DISD School Board Trustee Dr. Edwin Flores' editorial lauding Superintendent Hinojosa's leadership is stunning. Not stunning in a positive way, but stunning that Dr. Flores can look at the sum of Dr. Hinojosa's performance and then make the claims he does in his op-ed, Edwin Flores: Hinojosa's vision will affect Dallas for decades (DallasNews.com, 11/14/7).
I am certainly a proponent of having a first class public school system in Dallas, second to none. However, under current leadership, I just don't think we will get there. I certainly don't think Dr. Hinojosa's vision will affect Dallas for decades, at least not in a positive way.
First, I agree with Dr. Flores that Dr. Hinojosa has public education to thank for his success. Dr. Hinojosa should also be lauded for having achieved what we all want for our children -- a college education. For that accomplishment, congratulations to Dr. Hinojosa.
Innovator? Dr. Flores says Dr. Hinojosa relies not only on rigor, relevance and relationships, but also on results. As for relationships, much has been said about how his botched handling the reorganization did little to inspire employees or motivate them to give of their best. It left them feeling demoralized and devalued. So, it is stunning that Dr. Flores can say that Hinojosa relies on relationships as one facet of his supposed innovative leadership.
Results? We certainly haven't seen any positive results yet. We have an increase in low-performing schools and a decrease in recognized and exemplary schools. In the 2006-07 school year, the number of schools not meeting Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) under No Child Left Behind (NCLB) almost doubled from 26 failing schools in 2005-06 to 46 failing schools this past school year.
Each school that does not meet AYP standards must comply with certain requirements to take corrective action. Many of those DISD schools under mandated requirements for corrective action are not complying. It seems as if no one at DISD, including the superintendent, is doing anything to make them comply with those requirements/corrective action. Jim Savage is the TEA person who monitors DISD's compliance in this area. His phone number is (512) 463-9414. Someone may want to check with him to see how well, or not, DISD schools are complying with mandated requirements for corrective action.
I asked one of the content specialists assigned to help the low performing schools improve if there was any substantive change at the local school level now that the reorganization had taken place and there were supposedly more dollars being directed to the schools. The specialist's answer: No.
I asked one of the principals if they saw any substantive change, if they felt more empowered now that the reorganization has taken place and supposedly more dollars are being directed to the schools. The principal's answer: No.
Dallas Achieves? While it's great that you had 65 leading voices (some of which do not even live in Dallas nor have children in DISD schools) leading this reform effort, you never hear how the initiatives under Dallas Achieves have been shared with the parents or the community at large. I have not heard of any meetings convened with parents or the community around Dallas Achieves. Sounds like it might be a great plan, but many parents I've asked about it reply "I don't know." So, you can have the greatest plan in the world written on paper, but unless it's real to the majority stakeholders in the DISD, what good does it do? Parents do not seem to hold a high place of priority in the DISD. It might be written on paper that they do, but in practice, where's the proof?
The Transformation? Enough said on that. Botched, shoddy, callous, demoralizing, devaluing. With all that is known in today's world about going from good to great, this superintendent and his team get an "F" from the perspective of many. The Board of Trustees fare no better a grade for having allowed it to be implemented so callously.
The Superintendent's Team? Dr. Flores lauds the fact that the superintendent brought in four non-educators to be part of his top team.
1) HR Person: left the military under an ethical cloud, has no HR experience
2) Business person: led company that is now defunct. He did not even leave a company that grew and prospered under him, but he's supposed to provide good guidance in DISD business practices. Can you say P-card clean-up? Hasn't happened under Hinojosa or the business guy.
3) IRS investigator: When people make complaints to the integrity office headed up by this former IRS investigator, there is no formal follow-up. Practices in this office leave a lot to be desired.
4) Other retired CEO? I don't know who the other retired CEO is. If it's the person over Transformation, can you say nepotism? Can you say botched transformation?
Just a few points as to why I am stunned at the claims being made about this superintendent's supposed visionary leadership and his leaving an impact on Dallas for decades. I wish I could agree with Dr. Flores; however, I just don't see it.
While Dr. Flores heaps praise on the superintendent, it's interesting that none of his platitudes are backed up by hard data to prove the points he is making. Could it be that the data does not match the rhetoric and that the vision could prove to be opaque?