It’s official: Dallas school Superintendent Hinojosa resigned today

June 6, 2011

Dallas Independent School District’s (DISD) Superintendent Michael Hinojosa resigned about an hour ago to accept the job in Cobb County, Georgia.  The board meets tonight, perhapsto appoint an interim superintendent.

Here’s the message sent out through the Dallas systems today, to teachers and administrators:

SUPERINTENDENT MICHAEL HINOJOSA RESIGNS FROM DALLAS ISD

Accepts Superintendent Position in Cobb County, Georgia

Superintendent of Schools Michael Hinojosa submitted his letter of resignation from the Dallas Independent School District today to accept a similar position in Cobb County, Georgia.

Dr. Hinojosa has served as the superintendent for the stateâs second-largest school district for six yearsâthe longest term since Linus Wright held the position in the 1980s. His last day with Dallas ISD will be Thursday, June 30, 2011.

“It has been an honor to serve as superintendent for the school district I attended as a child and where I started my teaching career,” said Hinojosa. “I am enormously proud of our shared accomplishmentsâthe biggest of which is that the number of students graduating from Dallas ISD schools is at its highest since 1983.”

This school year, Dallas ISD expects to graduate a total of 7,200 students, up from 5,800 four years ago. The number has steadily risen each of the last four years.

Under Dr. Hinojosaâs leadership, the school district implemented a systemwide curriculum that was developed by teachers. In addition, principals for schools that had vacancies during the last six years were selected through a collaborative process that allowed staff and the community to provide input.

A $1.37 billion bond program to build and improve school facilities that was approved by voters in 2002was implemented on schedule and under budget. Another $1.35 billion bond program that was approved by voters in 2008 will build 14 more schools, 13 additions, and provide renovations to more than 200 district facilities.

Dallas ISD also became known throughout the country for its leadership in arts education. The Wallace Foundation provided an $8 million grant for the district to partner with Big Thought and the City of Dallas to provide more arts opportunities for students both during and after school.

Under Dr. Hinojosa’s leadership, schools in the southern sector received a significant boost. Two early college high schools are now operating, an all-boys school will open this fall as will a New Tech High School, and three renovated/new schools will open in Wilmer-Hutchins signaling a rebirth of public education in that community.

Grants from the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation enabled the Dallas Independent School District to become a pioneer in the world of student data. The grants gave principals and teachers access to data dashboards, as well as established a Parent Portal for parents to monitor the progress of their students.

During his six-year tenure, Dr. Hinojosa responded to several crises, including the dissolution of neighboring Wilmer-Hutchins ISD and hurricanes Katrina and Rita, all of which caused an unexpected influx of additional students into Dallas ISD. The biggest crisis was a budget miscalculation that eventually forced the layoff of hundreds of staff during the 2008-09 school year.

Since then, the district has put in place a number of financial controls and rebuilt its fund balance to safer levels. The district now faces a significant cut in state funding because of a statewide budget shortfall.

“It certainly isn’t easy to be an urban school superintendent in todayâs environment, but I am proud of what this community has accomplished during the last six years,” said Hinojosa. “More students are graduating, more students are scoring at college-ready levels and our teachers and principals are better-trained. I hope whoever the board chooses as its next superintendent is provided the same opportunities to make improvements to continue the momentum on behalf of the students of this community. I am thankful to trustees, our staff and so many other leaders and stakeholders in Dallas who have been part of this experience.”

One of Dr. Hinojosaâs hallmarks was to make unannounced visits to the district’s 225 schools each Wednesday morning. He said the experiences kept him grounded on what was most important in the life of a large, urban school district.

“Every school has individuals who are devoted to helping our students succeed,” said Hinojosa. “I couldn’t help but be moved by the dedication of so many people, from custodians to food service workers, librarians to counselors, aides to front office staff and of course, principals and teachers. The Dallas Independent School District will continue to shine because of each of them. My address may soon be in Georgia, but a part of me will always be in Dallas. It has been a privilege.”

Dr. Hinojosa said he is moving to Georgia in part to be closer to his son whose wife is pregnant with their first child. He has two sons who have recently graduated from Hillcrest High School in Dallas who will be attending Ivy League colleges in the fall.

In Fort Worth, the board is expected to approve a separation agreement for Superintendent Melody Johnson, who is resigning to move to California to be closer to her aged mother.  Most people expect a tough fight to find a capable person to head either district.


