Friday, December 19, 2008

My Speech to the DISD Board, Dec. 18, 2008

Trustees I am here this evening to speak to you about keeping promises. A little over a year ago, you the Board, over our objections, voted to approve doing the Pay for Performance portion of the Teacher Incentive Fund grant. By doing so, you promised teachers that if they had a high enough CEI or SEI, which we maintain is still invalid and shouldn’t be used; had a 95% percent attendance rate; and, signed on for two observations would be eligible to receive money this December.

It is now December and time for those teachers who “did the dance” to be paid. However, many of them will not get what was promised to them by you because their campus administrators failed to do the second observation. Thus, tonight, I must ask you to keep your promise and approve Ms. Olson’s request for money from the General Operating budget to pay these teachers. However, with a little caveat: That if any cuts are needed to fund this money, it comes from the Administration’s portion of the General Operating Budget.

The teachers in question did everything you requested of them. Please do not punish them for the shortcomings of their campus administrators. Those responsible for this are the ones who should be held accountable and you should make sure of it.

With that said, let me be perfectly clear. NEA-Dallas will continue to oppose any “Pay for Performance” plans until our teachers have concrete, protected salary schedules that cannot be amended or waived each year as you and the Administration see fit. We will continue to oppose the use of the Classroom Effectiveness Index (CEI) and School Effectiveness Index (SEI) in any fashion as we feel these measures are invalid.

And, NEA-Dallas will continue to urge you to keep your promises to our employees whether we philosophically agree with them or not.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Incentive Pay, DISD and the Alliance-AFT

With all the mess going on at 3700 Ross over the Performance Pay portion of the TIF grant, it's hard to believe that the DISD is set to roll this thing out district-wide next month. This year's fiasco is just the "pilot" of this program for 59 schools.

At the same time, the DISD is rolling out the D.A.T.E. grant program. This incentive pay scheme is the brainchild of the state of Texas. It's just now making it to the campuses even though the Governor presented Dr. Hinojosa with a huge check at Cowart Elementary school several months ago.

The D.A.T.E. is based on the same principal as the Pay for Performance of the TIF. The CEI! This time, however, the Administration is trying to provide some incentive money for teachers who do not have a CEI of their own. Those are the "elective" teachers in our schools. The way they plan to do this is to "team up" non-CEI teachers with CEI teachers. The two of them then have to develop a plan, and a way to evaluate that plan, where the non-CEI teacher supports what the CEI teacher is teaching in their class. Once that is done, the awards then depend upon the CEI receiving teacher's CEI and progress on test scores! Again, our children are nothing more than test scores and NEA-Dallas feels that they are much more!

Each school that participates must conduct a vote of its faculty. Seems that during several of these votes in the last week, the campus administrators have called upon the representatives of Alliance-AFT to get up and say why the teachers should vote in FAVOR of doing the D.A.T.E. grant. In schools where there is a known NEA-Dallas representative, that representative has been ignored and in one instance, deliberately not called upon.

Now why do you think that would happen? Could it be that the campus administrators know that NEA-Dallas is opposed to this "performance pay" scheme? Could it be that the campus administrators know that NEA-Dallas is opposed to the use of the CEI for ANY reason and we believe that our students are "more than just a score"? Or, could it be that Alliance-AFT has become so "cozy" with the administration of the DISD that they are seen as "one of the family"? You decide...

Either way, NEA-Dallas will continue to oppose the Performance Pay portion of the TIF program, the D.A.T.E. and any other "incentive pay" program until all of our employees have concrete, contracted salary schedules. Salary schedules that can not be amended or waived by the Administration and the Board of Trustees on a yearly basis!

Will this stance win us brownie points with the Administration? No. With most of the members of the DISD Board? No. With even some of our members? No. This stance is not one that is politically popular, but is one that is necessary. One that is necessary for our children because they are much more than just a test score!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

DISD Must Keep Its Promises!

A little over a year ago the Dallas ISD Board of Trustees approved doing the Teacher Incentive Fund program. This program is funded through a grant from the U. S. Department of Education to the tune of $22 million over five years. It's designed to pay teachers who's students show academic improvement.

