Making Dallas Even Better
Think Progress dove into a 2013 incident when a University of North Texas student named Derek Elrod rushed fraternity Sigma Phi Epsilon. Elrod speaks of a hazing incident which involved drinking straight vodka and being forced to do “complete countless push-ups”:
At that point, Elrod, who had been diagnosed in 2005 with a permanent medical condition involving abnormal nervous system functions, began to panic.
“I don’t even know how to explain the amount of mental anguish I was in,” he told ThinkProgress. “I felt like I was trapped…The lights were off, the blinds were closed…the door was closed, and there were guys in front of it…I had gotten to the point where I couldn’t even lift my own body up. It was the first moment in my life that I could not lift my own body up from the ground…I felt like I was not free to leave.”
Elrod eventually did get himself up, raced down the stairs, and dialed 911. According to video footage obtained by ThinkProgress, Randall denied Elrod’s allegations when the police officer arrived at the fraternity house, telling him: “We just kinda didn’t want him here because we thought he was on the homosexual side.”
“For our pledges, we just get like, ‘hey, you know man, he’s kind of on the weird side of heterosexual,’” Randall remarked. “I honestly thought he was homosexual. Hey guys, we shouldn’t invite him over to our house. It’s kind of weird that he is here.”
When the officer pressed: “You don’t like him because you think he is a homosexual?” Randall responded: “Honestly, yes…I mean, you get where I’m coming from?”
View the video above for more. Elrod was afterward told by the fraternity chapter to have no further contact with its membership. Read the whole thing to learn how the fraternity’s national organization has reacted (or, actually, not reacted).Full Story
By the fall of 2018, three new medical degree programs will be online in Central, North, and South Texas. But a challenge remains: MD students need residencies. And there’s a concern that Texas isn’t adding enough to keep up with demand. According to TMA figures, there were just 24 more residency positions than graduates in 2013. Is the state doing enough to provide these new graduates with residency slots in Texas? Full StoryFull Story
This one’s pretty self-explanatory. On his way out of town, former DISD superintendent Mike Miles stopped by the SAGA Pod world headquarters to discuss all things education: teacher evaluations, pre-K, bonds — you know, the sexy stuff. Also, I tell him he’s “stubborn as hell” — so that was fun. Remember, the iTunes link is here if you wanna subscribe. As always, please listen with your ears.Full Story
Police Call Missing Hurst Woman’s Disappearance “Suspicious.” Norma Shultz, 72, went missing on May 19. Her husband reported her absence to the police nearly a week later. Shultz’s daughter says her stepfather hasn’t been able to answer any of her questions. Police say they haven’t received any tips.
Lots of Thoughts of the Resignation of Mike Miles. A few places have timelines of the three years Miles has been in charge of DISD. Here’s an editorial lauding his accomplishments. And also, in the same publication, Steve Blow saying Miles was never a good fit in the first place.
Local News Outlet Finds Local Store Selling Confederate Flags. Even after Walmart and Amazon announced that they will stop selling Confederate merchandise, and Sears announced both that it still exists and that it will stop selling Confederate stuff, WFAA found a Dallas store that is still selling the Confederate flag. The place that has the nerve to sell this incredibly controversial flag is — get this — a flag store.
Rain Brings Out Alligators and Snakes. There are also more nutria and turtles. Deer too, apparently. Most of the sightings have been in Lewisville or in Tarrant County.
Mavericks Might Trade Monta Ellis. The incredibly dynamic shooting guard is owed $8.7 million for the one year remaining on his contract. It’s also possible that Ellis will opt out and test the free market. The Mavs have made it clear they have big plans for the off-season.Full Story
Barring a last-minute change of heart or trustees changing their minds, DISD superintendent Mike Miles plans to resign at a morning press conference, according to multiple sources.
The decision comes after the board refused to consider amending Miles’ contract to protect him from repercussions if he was fired this year — an increasingly likely scenario given some board members’ seething hatred of the man who tried to break up their fiefdoms.
