DISD Trustee Carla Ranger Keeps Standing Up for the People, and Then Walking Out on Them

Thumbnail image for CarlaRangerDISDPhoto.jpg
"Who approved those shirts? Did we take a vote to approve those shirts? I'm outta here!"
I didn't catch the live version of last night's Dallas ISD board powwow to winnow its list of superintendent candidates, figuring it would go immediately into closed session and that if I wanted grainy, depressing footage, I'd be better off popping in Inside Job, which I'd somehow missed upon its release. Turns out I was in for a night of obstruction and bumbling either way.

Eighty-nine people applied for the district's top job, Board President Lew Blackburn announced after the meeting. The district's search firm narrowed that list to 11, and Tuesday night was designed to narrow it down to something closer to five. Those finalists will be interviewed on Saturday and then pared down further, until the board announces and votes on a lone finalist in April.

There's high hope that the district's profile -- big, urban, messy -- will prove an attractive project to some rising star in education, most likely a reformer open to partnering with charter schools, challenging the teachers union and otherwise upending the status quo in the name of achievement, to the delight of many and the frustration of many others. There's also fear in the board room that the best candidate might be scared off by dysfunction and in-fighting on the board.

If the prospective supes were watching last night, they certainly got some of the latter. You'll never guess who it starred.

One of the Morning News' education reporters, Matthew Haag, covered it as it happened and followed up in this morning's paper. I've heard basically the same version. Basically, Blackburn asked the board to sign a sort of non-disclosure agreement, prohibiting board members from yapping about the process. There's a lot of fear, probably justifiably so, that names will leak and good candidates will pull themselves from the running, afraid of losing their current jobs.

The form was a bit of a formality; personnel matters are confidential, and trustees can't talk much about them anyway. (Although they probably could talk in generalities about the process, and this seems to limit that speech.) Regardless, Blackburn wanted it, and everyone signed it -- except Trustee Carla Ranger, self-appointed Champion of the People.

Ranger, you'll recall, walked out on the January board meeting in which the trustees voted to close 11 schools -- a tough decision largely forced on them by shifting demographics, the state's refusal to fund education and, yes, a history of ineptitude. Ranger was ashamed of the process, she said, so she removed herself from it. When the trustees had attach their names to one side of the issue -- and risk losing support from parents and the powerful teachers union, as Trustee Bernadette Nuttall recently did -- Ranger wasn't even in the room.

She wasn't in the room last night, either.

First Ranger refused to sign the paper without closer examination. An understandable position, really. Never sign something you haven't read. I'm down with this. I've seen Inside Job.

After a break to let Ranger read it, she refused to sign it altogether. OK, fine. You don't like to be needlessly muzzled. You have a blog to keep up, and all these basketball recaps are getting a little boring. We get it.

The board had no choice but to unsheathe its pruning shears, gather the 11 names and head into closed session. And then, an hour into the meeting -- the first meeting to decide the future of leadership in the district Ranger wants us to believe she cares so deeply about -- she walked out again, vaguely citing open meetings laws, according to the News' account.

Ranger and I have been playing phone tag for a while. I called her house earlier this week and again this morning, and the voicemail isn't accepting messages. Maybe she has some totally logical reason for disappearing; if she does, we'll let you know. More likely, all she has is a growing track record of obstinance disguised as righteousness -- a track record that, with any luck, prospective superintendents, and one day maybe voters, can see for what it really is.


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34 comments
Bbetzen
Bbetzen

D Magazine & TEDxSMU are having an all candidate forum on April 10, 2012 from 6 PM to 8 PM at the Kessler Theater in Oak Cliff, 1230 West Davis. See the details and register at http://disdeducationforum-estw... . All candidates have agreed to attend. Here is copy from that web site:=========================================== The race for the school board positions in districts 1, 3, and 9 is on, and elections will take place on May 12. We've invited all the candidates to join us at the Kessler Theater. Each candidate will be given three minutes to answer one question drawn from a hat (enter your question with your RSVP). Don't worry if your question isn't picked. We've encouraged the candidates to stick around and mingle.

There's no cost to attend, and The Kessler will be serving up its finest drinks (cash bar).

