Monday, May 23, 2016

FANTASTIC NEWS! Whitney Tilson & Diane Ravitch find common ground

The current struggle to provide an excellent education to all children reminds me of making bricks without straw.  To further demoralize the situation, the two biggest groups working at the forefront seem to be constantly demonizing the other.


Two epic opponents are actually talking civilly and finding common ground!

Longtime ed writer Jay Mathews wrote this article about it the Washington Post.  It's a great article, worth the read.  Mr. Mathews expressed affection for both proponents, and the hope springing out of his article is lovely.  Here's what happened:

Whitney Tilson, after recognizing that he and his nemisis Daine Ravitch shared the same views on other national topics, came to this realization:

How is it that two well-informed people can agree on so much in almost all areas, yet apparently disagree on so much in one area (ed reform)? Is it possible that we agree on more than we think?

So he thought about it, and emailed her a list of education topics he hoped they might potentially agree on.  That email turned into two more, and turns out they both DO have more in common than they thought.

THIS is how to be a great example to our students.  This is how we find a workable path to sustainable solutions.

Thank you, Mr. Tilson and Dr. Ravitch!!!

They each posted all three email discussions as three separate posts on their websites.  Below are links to the first one:

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

I support Audrey Pinkerton for DISD Trustee! Why now?

After years of intentionally not getting into the fray of politics, I've finally jumped in with both feet.  I am an enthusiastic volunteer on the Audrey Pinkerton Campaign!

What made me break my neutrality?  Two things:  The Imagine2020 eulogy at the March Board Briefing, and EducateDallas.

I'll explain those, but first let me say that I think Audrey is a wonderful candidate.  She was raised in DISD, raised her kids in DISD, has poured her time, talent and treasure into DISD - and she has a stellar resume.  And, she thinks consensus is possible!  Can you believe it?  Heart, head and soul - the perfect candidate.

Now back to my two epiphany moments:

The Imagine2020 Eulogy

You can view the full eulogy in the video.  Starts at 1:37:53 and lasts until 2:42:00.  It is delivered in the midst of the annual "how we are going to close the achievement gap" discussion, so the comments on Imagine2020 wander in and out.

So here's my beef with this.  Nowhere did anyone acknowledge, "Wow, Bernadette - this is exactly what you warned us about" or " Gee, Joyce - maybe we shouldn't have been so hard on you."  No acknowledgement whatsoever.  It was instead, "You can have the greatest idea in the world, but if you can't execute it, it will fail" and idioms like that.

To their credit, neither Ms. Nutall or Ms. Foreman said "I told you so."  Instead, from Ms. Foreman to Sup. Dr. Hinojosa, regarding his decision to end Imagine2020:
I think it's a great idea to look at programs, understand programs, and if they're not working, have the courage to get rid of them.  Have the courage to get rid of them, because people pushed those programs... I appreciate that.
In the last few years, the only Trustee who ever seemed to take Ms. Foreman and Ms. Nutall seriously was Elizabeth Jones.  Once she began to listen to them, she immediately began to be marginalized by the very groups who funded her campaign.

After watching Board meetings for seven years, I am fed up with seeing the South Dallas Trustees demonized and ignored over and over and over.

How can you close the achievement gap between white and black students when you intentionally ignore black Trustees?  You can't.

Audrey Pinkerton wants to work for consensus.  Her opponent has big cash donations from some who expect him to play by the 5-vote rule*.  Which leads me to...

EducateDallas PAC

EducateDallas PAC is supported by the Dallas Regional Chamber and some of their members.  It was created with the mission to work "to elect high-quality candidates to the Dallas ISD Board of Trustees." (from their website 4-13-16)

Educate Dallas didn't even wait until the deadline for candidates to register passed before beginning their endorsement process.  Could it be because they'd already groomed and lined up their own candidates?  I think so.

That was frustrating to learn.  But what really set me off, what made me deeply, deeply angry was this:  Right off the bat, the endorsement committee asked Audrey Pinkerton:  So, is it true you lobbied for Joyce Foreman to be Board President?

(me) - REALLY?! With the needs our students have, that's your question?!

Where are the grown ups in the room?!!!

*Every big decision that comes to the board is preordained to pass because nothing comes before the board unless there are already 5 votes for it.  So everything gets rubber stamped.  Groups who lobby the board spend their time counting up to five.  Nobody cares - not in a real way - about consensus, or finding common goals, or actually listening to the Cassandra voice of dissent.  And kids make negative progress.  And 2/3 of our teachers leave.  And $96M is wasted on failed programs.

I can't be neutral anymore.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Presenting the "Bring It Back in May" POV on the radio!

UPDATE: What a pleasure it was to be a part of the program!  The tone was civil throughout, there were lots of good questions asked, and good information was exchanged.  

The whole thing is being re-broadcast Friday from 2:00-4:00p.  Super easy to tune in!  Just click the link below.  The radio station's stream autoloads with the page.

Super excited!  (And also terrified.)  I've been invited to share the "Vote No" point-of-view on a local radio show tonight.  It will be my first radio program!

The program is The Queen of Community Conversation on  The host of the program is Claudia Fowler.

Dr. Lew Blackburn, DISD Trustee for District 5, will be representing the "Vote Yes" side.  It's a call-in program, so get those questions ready!

Here's the link, and the live stream of the radio station will auto-load when you get there:

Link to my info site where I have docs posted:

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Everything in this bond is subject to change - including taxes

Balloon payments.

That's the lynch-pin of the new bond tax plan that Dallas ISD has posted on their site (as of 10/6/15) as the tax plan for the proposed DISD Bond coming before the voters Nov 3. 

Balloon payments.  Really?!!!

Yes.  This is a great example of what's wrong with this Bond.  There is no dependable plan.  Balloon payments was not the repayment plan that was presented to the Board when they voted to put the DISD Bond on the ballot. 

The plan the Board saw depended upon property values appreciated 6%-7% every year for the next five years.  Big problems with that assumption - ask any real estate agent you know (or see this article on my other site.)

I guess this plan is suppose to be an improvement to that one.  I certainly keeps payments within the current tax rate... until the balloon is due!  Just how big is that balloon payment?!

$800 Million.  That's the total of the balloon payments.

Good grief.

But why am I getting worked up about this?  The plan will surely change.  Maybe before the election, maybe after.  After all, EVERYTHING in this Bond is subject to change.

And because really, balloon payments?!  

For more info, charts, and a wonderful quote explaining it all, see the TAX page on my bond info website.