Too Many Wrinkled Guys in Mayor's School Takeover Campaign

Categories: Schutze

wrinkledog.jpg
Wikipedia Commons
Is this really the face the mayor wants to present for his school takeover campaign?
Monday I said Mike Rawlings was about to announce a pause -- a tapping of the brakes -- in his public school takeover campaign. I was a little off. Instead it turns out he has been meeting with three really old guys. I guess that could have the same effect.

What? That's not a slur. I've got nothing against really old guys. Some of my best friends are really old guys. I'm just saying that adding Rene Martinez, Pettis Norman and Tom Dunning to the effort is a darned good way to take the pace down a couple notches, which is exactly what the mayor needed to do seeing as how he was already about six paces from the cliff.

"OK, Team, let's get a move on. Hey, where's Rene? What do you mean, he's with Pettis? Where in the hell is Pettis? He's helping Tom find his keys? Again?"

I don't know if they will have a calming effect, but they will definitely have a slowing-down effect.

The takeover campaign is an effort to use an obscure state law to change the way the city's public schools are governed. None of the backers will admit it, but one assumes they have some scheme in mind to get the district away from the elected school board -- an idea that could get serious traction with the right pitch. I have a column in the paper this week about what a disaster the roll-out of the takeover campaign has been politically so far. Enough said, maybe.

The mayor called a press conference Tuesday to apologize for the clumsiness of the effort. Apparently the trio of senior advisers (literally) are supposed to calm the waters out in the community, and in fact these three men have a long history of doing just that in the past when waters have been roiled. They are not without credentials, and their affiliation with the mayor's campaign won't hurt.

But here is what strikes me. The people most invested in the fate of the school district tend to be members of the more procreative generations -- people who have school-age kids now or might soon. If the mayor's design is to draw the middle and upper classes back to the district -- and that would be a good idea -- then his target demographic ought to be the young middle class families already fairly flooding back into the city anyway, in spite of the fact that living here will saddle them with private school tuition bills bigger than their house payments.

Want to recruit an army of school takeover fanatics? Tell the young families in East Dallas, North Oak Cliff, North Dallas, Southwest Dallas and The Grove that you've got this crazy idea by which all they have to pay to educate their children is their taxes. You'll start a stampede. In fact, if anybody ever really does that, I want you to make sure Rene, Pettis and Tom are safely out of the way first.

How to reach those people? Aha. That brings me to my real point here. We already have in place in Dallas a cadre of young elected officials hard-wired to the target demographic. I'm talking about people like Miguel Solis on the school board, Scott Griggs, Philip Kingston and Adam Medrano on the City Council. What about state Representative Eric Johnson or even Congressman Marc Veasey? What about former council member Angela Hunt? Why isn't the mayor meeting with those guys? Why not get some people who actually have skin in the game?

I'm not saying Martinez, Norman and Dunning do not have skin. They all have my kind of skin. Wrinkledy. The audience to whom the mayor needs to sell his idea are people who will listen a lot more to a Griggs or a Kingston than to a wrinkledy guy. (Two great things about being my age: Cheap coffee at McDonald's and you can make fun of old people.)


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30 comments
Tipster1908
Tipster1908

The reason the mayor can't get parents like that involved is the same reason their elected representatives won't be involved. If you want Griggs to push this idea, you have to be honest. You can't pretend that you just want these signatures to "start a process" or "investigate alternatives" because anyone with a brain knows that is a lie. The money behind this effort already has its preferred educational system designed, or at least 80% designed, with 20% around the edges that can be used to buy off the last holdouts needed to win the vote. We all know that. If we didn't already know that, SOPS wouldn't have to spend so much time denying it. So you can't come to the young professionals in Lakewood and North Oak Cliff with young kids and try to pitch us a bunch of bullshit - yuppies pitch bullshit for a living and we know when someone is trying to throw it back in our faces. 


The two alternatives I see are these. First is that SOPS has some awful ideas already in mind. Basically giving away local control and pushing the charter-type method of running things where education is mostly about real estate control and doling out contracts and who gives a shit about the students. That's effectively what charters are at this point.

