Saturday, September 30, 2023

Re-Starting the School Time Capsule Project after Covid & an additional year of cancer treatment that was successful by October 2023!


School Time Capsule Postmasters Needed!

Want to make possible a system that helps hundreds of parents write letters to their child every year about their dreams for their child and sharing family history stories?  Imagine the priceless family conversations such letters could generate!

Want to help children write their plans for their own futures every year during the decade before they graduate high school?  Imagine if you had copies of such plans you had written from 3rd through 12th grade! Would you be a different person because of such a future focus?

Want to help parents connect their children with their family roots, their history?   Imagine if you now had such written family stories from your parents, grandparents, and other relatives. Imagine the value of such written family stories! Imagine the stories that went to the grave with your older relatives as no grandchild, niece or nephew had asked for stories from family history to be written in letters back to them.

Want to help students experience the power of writing?

This writing exercise, carried forward year to year by your volunteer "Time Capsule Postmaster" work, will show students the power of writing.  Writing is too often the weakest link in the education of our students!

These goals are possible!

Simply helping letters that students, parents, and other important relatives write, to get back to the student a year, or a decade later, makes it all possible!

Imagine handing out year-old letters to 5th graders.  Year-old letters are very old to such students.

Volunteer School Time Capsule Postmasters are needed to help these goals be achieved! Their work makes a system possible that focuses both students and parents on their own roots & goals, year by year, from pre-k through graduation.  They help the 10-year class reunions happen!

Some of those attending the ten-year reunion May 2, 2017 for Quintanilla's 8th grade class from 2007.

Each postmaster invests possibly 50 hours a year helping store hundreds, if not thousands of letters parents and students write for the School Time Capsule Vault, a large 500 to 700-pound vault usually placed in the school lobby, a place students and parents pass it as often as possible. 

If their local school does not yet have a vault and a School Time Capsule Project, they can help raise the $900 needed with the PTA. The fundraising process helps introduce parents to the project.  The school can now order the 700-pound vault from, delivered, for $900. The postmaster(s) helps train school staff, especially the Language Arts teachers, about this set of two annual writing projects for students.

It begins with pre-k enrollment when each parent is asked to write a letter to their child about their dreams for them. The letters are written each year and go into the vault in the envelope for each child.

This process changes by the third grade when two annual writing assignments begin. Students write a letter to each of their parents, and may expand in later years to favorite relatives, especially grandparents. Students write to ask for letters back about dreams the writers have for the student and for a story from the writer's personal history. Students should always immediately read letters they receive back. They then ask the writer any questions they may have.  Hopefully this will lead to those priceless conversations we should have more often with our children and grandchildren.

Honorable Trini Garza, former DISD Trustee and Bill Betzen on 1-17-19,
with the old 2005 Quintanilla vault and the new 700-pound vault.
Too many letters for the old vault! Nice problem! Since 2015 Quintanilla has
consistently remained one of the 5 best of all 33 DISD middle schools.
The second writing class is when students prepare the self-addressed envelope to hold the letters collected.  Then the student writes a letter to themselves about their own plans for the future while the postmaster and teacher double check addresses on the envelopes. (Such accuracy is critical!) 

A year is a very long time. Students change significantly.  Thus the "Time Capsule" term is appropriate from the perspective of both the student, and their parents who see the massive year-to-year changes every child's life reflects.

Postmaster(s) make this system possible. They manage the archiving system so that they can personally hand back to each student the envelope they prepared a year earlier.  They will see that twinkle in the student's eye as students try to remember what they wrote a year earlier.

The letter writing starts as parents write their first letter to their child about their dreams for them.  This letter goes with the pre-k application. It is the first of 14 annual letters to their child about their dreams for them.  These letters will develop and gain detail as their child grows.

The Postmaster(s) will also help for the special 10-year-in-the-future dreams and plans that happen in the 8th grade, and then again in the 12th grade.  They will ultimately be helping to coordinate those 10-year 8th grade and 12th grade class reunions.  At the high school level they may simply staff the "Time Capsule Table" at the traditional high school 10-year reunion.  They will pass back the letters written 10-years earlier.

2015 was first 10-year reunion for the first Time Capsule Project Class of 2005.
2015 was also the year Quintanilla had the highest DISD School Effectiveness
Indices (SEI) Score of any DISD middle school, for the first time! System
improvements now speed up such improvement to three years, not 10.

I personally consider this to be the most rewarding volunteer work possible.  You will see a school change before your very eyes!  Your work allows students to begin to know in more detail their own family roots and make their own plans for the future, updating their plans every year.  Grades and behavior both improve! Student confidence grows!  Then you see tears of joy at the class reunions as they are thankful and celebrate what they have achieved.

