Bernadette Nutall: Miles "Experiment[ing] With Our Children" By Pouring Resources into South Dallas Schools

BernadetteNutall.jpg
Bernadette Nutall
Dallas ISD's Board of Trustees argued into the early morning hours before approving a $1.2 billion budget for the coming year. It includes a 2-percent raise for almost all employees, as well as funding for Superintendent Mike Miles' year-old principal training academy, which some trustees wanted to defund.

It was a tense meeting all around, but the biggest fireworks of the night came when the board took up Imagine 2020, DISD's Harlem Children's Zone-inspired effort to drastically improve student achievement in the Lincoln, Pinkston and Madison High School feeder patterns.

On paper, the plan seems like it should be relatively noncontroversial. It pours lots of resources -- $20 million from SMU and nonprofits -- into the schools and surrounding community in a cradle-to-college approach to get kids ready for higher education and careers. It means more teachers, more resources devoted to things like healthcare and nutrition in the community and better preschool programs.

See also
-Bernadette Nutall Raises the Stakes in the War Over Protecting Favored DISD Principals

But controversial it's turned out to be. Here's an irate Bernadette Nutall tearing apart Imagine 2020 at last night's meeting.

It's easy to experiment. It took [Harlem Children's Zone founder] Geoffery Canada a couple of years ... He included the community. He had conversations. He didn't go into Harlem overnight and just dump something on the community. What this board is doing is dumping something on South Dallas. You continue to disrespect and be dismissive of the southern sector of Dallas ...

What I'm asking you to do is not to come into South Dallas into the feeder pattern and just experiment with our children. Our children in the southern sector cannot afford any more experiments from this board. Take it to Conrad. Experiment on them and then bring it to sunny South Dallas.

This was a bit puzzling to Trustee Dan Micciche who acknowledged that, while Imagine 2020 is an experiment, "it's an experiment that makes a whole lot of sense. We're experimenting by bringing extra resources to the table. We're not experimenting by doing something bad to somebody. We're trying to address the needs that have long gone unaddressed."

It's hard to tell how much of Nutall's opposition comes from the ham-fisted way Miles has communicated Imagine 2020 and how much stems from her evident dislike of Miles. She insists it's the former, citing comments reportedly made by DISD staffer Kerri Holt suggesting that Miles didn't need to court Nutall or the southern Dallas community on Imagine 2020 because he had a majority of the board in his pocket.

But should communication missteps obviate what is otherwise a unique opportunity to help struggling schools in southern and West Dallas? It doesn't seem like it should. It's clear that something needs to change at the schools in question.

Instead, it seems like Nutall's bent on protecting her turf against encroachment by Miles. That's how the other trustees took it, at least. They voted to keep the $8.8 million allotted to Imagine 2020 in the budget.


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33 comments
trudat
trudat

It is possible to establish a hypothetical case whereby such a proposed program could be deemed a liability as opposed to an asset.  I can understand Nutalls' insistence on more input into the process before the program is activated.  Just because she  objects to the program as it was proposed does not necessarily mean that she has sold out in any particular way.  Much of the blanket criticism of her and those who elected her is to be expected in a city like Dallas where truth in politics is a rare commodity.  

Obummer
Obummer

Yo bout time; rarely iz da queshun asked: what’s iz our chil'ns learning?

whocareswhatithink
whocareswhatithink

I have a feeling no one who is commenting has ever set foot in a south or west Dallas school and volunteered for a split moment.

Imagine....Bernadette right at this very moment is still working on summer school with these kids in the hope that they can pass year after year and trying to identify ways for them to learn....all while trying to get food donated to them so that the children can be fed for at least 2 meals a day and trying to figure out a way to get them to take home a third meal that day so they can eat.....and learn.