But that is really just the culmination of a long slog Miles has endured as he fought to pass reform initiatives, including a revolutionary teacher and principal evaluation system, school choice, preK expansion, and others.
If you care about kids, especially poor kids, make no mistake: This is a sad day for Dallas.
I’m out of town but will have much more to say about this later in the week.
UPDATE (7:49) Miles confirms via text that he will resign.Full Story
Care about your city? Want to learn more about it? Apply to be a part of D Academy. It’s a nine-month immersion course in everything Dallas. It’s a time commitment, but you learn a great deal about the city, meet incredible people, and make a difference. Plus all these Dallas’ leaders take time out of their day to come talk to you.Full Story
Todd Williams is one of the leading education advocates in Dallas. He runs a nonprofit, Commit, that works with Dallas County schools to find data-driven solutions to tough education problems. He is the mayor’s advisor on education policy. And he is one of the smartest people in Texas on education matters in general. He’s asked that Learning Curve publish the guest column below, which takes an in-depth look at the core issues behind stagnant test scores in Dallas County and Texas — and which makes recommendations for improving these scores.
Todd’s column is below:
There’s been much recent discussion on why 2015 STAAR scores were once again stagnant, both at the state and local level within Dallas ISD, continuing a trend over the past four years. The questions raised were consistent. “Is it the assessment? Do we have the wrong standards? Why aren’t we making progress?”
My immediate reaction was to simply ask, “What have we really done to expect anything other than what we’re seeing?”
In some ways, […]Full Story
I’ve been avoiding writing about this kerfuffle for weeks. The one about three principals — Joy Morris at Wilmer-Hutchins Elementary, Dinnah Escanilla at North Dallas High, and Anna Brining at Rosemont middle and elementary schools – whose contract non-renewals were overturned by trustees but who were then fired by Mike Miles. I’ve avoided it because it involves personnel decisions at Dallas ISD, which means it involves people’s careers. Because the personnel files of most Chapter 21 employees (i.e., most educators) are confidential, I don’t like having to take someone’s word on what is contained therein. And unlike, say, Brett Shipp, I don’t like suggesting I know someone’s motivation just because it fits my narrative.
So I’m not going to be able to tell you what I think I know about Mike Miles’ decision to terminate three principals after the board of trustees had seemingly saved their jobs by declining to non-renew their contracts. (I’ll explain the difference soon.)
But I do want to explain the process that is going on here, because I find that most people don’t understand the issues that skew reporting on personnel matters. And almost nobody seems to know the difference between […]Full Story
McKinney School Forbids Message of Tolerance. About 15 students at Faubion Middle School on Wednesday wore shirts sporting the phrase “Gay O.K” — in support of a seventh-grader who was being bullied — and were asked to change clothes. The district spokesman said administrators’ concerns had nothing to do with the specific content of the students’ message, but instead were regarding the potential for disruptions.
Flood Damages Cost Millions. Sewage has spilled into Lake Carolyn in Irving, and it can’t be cleaned up until the water recedes. Restoring Dallas parks and golf courses will likely cost more than $2.6 million, and the city has no insurance to cover it. On the other hand, marinas and other businesses on Lake Bridgeport are happy that water levels there have risen 27 feet in the last month.
Police Union Criticizes Department For Disciplining Officers. Fort Worth Police had reassigned one officer and placed another on leave as a result of their actions at the end of last week’s slow-speed chase. Their lawyer called these measures a “knee-jerk reaction.”
State Highway 360 Buckles. The southbound ramp to the road coming from the south exit of Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport has raised 8 to 10 inches above the surrounding pavement in one section, creating a speed bump that sent cars airborne as they drove over it. It’s been closed until repairs can be made Friday.
Mark Cuban as the President of the United States: (see below.)Full Story
I got sidetracked on school finance, but I want to come back to something I promised last week: Looking at how the newspaper’s editorial writers fail to put school testing results in context. Since I just asked you to slog through 2K words on bridge plans and general operating funds, I will try to keep this as short and sweet as possible.
