"Home Rule" Drive for DISD May Be in for a Brake Job This Week

Categories: Schutze

brake_job.jpg
Wikipedia Commons
You've heard all the horror stories about brake jobs, right?
There is a distinct possibility the mayor or somebody else associated with the public school takeover effort now underway -- called "home rule" by its backers -- will announce this week that they are "tapping the brakes," pausing the campaign for now. That will make lots of people happy but not me, because I don't think I will believe it.

Multiple reliable sources close to the effort told me last week and over the weekend that home rule will be put on hiatus. Quite apart from any merit the idea itself may have offered, the execution is being viewed by insiders as one of the more spectacular cluster-conjugations in recent memory. Supposedly the mayor and some of the others taking the egging for it would like to take a breather.

And so would you in their shoes. What a mess. The deal being presented to voters is this: We are supposed to sign petitions giving a blank slate to a group of people who, except for a few big names out front, have so far declined to identify themselves. With our permission in hand, they will use an arcane state law to uproot the existing system of school governance and replace it with something else. But nobody will say what that will be. That is one tough sale.

Word I am getting is that their petition drive, which must log almost 25,000 valid signatures to trigger the next step in the process, has hit a tough slog. People may have gotten the idea petition drives are easy, because Angela Hunt pulled one off in 2007 when, as a freshman City Council member and completely green officeholder, she gathered enough John Does to force a referendum on putting the Trinity River toll road inside the levees.

But Hunt's petition drive was a demonstration of pure political genius. She's a one-off who, in spite of her inexperience, was able to stitch together all the requisite elements of personal charisma and down-and-dirty grass-roots organizing. To the extent the current home rule petition drive has been identified with Mayor Mike Rawlings, it has demonstrated that Rawlings, good a mayor as he may be, is no Angela Hunt.

I worry, however, that the predictions of a retreat may contain a major dose of wish-projection by people who hated this whole thing from the beginning. The problem is that there is no room for a hiatus in the timetable. The goal of backers is to put a proposal before voters next November.

If the petition drive continues and hits its mark, and if and when those petitions are presented to the school board, then the state law sets a strict time-table for the rest of the process. A true pause now -- a halt in gathering signatures -- would probably kill the whole thing until 2016, when the petition gathering would have to start again from scratch.

It seems unlikely that whoever has been bankrolling the petition drive so far -- using paid signature gatherers as Hunt and her opponents all did in 2007 -- is going to agree to call off the effort now and throw the signatures they have already paid for into the landfill. It's more likely they will quietly keep on keeping on, and if and when they get to their 25,000-signature mark, the pressure within their group will be immense to file the petitions with the school board.

If that's what is happening, then the so-called brake-tapping or hiatus will turn out to have been yet another ruse, a pretend hiatus to try to take the heat off while they keep right on doing what they were doing. I don't think the effort can afford to look any more tricky than it does already. It already feels way too much like the way cheerleaders are chosen in the Park Cities. (If you have to ask, you're not in the running.)

More on all of this in a column in the paper later this week. In the meantime, if anybody tells you they're tapping the brakes, just make sure they're not right behind you.

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43 comments
savdisd
savdisd

Repost from DISD Blog

Looks like the double crosses is being played on us, the Home Rule SOPS proponents paid signature lackeys are still out in the neighborhoods collecting signatures. Meanwhile, the groups of our elected neo-officials lackeys have gone underground so they don't have to talk about it because they can't or will not be transparent. I don't like being lied to, on top of this baloney.

uptownguy1
uptownguy1

Meanwhile...back at the ranch...Please keep asking questions about what will happen if HR is implemented.  If the leaders don't know then how can "you" make an informed decision?

mindingthestore
mindingthestore

Now it's being retooled with MORE business people who know nothing about education.

I have nothing against Pettis Norman or Tom Dunning, but they are NOT educators.

Attempting to make this a business model will never work. Kids are not a business, and they have different needs and different learning styles. Adding Rene Martinez to the mix will not help, as most people know he is for sale to the highest bidder.

People in the know understand that the home rule gambit is an attempt to make our schools charters run by business folks who are in it for the money they can make.

