What Made Mayor Mike Rawlings Blow His Top? The Mystery.

Categories: Schutze

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Wikipedia
Do not, repeat NOT ask Mayor Mike Rawlings if he suffers from any flaws.
The mayor's pissed-off walk-out last week from a meeting with Latino leaders to discuss his school takeover plan is, if anything, more of a mystery, now that a recording of the meeting is circulating. He said last week he walked out because the meeting was being hijacked and he wanted to de-escalate the situation.

Doesn't sound like it on the scratchy tape somebody must have made with a cell phone. Sounds more like he just flipped out.

But the speech the mayor was making was not at all the over-the-top attack on public education some people at the meeting quoted him later as having made.

The day after the meeting, political consultant Anna Casey quoted him to me: "He said, 'Well the facts are that our public schools are dark places without hope, and charter schools are bright. They're optimistic.'

"He flat out said that he was against public schools and for charter schools," Casey told me. "He said that."

See also: Mayor Mike Rawlings Walked Out of a Meeting Last Night on the Dallas ISD Takeover Push

Two other people at the meeting confirmed Casey's version when I quoted it back to them. I did not ask the other two specifically if they heard him use the words "dark" and "bright." Now I wish I had, because I think those words were chosen and weighted by Casey, who is very smart and very good at this stuff.

According to the tape, Rawlings never chose those words. He said this: "For me the question is can we make a difference. When I start looking at what happens in charter schools, this is one fact. And what happens in the normal school in Dallas, the performance for the good charter schools is significantly better and the normal schools are not, they don't have the, not the vision but the sense of quality and excellence that I think our families want."

We could talk all day long here about the wisdom of immediately tying the school takeover campaign to charter schools, since that's exactly what many defenders of public education suspect in the mayor's proposed "home rule" reform of school governance -- a Trojan horse trick to pump up charters and do away with public education.

But wait. We're still on the meeting. Did Rawlings go before a meeting of Latino leaders and use a bunch of dog-whistle words to insult his audience's ethnicity? No. He did not. The version I was given afterward was canted to make it sound as if he did. He did not.

So why the walkout? I still don't get it. If you listen to the tape below, at about one and a half minutes into it, he sort of picks a little fight with Casey, who is challenging him on some facts. But that's all she's doing.

The recording is a little hard to make out, but when I listen, I hear Casey speaking in the frank but polite manner one would expect at any garden-variety town-hall meeting. This meeting, by the way, was closed to the media, a move that usually means people want to be direct and candid.

Rawlings says to her, "Are we mad at each other here?"

"No, sir," she answers.

"Well it sure sounds we're mad at each other."

The good stuff, the blowup, is at nine minutes, twenty-four seconds. The mayor is making a point about how he as mayor is subject to recall but school district trustees in Texas are not. "I can be recalled, but the board of trustees just keeps on keeping on. It's just a flawed system."

Casey says something to him at that point. I can't hear it clearly on the recording. She told me she asked him something to the effect of whether he was a flaw in the system.

At that point, boom! He says, "You guys figure it out," and he walks out.

As someone in the crowd points out minutes later, the mayor had many friends in that room. He made them look bad. On part of the recording that I have edited out, you can hear them telling the others they cannot defend his behavior. I recognize their voices, but the Anna Casey misquote has made me chary of filling in the blanks for a meeting I did not attend.

The walkout was a bit of a victory for Casey, but I know from talking to several who were present, many of whom are the mayor's allies on school issues, that everybody in the meeting there took his walkout as a slap. It was one more indication that home rule may be a stupid white people trick.

Example: People interested in this home rule thing have spoken to me about how hard it is to find candidates for the school board who are willing to take on the sheer torture of seven-hour board meetings in which they have to take criticism night. That's a stupid white people thing. In a diverse community with some bitter history behind it, taking a certain amount of crap is the price of a ticket.

In fact if there is a fatal flaw in this whole home rule deal, it could be that it is engineered by people who don't want to take shit. Even worse if they want gratitude and respect for their efforts. If they want gratitude and respect, they should adopt a rescue dog, not run for school board. In a free-wheeling forum like that meeting last week, there is one pretty good strategy for dealing with people who give you shit. Give it back. It ain't a shareholder meeting.