Please call the Dallas ISD Volunteer Center (972-925-5440) about becoming a Time Capsule Postmaster. You may even help start such a project in a school you want to change. Use the word "Postmaster" and they will know what you are calling about.

To see more details about the project, read the manual that is found at

This is an open source project that is ran independently by each school.  We only ask that Project improvements discovered be shared.

Bill Betzen,

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Email sent today to Dallas Mayor documenting potential Federal voting rights lawsuit

This is an email delivered to Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson and the City Council on 5/18/22 after my presentation on these same facts.  If  Map 41B is approved by the Council, is there any real alternative other than filing a federal voting rights lawsuit?


Honorable Mayor Johnson and members of the Dallas City Council,
Tomorrow I will spend three minutes presenting critical data about the City Council Redistricting Map 41B that you will be formally receiving at the same meeting.
I was very involved in both the 2011 City Council Redistricting and again this year.  Consequently, I was able to understand more of the history of the injustices against Dallas minority communities over the past 31 years of redistricting.
Cracking is the breaking up of racial and ethnic groups into different districts so their numbers are small enough that they are never able to elect a representative from their group without significant help and approval from the majority group in that district, usually White voters.   

Cracking has been one of the main methods used in Dallas against minorities ever since Federal Courts ordered 14-single member districts to be established. It has been used to lessen minority power in Dallas. At times it is used to increase tensions between racial and ethnic groups. Such usage continues until now and will continue unless major amendments are made to the redistricting map you will formally begin studying tomorrow.
Here is a map of Dallas and the 5 minority communities that have remained cracked and whose voters are unable to elect councilpersons who look like them since 1991.  

Are you willing to end the 31 years of injustice to these 5 cracked minority communities in 2022? Map COD-040, which has been amended into the People’s Map, does that, creating 9 winnable minority districts in the process.  The amendments done to the People’s Map were aimed at incorporating all the improvements made with 41B, improvements that did not hinder minority representation or compactness. The People’s Map has an average perimeter of 42.14 miles, almost a full mile less than the 43.12-mile average perimeter of Map 41B you will study today.  More miles of boundary means that more communities are separated by City Council District boundaries.
Here are the maps done by the consultants hired by Dallas, but I modified the coloration in Map 41B to reflect that Districts 1 and 2 were not winnable by Hispanic majorities based on 10 years of election history in District 1. The lower Hispanic VAP and CVAP numbers with the new 41B District 2  made it unwinnable without White support.  The People’s map required no such modifications due to higher Hispanic District 2 VAP numbers and due to the unification of the core of Kessler Park preservationists with District 14 preservationists restoring District 1 to being a winnable Hispanic District.

Here are the Voting Age Population numbers for both maps:

If anyone studies the data and maps above and contrasts them with the 2011 map as well, they quickly see that 41B is the most racially discriminatory map in 20 years for the Dallas City Council! It maintains cracking done in the 1991 map and maintained ever since!
We are on the minority side in this battle, a side made up of Black, Hispanic, and White neighbors who all want equitable representation on the Dallas City Council. We want 9 winnable minority districts among the 14 city council districts: 4 Hispanic, 4 Black, and a 9th strong minority opportunity district that is 79% minority Voting Age Population (VAP).  We support the People’s Map that easily achieves 9 winnable minority districts and does it with the most compact map.

The Redistricting Commission suffered lost time due to poorly directed debates about the Citizen Voting Age Population and the refusal of Dallas to make CVAP data known to the public as they made maps. Thus, a very unrealistic view of Hispanic winnability was allowed.  It obviously could not be used to populate maps, but to judge the winnability of a district it was necessary!  Why was it missing? DISD used it publicly to compare maps.

Here is the CVAP data on both Map 41B and the People’s Map to verify winnability judgments made:

The People’s Map eliminates known cracking and, with additional improvements, creates 9 strongly winnable minority City Council Districts. In doing this we have the most equitable and compact Dallas City Council Map in Dallas History! 
Please amend the People’s Map to Map 41B for the people of Dallas! 
Bill Betzen

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Comparing Dallas City Council District Map proposals for winnability

Below is a chart of the Dallas City Council Redistricting maps being studied for selection by the Commission and then to use as a platform for any amendments needed. They are the maps that best achieve the Civil Rights goals of maximizing minority participation in our Dallas City Government. These maps produced the most districts that have the highest potential for selecting a minority candidate. It is clearly shown that 9 winnable minority districts are possible. It also shows that 5 winnable Black Districts are possible but not without destroying the potential for a 4th Hispanic District and a 9th winnable minority opportunity district.

