjected to DISD's relentless onslaught of practice tests for practice tests for the state-mandated boondoggle that is TAKS (now called the STAAR).  Only the Pearson company benefits from it.

Betcha Commit! doesn't want to Commit! to ending the testing hell that defines DISD.

While private school kids and suburban kids are learning, DISD kids are sitting and waiting for 1 kid to finish the 3rd 3-hour test in a 2-day period.  Immoral.

Diane Birdwell
Diane Birdwell

If I get started on this, it will turn into a novel.....

DISD Teacher
DISD Teacher

My response to Commit!:  Sigh!

Listen, here's the truth:  there are an overwhelming number of middle-class whites living in the district who won't use it (middle-class blacks tend to move out of Dallas, as evidenced by recent census counts).

Until you fix that, nothing is going to work.  Nothing.  You can pay any and every latest-and-greatest company billions of dollars and you will net ZERO.Dallas will continue to die on the vine bc of its schools.  No one will rehab aging neighborhoods.  Companies will headquarter in the suburbs.  The tax base will evaporate.

Race trumps quality in every single aspect of DISD and any parent who can afford to move out or go private WILL NOT STAND FOR IT.  

Race-based admin hires.  Race-based teacher hires.  Race-based protections for bad teachers and worse administrators.  Race-based curriculum.  Race-based tolerance for student behavior.

We don't need TFA, Commit!, KIPP, Road, to Broad, Einstein or whatever.  HP, Southlake, Plano, McKinney...none of those districts have to give taxes away to yet another group with their hand out.  Why is that?

Get the thugs off the comprehensive campuses.  Stop the race-based hirings and race-based protections.  FIRE the thieves and the incompetents.  End race-based curriculum.  

The Dallas Achieves, Citizens Cartel, and Chamber people must not be very smart.  How many more times are they going to ignore the free solutions in front of them?

Michael MacNaughton
Michael MacNaughton

Beginning with inaccurate information ("with Dallas Achieves there was notable achievement in subsequent academic outcomes: The number of exemplary schools tripled...") these poorly-informed but well-meaning chamber folks wish only for more power to "drive adaptation of all recommendations and ensure internal staff capabilities".  This is a recipe for disaster.  We need the interim superintendent and school board to proceed apace with their focus on the budget, principal and teacher empowerment, personnel changes and the efficacy of existing programs.  Adding a few hundred city politicians and leading businessmen into the mix will simply delay change, create confusion and waste valuable time.  Allowing "Commit!" (don't you love the exclaimation mark that will inspire action?) the ability to make personnel decisions is ridiculous...on par with suggesting a 3rd grade teacher run Frito-Lay.

This group should volunteer to tutor kids, landscape campuses, figure out how to get parents involved and write fat checks, period.  Governance is by our elected officials and management is by our extremely talented interim superintendent.

Members of the previous Dallas Achieves candidly admit that some members had their own agendas...as happens when any large group of strong-willed individuals gets together.  This group will not be an exception.  Already the language used when mentioning Charters or TFA suggest a pre-conceived notion of what supposedly works (when Charters are no more or less effective than regular public schools).

Many trustees will have the urge to hop on this band-wagon as large sums will be dangled for future political campaigns - I hope they resist the urge.

MattL1
MattL1

I think this is a great idea and I'm sure it will be successful beyond everyone's wildest imagination.

[This is a new "positive thinking" thing I'm trying.  Bear with me.]

Mister_Mean
Mister_Mean

The DISD has had a long track record of enlisting real lizards.  The list is long of criminally or inept people that they have gotten on board.  Gonzales, Rojas, and Hinahosa the list goes on and on.   So what are the odds that this time it will be different?  Not much of a chance-a leopard can’t change its spots.   After all as one trustee said after the 1.32 Billion Dollar Bond scam and audit report- “Were not criminals only incompetent”.  The mantra of the DISD.   After all the studies are only tax dollars and we know were we can always get more (the tax payer).

ms g
ms g

It looks good on paper, but I will be watching to see if current teachers, at all levels, are allowed input.  We have tried this before, (remember high school redesign?), and the support from the business community in the form of meaningful internships to build skills (and understanding among kids of the need for skills) for our high schoolers has been rare.Until you make the parents and kids understand how important those reading, writing, communication, and societal skills such as personal presentation are, this will only be another nice program on paper.