Candidates confirmed for the evening are:District 1: Michael Greenberg, Elizabeth Jones, Jennifer Levy, George Roland Love District 3: Daniel Micciche, Bruce Parrott District 9: Damarcus Offord, Bernadette Nutall

Why do these elections matter to you? Because the future of Dallas depends on its public schools. Here are just some statistics DISD Trustee Mike Morath shared with us...DISD has 157,524 students in 225 schoolsDISD is the largest employer in Dallas with 20,076 employeesThe DISD Board of Trustees oversees a $1.4 BILLION annual budget10,872 of DISD employees are teachers, leaving 46% of the staff outside of our classrooms!34.5% of 9th graders will not graduate, and only 9.8% of seniors have a college level SAT/ACT scoreMale high school dropouts are 47 times more likely to end up in prison than college grads.Texas spends $15,527 per prison inmate per year (2008). By way of comparison, DISD spends $122,500 per child from K-12, or an average of $9,423 per child per year. By 2018, 63% of job openings will require some college education. If we continue at current rates, over the next two decades more than 100,000 kids in Dallas will grow up without a shot at success in the modern economy.21,352 people voted in the most recent DISD elections across all 9 districts (in the past 3 years), out of 476,127 registered voters in DISD, for a 4.4% voter turnout.Want to know what district you live in? Check out this map from DISD.Learn more about...TEDxSMUD Magazine============================ Above notice copied from http://disdeducationforum-estw...

Joyce Foreman
Joyce Foreman

I live in Carla Rangers district and support her efforts.  She is dealing with the wealthy money changers and is up against Blackburn, Bingham, Flores, Morath and Nutall.  If you are counting, that is 5 votes for whatever they want. 

 Nutall's summer programs are in DISD and without kinowledge of some of the staff.  Benefiting from her trustee position.  Didn't we want Jack Lowe gone for that reason?  I often wondered why Lew Blackburn was never elected president of the school board, and now I know why...His record at Lynacres Charter School, Wilmer Hutchins ISD and Dallas Can Charter School speak volumes, and he is a dictator. Flores, Bingham and Morath are the rudiest and most self rightous people I have ever seen and I am sure that it is not all about the kids.

If I were in Mrs. Rangers position, I would not trust anything these people put before me.  They are dangerous to public education and will continue to gut DISD for charter schools.  This is the direction that they are going because it benefits some of them and the others are just plain dumb, but think they know it all.

Cares About DISD
Cares About DISD

Hard to believe the AFT teacher group would endorse a candidate to oversee a $1.5 billion budget and manage a superintendent responsible for 20,000 employees who has never served on a board with any meaningful financial responsibility and who believes that it is appropriate to publicly threaten board members who do not agree with him by suggesting that  he and his friends will come to their houses or businesses if they do not do as he wishes.  If this doesn't tell you what AFT is all about (hint: it's not about what is best for the district and its children, its really about finding someone who will do as they wish while bringing embarrassment to the district), nothing will.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

Omar Jimenez
Omar Jimenez

Maybe we should start using approve ratings for the trustees.

carlmac
carlmac

Need some basic background on professional organizations.

The Texas Association of School Administrators (TASA) is the administrator version of AFT, what you are mislabeling as a teachers' union. TASA is well funded, as are its members since most make twice the salaries or more of teachers, and extremely influential. Their lobbyists helped pass the legislation to keep superintendent recruitment secret from taxpayers, solely for the benefit of job-hopping superintendents. Why let the taxpayers know who is on the prowl for more money or looking to jump ship like the rat known as Hinojosa?

TASA is similar to the American Medical Association and the Bar Association in that it engages high paid lobbyists to maintain its power and influence.

Yet, when teachers in Texas join the only professional associations available to them, they are branded as teachers' unions in some sophomoric fashion as to insinuate teamster tactics.

Second, Carla Rangers' constituents aren't complaining about her behavior. The Citizen's Council used their influence twice to try to get her fired from DCCCD. Uproar from her fans stopped that.

Tone doesn't know what was going on in executive session. He doesn't know the slime that has crawled up to secretly take over Dallas ISD or the influence from the big dollars in Dallas betting on their candidate.

Wilonsky wrote an excellent column today on Todd Williams spreading more Goldman Sachs manure around town to buy the school board elections. That's influence that smells and his donations are sitting around the table determining the next superintendent, bought and paid for as they are. They go by the name of Bernadette and Flores and Lew.

Take a grow-up pill, Tone. You are in way over your head, you don't understand the play or the players.

Mike
Mike

Speaking of that picture, why are school board trustees involved in that activity? If management needs to be there, why not the supe or his delegate? The board members at Ford do not go to employee recognition meetings or sales meetings or wander factory floors. We have the same problem at City Council level. These people do not seem to understand where they fit in the organization and how they should add value. They should be setting policy and metrics and holding the supe's glands to the fire.

