Predicting Mike Miles' Future at DISD: Broadly Speaking, I See Blood and Privatization

Categories: Schutze

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Not sure what to think of Mike Miles, the Dallas school board's pick for new superintendent? Here's a shortcut. Decide what you think of the Broad Superintendents Academy (BSA).

Miles is a 2011 graduate of a boot camp for school superintendents in Los Angeles founded and funded by a foundation named for billionaire businessman and education philanthropist Eli Broad. Depending on who's talking, the BSA is either the answer to our educational prayers or a fat-cat fascist plot to turn American school children into bubble-test-taking corporate zombies.

A pay-walled report in Education Week published last year cited fear and trepidation among teachers and activists across the country as more and more Broadies take over major school districts. But the same piece also cited some successes.

In Pittsburgh, for example, a BSA-produced superintendent presided over a school system that saw substantial uniform increases in test scores in a five-year period from 2005 to 2010. In other districts, BSA supers have produced mixed results or declines.

One trend is consistent. The BSA supers, who are often former military, come into districts with a mission to kick ass and take names. In some districts, the results have been brutal. Last year in Rochester, New York, 95 percent of teachers taking part in an approval poll on that district's BSA superintendent voted no confidence.

In general the role of the Broad Foundation, The Walton Family Foundation, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and other education activism groups funded by the mega-wealthy has been viewed with suspicion by some as an attempt to achieve a corporate-style takeover of public education. Their critics accuse them of a heavy-handed emphasis on privatization and of enforcing productivity measurements more appropriate to an assembly line than an academy.

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Mike Miles, DISD super-in-waiting.
In an impassioned screed published in April of last year in The Pacific Free Press, liberal journalist Chris Hedges painted all of these groups, but especially Broad, as barbarians at the gates of public education in America.

"Passing bubble tests," Hedges wrote, "celebrates and rewards a peculiar form of analytical intelligence. This kind of intelligence is prized by money managers and corporations.

"They don't want employees to ask uncomfortable questions or examine existing structures and assumptions. They want them to serve the system. These tests produce men and women who are just literate and numerate enough to perform basic functions and service jobs."

At the very least, one trend is unmistakable and maybe even inescapable when a BSA grad shows up to be your new super. There will be blood.

In the Education Week piece, author and education reformer Diane Ravitch was quoted saying: "What I see happening is that they colonize districts."

In her 2010 book, The Death and Life of the Great American School System, Ravitch described Broad and similar groups as practitioners of what she called "education venture philanthropy."

"Once there's a Broad superintendent," she told Education Week, "he surrounds himself with Broad fellows, and they have a preference towards privatization. It happens so often, it makes me wonder what they're teaching them."

Apparently we are about to learn that answer.

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ReformDISD
ReformDISD

Interesting article, highlighting how Broad Foundation is tied to Cheating Scandals:http://potterwilliamsreport.co...

 Potter Williams Report: Unsolved Mystery: DC Public Schools Cheating Scandal:In 2009 the rising star had arrived. She was named a Broad Superintendent Academy fellow joining other anointed superstars like Michelle Rhee.  The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation heavily funds the education reform movement including Rhee’s programs in DC.  Broad who once declared he knew nothing about how to operate a school, has placed his brand of education engineering in school systems across the country.

The elite club of edu-reformers is a tightknit group. Self-interests and covering for each other abound. That can’t be good for the 50 million K-12 students who the club uses as trading cards—their value rises and falls according to the latest business deal or political posture.

Are the journalists’ and interested parties’ suspicion about a major cover-up in the DC cheating scandal much ado about nothing? If there’s no real issue there, why not lay all the facts on the table? Atlanta’s highly publicized, massive cheating scandal should serve as a cautionary tale to those who think kicking the can down the road will make the story go away.

ReformDISD
ReformDISD

In response to the Broad Superintendents' Academy:

What was the methodology used in your study that "Broad Superintendents Academy who have served for three or more years are outperforming comparison groups in raising student achievement". Which model did you use for your evaluation? Who conducted your evaluation? Where is it published?

