Dallas Regional Chamber Wants DISD Board to Commit to Commit! Like, Right Now.

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Still waiting on a response from Mayor Mike concerning the Dallas Regional Chamber's so-called Commit! initiative, which we took at long look at Sunday. Turns out, Rawlings, Dwaine Caraway, Uplift Education board member Todd Williams and Dallas ISD board president Lew Blackburn paid The Dallas Morning News a visit yesterday to sell the paper's editorial board on the plan. Looks like it worked.

But it remains, for now, nothing more than a vague concept -- a partnership, of sorts, between the district, the mayor's office, banks and businesses, and other "Dallas area stakeholders [who are] highly committed to the transformative power of education," per its manifesto. As we mentioned Sunday there are various role models in Boston, Cincinnati, Los Angeles, Seattle and elsewhere.

But as Blackburn told the board moments ago, "We do not have a plan yet. We're in the stages of getting together to develop a plan." Then, later, he said that Commit! as it presently exists "represents an agreement to work together. The how and what will come later during a process formed after we all agree on common goals." So ... yeah.

Clint McDonnough, a managing partner at Ernst & Young and chair of education for the chamber, sketched out Commit! for the trustees, explaining that it was born out of months' worth of confabs -- "lots of meetings with a variety of constituents, lots of meetings with the service providers in the nonprofit and faith-based community notion to try to get some agreement that the community has interest in doing it and some agreement around common goals we can work toward. ... We're here for input. We have tried to be both transparent and collaborative. We do think it's a good document and represents good work by good people ... to live the life of collaboration and be as transparent as we could be."

Most of the trustees didn't have much to say about it. Ah, but what do Carla Ranger and Edwin Flores think? Jump.

First off, McDonnough and Blackburn want the board to get on board. Pronto. By no later than September 22 meeting. Said McDonough, "We believe there's momentum, there's enthusiasm around the community to lock arms and be as creative as we possibly can in helping the school board and administration in providing the best education we can for our community."

Blackburn then mentioned his meeting with the paper's editorial board and said, "I told both Mike [Rawlings] and Clint I didn't want to move forward without the board knowing and wanted them to approve a resolution saying it was OK to mvoe forward with the mayor and chamber. I want the entire board to say, 'Yes, it's OK to do this. So far I like it, but I'm only one [trustee]."

"We can't go forward without the trustees," added McDonnough. At which point it was mentioned that if and when Commit! becomes a reality, it will exist, more than likely, as a 501(c)(3).

Flores was among the few trustees to chime in one way or the other. And he's positively giddy about the prospect of this public-private partnership.

"I want to thank you for your work and what you're doing," he said, before mentioning those chamber-funded trips during which some trustees and then-Superintendent Michael Hinokjosa looked at charter schools for a study yet to make its appearance before the full board.

"Those of us who went on the city trips to Denver, L.A. and Houston and elsewhere know this is the foundation for how organizations ... are now working together," Flores said. "It's new in Dallas, but it's not new in Boston or Chicago, and these cities are showing remarkable change. It's important city leadership takes this to heart and gives it the long-term focus that's needed. We're so focused on next year's budget ... we don't see the whole region. ...

"We are all about preparing every child to succeed in school and graduating with skills to work in the workplace and going to college and eliminating the achievement gap The alignment to the work this board has already done is important for me to see. I am very very supportive. ... This is where everyone's going because it works."

McDonnough was grateful for the kind words. "I think I've lost count of the number of meetings we've had," he said. "There were lots of meetings where we were trying to build that collaboration and transparency. We're almost at the end of the beginning. The real hard work is gonna come around this. I feel really great about the foundation and as we talk about next steps, some of which were laid out in the article today."

Then Ranger spoke up. She also thanked the chamber for all its hard work. She said it sounds good, absolutely, but that there's a lot to consider here. "This is a significant document," she said, "a significant undertaking." And because of that, Ranger said, she didn't want to the board to have to act right now, bound by some artificial time line. Why, she asked, can't the board meet about this later, after having gotten some input from the public?

"We need to start now," Blackburn told her. "The longer it take for us to buy in to it, the longer it takes for us to get started. ... In Focus 2012 we talked about partnering with businesses and other community groups, and it falls in line with the other tenets we operate under. We don't have a plan. We're going to come together to help develop a plan, and the plan is going to significantly benefit Dallas ISD. They are talking about education broadly -- public schools, charter schools, private school, cradle to career -- and at the end of the month I am asking the board to adopt a resolution to work with whatever it will be called."

