The DMN Returns Fire Over Our Take On Their DISD Reporting

In our April issue, I wrote about how the Dallas Morning News covers Dallas ISD. You can read that here. Yesterday, DMN education reporter Kent Fischer protected his turf on their DISD blog, and today, his colleague Mike Hashimoto got Fischer’s back on one of the other 50 blogs they have over there.

I find both responses to be fairly disingenuous. My point wasn’t that the DMN shouldn’t go for blood when there is a real story there (the budget shortfall, various scandals at SOC, etc. — all of which Hashimoto is careful to add to the scoreboard). No. That’s exactly what the daily paper should do. That is its job. My point was the Morning News treats everything over at DISD like one of those scandals, which makes the situation seem worse than it is and which, yes, tends to scare off prospective parents. I stand by what I said.

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Comments

74 responses to “The DMN Returns Fire Over Our Take On Their DISD Reporting”

  1. Eric Celeste says:

    I know and respect Hash, but I’m with Zac here, as I’ve made fairly clear.

    I had a spirited back and forth with someone in the DMN newsroom the other day. That person did not want me to post our discussion, and I stand by that. (I hope these discussions go on there, but I don’t think they do.) But I think I can post my response to one of the points raised, as it’s relevant here:

    “I believe DISD stories are constantly overplayed. I’ve never said anything about a conspiracy, or a group mindset. I complain about a culture that sees DISD as an investigative beat PRIMARILY and not an explanatory one. I’ve been very clear on that, and I think it’s a detriment to the community. Not that what you write doesn’t have merit, but that I feel there’s little balance in your paper (not in your stories). And the explanatory stories that are written are usually some intern drivel, because those aren’t the “important” stories. I think that attitude is unfortunate, and I’ll debate it with any editor there. That has nothing to do with what you do.”

  2. Tom says:

    I think that is important to cover the district, both good and bad, but it does seem that the bad gets higher play than the good, even if it’s not as newsworthy as something good.
    I also think that cutbacks in the reporting staff have left only enough people to cover the bad and fewer to write about the teachers, administrators and students who are doing great things in the district. That, or they just figured it’d show up in neighborsgo.
    Perhaps the “changes to my Local News section” will lead to more positive stories and features out of DISD. But more reporters and less meddlers would be a great place to start.

  3. Troll Doll says:

    Could it not also be that because there is an unspoken “mitts off” approach to much of the City of Dallas detritus (Trinity, Hotel), that in order to have any kind of investigatory bombs to lob, it has to come from DISD?

    I’m not saying everything is dandy over there, because it’s obviously not. But it’s not as bad as one would believe from the paper, either. But if you can’t dissect big ticket city issues like the Trinity and the convention center hotel, that dissection has to happen somewhere – and the DISD has become the bug under the spyglass.

  4. Rawlins Gilliland says:

    FYI, there was a terrific and positive editorial in the DMN yesterday (written by William McKenzie) about my DISD east Dallas alma mater—James B. Bonham Elementary (on Henderson between the Old Monk and Louie’s)—- being recognized and honored nationally despite being almost totally low income Hispanic and abandoned by my old neighborhood’s new upscale occupants.

  5. Zac Crain says:

    If Ragland “enjoyed Fischer’s smack down” of me, then I absolutely know I am in the right.

  6. I like Kent Fischer and a lot of the DMN editors and metro folks, but you have to take Hashimoto with a grain of salt.

    I can respect the fact that most of the DMag writers live in Dallas and some have their kids in DISD schools. To me, that holds more water than somebody in Flower Mound pointing the finger at those of us that live here. The best way to be an advocate is to be a stakeholder.

    Donald Moten (the old principal at SOC) is gone. The new Principal at SOC, Regina Jones is doing great work at the school – remember that. Do what you want with Moten.

  7. Mike Hashimoto says:

    Michael, with all due respect, I grew up here. I attended DISD schools. I owned a house in the district and paid taxes on it. My parents still do, same house south of Kiest Park.

    Your implication that living outside the city invalidates the argument is silly, at best. It would be like arguing that you can’t have an opinion on things that happened in Dallas before you bothered to move here.

    Which I’m not doing, of course. That would be dumb.

  8. Troll Doll says:

    Mike H.