It's insincere to pretend otherwise.

bbetzen
bbetzen

The most consistent lie told during this entire "home rule" manipulation is that DISD cannot improve.   During the years 2007 to 2012 DISD had the most Record-setting Graduation Rate Progress in Dallas ISD history, even with all the additional testing requirements, then it stopped when Mike Miles arrived!

1.From 2007 to 2012 Dallas ISD enjoyed the five most progressive years of achievement in memory!

2.While DISD "college ready" rates edged up far too slowly, graduation rates soared! Consequently the number of college ready graduates increased over 60% from 1996 to 2012, during years that Anglo-non-Hispanic enrollment in Dallas ISD dropped 60%.

3.Dallas ISD graduation rates improved faster than the rest of Texas for all demographic groups served from 2007 to 2011.  See the set of 12 graphs posted on the Dallas ISD web site. They are linked from the bottom of the page at the first hit when you google "Dallas ISD's graduation and dropout rates"

4.Since 2012, under Mike Miles, graduation rate progress has stopped.  This is illustrated by 6 measurements related to graduation rate and student movement on a chart at http://schoolarchiveproject.blogspot.com/2014/03/best-five-years-for-dallas-isd.html , and by the fact that this year DISD suffered the greatest drop in 12th grade enrollment suffered in 29 years!  12th grade enrollment went down to 533 students less than last year!

Guesty
Guesty

This kind of "reform" is built to fail.  To get the signatures, you need to tell people what change they are endorsing.  But this process doesn't allow you to make any promises about what the change will be because some other committee decides that after the signatures are gathered.  Maybe the committee will embrace what you've been selling, maybe they take things in a different direction.  At the signature gathering point, you can't even be sure who will be on the committee or how it would ultimately be selected.  Nothing but question marks there.  So you are left with two selling points:  (1) the system now sucks beyond anything you might blindly pick out of a hat; and (2) hey, maybe the committee will do something you actually like [insert list of random and noncommittal proposals here].  It is not a compelling argument.


But people who oppose this already have their talking points lined up and have a very large and organized support structure built up through the NEA nationally and their constant battles with Miles locally.  I don't think it really matters what exactly the reform proposals are, the most vocal opponents would still be talking about the same things, many which appear to have no basis in fact (e.g. this is just a land grab, it would turn the DISD into a private charter school, etc.).  The lack of a specific proposal certainly gives them more ammunition, but I doubt it is the deciding factor. 


And at the end of the day, I doubt we are talking about things that really matter that much to the kids.  Home-rule or not, I expect the results will be the same.  Most poor kids will not finish school well educated, in part because they don't seem to have the support structure or motivation to do it.  Most well off kids will get decent educations, though most will continue to migrate away from the DISD.  


The sad thing is that we don't really know if the DISD or any urban school district can be fixed.  There are no success stories out there.  So we are left with the choice of funding a very flawed system that at least gives some kids a chance but at extraordinary costs, or trying things that are entirely untested and unlikely to improve the situation.  And to make matters worse, the DISD has no control over its total budget, so the most promising alternatives are likely off the table because of the expense (e.g. universal pre-K, smaller class sizes, improved facilities at some particularly bad schools).  

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

Hey Mr. Pizza Man Mayor, I have an idea on how to run Pizza Hut better.  It involves ridding PH of its current board members and changing the way its run, but im not going to tell you what that is until you let me do it.  Sound like a fair business deal?

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

Folks, this is what is called a "pig in a poke" and my Grandma was always telling me never to buy one.

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

It's DOA.

The existing set up is too entrenched.  

Easy to blame the unseen hand however, that's not what killed this effort.  It's the same bunch that has killed EVERY effort.

And eventually, they'll get Mr. Miles in that Fargo wood chipper too.

Meanwhile the Exodus continues . . .

Cliffhanger
Cliffhanger

Are there really 25,000 DISD contractors in Dallas?

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

Political machines are designed to go, go, go, not to stop. They have no "brakes".

s.aten
s.aten

I am shocked that people don't trust our Mayor to tell the truth about this proposal.  I guess that means they will miss their Nov. election?