Recall I had problems with the way the DMN characterized the incomplete STAAR results. If you haven’t read Jeffrey Weiss’s excellent responses in the comments, please do so. He says that even if the paper should have been clearer about not including Spanish language STAAR results in its headline/analysis, the results when they’re included still are mixed-to-poor. I don’t disagree with him – I say in fact that I’m not defending DISD’s STAAR performance, I’m criticizing how incomplete data sets are presented to the public.
In any case, that DMN story begat three editorial board posts: […]Full Story
Brett Shipp needs help. Actually, he may be beyond help. But I’m going to try to explain school finance to him one more time, since he seems determined to pretend to report on DISD. His latest example of journalistic malfeasance can be found here.
So, what you should do to prep for this post is watch the video above, cued to the 1:46 mark, for about 10 and a half minutes. (For some reason, I can’t get embeds to work right. If it cues to the wrong spot, just click this link.) It’s from this past Thursday’s board meeting, and it features DISD CFO Jim Terry, trustee Joyce Foreman, trustee Bernadette Nutall, and trustee Mike Morath talking budget stuff. Watch until Foreman gives my favorite quote of the year: “I don’t like being corrected when I know I’m right.” This segment will give you the background you need to read this primer, which will explain why Shipp’s story that DISD is in some sort of financial straights is complete bulsh.
(As an aside, a similar DMN story also quoted ignorant trustees about the same issue, but at least it added the correct information at story’s end.)
In fact, Brett Shipp’s fantasy segment has so much wrong with it, we’re going to have to break the first part of it down piece by piece. Let’s do this: […]Full Story
Jerry Jones Gets a New Hip. This David Moore story about the Cowboys owner is funny. Read it closely and it sounds a little like we’re reading about Putin in a Russian newspaper. “He has undergone hip replacement surgery but it won’t keep the Cowboys owner away from training camp. He won’t even need a cane to walk off the plane in Oxnard. This is just like when he had shoulder surgery and only missed one day of work. He is a fifth-degree black belt and has been known to engage three-day, nonstop lovemaking sessions.”
Police Looking for Man Accused of Sexually Assaulting Women in Far North Dallas. Safety tip: if you meet a guy and he asks if you’ll let him give you a massage because he’s studying to be a masseur and needs to practice for a test, be a little suspicious.
Rowlett Cop Saves Toddler’s Life. Solid work by Officer Patrick Ray. But this Fox 4 story calls his actions heroic. Let’s be careful with that word, people. The girl had a coin stuck in her throat. He cleared her airway. It is possible to save a life without being heroic.
Hinojosa To Be Permanent DISD Super? Michael Hinojosa is the interim superintendent for the district, but this story says, “FOX 4 has learned that a majority of school board members are open to considering him for the permanent job.” I’m a little confused, though. Because only one trustee is quoted in the story. And there’s no mention of the reporter having surveyed the rest of school board. But whatever. Let’s go with that.
Dick Bass, R.I.P. The oilman and first person to climb the tallest mountain on all seven continents died Sunday night. He was 85. Read his obit.Full Story
Violent Crime Up in Dallas. Through the first half of 2015, the total number of murders, rapes, aggravated assaults, and robberies is up 10 percent. No one has a firm explanation for the spike, but police say they are flooding high-crime zones with more manpower to try to stem the tide.
Bush and Clinton Play Nice. Though former presidents George W. and Bill each have a family member vying to win the White House in 2016, they shared the stage last evening to celebrate the graduation of the first class of Presidential Leadership Scholars at the Bush Presidential Center:
“Last night my granddaughter spoke to me in Mandarin,” Bush said, before the crowd, and Clinton, erupted in laughter.
Sounds like it was an easy room.
Former Morning News Editor Takes UNT Gig. Bob Mong, who retired from our local daily newspaper in May, is apparently already sick of spending more time with his family. He’s been named the lone finalist for the presidency of the Dallas campus of the University of North Texas. The current president, Ronald Brown, is being promoted to run the university system’s health care programs, including the newly announced medical school in Fort Worth. I’ll always remember how Mong took the time to write me a short note of praise for a column I’d written for the group of community news sections I once ran at the DMN. He understood that it means a lot to know the guy in the big office on the other side of the building is actually reading your stuff, especially when it’s not the stuff on the front page. He was extremely kind and supportive of our team’s work — not to mention a surprisingly good softball player. Big congrats to him.
