Notes on the Home Rule Commission Aftermath

Miguel Solis with another edition of Locker Talk.

Running around recording podcasts today. I hope to post three next week that look at Dallas education issues in-depth. But I wanted to throw up a few quick bullet points regarding the Home Rule Commission.

• At yesterday’s board meeting, DISD president Miguel Solis mentioned again his ad-hoc governance committee, and said it would welcome recommendations from the HRC on how the district can better govern. This is no surprise: Solis said the same thing on a podcast with me weeks ago. I talked to Solis for a long time yesterday discussing this, and there’s no doubt he’s sincere in his desire to hold governance discussions in public and test the board’s willingness to address concerns I and others have about its ability to effectively manage change. But two things about that. One, he doesn’t disagree that such a discussion will only be worthwhile if the board is truly committed to doing what’s best for kids and ignores whatever self-interests may arise. (That’s a nice way of saying he has no comment when I say things like, “There’s no freaking way the status quo members are going to let anyone dilute their authority to meddle!”) And two, just for the record, he is still not a supporter of home rule, no matter what your TV says.

• About that Brett Shipp story. This little note made me chuckle:

Solis said it was always more about changing the governance structure on the Board than instituting education reforms.

“We need to focus on how to ensure we are walking a line of governance, and how do we effectively work on our relationship with management,” he said.

Solis declined to provide specific examples of how the current board structure has failed.

Well, of course he declined. He has to work with these people. But anyone can tell you how it fails: Every meeting is a tense stand-off between board members who want to focus on policy and hands-off governance and those who want to meddle in the day-to-day workings of the administration. Look, in the past six months of full board meetings (not briefings), 79 agenda items have been pulled from the consent agenda for open discussion. Of those, 74 — or 94 percent — were pulled by Joyce Foreman and Bernadette Nutall. Overwhelmingly, those issues were procurement issues. That is a board that is clearly divided — one that I believe focuses on procurement to the exclusion of real leadership and policy making. This is not new, and has been going on for 35 years. Any sane person sees that as a failed structure.

• Jim Schutze, as always, has a great take on all this. You should read it. I would link to it but I can’t get their damn website to come up. Just go to Unfair Park and find it yourself, lazy.

• Final note: Since my last post, I’ve had a lot of people reach out to me not just in the comments section but also via email, Facebook, texts, you name it. Some agree with me, some disagree, some commissioners said thank you, some said eff you, but there was a lot of passion in every message. It’s the sort of emotion that I never consistently saw from the commission until it decided not to put a vote to the citizens. I guess what I’m saying is, I’m glad to see it’s there. Wish I’d seen it earlier.


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