Why should it not be surprising in Dallas that key leaders do not understand their roles? We have an NBA owner railing against the league,seemingly forgetting he is one of the bosses. Dude, you are the boss. Rent a copy of Saving Private Ryan and cue the section where Tom Hanks explains what it means when a leader complains downward.

Rumpunch
Rumpunch

If a fight is worth fighting, then its worth losing.  You should only leave a fight to get backup or supplies.  This is the difference between an agent of change and an agent of the media.

East Dallas Dad
East Dallas Dad

I miss Wilonsky more with every post Joe Tone writes.

Ranger didn't walk out of the January Board Meeting - Lew Blackburn overreacted and moved the meeting to the small board room. He initially wasn't even going to allow the public into the meeting. (I guess the lawyers reminded him about the open meetings laws.) Ranger contends that the move was a violation of policy (and Robert's Rules of Order) at best and illegal at worst.

I don't blame Ranger for wanting to read the document before signing it. I do blame Blackburn, Bingham and the other trustees that are continually rude and dismissive towards Ranger. I don't blame her for not trusting them either.

As far as Nuttall losing support from the teachers' union, the story I hear is that the decision was based on her overall voting record, not simply the vote to close the schools.

Titus Groan
Titus Groan

There was an article about this closed-door supe selection process a long time ago here.  The upshot, as I recall, was that if you can't stand public scrutiny as a candidate, why should we think you'll stand it as the finalist?

Admittedly, we're still too early to talk names right now, but when the field is down to 5 or fewer, let's see who they are.  Let them stand in the open and declare their intentions.  Let them field some public forums, see how well they sell themselves.  How do they handle negative attacks?  Are they able to win over people of different backgrounds?

Mike
Mike

Dallas does not seem to know how to develop full spectrum insurgent officials. People that go against the flow, particularly needed in poorly managed organizations, do so for one of two reasons. The better reason is that they recognize they have to get attention to stop or guide a bad decision, but still remain grounded in the rules and forces of the organization. They are effective. The other reason is they have problems with some directions, but unfortunately seem to have problems also with basic skills, communications, and respect for the process. People looking to change things in Dallas often have no choice but to rely on the latter group and suffer the lack of impact. Bomb throwers can have a role, but get nothing done if they are only assets in play.

Chris Danger
Chris Danger

I'm starting to come around on the Carla Ranger "Walk-out" style of school politics. Instead of standing and voting against, she just leaves the fight. I'm starting to suspect she'll be replaced in the next election cycle..

Concerned East Dallas parent
Concerned East Dallas parent

Why is everyone automatically suspicious that an individual running for school board is just a puppet for some invisible political group? Same goes with the skepticism towards groups trying to interview candidates and put money behind raising election awareness (check out the voter participation levels in these elections - it is anemic).  I have kids in DISD schools and I want the school district to be better. I want trustees that are going to hold the administriation accountable for its use of tax dollars. I want the administration to be as efficient as possible so that more dollars are available to teachers and classrooms. Last I checked that is where the kids are being educated.  I don't want every business person I work with to assume DISD schools can't educate kids and that private school is the only option.  We have to stop pretending that there is nothing wrong with the education being provided to majority of the students in the district. We need trustees that are going to focus on improving the education available to every child.  

carlmac
carlmac

Here is a list of embarrassing moments. They have nothing to do with AFT:

PCard thieves are exposed, Paul Coggins (room mate of Sandy Kress in college) and his law firm are paid a million to do, pretty much nothing. PCard thieves are promoted.

Dallas Achieves' cronies and Broad queen blow a hole in Dallas ISD's budget--national news

Dallas Achieves' choice, HInojosa, lowers grading standards to a national low

Hinojosa allows major nepotism right in his top staff resulting in an IT department that is a state joke

Financial disarray is a constant, and DISD can't partake of Efunds from the feds.

SIN (kept in place by Bickel and Brewer) violates both Title 1 and Title IX--still employed

Because the district can't find a decent curriculum expert, Dallas high schools and middle schools are both the lowest ranked in the state and the most top-down micromanaged in the state.

OHI is thrown in the trash after a $600K contract to former superintendents because it exposes the weaknesses of Dallas principals

Goldman Sachs stays in the news for prosecution of its top ranks yet a former partner is here to reform education by spreading ill gotten gains by influencing board members with cash

Board run by Dallas oligarchy refuses to hold elections

Board run by Dallas oligarchy passes rule to allow a board member to continue to do business with the district

As far as the young man's passion in running for election, he is using the tools of those without the influence of the money changers.

