Mike Miles Gets 90 Days to Grow Up, Dallas Gets 25 Years

Categories: Schutze

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In the wee hours of today, maybe a dozen of us media people, half a dozen teachers union officials and another half dozen bitter-enders sat waiting in a semi-darkened auditorium at school headquarters while the school board was in "executive session" -- a closed-door meeting in another part of the building where the board was deciding in secret how to publicly humiliate the superintendent they had hired a year and a half ago to save their asses. I wondered what the moral of the story might be.

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Mark Graham
Apparently Mike Miles is still growing.
Be careful whose ass you save, I guess.

Earlier, five members of the eight-member body had voted to kill a resolution to fire Mike Miles. The attempt to sack him was based on an outside investigative report that found the superintendent innocent of all of a raft of serious charges. The board's three black members wanted to fire him anyway. The five who voted to keep him were white. Is it about race? Sort of yes, sort of no.

When they finally came out of their secret lair just before 1 a.m., a coalition of white and black board members supported a package of measures designed to mess Miles up a little in public even if he was innocent. They messed with his contract and slapped him with a couple other penalties that amounted to little more than personal insults. The main justification for them was that Miles had not done enough to maintain friendly relations with the board.

I was watching Miles last night. He looked gray and drawn. After the adjournment, board President Eric Cowan told us Miles had agreed to all of the changes in his contract and to the little insult deals. One of them, for example, was an agreement by the board to put Miles on a "growth plan." That's a term Miles has used for measures designed to put school principals on notice that they need to do a better job or face removal. Cowan told us the board didn't know yet what would be in Miles' growth plan -- what he would have to do. So that's what I mean -- it was just kind of a little nasty slap, something they did for grins.

Cowan said Miles will have 90 days to live up to the requirements of his growth plan. Board member Bernadette Nutall had already made the point very ostentatiously just before adjournment that Miles could still be fired if he fails to fulfill the strictures in the plan.

From the back of the media scrum that gathered around Cowan after adjournment, I asked a question: if it is found at the end of 90 days that Miles has fulfilled his growth plan, will he be all done growing? I had this vision in my mind of Miles, after 100 growth plans, looming over school headquarters like King Kong with a cute little teacher in one hand.

Cowan shrugged and gave me a look like, "Give me a break, pal."' Yeah. I know. Sorry. None of this is funny. Then again, I couldn't help but marvel at the board's utter hypocrisy. Ignored by the board were revelations earlier this year that some board members were going behind Miles' back to his own staff and bullying them, warning them not to do what Miles, their boss, told them to do.

In a letter about it, some of the executives said they had been buttonholed by school board trustee Nutall, who was one of those last night who wanted Miles fired for not maintaining good enough relations with her. "We were encouraged by Ms. Nutall to not hold certain principals accountable for their performances," they said in their letter.

Others said Nutall had warned them that Miles would not be around forever but she would be. That's some verbal bullying Tony Soprano could be proud of.

I may not even need to point this out, but just for the record the board did not vote last night to put itself on a growth plan. I guess they're done growing.

While waiting with the others for the board to emerge, I read M. Night Shyamalan's new book, I Got Schooled on my tablet. The famous moviemaker tries too hard to be breezy in this tome about school reform in America, and it takes a lot of poking around on a damned digital tablet to find anything like footnotes supporting his claims. But the citations are there somewhere if you dig, and so far the book is a pretty damned interesting read.

One of the things he points out at the top is that school failure in America is entirely about poor people. Citing statistics originally derived from academic papers, he says that U.S. students lead the entire world on the International Students Assessment or PISA, a test given all over the world every three years, if you measure only American schools with 10 percent poverty students or less.

Our problem is that we have way more poverty than Western Europe. Four percent of students in Finland are at poverty level, for example, but 20 percent of American students are at poverty level. When our poor students are included in our overall performance on PISA, which they have to be, we plummet far down in the ranks, especially against most of Europe.

From everything I have read, heard or been able to otherwise divine about Miles and his team, they are laser-focused on "the gap" -- the yawning chasm between student achievement for kids from more comfortable background and kids from poverty. They believe that bringing children to full literacy early in their school careers and keeping them at grade-level as long as possible is the single most important thing we can do to change their destinies.

And yes, it's about race insofar as minority kids are way more likely than white kids to be in high poverty schools. But, no, it's not about race in that the consistent factor across all ethnic lines is poverty. Minority kids in middle class and above schools test higher than minority kids in poor schools, surprise-surprise.