"I would encourage the trustees to move at pace on this and not lose the momentum," McDonough said. "The quicker we can move, the quicker we can move into action steps."

"Again, a lot of work has gone into this, a lot of time," Ranger said. "This give us two weeks to decide how we'll join in and partner. For me, as a trustee, I am also interested in the stakeholders, the public, as well as our having the conversation as trustees about the implications both short-range and long-range. We want to move it along, but we want to be clear about what we're doing and why we're doing and receive from the public their input."

Eric Cowan suggested, well, maybe the board ought to have a special called meeting in the next two weeks to talk about it, then vote on the 22nd. Didn't sound like that's going to happen.

"I would like to plan a meeting to hear from the public and digest their response and feedback," Ranger reiterated. "There are implications, and I've seen us rush -- and I am not saying this is that -- but I have seen us rush into projects, concepts and initiatives before, and the last one ended in great financial disaster because we didn't take the time to look at the implications and associated results. I am concerned about that. It troubles me ... we are too hasty."

Blackburn then told said, well, the resolution will be on the agenda September 22. Ranger asked: Are you going to have a public hearing? "I'll take it under consideration," the board president said.

There was then a talk about Leadership DISD. Which was interesting. But been there, done that.

But then the trustees began talking about those academically unacceptable schools and the school improvement plans. A lot of proposals were tossed out there -- some involving a study of feeder patterns, some involving a reconfiguring of the magnets. Flores spoke of performance pay at the central office and of "turning around our paradigm."

At which point, Mike Morath spoke up. We'll end this there:

"We have to adopt an attitude of no excuses," he said. "I want a commitment from every layer of leadership in this district that says we'll get these kids to where they need to be or we'll all quit. We've got a third that don't graduate and a third who do who aren't prepared for modern life. You can't turn this around immediately. I look at folks that are willing to take the responsibility of leading these campuses that want that responsibility, and they get four years to turn it around. And if they don't get it working at the highest possible level, I don't want 'em ever working for us again."

Tune in. They're passing out soapboxes.
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17 comments
Cliffhanger
Cliffhanger

I'm still waiting for these CofC types to enroll their kids in DISD and join the PTSA.  Change comes from the ground up, not the top down.  Well, change for the better, works that way,anyway.  

Tiffany Newhouse Smith
Tiffany Newhouse Smith

I appreciate all of your comment and I would like to discuss your opinions as far as uplift is concerned.  I recently moved my kid from a DISD public school to the LAUREATE PREP Charter when they called 8/26/2011 saying they had space for her, quite honestely I feel like I have made a mistake!  As parents we only want the best for our kids as you can see I’m up at 4 in the am investigating uplift.  I don’t know but I definitely feel there is something strange going on inside those school walls.  I can’t put my finger on what exactly, the school is locked down so tight, they don’t want parents to show up unannounced or to eat lunch with the kids.  The reason why?  Per the LAUREATE PREPARATORY Parent / Scholar Handbook 2011-2012 on page 65 states that “Lunch visitations are not allowed at Laureate Preparatory as action research from two experimental sessions showed us that scholar learning was negatively impacted for the remaining duration of the academic day.”  You want to speak with your child’s teacher?  Oh you need to “please allow 24 hour notice” and you need to set that appointment up with the Office Manager.  This handbook has left me with uneasy feelings and questions, what is Uplift Educations motive?  I’m also in agreement with cannedanswer, only this time they cherrypicked the WRONG docile student and parents.

cannedanswer
cannedanswer

Uplift is probably got a grant deadline, therefore Dallas must sign on as a partner in order for Uplift to get federal money to strip mine the district and for Lew to get his future job with Uplift. This whole scheme has been in progress for a year.

They will take classroom space from the district, cherrypick the docile students and parents, and make it appear the district is very, very bad compared to their carefully picked students. Dallas kids will look worse and worse compared to the carefully chosen Uplift students.

Teachers in Dallas are toast. Teach for America will come in for two year rotations while Uplift controls the funding agencies in town. Dallas teachers who are left with extremely difficult circumstances will be blamed for all the ills of poverty, high crime neighborhoods, and poor leadership all the way to the board. They will be replaced with TFA.

