Thursday, July 23, 2020

Covid-19 Dangers Present Opportunity for Dallas ISD, Testimony to Board

It was very impressive to listen to the 20 or so teachers who spoke before me today about the dangers of returning to the classroom. I will not repeat that data but will add one source of related data not yet mentioned.

I have spent hundreds of hours searching for a nation or state that successfully started schools face to face with a daily infection rate above 5 per 100,000 population.  No such place exists.  Dallas County has an infection rate 8 times greater than that!  How can we start in-person school with only failures in the nationwide and the international record with starting schools with infection rates even lower than our rates here in Dallas?

We have the opportunity of introducing our students to accelerated online learning.  This will push our students into the future ahead of their time.   If we do it correctly, this will be known as a time of accelerated achievement.

First, we have teachers who overwhelmingly do not want to have in-person classes that expose their students and themselves to potential Covid-19 infections.

Second, we have hundreds of thousands of adults at home, retired or unemployed, including grandparents and other relatives, who would find great satisfaction in helping our students as online tutors.  We also have the screening systems needed to screen and clear large numbers of volunteers for this sensitive work.

Third, the technology exists to have all tutoring be recorded and monitored at random by the teachers and other DISD staff for safety and meeting academic goals.

Fourth, most of you know of the School Time Capsule Project that is now 16 years old in Dallas ISD.  It is being moved to an online version so that students can more easily secure the family history letters from parents and relatives also addressing their dreams for the students.  Increasing the focus on life goals and dreams for the future will help students realize the importance of these online classes.  Hopefully, the parents and/or grandparents can even become online tutors for the students.  Motivated students change everything!

Today's decisions could set up our students for great steps forward, or for increased illness and, God forbid, even death if you are wrong. The School Board must not respond to anything other than the best interest of our children.

Thank you for the work you do.

Thursday, June 11, 2020

6-11-20 DISD Briefing Testimony: Creating a single spreadsheet for Racial Equity data


Honorable Trustees and Dr. Hinojosa. I am Bill Betzen.

I am honored to be a member of the Racial Equity Office Advisory Committee and am extremely impressed with the team. The specific recommendation from each of the four committees formed is in the presentation the Racial Equity Office will give today. It is item 6 B on your agenda.

On page 13 are the recommendations from each of the four committees. 


Notice the similarities of focus.  Three of the four committees recommended annual reports, audits, or the establishment of a DISD Racial Equity Dashboard related to their area of responsibility. All are recommendations related to the reporting of data. The fourth committee, “Community Involvement” recommended making certain every DISD home has access to the Internet in their home. How else can our students and their families be involved?

These recommendations must be achieved.

Three of the committee's recommendations can pull their data from the same single annual spreadsheet. That School Information File, under "Resources" in the DISD Data Portal, must include all data the public requests on each school, stored in one single spreadsheet with each school covered in one row and 250+ columns of data to include all the most critical data the public is requesting about our schools.

It only needs more columns of data to be added to this single spreadsheet. Data will be added to the School Information File for use in Racial Equity reports as available throughout the school year.  This School Information File spreadsheet is then frozen into an Annual School Information File at the end of each school year. Nothing fancy is needed. The history of DISD racial equity will be shared as never before as data is pulled from this central source for the recommended reports.

The public will be able to follow racial equity, along with thousands of additional components building DISD success. They will be able to follow it in a way that has never to-date happened in Dallas ISD!  All that is needed is a 7th grade understanding of spreadsheets.
The urgency of transparency is reflected in a 22-year-old article about Dallas ISD from 1998 titled "Corrupt Empire."  It is initially hilarious, but not for long. As you read the humor disappears.

Think of how students in the 1990's were neglected due to this theft of both money and attention. Nothing like this can continue https://www.dmagazine.com/publications/d-magazine/1998/april/corrupt-empire/.


But still, 22 years later, Dallas does not have needed, easy-to-use transparency. That needed transparency must be the work of the Racial Equity Office.