Blind Alligator Removed From the Trinity in Fort Worth. “Nuisance Alligator Hunter” is not a new Animal Planet series. It’s something someone can be licensed to do, someone like Chris Stevens, who was called in to catch a 10-foot-2-inch reptile that showed up in the river near the city’s downtown after heavy rains in June. The animal was safely moved to a nature preserve.
Lake Dallas Mayor Resigns Without Explanation. Tony Marino stepped down as the top elected official in the small Denton County city last night, just a few weeks after the shady shenanigans in which he and the city manager/police chief seemed to have engineered the ouster of a newly elected city council member who’d been critical of them. Marino’s replacement, Mike McCaleb, vowed to bring the “wounded” city back together, descending from the dais to address those in attendance:
McCaleb began to cry. “I’m a big baby, too,” he said. “My sister used to accuse me of having a bladder behind my eyes.”
Many residents laughed at his joke.
Sounds like it was an easy room.Full Story
The Board of Regents of the University of North Texas on Monday offered its unanimous support of the Health Science Center at Fort Worth to team with Texas Christian University to form a new medical degree program, an initiative that will create the third medical school in North Texas and the second M.D. tract. Full StoryFull Story
Hood County Threatened With Gay-Marriage Lawsuit. Two men in Granbury want to exercise the right to which the Supreme Court last week affirmed they are entitled, but the men so far have been denied. They’ve now moved towards taking legal action against the county government for not issuing them a license. Meanwhile dueling rallies converged upon the courthouse Thursday to express their support for, or opposition to, the county clerk’s refusal to comply with the law.
UNT, TCU to Partner on Medical School. It’d be only the second program in Dallas-Fort Worth to confer M.D. degrees. Though neither university has confirmed the news, sources told the Fort Worth Business Press that the board of trustees for the UNT Health Science Center in Fort Worth is expected to vote on the plan Monday. UNT already operates the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine there, and the school’s previously announced intention to add a medical school has been opposed in the past by osteopaths. TCU would provide much of the funding that the state has so far declined to contribute to the effort.
Murder Rate Up in June. Dallas saw 20 homicides during the month — the most since August 2013 — and police don’t have a solid explanation for the uptick.
Interim DISD Chief Supports Teacher Evaluation System. Dallas teachers who had hoped the departure of district superintendent Mike Miles would spell the end of a controversial means of determining which classroom educators are getting the job done may be disappointed to hear Miles’ temporary replacement, Michael Hinojosa tell WFAA, “We need to support the teachers but also they need to realize these initiatives are going to move forward.”Full Story
After days of negotiation, a majority of Dallas ISD trustees plan to vote tonight to name Mike Miles’ predecessor, Michael Hinojosa, as the interim superintendent, according to multiple administration and board sources.
Hinojosa left the district in 2011, went to Georgia to run a suburban Atlanta district, then quit in 2014 to return to his family in Texas and work for an education company. The reason trustees see him as the best possible interim superintendent: he won’t want the job full-time, he has credibility with many disparate stakeholders in the DISD community (Bill Betzen loves him!), and yet he will gladly sign on to promote the district’s (likely) bond package (he sold the last bond package) and protect Miles’ key reform initiatives. That’s because Hinojosa was seen as sort of a “pre-reformer” — laying the groundwork for teacher evaluation, bringing in TFA, etc.
The key quality trustees feel that he brings: stability. He’s likely to keep the cabinet in place, and gives hope that the full-time successor will do so as well.Full Story
Mike Miles To Resign Today. You have to get up early to scoop Eric Celeste. He beat Leading Off today with the bad news.
Jordan Spieth Is Golf’s “Golden Child.” Bill Nichols writes that Spieth doesn’t care for the term. But it’s the truth.