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43 comments
dmiller19
dmiller19

I think the recent gutting of the Voting Rights Act by the US Supreme Court makes it easier now to change the make up of the school board and get rid or limit single member districts. 

catmarie47
catmarie47

Mayor Rawlings has done some great things for Dallas.  He's brought new businesses to the Southside, and employment has increased.  But, I think the mayor has so many irons in the fire that he probably hasn't had time to THOROUGHLY research and investigate the problems within DISD, and/or the PROGRESS that has been made within DISD.  Rawlings needs to learn that not everyone has Dallas and it's citizens' best interests at heart, and that this is a very conservative state where EVERYTHING is politically and monetarily motivated.  SOPS has stated they have one idea that can generate more parental and community involvement through Home Rule, make local authorities more accountable, etc., etc.,  but my question is... if this is true, why does SOPS have to dismantle the entire school system to do so?  There are plenty of other school districts in other states where big businesses "adopt" inner city schools, and mentor students with great success without gutting their public school systems.  Why can't SOPS be as proactive???  In addition, Home Rule sounds like a new word for "charter schools with Montessori-type curriculums (a learn-at-your-own-pace type model). So what's going to happen when some schools out perform better than others? I also have a few concerns with the people who have volunteered to "assist" with the problems at DISD.  There's John Arnold, the former Enron executive who has decided to "fund" the cause, there's the state representative who is "pro" charter schools, and then there's another district representative who is the daughter of a famous former Dallas Cowboys quarterback who supposedly identifies herself as an Independent voter who is a public school supporter.  These good people, to my understanding, are a few of the supporters of SOPS and Home Rule.  I do wonder if they've tried, in the past, to help out inner city youth in other ways before taking such a drastic step to "help" by gutting the public school system.

JohnSmallBerries
JohnSmallBerries

Why is the press (i.e Jim Schutze) giving time to political consultants when they are paid to pick a side, argue and promote that side even if the barn is burning down above their heads?

jcgreen59
jcgreen59

Does anyone in this city do anything to please you?

bettyculbreath
bettyculbreath

What I know from having served on DFW Airport board with Mayor Rawlings is he can not take his opinion or suggestion being questioned.I support Rawlings also but he has got to separate himself as Mayor from the manner in which he conducted business in the private sector. Private meeting discussing Public property and tax money is illegal and not all people are going to agree with Mike Rawlings in these some cases he's not the sharpest knife in drawer and being a BULLY will not help his case.

Rooster0620
Rooster0620

If I live to be a thousand, I'll never understand why people fight so vehemently to keep DISD the disaster it is (and this does not mean I endorse home rule).

For those of you who suburban life makes your weiner feel short. THIS is one of the reasons why people move there.

They don't want to gamble their kid's education on these clowns any more than the clowns at say, Prime Prep.

parisrec
parisrec

I apologize for an off-topic post- but here goes: I googled " jet fuel noise pollution air pollution" and came across a site dedicated to closing a regional airport in Sedona. Stoptheairport.com contains chilling data about the highly carcinogenic effects of jet exhaust. And yet we're treated to dancing in the street in celebration of the repeal of the Wright Amendment. I suppose cancer is a small price to pay for LUV.

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

Go to 59.4 in the tape. You will hear Anna Casey telling the mayor in what sounds to me like a perfectly respectful but direct fashion that “we just disagree on the facts.” She stops talking at 1:24. Between 1:24 and 1:35, you will hear silence. Several people present at the meeting have told the mayor was staring down during this period, clearly so angry he could not speak. In the background Jeronimo Valdez, who set up the meeting, starts to say something about “Here is what we’re trying to avoid,” but at 1:40, after a 16-second silence, the mayor asks her, “Are we mad at each other here?”

The guy I talked to today described that silence as more uncomfortable than the moment when the mayor walked. He said it was like, “When you’re a kid, and you’re staring at the girl, and she’s staring at you, and all of sudden you don’t know if she’s going to kiss you or hit you.”

Look, I think Rawlings is one of the best mayors I have seen in Dallas. He’s smart as hell, has a great heart and knows what’s what in the world. But Dallas owes Anna Casey a big debt of gratitude for demonstrating so dramatically what a terrible idea it would be to turn the public school system over to him.