I have not seen it...and trust me, I look at a lot of data. Also, any study can be flawed based on your methodology...so please post the link to your study...

ReformDISD
ReformDISD

Glad to hear he has a "hands-on" approach. However, it depends how this will be translated into an large urban organization. I would like to remind everyone that Michael Hinojosa also said he would visit campuses every week and be hands-on. I heard this over and over at committee meetings. However, after the 2008 Budget Debacle, the visits became less and less of a priority, because reality sunk-in. The Road to Broad!! Mike Miles is Broad Superintendent Institute Graduate from California, so he also want the Broad Prize. Now, he's no Doctor to fix education. It look more like he will be a Draconian Leader, who wants to lead by Fear...Sort of like Bill Rojas, in which case, I was a teacher. It looks like we are 12 years behind again.

I think he really needs to come-up with Entry-Plan first and focus on the broken central office that currently exists. He might want to listen to teacher groups, parent groups and create a climate of trust before he embarks in a "let me get you" attitude and brings in his army.

Leading by fear has no room in a large urban system like DISD. Sustainability, Ethical Leadership and TRUST are key....Now, does he have any of these qualities? Haven't hear the TRUST part yet.

The current climate is devastating. Adding, more fuel to the fire, will only lower morale and will lead to lower student achievement because of the future revolving door of principals and teachers.I hope he is not a Bill Rojas, thinking he can shuffle and fire all principals and bring in his Broad TOADS

Tinseltwon1356
Tinseltwon1356

Considering all the radical changes he’s done in his district, I don’t see a whole lot of gains. I need to see results from 2004, 2003 to get a clearer picture. Could it be that the minimal gains may be attributed to his “teachign to the test” approach? I read a post by a Harrison insider who claims that students were being “bribed” to do their best on their state test. Bikes and games consoles were being raffled to keep kids motivated to go over answers twice and not close their test booklets untill the end of the session. It makes you wonder just what else is going on in that district? If this is what got their scores to be 2% higher than in the past, then there is no real evidence than this “Pay For Performance” actually works. I also heard that teacher turnover rate is real high, and many of those who stay, including principals, are miserable.A gentleman was saying that there is no curriculum, and teachers have to come up with their own. I’d like my kid to have professional educational material, and not some worksheet a frazzled teacher puts together the night before by googling concepts.

Jay
Jay

I can understand your concerns Jim, because after all, DISD is an efficient, well functioning educational institution consistently churning out well educated students completely prepared for college or the immediate demands of the 21st century work place.

Or in the alternative, DISD is merely a jobs program for favored minorities teachers and principals, and politically connected administration personnel who are well paid, lack any sort of meaningful supervision, and seem to do little more than preside over scandal after scandal.

Sure, lets hope Mr. Miles doesn't come in and change a thing at DISD. No room for improvement there. Maybe Mr. Miles will just defer to the professionals on the DISD Board. They're the real pros in education in Dallas.

JimS
JimS

Jay, in your ironic reference to "favored" teachers who presumably have their jobs through connections, in spite of being incompetent, I notice that you describe them more narrowly as "favored minorities teachers." I understand part of this. You mean that the incompetents are not white teachers. But I am left wondering: did you mean to imply that most of the incompetents are black teachers or Hispanic teachers? I'm just trying to get a little tighter focus on your worldview.

Jay
Jay

Jim, remind me where, in my original post, I labeled any teachers or principals as incompetent?

Jay
Jay

Your leap to play the racism card was not unexpected. By favored minority, I was referring to bi-lingual teachers and principals, who are generally of the Hispanic ethnicity, and are afforded hiring priority at DISD.

Mike
Mike

Hopefully he understands that the incompetents at HQ will be his worst weakness. Their boneheaded actions prevent superintendents from working on what the supe's believe is the real mission. He better find an admin exec that believes in formal structure and procedures, not crony based access. Little things like overtime, credit cards, supplier relationships, awarding scholarships, test administration, contractors, cost understanding, budget reports will sink him if he just assumes 3700 Ross has the process down. He also needs to get a handle on the mess that is HR at DISD. That contract with Royce West for legal services is ridiculous.

