Is Home-Rule Move at DISD Just a Diversion, or a Move to Put Pete Delkus in Charge?

Categories: Schutze

delkus.jpg
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Should the entire school system be placed under Pete Delkus?
The timing sure seems dicey on this "home rule" deal -- the plan to get rid of the school board and turn the whole thing over to Pete Delkus.*

Right now it looks like the plan will get tossed into the laps of the school board in May, right when they're being asked to decide on merit pay for teachers, the single biggest and most contentious issue in the whole school reform effort.

Maybe it's a diversion, like setting a warehouse on fire so you can go rob the bank. Or maybe like so many things related to our efforts to educate the youth, it's just totally crazy.

But we do have a very delicate moment coming up on the school board in May when they will be asked to vote thumbs up or thumbs down on the "Teacher Excellence Initiative," a radical new pay structure that would do away with the time-honored seniority pay system we now have. The teachers associations (unions) can be expected to fight hard to defeat TEI, as they have elsewhere in the nation.

Reformers, including Dallas school Superintendent Mike Miles, have made it plain that the vote on TEI is a do-or-die moment for them. If TEI dies at the board, we can expect a good many of the top soldiers in the reform movement to pack it in and maybe go try their luck in some other town.

So far, some of Miles' most staunch allies in favor of reform have been local Latino leaders. In general they're tired of looking at a public school system in which their kids make up 69 percent of the student body but the board is still fighting Brown versus the Board of Education. The reform effort clearly has been counting on a strong push from Latino leaders to support TEI in May.

But I've been talking to Latino leaders this week who are really scratching their heads. They have made it plain, they say, to Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings that they did not appreciate finding out about the whole home-rule deal in the media before anybody picked up a phone and told them about it.

And don't start telling them about the Latinos whose names appear in the handpicked group supporting home rule. Some people I talked to said many on that list are what they call "Ted Cruz Hispanics," as in, yeah, maybe he's Latino, but so what?

Rene Martinez, a key player in a series of citywide multi-ethnic political and community initiatives in the past, has even written what he's calling a "position paper," which is really a hey-you-guys memo (see below) telling the home rule people how much advance community and grassroots work they needed to do to roll this deal out properly.

I spoke with Martinez yesterday. He said the way to do it is not a sneak-attack petition drive using hired signature gatherers on a major voting day and then acting all bent out of shape when the daily newspaper finds out about it. Of course they found about it. That's why you prepare people ahead of time.

Rawlings will host a special meeting with Latino leaders Thursday at an East Dallas church. The mayor's spokesman, Sam Merten, tells me the meeting will not be open, "but there will be town halls soon," so I guess I must wait for that check in the mail. Wish I could be there Thursday. Some of the questions will be: "Why are you explaining this to us now? Why didn't you explain it to us at the beginning? In fact, why didn't we explain it to you?"

The same people are telling me this is not a disaster. It's a bump in the road. It can all get worked out. Or not. The risk, if this festers, will be the effect it may have on school reform, specifically the merit pay issue.

A well-known Latina activist and former officeholder told me the timing for the home rule roll-out is "terrible." But who knows? Life is terrible, but sometimes it works out.

*OK, footnote: No, you're right, they're not going to turn the schools over to Pete Delkus. He's a Channel 8 weatherman. I just said that to sensationalize the news. Home rule is an effort to devise a whole new government for the school system, and supposedly the final outcome has not been decided. It could be anything, so I felt justified in saying it could be Pete Delkus, but probably not. To be determined.

Position Paper on Home Rule Charter (1) by Schutze

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39 comments
uptownguy1
uptownguy1

Can anyone in authority actually answer what the plan is if Home Rule is applied?

Every interview I've seen the leaders either don't know or aren't willing to share.  Smells fishy to me.  I've also heard that one slipped and said that if Home Rule is applied then bond proposals wouldn't have to be voted on the public, but could be instituted at will.  What else can be instituted at will is my question?

bvckvs
bvckvs topcommenter

It's sad to see folks talk about teachers who dedication to their jobs, staying with their employer for many years through good times and bad in order to serve the public, casually dismissed as unworthy of merit.

Teacher's who take on the tough tasks, teaching more difficult classes year after year shouldn't be dismissed as a unworthy of merit.  On the contrary, those dedicated professionals should be awarded the HIGHEST of honors.

bvckvs
bvckvs topcommenter

I like the part where the race-based activist says that their mistake was in issuing press releases to the media, and that "full transparency.... hampered the process".