Does anybody honestly think a guy who gets that mad over being challenged to his face is competent to handle the challenges of a major public school system? All a mayor has to deal with is citizens. The head of a school system has to deal with parents. Parents are formerly normal citizens whose brains have been poisoned by child-bearing. Put a kitten between a parent and his kid’s part in the school play: instant kitten juice.

Anyway, Anna probably took about six months worth of debate and distilled it into 16 seconds. And by the way, don’t put a kitten between Anna and anything. 

bbetzen
bbetzen

Mayor Rawlings is so far off on his data about Dallas ISD that he needs to truly cross examine the people giving him data, or simply fire them!   From 2007 to 2012 were the 5 most progressive years in DISD history!  See the data at http://schoolarchiveproject.blogspot.com/2014/03/dallas-isd-progress-2007-to-2012.html


The chart on that page is rather simple to understand.  It takes a bit of time to read about and understand each of the 6 measurements that make up the chart, but the chart quickly tells the story.

Flabbergasted
Flabbergasted

Whether he called our schools dark or not, that is beside the point. He made a false comparison, the MAIN comparison ALWAYS made by those who support charters.

He said this: "For me the question is can we make a difference. When I start looking at what happens in charter schools, this is one fact. And what happens in the normal school in Dallas, the performance for the good charter schools is significantly better and the normal schools are not, they don't have the, not the vision but the sense of quality and excellence that I think our families want."

No, Mr. Mayor. What the DISD "normal" schools don't have is the ability to limit enrollment, CAP enrollment, cherry-pick admissions, PERMANENTLY expel students, DEMAND parental participation as a part of staying enrolled, and so on.

Imagine if Comstock Middle School could limit enrollment to 550 kids? Imagine if Molina High School could end new admissions for the year after September 15th?

Imagine if South Oak Cliff High School could permanently expel, never see the kid on the doorstep again, of those who sell drugs, cheat on tests or cuss out teachers?

Imagine if every kid in Hotchkiss Elementary had all the supplies they needed, with parents who all spoke fluent English?

Imagine if... THAT is the point. When you compare a school which has control over things that the small few refuse to let happen in DISD, they all act surprised when they claim different results.

Let charter schools teach pregnant teens, truants, or kids with severe emotional disorders. Let them take a kid in on March25, and be told they have to count that as an entire year for that refugee.... Let them have no ability to shut the door to enrollment.

Then, let's talk about how great they are.



JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

The plot thickens. Well, I don't know if it thickens, but there's more of it. Anna Casey has called me to say that she heard what she hard, that she made up nothing and the tape I have presented here was edited. She right about this much: clearly there are gaps in it.

I called my source for the tape, who was not the person who made the tape. He said the person who made the tape was not a person who would have a motivation to edit the tape in order to make the mayor look better. He pointed out that the tape sounds like it was made with a cell phone, and there could be digital reasons for the gaps -- like the person got a call.

My tape, by the way, is the same the Morning News got. Identical.

I called another source who was at the meeting. He read to me from some pretty comprehensive notes made while the mayor was speaking. The "dark and bright" comment was not there. Instead, his notes sounded like just what I heard the mayor say on the tape.

I asked him if he had any idea who was the original source for the tape. He said he thought it was Anna Casey. I'm sure that can't be true.

Here is where it stands: Anna says she heard what she told me she heard.  The tape has gaps. I can neither prove nor disprove her claim.

CogitoErgoSum
CogitoErgoSum

He's not long for politics if he can't take a mild outburst from someone in the room.

ozonelarryb
ozonelarryb

Do I dare grab my 9 am spot and rip him?

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

Another rendition of Elvis Presley singin' another poor little baby child is born / In the ghetto / . . . 

just about time to move to Duncanville.

ruddski
ruddski

It was a Thursday. It's kinda obvious why Rawlings was irritable.

wcvemail
wcvemail

Rawlings is thin-skinned, but Casey is a liar. Rawlings may have to learn to digest shit, but Casey's lie will live on.

mindingthestore
mindingthestore

Rawlings seemed to feel he could come in and state HIS "facts." Some of his "facts" are

not true. He comes into a meeting with a given set of incorrect "facts," and immediately brings up charter schools, claiming that the good ones are better than normal DISD schools. Well, the good DISD schools are also better than the normal DISD schools, so the mayor's praise of charters doesn't hold water.