We see one supe after another set sail on the education and community missions without making sure home base is solid. Do not do it or you will surely fail. It is not that the administrators are out to get him. They just do not know how to do their jobs. He is from the military and should know the examples of Genghis Khan, Hernando Cortes, and Eisenhower. No mission until your logistics are solid. Then you can defeat empires.

DISD Teacher
DISD Teacher

The truth is that while DISD kids are spending literally WEEKS taking multiple-choice tests, private school kids are not.

I completely agree with Hedges.  The brightest DISD kid does not stand a chance when pitted against most suburban kids and most private school kids bc those kids spend weeks learning instead of bubbling. 

 In DISD, Algebra I middle schoolers took a fake test last week while all the other 8th graders took the 8th grade math STAAR.  This week, the Algebra I students will miss classes to take DISD's "Ready to STAAR" practice test.  Then, in May, the same Algebra I kids will take the Algebra I EOC.  Of the 3, it is the only one that actually counts.  

Re the statement that Pittsburgh (under a Broad super) saw consistent test score increases, my question is:  ON WHAT TEST?

The SAT is the only test that matters bc it is the only uniform "exit" test in the country.Show me the district avg score before the BSA person arrived and that year's national avg. score.Then show me the district avg score for each year under the BSA, along with the year's national avg score.

Surely the BSA can provide the SAT data.

Pigskinnie
Pigskinnie

Do high schools really have/publish SAT scores?  I know colleges get them in the application process, but I never recall my high school having access to my SAT score...

ReformDISD
ReformDISD

 The Average SAT/ACT Score is on the TEA Website under Accountability and Assessment Data. It is published on what the average student makes. Most schools composite in DISD is 800 out of 1600

DISD Teacher
DISD Teacher

The SAT people have all the data on the scores.They don't release the student name with the score, but they crunch the numbers by state, county, zip code--you name it.

If there happened to be only 1 test-taker in a zip code or high school or whatever, then they might not release a number, but otherwise they have more data than a normal person can sort thru.

Lowest scores?  Students in single-parent families and students whose parents make below X amount of money.  Really shows how little effect the schools have on students from poor or single-parent homes.

Robhunt4
Robhunt4

It's all about the family unit. There is no saviour for DISD. There is a Saviour for the families of Dallas. For the individual lives of children and parents. Pretending "superman" can come "fix" DISD is unrealistic. Entrusting ourselves to Jesus , now that's a saviour.

JimS
JimS

Last name?

Elepping
Elepping

For the record, The Broad Foundation and The Broad Superintendents Academy believe that every student—regardless of their background—deserves the opportunity to succeed.  We support efforts to strengthen public schools and create environments where good teachers can achieve great things and every student has the opportunity to learn.  We do not, in any way, support the privatization of public schools, nor corporate-style takeovers of public schools, as Mr. Schutze suggests. The reality is that too many of our current education systems are fundamentally broken.  Across the country, and especially in too many low-income urban areas, inefficient systems, outdated practices and inadequate resources have been preventing good teachers from doing great work.  To fundamentally change outcomes for students, public school systems need leaders with an instructional vision for improving student achievement, who understand the complexities of making an organization run successfully and who are committed to ensuring that public education systems run successfully – and remain public.  Graduates of The Broad Superintendents Academy work hard to increase efficiency at the district level so that funding, materials and other resources reach the classroom—where the magic of teaching and learning happens.  When school systems are managed effectively and are free to innovate, teachers can focus on teaching.  Schools can empower teachers and fairly hold everyone accountable for improving student achievement—parents, teachers, students and school leaders.   Two-thirds of the graduates of the Broad Superintendents Academy who have served as superintendents for three or more years are outperforming comparison groups in raising student achievement on state reading and math exams, in closing achievement gaps, and in raising graduation rates.   Our children deserve every opportunity to have fulfilling professional lives and be productive citizens.  We need to fix the broken systems that are preventing them from achieving their full potential.

