Let Me Sum Up
No shock the DMN still hates DISD. Also, Mark Cuban hates Facebook? Me, too!
I see a familiar pattern emerging with the Dallas Morning News’ opinions on DISD, specifically on new superintendent Mike Miles. Once again, the opinion pages (and then the TV stations, which pretty much just fall in line with whatever the paper reports on DISD) are harping on DISD’s mistakes, ignoring its successes — even ones pointed out in the DMN itself.
Why is this important? Not because some of the negative stories don’t make valid criticisms. They do. It’s because systemic change at a large public organization is incredibly difficult, and the opinion-makers giving far more weight to the day-to-day headaches while all-but-ignoring the large-scale efforts makes change almost impossible to achieve.
Opinion-makers giving far more weight to the day-to-day headaches at DISD while all-but-ignoring the large-scale efforts makes change almost impossible to achieve.
Let me show you what I mean. In the past few days, the DMN typed many words about DISD, almost all of them about Miles, almost all of them giving voice to his critics (overtly or covertly). Monday, Tawnell Hobbs noted that DISD employees who sometimes act as Miles’s driver must sign confidentiality agreements.
Seems a little silly to me — I mean, don’t blab confidential stuff on your cellphone in the back seat — but whatever. She also noted that former superintendent Michael Hinojosa stopped using drivers after the newspaper wrote about the practice. The clear intimation being: Hey, I thought we put a stop to this, buddy.
This came on the heels of Friday’s long story airing Commissioner John Wiley Price’s criticism of Miles. Price says these arguments against Miles’s reforms — some of which are valid, let’s be clear — have merit because they threaten DISD’s many institutional and academic gains in the past few years.
Wait, why haven’t I read about these gains, you ask? Because although some have been noted, but they’re not given near the same weight in the paper, if they’re reported at all.
Yesterday offered a slight reprieve, in that Steve Thompson posted a recap of Mayor Mike Rawlings’ appearance on Willis Johnson’s radio show, in which Mayor Mike says its too early to judge Miles’s reform efforts. But then came this rant against Miles by editorial writer Tod Robberson.
After another swipe at the “highly paid” communications chief — get over it, Tod — he spends many hundreds of words parsing education reports to prove that Miles’ assertion that teachers peak after three-to-five years is not supported by said studies. And he wins that point. Notch in your belt, Mr. Robberson.
But Robberson’s debate victory doesn’t change the fact that some teachers do need to go, and as soon as that process begins, the entrenched ones will panic and fight back by using the media as their lapdogs. So, you want to look through studies and win your debate points, fine. But you also need to explore the fact that some of this hard-ass attitude is needed — the paper has said so many times itself.
When DISD teachers come on the job, they’re told that they can’t make friends with their students. Actually, what they’re often told is, you can’t smile on your first day. You’ll lose them. They’ll think you’re weak, and they’ll run over you. You can’t smile on your second day, either. By Christmas, you can smile.
That’s what Miles is doing, and although he’s made several missteps, I’m not going to blame him yet because he’s not smiling.
Again, I’d have a lot fewer problems with this antagonistic approach if the ambitious program Robberson mentions in his piece — the efforts in West Dallas to use the Harlem Children’s Zone model to improve the neighborhoods around Pinkston High and its feeder schools — was being used as a counter-balance to evaluate his performance. (It’s called The School Zone.)
It’s not like he doesn’t know about it. Matthew Haag did a nice explanatory piece on it just a few weeks ago. (I first read about it in a post on Unfair Park over the summer.) I hope now that Robberson has proven that Miles is stubborn in his refusal to listen to every teacher complaint — doi — he’ll explore this program in a way besides using it to say “gotcha” to Miles. To quote Robberson, I won’t hold my breath.
Terry Maxon at the DMN says look for more fireworks — or don’t — at today’s USAir and American Airlines merger/bankruptcy/pissing match. He also notes that fees (most to lawyers) in the case have topped $200 million. I just want to know if this affects the story deadlines for AA’s airline magazine. I may be way past mine.
Jason Heid at FrontBurner looks at how the “five states of Texas” (which I mentioned yesterday) would have voted in last week’s election.
Anna Merlan has a very good post at Unfair Park on the problems with the drug-testing for welfare recipients championed by the principal’s secretary in Ferris Beuller’s Day Off.
Mark Cuban hates Facebook? Like!
Heelys are skating on thin ice. Rock me!
Go Mean Green!
Denton, TX named best small town in America! Happy for the home of my Mean Green. businessinsider.com/the-ten-best-s…— Lesley Merritt (@LesMerritt) November 14, 2012
A local author comes up with a term I plan to steal.
My prediction: One of these Brass-Bangers who's been on maneuvers with Petraeus will turn up pregnant.— Harry Hunsicker (@harryhunsicker) November 13, 2012
Mayor Mike is smart enough to hold press conferences at a brewery.
In the (exact) words of Mayor Mike at Four Corners Brewing Co., "Less talking, more drinking." twitter.com/RobertWilonsky…— Robert Wilonsky (@RobertWilonsky) November 13, 2012
Giggle, from the editor of the Dallas Observer.
Then again, it might not. RT @nytimes: An expanded push for same-sex marriage might be coming soon to your state nyti.ms/ZCujvE— Joe Tone (@joeptone) November 13, 2012
KERA host/producer has an urgent — and horrifying — message!
I'm on a diet.— Jeff Whittington (@jeffwhittington) November 13, 2012