Thursday, May 28, 2009


After hearing from several NEA-Dallas members who have been negatively impacted by the CEI in the last month and after receiving the hundreds of signed petitions you all turned in, the CEI and its use will now be on the June Dallas ISD Board agenda.

A little after 9:16pm, Trustee Ron Price made an amendment to agenda item A.1: Approve the 2009-10 Non-Campus Staffing Guidelines to add "CEIs will not be used to non-extend, nonrenew or terminate teachers." The amendment was seconded by Trustee Dr. Lew Blackburn. Trustee Dr. Edwin Flores quickly questionned the legitimacy of the amendment saying that this issue was not posted.

Trustee Price asked DISD Attorney Jack Elrod what his opinion was. Elrod stated that it was out of order.

As a result of being ruled out of order, Trustee Price requested that his amendment be placed on the June agenda. Newly-elected Board President Adam Medrano then told Trustee Price it would be on that agenda.

While WE have achieved a MAJOR VICTORY, the war is far from over. I know you are all looking forward to a summer vacation and time away from your classroom. But, we still need you! You to email your Trustees and you to SHOW UP for the June Board Briefing and the June Board Meeting. The only way that we can get five (5) votes to "Kill the CEI" is for all of you to participate.

Again, thanks to all of you and your colleagues for signing our petitions and thanks to you who came to tonight's meeting.

Please tell all of your colleagues that NEA-Dallas and our teachers MADE A DIFFERENCE TODAY! If you want to make a difference, join us!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Show me the MONEY $$$$$$

Those of you who signed up for the Pay for Performance portion of the Teacher Incentive Fund shouldn't be counting your money just yet. Even though the DISD web site still lists payouts for individual teachers' CEIs and SEIs for four deciles, as one DISD Administrator said yesterday, "Changes are in the works."

This comment made yesterday during the Teacher Incentive Fund Advisory Council meeting indicates to us that the DISD Administration is looking to make changes to the payouts to their Pay for Performance Plan. During the 2007-2008 school year, the District piloted this program in 59 schools. This year, 2008-2009, the District decided to make the plan available to almost all DISD schools and their teachers.

The payouts for 2008-2009 will come in the fall of 2009. However, don't expect them to be as advertised. The Administration is looking to slash the payouts because of their budget woes and the simple fact that even though this program is being paid for by a federal grant, the grant amount each year decreases while the District's responsibility increases.

According the DISD Administrator chairing the meeting, the District is looking at two options.


A) Eliminate the payout for the lowest deciles for both the CEI and SEI. ($2000 for the CEI, $1250 for the SEI)

B) Additionally, the District would reduce the remaining payouts for the top three deciles. (Currently the top three deciles are listed to be paid out at $8,000, $6000, and $4000. The reduction in payout could be quite extreme: by as much as 50%.)


Eliminate the ability for teachers to win both the CEI award and the SEI award. Teachers would only be eligible to attain the highest of the two. Not both combined.

The result of these changes could be quite significant to teachers. Instead of a maximum of $10,000, the maximum award could be as low as $5,000. Maybe even lower!

The Administrator was quick to point out that, "Nothing is set in stone," and advised that we all should keep an eye on the Board agendas to see what the Administration will bring forward.

NEA-Dallas has opposed this Pay for Performance Plan from the beginning. We have done so because of two reasons:

1) Employees do not have a stable salary schedule. (The Board of Trustees can waive the schedule in district policy at their discretion.); and,

2) The award is generated by the CEI and SEI. (We believe that neither of these measurements are truly accurate indicators of a teacher's abilities. And, we were afraid that once teachers signed off on being paid by these indicators, the Administration would turn around and use them to harm teachers. That fear has become a reality this Spring as hundreds of teachers had their contracts "non-extended" simply because their CEI Quintile was a 1.)

And now we have yet a third reason, The District cannot be trusted to keep its promises!

Teachers, now is the time for you to be diligent as to what the Administration will be proposing to the Board and what the Board will subsequently do with that proposal. The Administration seems to be talking out of both sides of its mouth. On one side, they tell everyone, "Sign up for this plan and you could earn up to an additional $10,000" while on the other, "We're so sorry, but we just don't have the money to pay you what we promised, and what you earned."