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

I say pass the damn law, then y'all can see what's in it.

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

 With our permission in hand, they will use an arcane state law to uproot the existing system of school governance and replace it with something else. But nobody will say what that will be.


Given how bad the current system is, even if the new one was completely random chances are very good that it would be an improvement.

Guesty
Guesty

@bbetzen  Is a "graduation rate" even relevant?  How educated is the average kid who graduates from the DISD?  Can they do simple math without a calculator?  Can they read a newspaper and identify the critical issues relevant to a current event?  

MichaelMacNaughton
MichaelMacNaughton

@Guesty


"(... it would turn the DISD into a private charter school, etc.)"


Charter schools are public schools.  Perhaps you meant "privately controlled" charter school?


Chapter 12 in the State Education Code clearly identifies home rule district schools as charter schools.
You know, like Uplift, Peak Preparatory, Dallas Can and Prime Prep.  But, unlike those charters, the HRD charter schools can levy taxes.


The public has input to education policy and the district budget through our democratically elected representatives on the school board.


The HRD may, or may not, allow elected representatives to sit on the board - but the majority of the members would probably NOT be elected...at least that is the impression I received from the presentation at the Preston Royal library and in visiting with SOPS representatives afterwards.

REDDYFREDDY
REDDYFREDDY

@Guesty The schools in Lakewood and East Dallas have demonstrated that white and middle/upper-middle class families can indeed be drawn back to DISD. Check the enrollment figures - there are several hundred more white students in Woodrow Wilson High and its feeder system than there were a few years ago.

oakclifftownie
oakclifftownie

@holmantxIt's the same bunch that has killed EVERY effort.

Agreed and the insurgents  did it in such a big a way that made everyone who already Controlled a seat at the table look like chumps as they along with the others not in the know were caught off guard when the board was informed of it.

Both Mikes over played their hands .

The last Error and most critical  was and we will hear more about it over and over Is the Rival City factor . ...

THE HOUSTON YES HOUSTON BILLIONAIRE who thinks he can come to Dallas and tell us how to run things  .

 



savdisd
savdisd

@Cliffhanger

Signatures will be there, regardless of where the signatory lives or know that their signatures is on the roll. Government officials Push for the Home Rule are the same people checking the validity of the signature.

savdisd
savdisd

@everlastingphelps

Manipulation, DALLASISD must be bad ENOUGH call in Home Rule, Don't kid yourself FMM doing his job that they paid him for TO drive DISD into the ground.

bbetzen
bbetzen

@Guesty @bbetzen The graduation rate is a primary measurement that, until you are above a very solid graduation rate of 85% to 90%, is probably the most critical measurement. The lower it is the more important it is! 


Once we are comfortably above 85%, and the normal increasing graduation standards, that have constantly risen over the past 20 years, continue to rise, then we can focus more and more on achievement.   You never ignore achievement, but when the graduation rate is 40% that graduation rate measurement is the real priority! 


Graduation rate documents the monumental damage happening constantly when it is below 50%, and the resulting criminal incarceration rates that evolve.


Now Dallas is passing a very real 60% graduation rate (i.e. 60% of the complete 9th grade enrollment 3 years earlier) and that is wonderful!   It had NEVER happened since we began to really demand achievement be verified before graduation in the 1970's. 


DISD passed the 50% graduation rate just within the past 5 years.   DISD is now passing the 60% graduation rate this year, if all goes well.   It may have passed that 60% rate last year but I am waiting for verification of the graduation numbers I found today on the TEA web site.  They were 391 students higher than the 7,300 diplomas I was told about by DISD staff for the Class of 2013.   If 7,691 is correct, then we passed 60% last year!   DISD has been making monumental progress since 2006!  This will represent over a 20 percentage point gain!


For Mayor Rawlings and others to indicate their lack of awareness of this progress is rather sad.   The message must be shared more widely.   It is true progress!


Guesty
Guesty

@bbetzen @Guesty 

The current state of affairs at the DISD cannot be defined as a "success story" unless you have pitifully low expectations.  Improvement does not equal success, especially when it is improvement from rock bottom.  And the "improvements" you noted are from the worst in the country to being on par with every other terrible urban school district in the country.  The DISD has not distinguished itself as the first place that has figured out how to educate poor students.  But that title is still available.     