So taking the case instead to a church, where people are used to nodding mindlessly to anything said from the pulpit, is a strategically sound move.


holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

In order for this Home Rule thing to have a chance, tactically it had to have a fast roll-out through the petition phase.  Once on the ballot, it has a chance of Big Mo(mentum). before the entrenched can procedurally block it. If it gets to the people, then it will take (and cost) an ad campaign the size of a Public Hotel intiative to stop it.

For those who loath merit pay, the concurrent view is that the citizen is way too ignorant to be allowed to decide whether we should try it or not.  

Pete_Delkus_Sleeves
Pete_Delkus_Sleeves

Thanks Jim for writing about us.   I know one thing, we'd be the best looking leader at DISD ever.  Just look at our cuff links!

ruddski
ruddski

I think they should let "real" white people run DISD, not the fake "Koch Brothers" types.

"Real" white people have a great track record of advancing the interests of world citizens of America no matter where they live or what shade of brown they are - as long as they vote or contribute to the "real" American political party to help bring an end to the bogus "two-party" system that, like the white-slave-owner "Constitution" (which America's Most Real black man is working to overcome) has held back progress for over 300 years.

People of the world, workers or not, unite!

Michael in LH
Michael in LH

When are these folks going to stop complaining about when they heard about it and instead focus on the gd plan. Who gives a crap who was told and when they were told. Is the proposed plan a good thing or a bad thing? That is what they should be talking about.

Greg820
Greg820

I have it on good authority* that they will put Ben Affleck in charge.  And when people ask him why he made the decisions the way he did, he will reply "I'm Batman!"  And people will slowly back away and not ask him any more questions.  And this is a better way to run our school system than what we have now.


(*i.e. I made it up)

MaxNoDifference
MaxNoDifference

If Pete Delkus rolls up his sleeves, he can do anything. {cue: Raiders of the Lost Ark March music}

Michael.MacNaughton
Michael.MacNaughton

Given that the city reported last week that streets and bridges and infrastructure will cost nearly $10 billion to bring up to snuff I'm thinking that Pete could do a better job of running the schools than the mayor and the other SOPS hogs lined up at the trough.

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

@bvckvs  

For those teachers who do not receive meritorious pay increases, which are most of them, and for those who rely merely on time-in-grade for their increased pay . . . the majority of teachers probably believe it is thinly masked favoritism, cronyism or ladder-climbing (or a combination of all three).

You don't ask the majority if the minority should be advanced over them.  You just do it.

ruddski
ruddski

@bvckvs

What do Obama and Rev. Wright have to do with this?

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

@holmantx  

Mm, problem with that thesis is that our Hispanic citizens have been generally in favor and supportive of the reforms, maybe including merit pay, but the way this thing rolled out risks alienating that very valuable support.

mindingthestore
mindingthestore

What plan? All they've said is that DISD is no good. They've offered nothing in the way of a plan. Rawlings praised charters. Is that the plan? Most charters do not have great track records--most no better and many markedly worse. What else has been talked about other than longer school years and longer school days?

oakclifftownie
oakclifftownie

@Michael in LHWhen are these folks going to stop complaining about when they heard about it 

I am not sure if I am for it or against it . 

But I do Know I don't like the  "here it is lets start to work on it" nature of how this Idea has been presented..

So  stop this down  so we can get the idea of what the heck these folks are really wanting to do. .

Because later on we will all at least have a good idea of what it should have looked like...

And will know the difference  when it just plain turns to Shit !


ruddski
ruddski

El problema no es dónde, pero cómo. Este tipo de noticias debe ser anunciado en español.

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

@Michael.MacNaughton  

Aha. I knew if I waited we would agree on something. Yes, indeed, exactly what is it about City Hall that would cause us to want to put it in charge of our children? Yikes! 

bvckvs
bvckvs topcommenter

@holmantx @bvckvs

I've seen no legitimate studies showing any serious problem with teachers who have time-in-grade, without performing their duties.  On the contrary, whenever I've worked in the schools, I've always found that the questions I have about how to do my job are best answered by teachers who have many years of experience.

Indeed, what I've seen from the younger teachers is that if they can't do their jobs well, they get the hell out of education entirely - taking their skills off into the private sector.

ruddski
ruddski

@Holmantx

Whenever I was brought in to rescue a faltering organization, I made it clear that seniority meant nothing. When I went into corporate, it was a corporation which took pride in having very few layoffs in its history - but when the recession hit, it was time to clean house, which they did, and seniority meant nothing.

