SOPS signs removed from Public Library entrance

The manager of Preston Royal Public Library agreed to remove the signs and said that they were placed at the front entrance without the knowledge or permission of the library staff. The signs were spotted early on Saturday, April 19, 2014 and were removed at 3:30 p.m. after citizen complaints about the signs.

SOPS signs at Preston Royal Library


There is now organized opposition to the Dallas Independent School District home rule effort - "Keep Our Schools Public"

Dr. Kyle Renard

Keep Our Schools Public, made up of former staff and DISD parents, say home rule is not needed for reforming the district, and they believe the backers of home rule want to get rid of the elected school board.

The Hon. Harryette B. Ehrhardt, a former teacher, DISD board member, State Representative and founding member of DFPE, says that what Support Our Public Schools has said publicly are things that can be done without changing the district.

"We can change our board election date, have year-round schools, alter the school day, pay our teachers more, have full day kindergarten, reduce class size," said Ehrhardt. "All suggestions made by the Support Our Public Schools group, and we can do all of this without the very questionable legislation."

Dr. Kyle Renard (pictured), DFPE board member, Dallas County Schools Trustee and the parent of two recently graduated DISD students said "I am deeply troubled that we now have five people, two of whom do not reside in Dallas, who have decided they have the knowledge and credibility to create a new system of education in Dallas."

John Fullinwider, former DISD Teacher of the Year with 15 years teaching experience at DISD says Support Our Public Schools (SOPS) has put forward zero significant educational innovations.

Erhardt made it clear that this fight is not one that minority groups should fight alone.

"This is a DISD problem, and we're a part of that and we support their effort and we want to join them," she said.



"Redesigning Schools - Part 1", by Rose Parker, Founder of Schools by Teachers

In-district charters allow a structural change in the role of teachers. They allow decision makers on campus to allocate resources in a way that meets the specific mission of the campus. They allow huge pushback against constant testing. They can stabilize campuses that have been in constant upheaval and chaos for decades.

In exchange for these blessings, the process of planning to redesign a campus or feeder pattern or traditionally low-performing high school will probably take a year. Some band of Utopians including at least half the teachers and half the parents on a campus must agree to the process and outcome before the plan is presented to the board...



"The Conversation We Need to Have", by Rose Parker, Founder of Schools by Teachers

A little over a month ago, the structure of an innovative in-district charter school was presented to the Dallas Board of Trustees in an afternoon board briefing. The proposal included the first teacher-governed middle and high school in Texas along with a new twist on talented and gifted education, an innovative approach aligned with the state mission of giving students the time and resources to be creative producers in their talent areas.

Readers of this article probably never heard a word about this board briefing and the chance for trustees to approve a new middle and high school with a career focus on the visual and performing arts...



Dallas Friends of Public Education releases position paper on the SOPS proposed Home Rule District on March 27, 2014

Dallas Friends of Public Education (DFPE) was formed to affect policies for the benefit of our children. We have worked since inception to advocate for policies that positively influence the education of the students of the Dallas Independent School District.

The Home Rule School District Charter (HRD) proposed by Support Our Public Schools (SOPS), does not offer any identifiable policy innovation that would benefit our children and raise student achievement. The intrusion of SOPS into the District has created a climate of mistrust and uncertainty which has divided the community and diverted attention from the mission of the Dallas Independent School District: “To educate all students for success.” This intrusion is especially distasteful because of the involvement of founders and financial backers who are not residents of the District. SOPS was deliberately formed as a 501c (4) organization which permits their financial backers to remain anonymous. This is an affront to the call for transparency in public affairs, which is one of the founding principles in the DFPE Action Plan.