Before yesterday's meeting I had an off-the-record lunch with one of the young professional and business leaders who brought Miles here from Colorado and who are his behind-the-scenes sponsors in the reform effort. He already knew pretty much what the board was going to do that evening. He said in spite of all the setbacks and frustration he and his associates are still optimistic about school reform. Maybe I had a look on my face that said, "Yeah, and what are you guys smoking?"

Anyway, before I could respond he said, "It's a 25-year effort." He said we are halfway through year two, and things are still moving forward.

Great. I should ask him: if and when they ever get it done, please remember to ask in your prayers that I be informed, wherever I may be by then.


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40 comments
Obummer
Obummer

Yo DISD will never grow up. Word!

uptownguy1
uptownguy1

This was my prediction.  He wouldn't be fired, but put on a 90 day "growth" plan.  I'm sure at the end of 90 days they will "reassess" his performance.  I predict they've privately told him "you have 90 days to find another job and leave", otherwise you will be removed.

Miles has demonstrated that he's not capable of managing the daily activities for the district, he can't stay off the evening news and it only takes one more crisis.  We've witnessed his actions over the past 14-16 months.  I seriously doubt he will change.

Rabeeta
Rabeeta

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PerryMoore
PerryMoore

Bless your heart, Mr. Schutze, you are stepping right in the problem and somehow continuing to ignore it. Your educational system is broken because your political structure is broken. Damn straight the problem is poverty, but it's not for want of money that we are impoverished. It's for want of workers. Not want of jobs--want of workers. Not want of money--want of ambition. Not want of welfare--want of morals. Not want of education--want of parenting. You support a concept of government that has produced an expanding class of freeloaders, and you still wonder why they seem so ignorant and helpless. Go ahead, spray that air freshener, but it won't clean up that shit on your shoe.

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

Reading about this is like watching a car wreck in slow motion.

There's nothing you can do about it.

A big, bloated bureaucracy slugged down to its lowest common denominator.  A low-end government jobs program where everyone gives themselves high-end titles.  

And what's funny but sad, they take themselves so seriously.

If we don't like it, we just have to move to DeSoto.

Thanks for caring, Dallas.

animas
animas

Re:  "Be careful whose ass you save".

One would hope that poor Miles, the Dallas "business leaders"-whatever that means- and the citizens of Dallas appreciate Mr. Schutze's timely in depth  analysis and efforts to get this problem solved.  (But I doubt it).

BettyC1
BettyC1

Sad about DISD board I hope the complaint I filed withTexas Education AGENCY WILL HELP.BOARD MEMBERS SO out of line.Black ones the worst.

William1
William1

I once talked to someone that used to work in OPR.  Supposedly all of the people hired there were friends or working buddies of the top Director. (Sound familiar)  Almost all have since left the District.  Some only lasted a year or so (Sound familiar)  She said they acted like they knew everything when they did not and looked down their nose at practically every Department in the District. 

rssullivan
rssullivan

Coggins report aside, Miles is a bad superintendent.  Last year he forced teachers to remain at school until 4:45 each day for meetings ( 1 hour past normal departure time).  After substantial push back from teachers the board reversed this policy. Miles disregarded the board and continued the policy for the remainder of the year.  One example of his disregard for authority.

More importantly Miles brings Dallas a failed policy of tying teacher pay to test scores.  Look no further than Atlanta, WA, DC and El Paso (among many others) to see the results of this policy.  Once money is attached to test scores, test scores become all important and apparently it doesn't matter much how we get there.  Point being, real learning is quickly replaced by test taking strategy (and in the case of the mentioned cities widespread cheating).  Miles is expanding the failed policy of "No Child Left Behind" that has resulted in 10 years of "teaching to the test".   We are teaching our children how to game the system.  We graduate students with decent test scores and no critical thinking backing them up.

It's time we get rid of Miles and get back to real learning.  

James
James

Did he agree to let the board supervise OPR?  Michee brought that up again during the meeting.

big_oj
big_oj

Two things:

1. The first time in a while that I agree with Mr. Jim. I feel that this is another case of the North v. South Fight. Jones was bombed with calls from her constituents to keep Mike Miles. So North Dallas voters telling there member to keep Miles, that tells you something.

2. "Before yesterday's meeting I had an off-the-record lunch with one of the young professional and business leaders who brought Miles here from Colorado and who are his behind-the-scenes sponsors in the reform effort. He already knew pretty much what the board was going to do that evening. He said in spite of all the setbacks and frustration he and his associates are still optimistic about school reform."

