Leading Off (3/4/14)

Make it a blessed Tuesday.

DISD Teachers Union Issues Insane Statement About Home-Rule Effort. The home-rule deal is just gaining steam. At the polls today, voters will be asked to sign a petition to put the measure on the November ballot. There are lots of questions still unanswered. But one thing is certain: the largest Dallas teachers’ union is a little nuts. Rena Honea is the president of Alliance-AFT. She says: “The home-rule charter is part of a plan to underfund our schools, declare them a failure, and contract out to private operators the control of our neighborhood schools, disenfranchising parents and community stakeholders and de-professionalizing teaching. This initiative ultimately is for profit, not for kids.” But know this: Louisa Meyer is part of the effort behind the home-rule deal. If you know the name “Louisa Meyer,” then you just had a laugh about that whole “disenfranchising parents and making profit” statement. It’s like Steve Blow coming out in favor of highways. You say, “Thanks, man. You just helped my side more than any argument I ever could have made.”

WFAA Is as Insane as Dallas Teachers Union. The above story is hugely important. As voters head to the polls today, they need to know what’s happening, so that when a person with a petition approaches them, they have a clue. Last night, Channel 8 gave the home-rule story 20 seconds. Literally. Gloria Campos is retiring at some point soon. Not sure when. But last night the station did a four-minute story on her early years coming up in Harlingen. Priorities. Say it with a Spanish accent.

Morning News Overlooks a Dallas Billionaire. Forbes has released its list of the world’s billionaires. The paper takes at look at the locals, with Alan Peppard suggesting that Andy Beal might be the wealthiest guy in town. Nowhere, though, does the paper mention Georg Schaeffler, whom I profiled in 2007. Bloomberg recently put him at $7.8 billion, a wild guess given that his company is privately held. Anyway. Schaeffler. He knows it’s all ball bearings these days. If you’re doing a fantasy billionaire league, he deserves consideration.

Southwest Airlines To Fly to Mexico. Crap. When Southwest announced international flights, I thought Canada would be the destination. It’s Mexico.


  • vseslav botkin

    That statement doesn’t strike me as insane; it’s exactly what’s happened in other cities. But I guess other cities didn’t have someone named Louisa Meyer to assure them it ain’t like that.

  • critic

    I guess I will go to the polls today primarily to sign the petition.

  • vseslav botkin

    I’m talking about the goal, not the method.

  • Joe

    What’s the goal?

  • shadow

    I visited two polls in North Dallas within the last hour and no one was gathering signatures on any petition at either place. And no one I asked had seen any such activity all morning.

  • Frank Stokes

    I went to 2 polling places this AM in NW Dallas (recently moved nearby and mistakenly went to old one) and saw no electioneering of any sort at either, much less petition-drive types.

  • vseslav botkin

    I don’t know. But I don’t think someone has to be insane to think it could be the same brand of school reform—close “underperforming” schools, lay off teachers, open charters—that we’ve seen in other big cities. Heck, you might like and support that kind of reform after you hear the pitch. But Tim thinks it’s insane to think that would happen … because Louisa Meyer.

  • Rob D’Amico

    Tim, I’m curious as to whether Louisa Meyer has stated anything publicly about her support and what her reasons are. The statement above from Alliance-AFT surely doesn’t represent the agenda of everyone, but that agenda is prevalent in Texas by charter advocates, and it certainly is a plausible when discussing guys like John Arnold. So the statement certainly isn’t nuts. And why don’t you speak to the rest of the statement, regarding what could be eliminated in this push for “flexibility.”

  • Rob D’Amico

    The goal noted in the statement…privatization of schools and “charterization” of schools. It’s happening to some extent in San Antonio, was attempted in Austin, and there are certainly other examples around the country (New Orleans, Philadelphia, etc.) It’s not done by the home-rule law, but by other means.

  • Eric Celeste

    It’s nuts.

  • Rob D’Amico

    Why? (one word less than your reply)

  • Not Buffy

    New Orleans. I’ve got lots to say on this, but I can’t right now as I’m thoroughly distracted by Travoltafing people’s names:

  • O’Reilly

    So far, the Home Rule advocates have done a horrible job of controlling the message. I’m not sure of their end game.

    If the intent is to break up DISD into smaller, more manageable local school districts, then I am all for it. If the intent is to siphon tax federal/state/local tax dollars and/or pension funds for investors, then I am obviously against it.

    There are too many recent examples of so-called public/private partnerships where the public entities are treated like piggy banks. Hello, convention hotel and Trinity River bond package.

    I’m of any government or media figure who has already made a judgment about this proposal. It’s too early and there has not been enough discussion about its implications.