Board run by Dallas oligarchy is totally contemptuous of public school teachers unless they are TFA elitists who stick around for two years and use the lesson plans and work of experienced teachers to stay afloat.

Metroplexual
Metroplexual

Okay, I bit and youutubed the dialog you referred to in Saving Private Ryan.  Here it is for your viewing pleasure.... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

It's my opinion that DISD Board and Administrators haven't accepted and respondedto leadership for at least that last 30 years I've been paying attention.  There are too manypersona or narrowly focused and racial agendas that supersede the overall interests of the district. Maybe weak leaders has been chosen intentionally or maybe because they are of the ethnicity who's turn it is and that trumps all in this town.  

When a leader is chosen it is important for the success of the organization that the leader be allowed to lead and be supported and respected throughout the organization and the community.   Nothing wrong with debating issues, examining and reviewing performance but don't purposely derail leaders with petty distractions and vendettas.  

Of course I'm assuming that everyuone wants DISD to be successful in educatingthe public and functioning efficiently and honorably.

 

Titus Groan
Titus Groan

A trustee represents a geographic area, not shareholder interests.  So I think her participation should be applauded, not criticized.

Hometown Boy
Hometown Boy

I think you are right on AFT's endorsement.  Trustee Nutall voted for using performance over seniority in any layoffs.  She supported letting principals pick their staff vs. having teachers forced upon them.  She voted for extending the contract with Teach for America given their classroom results.  Items all opposed by AFT.  They aren't focused on what's best for kids.  They are focused on protecting their weakest performers at all costs.

Andrew
Andrew

Take a look at who AFT endorsed for District 9 and that should give you a pretty good idea of their motives.  The endorsement pretty clearly says that AFT cares more about its own politics than it does about the welfare of DISD student or even, frankly, the future of its members.

Joe Tone
Joe Tone

She didn't physically walk out on it, but she wasn't in it, either. That whole meeting was a fiasco, but once it settled down and they got down to debating -- which they did, pretty thoughtfully and passionately, I thought -- she should have been in the room, and she should have voted. You disagree that she should have voted? What purpose does sitting out the vote serve?I'm sure AFT didn't endorse Nuttall out for a lot of reasons. I'm just as sure that voting to close schools -- and effectively eliminate teacher jobs -- was one of them.

Buy hey, EDD, we agree on one thing: I miss Robert, too.

Joe Tone
Joe Tone

Yeah, Mike, I think this is the problem here. Boards like DISD's need a good bomb thrower, but they need one who's willing to stick around and take some shrapnel to the leg. Sitting out the fight doesn't help anyone. Bitch about the non-disclose, refuse to sign the non-disclose, but then stick around and fight for the best candidates and the most thorough process.

Also, our web editor Nick just g-chatted me: "Man, you JUST saw Inside Job?" Embarrassing, I know. Took a big man to admit that, though.

Joyce Foreman
Joyce Foreman

I am not always suspicious of individuals running for school board.  I believe Dr. Michael Greenburg and Damarcus Offord are running to serve the children and that is what I am looking for in a candidate.

I want the school district better, and I want trustees that are going to hold the administration accountable, but most of all I want someone in the positions who will put the children's interest first and not worry about aligning themselves with money. This person must not be willing to leave some children behind to satisfy the charter school advocates.  As you know, charter schools receive public funds but do not have to educate all children who come to their campus.

East Dallas Dad
East Dallas Dad

That sounds great but keep your eyes open and follow the money. Why would millionaires that don't live in Dallas and don't have students in Dallas ISD be so interested in our school district?

If any of these PACs are truly interested in serving the community they should limit themselves to accepting donations from citizens that live within the boundaries of Dallas ISD and refuse to accept donations from all special interest groups (whether they represent the business community or teachers' groups or any other special interest).

carlmac
carlmac

Nutall couldn't find her butt with both hands. She's Todd Williams' sock puppet and barely literate. Todd is out looking for weak links (Nutall) or pure arrogance (Flores). They are like the derivatives GS bundled to screw the universe.

Research shows TFA no more effective  than other first year teachers AT  WEAK schools. Remember, Highland Park isn't out recruiting TFA.

Todd Williams bought the weakest performers on the board and will continue to do so. Guess he wants to spread the toxic waste dump of Goldman Sachs management style.

carlmac
carlmac

Exactly what are AFT's motives? To support teachers against the monied interests in Dallas that blew a permanent hole in the budget? The repercussions of that blowout will be around for a decade. That hole is one excuse for closing schools.