NEA-Dallas has, and will continue to, oppose this program for two very good reasons: 1) Employees do not have a rock-solid base salary schedule that is contracted and mandated to be met by the Board of Trustees each year; and, 2) The instruments used to determine this incentive pay, the Classroom Effectiveness Index (CEI) and School Effectiveness Index (SEI), in our opinion, are invalid. I will give you one of many examples on how we believe this to be so.

Ninth (9th) Grade Science teachers have their CEI's calculated by using their students' Eighth (8th) Grade Reading Scores. Since the there is no science test in 8th grade, the district uses the reading score for the baseline. You can not compare reading scores to science scores and be accurate. That's like comparing oranges to corn. It just does not compute. But, that's what the district is doing.

Now it has come time for these teachers who participated in the program to be paid. Many have been paid from the Federal Grant money, but over one hundred (100) others are unable to be paid from the grant. Why? Because their administrator did not do their second observation as required by the law that legislated the grant.

As a result, the DISD Administration now has to go before the Board and ask them to approve $450,000 from the General Operating budget to pay these teachers tomorrow night. These teachers have met the criterion that they have control over to earn this award.

This is about keeping promises, not philosophical differences. The Board promised these teachers the money last year when they approved this program over our objections. Now, because administration has fallen down on the job, again, the Board must step in and make sure it happens. Therefore, I will be asking the Trustees to support paying these teachers from the General Operating budget.

I will, however, urge the Trustees to require that this money be cut from the Administration's budget and that wording actually be put it in the motion. If they don't, then the Administration can get the money from where ever they want to.

I am also cautioning the Trustees that this may not be the last time that the Administration comes before them asking for money for this. The reason being is that this amount only covers the teachers who filed an appeal with the TIF Appeals Committee. If this is approved, then the teachers who did not appeal, may come back and file grievances against the district to get their share as well. I believe that total amount will be closer to $1 million rather than what is being requested tomorrow night.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Sounds Like Government Class To Me!

Before I was elected by the NEA-Dallas membership to serve as their President, I taught U. S. Government and AP U. S. Government at Skyline High School. One year there was a discussion at the DISD Board about trying to draw up a second majority Hispanic district. My students and I had many conversations about how that idea may or may not play out. I asked my students to think about this question: Since it will be the Trustees that vote to create a second district, who do you think that currently sits on the board will vote to put themselves into that district?

You see, if they would have appproved its creation, then one of the non-Hispanic members of the Board of Trustees would then be in a district that was majority Hispanic. What politician would vote do possibly get themselves defeated in an upcoming election? Their disappointed answer was, "No one."

Well, ladies and gentlemen, tonight's vote by the Dallas ISD Board to extend their terms of office is just like this one from several years ago. The three Trustees up for re-election next year were bound to vote for it. Then you have three more that get an extra year at the end of this thing bringing them up for re-election in 2012 instead of 2011. It doesn't take a rocket-scientist or Harvard graduate to do that math.

So, tonight, the Board of Trustees voted in THEIR OWN BEST INTEREST! They became typical politicians, except for Carla Ranger in the end, and became self-preservationists. They blindly accepted the independent ruling of Rolando Rios, Jack Elrod and some other attorney that Mr. Elrod had sitting next to him that the DISD Board could do this. Could do this even though none of the attorneys had spoken with the Secretary of State's Office or the Attorney General's Office to "make sure" that their interpretation was correct. Could do this even though Trustee Ranger presented a ruling from the Secretary of State's Office saying that the timeline had expired on December 31, 2007.

I presented each Trustee with a ruling from our state affiliate's General Counsel Joey Moore (Texas State Teachers Association) that also stated the timeline had passed. I guess, in the end, a judge will probably have to decide who's interpretation is correct.

We will be looking to find out. But, in the meantime, NEA-Dallas will re-double it's efforts to make sure that our children, our teachers, and our support staff are treated fairly and equitably by this Administration and the Board.

Because, believe it or not, after all of the things that have happened this semester, there are still Great Students and Great Teachers doing Great Things in the Dallas Independent School District!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Have You Had Enough, Yet?