I guess she really is a crazy trouble maker

MikeWestEast
MikeWestEast

Too many people on Dallas board do not know how to be on a board.  A board is not a debating group.  It is not the US Senate whose members have a constitutional mandate to talk and not get anything done.  Boards are to either ratify management decisions or to convince management to change them or to change management.  The work gets done offline.  If you do not like something, do not vote for it at the meeting and get it on the record.  Unless you have evidence of fraud, wasting time, getting upset and everyone vote against you serves no purpose. 

I wonder if these board members ever talk to each other outside the meeting. 

Flabbergasted
Flabbergasted

You all wait and see how much money is going where---- This whole thing is not what it seems to be.....

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

It seems Nuttall is one of those people who do not actually want the situation to improve.  She defines her seat of power by railing against the inequalities she sees in the system.  Were these inequalities to be diminished, so then would her influence and relevance.  Railing against the system is all she knows to do.  Fixing the system involves work, time, self-investment and some amount of personal risk.  Maintaining the status quo involves only inertia.

dallas1845
dallas1845

Nutall is a nutcase. She is blinded by a personal vendetta that is spiraling out of control.

ptmoore2012
ptmoore2012

I think Miles realizes that in order to make real progress you have to make dramatic changes without a great deal of debate to slow down the process. While he certainly does have some issues I believe he feels that unless he rides roughshod over everyone things will become so bogged down nothing will be accomplished within a short time frame. If he survives in the job he will be seen as a real change agent and someone who is willing to take the heat for doing things differently. If he is forced out he will be seen as a victim of South Dallas' lose-lose politics.     

Los_Politico
Los_Politico

"take it to Conrad" is code that blacks like Nutall hate immigrants. This should not go unnoticed.

ChrisDangerShow
ChrisDangerShow

Bernadette the Nutter strikes again..when is So. Dallas going to learn to quit voting in these morons and instead elect leadership who are for real change??

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

Bernie really disappoints me.  I thought she could put her progressive energy into helping to save DISD, and not waste time wallowing in the Miles-Principals feud.

ozonelarryb
ozonelarryb

"... disrespect southern sector. ." Hah. What about the Price/West/Perot jr cabal?

Nutjob just mad she isn't getting greased.

Rumpunch1
Rumpunch1

What I real can't get my head around, is why she didn't just complain about not been included in the process.  I can see part of her complaint as it was a slight insult.  I do believe that the insult was intentional as well.

She was so mad, that she was suggesting that this insult was so severe that the community should be denied the funds.  Now she just seems petty.

James080
James080 topcommenter

"You continue to disrespect and be dismissive of the southern sector of Dallas..."--Nutall

It seems that every time Bernadette opens her mouth, she gives us all ample reason to disrespect her.

oakclifftownie
oakclifftownie

Ever know of anyone who is always asking for "ADVICE/HELP"on how to fix something in their own lives ?  The reason they are always asking because they never like the advice they receive .Usually because it involves repairs only they can make that have to be made in order for them to get right with the world .

That is what we are seeing here .

And the Crony subcontracts she wouldn't be able to pass around .


Rumpunch1
Rumpunch1

On this one, I will side with Miles.  It appears that she is pissed that she is not part of the process.  She tells her community that Miles is the boogyman ( which to a point is true).  When he comes bearing gifts, this undermines that image. Nutall needs to pick her battles.  If she fights Miles on everything, she will just grow more ineffective.   

Putting more resources (nutrition programs & teachers) is not that risky of an experiment.  Are their "strings" attached that we as a public do not see?  This experiment is basically, lets see if feeding children properly, giving them more teachers and early childhood programs will make them better students.  If it doesn't give the results they had hoped, what have the children really lost?  They received a better diet and education than they were receiving before.  Therefore, failure is still a gain.

I saw a comment somewhere last week which expressed outrage of this program because some in the community felt the Mayor and Miles were insulting Nutall as well as Carolyn Davis.  It is just a turf war.  However, I do believe that the Mayor and Miles knew that it would piss Nutall and Davis off.  Therefore, it was a win-win for them.  Help some people who might not like us and piss off some people who we do not like.