    Did time stand still after you left Oak Cliff? If you know how to accomplish such a feat, please let me know.

  9. @Mike H:

    be clear – in no way am I defending this stuff that reportedly went on at SOC a few years back.

    I know you lived here and went to school here (Kimball right?). It’s just so frustrating when you live here and go to as many DISD school meetings and volunteer wherever and whenever you can and people keep throwing grenades with no resolution or sweat equity.

    And that’s my point – come back to us Mike.

    We need more advocates in the city. You know that OC and other parts of southern Dallas have beautiful areas. A DMN writer like you that’s a DISD grad that moves back here and is the change agent from (within while we’re working on what went right and went wrong)? It would be just like when Tim Rogers writes about Hexter and Hill. Or when Allen Gwinn does the same.

    Now THAT would make a great story.

  10. Pointy Finger of Doom says:

    Hashimoto, I burst forth from my mother’s womb 29 years ago, but I cannot still claim intimate knowledge of her birth canal.

    Just because you grew up somewhere doesn’t mean you’re knowledgeable about Oak Cliff now. You know about Oak Cliff, circa what – 1984? Time marches on.

  11. Mike Hashimoto says:

    @Pointy

    Agreed, and I would never claim knowledge of any kind about your mother.

    Just as it would be a wild guess for you to tell me about my knowledge of Oak Cliff today.

  12. R. Dickard says:

    Maybe the DMN writes so many “negative” stories about DISD because DISD is a poorly managed, poor-performing school district, and Dallas residents deserve to know about the problems so that they can demand better.

    Nah, too easy.

  13. LakeWWWooder says:

    While Belo tries to hang all DISD schools with SOC, Lakewood Now was running these stories and photos:

    “New Lakewood Elementary students heard Michael Barton speak about his experience. Barton is a Lakewood and J.L. Long Middle School graduate who now attends Woodrow Wilson High School and hopes to go to college at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the fall.” http://www.lakewood-now.net/view/article/8597

    “It’s a year of celebration at Woodrow Wilson High School. The school turns 80, and the show choir Variations celebrates 30 years of performances.

    The choir presented “Rhythm of Life” early this month at the Sara Ellen and Samuel Weisfeld Center in downtown Dallas.

    Directed by John Beaird and Sean Morrison, students in the group belted out a wide variety of tunes from Broadway musicals to Paul Simon songs. Choreographer Bessie Waddill made sure that every part of the stage was covered with movement.

    Forty-five seniors and juniors make up Variations, while 30 freshmen and sophomores sing in Counterpoint.” http://www.lakewood-now.net/view/article/8891

  14. Troll Doll says:

    Good point, LakeWWWooder. How can a district as bad as DISD produce such a student? It’s a wonder the “Good Kid” segment isn’t entirely populated by the home schooled, the suburban child, and the private schooled.

  15. Amy S says:

    Or what about the recent state Mock Trial tournament (held here in Dallas no less), 2 of the 4 finalists were from DISD (Skyline and Hillcrest). Page 2 of Metro, and at that basically a “cut and paste” of what I had posted on my blog.

    Perhaps the News will run a feature on the magnificent team from Skyline who will be off to Nationals in May?

    Perhaps they’ll highlight how DISD has the largest region for mock trial in the state – allowing for two entries into the state tournament.

    Perhaps they’ll get someone like, well, like Kevin Sherrington (a DISD dad) to start writing the excellent feature type stories that he does so well for sports.

    Or perhaps not. Sigh.

  16. J Montenegro says:

    Nah, wealthy Lakewood families that place a high value on education produce MIT and Ivy League grads. The school district has only a small part in that.

  17. Troll Doll says:

    I have this sneaking suspicion that any DISD story emanating from 508 Young Street will go something like this:

    “Suzy Q. Public of South Oak Cliff High is her class valedictorian, and will be attending Harvard in the fall.

    We’re positive there’s something fishy about that.”

  18. Rawlins Gilliland says:

    As I leave for the Trinity Forest trails with my hounds in tow, may I share:
    What I’ve learned about life lately in no particular order:

    1) People think you are brilliant when you agree with them.
    2) People who hate cats have never had one of their own.
    3) People who disparage the DISD out of hand have spent precious little time there…lately …if al all.