Trustees allowing the Superintendent to take clusters away from Skyline High School. Trustees voting to limit speakers to the same agenda item to a TOTAL of fifteen (15) minutes of speaking time for ALL speakers to that item. Trustees sitting idly by not doing their job and then being surprised that the Administration has just found a $64 million deficit. Trustees calling a special board meeting during the middle of Board Briefings to pass a policy amendment requiring two (2) Trustees to sign off on pulling an agenda item from the consent agenda for a separate vote. Trustees looking to pass another policy amendment on November 20 to require those two Trustees to request pulling an item for a separate vote by 5:00pm on the Tuesday preceding the Board meeting. Trustees allowing this Superintendent to lay-off nearly 1000 employees in the last fourteen months due to "delayering" or to "reduction in force".

And, finally, ladies and gentleman, these Trustees want to vote on November 20 to extend their terms of office from three years to four. They want to do this with no public hearings and hope they can pull it off on the consent agenda without having to actually put the check next to their name on a separate vote.

This vote would extend Trustees Flores, Ellis and Price's terms automatically by one year to at least 2010. They are the ones up for re-election this coming spring. The spring of 2009! Hmmm.. just extend your term of office with no input from the public... that doesn't sound much like a democracy to me. Sounds more like an autocracy to me.

So, when are you, the public, finally going to have had enough? You pay the bills for the Dallas ISD! You pay for the lack of an ability to do math by senior administrators! You pay the salaries for the Superintendent and his Administration. YOU ELECT THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES TO RUN OUR SCHOOLS!

There is only so much the employees and employee organizations can do when it comes to fighting for the education of our children. We need YOUR HELP!

We need YOU to call, write, email and personally visit with YOUR TRUSTEE! Tell them that now is not the time to be extending their own terms of office! Then, call in and sign up to speak at the Board meeting on November 20! You simply call 972-925-3720 and sign up by 5:00pm on Wednesday, November 19.

Come early and join us in our protest of this idea. Or, have you still not had enough?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Let's Make History!

With all of the attention that I have had to devote to the Dallas ISD over the last month and a half, I have found that I have had little time to talk to anyone about one of the most important elections to come during my lifetime. Time to remedy that!

The National Education Association has many members from both of the two major parties. Whether you are Democrat, Independent, Republican or something else, WE HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO MAKE HISTORY! For the first time in our nation's history, either we will elect the first person of color to the Presidency or the first woman to the Vice Presidency.

There is absolutely no excuse for any of us not to vote. Early voting opened in Dallas County on Monday, October 20. We still have until this weekend to get our vote in early and then all day on Tuesday, November 4. We, as Americans, can not take this important privilege for granted. We must vote to insure the future of our county, state and nation! We must vote for the future of our children! We must vote for the future of public education!

So, between now and late on November 4, please join me in making history! VOTE!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Survey Time!

NEA-Dallas is currently conducting a survey of Dallas ISD employees asking them their thoughts on Superintendent Dr. Michael Hinojosa and the Dallas ISD Board of Trustees. I tried to post the web address to go and take the survey on this blog, but for some reason, it won't post.

SO, if you would like to take the survey, please email me at and I will send you the link to be able to do it. We are asking that everyone complete the survey by, Tuesday, October 28, so that we may present the results to the Board of Trustees at their October Board meeting.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

So Sorry, But the Job Fair Is Full

I spent most of the day on Friday trying to track down the DISD employee in charge of the "Operation Safe Landing" job fair the DISD is holding on Tuesday. I had been told by a couple of perspective employers that they had been told that the Job Fair was full and had no more room for them. They had been told that they could fax their information to be posted, but that there was no more room "at the inn".

Unfreakin believable! This "Operation Safe Landing" is being held at the Dallas Convention Center. The same convention center that hosted the NEA's Representative Assembly (National Convention) in 2002 which had over 15,000 educators and guests from all over the United States, its territories and many countries from around the world in attendance. How can they not have any more room?

And, to add insult to injury, the Workforce Commission and Dallas ISD are charging each participating company/school district a "nominal" $35 fee to participate. They do receive a complimentary box lunch, however. Just when I thought I couldn't be surprised anymore... Guess I should have known better..

