Sunday, May 19, 2019

Dallas Mayoral Runoff Election June 8, 2019


Selecting the next Dallas Mayor from among two excellent candidates may come down to which one both knows best, and is most transparent, about where the "bodies are buried" in Dallas. Griggs edges forward here as he clearly has much more time spent "finding bodies" on the Dallas City Council. Most critically, he has a solid reputation of blowing the whistle on "bodies found," often issues the "Dallas Establishment" wanted kept quiet. Is this an accurate perception of the major differences between these two candidates?

If you look at who is financially supporting each candidate, and having their photos taken with each candidate, this difference is painfully reinforced. If they were in charge Dallas would be building a Trinity River Toll Road now.

The detailed campaign finance reports are online at 

http://campfin.dallascityhall.com/search.aspx 
Using the data from that site, the chart below was made showing who the big donors like and who the small donors like. If this were a democracy ...

I believe Representative Johnson can rise above this fray and be as big an advocate for the entire city of Dallas as Scott Griggs has been.  Sadly it is painfully certain the big donors supporting Johnson do not agree, and have been right for the past several mayors they funded. 

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Dallas ISD Racial Equity Office & 15 Documented Civil Rights Violations

This past Tuesday evening, 5/7/19, at the Oak Cliff Tower basement meeting room, I attended a very crowded and tense meeting of the District 5 and South Oak Cliff community group with Leslie Williams, the Dallas ISD Deputy Chief for Racial Equity.

Many frustrations were voiced that I in no way can properly present here.  I will only present one.

Dallas ISD has a massive history of racial inequities that are not being openly talked about or admitted by either the Dallas Racial Equity Office, or by other Dallas ISD Leadership.  Many of these civil rights violations happened as recently as during the past 10 years, and nobody can provide needed documentation to say that they have stopped.  A federal complaint was filed with the U.S. Department of Education (DOE), Civil Rights Division on 4-21-15 by 15 Dallas residents against DISD for a multitude of civil rights violations. 


During the next 2 years and 5 months over 300 additional pages were given to the DOE Civil Rights Division documenting these allegations. There were several in-person interviews.  This 9-page letter from DOE, Civil Rights Division dated 9-22-17, is the response and is copied below.  It closes the case by giving technical reasons for not doing an investigation into each one of the 15 allegations identified. It does not invalidate a single one of the 15 allegations. 

How can the DISD office of Racial Equity achieve their goals and ignore these 15 allegations? DISD must resolve these alleged and well documented violations first.  DISD must show ample documentation to verify they have ended, and ongoing public documentation from this day forward so the public can always verify they are never repeated!


Mike Miles, the superintendent during the 3 years the supplantation situation in DISD  significantly deteriorated, resigned 6-23-15.  That was 3 weeks after a comprehensive report on the major Dallas evening news station, WFAA, Channel 8, about these allegations. If that resignation had not happened, the continued fighting of this case would have been necessary.  


It appears the degree of supplantation has definitely lessened in DISD since that resignation. Work must continue to document the extent to which it continues, and to determine how widespread it is throughout Texas, and in other states.  (See the creation of the School Equity Spreadsheet as one tool in this battle.)


Few things reflect the lack of racial equity inside Dallas ISD more than the potential for a hidden, ongoing supplantation of need-based federal funds to be continuing.  Why is data, in a format with which the public could easily verify inequity, hidden? 


Below is the listing of the 15 allegations.  Below that listing is the full 9 page letter from the US Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights closing the complaints filed 4-21-15, but failing to invalidate any of these 15 allegations identified in the letter:

  1. The DISD illegally supplants Title Icareer and technical education (CTE)state compensatory education (SCE), and high school allotment (HSA) funding for regular education spending.
  2. The DISD illegally supplants funding for supplemental programming such as programming for special education (SPED)homeless studentssuspended and expelled students,students failing any testand limiteEnglish proficiency (LEP) students for regular education funding for students.
  3. The DISD's planned Public Education Information Management System (PEIMS) budgets filed with the State of Texas have not complied with House Bill 5 (HB5) requiring accelerated instruction for all high school students who failed an end-of-course (EOC) exam.
  4. In 2014, the DISD gerrymandered the attendance boundaries for Lakewood Elementary School (LES) to intentionally exclude poor students that could decrease property values for LES. 
  5. The DISD's April 24, 2014 decision to not consider redrawing the attendance boundaries for LES created de-facto segregation to limit LES to wealthy white students.
  6. The DISD denies at-risk and low-income students equal access to equitable education resources with respect to magnet, talented and gifted (TAG), and performing and visual arts programs, support services (e.g., counseling, SPED and LEP resources), adequate facilities, and teacher equity and instructional leadership.
  7. The DISD's principal and teacher hiring and evaluation practices have created excessive turnover and high teacher-student ratios at the DISD's campuses serving majority at-risk and low-income students.
  8. The DISD disproportionately assigns African-American students to exclusionarydiscipline. 
  9. The DISD denies African American and Hispanic students, special education (SPED) students, and limited English proficiency (LEP) students equal access to equitableeducation resources with respect to magnet, TAG, and performing and visual arts programs, support services (e.g., SPED and LEP resources), adequate facilities, counseling and teacher equity and instructional leadership.
  10. The DISD's principal and teacher hiring and evaluation practices have created excessive turnover and high teacher-student ratios at the DISD's campuses serving the majority of African American, Hispanic, SPED, and LEP students.
  11. The DISD discriminates against students with disabilities by denying them admission into the magnet and TAG programs.
  12. The DISD discriminates against national-origin language minority students who are LEP by denying them admission into the magnet and TAG programs.
  13. The DISD discriminated against minority students when it flagrantly refused to provide Accelerated Instruction as required by the state of Texas for all students failing an end of course exam in the 2014-2015 school year. The affected minority students were located on the same campuses whose regular education dollars were not comparable to that of magnet school campuses with high percentages of white students, and whose turnover rates in principals and teachers far exceeded that of magnet school campuses.
  14. The DISD disproportionately assigns African-American male students to exclusionary discipline; and this occurred mainly at campuses where no supplementalprogramming existed because of illegal supplanting of Title I funds.
  15. The funding of non-Title I campuses and magnet school campuses is not comparable to the funding of Title I campuses for the required foundation programs.

Work is needed to verify these allegations are not continuing to happen within Dallas ISD. A decade of history with the school by school funding from all sources as reflected in the PEIMS Financial Reports is needed first.  The reports should be annual reports, one for each school year, in Excel format spreadsheets with all schools listed, one per row, with 200+ columns of data including the 32 financial items reports in each PEIMS Financial Report for each school. 
Here is the letter from the US Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights, documenting these needs for Dallas ISD.








===================================================================The work to be done within Dallas ISD as reflected in the above letter must not be slowed down by the conflicts happening in Washington as reflected below.  How else can we claim to be authentically pursuing racial equity here in Dallas, the former national headquarters for the KKK?===================================================================On 5-26-18 an NPR article explained why this Civil Rights Complaint against DISD from 4-21-15 was closed 9-22-17.  The article stated:
"Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio, asked DeVos about the department's Office for Civil Rights, which began dismissing claims of civil rights violations this spring, under updated guidance for responding to cases. Department representatives have said the changes were meant to help the office manage its caseload.
DeVos said she was confident that the Office for Civil Rights was committed to upholding the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
"How do you do it if you continue to try to dismantle and defund the office?" Fudge asked. "I'm not understanding."
"We haven't done any such thing," DeVos responded."
You can find this full NPR article online at  https://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2018/05/26/614008167/teachers-win-at-the-polls-devos-fields-questions-on-the-hill?utm_campaign=storyshare&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_medium=social 



Below is the 9 page 9-22-17 letter from the U.S. Department of Education, Office For Civil Rights, that closed the then 2-year 5 month old complaint filed 4-21-15 by 15 DISD parents, and residents against Dallas ISD for multiple civil rights violations including the supplantation of Federal need-based funds in hundreds of schools. The need-based Federal funds were supposed to be supplementary funds above and beyond regular funding.  Instead they were being used to replace regular funding. The students in need were not benefiting. A summary of the complaint can be found at http://schoolarchiveproject.blogspot.com/2015/06/title-vi-complaint-against-disd.html

Consistent documentation going back a decade on each DISD school is needed to document that none of these 15 allegations have existed.  If this documentation proves that they did exist, then continuing documentation must verify year to year, school by school, that these situations are corrected, and remain corrected.  This must be constantly reflected in annual, public, auditable information, online, from this day forward. 