  • DallasParent

    It’s not insane if you don’t mind Taxation Without Representation…

    Here’s a quote from Michael MacNaughton about the March 3rd Board meeting:

    “Trustee Jones asked if this opens the door for taxation without representation, to which the district lawyers admitted that this was indeed possible.

    Trustee Jones realized that while the new charter district would have all the liabilities “flow through,” it would also own all of the assets of the district. ALL.OF.THE.ASSETS.”

    So right now, we the people own the assets and elect the people who manage those assets. If we don’t like who is and how they are managing those assets, we can vote them out. Democracy is messy and imperfect, but I have yet to see a better system. If you want DISD to run more efficiently, get involved in the messy process of democracy, and BE PREPARED TO GET YOUR FEELINGS HURT. Engaging in the democratic process does not mean that you will get what you want. That is the beauty of it: everyone does not get what they want. What is not right is to change the rules so that one particular group can get what it wants, when it wants it. That can backfire. This group may very well have good intentions, but good intentions are not reason enough to replace democracy. I cherish democracy over efficiency–in the long, I believe, they line up.

    The wording of the petition: “I know that the purpose of this petition is to request that the Board of Trustees of the Dallas Independent School District appoint a Charter Commission to frame a home-rule school district charter for Dallas ISD. I understand that by signing more than one petition to request the appointment of a Charter Commission for Dallas ISD is prohibited.” HuH?!?

    I’m not about to hand over a blank check (my vote and DISD’s assets) to anonymous people (those donors backing SOPS who will not disclose their identity or answer questions about what this actually means for DISD). I am happy to listen and learn about their ideas, and if they convince me that they are worth backing, I will. Up until now they have not made their case. They have managed to insult my intelligence by assuming that I would not look past the nice sounding ideas such as “local control.” I hope your intelligence is insulted as well.

  • O’Reilly

    Oh, man, I forgot about the real estate assets. Those are worth a fortune if they were consolidated and sold off.

    This whole thing smells.

  • Diane Birdwell

    If you think what AFT said was *nuts,* then you don’t know jack sh^% about what they are really trying to do to Dallas.

    We have 157,000 students, and they want what that would be better for ALL of them?

    Do your due diligence and research this.

    Hmmm, Silent and anonymous donors? A billionaire from ENRON? Morath, a current TRUSTEE? Come one, man. Wake up.

    All you have to see is Louisa Meyer’s name on it. Follow her trail and you will see what her plans are. She is the one who thinks giving a small kid a t-shirt with a high school name on it will be magical, but she does NOTHING about helping us keep class sizes low for them. Look into what her husband does for al living. Recall her attachment in DISD stuff with Edwin Flores.

    This is the last gasp of a fading Oligarchy from North Dallas, trying to hold on tot he money train called DISD… Ask Louisa about bond issues and her family’s possible links?

    Get a grip and get a clue.


  • Diane Birdwell

    As usual, your staff is clueless on the damage this will do.

    When you can show any hint of investigative journalism, you let us know. In the meantime, realize that Louisa Meyer thinks that giving a poor kid a t-shirt with a high school name on it will help them stay in school.

    Forget that this inane and selfish idea she supports will END any guarantee of small class sizes, decent pay for teachers, ability to pay for books or anything else.

    I could write a tome on the things wrong with this.

    The only insane one here is you for believing the crap that comes from the North Dallas Oligarchy.

  • Diane Birdwell

    Tim— If I may call you Tim.

    maybe if you go over to http://www.disdblog.com, you will see how everyday people do more research on a topic than you do.

    Oh, and to start you off, let us recall Mrs. Meyer and her problems with pesky protocols of the PTSA….


  • vseslav botkin

    And you’re going to moderate a panel discussion on this issue?

  • Lori Foster

    So automatically if you don’t agree with this scheme you’re “insane”?

  • Lori Foster

    So automatically if you don’t agree with this scheme you’re “insane”?

  • NorthDallas Voter

    SHAME on ALL for not educating Dallas voters before presenting them the petition for signature! Since March 1st, I’ve done my darndest to follow my personal bias and get into the mind set of the SOPS founders so I can in good conscience sign their Home Rule petition. Not there yet; if anything, I’m further away from signing it. I respect the founders of SOPS as individuals, but can’t help wondering if they are being used by greater powers. Even people as credible as Ms. Meyers have been known to change their view/opinion. If the advocates of Home Rule were more able & willing & to “educate” us in something more than shallow campaign-like bullet points, then we might be more willing to follow them on a journey down the Home Rule yellow brick road, we’ll arrive at the marvelous land of winning schools,