Mike Miles Is Taking His Kid Out of Dallas ISD, and You Would Do the Same

Categories: Schutze

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Hey. I thought there was a rule. You leave the guy's kids out of it. Guess not. I see this morning Dallas school board member Lew Blackburn is taking a back-handed swipe at the superintendent of schools for taking his kid out of the Dallas school system.

"You have to wonder if it's going to be any kind of detriment to the district," Blackburn tells The Dallas Morning News in a story in today's paper, reacting to news that Superintendent Mike Miles is sending his wife and kid back to their home in Colorado for next school year. "Right now, it doesn't come across as very supportive of the district."

Come. On. Now the people fighting Miles over school reform are going to get into his family? Just when I thought we'd found the bottom. No wonder he wants the kid out of here.

Egged on by the school unions, some trustees -- especially Bernadette Nutall, Carla Ranger, Elizabeth Jones and Blackburn -- have done everything they can to personalize the resistance to school reform by painting it as a foreign idea imported by rich fascists in their evil desire to torture teachers and principals for the fun of it. In their effort to turn the debate away from ideas and toward personality, Miles himself has been their voodoo doll.

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Mark Graham
If you were Mike Miles, would you turn your kid over to a bunch of Dallas teachers right now?
Even if I don't like that stuff -- and I don't -- I recognize that it's life in the big city. Things get intense. People pick up their bats. I've been told by admirers that I'm not half-bad with a bat myself, especially when approaching from behind.

But the guy's kid? No. No. That's totally off limits. What he does with his kid is his private, personal family business. In these battles, there are soldiers, and there are civilians. Children are not combatants, ever.

But here we are. Miles isn't talking about his kid, but Blackburn is, so Blackburn has raised the issue. Can any of us think of a reason why the superintendent of schools in Dallas might not want to have his kid in the schools right now? Hey, we've been paying a little bit of attention, right?

Somebody -- either outgoing communications chief Rebecca Rodriguez or the authors of a messy internal investigation of her complaints against Miles -- chose to use the term "bullying" to describe Miles' behavior when he reprimanded Rodriguez recently for bad behavior in a board meeting. Bullying is a weird word to use for a boss chewing out a subordinate, yet there it was.

In the last couple of years, as state legislatures have tackled school bullying, the term has taken on a quasi-legal meaning, heavily freighted with criminal implications, most often as a reference to the beating and persecution of gay and lesbian students. Using it to describe a dressing down of a subordinate by Miles was a calculated ploy, part and parcel of a general campaign of personal slurs aimed at him to exploit his career earlier in life as an Army Ranger.

If you follow comments here and elsewhere by teachers and other school district employees angry over classroom reforms, you know that Miles often is accused of being a cruel, out-of-control martinet. All of that flies in the face of his consistent observable manner -- courtly and extremely self-controlled -- but it also supposes that he somehow spends long hours every day visiting thousands of classrooms in order to bully teachers. How the hell else would teachers know so much about his personality?

They don't. They do know about his ideas, which have to do with them getting up from behind their desks, looking the kids in the eye, making sure they are looking back, teaching them something concrete and then checking to see if they get it. Does that sound like a bully or a dictator to you? Is it really way too much to ask of teachers in a school district that has been shipping thousands of dropouts straight to the pen for decades? But in late June, when protestors gathered near Miles' home, they held up placards with that word: "Dictator."

That stuff is way below the belt. And as I have already said, below-the-belt happens. It's part of the deal in local politics. But if you knew that your school system was full of teachers capable of that kind of invective, would you really turn your kid over to them? Blackburn's comment today is all the proof anybody should need that the anti-reform movement is not going to honor or accept any kind of sanctuary for the child. So would you send your kid into that?

OK, let's agree we're going to ignore Miles' career as a diplomat and his years in public education before he came here. We're only going to talk about him as a former Army Ranger. Fine. Do you know any Army Rangers who take their children into battle with them? Would you admire one who did?

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99 comments
PaulTrevizo
PaulTrevizo

Has anyone thought that maybe Mile's wife is leaving him and taking the kid and this is Mile's PR spin?  He was in the State Department for several years before entering education.

Schutze, who was the first to bring up Mile's family moving back to Colorado?  Was it a BOT member, was it a disgruntled teacher or school principal, was it that "entrenched southern-sector oligarchy" you like to talk about all the time?  I bet if you did some journalism you'd find out, rather quickly, that Miles was the one who brought up the issue of why his wife and child moving back to Colorado.

ebailey75057
ebailey75057

Sorry, Mike Miles has a responsibility to his children to provide the best education for them.  With DISD rooted in cronyism, backstabbing, infighting and corruption from top bottom its obvious DISD is not going to be anybody's first choice, if they have a choice.  Mr. Miles had a choice and he made it.  Sorry, but who in the world would want to send their children into that hell hole of a system? And yes I had the unfortunate situation that I had to attend a DISD school.  After one and a half years of attending a broke down, unairconditioned school we moved to the suburbs and a professionally run school district.  

