The Arguments Against Dallas ISD's Home-Rule Charter Push Are All Pretty Terrible

Thumbnail image for CarlaRangerDISDPhoto.jpg
Dallas ISD trustee Carla Ranger, one of the main opponents of the new home-rule charter push.
The folks behind Support Our Schools, the group pushing to free Dallas ISD from many state regulations by turning it into a home-rule district, have finally gotten around to explaining themselves.

Their stated goals: to combat voter apathy, extend the school year and school day, woo back the middle class, make it easier to fire bad teachers and provide more local control over funding and curriculum.

In response, trustee Carla Ranger took to her blog -- again -- to decry the effort as a cynical power grab by the city's business elite:

This is all about politics, power and money -- not education.

\With Mayor Mike Rawlings' constant unethical meddling into Dallas ISD affairs and Superintendent Mike Miles doing more harm than good, the result is a Dallas ISD teaching staff that appears to be more broken in spirit than I have seen in the 8 years I have served as a Trustee.

Authoritarians always want all power.

They never want to share it.

See also: Dallas ISD Trustees Are Skeptical of Shadowy Home-Rule District Push

That echoes what's been said by Alliance AFT's Rena Honea, who, with Ranger, has been SOPS' most vocal opponent.

The proponents of this horrible idea are trying to say it will provide flexibility, which in reality means that corporate interests will seek to turn our neighborhood schools into privately operated charter schools with no accountability to the public ...

This is a power grab, pure and simple,The home-rule charter is part of a plan to underfund our schools, declare them a failure, and contract out to private operators the control of our neighborhood schools, disenfranchising parents and community stakeholders and deprofessionalizing teaching. This initiative ultimately is for profit, not for kids.

The problem with these arguments is that they're terrible. These are straw men that Ranger and Honea are so enthusiastically knocking down.

Look at the process for turning DISD into a home-rule district. Supporters are already busy trying to persuade some 25,000 registered voters to sign a petition. After that, the matter is completely out of SOPS' hands. It's the trustees, not shadowy "corporate interests," who choose the 15-member charter commission. And it's voters, not Mayor Mike Rawlings or Superintendent Mike Miles, who will decide whether the charter they come up with is any good. In fact, the process is arguably more democratic than the current system, since it gives voters -- at least 25 percent of them have to show up -- a direct say in the district's operations.

Then go watch Rawlings' speech to The Dallas Morning News' editorial board and try to dispute any of his points:

- "The problem is that everybody's moving out of town. We had 25,000 of the 'haves' leave this school district in the last 10 years." (True. Ask any young parents why they moved to the burbs.)

- "Economically this is a train wreck. ... Over the last decade 139,000 young men and women started DISD, 4,000 students were college ready .... This is a disaster." (Also true. A 3 percent college-readiness rate is pathetic.)

- "It takes drastic measures to change the trajectory. It's a basic law of physics: Objects in motion stay in motion." (True. See: Newton's first law.)

If sweeping positive change in DISD were possible under an elected school board, with all its petty political squabbles and micromanagement and racial divisions, it would have happened by now. It hasn't, and it won't.

Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.

My Voice Nation Help
160 comments
Native
Native

Really!,  If anyone thinks that it is not time for real change and fresh ideas at DISD, and yes the driver is appeasing the middle class whatever their stripes.  This system has been dumbed down to satisfy the likes of a class and ethnic political struggle perpetuated by a few community leaders, AKA "community organizers", that derive their power from keeping  their constituents in the dark and spoon feeding them the same old inflammatory rhetoric of race bate politics.  When are

these poor fools going to wake up and realize that the world has changed and all

kinds of people are succeeding in this city and they aren't all white.  Success 101,

if you keep on doing the same things you are going to get the same results.  Outside of a few right things the DISD does such as the magnets, the rest is a dismal failure for all kids.  Maybe this will be the change that we have been waiting 30 years for.   

emaildawson
emaildawson

What we're seeing is a textbook case of what happens when someone tries to change a huge institution like DISD.