    To the 3rd point at hand:

    I’ve been the speaking engagement party ham for a successful DISD funraiser at my elementary alma mater (James Bonham on Henderson in East Dallas) maybe three weeks ago. I spoke at SOC last year to drop outs who had dropped back in. I volunteered for ‘Career Day’ at Robert Wilonsky’s (French surname elementary alma mater that I can’t remember how to spell on Merrill Rd.) in NW Dallas. What in the world is everyone who is doing nothing to help DISD doing to move this subject…and Dallas schools…and the future of your kids (I have none but pay school taxes) …forward?

    (Tri-lingual answer?
    Nothing
    Nada
    Jack s___t)

  19. Troll Doll says:

    And another good point.

    Anyone can point at the fire. It takes much more in the way of stones to run up with the bucket of water.

  20. If anyone here has items of value worth donating to the Everett Lee DeGolyer Elementary Dad’s Club auction next month, let me hear from ya. All I have at present are Eric Celeste’s “slightly worn” shirts.

  21. Oh, and Rawlins, it’s F.P. Caillet Elementary School, so named for an early Ross Avenue developer.

    http://blogs.dallasobserver.com/unfairpark/2009/03/for_whom_should_dallas_indepen.php

  22. Seven says:

    Word of the day = disingenuous?

  23. Christine says:

    Robert – for your dad’s club auction, how about 300 signed Mr. Funny Guy books?

  24. RayRay says:

    Zac: “I stand by what I said.”

    That’s good, because I was hoping you would finally admit to your shoddy understanding of real journalism and say you were wrong.

    Instead, we get to see more fun debate! The dance continues…

  25. Zac Crain says:

    @RayRay: What took you so long?

  26. Troll Doll says:

    He was looking for a clean bowl?

  27. Kind, patient Christine: I appreciate the need to clean out the garage. But the “of value” part really is the key here.

  28. RayRay says:

    @Zac: I was out looking for a way to save journalism.

    …Came back empty-handed.

  29. Un-Kirked says:

    Alas, your coy pondering attempted splash reminds us of the drought Dallas currently suffers.

  30. RayRay says:

    @Zac: Thanks! I learned my sense of timing and wit from the people on this blog.

    Oh, and I’m glad to know you were expecting me to post. I feel like a minor celebrity.

  31. JeanS says:

    Ugh, but RayRay is right.

    Zac proves again and again he doesn’t understand what real journalists do.

  32. Seven says:

    @Kirk: All this has happened before and will happen again.

  33. Stacy says:

    Lol! Looks like someone who thinks posters should only use their real names is running late for his announced constitutional stroll.

  34. Dallasite says:

    @ Rawlins:

    “1) People think you are brilliant when you agree with them.”

    I think I’m brilliant even when people don’t agree with me.

    2) People who hate cats have never had one of their own.

    Yeah, they haven’t had one because they hate them. Duh.

    3) People who disparage the DISD out of hand have spent precious little time there…lately …if al all.

    Being an advocate should not require that you be a cheerleader. Many of us that live in Dallas are legitimately concerned about the awful state the school district is in, and we aren’t just bashing DISD for the fun of it. We want it to change. We want it to get better. The scandals that have happened there over the past five years should have led to dozens of convictions, hundreds of resignations, and at least a few whippin’s in the principal’s office of some of the more well paid individuals in the District’s front office. Instead we got dead silence.

    A poor education system hurts the entire city. It forces the wealth run to the suburbs. It leads to higher poverty rates. It leads to higher taxes in order to pay for the programs needed to combat that poverty. It ultimately leads to blight, and we have far too much of that in our city already.

    It isn’t “bashing” to expect more from our school district that blantant theft, blown budgets, Social Security fraud, 50% dropout rate, and changing the standards in order to show higher school ratings without those schools actually improving.

  35. Dallasite says:

    @JeanS

    “Zac proves again and again he doesn’t understand what real journalists do.”

    Please, enlighten us. What do real journalists do?

  36. LakeWWWooder says:

    Amy S. congrats to the Hillcrest mock trial team. Last year we (Woodrow) placed second in state and Harvard invited the whole team up in December. You might not know because there was nothing in the newspaper about that either.

    Rawlins congrats to your alma mater Bonham. I am shocked that the formula used for the award was not dissected by the folks at The News.