So I challenge you to find me a single large urban school district that manages to reasonably educate more than half of its students (i.e. a level of education that would make them reasonably competitive in the labor force for a job that pays more than physical labor wages).  I will declare that school district a success.    

Guesty
Guesty

@MichaelMacNaughton @Guesty  Michael, I know what a charter school is, and your response is intentionally misleading.  I was describing the fever dreams of the opponents, not the reality of anything.  Your quote intentionally omitted the operative language, so I will repeat it here for you: "many which appear to have no basis in fact (e.g. this is just a land grab, it would turn the DISD into a private charter school, etc.)."


And charter schools are not "public schools," they are privately operated non-profit schools that are at least partially publicly funded and subject to government oversight (much like other charitable organizations).  But the public has no input into the original organizing structure (e.g. taxpayers do not approve anything relating to the structure), do not have the opportunity to elect anyone responsible for appointment of the persons responsible for management (directors of charters are up to the private operators), etc.  


Home rule would not operate anything like a charter school because some elected official necessarily would be responsible for either directly managing the school or appointing its managers.  Which is consistent with how the vast majority of public policy is made in the United States (e.g. the entire federal system, most state agencies, most county agencies, etc.).  Whether or not that is a good thing is best left open for debate, but it is intentionally dishonest to suggest that home rule district would be run like a charter school.     


And home rule districts and charter schools are governed by entirely separate subsections of Chapter 12 of the Texas Education Code.  Nothing in Subchapter B, which governs home rule school districts, refers to them as charter schools, which are separately provided for in Subchapters C and D.    

Guesty
Guesty

@REDDYFREDDY @Guesty  


As long as you can make an almost all white and middle/upper-middle class school (Lakewood Elementary) and promise parents that their kids will be in a de facto magnet program sequestered within a small high school (i.e. Woodrow's IB program), then yes, you might be able to convince a tiny fraction of white and middle/upper-middle class parents to keep their kids in the DISD.  But the numbers you are talking about amount to nothing more than a rounding error within the DISD.  


And the schools you are talking about do no better at educating poor minority kids than any other school in the DISD.  Woodrow is in fact a failing school unless you decide to completely disregard the poor black and brown children who attend it.  

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

@oakclifftownie @holmantx  

About the only thing left is to treat the DISD like the Catholic Diocese.  Sue the living hell out of them.  It's all the rage right now.  Former students have been harmed over denial of education.  Mount a class action lawsuit and break their financial backs.  Then petition the federal courts or the state legislature to force change ala bussing. 

Biglar
Biglar

@savdisd  That is one mean feat.  I have never before been able to read such a short post and come to the opposite conclusion based solely on what the author wrote.   

bbetzen
bbetzen

@holmantx @bbetzen Notice that I am writing about progress since then.  That is what DISD can celebrate!

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

@bbetzen  

Dallas ISD was reported in April 2008 to have the 7th highest dropout rate of any urban school district in the US. All 6 cities with higher dropout rates than Dallas in this study were smaller cities with under a million population.

not


possible

bbetzen
bbetzen

What makes that DISD 12th grade enrollment drop so bad is the last four years he was in Colorado as superintendent over Harrison School District Two, the 12th grade enrollment dropped a total of 33% while the total district enrollment was stable.  Most of those who left went to District 11 to the north, where ACT scores went down.   Was this an attempt to raise ACT scores?   Remember those rising ACT scores were the reason many of the DISD trustees were so impressed with Mr. Miles!

bbetzen
bbetzen

@holmantx @bbetzen I credit the long term professionals who were active within DISD and some of the highest per student funding DISD had ever received, all combined at the same time for this progress.  We began to focus on the 9th grade bulge which had cursed DISD for decades.   9th grade coordinators were hired to help make certain students made it into 10th grade and did not repeat 9th grade. 


You say my "phonied up numbers aren't lasting because it is a lie."   Please point to specific errors and the source of your information beyond "feelings."  