The Texas State Democratic Executive Committee unanimously passed a resolution on Saturday March 15, 2014 in opposition to SOPS (Save Our Public Schools)

WHEREAS Houston billionaire John Arnold, a hedge-fund manager and former Enron trader, is bankrolling an effort to transform all of the Dallas Independent School District into a so-called “home-rule charter district” that would not be subject to essential safeguards in state law for students, parents, teachers, and citizens of the district;

WHEREAS John Arnold is notorious for funding a nationwide attack on public employees’ pension funds, including state pension funds for school employees, and for funding various efforts to privatize the operation of public schools, including substantial financing of organizations that promote private-school vouchers;

WHEREAS the “home-rule charter district” idea that Arnold wants to impose on Dallas ISD is the brainchild of former Republican state Rep. Kent Grusendorf of Arlington, who managed to insert this option into state law in 1995 as a vehicle for nullifying many educational quality standards and safeguards in the Education Code and for facilitating private takeover of public schools;

WHEREAS a “home-rule district charter” in Dallas ISD would be a Trojan horse allowing John Arnold and his allies, in the name of local control, to kill state class-size limits for most K-4 classrooms, eliminate teachers’ professional contracts, wipe out parents’ and students’ and teachers’ rights to due process in student-discipline matters, nullify the entire parental-rights chapter in the Education Code, and eliminate accountability to the community through an elected school board;

WHEREAS the wholesale “charterization” of Dallas ISD through a “home-rule district charter” designed to suit the likes of John Arnold would actually be the very opposite of local control, transferring power from the parents and citizens in the neighborhoods of Dallas ISD--especially predominantly minority and economically disadvantaged neighborhoods--to special-interest elites and private operators likely to double down on top-down policies that already have disproportionately hurt those communities within Dallas ISD, like recent controversial school closures and layoffs of school personnel;

WHEREAS the “home-rule district charter” scheme in Dallas ISD would undermine genuinely democratic, grass-roots efforts to improve struggling schools, such as (1) community-initiated school turnarounds that provide wraparound community health and social services at school to students and their families, thereby building up rather than tearing down neighborhoods and (2) in-district “campus charters” initiated by teachers and parents at a campus working together with community partners to provide innovative educational programs while preserving important state safeguards such as class-size limits, due process in student discipline, and teachers’ contract rights;

WHEREAS the “home-rule district charter” initiative in Dallas is part of a national campaign by self-styled “education reformers” like John Arnold that is ultimately about profits, not about kids, employing a clear strategy to underfund our public schools, declare them a failure, contract out those schools to private operators, disenfranchise parents and community stakeholders, and deprofessionalize teaching;

WHEREAS the state Democratic Party has a duty to help ensure that all Texas Democrats and all supporters of public education see through the false rhetoric of “home rule” and “local control” that masks the real agenda described above;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT the Texas Democratic Party stands in opposition to the “home-rule district charter” proposal now being promoted in Dallas ISD and rejects its underlying agenda of privatization of control over public schools and destruction of democratic school governance.

Permalink or Download the Resolution as a PDF


SCHOOL DISTRICTS UNITED: Home rule districts – a Trojan horse

— Editor’s note: This is the sixth in a series of commentaries presented by the undersigned superintendents and board presidents concerning funding for public schools.

"The danger to advocating Home Rule District charter schools is in the misrepresentation of the benefit itself.

We do not need an alternative form of local governance to run our schools. We respect and defend the very democracy that allows us to govern by electing local school board members from within our own communities."

Read the full article, "Home rule districts – a Trojan horse".


Teacher Turnover in Dallas ISD, A Sign of Progress or a Symptom of Failure?

by Michael A Dryden, LLC - February 2014

After various media outlets implied that teacher turnover is acceptable if ineffective teachers are removed from the teaching profession, the Dallas Morning News editorial board called for more research to answer whether the turnover rate is a sign of progress or a symptom of failure in the Dallas ISD. In this report the evidence points towards an unacceptable number of high quality teachers voluntarily leaving. The work environment created by the Board of Education and current administration has led to unprecedented voluntary separations from Dallas ISD employment with the most common exit reason being “employment in another district.” When examining the Classroom Effectiveness Indices (CEI) it can be shown that the year preceding the increase in turnover rates 81.1% of highly effective math teachers (CEI >55) returned to teach math. After the start of extensive teacher turnover, this rate dropped down to 66.5% returning in 2012-13. While this is based on teachers with math CEI scores and not all math teachers, losing one third of the district’s top math teachers in one year is nothing less than a symptom of failure.