    You don’t see other DISD schools earning honors getting an editorial. If you read the Belo blogs you will learn: Newsweek naming your school top in the nation must be wrong, Texas Monthly naming your school “Best in Texas” can’t be printed, a “Blue Ribbon” for your school is not that big of a deal and if your valedictorian goes to Yale and your salutatorian goes to Princeton, the kid who dropped out is more newsworthy…

  37. Zac Crain says:

    @JeanS: I know what real journalists do, and I know when they’re overdoing it. Forget the total number of requests. Look at the amount of requests from the DMN/WFAA (144) vs. the total number of requests filed by ALL media last year (75). So just under twice as many.

    That last number includes FOI requests from people like Allen Gwinn and Jim Schutze, who absolutely make it their job to kick DISD in the jeans when it is appropriate, and perhaps even go on their own fishing expeditions every now and then. (I have, too — every journalist has at some point.)

    I’d ask if you thought those numbers are slightly out of whack, but I’m pretty sure what your answer would be.

  38. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot says:

    Even on a day when there’s a lively debate on FB between two influential Dallasites (yay!), we still have to deal with those who profess to hate this blog, yet continue to take the time and read it, and then remind us just how much it sux and how much they hate it.

    I swear the comments section in here has gotten worse since the DMN layoffs/buyouts.

    I still heart you Zac.

  39. Zac Crain says:

    I heart you, too, WTF.

  40. RayRay says:

    I’m right there with you, Whiskey. Those people are the worst!

    I mean, how dare people criticize something but then continue to read it? That would be like the bloggers at FrontBurner still reading the DMN! Psshaw!

    I just wish all of those annoying people would go find another blog and let us loyalists stay around to pat each other on the backs.

  41. Eric Celeste says:

    Thank you, WTF. I know how radio folks feel when the same folks call in every day to tell them how stupid they are. It’s like, and you’re listening why?

    The response to this and the Trinity discussion and such is the reason it makes me crazy when people say they don’t like what is happening to journalism today. When I came here, in 1988, the DMN spoke from on high, and there was no public debate. Now, we can argue about these important topics. Readers can join in the debate, and we’re a better city for it.

    BTW, I’m also in favor of posts about Charity Beaver or that hot guy from Prison Break just to break things up.

  42. Troll Doll says:

    Which guy on Prison Break do you find attractive, Eric, and what other men do you find attractive?

  43. RayRay says:

    Exactly, Eric! Well said. It’s like: We don’t want your business, you scalawags! Go bother someone else! And get off of our lawn!

    As for the radio folks, it’s clear they need to fire their call screeners. Nobody wants to hear that kind of negativity. “Positive calls only, please!”

  44. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot says:

    Loyalists .. I like that. But I prefer the Spanish Civil War type to your run-o’-the-mill American Revolutionary War type.

    Now, you’ll have to excuse me while I go Ranch-Up my Cactus Juice and go Strong Mayor on a Spider Monkey … after I sign Zac’s petition, of course.

  45. Eric Celeste says:

    RayRay: I love dissent and disagreement. I love people making smart points that make me think. Yours never do.

  46. NeitherParty says:

    Or do they………

  47. RayRay says:

    Eric: Yeah, I know, right? My points are rarely on point and frequently make little sense!

    By the way, you said “I love people making smart points that make me think. Yours never do.”

    So I can only assume you mean I make smart points but they don’t make you think. That’s probably my deft control of the English language at work. You see, I let my words do the thinking for you.

  48. GuiltyBystander says:

    Take it from one who knows …
    The DMN is as dysfunctional as it claims DISD is. Our child attended a DISD school from K-through-6. But it became apparent because of TAKS and No Child Left Behind (thanks, Bush) that DISD was losing ground and that our child’s educational needs would not be served by DISD.
    DISD’s problems are not DISD’s alone. The state legislature is a bunch of goobers. NCLB was an unfunded federal mandate that did more harm than good. If the DMN wants to hammer things, why not go after the leg, TAKS (not just the winners-losers scores)? Because DISD is a fat, wounded target that provides can’t miss, splashy stories.
    Crain made good points but so did Fischer and Hashimoto – although I must admit it’s unseemly to act so whiny and “scoreboard” when you think you’re right.
    Question for Fischer and Hashimoto – Have higher ups at the DMN ever tried to smoke a peace pipe with DISD over the FOI lock downs? It does seem silly to have request an FOI for something as silly as the date on a contract. But if you accept the policy(ies) as is, you continue to pound your head against the brick wall.
    And as a final shot: How would Belo/DMN fare if peppered with FOIs about CueCat, the false circulation debacle, etc., etc.? If newspapers were covered like newspapers are supposed to cover government, education, etc., newspapers would be exposed for the mismanaged shams they are.