Six New Dallas Council Members Sworn in. Adam McGough and Casey Thomas bumped fists to celebrate. Next time, work on your chest bump, boys.
Virgin Hotel Coming to Design District. The 200-room hotel on Hi Line and Turtle Creek will likely open in 2018. Feels like it’s getting very hotel-y in and around downtown Dallas. Here’s hoping we’ll have enough backs for all those beds.
Dwaine Caraway Has Good Timing. Today at a luncheon he will announce that he’s running for John Wiley Price’s seat on the County Commissioners Court. Yesterday he got some more material for his speech. An Austin woman was charged with lying to the FBI about payments in the Price corruption case.Full Story
Laurie Seidel spent much of her youth in a doctor’s office. She played with the toys in the waiting room of her father’s private pediatric practice, watching child after child leave the office sniffling with puffy eyes. She didn’t always dream of donning a white coat and a stethoscope. But things don’t always work out like you plan them. Now 26, Seidel has added the title of “Dr.” before her name, and last month accepted the highest recognition that a UT Southwestern Medical Center graduate can receive. Full StoryFull Story
Over on Learning Curve, Todd Williams breaks down how we’re failing kids in Dallas County and across Texas. He points to several things that must be done to combat the problem, then asks if we have the political will to make them happen. It will make your mind grapes plump and juicy. Please to read.Full Story
The impending physician shortage has now bubbled to the surface. And politicians both at the state and federal levels are doing something about it. Texas is facing a broad need, particularly in the wide-open rural counties and in urban sectors where poverty is rampant and infrastructure is lacking. Statewide, there are about 186 physicians for every 100,000 residents, according to the Texas Medical Association. The national average is 236. Full StoryFull Story
Over on Learning Curve, Eric bristles at the suggestion made by Morning News editorial writers that because Dallas ISD was making gains in its TAKS standardized test results under previous superintendent Michael Hinojosa, current superintendent Mike Miles should be faulted for not continuing the trend in the recently released STAAR scores.
The problem is that what occurred under Hinojosa was something of a mirage:
Because TAKS, the state realized, was measuring not what kids knew nor whether they could think, but how well they had been trained to take the TAKS test. In edu speak, TAKS wasn’t “rigorous.” That’s why the state switched to STAAR, a more-rigorous test in many ways. (Too rigorous, many critics contend.)
The funny thing is, the state got exactly what it wanted – a tougher test that would better give educators a sense of where kids really stood in relation to the rest of the nation and the world. But that has caused everybody to freak out. Because it turns out that our state isn’t making any noticeable educational progress. It hasn’t for years (see the NAEP or SAT data, which goes back far longer than TAKS). But our state has, up until about three years ago with the advent of STAAR, hidden that fact with easy tests that have shown consistent gains (statewide, and in DISD). This is partly because of the Faustian bargain everyone made with TAKS (and its predecessors): educators, media, parents, all the stakeholders in the game said, “Look, we really just want to report year-over-year improvement; it makes everyone feel better.” In fact, a TEA official was complaining just last week about this, wondering just WHY these damn STAAR test results are flat.
Question: What should be the Big D Reads 2016 book? — Krista N.
Firstly, I am compelled as a man of conscience to challenge the premise of your question. I’m not at all convinced that it is proper to encourage the unwashed masses towards literary interests. Consider: we spend untold billions of public dollars teaching children to translate ancient Roman symbols into the familiar phonemes of modern English vernacular only to see dreck like this elevated to the top of best-seller lists:Full Story
North Texas Lakes Are Full. The Army Corps of Engineers says it may take several months to release all the excess water in our lakes. I’m trying to do my part by taking extra long showers and flushing twice.
DISD Punching Bag Gets Punched Again. This time the district hired a transportation director from Georgia who was pushed out of his previous gig after a woman accused him of sexual harassment. And so it goes.
City of Dallas Spams Dallasites. Last week I got something in the mail that looked like it came from the city. Something about buying insurance for my sewer line. Did you get this thing, too? Turns out, it was snail mail spam, generated by a company that paid the city $450,000 to use its logo. World class!Full Story