Or Maybe the Dallas Independent School District's Trustees Should Just Visit Mesquite

MISDlogo.jpg
Earlier today we revisited the Dallas Regional Chamber's plan, blessed by Mayor Mike and Lew Blackburn, to save the Dallas Independent School District. And while Commit! is still in its vague, unformed infancy, clearly this is Very Important to a few very important people. Which is why Blackburn wants the trustees to sign off on whatever it is by September 22. After that discussion, the trustees then got 'round to talking about how to fix all those academically unacceptable schools. Among the remedies suggested: opening up magnets to everyone, evaluating feeder patterns to see what happens between high-performing elementaries and failing high schools, and firing educators who can't bail out a sinking ship in, oh, let's say four years.

Or ... the trustees could just get in their cars, or a bus of whatever length they choose, and ride over to Mesquite to see how they officials are running that district -- which counts zero academically unacceptable campuses among its 47 and is recognized by the Texas Education Agency based upon its high TAKS scores. Only reason I mention it: The 71-year-old National School Boards Association announced today that Mesquite ISD is one of three finalists for the 2011 Council of Urban Boards of Education Annual Award for Urban School Board Excellence, along with Boston Public Schools and Washoe County School District in Nevada.

So, why Mesquite? Well ...
Texas' Mesquite Independent School District has quietly carved out a niche as a highly successful small urban school district. The 37,000-student school system located less than 20 miles east of Dallas systematically has made major gains in student achievement and significantly closed achievement gaps while successfully rallying community support around the schools. Eighty-four percent of students tested proficient in math in 2010, up from 67 percent in 2004, the percentage proficient in science grew from 52 percent in 2004 to 82 percent in 2010, and reading test scores rose from 82 percent to 91 percent proficient during the same time period, while social studies scores went from 86 percent to 95 percent passing. While all subgroups showed improvement, minority students enjoyed particular gains, and the test score gaps between white and minority students closed significantly in all subject areas.
That's why.

Should Mesquite win this award -- and it might, because Boston won the first CUBE award in '04 -- it won't be the first Texas district to do so: Houston Independent School District tied with Miami-Dade's district in '07, and the Brownsville ISD took home took home the honor the following year. Go, Skeeters!

Advertisement

My Voice Nation Help
19 comments
Calebri3
Calebri3

Race has nothing to do with our problems.  I believe all students are intelligent if given the chance.  I've worked with alot of teachers that decide the students are dumn (especially Hispanic) before even given the chance to prove how intelligent they can be.  I really believe it's the parents fault for not standing up for their child's rights.  When your child comes home and says the teacher did or said something that was not ethical, you need to go to the school and defend your child.  As an employee, even if I saw a teacher doing/saying something that was insulting, yes I could complain, but nothing is done about it unless a parent complains.  I had 5 children and believe me, I've had bus drivers fired, I've had teachers removed and I wouldn't stop until I felt my child was given the education I believed she deserved.  That's right, I made sure everyone at my schools new me and I made it clear that my child was being sent their to learn, not to be bullied or treated like ****, and if all parents did this and showed up every once in a while to your child's school, we'd have less incompetent teachers.  And even if our kids don't want you showing up, you show up, you're the parent aren't you. I work for DISD and I've learned that DISD doesn't fire people, they move you around until you quit.  But why would you quit when you're actually being promoted.  So then what happens is that incompetent teachers and principals show up at another school to give other kids hell. 

After 4 graduates and 1 senior left, I can honestly say I'm glad I gave my teachers the right act from day 1, my kids didn't appreciate it all the time, but I bet there glad they weren't ever victims.  Oh one more thing,  DON'T SEND YOUR KID TO SKYLINE, because if you're a parent, you'll have to be there alot....................I had two of my kids go there and one of those years I had a lot of work to do.  OH, one more thing, I didn't play around, when you have a problem and want fast results you need to: e-mail teacher, principal and superintendent and yes they want you to go to the teacher first, but again I didn't play around, you have to e-mail all three first time to get fast results.  Good luck

Minsane
Minsane

If you haven't been in the schools and you don't have the inside track.  You will not understand.  The focus has been on minority and eco-dis students for several years.  Main point, don't fail the Minority or Eco-Dis students or you will get fired!.  If they are having academic problems, put them on a SPED or 504 program so the test scores don't count against the district overall scores...  What does this rise in improvement mean for the district ??  YOU GUESSED IT !  $$$$$$$$$  money money  money ..!!  It's a scam for money... I've been in the schools and I've seen and heard what is happening...   DO NOT BELIEVE THE HYPE !As far as diversity, White students are the minority in the MISD, Horn was the last to go and they are equally divided by 1/3 white, 1/3 Af Am, 1/3 hispanic.  It is not upper-class, no place in Mesquite is upper-class and I have lived there for 43 years .. born and raised, and I just recently moved to Austin to get my kids out of there....  it's not just the scores, it's the environment of the schools...  South Dallas is moving in quick, I just wish I had done it sooner as I am losing my butt on the sell of the house...Just check the TEA rankings on-line ...  oh, and isn't the Observer an entertainment publication? The author should get in his car and go spend a few days in the halls of any of the high schools in Mesquite, I would love to see the article on that !