Uhhhh..... that is the problem folks. Since when does people who has a business degree if they have one think they have experience in Education. Why are we letting people who don't have a Education Degree to work and reform. It's like having a Baker trying to proform Open Heart Surgery and never went to Medical School. See we don't hate reform, but we prefer to have someone that has training, but I know many people are hard heads.

amuse2
amuse2

Such a mess... I have no idea if Mike Miles is the right man to lead DISD, but do we have a better option? if so, please let us know and until then lets support this guy. What a nightmare job...

bruce.levy1
bruce.levy1

You live by the sword,  you die by the sword.  A military man should know that.  You humiliate people around you,  you get humiliated. 

markzero
markzero

Sad that he agreed to a plan that wasn't written, yet. That means Nutall et al will be able to stick things in it he can't or won't do, if they choose.

If they couldn't tell him what they wanted last night, it sounds like they either didn't know what they wanted or didn't want the demands made clear up front. Either reason is no basis for a contract.

That does make me wonder, though: were the principals put on plans given concrete objectives up front? I've been assuming so, so far.

markzero
markzero

25 year effort? In the meantime, that's over 200,00 kids, isn't it, that will graduate with iffy education before this effort finishes?

(DISD graduated 7302 students in June. That number will surely grow each year with the population even if they can't get the dropout rate down)


I suspect the majority of the "plan," and why it takes 25 years, is allowing time for all the people in the middle who are perpetuating and benefitting from the patronage system to retire out.

rufuslevin
rufuslevin

separate but equal beginning to sound better every day?

animas
animas

25 year plan

This is equivalent to "we know how to cure the cancer, but not enough people have exploited the vicitms to make it worth our while to proceed more expeditously".  In other words they are telling you, Jim,  to go away and come back in the next quarter century....

P1Gunter
P1Gunter

Seriously? Another DISD story with no pictures of hot chicks?

Just_wonderin
Just_wonderin

Where did this young business leader get 25 years starting in 2012 from?  In 1995, there was something called The Dallas Plan that was a 25 year plan to bring Dallas to a higher level by 2020.  

I thought Miles' program Destination 2020 was aligned with that.  What do I know?

Tim.Covington
Tim.Covington

Well, if I was Miles, I would be seriously looking at opportunities elsewhere. The problem is, the school board wants someone with the who will make changes that improve student performance and also be a yes man for the board. These are mutually exclusive requirements, at least until the board is completely changed. And, as Nutall said, most of the board members who are the problem will be impossible to remove short of death by natural causes or retirement. And, they will be replaced with more of the same.

bmarvel
bmarvel topcommenter

Is there anywhere a middle ground between our  clownish school board and Miles' lock-step march to a brave new world of industrial-cybernetic education?

oakclifftownie
oakclifftownie

Based on his Skin Tone  I Guess Mike wouldn't  Qualify for the BLACK LIKE US  pass from the Darker members of the School board ?

animas
animas

@BettyC1 TEA is probably populated by their relatives.  I have never noticed that filing a complaint about a legitimate problem to any Texas state agency has done any good.  I called down to follow up  one at TDH a few years ago and found out the whole dept was on a week long "retreat" at a hill country resort--(your tax dollars at work,etc.)

animas
animas

@rssullivan Are you saying that Miles interrupted a healthy school system's operations?  What exactly do you mean by "real learning"?  Are there some quantitative  metrics that can measure your version of "real" learning without  peer comparative testing type (solid quantitative) analysis?

Biglar
Biglar

@big_oj Because a degree in Education is a complete joke.  The head of the district should be able to run an organization, think strategically, and manage the educators. That sounds like Mike Miles.  That said, your comparison of a teacher with a heart surgeon was hilarious.  Maybe Nutall is Hippocrates?

rufuslevin
rufuslevin

@P1Gunter look again at the pics of the BOT members, and imagine them twerking on Greenville Ave on St. Paddy's day.   make sure the trash can in nearby for barfing.

rufuslevin
rufuslevin

@bmarvel dump the darker crowd on the BOT and let Miles have some running room for awhile maybe?

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

@bmarvel 

Maybe, together they will develop some magical synergy wherein they both serve to temper the worst impulses of the other . . . 

. . . ahhh . . . who am I kidding?

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

@oakclifftownie 

Based on your mental tone, I would guess you never passed a whole of tests in school, either, did you?

animas
animas

@Biglar @big_oj  How true.  A few years ago, the Denver Post did a scathing analysis of the (lack of) requirements for obtaining an advanced degree in education-compared to almost any other discipline- as one of the reasons public school systems were in such disarray.

animas
animas

Maybe the board members could be replaced with other technology.

epicmale
epicmale

@JimSX @rufuslevin @oakclifftownie True.  Because we see daily how the left vilifies persons such as West, Carson, Thomas, and other prominent black conservatives.  It is not about race.  It is about political ideology.

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