Cliffhanger
Cliffhanger

Well, these things don't always smoothly transition across cultures, but the Finns pay there teachers a lot more than $55k, which enables them to both attract and retain better teachers.  (They also have much leaner bureaucracies, which is probably why they can afford to pay teachers more). 

Guest
Guest

Private school kids take tons of practice tests, though they are for the SAT and ACT.  There isn't really any risk that most private school kids will fail TAKS so they don't worry about it. 

Michael MacNaughton
Michael MacNaughton

Come on in, Birdwell.  Hell, you're debatin' hizzoner the mayor on the radio.

Its So Sad
Its So Sad

Sad, but true.

All of the 'community's' improvement plans seem to be more about PR and making money on District contracts. I have NEVER SEEN ANY EVIDENCE of Dallas Achieves at any of my schools.

btw, unless you own a group of charter schools, it doesn't do much good to pander to them. They don't have millions of $'s spend like DISD.

albatross
albatross

You must be not be talking about Dallas ISD when you make reference to "teacher empowerment".  I haven't witnessed that anywhere!  It's all about empowering principals to cut loose on the employees at their campus - requiring meetings during duty free lunch, ignoring the state law and district policy on length of the school day, abusing the planning periods mandated by law and shaming teachers into meeting or they're "not a team player"!  Some are even requiring employees to stay at work until 5:00 pm.  Granted, many teachers stay that long on their own, but it's different to be mandated to do it and for no compensation of any kind . . . comp time or extra duty pay. 

This administration, coupled with the recent addition to the Board of Trustees, holds teachers accountable for lack of parental involvement, but not the administrators who are the gatekeepers of the campus.  Society doesn't hold the police officers accountable for a criminal's behavior, or a doctor accountable when the patient doesn't follow the medical advice given, and an attorney isn't held responsible for the client they're representing.  So why is it that teachers are being held accountable for the lack of student responsibility and parental involvement in their own child's or children's education? Why is it that teachers are being treated with such disrespect when principals and campus administrators that don't do their jobs are just demoted and sent to another campus to do it all over again somewhere else? 

This Commit! program will be just like all the other initiatives that the white elitists of the city have run down the district's throat before.  The only way this will be anywhere near successful is if they have classroom practitioners that their recommendations will fall on are sitting at the table when the plan is put together.  Without their buy in, no amount of money is going to make it work.       

DISD Teacher
DISD Teacher

Spruce HS is chock-full of TFA teachers and their state rating went DOWN.  Back down to Academically Unacceptable.

Charter schools are simply free of all the district bs that dooms other schools.

3700, the dimwits supported and funded by Achieves, the Cartel, and the Chamber, is the problem.  Even TFA can't overcome them.

Michael MacNaughton
Michael MacNaughton

Finland is a social welfare state with a 35% personal income tax, a 30% business tax and a 22% VAT and their teachers work year-round.

Here are the numbers of teachers in Dallas ISD and their salary ranges for 187 days of work:

153 earn between $20K and $30K106 earn between $30K and $40K4058 earn between $40K and $50K4337 earn between $50K and $60K1708 earn between $60K and $70K521 earn between $70K and $80K14 earn between $80K and $90K

http://www.texastribune.org/li...

DISD Teacher
DISD Teacher

Practice tests for a test that will determine your college placement and scholarships are one thing.

Practice tests for the STAAR, which only benefits Pearson and are not required for college admission anywhere, are a soul-killing waste of time and taxpayer money.

STAAR/TAKS/TEAMS whatever exist to benefit the test maker.  Kids are used so there will be a market for Pearson's product.

The amount of time wasted on these govt tests is obscene.

Cliff Dweller
Cliff Dweller

I think you're on to something here.  In my limited experience with DISD, I was amazed at how much principals affect every aspect of a school.  You can go from one school to another at the same level and you would think you were in a different city.  These principals have got to be held accountable. 