Regardless of their motives, regardless of whether the proposals are good - no matter what - the changes are attacked and vilified because they upset the status quo. All those presently with power - admin, teachers, principals - will do everything they can to prevent any sort of meaningful change. 


And since those entrenched powers have much more reason to fight (save their job) than reformers, the status quo will be willing to fight long after reformers give up.


THIS is why school change is so hard. Even though DISD is a miserable failure, too many adults benefit for it to be easily changed.

carlaranger
carlaranger

Yes, this is simply a well-planned, totally orchestrated effort to change from election of Trustees by voters and taxpayers to a different system of governance..


This is not a grassroots movement at all. It is a scheme to obtain total authoritarian control
for Mayor Mike Rawlings to appoint both the superintendent and all of the Trustees.

Governance by a Mayor will not do anything other than guarantee that citizens and taxpayers will lose their voice in education. Chicago has had Mayoral control of education for decades and it has not solved the problems of education there or anywhere else it has been tried.

Mayor Mike Rawlings and Trustee Mike Morath are not telling the whole truth about their involvement. A former city official who was contacted by the Mayor Mike Rawlings and Trustee Mike Morath has confirmed that the true purpose is.to end citizen election of Trustees.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
"3 sources say home rule was pitched with Dallas mayor running schools"
by Matthew Haag - Dallas Morning News - Saturday, March 8, 2014
http://www.dallasnews.com/news/education/headlines/20140307-3-sources-say-home-rule-was-pitched-with-dallas-mayor-running-schools.ece

"The three people, who agreed to speak to The Dallas Morning News on the condition of anonymity, said that in recent conversations, Morath and Rawlings mentioned replacing the district’s publicly elected board with appointed members.


It is orchestrated. I hate to see stuff that’s not grass roots being portrayed as it is,” said a former city official whom the mayor recruited unsuccessfully to endorse the effort. “They should be straightforward that they are coming after the trustees.”


But the former city official said the mayor’s spokesman, Sam Merten, called several weeks ago and spoke bluntly about the effort.


“He said that the mayor would run DISD or oversee it. You wouldn’t have trustees. If you did, they wouldn’t be making decisions,” the former official said."

dmtrousd
dmtrousd

"The home-rule charter is part of a plan to underfund our schools, declare them a failure.."

Isn't that already true? Can't we declare it a failure and move on? DISD has nowhere to go but up.

bvckvs
bvckvs topcommenter

It sounds like another effort by the South Dallas evangelicals to take back control of the school district so they can go back to diverting public school funds to their private enterprises.

Mike Miles did an excellent job of stopping that practice.  And even though they harassed his family and got the backing of anti-government Libertarians, they haven't been able to restart it.

Still, the strategy of saying that public education should be run like a for-profit business, instead of as a part of the government is a pretty good one - with a lot of appeal to Libertarian Republicans.

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

A few questions.  The home rule charter would still have to provide state-standard education to all students sans tuition charges, correct?  DISD has not offered up anything even remotely resembling a coherent, fact-based argument against home rule, correct?  Finally, if I recall correctly, for all the blustering about how Uplift academies were money-grubbing land grabs, DISD parents were lining up in droves to enroll their kids.  Why would they do so if not for the opportunity to give their kids a fighting chance at a better education?

The fact that the BoT is coming out against this with no argument other than "rich folks want to rob our kids' educations" (unfounded), and "Mike Miles is Evil" (jury is still out on this one), then one has to suspect their motivations equal to the suspicion thrown at the proponents of the plan.

Did Ranger offer any solution to DISD's problems with educating?  No, she just attacked Miles, as she attacked Hinojosa before him.  Did Honea give any suggestions as to what the teachers' organization has planned to bring up performance in DISD? No, she just railed against corporate interests.  So, neither a leading BoT member nor the head of the teachers' alliance are trying to make this about the kids or education, for them it is about maintaining the status quo.  They got theirs, and don't you dare try to nip it from them just so your little curtain climbers can raise themselves up outta the ghetto.