Chris Danger
Chris Danger

I'll say it like this: The real problem w/ the DISD isnt the teachers, its the parents whom are not much older than their children both in age and maturity. Its the fact many of the children in this district dont have the proper support structure at home to make sure they achieve their highest potential. Add to the fact members of the "community" try to saddle these kids with excuses for not being able to do better (race, social-economic, ect..), you can see why these kids are unable to succeed to societial standards.

MISD Spouse
MISD Spouse

My wife works for Mesquite. Her opinion is that Mesquite has gotten tougher over the last 4-5 years on teachers and admins whose students regularly underperform. They are getting rid of more teachers, and not allowing teachers to voluntarily transfer away from mean principals that demand results from them. They either have to pull their load or put up with as miserable an environment that can be created for them in a civil service system until they take the hint and leave.  

East Dallas Dad
East Dallas Dad

Why are the teachers the only ones held accountable in Dallas ISD?

Incompetent, ineffective administrators and principals get shuffled from department to department or school to school thanks to the rampant cronyism that infects this entire district from top to bottom. If you go to the right church, belonged to the right sorority or fraternity in college or are connected to the right elected officials you are untouchable. If you are a hard working teacher who is dedicated to your students but lack those unofficial DISD credentials you are nothing more than a disposable budget line item.

We need to throw the bums out! Let's start at the top with Board of Trustees and work our way down through administration. Then we can talk about ineffective teachers. Of course if we have competent, professional principals they'll take care of that for us.

Unfortunately, I'm probably dreaming. The cronyism and corruption will continue and most of the tax payers will continue to bemoan the state of DISD without actually stepping up and taking action.

BCulbreath
BCulbreath

DISD is no longer in Federal Court, and students are 88% minority its time to cut all those special programs get back to basic education.Stop wasting money of Consulting firm to secure scholarships for student that was done by high school Counselors.Every child taught English and Spanish.Youngsters having language problems should be placed in central located facility and learn at same pace.DISD is to political and has lost commitment to Kids and Education.District is mechanism to support construction industry in Dallas.

Diane Birdwell
Diane Birdwell

They could also visit Highland Park. That is my mantra. If they don't do it in Highland Park, why do we do it? CEI's, ACP's, Benchmarks, etc... NONE of that has ANYTHING to do with a child being poor or a minority. It has a lot to do with making somethign out of njothing and pretending to address the issues. If we aspire to be a district where the kids are held to higher standards, then let us look at a school that operates on a higher level. Look at the Catholic schools. Whatever. You will find that with charters, private schools and HP/UP, it is expectations that matter. I once heard this at Mesquite High School when I was a student-teacher:"Ma'am, the law says your son is entitled to a free and public education. The law does NOT say it has to be HERE. I suggest you move to a school where they will let your son _____"

DISD Teacher
DISD Teacher

I have a few questions; maybe someone out there has answers:1.  Are predominately white schools allowed to exist in Mesquite? This is important bc it would indicate an approach to education & personnel that is not race-based.2.  What is the teacher/non-teacher-employee ratio in Mesquite?This would indicate the district focus and dominance: is it the classroom or the admin?

3.  Are there any TFA teachers in Mesquite?Their presence indicates the school board's view of veteran teachers AND the school board's focus (political gain vs. education for the kids).

4.  How does Mesquite ISD evaluate its teachers?  Does it use DISD's CEI system, which many believe is designed to generate grievances--which in turn generates revenue for favored law firms "defending" DISD?

5.  How many days of testing will Mesquite ISD 3rd, 5th, 8th, and 9th graders endure this school year?

6.  Does Mesquite ISD have a Math Department Head who is not certified to teach Mathematics?

7.  Do Mesquite ISD teachers attend trainings where instruments are handed out and conga lines are formed to address the failure of African American students?

rod
rod

Well said Betty, is 88% correct? I thought it was more.

Chris Danger
Chris Danger

Because Diane, that would be too much common sense for the DISD, Might make their primitive monkeyfish brains explode

Guest
Guest

1:  The DISD is 88% minority.  Get over it.

2:  I know you hate young teachers taking old teachers' jobs.  So what?  Old teachers are just as likely to be terrible as young ones.  I don't much care for teach for america because the teachers are only temps, but the fact that they displace older teachers isn't necessarily the problem. 