The other alternative is that SOPS has some truly groundbreaking ideas that might put the ISD back on track. But in an effort to seem "open" it has to pretend that it doesn't already have an idea in mind, thereby making people distrustful of their intentions. The problem the mayor has is that the North Oak Cliff and Lakewood crowd want results and would clearly buy in if he had great ideas but it seemed like they came from "on high" instead of being some collaborative process nonsense. But that doesn't work in other parts of DISD that the mayor needs support from.

noblefurrtexas
noblefurrtexas topcommenter

I respectfully disagree with this sentence:  "The people most invested in the fate of the school district tend to be members of the more procreative generations -- people who have school-age kids now or might soon."

Our schools have a large part in determining what each generation looks like, accomplishes, what they believe, how invested they are in our republic, and what kind of citizens they will be.  This is why we ALL pay for public schools, and why our schools are so important to the entire community. 

I have serious questions about the Mayor's attempts to take over the school district when City Hall is still in serious need of corrective courses from top to bottom.  But, I cannot disagree with him that improving our terrible schools should be a priority, and must be addressed one way or another.

casiepierce
casiepierce

Pettis Norman? Of the equity thingy with the Inland port?

Guesty
Guesty

Jim,


I think one problem with getting younger parents involved is that it would be crazy to become publicly associated with this cause unless you already have the skins on the wall or money to weather the attacks that are sure to follow.  Being a professional, mid-30s parent of a kid about a year away from kindergarten who is passionate about trying to make the DISD work better for everyone (my kid will attend a DISD school), I can tell you that I have no desire to become public enemy #1 of the teachers, current trustees, or contractors that are organizing the opposition.  Getting on a podium with the mayor and backing this effort is sure to do just that, no matter what form of reform you are supporting.  Perhaps I am just timid, or maybe the fact that I'm not sure I'd be in favor of the reforms they would propose if they told us what they really want to do has made it easy to stay on the sidelines, but at the end of the day I just don't see many parents wanting to put their necks out for something that seems unlikely to succeed.  


I think you end up with two types of people willing to lead this charge because of the toxic environment:  (1) someone with enough political capital or money that they can survive the onslaught; or (2) the young tea party crazies who want to privatize everything and seem strangely attracted to political/social suicide missions.  Given those two choices, I'm glad they went with the first option.  

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

I was approached 2x this week, once on Monday and again when I went to my neighborhood Chipolte on Tuesday, with a request to sign a petition sent out from SOPS to "have an election on Home-rule".

Apparently the petition gathering continues, if indeed there was a "tapping on the brakes" the foot is now back on the gas pedal....

remember Jim, old wrinkled guys who have been around since as far back as anyone can remember bring "gravitas" to the initiative, like it has been looked at and thought about by people that know....like having Yoda there.

This latest press conference by the Mayor is certainly giving the impression that he is the person pushing this idea, more credence that he is the puppeteer.

If indeed that is the case it is a very risky wager he is making, and one I'm thinking will end up costing him much more than he believes he's betting.

RobertStinson
RobertStinson

The reason Griggs, et. al. are not included is because they will not help deliver contracts for Kaplan and other education companies.

Cliffhanger
Cliffhanger

He hasn't gone to those folks on the off chance they might be interested in actual reform.

Lorlee
Lorlee

If I am not mistaken, these 3 might be the ones who were the tri-color triumverate for the Dallas Together effort back in 87.  And to tell you the truth, I am not sure what really came of that initiative.


lecterman
lecterman

My pug says "snort snort lick lick snort lick", which translates to "I want my cut, bitches"

WylieH
WylieH

The more I think about this, the more irritated I become.  Rawlings has repeatedly said, for example, that without support from the Hispanic community, this deal is dead.  So.... gee... let me think for a minute.... there's an Hispanic dude on City Council-- check; he comes from a politically powerful Hispanic family-- check; he sat on the frigging DISD SCHOOL BOARD for years... so, wouldn't it make sense to, you know, give him a call?!?


Argggh....

s.aten
s.aten

Maybe, the Mayor needs to meet some new younger people who don't look like him.

WylieH
WylieH

Great observations, Mr. Schutze.