Want people to listen to you, offer a solution, not an argument.  Something has to happen to get the ball rolling on DISD.  Ranger's railing, Honea's whining, and Betzen dragging the past in to paint the future haven't done squat for the last several years.  Give us real, tangible ideas we can look at for improving the district, or get off the damn bus.  It may be the only thing going for the home rule charter idea, but at least it isn't more of the same old, same old.

bvckvs
bvckvs topcommenter

@carlaranger

If more of the trustees had done their jobs honorably (instead of just trying to make money for themselves and their friends) Republicans wouldn't have a leg to stand on with regard to changing the system up.

If Democrats continue to behave this way, the Republicans will have no problem swaying the voters to allow them to seize control.

JohnSmallBerries
JohnSmallBerries

@carlaranger  Ummm... OK. So riddle me this Batman.  If the current DISD board appoints the charter commission and they oppose this then how would all of this allegedly nefarious stuff actually get into the new home rule district's operating charter? 

bvckvs
bvckvs topcommenter

@dmtrousd

He should have said, "... to FURTHER underfund our schools...".


carlaranger
carlaranger

@bvckvs  Name these South Dallas evangelicals that you say had control of the school district. Name just one and what they did to divert public school funds to their private enterprises.


I have been a Trustee for 8 years and have never heard of any minister from any area of the city diverting public school funds.


Please name these ministers you have smeared with a broad brush.

bvckvs
bvckvs topcommenter

@RTGolden1

The answer to your initial question is - yes, they'd be required to provide the same, high level of service.  However, with home-rule, they wouldn't have as much government oversight.

Consider what happened last year when South Dallas evangelicals tried to push through tutoring contracts with sub-standard performing, out-of-county contractors; and when they tried to outsource school bus services to individuals in the community to use their own, private vehicles.

In both cases, they were stopped by strong government oversight.  In a home rule situation, that oversight wouldn't have been there.

pitchblending
pitchblending

@RTGolden1 Many ideas have been presented to Miles.  None have been implemented.  The district was improving before he came in.  Now it is getting worse.  That is why some parents are opting to enroll their students in Uplift and KIPP, which are, by the way, tied to Miles through his TFA/Todd Williams entourage in Human Capital Management. It is a tag-team operation.  Good for commercial real estate transactions for a select few, but not good for DISD students as a whole.

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

@JohnSmallBerries

I think you may have a valid point John. The process of approving the home-rule charter transition includes the current school board input and approval on the future structure. If the current school board doesn't want a non-elected School Board and doesn't want the Mayor of Dallas to have appointive power for the Super and the Board, they won't approve such a structure for the home-rule district.

One also must ask if it is a good or a bad thing to have the Mayor with these powers. I can't say which is a better format, but at the same time I'm willing to listen to both sides of the argument. What we've seen from the Board over the past 2 decades isn't something that tells me the current system needs to be preserved, it can clearly be a lot better...

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

@bvckvs

How would the district's funding under a home-rule charter be different than the district's funding if it remained as it currently is and did not convert to a home-rule format?

I save you the time to find the answer (as from the above post you don't know the answer), it wouldn't.

bvckvs
bvckvs topcommenter

@carlaranger @bvckvs

It's interesting that you bring up the subject of the ministers - since I didn't say anything about any ministers.  I was talking about the S. Dallas evangelical community as a whole.

Still, you bring up a good point.  When Mike Miles fought against their corrupt practices, community leaders called upon the leaders of the churches in S. Dallas to ban him from attending church - and many obeyed.

So clearly, the ministers are part of the culture of corruption in the S. Dallas evangelical community.

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

What "strong government oversight" are you referring to exactly that "stopped" the use of private vehicles and ended the tutoring contracts, other than the School Board itself?

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@pitchblending @RTGolden1The district was improving only because it couldn't have gotten any worse, and if it had, there would have been no choice but to upset the current status quo.  Either the State would have had to take control or the District would have had to been broken up into smaller, more manageable districts.