Teachers meet in Austin June 7, to plead for Texas children and education

June 6, 2011

Yeah, this video was first created for the April 2 teacher demonstrations in Austin; but the Texas Lege got filibustered at the last minute.  Now the Lege is in special, emergency session.

They still plan to begin the dismantling of Texas public education.  After the Brown vs. Board of Education decision, Texas did not follow the errors of Mississippi, Arkansas and Virginia, shutting down some or all of the state’s schools rather than education students of color.  As a result, Texas students leapt ahead of their counterparts in those states.

But today, in 2011, the Texas Lege plans two years of budget cuts that will kill Texas education reform efforts and backtrack on 20 years of progress.

Teacher groups ask Texas teachers to go to Austin June 7 to protest budget cuts.

It may be like Canute speaking to the sea, the Texas Lege is that stone deaf (water deaf?) — but if Texas teachers don’t stand up for education and Texas kids, who is left to do it?  Niemöller is dead.  Who is left?


Free bus tours to the FDR Library?

June 6, 2011

Franklin Roosevelt voting in Hyde Park, New York

Franklin Roosevelt voting in Hyde Park, New York, November 2, 1937 - FDR LIbrary image

In the Dallas district, and across much of Texas, field trips are being cut out.  Budget restraints, you know.  Rick Perry’s math is atrocious, and the “surplus” he claimed we had in the budget turned out to be a $27 billion deficit.

So, I got quite excited to read this press release from the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum in Hyde Park, New York:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

For information call:
Clifford Laube at (845) 486-7745

YOUR BUS COULD BE ON US!

New funding available for field trips to historic Hyde Park destinations

HYDE PARK – Field trips are back! The National Park Service and FDR Presidential Library and Museum are pleased to offer new transportation grants for 2011 field trips to five renowned Hyde Park destinations – FDR Presidential Library and Museum, Home of FDR National Historic Site, Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site, Top Cottage and Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site.

The new grants are managed by Teaching the Hudson Valley (THV), a nonprofit that helps educators and students discover and appreciate the natural, historical and cultural treasures of the Hudson Valley. A list of available programs and grant application form are available in the Grants section of THV’s website.

“These sites are brimming with world-class learning opportunities for local students,” said Sarah Olson, superintendant of the Roosevelt-Vanderbilt National Historic Sites. “We recognize that many school districts have cut back or eliminated field trips due to budget constraints. These grants are designed to put great field trips back in reach.”

Educators are free to create their own curriculum, and the sites have a wide variety of prepared curricula, including:

  • Pretend You are the President, grades 4-6
  • Eleanor Roosevelt: First Lady of the World, grades 4-6
  • FDR’s Boyhood Farm, grades 1-3
  • Searching for Salamanders, grades 7-12
  • Podcasts interpreting the many trails that traverse the 5 sites

“To walk in the footsteps of history, to touch and hear nature – these are the experiences that make learning vivid and memorable,” said Lynn Bassanese, director of the FDR Presidential Library & Museum. “Field trips are becoming an endangered species, but the need for them is still great. Together these sites have provided decades of great experiences for educators and students. These new grants will help us continue the tradition.”

K-12 educators in public and private schools may apply for regular, summer or after-school programs. Trips should be related to core curriculum or programs and take place by December 31, 2011. Teachers in the same school or district may apply together.

ABOUT THV

Launched in 2003, Teaching the Hudson Valley (THV) helps educators and students discover and appreciate the natural, historical, and cultural treasures of the Hudson Valley. THV programs foster collaboration between schools and informal learning sites. Our growing collection of free K-12 lessons uses significant Valley sites to teach all subjects. For details, visit http://www.TeachingtheHudsonValley.org.

THV is a program of the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area and HRV Greenway Conservancy, Inc.; National Park Service – Roosevelt-Vanderbilt National Historic Sites; Hudson River Estuary Program/NY State Dept. of Environmental Conservation; and Hudson River Valley Institute at Marist College.

#   #   #

Alas, it turns out it’s not intended for Texas classrooms.  Drat.

I’ve taken large groups of 14-16 year-olds through those sites.  An halfway interested teenager can get eyes opened seeing how FDR grew up, in the place he grew up.  The library and museum offer spectacular displays on FDR’s presidency and the times.  It’s exactly the sort of experience a lot of my students have never had, but need.