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

Let's see ... some folks have been complaining that the southern sector is ignored and more "resources" are needed.  Now the "resources" are being provided and some folks are now complaining about the "resources" being provided.

I guess the real question is who has the "consulting contract" and who receives the "equity".

ItsSoSad
ItsSoSad

@whocareswhatithink 

As for feeding them, no work involved! For the last 2 years, there is a federal program that provides FREE BREAKFAST, LUNCH & AFTERNOON SNACK to ALL children 18 & under. I know because I manage one of the delivery sites. You sign up, and that's it. ALL FREE. No DISD tax money or Trustees involved. 

Jim is right, Nutall & Blackburn are the problem, but they keep getting re-elected. Anybody notice the results of the last school board election? NO CHANGE!

Rumpunch1
Rumpunch1

@whocareswhatithink To your first point, your feeling is wrong - I have volunteered at my kids school in South Dallas and Oak Cliff many time in the past 12 years.

To your second point, I hope she is spending time at these schools.  However, she does not deserve a medal for doing that, it is her job as the local Trustee.  Any Trustee who does not do this should be exposed just like any Trustee who won't send their kids to DISD schools.  If she is doing this, why then does she want to turn away money to aid in her mission?  Unlike many other commentators, I doubt she wants to skim off the grants.  I believe that she feels slighted by Miles, and is using this turf war to make a point. 

James080
James080 topcommenter

@ChrisDangerShow  

Are you implying that the 4% of south Dallas voters who actually, you know, care enough to vote, aren't voting wisely?  Maybe they were poorly educated......

Guesty
Guesty

@Rumpunch1 Do you think it was intended as an insult, or simply the result of Miles knowing that Nutall can't stand him and will do anything she can to undermine his proposals?  If he thinks that (and I would guess he does, even if that is unfair to Nutall), how do you suppose he should work with her on South Dallas issues?    

Sadly, it seems that DISD policy making has come down the simple issue of whether you are for or against Miles.  This all or nothing you are for or against Miles has made the environment even more toxic than it used to be.  You can't reason or negotiate around that type of dynamic.  And I think there is plenty of blame to go around for that on both sides of the pro-Miles/anti-Miles divide.    

And I doubt replacing Miles with anyone else will fix it.  Anyone will get opposition from either the pro-reform or pro-status quo group.  Both groups will define the issue around the replacement superintended because it's easier to beat up a person than the ideas.  So we will take about the new superintended the same way we've talked about the past two.       

James080
James080 topcommenter

@ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul  

And that's the real rub from the black board members. Nutall is not really upset that Miles is allocating additional resources into south Dallas. She is upset because their was no "conversation" or "community involvement" so Nutall and company could direct hiring and contracts to their friends, family and political supporters.

iwearblack
iwearblack

@Guesty @Rumpunch1 
Then damn the torpedoes... If you're going to get it from all directions anyway, then pick the direction you want to go and fight towards it... Miles should treat her like any other schoolyard bully and figuratively give her a good beating, then tell her to lay down and stay down...

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

@Guesty @Rumpunch1 

I've got to say that watching the Miles drama unfold has really shed quite a bit of light on the efficacy (or lack thereof) of previous administrations.

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

@primi_timpano  

or computers ...

or cleaning supplies ...

or internet wiring ...

or maintenance contracts ...

or continuing education seminars ...

or copy machines ...

or copy paper ...

or ....

primi_timpano
primi_timpano topcommenter

I think those are dresses. Very expensive ones. That is what I have heard. Across the street.

James080
James080 topcommenter

@observist @James080 @ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul  

Not directly, as Royce West learned when the SALT schemers wouldn't let him join the club.

But there are other back doors for politicians to exploit. Consider that a local politician might open an art shop, and let his assistant manage it. Perhaps payments for political favors (allegedly) could be funded to the politician through the purchase of art objects for amounts well over their actual Price. Naw....too far fetched.

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