I'm not a Mike Miles fan, nor am I a charter school or home-rule fan.  I am a fan of improving education and keeping nepotism and cronyism out of the schools as much as possible.  Our current District isn't accomplishing that.

On top of that, I don't think the charter commission is intended to set up a charter school system.  It's to be appointed to write the charter for the home-rule system, correct?  The whole 'charter school takeover' agenda seems to be a red herring thrown out by opponents who either don't understand what the charter commission is for, or are banking that the people don't understand it.

carlaranger
carlaranger

@RTGolden1  Actually the evidence is that, on average, traditional public schools do a better job of educating all students than charter schools.


Trustees govern. The Texas Education Code establishes the Superintendent as the educational leader of the district. They are very separate roles established by state law.

carlaranger
carlaranger

@mavdog @JohnSmallBerries  The elected school Trustees represent over 100,000 citizens each.


The only role Trustees will have is appointment of the Charter Commission.


The Board of Trustees will be delegating total authority to the Charter Commission to write a Home- Rule Charter. Trustees will have no way to review or approve the final document before it is sent to Austin.


The decision of the 15 Charter Commission members will be final. They will decide - not elected Trustees.

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

@Guesty

(a) A home-rule school district has the powers and entitlements granted to school districts and school district boards of trustees under this title, including taxing authority.

(b) A home-rule school district is subject to:

(3) a prohibition, restriction, or requirement, as applicable, imposed by this title or a rule adopted under this title, relating to:

(M) computation and distribution of state aid under Chapters 31, 42, and 43;

(N) extracurricular activities under Section 33.081;

(O) health and safety under Chapter 38;

(P) public school accountability under Subchapters B, C, D, E, and J, Chapter 39;

(Q) equalized wealth under Chapter 41;

(R) a bond or other obligation or tax rate under Chapters 42, 43, and 45; and

(S) purchasing under Chapter 44.

http://www.statutes.legis.state.tx.us/Docs/ED/htm/ED.12.htm 

Guesty
Guesty

@bvckvs @mavdog On what basis do you make any of these claims?  I'm not sure I understand why a single person who currently works for the DISD would stop working for the DISD, or that a single federal, state, or local source of income would change. 


As far as spending goes, on what basis do you conclude a single extra dollar would be diverted?  To whom?  How?

bvckvs
bvckvs topcommenter

@mavdog @bvckvs

With an Independent School District form, we have more resources (not just cash) in the form of federal, state and regional civil servants.  Those folks are experts at, among other things, getting funding for various programs.

But with a home rule form, our local officials would have to do all that extra work themselves - or leave it undone.

Beyond that, we would lose a lot of the state and federal oversight that prevents the folks we have from abusing the system; allowing them to funnel the resources we have out of the schools and into their private enterprises.

bvckvs
bvckvs topcommenter

@carlaranger @bvckvs

This isn't about the word "investigation".  It's about the actual investigation, for which you spent over $100K of taxpayer dollars.

bvckvs
bvckvs topcommenter

@carlaranger @bvckvs

These scandals are not unrelated.  There's one denominator that is common to each of them - waste and misuse of taxpayer dollars by the evangelical community in South Dallas.

carlaranger
carlaranger

@bvckvs @carlaranger  The word investigation does not appear in your original comment anywhere. Maybe that was in your mind but not in your comment.

carlaranger
carlaranger

@bvckvs @carlaranger  Appears you are confusing unrelated matters in a way not often seen. I assume this is unintentional. It would better if you could resist the temptation to make false statements..

bvckvs
bvckvs topcommenter

@carlaranger @bvckvs

Another example is the school bus fiasco at the beginning of this school year.  Members of south Dallas evangelical churches had signed up to use their personal vehicles as school busses.

Mr. Miles intervened again there when the fact that many of these drivers were uninsured, driving uninspected vehicles, not properly identifying their vehicles and otherwise violating safety codes was exposed.

bvckvs
bvckvs topcommenter

@carlaranger @bvckvs You got that wrong.  My original comment was indeed about the investigation.  Your excuse for spending $100k on the investigation was that Mr. Miles committed some kind of crime when he prevented a contract with The Concilio.