So, I called the employers back that I had spoken to earlier in the day and asked them to participate in NEA-Dallas' RIF Recovery Resources Seminars to be held on Monday, October 20 at the NEA-Dallas Building. We will be conducting rotating, concurrent seminars on resume preparation, the RIF policy, financial/retirement counseling, and providing an opportunity for participants to go online and complete applications for other school districts in the area.

These seminars are FREE and OPEN to ALL DISD employees affected by the RIF. We're not limiting participation to just NEA-Dallas/TSTA/NEA members nor or we requiring anyone to join the Association if they get a job in another district. We also are NOT charging those employers who participate with us as single penny!

The seminars will be from 10:00am through 8:00pm. Our address is 3816 San Jacinto St., Dallas, 75204. We are just across Washington on San Jacinto from the Dallas ISD Administration Building.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Dark Day In Dallas

Today, October 15, 2008 is one of the darkest days in the history of the Dallas ISD. Dark for the 463+ or 350+ employees, depending how DISD does their math, who are losing their jobs today. Dark for the other employees and their families who have lost their jobs already. And, most importantly, dark for the thousands of students who have lost their teacher and now must start Monday with a new one.

Who is the Dallas ISD supposed to serve? Who do Trustees continue to say this is all about? Who does the Dallas Achieves aim to improve education for? WHO?!

THE CHILDREN! When all is said and done today and next week, it is the children who will pay the ultimate price for all of the adults at 3700 Ross Avenue that can't do simple math.

What is the DISD going to do for these children? NEA-Dallas and the other employee organizations are doing what they can to assist the employees who are losing their jobs. Parents and community leaders must now ask the Superintendent what HE AND HIS STAFF are doing to help these children understand why they lost their teacher today and deal with their emotions.

In addition, parents, please talk to your students tonight and in the nights to come and let them know that their teacher did not leave them or abandon them. Their teacher would never do that. Help them to understand that their former teacher will miss them and want them to do their very best for their new one. Talk to them, listen to them, and most importantly, hug them and love them! That's what our teachers who wont' be there tomorrow need you to do. It's what your children need for you to do,too.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Texas Two-Steppin Into @$%$#!

Like many of you, hopefully, I just spent this evening trying to do the "Texas Two-Step". The Texas Democratic Party's well thought out idea to have delegates not only apportioned by the popular vote, but to also allocate additional delegates based upon precinct caucuses held tonight at 7:15pm.

Well, this caucus process tonight was totally FUBAR! My voting location had three precincts voting/caucusing at it. The Cedar Valley CC building is a nice building, but not big enough for even ONE precinct to vote/caucus in tonight!

At 7:15 about 5,000 people were in the lines weaving all over the parking lots, sidewalks, and everywhere else people could stand. I expected to stand in line as it took an hour and a half to early vote last Friday, but I never expected to have this many people standing outside of a building with only a few lights on in the parking lot. Most of the lights were out, so the vast majority of caucus-goers were standing out in the dark.

I have to give it to the caucus-goers in line. They were all very nice and hung in there. We finally decided to make like a bunch of emperor penguins and huddle together to stay warm. The lines finally began to move, but then the so-called workers abandoned what they were supposed to be doing and many of the people in line had to take over. We did manage to get some of the sign-in sheets signed, but in my precinct, out of the thousand or so people in line, only 295 actually signed a sheet and only 109 actually were able to crowd into a small room navel to navel to conduct the caucus.

Tonight was historic! I spoke to one couple who had their small children there and we all told the kids that they could tell their grandchildren about this one day whenever they grew up.

Despite the historical moment, I do believe that the Texas Democratic Party should carefully rethink this "Two-Step" idea. If they are not able to conduct the caucuses in a facility that is large enough and if they are not able to have enough workers who will stay for the long haul, then allocate delegates based upon the popular vote.

If you had similar experiences, agree or disagree with my idea, please let me know. I welcome your comments because we are all trying to advance this democratic society of ours and public education, which is the cornerstone of any democratic society.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Let Your Voice Be Heard: VOTE!

We've all heard about the campaign for President since way back in 2007. Delegates to the NEA RA last summer in Philadelphia heard from all of the Democratic candidates and one Republican, Mike Huckaby. Huckaby was the first Republican candidate for President to EVER address the RA.