In an attempt to measure winnability three different measurements were used: ppb, pph, and ppw. They tell the strength of a minority group in winning a district by telling you how many percentage points exist between the highest VAP (Voting Age Population) percentage racial/ethnic group in a district and the next highest percentage racial/ethnic group. It then identifies that second-place group as either Black, Hispanic or White-Non-Hispanic. This measurement system is used throughout the chart to achieve some objectivity. Since we know CVAP percentages are generally only about 61% of Hispanic VAP percentages but average over 30% higher than Black and White-non-Hispanic VAP percentages, we can make winnability estimations accordingly.
Obviously, this is only a crude measure, but it lends some level of objectivity to a very human process.
To double-check the calculations I have made in this chart it is recommended you randomly select any number in the chart and check it with the identified map
VAP data for the district you want to check. Please let me know immediately if you find any errors. I hope there are none, but it is very possible as this involved multiple calculations.
The numbers 1, 2, 3 & 4 at the top of the four columns for Black Districts and for Hispanic Districts are simply to identify the columns and not to be confused with district numbers. The goal is 4 winnable districts each plus the Minority Opportunity District in the last column as the ninth winnable district.
I value any questions you may have. The chart is below.

Saturday, March 26, 2022

Nine Winnable Minority Districts are Mandatory for the 2022-2031 Dallas City Council District Map

Nine winnable minority City Council Districts are Mandatory for the 2022-2031 Dallas District Map. This goal also allows Dallas to have a more compact map with fewer miles invested in district boundary lines separating neighborhoods.  Dallas White-non-Hispanic population has fallen from 47% in 1990 to only 28.1% in 2020.  Why cannot White-non-Hispanic districts be reduced to 5, or 36% of the 14 single-member districts while there are four minimum winnable districts for each the Hispanic community and the Black community with one minority opportunity district between them? 

While 71.9% of Dallas' population is made up of minority groups, with 9 seats redistricted to be winnable by the minority community that is only 64% of the 14 seats. 

Thursday, February 24, 2022

Redistricting Map COD-013 being presented 2/28/22 to Redistricting Commission

This is the Dallas City Council Redistricting Map named "COD-013" that I will be presenting at the 3:30 PM 2/28/22 meeting of the Dallas Redistricting Commissioners in the Dallas City Council Chambers in City Hall. Tragically, none of the 12 maps presented to the Dallas Redistricting Commission to date have provided 4 winnable Black districts or 4 winnable Hispanic districts!
Do not hesitate to take the "COD-013" map from the website, improve it, save it as yours, and submit it to the Redistricting Commission. That is how we improve maps! How to do it is all online at
. I welcome questions.

Your questions and comments are valuable.  My email is You are also encouraged to speak with the Dallas Redistricting Commission.  They are listed with their email addresses at where you can also load this COD-013 map and change this map as you like to submit as your own to the Commissioners.  We need more public involvement and more maps.
Bill Betzen 2/24/22

Friday, January 28, 2022

Dallas City Council Redistricting 2022 - opportunity for progress!

 I have been very involved for about 2 months in the Dallas City Council Redistricting Progress that is documented at

So far I have made 17 maps and now have 9 of the 14 City Council Districts in Dallas designed so that they have minority majorities (8) and one district is a strong Minority Opportunity District. Here is the data produced by Map #17:

However, along the way, I have been very frustrated to be one of the very few members of the public who are submitting maps.  To date, my map is the only one to make it through the submission process, but I am working to improve it. Part of that work is the map above.


Thursday, September 30, 2021

Some signs of gerrymandered Texas House, Senate, and Congressional Districts

Using demographic profiles to identify gerrymandering in any set of districts can be done easily.  Simply create a spreadsheet with the demographic profile for each planned district for the area to be redistricted. For the sake of simplicity dividing districts into White or Anglo-Non-Hispanic and Minority is the most rapid way in Texas to identify gerrymandering.  Here are the qualities to look for:

1) Does the Anglo Community endure the minimized loss with districts with under a 25% minority in almost 30% of districts, while at the same time the Minority Community endures maximized loss of votes with 75% or more majorities in 30% of districts, also known as packing.

2) Is there a gap in White Districts in the 30% to near 50% majority, while that same maximized loss range that is filled with Minority Majority Districts?  

3) In the Maximumized Win Range above 50% to 70% dominated by White Percentages in that range, but there are almost no Minority Districts with those valuable percentages?

These three questions help to outline maps that are gerrymandered.  These patterns NEVER happen by accident.