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Districts closing schools!

The tragic news of neighborhood schools being closed due to budget mistakes or charter school losses is a disaster if all alternatives have not been tried. $150,000+ "miracle worker" administrators are NOT needed when that same money can fund three teachers!

Student achievement is driven by motivation, students knowing where they came from and were they are going.  Most parents and their students do not keep a constant focus on either.  When parents see that change in their school and realize there is a focus on their child and their parental goals in a school, they will not transfer their child to another school!

Imagine parents being asked, every time they enroll their Pre-K child, to submit letters each parent writes to their child about their goals for their child. Imagine this happening every year through second grade. Imagine a 700-pound vault at the school designated as the School Time Capsule.  It holds these priceless records of child development and parental development in an envelope for each child.  Can you see the feelings of the parents for the school changing?

Each school has two or three volunteer Time Capsule Postmasters who help these letters follow the child and their parent as change happens.  The Postmasters help the third graders write letters to each parent and close relative asking for a letter back about their dreams for them, and with a story from their history they want the child to know.

Such letter writing happens once in every grade.  The Postmasters hand out the previous years letters in each class as the next letter writing assignment starts. From year to year each child sees the goals of their parents and relatives and their own plans for the future as they evolve. 

Changing plans is never a problem.  The disaster is when a child has no plans for their future.

Postmasters help the 5th grade letters find the child in middle school 6th grade to help make that often hard transition a bit easier.

As students experience the power of writing year to year, their dedication to writing improves.

In the 8th grade all letters from parents, family, and the student are focused on dreams 10 years into the future.  These letters stay in the vault until the 10-year reunion for that 8th grade class coordinate by the Postmaster.

This no-cost (beyond the money for the vault) volunteer-ran project helps students see the power of writing, their family history, and planning for the future.  Achievement soars!  The attachment to these community schools soars!  Rarely will students transfer their child to another school.  No need for any closure.

Would you like to be a Time Capsule Postmaster and see your favorite school improve?

This is a way to save money and massively increase student achievement while decreasing behavior problems, and the probability of a school closing, at the same time.  See https://schooltimecapsule.blogspot.com/

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Conflict of Interest Complaint against Dallas ISD Trustees, 4-25-19 Board Meeting Testimony

(Testimony given at 4-25-19 Dallas ISD Board Meeting addressing item 6.02: "Board Members Ethics Agreement.")

This testimony is also online at www.Dallasisd.us.

Almost a month ago an ethics complaint was filed against the DISD Board for allowing conflict of interest situations to continue unchallenged and undocumented on the DISD Board.  The complaint was sent to every board member and Dr. Hinojosa. It included 5 pages with the following wording and 6 signatures on each of these 5 pages.


Each signed page reads as follows:



"We, the undersigned, hereby file a complaint against the Dallas ISD Board of Trustees for allowing conflicts of interest to continue existing, undocumented, on the DISD Board of Trustees.  On page 5 of the Dallas ISD Handbook on Ethics and Integrity the first item is:

1. Avoid conflicts of interest.
A conflict of interest exists when a person has a position of trust that requires him to make decisions for the district and also has interests or obligations with another person, company, or group that may interfere with his exercise of good judgement and which the person is morally obligated to either avoid or openly acknowledge.

How is being a DISD Trustee while also in a board or administrative position in another ISD or charter, and actively competing with Dallas ISD for the same students in today’s open enrollment environment, not a conflict of interest demanding, at a minimum, transparency?

We ask you to resolve these conflicts and advise the public of your actions taken."


This complaint, along with the first 30 signatures, was emailed to all Trustees and Dr. Hinojosa on Friday, March 29th, last month. Nothing has been heard from anyone in an official capacity from Dallas ISD about this complaint since.  