Over the past two years only 56% of teachers across the district remained on the same campus and 75 campuses retained only half of their teachers or less. Nationally about half the teachers leave teaching within five years, not two years. Based on the pupil-teacher ratio of the 2010-11 academic year, the district is currently operating with 1,275 less teachers. While there has been a dramatic drop in the number of teachers, the teacher population bottomed in summer 2013 and is slowly rising due to a massive hiring effort. These new hires are overwhelmingly younger than in previous years. However, there is no evidence of age discrimination among teachers involuntarily separated from service.

The impact of churn, or the constant replacement of teachers, has risen exponentially since the start of the current administration in May 2012. In the 18 months prior to May 2012 the district hired 853 teachers and 1,153 teachers separated from service. In the 18 months since May 2012 the district hired 3,469 teachers and 3,263 teachers separated from service. This will result in the next TEA reported teacher turnover rate at around 20% in Dallas ISD and is due to current BOT and administration practices, not state budget cuts. This churn seems to accumulate over the child’s years of education until high school. At high school for every 10% increase in teacher retention the STAAR accountability achievement rating goes up 9 points on a 0-100 scale. Three premier high achieving, high teacher retention campuses, the Arts Magnet, Sunset and Spence, had dramatic drops of more than 30 positive percentage points in a climate survey item related to the direction their campus was headed. One interesting commonality is that each campus has a new principal with no Dallas ISD experience. The current personnel database has a number of discrepancies that need to be resolved. It is suspected that substitute teachers and certain central staff have been reclassified as teachers. The BOT should ask for the number of substitute teachers in 2011 versus 2013.

While the evidence so far indicates teacher turnover is a symptom of failure, the qualifications and assignment of entering versus exiting teachers need to be better understood. If students have new teachers with fewer qualifications than the exiting teachers, especially bilingual, math and science teachers, then the disruptive forces behind teacher turnover have been a total failure. Consistently ineffective teachers must be replaced but not at the expense of highly qualified veteran teachers.

Downoad White Paper: Teacher Turnover in Dallas ISD, A Sign of Progress or a Symptom of Failure? by Michael A Dryden, LLC as a PDF


DISD Fall 2013 Climate Survey Results

Download and view the DISD Fall 2013 Climate Survey Results as a PDF (223 pages ~4.5 Mb)


Public Education Grant (PEG) List of 57 Failing DISD Schools

As required by law, the Texas Education Agency is posting its annual list of schools on the Public Education Grant (PEG) list today. This list, effective for the 2014-2015 school year, identifies campuses with passing rates on TAKS/STAAR that are less than or equal to 50 percent in any two of the preceding three years or were rated Academically Unacceptable in 2011 or rated Improvement Required in 2013 under the new state accountability system. No state accountability ratings were issued in 2012. Charter schools are excluded from PEG identification.

The Dallas ISD has 57 schools on the 2014-15 PEG list. The district is required by law to notify parents whose children attend these schools that their child may transfer to a non-PEG school.


Sample Questions from OECD PISA Assessments

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) is a triennial international survey which aims to evaluate education systems worldwide by testing the skills and knowledge of 15-year-old students. To date, students representing more than 70 economies have participated in the assessment.

Friend of DFPE Mike Dryden was a post-doctoral student in Hamburg Germany in the mid 1980's where Andreas Scheicher was a research intern with Mike. Andreas is now head of PISA. Mike asked him for permission to publish some of the latest PISA documents. Here are Sample Questions from OECD PISA Assessments (PDF).


Master Schedule Database

Master Schedule Database

Look up your school's master schedule, teachers, class sizes, etc.


Working for Superman

Struggling school districts often bring in hotshot superintendents to save the day. But is star power what schools really need?
by Patrick Michels, Texas Observer


Foundation for Empowerment (FCE) releases 3 white papers:

1. Disruptive Change: Mike Miles and the Crisis In Dallas ISD, which has been prepared with consultation by education academics, extensive research, review of data and education literature, and meetings and interviews with people of Dallas holding varying and sometimes conflicting points of view;

2. Digging Into Data and Evidence: Mike Miles, Dallas ISD, and Trickle-Down Education Report, by Dr. Julian Vasquez Helig, Lindsay Redd, M.A. and Dr. Ruth Vail; and

3. The Challenge of Disruptive Leadership in Dallas ISD, by Decoteau J. Irby, Ph.D. and Matthew Birkhold, M.A.

"You will see from these papers that, after much research and discussion, we believe the current Superintendent lacks the pedagogical, leadership and integrity qualities necessary to lead Dallas ISD and recommend the Board terminate his contract."