- Erica Lepping, The Broad Foundation

ReformDISD
ReformDISD

 What was the methodology used in your study that "Broad Superintendents Academy who have served for three or more years are outperforming comparison groups in raising student achievement". Which model did you use for your evaluation? Who conducted your evaluation? Where is it published?

I have not seen it...and trust me, I look at a lot of data. Also, any study can be flawed based on your methodology...so please post the link to your study...

JimS
JimS

Good to hear from you. You make a compelling case for your side. But I think your argument here is with Hedges and Ravitch, not me. Yet.

Oak Cliff Townie
Oak Cliff Townie

For the record, HAROLD HILL and The Hill Superintendents Academy believe that every student—regardless of their background—deserves the opportunity to succeed.  We support efforts to strengthen public schools and create environments where good teachers can achievegreat things and every student has the opportunity to learn.  We do not, in any way,support the privatization of public schools, nor corporate-style takeovers of public schools, as Mr. Schutze suggests. The reality is that too many of our current education systems are fundamentally broken.  Across the country, and especially in too many low-income urban areas, inefficient systems, outdated practices and inadequate resources have been preventing good teachers from doing great work.  To fundamentally change outcomes for students, public school systems need leaders with an instructional vision for improving student achievement, who understand the complexities of making an organization run successfully and who are committed to ensuring that public education systems run successfully – and remain public.  Graduates of The HILL Superintendents Academy work hard to increase efficiency at the district level so that funding, materials and other resources reach the classroom—where the magic of teaching and learning happens.  When school systems are managed effectively and are free to innovate, teachers can focus on teaching.  Schools can empower teachers and fairly hold everyone accountable for improving student achievement—parents, teachers, students and school leaders.Two-thirds of the graduates of the HILL Superintendents Academy who have served as superintendents for three or more years are outperforming comparison groups in raising student achievement on state reading and math exams, in closing achievement gaps, and in raising graduation rates.   Our children deserve every opportunity to have fulfilling professional lives and be productive citizens.  We need to fix the broken systems that are preventing them from achieving their full potential.

- Harold Hill , The HILL Foundation

I think that kind of fixes that up for the River City Locals ,

kcsplash
kcsplash

Mike Miles is a narcissist who has never been successful.Good Luck Dallas…. This idiot took advantage of everyone he could at hiscurrent position with no regard for them or there families. His behind thescenes BS and penchant for putting friends in positions regardless of the turmoilmade life hell for good people and good teachers. Bye Bye joey…….

Marks Powers
Marks Powers

Sounds okay to me, as long as he concentrates his ass kicking at 3700 Ross which is in need of a downsizing:"One trend is consistent. The BSA supers, who are often former military, come into districts with a mission to kick ass and take names."

DISD Teacher
DISD Teacher

If he doesn't start at 3700, he can forget about teachers going the extra mile for him.

Bad teachers are a symptom of bad administration.Simply targeting teachers is a cheap, easy way out of solving the real problems.

And can someone please tell me where the district is going to get the money to pay a bunch of us $90,000 a year?  We can't even get a $1,000 a year raise.  

His pay-for-performance promises will be paid for by DISD taxpayers.  We just need to be sure the taxpayers plan to keep his promises for him.

Oak Cliff Townie
Oak Cliff Townie

 He is Going to Kick ASS and Take Names....He works at the Pleasure of  the school broad.I doubt his marching Orders will involve interrupting any of their pet projects .

Oak Cliff Townie
Oak Cliff Townie

He wont last long If the SOUL of the BEAST @ 3700 Ross really feels threatened .

primi timpano
primi timpano

The academy is broken.  The idyllic memories of the greatness of what public schools once were may have had some basis of fact, but that was then and this is now, and our present economic, social, and financial circumstances no longer allow us to continue a system that is wrought with failure.  I think Hedges doesn't know what he is talking about.  I am familiar with the money management system in the United States and it requires and encourages out of the box thinking.  These money managers hire an awful lot of math, astro and nuclear physicists, and other such persons--usually PhDs--to assist in their work.  They pay these people extremely well. I suspect the same is true for a lot of high tech jobs.  There is an enormous value for innovation and efficiency.