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

@bvckvs

you are confusing home rule charter city government with home-rule charter school districts. not the same.

casiepierce
casiepierce

@mavdog You have a neighborhood Chipotle? I only have a neighborhood taqueria inside a gas station.... : (

noblefurrtexas
noblefurrtexas topcommenter

@Lorlee Clearly, virtually nothing.....except, of course, we had a "conversation". 


I'm truly learning to hate that word.  It's right up there with being "sensitive" to an issue. 


Hurl! 

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@WylieH It is oddly disconcerting to see a WylieH post displaying emotions.  I prefer my WylieH doses to be cold, calculated, fact-filled distillations of the various agenda-directed articles of our local news sources.  Couple that with a little bit of exclusive insider knowledge, and enough mystery of origin to put Deep Throat to shame, and you have the WylieH we all know and love.  


I do not like this emotional, human Wylie.

noblefurrtexas
noblefurrtexas topcommenter

@s.aten Understand that many people in weak-mayor systems with former corporate CEOs as mayors recognize that some are more adroit at working with groups and developing consensus.  


Dusting off Tom Dunning, Pettis Norman, and Rene Martinez is a safe choice for people who will go along and not disagree, and might actually help to develop a consensus in the Dallas power/leadership structures. 


The last thing the mayor needs is a dismal failure on this idea.  But, it's not likely speed will be the result.

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

@bvckvs

wow, either a) you are just so damn stoned you don't have a functioning brain cell working, or b) you are just that stupid you can't understand the links that prove you are wrong, or c) this is a bit.

you choose...

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

@bvckvs

good grief. daft is correct.

"Texas passed its initial charter school legislation in 1995..."

http://www.tasb.org/legislative/documents/charterback10.pdf

The ability of municipalites- and ONLY municipalities- to be home rule is in the Texas Constitution put into effect in 1876. NOT "passed in 1912", no the section does not grant any authority other than a municipality of greater than 5,000 pop to be a home rule government.

http://www.statutes.legis.state.tx.us/Docs/CN/pdf/CN.11.pdf

keep putting your "faith" in whoever is "teaching the subject" in spite of evidence to the contrary if you wish. stupid is as stupid does.

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

@bvckvs

Home-rule charter districts have not "been around for over a hundred years", they were authorized by the Texas Legislature in 1995.

You again erroneously conflate municipal government home rule with school district home-rule. As was shown above they are not the same.

Your failure to understand the error prompts the word "deaf" in my mind, but "daft" seems more accurate.

noblefurrtexas
noblefurrtexas topcommenter

@bvckvs @noblefurrtexasNobody said the state didn't have a hand in education.  In fact, for years, Texas schools received money from the Texas Tidelands. 


However, governance and districts for Texas schools are a matter of the local governance - including ISDs.  Prior to ISDs, public school education was somewhat less formalized in many communities, and local cities and counties had the majority of the influence. 


When Texas was still part of Mexico, most schools were a matter of churches or small communities. 


I didn't mean to suggest that the Republic of Texas wasn't interested in education.  It was.  However, look at where the money came from:  locally, not from the state.

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

@bvckvs

That doesn't seem to contradict what my teacher said - because the education code gets its authority from the constitution

uh, gee whiz. if it weren't for the State constitution there wouldn't be a State....

simple is as simple does.

noblefurrtexas
noblefurrtexas topcommenter

@mavdog @bvckvsSchools in Texas used to be established and controlled by cities and counties.  That's one reason independent school districts (with their own taxing authority) were created. 


Essentially returning to "Home Rule" districts relinquishes a great deal of ISD authority, and certainly presents an opportunity for expanded "guidance" by mayors and other elected officials.

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

@bvckvs

He says it's the same thing - the Constitutional provision for Home Rule cities is the same provision that allows it with school districts

what???

Home rule municipal government is authorized by Article XI, "Municipal Corporations", with Section 5 of the Texas Consitution setting the pop mandate for Home Rule election by its citizens. The Article is solely for a city government, does not extend to any other entity.

Home-Rule Charter Schools are authorized and governed by statute, Chapter 12 of the Texas Education Code.

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