Student Achievement Data Does Not Support Retaining Mike Miles

Trustee Mike Morath recently penned an op-ed giving the public a series of broad statements indicating growth in academic achievement under the "reforms" instituted by Superintendent Mike Miles.

An examination of Morath's arguments for academic achievement growth instead turned up more evidence against the methods employed by Superintendent Miles.

Morath pointed to gains in low income students and students of color on college-readiness indicators including Miles' chosen benchmark, the ACT, the measure Miles uses when aligning curriculum for his consulting company.

With Miles' appearance and decision to use the ACT as a data point for the effectiveness of his reforms, the percentage of students tested at low-income high schools such as Pinkston, Roosevelt, and Adamson declined at high rates and pushed up the average ACT scores at these schools. Bill Betzen, a local school activist, has documented this same trend of high student attrition and increasing ACT scores at Miles' previous school district in Colorado Springs.

This is the full article with apendices, a summary of which was published in the Dallas Morning News on September 16, 2013. View the full article as a PDF


The Coggins Report

Cogins Report

View the Coggins Report as a PDF


Supt. Mike Miles summary of "Destination 2020 - Year 1"

The statistics presented have more spin than merry-go-round. Miles claims, among other things, gains in student achievement as measured by the number spring graduates and that the gap between DISD African American students & white peers STATEWIDE narrowed by 1.5%. No comparison to white DISD kids? SAT scores decrease from 864 to 861 while "college readiness" based on an ACT score of 21 and SAT score of 990 declined from 15.3% to 14.4%. Miles was also proud that DISD students met or exceeded the growth rate of statewide peers on 18 of 27 comparisons on the STAAR test. Basically the district flatlined and the administration is putting lipstick on the pig.

Read the Report


P4P is a horrible idea in education. 

There is quite a bit of scholarly, recent research on P4P (Pay for Performance) and almost all of it looks like this:

Title: Teacher Pay for Performance: Experimental Evidence from the Project on Incentives in Teaching (POINT) 

The research questions are: 
1: Does performance-pay alone improve student outcomes? 
2: Does the opportunity to earn bonuses alter teachers’ instructional practices and attitudes? 

Conclusions: Given the limited scope of the effects and their apparent lack of persistence, we conclude that the POINT intervention did not lead overall to large, lasting change in student achievement as measured by TCAP. There is little evidence that POINT incentives induced teachers to make substantial changes to their instructional practices or their level of effort, and equally little evidence that the changes they did make were particularly well chosen to increase student achievement. 

Download the PDF: http://www.dfpe.org/pdf/p4p-point-study-2011.pdf 
Check out the Eric web site: http://eric.ed.gov/


Michael MacNaughton: Why Miles' Market-driven Reform Won't Work

Opinion column of the Dallas Morning News "...A hallmark of the Broad style of school reform is increasing class size, imposing high-stakes, test-based accountability systems on teachers and students, and implementing pay-for-performance schemes — the blueprint for Miles’ “Destination 2020” plan.

View the Article as a PDF


OPR Report on Mike Miles: Case 11335

Released July 18, 2013 - Download the PDF (5.16mb)


2013 DISD STAAR EOC Results - by Campus

Download and View the PDF HERE


Push-back Against Superintendent Miles Intensifies

Former Trammell Crow CEO and former co-chair of Dallas Achieves Don Williams sent an email to Dallas ISD Superintendent Mike Miles (and most of the current local and some state political and business leaders), saying he is "deeply concerned" with Miles' leadership. Included in the email was a discussion paper Mr. Williams' non-profit Foundation for Community Empowerment created to spur community discussion.