  49. james ragland says:

    It was a smackdown, Zac Crain, because you’re speaking out of school — which, come to think of it, is not all that unusual.

    It’s hard to take you seriously as a journalist, much like it was impossible to take you serious as a candidate for mayor: It’s like you’re toying with it. Rather than ask why the DMN had filed so many records requests, you simply took a cheap shot without doing any homework. Reminds me of a phone call from a certain mayor years ago when I was a government editor here, and he was complaining because a very aggressive reporter on my team was “hounding” him with so many requests. And I’ll tell you the same thing I told him: Don’t force him to file the requests if it’s a hassle; turn over the information to which the public is entitled.

    If you’ll read my aforementioned blog, you’ll see that DISD, the city and other agencies too often compel journalists to file open records request for stuff that just doesn’t need to be handled that way, such as providing someone’s salary or a benign, decade-old statistic. If they want to handle it that way, fine. But they certainly shouldn’t whine about being inundated. IJS.

    The truth is, the DMN covers the DISD more comprehensively and thoroughly than any media outlet in town. And we should. (Which is not to say that there aren’t some excellent digging going on elsewhere. There is.) Thus, to compare how many requests DMN reporters have filed with any other entity or individual in town really serves no meaningful purpose.

  50. MattP says:

    As Kent Fischer said, DISD makes him fill our a public records request for the simplest of data. That alone would explain why the paper has filed so many requests. Also, Fischer and Hobbs are the only reporters in town who offer daily coverage of the district and– on top of that–, they have to feed the paper’s DISD blog while doing their share of pretty great investigative reporting. No other media outlet in town matches all that.

    So I would think that DMN should be asking for more public records than everyone else combined–they provide more coverage than everyone else combined.

  51. RayRay says:

    @james ragland: I’m sorry, terse and thoughtful arguments have no place here.

  52. mii says:

    @GuiltyBystander

    Not to defend the DMN, but unlike DISD, the DMN isn’t a public entity. It isn’t subject to open record requests.
    Believe me, though, I’d love to hear about Cue Cat, how layoff decisons are made, the circ scandal …

  53. GuiltyBystander says:

    James Ragland:
    How is the digging going on regardig the Trinity River Project? Oooops. Guess you guys missed that one.
    How about the convention center hotel? Oooops, too many board members getting ready to benefit after the tax payers build them a hotel?
    You’re as much a “city columnist” as I am nuclear engineer. You, Blow and What’s Her Name are softer than Charmin. The DMN wastes their space with you and Blow debating race topics … oooohhhh, THAT was hard hitting.
    Maybe if you and the DMN editors didn’t waste their time writing blogs trying to justify their sorry attempts at journalism, the DMN wouldn’t be the rag that it is.
    Also, methinks that when reporters have to file FOIs so often for simple information (which I agree is not right) maybe those reporters feel the need to have an agenda against the entity that’s requires the FOIs. But I’m SURE that’s not going on with DISD.

  54. GuiltyBystander says:

    @ mii
    IJS, if that WERE the case …
    Also, since Belo/DMN is a publicly traded company that has tanked and cost hundreds of people their jobs, it deserves to take a few turns over the roasting pit.

  55. james ragland says:

    GuiltyBystander: So, how much do they pay nuclear engineers these days? I’m mighty proud of ya, boy. I knew you could do it.

  56. Troll Doll says:

    Wow…I’m finding it really hard to believe that Mong would be OK with this visit, James.

    I know for a fact that there was a time when it was highly discouraged for writers to engage in wars of words with other publications like this. It was considered unprofessional.

    Zac, wrong or not, was at least respectful when he said what he said. He disagreed with the methodology, but I don’t recall him saying anyone was a poor journalist.