The big boys who want to shape a school system that resembles the nightmare of Bloomberg's NYC are organized. Their vision is cheap teacher labor, most kids in charter schools, and Teach for America on a permanent federal tit.

Wendy Kopp's version of teaching throws the least experienced in front of kids most in need of experienced teachers. Don't let Flores little DISD produced research on TFA fool you. Last election, he went around the neighborhood with a DISD produced chart showing improved high schools that were actually Academically Unacceptable. The chart was totally bogus as was the research produced by DISD to support TFA.

Flores rails against teacher associations but belongs to the monopoly ABA that controls training and education for attorneys. He's a hypocrite and a liar.

East Dallas Dad
East Dallas Dad

I read your unsupported allegations on that other site and wasn't convinced.

East Dallas Dad
East Dallas Dad

 I'll concede your point about why she sat out.

Personally, I think the votes were decided (and probably paid for) well in advance of the meeting.

I would like more information on the charter proposals being discussed even after Lew Blackburn, Bernadette Nuttall and other trustees vehemently promised that the closed schools would not be replaced with charters. Other than what Blackburn said in the DMN, no one seems to be talking. Perhaps we'll (conveniently) hear more after the school board elections.

Oak Cliff Townie
Oak Cliff Townie

" I think this is the problem here. Boards like DISD's need a good bomb thrower,"

With this bunch it would be like tossing a cup of water into the Ocean .

Titus Groan
Titus Groan

If it helps, I still haven't watched it, because I think I would put my fist/foot through the screen.

Joyce Foreman
Joyce Foreman

I will be there to learn more about the positions of the candidates on public school education.

Bbetzen
Bbetzen

""PUBLIC WELFARE" through charter schools." 

Joyce, well said.  People do not realize both the positive and the negative power of so-called "choice." While it is helping focus on educational issues it is also creating a "separate but equal" educational system.   Why do we allow ANY school to exist that a parent would want to pull their child from to go to another so-called "public" school?   Every day in Dallas there are hundreds of thousands of passenger miles invested in students driving to the school of their choice becuase that local school is not considered acceptable. Thousands of hours of travel time.  If our community school was already the best, think of the money and time that would be saved.  The charter and choice issues are simply distracting us from that ultimate goal.

I like your ""PUBLIC WELFARE" through charter schools" phrase, except that from several perspectives it is ultimately much more dangerous for the ultimate welfare of our society than public welfare ever was.  Don't misunderstand me, public welfare is also VERY dangerous.

Joyce Foreman
Joyce Foreman

Hometown Boy,

It would be really good to know who you are.  If you are definding the suits and saying they do not live outside of Dallas, then you must be one of them.  AFT has more invested in DISD than any of the fat cats that you are talking about.  Many suits are looking for "PUBLIC WELFARE" through charter schools.

Concerned East Dallas parent
Concerned East Dallas parent

Because they want better schools and efficient use of tax dollars! Some of us actually believe this city can and should do better in educating all students. Do you realize the cost to society if we fail to educate children? Less than 10% of DISD high school students will graduate college ready. That is a sign of something seriously wrong. The poor school system is holding this city back. You want to change the dynamics of poverty? Help these kids become literate and employable or college ready.

Hometown Boy
Hometown Boy

AFT raises $4.5 million annually and has a staff of 22. If you want to follow the money, there's no bigger trail in the city of Dallas than that one.

Last time I checked, the donors in question (Boone, Barth, Muzquiz, Williams, etc) all live in DISD. Get your facts straight. I'd rather trust those who won't personally benefit from their involvement than AFT protecting the jobs of their least effective staff or trying to shove custodial salaries down DISD's throat that are $10 million+ over market. The more employees belonging to AFT, the more dues available to pay their staff.

Next time they scream they are all about the kids, hold your nose. Hypocrisy has a pungent odor.

Bbetzen
Bbetzen

East Dallas Dad asks: "Why would millionaires that don't live in Dallas and don't have students in Dallas ISD be so interested in our school district?"

If the graduation rate, and the quality of the education received by all DISD students continues to improve, then the value of everything in our city will improve, except maybe the prisons.  They will have more vacancies.

What happens in Dallas affects the entire DFW area. DISD used to have one of the worst graduation rates in the Metroplex.  From 2006 through 2011 the CPI (Cumulative Promotion Index) graduation rate for DISD has gone up a total of 23.8 percentage points!  DISD is one of the most improved, if not the most improved, urban districts in all of the United States.  It certainly is the most improved in Dallas County! See http://schoolarchiveproject.bl...  That benefits everyone, even millionaires in Irving.

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