I’ll have to see what we can do with museums and libraries a little bit closer — the George H. W. Bush Library in College Station, Texas, the Lyndon Johnson Library in Austin, and the  Bill Clinton Library in Little Rock.  Possibilities of touring close-by sites make me quiet about the odd situation at the George W. Bush Library and Center for Right-Wing Propaganda planned for Southern Methodist University.   There’s a great chance that the advantages of having the educational resources will outweigh the ignominy of the propaganda activities (though the Hoover Institute makes one appropriately wary).

Look for some reports back, soon.  While you wait, call the Texas Lege and tell them to appropriate enough money to educate the students in the American Way, will you?  The Lege is still meeting in Austin, in emergency, special session.


Quote of the moment: Eisenhower’s D-Day leadership – “Blame . . . is mine alone”

June 6, 2011

Eisenhower's unused statement on the failure of D-Day

Eisenhower's contingency statement, in case D-Day failed - image from the National Archives

This quote actually isn’t a quote. It was never said by the man who wrote it down to say it. It carries a powerful lesson because of what it is.

Yesterday I posted Gen. Dwight Eisenhower’s “order of the day” to the troops about to conduct the Allied invasion of Normandy — D-Day — to establish the toehold in Europe the Allies needed to march to Berlin, and to end World War II in Europe. As a charge to the troops, it was okay — Eisenhower-style words, not Churchill-style, but effective enough. One measure of its effectiveness was the success of the invasion, which established the toe-hold from which the assaults on the Third Reich were made.

When Eisenhower wrote his words of encouragement to the troops, and especially after he visited with some of the troops, he worried about the success of the operation. It was a great gamble. Many of the things the Allies needed to go right — like weather — had gone wrong. Victory was not assured. Defeat strode the beaches of Normandy waiting to drive the Allies back into the water, to die. [Photo shows Eisenhower meeting with troops of the 101st Airborne Division, 502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment, on the eve of the invasion. It was these men whose courage he lauded. Update: Someone “took hostage” the photo I linked to — a thumbnail version is appended; I leave the original link in hopes it might be liberated] eisenhower-with-paratrooper-eve-of-d-day.jpg

Eisenhower wrote a second statement, a shorter one. This one was directed to the world. It assumed the assault had failed. In a few short sentences, Eisenhower commended the courage and commitment of the troops who, he wrote, had done all they could. The invasion was a chance, a good chance based on the best intelligence the Allies had, Eisenhower wrote. But it had failed.

The failure, Eisenhower wrote, was not the fault of the troops, but was entirely Eisenhower’s.

He didn’t blame the weather, though he could have. He didn’t blame fatigue of the troops, though they were tired, some simply from drilling, many from war. He didn’t blame the superior field position of the Germans, though the Germans clearly had the upper hand. He didn’t blame the almost-bizarre attempts to use technology that look almost clownish in retrospect — the gliders that carried troops behind the lines, sometimes too far, sometimes killing the pilots when the gliders’ cargo shifted on landing;  the flotation devices that were supposed to float tanks to the beaches to provide cover for the troops (but which failed, drowning the tank crews and leaving the foot soldiers on their own); the bombing of the forts and pillboxes on the beaches, which failed because the bombers could not see their targets through the clouds.

There may have been a plan B, but in the event of failure, Eisenhower was prepared to establish who was accountable, whose head should roll if anyone’s should.

Eisenhower took full responsibility.

Our landings in the Cherbourg-Havre area have failed to gain a satisfactory foothold and I have withdrawn the troops. My decision to attack at this time and place was based upon the best information available. The troop, the air [force] and the navy did all that bravery and devotion to duty could do. If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt, it is mine alone.

Who in the U.S. command would write such a thing today?

  • The message may also be viewed here. Yes, it’s incorrectly dated July 5 — should have been June 5.

This is an encore post.


Missed National Trails Day, June 4? Catch up later, on the trail

June 6, 2011

This is a little embarrassing.

National Trails Day logo from the American Hiking Society

National Trails Day logo from the American Hiking Society; click to go to AHS site

I missed National Trails Day this year.

Heck, I’ve missed it every year since its inception in 1993.

As usual, I’ll have to hit the trails later in the summer — hello, Colorado Bend State Park.  You can make it up, too.  National Trails Day is a celebration that can be done any time you find to do it, really, any place you find to celebrate it.

So, hey, buddy:  Take a hike!

And have fun doing it.

Information and resources for National Trails Day:


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