The numbers I use come from the enrollment numbers on the TEA web site.   While I know the TEA graduation rate numbers are wrong, these enrollment numbers are much harder to falsify.  Actually, these enrollment numbers are the proof that the TEA graduation rate claims are false. 


I have every reason to believe the enrollment numbers are correct as they generate money for each school in the state.  They are how state funds are distributed.


What Mike Miles has done within the past 20 months has led to the first failure in 7 years of the 12th grade enrollment to grow.  Instead, DISD's official 12th grade enrollment went down over 530 students, the largest year to year drop in 29 years.  If that is not the truth, please point to the data and where it can be found.

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

@bbetzen  So what and who do you credit for the largest comeback of any school district since humans emerged from the slime?

Herding, because it wasn't due to leadership, personnel changes or epiphanies.  And add in a huge dose of cooking the numbers to save a low-end jobs program masquerading as secondary education.

I do not believe the largest school district in the NATION with the WORST track record in the NATION can make such a STARTLING comeback . . . blowing every metric out of the water . . . without the Big Lie, which you cheerlead unabashed.

This bureaucracy saw its LIFE passing before it and ACTED to save itself at the expense of thousands of minors.  And you run around yammering, naked from the waist down oblivious to your pathetic bullshit.

And your phonied up numbers aren't lasting because it is a lie.  

And according to you laughable posts, it's Mike MIles fault.

You ought to be horse-whipped for that little accusation alone.

Guesty
Guesty

@MichaelMacNaughton @Guesty  "First, your statement that a Home Rule District would not operate anything like a charter school "because some elected official necessarily would be responsible for either directly managing the school or appointing its managers" is simply untrue."


The voters have to ratify any method of selecting the ultimate policy makers for a home rule district.  The only proposal I have heard for appointed rather than elected board members is that the Mayor make the appointments (FYI, I am personally opposed to this).  The Mayor is elected.    


"Second, the trustees could raise the M & O tax rate from its current $1.04  to 1.17 and .50 more for bond debtfrom the current .24."


I do not believe that the trustees can raise the current M&O without voter approval.  The maximum rate without voter approval is 66.67% of the 2005 M&O rate, which was capped at $1.50 in 2005.  I think there are a few pennies of flexibility built in, but that would be the reason it is $1.04 rather than $1.00.


I'm not sure what issue there would be with the bond rate, as that money can only be used to pay bonds, which cannot be issued without voter approval.   


MichaelMacNaughton
MichaelMacNaughton

@Guesty

First, your statement that a Home Rule District would not operate anything like a charter school "because some elected official necessarily would be responsible for either directly managing the school or appointing its managers" is simply untrue. Second, the trustees could raise the M & O tax rate from its current $1.04  to 1.17 and .50 more for bond debtfrom the current .24.

dalmom
dalmom

@Michael.MacNaughton  That would cause real estate values to plummet and would increase families moving out of Dallas. Unlikely to happen, in my opinion. 

Michael.MacNaughton
Michael.MacNaughton

The trustees can vote to do away with the homestead exemption but won't as most voters in school board elections tend to be older homeowners

Guesty
Guesty

@Michael.MacNaughton  Just assume the DISD will continue to tax at the maximum allowable rate, which I believe it currently does.  I don't believe it has the power to ask for another penny from the taxpayers, which I think is a shame.  

Michael.MacNaughton
Michael.MacNaughton

Thanks for the clarification. I did not intend to inadvertently mislead. However, the HRD can levy taxes and that is a cause of heartburn for many, myself included.

missxedu
missxedu

@holmantx @oakclifftownie  If that were to occur, Rawlings'/Todd!'s/cronies dreams would be made real - urban public education would die here in Dallas, and the shadowy, elusive charters could take over, using mostly public tax dollars to do things with less accountability.

Isn't that amongst the top 3 hottest buzzwords being used to justify the systematic maiming of DISD already?

savdisd
savdisd

@Biglar  

Oxymoron rules.

All the Billionaires paid elected officials should resign because the Trojan horse doesn't seem to be working. They all actually have no idea about school business including some of the ones on the Dallas school board.

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