The "money boys" like Rawlings are not used to being questioned; they are used to people agreeing with them and even saying, "Yessir, boss." However, to expect that at a public meeting (even one filled with contractors) is naive.

The mayor and SOPS are talking about dismantling DISD, and expect everyone to "just trust them?" Just the way we trusted Rawlings when he was so sure Mike Miles was the perfect superintendent?

Yeah, right.

Alexander
Alexander

OK, Mayor, I'll support allowing trustees to be subject to recall if you drop charter schools as a silver bullet.

oakclifftownie
oakclifftownie

This wasn't a meeting to discus things. This was a meeting to let certain folks know that as much as things would seem to change for this set of contractors things would remain the same.

dallasdrilling.wordpress.com
dallasdrilling.wordpress.com

The guy is thin skinned. Always has been, always will be. I've never felt like he REALLY likes this job and acts like he's obligated to walk the perp walk at 1500 Marilla every day. 

He could have manned up, walked back in and apologize saying that "he's just passionate for the kids". But he didn't do that.

That being said, if he wanted to sell this to his audience of Hispanic, Black constituents, he obviously did not do his homework, nor did he have his posse of Hispanic, Black supporters from City Hall like Hill, Atkins, Caraway, Alonzo, Medrano to give him some street cred to the audience.Gee, I wonder why they didn't show up too?


By the way....SOPS meeting at Preston Royal Library, 7 p.m. this Thursday

CogitoErgoSum
CogitoErgoSum

@parisrec  If you bought a home next to Love Field, forgive me for not crying you a river.

JohnSmallBerries
JohnSmallBerries

@JimSX  "Does anybody honestly think a guy who gets that mad over being challenged to his face is competent to handle the challenges of a major public school system?"


That is a red herring.

Jim, be a smart cookie and think what is going on in Rawlings head during the silence. Here is one possibility. I'll bet it is the realization that Rawlings knows the game is over and they can't win. Wherever he goes political consultants who have no inherent educational stake in the game will harass him. Maybe, during that silence, he realized that if he can't get to make his case without being shadowed by professional hecklers (which is what they are despite how polite they are), then he knows he can't win. Maybe that's a simpler explanation. 

oakclifftownie
oakclifftownie

@Flabbergasted  There is always someone who has the grandest of great ideas that will always work to perfection.


In their own MINDS eye .



JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

@Flabbergasted  

You make many solid hits here. I talked to somebody today who's really in the middle of school reform but reform within the public school system as it exists today. He said he was worried that people are always trying to come up with what he called "silver bullet" solutions: go all charter; kill the school board; break up the district. They look at what is really and truly a very deep and complicated challenge and just want a silver-bullet way out of it. But how likely is that? Does anybody add up the unintended consequences of all these moves? For example, it's hard enough talking poor minority kids into staying in school as it is. What happens when their parents and their community leaders start telling them, "That's not even our school system any more. That's some deal set up by the occupying forces." It's why I admire the people on all sides of the reform debate who are battling within the existing structure: I really think they have more chance of success, slogging through the swamp, than the people who just want to fly over and be done with it.

e.c.cain
e.c.cain

@Flabbergasted AMEN (I'm a 15 yr DISD veteran - 2x Campus Teacher of the Year - who taught 5 years in North Dallas private school. Your post is RIGHT ON! Thank you, for your comment!)

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

@JimSX  

She didn't know she was on tape when she first talked to you.

I bet she hates that when it happens.

Alexander
Alexander

@wcvemail Was the tape the whole meeting? My impression was that it was edited. Note that JimS writes that he wishes he had asked about "dark" and "bright" but not that he called back and did. So my read is that he/we still don't know. 

Not sure you can call anyone a liar just yet.

Curiouser_II
Curiouser_II

@mindingthestore  and..just the way we trusted Rawlings and SOPS members on their board candidate endorsements, the very same people Rawlings and SOPS now wish they had the power to remove "at will".

Cliffhanger
Cliffhanger

@mindingthestore It's the same bunch who brought you sailboats on the Trinity, a bustling development around the AAC, a profitable city-owned hotel...

Curiouser_II
Curiouser_II

@Alexander  Myth:  Not being allowed to recall trustees.