    I really think you’re out of line, Ragland. You can disagree without going below the belt, I would hope.

  57. RayRay says:

    @Troll Doll:

    Isn’t that a veiled insult at FrontBurner? Are you saying that “publications like this” are inferior and DMN writers shouldn’t waste their time worrying about these bloggers?

  58. Rawlins Gilliland says:

    @ Dallasite, late to catch your comments per my protracted three-trail-because-it’s-spring forest hikes today. (There are 5 sets if anyone wants specifics to also enjoy.) I appreciate your post and the manner in which you made it. Thanks.

    Per your points regarding DISD and the numerous scandals and shortcomings, here is where I stand at this point in my mind’s approach to life and survival. And yes, DISD:

    More perhaps than most, I see things in the course of my day(s) that give me great cause for hopeless despair. Dogs (and cats) dumped in the parks at intersections, starving and alone. I can’t save the world but I try to save one of these animals here and there. I adopted two and found homes for several others. Big deal. A drop in the bucket so why bother?

    My neighbor Billie has Alzheimer’s and drives me crazy. I can’t cure that but I can go over there, for instance, like tonight when Obama’s news conference is on, and watch it there. Be there. Take my dogs who make her laugh. Take her something to eat here and there. Whatever. Right?

    With that approach, what can I do about the Dallas schools. Simply read horror stories and either complain or ignore them because it is irrelevant to me and in fact a pre-judged basket case? Or can I occasionally volunteer to spend a day or some time in one of the DISD schools. Career day. A poetry worshop. Just being there. I’ve done exactly that in 4 schools in the last few months, not one any where near ‘my’ part of town. And yes, for every depressing observation I make and the infuriating problems I see and hear, I also see and hear some things that touch me and make me want to be part of some small contribution of support to the under-supported and lonely troops trying to make each school matter.

    Frankly, as an ‘involved’ citizen, I feel like a failure of sorts. But I do take a stab here and there to do something simply because I can. In fact, on the way home I pulled up to a bus stop and took the three people waiting (who had just missed their bus) where they were hoping to go. Big deal. My car gets 40 MPG and I had the day to myself. All three people were black and it was near Fair Park. I am sure if anything harmful had come of this, no few people would have said ‘he asked for it’. Huh?

    None of those people were dangerous. But believe me, it was a tough sell for me to convince them that I was not. After all, why was I bothering to stop and offer them a ride? And why care about Dallas’ schools and get involved albeit peripherally? Because I can. You can too. If anyone would like to learn more, email me. [email protected].

    Thanks

  59. MattP says:

    I wish I hadn’t just unknowingly parroted the argument of a DMN Metro columnist. That’s not good at all.

    But I do feel like the paper’s coverage of DISD–as opposed to the Trinity toll road–is thorough, smart and necessary. It’s not perfect. The paper was a late reporting the myriad of reasons for DISD’s gaping budget shortfall, but once they got around to it, they did a really good job at explaining just how shoddy the district’s finances were. That was exacting, back-breaking reporting and it could not have been done without barraging DISD with public information requests.

  60. GuiltyBystander says:

    Ragland:

    You lost the courtesy of “Mr.” with your snide comments. Typical DMN dancing around the issues. You came with a smart-ass comment instead of addressing any of the points that have been raised.
    You’re a prime example of the Peter Principle. Earn some respect as a journalist and them come back when you’ve dropped the learner’s permit.

  61. Troll Doll says:

    RayRay: “like this” does not always equal such as this. In this case, I meant “like you are currently doing.”

    Guard your cheerios.

  62. Ann says:

    Why is everyone getting so angry?

    As everything from Wick’s performance at the hands of Angela Hunt (below) to the editors’ idiosyncratic decisions on comments indicates, this is an entertainment venue orchestrated by the editors, not a journalist/citizen town hall meeting. For worse or better, the DMN is a newspaper. D Magazine/FrontBurner is a shiny coffee table magazine/blog.

    Things made here have all the gravity of smoke, here today, gone tomorrow. Lighten up and just enjoy the smoke while it lasts.

  63. LakeWWWooder says:

    You mean it’s evanescent?

    Thank you DISD teacher Marlene Mallewick for your weekly vocabulary tests.