There will be blood, but any success at DISD will spill a lot of blood.

JimS
JimS

I was briefly a student at Lincoln Jr High in Pontiac, MI, home of Pontiac Motors and within spitting distance of many other huge going and blowing factories, many of which were run by people who had worked their ways up from the shop floor. At Lincoln they had some nice little English classes for the children of the middle class and other potential problems, but the big shiny elaborately outfitted classroom areas were wood shop, metal shop, drafting shop, motor shop, electrical shop, etc. Kids who excelled in shop might even get accepted into the International Brotherhood of Tool and Die Makers and earn upper middleclass incomes and be treated like members of a medieval guild. Nobody was teaching those kids to be think-outside-the-box litterateurs, because none of them wanted anything other than a good trade and a good job. Public Education in its heyday.-

LaceyB
LaceyB

I just read the DMN article, and, now that I read Schutze, I feel like I've got the full story. Why does it feel like you only get 1/2 of the story over there at BELO?

The new super looks like he's gonna beat some DISD ass, but I'm not sure it can be beaten until there's some surrendering going on at Ross. He looks like he could have gone to something like Broad Academy.

If students become just good enough to pass bubble tests, however, just what has all this "new super" business accomplished? They'd be fit for a service industry, which is where our economy is moving towards, but they also would be just learning the minimum, just like before.

I feel sorry for everyone in education today effected by this and glad that I got out of the profession. I see minimal improvements ahead.

Tim Covington
Tim Covington

"Once there's a Broad superintendent," she told Education Week, "he surrounds himself with Broad fellows,..."Considering the problems DISD has had at district headquarters, this might not be a bad thing.

RTGolden
RTGolden

Exactly.  Besides, isn't that what the current administrators do?  hire and surround themselves with their cronies?

Notice Schutze didn't really dwell on any of Broad's success stories.  Must not have dovetailed with his agenda.  Schutze has already decided, sight unseen, plan unheard, knowledge unknown, that Miles is a particular type of Superintendent. Nothing, not logic, not research, not even the passing of time itself will be able to change JS's mind now.

DISD Teacher
DISD Teacher

We already had the whole Broad thing with Hinojosa.  He brought in all sorts of those types and we ended up with 33 Academically Unacceptable schools.

Been there, done that, it didn't work, it cost us a fortune.

We even had luggage tags printed up and it still didn't work.  I was really surprised bc I thought that once you had luggage tags, success was guaranteed.  

Joyce Foreman
Joyce Foreman

You are right, we did go through the whole Broad thing with Hinojosa and Dallas Achieves.  DISD spent a great deal of money trying to win the Broad prize and the district still has 33 low performing schools.  When the Broad scam was over, Dallas Achieves disbanded and not we have Commit which is the same group with a new money scam.

Bmarvel
Bmarvel

We need to define what we mean by "work." Apparently the current definition is "test scores go up." Tests are a necessary evil but they have become the tail that wags the dog. That's not the super's fault; it's not even DISD's fault. And it's not entirely our Legislature's fault. Test scores are an easy way to deal with an old problem: What is education? What is it supposed to do? How do we know that a child has been educated? Given our fragmented society, it doesn't seem possible to come to any sort of consensus. (Educated for job-skills? For citizenship? For cultural awareness? For critical thinking?) Therefore, the test is really our fault, our failure to think deeply and seriously enough about schools and children. Instead, we turn the job over to the "experts" to concoct these tests that will supposedly tell us that our children have been educated (or not, as the case may be). The media then dutifully report which schools measure up and which don't. When schools don't measure up we bring in BSA- and similar types to boost the test scores. My guess is that Mike Miles will; be very good at this. If this is what we want.   

Sammy
Sammy

Most of the problems in DISD in my experience are in the administration building - the schools do fairly well (some exceedingly well) with some large exceptions - which are sometimes the result of bumbling on Ross.  That's what makes the Dallas Morning News.  You won't see DISD success stories there except maybe in the reader-submitted NeighborsGo section.

Omar Jimenez
Omar Jimenez

I'm guessing that why they push for that School Zone Dallas show.

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