Thursday, May 7, 2009

It's Time to VOTE!

NEA-Dallas members and citizens of our great state who read this, "It's Time to VOTE!" It's time to exercise one of the most important privileges that our founding fathers bestowed upon us!
This Saturday, May 9 is ELECTION DAY! There are many local and county races that are going on that deserve your input.

NEA-Dallas needs ALL of our members, their families, friends and acquintances that live in Dallas County to help us re-elect Larry Duncan to the Dallas County Schools Board of Trustees. The race for Dallas County Schools is the last thing on your ballot. There are two at-large seats that will be filled by the two highest vote getters on Saturday.

Mr. Duncan has been a great advocate for employees in Dallas County and a good friend of NEA-Dallas during his term of office. As Chair of the DCS Board's Policy Commitee, he has taken policy changes (suggested by our members) through the process and gotten them passed.

Mr. Duncan has also been a strong proponent of developing Dallas County Schools Emergency Response Team. This team has gone to areas in the state to help evacuate people from areas facing hurricanes and other natural disasters.

Larry has worked tirelessly over the last two years to improve air quality for our students and citizens in Dallas County. This work is coming to fruition as Dallas County unvieled its "Fryer Flyer", a school bus that runs on biodiesel and waste vegetable oil, and their first biodiesel facility on April 2, 2009. The plan is to convert all of Dallas County's diesel buses to biodiesel and waste vegetable oil.

NEA-Dallas' Board of Directors and Membership Assembly have both unanimously endosed Mr. Duncan and we need your help on Saturday!

I can personally recommend that you vote for Cassandra "Cassie" Gandara for the second slot in the Dallas County Schools Trustees Election.

NEA-Dallas encourages you to make sure your voice is heard by voting in the other races and on the propositions on your ballot. We have not taken any positions on those and urge you to educate yourselves on what those candidates stand for and what those propositions will do.

See you at the polls on Saturday!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

DISD Trustees: You Should Listen to Us...

It came as no surprise to me last week that the Texas Attorney General ruled that the DISD Trustees had acted improperly when they voted to extend their terms last November. He merely reiterated what our state afffiliate's General Counsel had told me at the time.

On November 18, 2008, I sent that opinion to each of the Trustees and asked them not to vote to extend their terms. However, as is sometimes the case in life, they thought they knew more than we did. Guess they were wrong on this one!

Now they have had to schedule a special meeting to discuss the Attorney General's decision and POSSIBLY call for a special election in November for the Trustee positions currently held by Leigh Ann Ellis, Dr. Edwin Flores and Ron Price. Whether the election is held in November of 2009 or in May of 2010, one thing is certain: It is time to change the players!

The only way things will improve for employees in this district, and thus the children in this district, is to replace Trustees who blindly follow Dr. Hinojosa's every whim. Just look at what has happened in DISD since June of 2008: freezing/elimination of longevity pay; no salary schedule step for support professionals in DISD; the grading regulation change; the "surprising" $84 million deficit; the RIF of hundreds of employees; the extension of Trustee terms by Trustees; the limiting of pulling items for separate votes; the redoing of the staffing formula that could have as many as 530 teachers looking for a new assignment in the district for 2009-2010; the use of the CEI to "non-extend" hundreds of teacher contracts this year and the idea to take all teachers to one year contracts next year; and, the proposed change in pay date for all professional staff.

Wow, what a year! And guess what? The teachers and employees of this district have still come to work everyday and given their all to help our students succeed!

Now, it is time to support those employees. It is time for all of us to come together and ELECT new Trustees who will support student achievement by supporting our employees. Trustees who know that the former head of Southwest Airlines had a pretty good business model: one in which he stated that if he took care of his employees, they (the employees) would take care of him (Southwest Airlines). Trustees who also understand VERY CLEARLY that it is NOT THEM who works for the Superintendent, but it is the Superintendent who works FOR THEM!

I call on all of the organizations who care about our city's children to meet together and put together a unified front. Let's get together and do what is right for our most precious resource. Call me at the NEA-Dallas office, 214.821.2061, and we will set up a time and place to begin the work to, "Change the Players!"