In fact, he pulled that contract because it was made in ethically questionable manner in a backroom deal with Mike Morath.
I did get one part wrong - I identified it as an out-of-county organization, when in fact it's located in South Dallas, and is run by evangelicals in South Dallas.

Mike himself is a senior member of Reunion church, in South Dallas.


carlaranger
carlaranger

@bvckvs  Your original comments were not about an investigation.. You claimed that evangelicals in South Dallas were diverting public school funds to their private enterprises. It is clear that you cannot support that statement.








.

bvckvs
bvckvs topcommenter

@carlaranger @bvckvs

That's true - you did ignore the issue of the investigation.

But you didn't, as you claimed, "respond" to the issue of the crooked contract that started this mess.  You just pretended not to know anything about it - after spending $100k investigating it.

That's a fine example of the bad character and corrupt behavior of the South Dallas evangelical community - and you do a great job of representing those values.

carlaranger
carlaranger

@bvckvs @carlaranger I have not made any mention of the investigation. That is your statement.


I was referring to your claim that the S. Dallas evangelical community diverted public school funds to their private enterprises. That was your original comment. I responded only to that. I'm glad to know there was nothing to support that claim.

bvckvs
bvckvs topcommenter

@carlaranger @bvckvs

You spent $100k to investigate a situation of which you were not aware?  That doesn't make sense at all.

bvckvs
bvckvs topcommenter

@carlaranger @bvckvs

So - in your world, the fact that one contract was pulled, proves that no other such contracts occurred?  That's rather odd logic.

carlaranger
carlaranger

@bvckvs  Actually, I was simply concerned that school funds were stated to have been misused. I was not aware of that then and I have seen nothing to support it now.

carlaranger
carlaranger

@bvckvs Thank you. You have confirmed that there is nothing to support the statement that any public school funds were diverted by anyone in S. Dallas - evangelical community or ministers.

bvckvs
bvckvs topcommenter

@carlaranger @bvckvs

While I've got your attention, Carla, I've got a question for you.

You accused Mr. Miles of generally corrupt behavior (without any specific accusations) To support that position, you spent $100k of taxpayer money to investigate him - only to have the investigation show that, other than a minor administrative violation, he did nothing wrong.  (http://www.dallasobserver.com/2013-09-26/news/web-head-disd-s-case-against-mike-miles-is-bogus/full/)

So my question is - when you wasted all that money and got nothing for it, did the S. Dallas evangelical community criticize you for attacking this good and decent man, or did they re-elect you?

bvckvs
bvckvs topcommenter

@carlaranger @bvckvs

It all played out in public when they called upon their churches to refuse to allow Mr. Miles to attend services, and when they harassed his children in school.

There are dozens upon dozens of well-researched articles and essays on the matter, published in every media outlet that covers Dallas news - far too much to post in this discussion forum.  So, if you HONESTLY don't remember, then I suggest you do a web search on the phrase "Mike Miles banned from Dallas churches"

Indeed, in your own blog, you openly said "This is all about politics, power and money - not education." and called him "mean-spirited" for cancelling a contract with an out-of-county business, favored by the S. Dallas evangelicals, but not by the people of Dallas.


carlaranger
carlaranger

@bvckvs @carlaranger  Ok. When and how did the 'evangelical community' as a whole divert public school funds to their private enterprises? That is the claim.


You provided no indication of any public school funds diverted by anyone - evangelical community or minister. 

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

@bvckvs

so you want to change the subject to books and curriculum?

the people proposing the change are focused on the changes in curriculum, which is completely different than the issue of "state oversight". State oversight continues as the home-rule charter district still is governed by the statutes, the SBOE and the Commissioner.

let's see, the home-rule charter district must follow the mandate for PEIMS data collection, follow no pass/no play, admission policies and attendance guidelines, class size limits, high school graduation requirements and can only use textbooks that have been approved by the SBOE as set out in Section 31 of the Texas Education Code.

not to include comic books, unless of course the SBOE approved the comic book for use in the classroom.

bvckvs
bvckvs topcommenter

@mavdog @bvckvs

It's funny because you use the phrase "just as", as if a HR district doesn't have more autonomy from state rules than an IS district.