Results are whatever matter in the private sector, the public sector should be no different.

I'm also a big believer in performance bonuses, merit pay increases, and company loyalty towards loyal employees.

I wouldn't last a week in a gubmint job.

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

@JimSX @holmantx  

Seems like a calculated risk.

Better to have irritated supporters than a well prepared opposition.

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

@JimSX @holmantx  

Hispanics aren't the problem.


The DISD is going to block it (teachers and bureaucracy and Trustees).

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

@ruddski  

Perry Como's not even alive.

Michael.MacNaughton
Michael.MacNaughton

At least our representatives on the city council will be held "accountable" through the democratic election process...might not be able to say the same about our reps on the school board. Who holds the "commission" accountable? According to home rule law they would control the billion dollars of real estate assets as well as the $1.3 billion annual cash flow. As it stands now we can vote the bums out.

bvckvs
bvckvs topcommenter

@holmantx @bvckvs

That's a ridiculously simplistic perspective.  In reality, the student is the product of MANY factors - the schools being but one.

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

@bvckvs  

The student is a product the schools deliver to the private sector - society.

On that basis school bureaucracies should rightfully be held accountable.

Guesty
Guesty

@TheCredibleHulk @JimSX @holmantx  "Better to have irritated supporters than a well prepared opposition."


I'm sure that is what they thought, but I think they are probably wrong in their thinking.  The opposition is already well prepared and battle ready after fighting Miles and every school reform effort proposed in the past 10 years.  They had their talking points ready. 


But the terrible and secretive roll-out of this think gave opponents an unintentional assist.  Now the opponents get to talk about all the terrible things that are possible no matter how unlikely rather than dealing with a specific plan.  In that sense, Jim's headline made me chuckle, because his theory is no less realistic than the folks going on and on about private interests stealing the DISD's real estate, etc.  

ruddski
ruddski

Buena. Ahora, ¿quién es John Galt?

ruddski
ruddski

@JimSX

Who is Perry Como?

Curiouser_II
Curiouser_II

@bvckvs @Michael.MacNaughton  

We can SO vote the bums out, why do people keep saying this?  Texas Education Code addresses the removal of board members.  The entire school board of El Paso was removed not all that long ago.


Excerpt from TEA code:

§ 103.031. GROUNDS FOR REMOVAL OF BOARD MEMBER. (a) It is a ground for removal from the board that a member: (1) commits malfeasance of office; (2) cannot, because of illness or disability, discharge the member's duties for a substantial part of the member's term; or (3) is absent from more than half of the regularly scheduled board meetings that the member is eligible to attend during a calendar year, unless the absence is excused by majority vote of the board. (b) The validity of an action of the board is not affected by the fact that it was taken when a ground for removal of a board member existed.

bvckvs
bvckvs topcommenter

@Michael.MacNaughton

No, you can't vote the bums out.  You can only vote them in.  There's no provision in our election system to vote against anyone.

Personally, I consider that a flaw in the democratic process.

Michael.MacNaughton
Michael.MacNaughton

On the current school board the majority of the 9 elected trustees wins any vote. I will ask a question and then be so rude as to answer. "What has supt. Mike Miles asked for that has been denied him by the Trustees?" The answer: the school board has given Miles absolutely everything - 100% - ALL he has requested in personnel, policies, hundreds of millions of dollars, costly programs...and time. Two years. The trustees may be diverse and argumentative and opinionated but they have been no impediment to this administration when the cards are laid out. So...that begs some questions. Is Miles failing and everyone at city hall and the chamber is running scared?

What's the plan? Has it been tried successfully anywhere else? Who is really financially backing the home rule group SOPS and why are they afraid to be transparent? As usual this isn't about kids or education but instead about jobs for adults and contracts for their friends. Jim S would have you believe the "jobs for adults" part is all about cronyism in the teaching corps. He was only partially right 5 years ago and just beating a dead horse today. There are billions of dollars ready to be spent on the next best program/test/software etc. and all those consultants...."for the children", of course.

markzero
markzero

@Michael.MacNaughton  If you turn it over to the Council, aren't you really turning it over to City Hall staff? They're unelected, can persist from one administration change to the next, and definitely seem to have their own agenda at times.


Even if Council members kept a close eye on it, do you really want a situation to arise, where, say, the Council could approve of building new schools in southwest Dallas, even set aside money for it, and then the Council member for that area can refuse to let them be built because, until some big corporation comes in and wants to make a deal building charter schools, the children living there don't deserve any?

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