In Texas, it's almost time for all of the talking to end. Tuesday, February 19 the early voting period begins and runs through February 29. If you miss early voting, then the real action occurs on Tuesday, March 4.

Let me, right now, urge all of you to vote early! I know most of you will be in your schools or driving your bus routes until late in the day on March 4. This election is TOO IMPORTANT for any excuses on your part as to why you didn't vote. YOU must make your voice heard in this important election! The only way to do that is to VOTE!

If you want a list of early voting locations and times and/or to look at a sample ballot, please just click the link to left on this site for the Dallas County Elections office. Or, you can just go to Whichever is easiest for you.

As you prepare to go vote, I have some recommendations for you on races other than the Presidential race. On the Presidential race, NEA is staying neutral.

Here's what I have on other races in Dallas County:

State Representative District 104 - Roberto Alonzo: Rep. Alonzo has been a friend to educators in Austin and will continue to be. The TSTA PAC has officially endorsed Rep. Alonzo and has asked all of us to help his campaign in any way we can. Especially, voting for him if we live in his district.

County Tax Assessor/Collector - Diana Lackey: I want to personally recommend Ms. Lackey to you. She has the experience and the drive to be a great Tax Assessor/Collector. She has been to many meetings at the NEA-Dallas building in the last year and has spoken to many of you. If you would like additional information on her and her campaign, please visit or call me at the office.

District Judge, 14th Judicial District - Eric V. Moye': I know some of you will hold the fact against him that he worked for the Dallas ISD. In fact, Judge Moye' represented the DISD when we faced off against them in the Edision lawsuit. However, Judge Moye' did a great job representing the Board of Trustees and will do a great job as a District Judge.

He did come to our February Membership/AR meeting and answered questions, some of them pretty tough. So, I recommend Judge Moye' to you.

Other candidates that I have spoken with, but who haven't been to NEA-Dallas, and I feel comfortable recommending are:

Criminal District Judge, Place 2 - Don Adams
Justice, Supreme Court-Place 7: Sam Houston
U. S. Representative, District 32 - Steve Love

If you would like to help out in the campaigns for Rep. Alonzo, Diana Lackey, and/or Judge Moye', please feel free to contact me at the office. We will be looking to staff ALL of the early voting locations on Saturday, February 23 (7:00am-7:00pm) and Sunday, February 24 (1:00pm-6:00pm).

Beating Up On Teachers

This week's story on Channel 8 about another DISD teacher getting beaten up was just sickening. I watched the story in horror as this teacher was grabbed by her hair from behind and then pummelled again by this student.

It all began over some money pinned to the student's blouse(shirt) for her birthday. According to accounts, the student kept playing with the money and was trying to make change when the teacher (who had asked her to stop playing with the money on several occassions) tried to get her to comply with her request.

The rest is video history. Appalling as the scene may be, it's even more appalling that not one of the students tried to help this teacher. To add insult to injury, the reporter stated that the DISD said they would not ask the teacher to come back and teach at Skyline again. Like she would want to come back! Duh!

There is never any excuse for a student to assault a teacher. Especially in this vicious a manner. I can only surmise that this incident is just one in a long line of incidents that have, at least some, of its roots in the programming our children see.

I have two sons, seven and five, and have watched the Cartoon Network and other popular cartoon shows with them. Almost every time that teachers are shown, they are shown as bumbling old fools to be gotten over on. Almost every other show on tv and at the the theaters show teachers in a negative light.

Maybe it's time that all of us teachers, and our friends and family, start boycotting these shows and the companies that advertise on them. If enough of us would do it, then the producers of this stuff would realize that what we already know. That if it weren't for teachers, they wouldn't have a job because they would be just another uneducated bumbling fool to be gotten over on!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


I would like to welcome you to my new blog. Many of our members have encouraged me to start this so that we can get our story out about issues in education.

You will get a lot of information on the Dallas ISD and the Dallas County Schools as our members come from these two school districts in Texas. I will also comment regularly on issues statewide and nationwide as we are the local affiliate of the 3.2 million member National Education Association.

If you have comments, please feel free to add them and we will take a good, honest look at all viewpoints.