4:  I know you just want teachers to be left the hell alone no matter how terrible they are, but there are a lot of bad (and great) teachers in the DISD.  I went to teach a high school social studies class about the constitution once as a visitor.  The teacher told me before I started not to make it too difficult because most of the kids were dumb.  As I discussed a couple of the subjects to see if she thought they were appropriate for the class, it became clear she had no understanding of the basic meaning of most of the bill of rights or the civil rights acts.  She then lamented the days when she got to teach white kids.  She had no business being in a classroom.  Almost any TFA kid would have been an improvement.  The DISD needs to do something to weed out the teachers.  Perhaps a dismantling of the whole grievance system?

5:  Testing might not make them smarter, but it doesn't make kids dumber.   

6:  Does the department head teach?

7:  Every job I ever had involved exercises of this sort.  Again, this doesn't make the kids any dumber, so it isn't an excuse for terrible performance of DISD students.

 

 

Omar Jimenez
Omar Jimenez

I can only answer to your 1st question. In my area, a zone is zoned to Mesquite ISD, and the Lawson area along Belt Line and 20 is made up of a lot of trailer homes. There are a big number of Hispaincs that live there, but it used to be that they would all be zoned to Horn, which is much closer, but now it has changed to Mesquite High where is much more far for theses kids. Pretty much Horn is still the predominately Higher-Class school.

primi timpano
primi timpano

I don't really understand 1-5, but are you implying DISD has a Math Department Head who is not certified to teach math?  I would also appreciate an explication of number 7.  BTW, what does the math dept head teach?

DISD Teacher
DISD Teacher

1.  DISD's minority percentage isn't the point.  I believe magnets are not to be more than 50% Anglo (it may be 49 or 51%, but it's somewhere in that range).  This race-based mindset punishes kids who happen to be Anglo.  Schools like Preston Hollow are surrounded on all sides by a predominantly white neighborhood, but for years kids have been bused away from below-capacity schools to Preston Hollow (and past closer schools on the way) for race reasons.  Race-based decision-making, as evidenced by race-based school zoning, keeps kids stuck on buses for longer.2.  TFA teachers are uncertified teachers.  They are preferred to hiring veteran teachers not because they are cheaper (they aren't) but bc trustees will benefit personally from scratching TFA's back.  Excellent veteran teachers are passed over for UNCERTIFIED TFA teachers to score campaign contributions.3.  As a taxpayer, I want DISD to fix its grievance-attracting CEI system so many of my taxes don't go to certain law firms hired to "defend" DISD.  I want my tax dollars paying for smaller class sizes.4.  Testing takes away teaching time, so yes, it does make kids dumber.5.  How can a department head lead and write curric if she has no idea what happens in a mathematics classroom?  HAVING NON-TEACHERS AND NON-CERTIFIED PEOPLE IN CHARGE IS EXACTLY THE PROBLEM WITH DISD.  Her lack of certification matters bc DISD math scores are awful.  Maybe that's why....6.  Taxpayer money being spent to pull teachers out of a classroom for a conga line is wrong.  Remember that while teachers are pulled out for this nonsense, kids are being babysat by subs.  It takes away teaching time which, again, does make kids dumber.You ought to run for school board trustee.  You sound just like one.  You are obviously ignorant of what really goes on in schools and in DISD.

Erich S
Erich S

88% minority? I doubt there's THAT many white kids in DISD.

cannedanswer
cannedanswer

Poor teachers are supposed to be weeded out by campus administration. The grievance process isn't hindering them from removing teachers when they have documented their inadequacies, but that might take time away from their persistent efforts to get promotions off the campus. Of course, in order for this to work, DISD would have to hire quality principals instead of the cousins, children, and spouses of central administrators. Nepotism and rancid quality at the top is what is killing this district.

"Testing might not make them smarter," but it sure wastes time that could be used for teaching. Apparently you have never had weeks of instruction interupted by weeks of homemade DISD testing.

The math person with no certificate is head of math for the district.

I went to a poor quality doctor once. Probably the whole system of medical education needs to be redone, or maybe every profession has its losers, especially one where salaries are pathetic and leadership is nonexistent. The constant chaos is another factor.

Every surrounding school district made their teacher cuts in the spring. They are an ocean of calm. DISD, with its carefully chosen HR head who had no experience but was a crony of Hinojosa, has hundreds of job openings, paid $7 million to dump some of its top quality, now wants to fire surplus teachers after school has started and will get sued, and the list goes on.

The fish stinks mightily from the head down. Cut off the head and start over. 

As far as your classroom experience, why didn't you march down to the principal's office and ask why an incompetent was teaching? Why not hold campus administration accountable for the quality of teachers? Grievance hearings are an excuse given by lazy, incompetent administrators who are not held accountable for anything, but are booted into promotions when they fail.

Erich S
Erich S

JOKE. Since, you know, Eurocentric-kids are, you know, the minority here in Texas.

Now Trending

Dallas Concert Tickets

From the Vault

 

General

Loading...