Today, 4-25-19, these 30 signatures have again been sent in an email to all trustees and Dr. Hinojosa along with an additional 62 signatures.

We are now asking that this item be placed on the Board meeting agenda for May and be discussed in public so the public can know how you plan to handle these obvious ongoing conflicts of interest.


If any Trustee thinks they should be held to a lower standard than DISD employees, it is requested that they so state in public in a recorded board meeting.

Again, this testimony with links to additional documentation is at www.dallasisd.us.

(End of planned testimony.)


Here is a link to more details about this ongoing issue with DISD Trustees that goes back 6 years and longer.  It includes documentation of a current Trustee who, while serving as DISD trustee, also signed papers as the President of a charter board to begin work toward 8 more charter schools in the Southside of Dallas ISD.

Friday, April 12, 2019

Racial Equity Demands more transparency than Dallas ISD wants to provide

Nobody debates education must be transparently data driven. How is racial equity any different?

All politicians, especially education leaders, claim to be both transparent and data driven.  But how many are transparent to the extent that they share the original sources of the data they are using, sources that are public and easy to locate online, sources that report multiple years of data that are easily followed to show multi-year patterns?

How many can point to conclusive, published, and peer reviewed research that academic progress was verified as changed by whatever methods the leaders are supporting? How many point to spending per student in the 32 cost centers in the PEIMS Financial Reports to validate racial equity in funding between schools? NONE!

Education leaders rarely advertise easy-to-digest public information.  They rarely follow data over the years from decade to decade.  Only small snapshots of cherry-picked data are used to justify the most recent multimillion-dollar innovations.  That seems to be the extent of being "data driven" in our public schools. Peer-reviewed published research is painfully rare.

For education to be data-driven the public must know where to find the information year to year so that, as much as is possible, they can do the driving in "data-driven."  They should be led by well informed trustees.  Sadly, too few trustees seem to even know the sources of the data needed, or care about exposing the data so that parents and teachers can better understand and support any allegedly "data-driven" changes.  Here is a summary of some of those data sources:

The Dallas ISD Data Portal, should be, and almost is, the most valuable source for information for everyone.  See https://mydata.dallasisd.org/  It is a very large site. After over a decade of work on it, I can only claim to know more than most residents, but not everything.  The main DISD Data Portal menu below has these choices. It is safe to presume that the most-used-choice selected is "Statistics and Reports."

https://mydata.dallasisd.org/


I have invested thousands of hours over the past 15 years working with these 4 alternatives, spending most of my time in the first three choices on enrollment, Data Packets, and the powerful SEI, the School Effectiveness Indices.  They are powerful!

Enrollment is only current data.  Data Packets have all data for school indicated going back nine years.  It is powerful, but all in a pdf file and therefore very difficult to quickly use in showing patterns year to year.  That takes work!

SEI (School Effectiveness Indices) data is very powerful and useful in tracking progress in schools.  I have used it extensively to follow schools with School Time Capsule Projects.  This measure must never be allowed to stop unless replaced by an improvement.  It is very useful.  It is over 20 years old and unique to DISD as far as I know.

The STARR choice shows the history of such tests by school going back to 2012.

During the past year I have been shown a much more powerful data set that is not in the Statistics and Reports tab but you can find it under the "Resources" tab to the right of "Statistics & Reports":















The "School Information File" is POTENTIALLY the most powerful tool in the Dallas ISD Data Portal.  It creates a spreadsheet in seconds with one line for every school and academy in DISD and currently provides 40 variables per school, some of the most critical.  It needs to be expanded to hundreds of additional variables per school.

The "School Information File" has the potential of overcoming the greatest weaknesses of the fragmented data systems used by all school systems nationwide, ease of use.  None of them have taken the hundreds of major variables per school and placed them into one large spreadsheet with 200+ columns of data per school that could easily be compared with all other schools in the large urban district, or even with all the schools in the state.

The major resistance requests in Dallas for such multi-year transparency have encountered indicate that leaders know what will be exposed: a history of the massive supplantation of federal funds reflecting MASSIVE RACIAL INEQUITY within Dallas ISD!