Dallas ISD Superintendent Mike Miles sat down with WFAA (Channel 8) for a lengthy interview Wednesday to discuss his superintendency. (raw video below)

Community Videos voicing their concern about Mr. Miles. (below)


DISD Board President Lew Blackurn wants to postpone Superintendent Miles' performance evaluation until July 15

Blackburn states,"I have spoken with Superintendent Mike Miles about his performance evaluation that is to be completed by May 15, according to his contract. We agreed that the evaluation should be postponed until July 15. However, the Board must agree with the decision..."

View the eMail


"Dallas Achieves" leadership warns Superintendent Miles his decisions pose "serious risk" to the DISD

Dallas Achieves leaders Arcilia Acosta, Pettis Norman and J. McDonald Williams tell superintendent Miles on May 4, "...decisions you are making and the manner in which these decisions are being implemented pose serious risks to the future success of Dallas ISD and the nearly 160,000 children in your care."

They go on to say, "We are also deeply concerned about the processes by which you are going about making these changes, and their consequences, and are asking you for explanations. In one of your PowerPoint presentations, you quoted Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in calling for "disruptive" change. Disruptive change does not always produce good results: witness the recent sudden and drastic failures of former J.C. Penney Co. CEO Ron Johnson. Unlike the processes of Dallas Achieves, we do not believe you are being collaborative and inclusive of a broad base of stakeholders, both inside and outside the District. Further, we observe little understanding and respect for the history of Dallas or Dallas ISD. From insiders we hear of a culture of fear and reprisal ("my way or the highway) versus one of collaboration and teaming up to bring forth the best ideas, people and results."

View the full letter as a PDF


New Study Says Market-oriented Education Reforms' Rhetoric Trumps Reality

The impacts of test-based teacher evaluations, school closures, and increased charter-school access on student outcomes in Chicago, New York City, and Washington, D.C. - April 18, 2013

The reforms deliver few benefits and in some cases harm the students they purport to help, while drawing attention and resources away from policies with real promise to address poverty-related barriers to school success.

View the Report Summary PDF - For the full report, please visit www.boldapproach.org/rhetoric-trumps-reality

1. Test scores increased less, and achievement gaps grew more, in "reform" cities than in other urban districts.
2. Reported successes for targeted students evaporated upon closer examination.
3. Test-based accountability prompted churn that thinned the ranks of experienced teachers, but not necessarily bad teachers.
4. School closures did not send students to better schools or save school districts money.
5. Charter schools further disrupted the districts while providing mixed benefits, particularly for the highest-needs students.
6. Emphasis on the widely touted market-oriented reforms drew attention and resources from initiatives with greater promise.
7. The reforms missed a critical factor driving achievement gaps: the influence of poverty on academic performance. Real, sustained change requires strategies that are more realistic, patient, and multi-pronged.


DFPE member Dr. Kyle Renard unopposed for Dallas County Schools Board Commissioner's Precinct #2

Dr. Kyle RenardKyle Renard, M.D. was declared the elected Board Member on March 5, 2013.

Kyle, a former candidate for the District 1 Dallas ISD board position in 2009, served as chair of the Dallas Friends of Public Education in 2010 and 2011. Dr. Renard, who is still very active in the organization said, "I was encouraged by many people to run since I am passionate about the care of children and their education."

Kyle is a board-certified pediatrician. Her husband, Tom, is a pediatric surgeon in private practice. Kyle has three sons, two of whom graduated from Dallas ISD and one from a small private school due to learning differences. Both Kyle and Tom's mothers are retired school teachers and they both grew up with the student viewpoint as well as the teacher's perspective on the classroom experience. Congratulations, Kyle!


Mrs. Laura Bush to Help Celebrate the Contributions of Harryette Ehrhardt at Library Naming Ceremony

Dr. Harryette EhrhardtFormer first lady Laura Bush will lend her support to a ceremony to celebrate the naming of the library at Zan Wesley Holmes Jr. Middle School in honor of Dr. Harryette B. Ehrhardt, former Dallas ISD teacher, principal and trustee, and retired state legislator. Dr. Ehrhardt is a founding member of Dallas Friends of Public Education (now retired) and was nominated to have a school named after her by DFPE member, Texas State Senator John Carona. Dr. Ehrhardt was one of Mrs. Bush's professors during her time at SMU, and Mrs. Bush cites Dr. Ehrhardt as an inspiration on her love of children's literature.