DISDparent
DISDparent

Schutze -  it would be like Rawlings choosing to live in Plano. As taxpayers we get to be NOT ok with that. 

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

The "board" has lost it's legitimacy.

There comes a time when we all have to face a few realities.  The system itself is the problem.  

There is such a loss in confidence by the citizenry that over the past ten-year census period, we suffered a net loss in population in a locale of great in-migration, and the culprit is lousy schools.

The problem is not Miles.

Robert Walton
Robert Walton

Once they start picketing at your home, then all bets are off. He has the right to move his family where they will be safe.

EastDallasMom
EastDallasMom

In fairness to DISD, we have a lot of great teachers, and neat things going on, but you would never know it, by what is published.

It wasn't long after we made the conscious decision to send the kids to east DISD, that I stopped reading traditional media.  Our medias negative beat down is a psychological injustice to DISD families, so I did not want my kids reading it.  DISD students should have the same opportunity to be as proud for their schools, as my friends' children were, who chose private or to move away. The way our media spins DISD, they take that opportunity away from our children.

Sure, we got in heated arguments with friends who claimed their AP classes or suburban schools were better and yet, all of our kids are all doing just fine at the same colleges and universities, thank you very much.  After raising kids through DISD, the only reason I see to send a child to private vs. public, is if one has a particular religious or creed affiliation, and they want to adhere strictly to it - nothing wrong with that - or one has a child that needs additional help. 

DISD was not perfect and now that our kids are grown, my private school friends have admitted that private school was not the greatest either. 

There most certainly is corruption, unequal education between neighborhoods and we do have terrible, as well as awesome teachers who are stuck in their ways, but all in all, I would do it all over again, given the choice.  We have dedicated professional families, who are terrific and generous.  It's growing and we sure had a lot of fun. 

If you are a young DISD family, blow off traditional media. Roll up your sleeves, help at school during the day, if you can, figure out how to work the system, advocate for your child plus the kids who can't advocate for themselves and dig in. There are so many cool families to learn from, even if they might be poor. It really is a different kind of spirituality.

casiepierce
casiepierce

Oh Lord, you don't even have to read past the first paragraph to see what's really going on here. Miles is sending his wife and kid "home" to Colorado because he plans to join them there shortly...

PerryMoore
PerryMoore

Aren't parents supposed to be the ones that are most strategically placed to be "looking the kids in the eye...teaching them something concrete...then checking to see if they get it"? DISD and other big city districts appear to be the de facto village that it takes to raise a (third world) child. That is not Mike Miles or the Board's fault. Take a look at your district's typical family dynamics, then consider the social forces and government policies that made your typical family that way. School board politics seem petty by comparison.

want2getoffthemerrygoround
want2getoffthemerrygoround

ScottsMerkin is right: "as I said yesterday, they have changed the leader over the last 20 years, yet nothing ever changes with the district, its the same battles they have fought all along..."

Jim, you may not think that calling out all parties is helpful or adds value, and it may not sell newspapers, but at some point, the whole system needs to be addressed.  How many superintendents does Dallas need to lose?  How many times are parents going to allow the board to run them off?  How many times will the same parents complain when no one from the Citizens Council wants to hire their child at the Fortune company because their child can't read or do math? How many students will end up in jail because they cannot envision any other future for themselves? This is not just the board's fault, or the fault of teachers and parents, nor is it just the Citizens' Council's fault. Every group can shoulder its fair share of this problem, and there is value in recognizing that everyone is complicit in this problem. 

The problem not only affects families in DISD: it is now a regional issue.  When corporations come to this area, they look at the school districts of the major cities.  If all they read about is racial epithets, the corruption, the patronage, and how superintendents are consistently run out of town, no corporation is going to want to send its employees to the Dallas area, and no employees are going to want to relocate to the area.  How many jobs does our region lose because DISD can't get it together?  How many employers look at Dallas, shudder, and then locate business in Ft. Worth or Houston?

There are no easy solutions here, but perhaps splitting this District up is worthy of consideration. By splitting it, at least some areas of the community could then have a chance at a successful school system, and those that wanted to continue the alleged patronage and corruption would continue to suffer the accompanying consequences.  As a society, we cannot afford to have one of our largest school districts in a constant state of turmoil.  Several generations have already been affected, and we cannot continue to lose several more.