  64. Zac Crain says:

    @MattP: I respect your point (and the manner in which it was made), and agree — as far as their treatment of the budget shortfall, and would extrapolate that to their treatment of other real stories. They should do that. I think they err on the side of flooding the zone when it comes to everything else, as I’ve mentioned, and that’s where we probably diverge.

    @James Ragland: Oh, no — you brought up the mayor thing. How will I ever get over such a timely and sharp jab? (And you’re dead wrong, but that’s a topic for another day.) If that’s the best you got, though, stick to cube fights with Blow.

  65. Troll Doll says:

    cube fights with blow are awesome, but PCP works better, and gives you more stamina.

  66. MattP says:

    Thanks Zac. Great piece on Watkins.

  67. Billy says:

    @Zac: I think DMN’s coverage of DISD is generally pretty good. Yes, some good things are going on in DISD, but overall, DISD is not doing well. The large majority of high schools are failing or barely above failing. That is the definition of crisis. There is not much sign of improvement in the high schools. The middle schools are not much better. The elementary schools are much better. Why are they so much better? That’s an article I would like to read.

    Kent’s approach to reporting on DISD is balanced and even handed. Schools should be doing good things and have high achieving students. In better times, these would be the things we read about DISD in the paper. But when your high schools are a horrible mess and you can’t manage your budget, you don’t get much good press. Stories of isolated success might make us feel better, but they aren’t the tone the paper should take. A district in crisis can always point to a MIT student here or a study showing we’re making progress there. But year after year, the high school achievement tests and graduation rates do not improve. High school is the finish line for DISD. Good elementary schools are useless if they don’t lead to qualified graduates. Kent understands this and he’s not one to cheerlead.

    Not your best article. But I agree with MattP on both fronts. That was nice work on Watkins and Ragland is not good company.

  68. RT says:

    103 exemplary and recognized schools are not ‘isolated success’ That number is nearly half of the schools in the district. Newsweek rated five DISD high schools among the best in the nation and better than the vast majority of suburban high schools (Belo would not print the list).

    If there are problems in the district they should be covered. But too often it’s easier to go dig up something at 3700 Ross a few blocks from Belo rather than visit a campus.

    And private (most unaccredited hastily organized white-flight academies) and suburban schools are never questioned.

    There was a scandal about an SAT prep class which helped Plano get so many National Merit Scholars. But Belw covered it up or dropped the ball.

  69. Arlene Colbert says:

    It is hard to tell what is the topic of this blog. It has veered all over the place. So, I am compelled to conclude that many of those commenting have nothing better to do–like think constructively or creatively, or spend time volunteering in a school or call and ask the principal what kind of help she needs and, then, go about providing it. If half the people on this site put half as much time providing help to a school as they have spent with personal attacks, we could make the difference that we all want for our schools. No school can do it without community support, but most of our schools have been abandoned by their constituents-US. We all benefit from an educated populace and we all suffer when schools, for whatever reason, are unsuccessful. Is it not our responsibility as citizens to ensure a quality education for our students? Gritching won’t make a whit of difference. Walking into a school, asking what is needed, at least has the potential. It is worthy of our efforts. Do it. I dare ya!

  70. Gordon Keith says:

    I agree with Eric Celeste. Discussions like these are wonderful for the community.

  71. RT says:

    Arlene is right. I have been a volunteer for over 20 years and some years I am more involved than others, but I always find time to support my schools by attending extracurricular events such as athletics and dramatic/musical presentations. I also support several fund raising efforts – one of the most rewarding is http://www.gustavoscholarship.org/

    Yes there are problems with many of the high schools and middle schools. But if you are familiar with each school, there is nearly always a group of high-achievers at the top who want to learn and receive very targeted and encouraging support from the teachers who are grateful to have them. They don’t seem to be hampered by the others and do their best to try to get them to join in the learning.

    Given that the majority of ‘struggling’ students are ‘immigrants’ from Mexico who did not know English and have parents from a farm with a third-grade education, getting to tenth grade and learning English is quite an achievement. The majority of the drop outs know two languages very well. Do you?

    Also how intelligent is it to pay thousands and thousands of dollars for private schools when you have never entered your local Dallas school?

  72. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot says:

    Didn’t “Cube Fights with Blow” headline Day 3 @ SXSW?