The ceremony will take place at 10 a.m., Saturday, March 9, at the school located at 2939 St. Rita Drive. The program will feature remarks from Mrs. Bush, Dr. Ehrhardt and Dallas ISD District 6 Trustee Carla Ranger, as well as student performances.

The Dr. Harryette B. Ehrhardt Library houses more than 10,500 items and is accentuated by expansive glass walls that overlook the Oak Cliff Nature Preserve.

Dr. Ehrhardt's grandfather was the first engineer for the (then) brand new Woodrow Wilson High school almost 100 years ago and her aunt was in the first graduating class. Dr. Ehrhardt's five children are Woodrow graduates. Dr. Ehrhardt started school at Stonewall Jackson its second year in existence and her first teaching job was at Preston Hollow 55 years ago. Dr. Ehrhardt served as a DISD consultant with 20 elementary schools prior to becoming principal of Arlington Park Learning Center, then an experimental one-room school. One of Dr. Ehrhardt's outstanding teachers when she was a principal (which was, incidentally, the first year of DISD desegregation) was the late Dorothy Holmes. Rev. Zan Holmes was a regular mentor to Dr. Ehrhardt and she is particularly honored to be a part of his school. Dr. Ehrhardt then served on the DISD Board of Trustees for 5 years and worked for education for 8 years as a member of the Texas State Legislature. While in the legislature Dr. Ehrhardt's legislative office adopted Mount Auburn Elementary School on East Grand, served as principal for the day and donated books to the schools. Dr. Ehrhardt's academic field is children's literature. First Lady Laura Bush publicly credits Dr. Ehrhardt's SMU children's literature course for Mrs. Bush making the decision to become a librarian and her strong interest in literacy. Dr. Ehrhardt and her husband Jack were honored with a private dinner at the White House when President Bush was in office. Dr. Ehrhardt also taught librarians while a professor at Texas Women's University. Last year, Republican State Senator John Carona put forth Dr. Ehrhardt's name to be considered for a new school. It is very appropriate that a library be named for Dr. Ehrhardt especially at Zan Holmes Middle school, a man for whom Dr. Ehrhardt had such admiration.


Dallas TAG Foundation Donation

The Dallas TAG Foundation Board presents a $5,000 donation to Principal Mike Satarino Monday evening, October 22. Members of the Foundation include DFPEs Michael MacNaughton (far left), Dr. Kyle Renard (far right) and Joan Chalkley (third from right).
TAG Foundation Check Presentation
Donate to the Foundation
whose web site design and hosting is donated by DFPE.


Teacher Evaluation White Paper

by William J. Mathis, September 20, 2012

The first in a new series of two-page briefs summarizing the state of play in education policy research offers suggestions for policymakers designing teacher evaluation systems.

The paper is written by Dr. William Mathis, managing director of the National Education Policy Center, housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education.

Mathis summarizes research findings on the effects of teacher evaluation systems, including unintended as well as intended consequences. At a time when teacher evaluation controversies in New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago and other school districts have erupted-particularly over the issue of evaluations based in part on the growth of students' test scores-understanding the evidence about these issues has taken on new urgency.

Mathis counsels that lawmakers should be wary of approaches based in large part on test scores, because of three problems:
1. The measurement error is large-which results in many teachers being incorrectly labeled as effective or ineffective;
2. Given that only certain grade levels and subject areas are tested, relevant test scores are not available for most teachers; and
3. The incentives created by the high-stakes use of test scores drive undesirable teaching practices such as curriculum narrowing and teaching to the test.

Instead, he advocates systems like peer assistance and review (PAR) that de-emphasize test scores. Such systems are more labor intensive but that have "far greater potential to enrich instruction and improve education." He also advocates balancing summative, high-stakes assessment systems "with formative approaches that identify strengths and weaknesses of teachers and directly focus on developing and improving their teaching."

In any case, "Given the extensive range of activities, skills, and knowledge involved in teachers' daily work, the system's goals must be clear, explicit and reflect practitioner involvement," Mathis says.