MikeWestEast
MikeWestEast

When Miles goes, then it will be time to throw in the towel.  We taxpayers will simply pay our taxes due by law, protected by the state ceiling keeping taxes from getting too bad, while the organization just goes off on its own.  It will be a job producing organization that fails every standard yet no one ever gets fired except the superintendent.  No one of any quality will want the job.  The union and other status quo will finally get to install some mediocre bureaucrat.  Then the conflict will go away since he or she won't change anything.  Any family with any possible opportunity will leave the city.  Then we'll be a city of people with no opportunities or people with no children sucking up the vibrancy.  Dallas won't become Detroit since our pension and debt rules are tighter.  Unfortunately it also will not get any better.

BettyC1
BettyC1

Black board member attack on Miles has all to do with him terminating some Black employees.It's a shame and Taxpayers or being hurt with their madness.Kid's will not have a chance if and when Miles leaves he is doing the right thing.Hand writing is on wall Board is going to fire Miles regardless to outcome of Coggins investigation, Carla Ranger,Nutall,Blackburn and Jones need to go,however we know they will continue to be reelected for years to come.Sad day for DISD the modern day Cult .

eastdallascam
eastdallascam

I agree that Miles' kid should have the same opportunity for schooling as if he wasn't the son of the superintendent. What's happening in DISD isn't about him, after all. That being said...

If you were Mike Miles, would you turn your kid over to a bunch of Dallas teachers right now?"

If you were Mike Miles, would you turn your kid over to a bunch of Colorado Springs/Harrison School District 2 teachers right now? 

It's been just over a year since Miles was pushing the same reforms there; and, something tells me that community hasn't forgotten.

Threeboys
Threeboys

Marsh middle school is about 2 par 5's from my home and I would NEVER,EVER send my 3 boys there.

Now, if I want cheese or pop rocks, I am about 2 par 5's from a great source.

arggimapirate
arggimapirate

It was Miles himself who was so quick to point out at last year's convocation that his son would be attending a DISD school (even letting us know which campus he would be at). I don't think we need to attack his family, but don't forget this man was fine with using his own child to help win over the masses in the beginning.

Also, sweet baby Jesus, what will it take for you to believe that the reform instituted by this man is time consuming nonsense that is not based on evidence and is useless to the education of students, albeit very useful for making it easy to walk in and mark off points on a score sheet??

It's offensive to me and probably to Miles, too, when you downplay his insane initiatives as nothing more than asking a teacher to look into a kid's eyes and make sure they get it.

iwearblack
iwearblack

I don't blame Miles one bit... DISD is basically daycare for the next generation of Huntsville inmates... We let our son attend a DISD school for a couple of years to give him the experience, but in the long run, I regret it...

ruddski
ruddski topcommenter

This unwritten, unfollowed rule concerning kids of public figures is hogwash, unless the public figure is in a position to sic the IRS on you

Tim.Covington
Tim.Covington

1. I applaud Miles for his decision. Protecting your family should always come first.

2. I believe that, until the voters of DISD change who they vote for, we will not see any improvement in the schools. The only other way it would be possible to improve them is to have an outside entity come in and take over the district. This would cause so many protests and court battles that it is doubtful that it would be effective.

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

Except where you veer into your somewhat baffling and continuous support of Miles, I'm with you all the way on this one Jim.  Leave the wife and kid alone.  Dallas is, or should be anyway, better than that.

eastdallascam
eastdallascam

Is this article supposed to make me feel guilty for hearing about Miles' family in the news?

pak152
pak152

bullying is becoming overworked just like hater and anyword with the suffix -phobe attached to it.

what we are seeing at work is the mob tactics favored by liberal/progressives and unionists. and the children be damned.

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

Equal education.  Equal funding.  Abolish local funding and administration of public schools in Texas and put them all under the umbrella of the state. 

GeorgeB123
GeorgeB123

@DISDparent A better comparison would be if a City Manager did not live in the city they work for and It happens all the time. . 

My view is that bringing the kid in the discussion was lower quality. 

DISD needs a lot of help. It is a mess and needs help anywhere it appears. I believe the only US President in the last 100 years to send his children to DC public schools was Jimmy Carter. That did not mean all US Presidents have been ambivalent to DC public schools.  President Obama and his wife has been quite active in the DC public schools. But their kids go the Sidwell Friends School.

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@DISDparent Not so much.  Rawlings was elected, Miles was hired.  If one has a problem with where the selection of the elected school board sends his child to school, one has to question their representation on the Board.

bvckvs
bvckvs topcommenter

@DISDparent 

It would be like that - if Evangelicals were terrorizing his family.  But they're not - they're funding his campaigns.

bvckvs
bvckvs topcommenter

@holmantx 
The board hasn't lost it's legitimacy.   Each member was elected in free and open elections, and is an accurate representation of his or her constituency.

