My favorite moment was when Trustees Foreman and Nutall walked out while Trustee Solis was clearly talking to them, but there was no shortage of entertaining happenings at the meeting including plenty of Mike Miles talk.
The Pre-K discussion was much more hotly contested than I thought it would be, but the debate wasn't over pre-k. It seems to be about the same historical inequality and race based discrimination argument that impact the bond election last month. Let me break it down by trustee.
"If we want to close the achievement gap, we have to start early."
Absolutely. Trying to teach a high school aged child that can't read is much more difficult than teaching a literate student. Obvious, I know, but the sad thing is that it's so preventable. DISD is struggling at every level. Starting at the bottom is one of many potential good options. Strong foundations make for strong futures and the sooner they are prepared the earlier we can prevent that cycle of disappointment, shame, and misbehavior that compounds upon itself with each year of unpreparedness.
Trustee Nutall - Skeptical about the data and passionate as always. The request for data is admirable and I love that Trustee Nutall wants to look through all the information herself to make her own conclusions. Give her the data! My only request is that if the data shows that this is a good idea, that's accepted instead of dragged through the doubt machine for no reason. It is true that numbers can be manipulated. The 450+ kids that had success in the report Mr. Cohen mentioned should be praised, not cast aside to try to dig up a problem with the rest of that set of 1300+ kids. Is their success important too? Absolutely, but that doesn't mean we pretend that some kids benefited.
"That's my soap box. I'm through."
No you aren't, but that's ok. People all over Dallas look to you to defend the wall, whatever that wall is or is protecting. I like your fire and energy. Sometimes I feel like there is no policy that will satisfy your very strict and constantly changing criteria. I believe you care about the kids. I really do. Choose hope.
"Please give my my data and the answers to my questions"
Please give it to her. Please read it. Please be open to the possibility that it says what Alan Cohen and other folks are saying it says.
Trustee Foreman - I view Trustee Foreman as the board historian at this point. It's an important piece of a functioning board that have someone that make sure everyone never forgets the harsh and brutal legacy of racism in Dallas, particularly as it relates to education. People of color attended schools that were of lower quality, had fewer resources, and even after desegregation, were prevented from accessing opportunities that other groups benefited from.
While race underlies everything we do, I think it is irresponsible to use race as a weapon. Taking a very real and ongoing struggle and reappropriating it as a tool to dismantle potential solutions to chronic issues in our community, the black community, is inappropriate. While I agree that there are things that you can only understand if you have experienced it, automatically defaulting to what is basically the "you wouldn't understand, it's a black thing" argument isn't helpful. In fact, its detrimental to the process of healing the wounds that have existed in our community for generations.
Saying that Trustee Solis is wrong because he isn't black misses the point. Nobody makes change alone. To that same point, Trustee Solis, "I have black nieces" doesn't make your point any more valid. That's a cosmic time out for both of you. Let's do better next time.
"I am opposed to prioritizing pre-k ahead of other things we need in the district."
I appreciate this argument, but my issue with it is that it's a vague argument and a logical fallacy. Caring about Pre-k doesn't mean you don't care about anything else. Helping all kids have better early childhood education services doesn't mean that you don't care about specific ethnic populations within DISD. Should the district be focusing on students that are struggling more than others? Yes, but the purpose of this is to get to all students before they struggle in the first place.
"You don't wait to remediate. You start early."
Fact. Strong argument.
"It's at least my view that we need to provide some pressure from without."
Mr. Bouncy Chair is right. The board has to act to force action in areas where there are needs and opportunities to have a wide reaching and lasting impact.
Sorry, Mike. I had to comment on your chair bouncing. It was one of the highlights of this meeting.
"I want to see that data."
We know Dr. Blackburn. We know.
"Our number one commitment is to the budget."
No, our number one commitment is to our kids. I know numbers make you nervous, but your job, our job, isn't to make sure the check book is balanced. Yes, there's a relationship between the two, but when you put the emphasis on budget ahead of kids, it's dangerous.
"Hopefully we can get them before the charters."
Build a functional district and charters won't exist. They are reaction to a demand in the community. If DISD provided the best services and education in Dallas, everyone would go. Sadly, that's not the reality we live in.
Live stream of the 12.3 meeting