Here is one design for a "School Equity Spreadsheet" to use in obtaining needed transparency:
http://billbetzen.blogspot.com/2018/04/disd-school-equity-spreadsheet-design.html

Sadly there are many issues related to education equity and investments in schools that Dallas does not want to discuss: http://billbetzen.blogspot.com/2018/04/forbidden-topics-in-education-equity.html .

Resistance in Dallas ISD to discussing racial equity data is happening today with the struggles of the Dallas ISD Racial Equity Office. That office has a full time data staff person who could have created such a Racial Equity Spreadsheet comparing achievement, monetary investments, staffing and multiple other variables for all DISD schools in one spreadsheet. Such a powerful tool would allow the public to both help validate racial equity between schools, or document massive differences, so that true equity goals could be established.  It has not happened!  Until this changes is appears that the Racial Equity Office is designed to hide racial inequity in Dallas ISD.

Monday, April 8, 2019

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 Costco.com, 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 www.StudentMotivation.org.

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

Bill Betzen, bbetzen@aol.com

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Dallas ISD Board Continuing Conflict of Interest

Six years ago, 4-25-2013, the complaint copied below was filed with the Dallas ISD Board.  It was never resolved. Now Dallas ISD can find no record of it. Sadly such conflict of interest situations continue to exist unacknowledged on the Dallas ISD Board. 

Such a conflict of interest situation probably allowed information to be collected by the current DISD Board President, on the DISD board since 2015, to encourage him as Board President of International Leadership of Texas Charter Schools (ILT) in 2016, to lead the application process for ILT to develop 8 schools in South Dallas.  A 102 page document shows his ILT work in 2016. He continues serving on the ILT Board today while also serving as Dallas ISD Board President.

A new complaint is in process using the form below.  The first 5 pages fully signed with 30 signatures on the same form dated 3-28-19, was emailed to all DISD Board members on 3-29-19.  The new form below will be filed at the April 25, 2019 Board Meeting, the exact 6-year anniversary of the last such complaint, above, that somehow DISD appears to have lost.  The DISD Trustee conflict of interest situations demand a public resolution.

Currently the board member, Dr. Blackburn, who was the subject of the 4-25-13 complaint copied above, is not going for re-election in May.  However the Board President, Dr. Edwin Flores, and a trustee candidate now running for office, are both either continuing in conflict of interest situations or are planning to serve, if elected trustee, in a conflict of interest situation.  The conflict would be serving as a DISD Trustee while also working full time as "Chief of Research, Evaluation and Design", a member of the administrative team in DeSoto ISD.  DeSoto ISD actively competes with Dallas ISD for students.

Repeat, both of these conflict situations involve school systems that actively compete in today's open enrollment environment for students with Dallas ISD.

Here is the 4-25-19 dated form to continue to sign for the April Board meeting.  The depth of public concern must be shown.


Anyone who agrees with these issues can print out the form above and collect signatures for the 4-25-19 meeting.  You are encouraged to turn those in you collect yourself at that 4-25-19 meeting, or at the earlier Board Briefing on 4-11-19, if you want. The more who voice their concerns the better!  I will collect the ones not so submitted so they can be included in the complaints filed on 4-25-19.

You can either use the above copy to make the petitions you will collect signatures on, or you can email me, bbetzen@aol.com, and I will send you a pdf copy for printing.

Below is a one page compilation of critical points from 102 pages of documents, wherein DISD Board President Edwin Flores authorized ILT charter schools in Dallas to apply to TEA to establish 8 new charter schools on the southside of  Dallas.  It is an example of the work Edwin Flores is doing with International Leadership of Texas, planning schools to compete with DISD while also sitting on the DISD Board securing vital information to use in his work with ILT.  Here is the one page summary:


           To see all 102 pages summarized into the above page, please email bbetzen@aol.com.

To emphasize the impossibility of such conflicts being allowed to continue, here is a possible agreement that any trustee working with or for a competing school system should be required to sign:


Carefully read the above form,  The impossibility of allowing such conflicts to continue is made very clear.  Why have they been allowed to continue on the Dallas ISD Board?