With passage of SB 122 last year, Texas voters now have the ability to recall school trustees in an independent school district similar to other elected officials.   You can verify this through numerous sources, here's a link to one:   http://www.mysanantonio.com/opinion/columnists/gloria_padilla/article/Misbehaving-school-board-members-could-face-ouster-5082522.php


If you do just a little googling, you will find districts all over Texas in the process of ousting misbehaving trustees.  e.g. Brownsville, Ector County, El Paso, etc.  Additionally, independent schools districts have the ability to set local policies on grounds and procedures for the ouster of board members.  


Thus you'll be making a good trade, since TEA does NOT limit us from recalling trustees 

mindingthestore
mindingthestore

Trustees are subject to election/re-election. Why not just change elections to the same time as general elections if he's so concerned about people not voting?

Flabbergasted
Flabbergasted

@bvckvs @Flabbergasted We also have thousands of fine students, from good families. The students can handle the variety---it is the system which crushes their chances.

The system could be changed, honestly changed, if the same ones in SOPS--who are SAME ones from Commit! Leadership Dallas and Stand for Children and Educate Dallas and Dallas Kids First---- they keep coming up with silver bullet PACs, instead of helping the teachers who teach the kids.

Mayor Rawlings has his handprints all over the selection of Miles. Is he getting buyer's remorse now? Suddenly, not so much praise, not so much "stay the course" talk is there?

Now, his new idea is to dismantle it?

This has nothing to do with kids, and everything to do with money.

Otherwise, last month, when someone in DISD started floating the idea of spending $200 million on a downtown building for DISD, he would have come out and said, "Guys, come on! Focus on the kids here!"

People found out, they made fun of it and asked questions. Taken off the table.

So, they create SOPS, accidentally got caught playing with the petitions on the down low, and got blasted in the blogs.

Now, they "suddenly" want to have a public meeting on Thursday, in their own neighborhood? North Dallas? And you have to RSVP with your name to it? THAT is a community meeting? In what universe?

Will they just stop and go away? They are clueless, and it shows. They may not win, and if they do, if their plan fizzles, this will haunt the Mayor in any other deal he has going.

Just a thought there.


Flabbergasted
Flabbergasted

@JimSX @Flabbergasted Well, you almost had me at hello.

The "reformers" are NOT slogging through the swamp, but are the ones chaining us to it. Then they get in their planes and fly over it as they head for an offshore account to deposit all their money.

You know we are due for another bond program in the next 3 years, yes? Well, why do you think they are doing this NOW?

The reformers never come from the trenches, work their way up and then tackle the system head on, the way teachers do in their rooms every day.

If you ask ANY teacher the five things they would want, I bet being treated as a cog in the machine would not be one of them. I bet being ignored would also not make the list.

And yet, in DISD, by both the senior administration AND the oligarchy, teachers are ignored. Someone else, not me, in the Sunday Points section of the Daily Snooze asked for a commission of 15 teacher IN DISD to make suggestions of change WHILE STILL IN DISD?


Well, yes! The silver bullet theory is correct. A program here, a consultant there.... a DOL here.... MRS there, and suddenly! Voila! Jose gets into Texas Tech.


That is not how it looks.

I wish some reporter would do a comparison of the basics in other ISD's around here. I bet they would find some pretty commonsensical stuff going on, without all the hoopla and kabuki of charters.

TexMarine
TexMarine

@bvckvs @CogitoErgoSum  So, Mike Rawlings is a Republican now? That's news to him and the democrat machine that put him in power. Pa-paw have a senior moment or did you just reveal how biased you are?

wcvemail
wcvemail

@Alexander @wcvemail  Point taken. Since there is apparently not a good recording of the entire meeting, we'll never know for sure.

Cliffhanger
Cliffhanger

@bvckvs @FlabbergastedWe have a school district that has an obvious need for vocational classes, for an ESL system that actually works, and to at least try some innovative programs that have worked in smaller urban school districts like intensive writing programs, incentive pay for teachers to work in low achieving schools,etc. But all we ever hear are "more charters, merit pay," which as many posters have already pointed out are hardly silver bullets. It's going to take many years and many reforms to fix the problem, but that means nobody's going to be able to take all the credit and, worse, make a boatload of money of it. So we'll never take an incremental yet effective approach.

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