As far as Mike Morath and his big mouth, give him Hulcy or Boude Story to go in and show us how it's done, Morath. Your big mouth and cliches only work for KIPP when they can lose half their students. Better yet, hand Hulcy or Boude Story over to Uplift or KIPP and tell them they can't lose any students. They have to take the neighborhood students who show up, just like Dallas teachers. No parent meetings to find out if the student is a "fit" for their program.

Why the big deadline? Because there is a big payoff to Uplift for getting the Dallas trustees to sign their school district away. Never seen a board hand their physical facilities and students over to a charter that will cream off the top and spit the worst right back out making the district look even more pathetic than it did.

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Diane Birdwell
Diane Birdwell

Well, darnit people. Call the trustees and tell them to slow the heck down. Better yet, sign up to speak.....

Diane Birdwell
Diane Birdwell

Chamber of Commerce: Please answer in this forum. How many meetings did you hold with average, run of the mill teachers? How many meetings did you hold after going to parent conferences in low performing schools?

How many hours have you spent interviewing the master teachers in this district?

Mike
Mike

Transformative and paradigm used in the same brochure:- Danger! Danger Will Robinson!Or- Movie Sign! Movie Sign!

Omar Jimenez
Omar Jimenez

Well, What I've seen, Edwin Flores is the King of Rushing things.

Pete Ramirez
Pete Ramirez

It's a shame that school boards are manipulated by a central core of people (trustees), who do not really care about fixing things like school overcrowding or laying off bus drivers to save a few pennies. It's a shame that a superintendent hired by said trustees becomes a political pinata in due time and winds up a stooge of a broken system like the DISD. Rawlings will have to coerce a bunch of people to fix the broken system, but not in a direct way. That's a shame too. He's a mover and a shaker.

Not committed
Not committed

For all of those willing to commit to Commit!Let's Commit to no real estate deals for any one elected or appointed  to anything.Let's Commit to no leases of DISD schools to Uplift or KIPP.Let's Commit to no taxpayer money going to TFA.Let's Commit to no jobs for current trustees for 5 years after they leave the board.Let's Commit to no financial backing for running for public office.Let's Commit to no vendor or contracts to partnerships. Let's Commit to having all enroll their children, grandchildren in AU schools to guarantee engaged, informed, and active parents. Now see if these good people run faster than roaches when the light comes on.

DuckDuckGoose
DuckDuckGoose

Let's play cliche bingo!

constituentsservice providersnonprofitfaith-based communitythe communitycommon goalswe can work towardinputtransparentcollaborativegood work by good peopleto live the life of collaboration and be as transparent as we could be

Ye Gods

Oak Cliff Townie
Oak Cliff Townie

We should all plan to meet here in three years and see how well things are going.

Michael MacNaughton
Michael MacNaughton

What's the rush again?

If this group wanted to volunteer to tutor kids, landscape campuses, figure out how to get parents involved and write fat checks then what has stopped them in the past? 

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. 

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.

Joyce Foreman
Joyce Foreman

Lew Blackburn does not live in the Dallas school district, but he is making decisions for DISD.  He also applied for the superintendent's job in DeSoto and has indicated to some people that he willl not run for District 5 trustee seat again.  Looks like he is trying to stick the public with a concept to be worded later and he will not be around to see if it works or not.  That's the old  bait and switch.  What's the rush?  Why can't the public have input?  What will the chamber do different than they have done in the last 30 years with public education?  Since the chamber is now the regional chamber will it role this plan out to other school districts in the region ?  What's in it for Blackburn and other trustees?  Maybe more free trips.  So many questions, few answers.  That is always a bad sign.  The taxpayers need to know if taypayer money will be spent on this concept.

plfarmer
plfarmer

Lawyers and bankers want us to do something quick.Hide your wallet.

Guest
Guest

"The quicker we can move, the less time people have to find out what a huge scam this is."

DISD Teacher
DISD Teacher

Allow me to add 2 more cliches:-stakeholders-close the achievement gap (the literal TFA chant is "Close the Gap!" which involves hating on the kids in HP and private schools).

Notice how "teacher input" is not part of the paradigm?

Flores is for it.Lew is for it.Ergo, I am against it.

BCulbreath
BCulbreath

I agree the only reason he drew our area in his school district boundaries was to give his son a chance to run.No one has said a word about him not living in Dallas and was elected Chair of  board. Dallas has become the "any thing goes City" breaking law or rules and having no Moral code is running ramped these day.

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