Michael MacNaughton
Michael MacNaughton

Albatross,The current Trustees and Superintendent are rapidly making changes that hold administrators responsible. It will take this year and next to implement and on-going vigilance. It is a culture change. Teachers will no longer be forced placed but will apply for positions within DISD.  Principals will be held accountable for their campus and teacher's progress.  This will also not happen overnight...there are good principals and bad. Many teachers are a hard-working and dedicated group of educators but some are there to get a paycheck and skate by until retirement.  Just about every parent, peer teacher and principal can point to the problem teachers on their respective campus.  It is time to move those teachers out of the system. Teachers work hard in an often thankless position.  I have many friends who are teachers. Many comparably salaried employees that are "required" to work an 8 hour day with a 30 minute lunch find themselves loving their work, valuing their company and the contribution they make and often skip lunch, work 10 or 11 hour days, take work home and work from the road on vacations.They don't get 3 months paid time off in the summer but somehow manage to survive...if they are lucky enough to be employed in this economy.

Michael MacNaughton
Michael MacNaughton

We had our first meeting of the CBRC (Citizens Budget Review Commission) last evening. The district will have to cut another $25M (minimum) from next year's budget. Although we can still cut into the administration and my own goal in cutting useless programs I believe the district will have to close some schools.  The year after could be just as bleak. To top it off, the number of instructional days has dropped to 175 and the number of testing days has increased from 27 to 40 something...it's stupid beyond belief.

Cliffhanger
Cliffhanger

I know there are some differences, but I do think if teachers were to work year-round, we'd have to expect to pay more, mostly to those groups in the middle.  I don't have an automatic allergy to paying taxes, just to paying taxes and not getting anything in return.  I'd certainly rather see teachers making money than, say, flooding tollroads and overly designed bridges that aren't necessary.  But that's me.  I understand what you're saying though.  The money just ain't there right now.

ms g
ms g

Degreed professional with loads of transferrable experience?  Uhhhhhh yeah!  Besides, I never complained about my salary rate, only the characterization that somehow I lounged around during the summer on a taxpayer's dime.'Scuse me, I have to get back to my nightly "homework" of school stuff (phone calls, paperwork, grading) that I have no time to do during the day.

Michael MacNaughton
Michael MacNaughton

So? In my 240 day salaried position I am "required" to work an 8 hour day with a 30 minute lunch. However I usually work 10 -11 hour days; eat lunch at my desk; take work home on the evenings and weekends (when I'm not working in the office); don't take a full two weeks off but only a few days at a time and always available to do work when asked.  Most of my peers do the same...in fact, every salaried employee I know does the same. I guess "unpaid" is the hinge word here? Teachers don't see themselves as salaried but as hourly wage earners? I'm telling you, parents love and respect their children's teachers and generally feel they are overworked and underpaid, as do I, but just start this conversation at the next PTA meeting and you will find parents may not be as sympathetic as you seem to think.

DuckDuckGoose
DuckDuckGoose

"luxurious time-off "  ... I'm married to a teacher.  Most or many teachers work many unpaid hours just to keep up with the paperwork, grading, meetings, calls with parents and etc.

Nothing luxurious about that.

Michael MacNaughton
Michael MacNaughton

Hmmmm...you're going to dig a hole here. Parents talk about this often. If you make $55,000 "per year" but only work 187 days then you are making $294 per day and afforded a luxurious time-off that most of us don't enjoy. I am in favor of year-round schooling.  Most of us full-timers work 240 days per year (with time off for 2 weeks vacation, weekends and holidays). Are you saying that with year-round school you wouldn't work for $55,000? That we would need to increase your pay by nearly 30% to $70,588? 

Gilessp
Gilessp

I tried so hard not to reply to this.  Michael, get your facts straight.  I do not have 3 months of paid vacation, I am paid for 187 days of work and forced to have those payments extended over 3 months.  When I am docked for a day's pay, it is based on 1/187 of my annual salary, which is more than an average, 2080 hour per year worker. In fact, this district wants me to compress 2080 hours of work into a timespan of 1496 hours, which results in much performed on my own time. I kept my fingers quiet when you trumpeted the furlough days proposed by your committee, but see now that you might have missed your math.

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