For example, an ISD has to use state approved textbooks.  But an HR one can use any books they choose - even comic books or the bible.

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

@bvckvs

Home-rule charter districts are subject to oversight by the State Board of Education and the Commissioner of Education as specified in the statute, just as the ISD is subject to the same oversight. There is no change in State oversight.

how is that "funny"?

bvckvs
bvckvs topcommenter

@mavdog @bvckvs

I like the part where you say there's no change in oversight with home rule vs. the ISD system. That was funny.

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

@bvckvs  

Seriously? you say that I misconstrued the "primary topic"? good grief, when you are shown to be in error just admit it. don't dance around it and act like you weren't.

I've shown that you are wrong on the statements you have made on the change in state oversight of a home-rule charter district versus the current structure (there will be no change), and that you are wrong in the ability of a home-rule charter district to deny admission to special needs and children of immigrants (a home rule district can't just as the current structure can't), and how your claim that district funding would be negatively impacted was without basis in fact (sources of funding would remain the same).

You may call that "no constructive criticism", what I see is a continued pattern of false and misleading statements made by you. I'm not a "heckler", I am correcting your errors...which seems to require a lot of time due to the volume.

bvckvs
bvckvs topcommenter

@mavdog

I said that the two abuses of the programs were stopped, not the programs themselves.  Where you went wrong was in using a subtopic of my paragraph to represent "they" instead of the more grammatically correct primary topic.

As far as suggesting that I read about home rule - I have.  I've also talked to supporters and detractors.  So, if you see something I've said to be wrong, feel free to correct it.  Otherwise, I just lump your claims that I'm wrong into the heap of other hecklers who provide no constructive criticism.

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

@bvckvs

What? You claim that you "never said it stopped the use of private vehicles, or that it ended tutoring contracts" yet you did post "in both cases they [use of private vehicles and tutoring contracts] were stopped by strong government oversight". So either what you posted first was categorically false or you have a difficult time remembering what you say in your posts.

I suggest that you read about home-rule a lot more before you make any more claims about what it does allow and what it doesn't. So far you have made statements that are flat out in error on what state requirements the home-rule charter is exempted from as far as special needs students and immigrants, and now you make false claims on state oversight of home-rule districts being removed.

I'm neither an advocate nor a detractor on home-rule, but your continued posting of misinformation on the home-rule structure is beyond the pale.

bvckvs
bvckvs topcommenter

@mavdog

I never said it stopped the use of private vehicles, or that it ended tutoring contracts.  Both systems are still in place. 

They're just not being abused, as they were at the beginning of the school year.  The threat of state intervention by put a stop to that when it was reported to state officials.

If the district goes to a more charter-school style of structure, that state oversight would be almost totally eliminated - with more power granted to the local administrators to divert funding away from the people's elected government, and into less accountable private businesses.

pitchblending
pitchblending

@RTGolden1 Interesting points.   But Rawlings came out to the press citing New Orleans as the example of what we can become.  75% of the students there attend charters where low-performing students can be expelled and students with special needs are often turned away.  It's kind of like the system in China:  a chosen group looks good on paper in terms of test results, but where are the rest of the kids? 


carlaranger
carlaranger

@RTGolden1 @carlaranger  § 11.201. SUPERINTENDENTS. (a) The superintendent is the educational leader and the chief executive officer of the school district. Texas Education Code.

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@carlaranger @RTGolden1On average in DISD?  I think not.  You are an elected official of an Educational Organization.  As such your focus should be on improving education.  If you think your position has nothing to do with education, you're obviously in the wrong position.

Now Trending

Dallas Concert Tickets

From the Vault

 

General

Loading...