This isn't about that.

EastDallasMom
EastDallasMom

@holmantx With the exception of the areas where the schools are good or whose neighborhoods were not designed for families - or at least not historically how families have lived in Dallas.  In those neighborhoods, we have exploded in growth and are experiencing a housing shortage. I don't know who the citizenry is that have lost confidence, but maybe they should try speaking to families who successfully send their children to DISD, for a change, instead of believing everything they read in the media. 

Yes, we have a lot of things that need fixing and we need to redesign the hiring process so that mediocrity, doesn't get placement by their friends or contracts for shoddy workmanship. If the citizenry or the powers that be are not willing to roll up their sleeves and and do something about it by voting or volunteering, why would anyone of measurable quality want to run for the school board?

In reviewing how many schools each board member represents, I don't see how it is possible to represent a district, by attending a few meetings a month or even a week. How can evaluating and analyzing each schools numbers, mentoring the principals at each school, overseeing budgets, seeing to it administrative staff is the best for each school, making sure the cafeteria offerings meet the demographics of the student population, overseeing contracts for school improvements, showing up at games and performances and on and on and on, not be a full time job? The people who need to be in those board positions can't afford to volunteer full time. I can't. Can you?

want2getoffthemerrygoround
want2getoffthemerrygoround

School board politics may seem petty, but there's nothing like a kid incarcerated at age 18 and in and out of prison for the majority of his life to affect the tax payer's bottom line and bring those petty politics into laser like focus.  We pay in lost jobs due to crime, in baby mama drama, in welfare costs, in lost economic opportunity because the student didn't reach his/her potential, etc.  If you travel overseas and see the strides that other countries are making in education, and what their children are achieving, you realize very quickly that it will be impossible for the U.S. to maintain some semblance of global significance in the near future if it continues its downward trajectory in education. 

It is important to look at the policies that have resulted in this tragedy.  We may not like it, but when you correlate student achievement with single parent households, children born out of wedlock, etc., it becomes very clear that when children are raised in this manner, they are typically in a poverty situation.  We can argue whether it's right or wrong, whether it's black or white, whether it's infringement upon a woman's right to control her body, etc., but the bottom line is that these situations have a significant impact upon student success.  A good teacher can and must  assist students in this type of circumstance, as the majority of the students that the average teacher will see come from single parent households these days. However, this is not the optimum situation for the student, the parent, or society.  We typically don't have a means to measure the lost potential of the student in that circumstance.  Even when the student is successful, we don't know how much more success the student may have achieved if the student were not concerned about where his/her next meal was coming from, or whether the lights would be on when the student arrived at home, etc. 

We cannot fix all of these problems at once, but we must start to fix some of them immediately.  First, we need to address DISD.  We need to do so in a manner that is respectful of the most important stakeholder, the student.  The superintendent roller coaster has just not been successful.  It appears that for whatever reason (corruption?, patronage?,...) people continue to vote for others that some argue are the most obstreperous, contentious, etc.  At some point, you have to move on and let those folks live with their choices.  Give the others who do not want that for their student and their families a chance to succeed.  It is a start.  Not the best start, but perhaps it is better than the continued disruption that is the current system. 

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

@PerryMoore 

Actually it was George W., when he was our governor, and the education people on his staff who amassed scientific data showing that  kids from even the worst families can be taught to read and write by the end of third grade and that doing so would hugely impact the current kindergarten-to-prison pipeline that is urban public education, for the same money we spend now. So tell me again what your reason would be for not doing it?

Michael.MacNaughton
Michael.MacNaughton

@want2getoffthemerrygoround 

Splitting up the district is an idea that should be aggressively pursued. As more families find the ability to move to other school districts or other types of schools the resulting pool of remaining DISD students becomes, in large part, the poorest of the poor in Dallas.  The best way to address the children's lack of resources is to funnel massive amounts of DISD funds to pre-K and K classes...how to do that without drastically reducing the already drastically reduced funding for the elementary and middle schools is a challenge - but doable. It must be noted that the PreK program in Dallas was begun just two years ago - grossly under-funded...but the Trustees rightfully believed that if they had not stated the program during the two years of State budget cuts that the likelihood of starting a program later was slim to none.  They did the right thing and that PreK program will do more for the children of Dallas in the next decade than can be believed.  Now the trustees need to continue to increase funding AND the number of teachers and TAs in that program.  It's a hard row to hoe because it's not a silver bullet or a quick fix - just the proven solution that will take years to come to fruition and show results.

ballzac
ballzac

@Threeboys I always wondered why the house on the corner across the street had a cinderblock fence topped with razor wire. It seems like a nice neighborhood.

WhiteWhale
WhiteWhale

That which does not kill us makes us stronger or some such stuff.  I am sure your son has forgiven you.  However when the time comes I would not let your son choose your nursing home. Just something to keep in mind.

WhiteWhale
WhiteWhale

@iwearblack Now now let us not be totally negative.  I sure the high achievers can strive for the federal system.

mcdallas
mcdallas topcommenter

@ruddski Or unless the person is of your political leanings and/or related to you.

WhiteWhale
WhiteWhale

@Tim.Covington Miles demonstrated very poor judgement placing his child in the DISD in the first place.

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

@Myrna.Minkoff-Katz Why in the world would YOU want to put RICK PERRY in charge of our high schools?  Hell, I vote for the guy and I don't want that.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@Myrna.Minkoff-Katz wait let Austin run schools?  you are a hoot honey, whatcha been smoking. Those are the same idiots defunding school

pak152
pak152

@Myrna.Minkoff-Katz ah yes centralized control. do you honestly think that state bureaucrats down in Austin will be able to honestly provide equal educational opportunities.


a better idea would be to issue each parent a voucher equivalent to 2/3s of the actual per student cost of education. then let the parents decide where and how to spend the education dollars.

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

@Myrna.Minkoff-Katz 

while I concur on the funding, the problem with most ISD's are they get too large to run effectively.

break up any ISD that operates more than 2 HS. lessen the amount of $ that flow thru any one ISD, and the patronage will also lessen. bring the school administration and school boards back to a local level.

bvckvs
bvckvs topcommenter

@JimSX @PerryMoore 

We knew that kids from bad families were educable long before George Bush came along.  Giving him credit for that is either ignorance or dishonesty - both of which are signature characteristics of the Evangelical and anti-government communities.

roo_ster
roo_ster

@JimSX @PerryMoore Because the cost of the education of children ought to be borne by the parents & family of the child. 

doublecheese
doublecheese

@WhiteWhale @Tim.Covington Not being from 'round here, he probably couldn't have imagined how bad it would be.  I mean, who would really believe it if you told them?  They'd think you were lying. 

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

My dears, I'm assuming that within ten years Texas will have purged itself of the far-right ruling party.  You didn't actually think I meant the current troglodytes, now did you?

James080
James080 topcommenter

@pak152 @Myrna.Minkoff-Katz  

Rick Perry would salivate at the opportunity to lob public school money at his minions. At least now the money lost through DISD graft is kept in the local economy.

DISDparent
DISDparent

@mavdog @Myrna.Minkoff-Katz That happens in the Northeast and it is highly inefficient. You have to have a superintendent and administration and oversight for each ISD and those jobs don't pay below a certain level. I agree DISD is too big. So big that it is impossible to figure out just where the system is breaking down. However, creating many, many small ISD's wouldn't necessarily save much. 

arstubblefield
arstubblefield

@mavdog @Myrna.Minkoff-Katz More and more I find myself considering the notion of divesting DISD into smaller districts.  Other issues aside (and, believe me, I acknowledge that there would be lots of other issues), it seems that any effort at reform in DISD necessarily starts out at a near-insurmountable disadvantage because, as thing stand, any such effort amounts to too small a rudder trying to turn too large a ship. 

want2getoffthemerrygoround
want2getoffthemerrygoround

@roo_ster @JimSX @PerryMoore So, if students don't win the birth lottery, then they don't receive an education?  You think that you don't pay for the student one way or the other?  You pay.  Whether it's for the food stamps and WIC program or whether its to fund the Pell Grant for the student. You pay.  I would rather society pay to educate students so that they can reach their highest potential and contribute to society.  If you think in terms of children as costs, then you need to recognize that you receive a poor ROI if you buy into the prison system rather than education for all. 

mcdallas
mcdallas topcommenter

@pak152 @observist Wrong again.  Try Bullyhaterphobeaphobe.

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@Myrna.Minkoff-Katz Ah, ok, I get it.  Not 'under the Authority of the State' as the state would refer to the elective wishes of the People therein, but under the 'Authority of the State' where the state refers to a ruling elite exactly in line with your own views.

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

@Myrna.Minkoff-Katz I've been hearing that the dems will control the state in the next ten years for the last 30 years.  Not going to happen.

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

@everlastingphelps 

what? there's isn't anything libertarian in that post????

actually, having read your positions on a variety of subjects, I take positions more aligned with Libertarian ideals than you do.

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