John Wiley Price bashes DISD. Why does the DMN facilitate it?

John Wiley PriceThere’s an interesting story in the Dallas News today by Matthew Haag (it’s behind the paywall) about DISD Supt. Michael Miles becoming the media punching bag for Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price. One could argue, I suppose, that Price sees bashing DISD as a way to divert attention from his own legal woes, but that is just speculation on my part.

The issue at hand boils down to Miles’ oft-stated intent to replace principals who aren’t performing with better-trained ones who might perform; that’s kind of how things are done in the private sector. Miles has established a training academy for principals, he has warned those he believes aren’t performing, and he appears ready to cut loose quite a few in May following the upcoming board elections.

Meanwhile, Price has written the pastors of select South Dallas churches to denounce Miles as akin to Pontius Pilate (or “fake Jesus”, depending on your interpretation of what he’s saying), and he appears to be discouraging church pastors (some might say “threatening” considering Price’s perceived political pull there) from engaging Miles or supporting him.

Not surprisingly, according to the DMN story, Miles is being hung out to dry by the school board, some of whom (Bernadette Nutall and board president Lew Blackburn, to name two) seem to be actively undermining Miles in public and in private.

This is not a commentary on which principals are doing a good job and which aren’t, nor is it a dissertation on how, if it’s possible, to accurately and fully measure if a principal is doing a good job.

But here are the facts as they relate to Madison High School laid out in the DMN story: “Across Dallas ISD, only 9.7 percent of seniors last school year were deemed ready for college with an ACT score of a 24 or higher, according to district data. At Madison, only 1.6 percent of students hit that mark. Nationally, 26 percent of students do.”

The Madison principal, apparently someone Price and Nutall support, appears to be in Miles’ crosshairs, and from looking at the numbers, the attention is deserved. But many on the school board and PR magnets such as Price have their favorites, and they’re willing to meddle in district personnel matters to protect their friends.

It’s unfortunate the Morning News sees fit to cover Price’s comments at all but especially on the front page (today’s story), even as the paper editorializes against him inside the paper (the editorial is free to read); Price has no more expertise on DISD than I do, so why is his opinion about DISD front-page news anyway? Yes, he’s a taxpayer and entitled to his opinion; I’m a taxpayer and entitled to mine, too, but you won’t be reading that on the front page.

For all of the talk in the News about making DISD better, covering Price’s uninformed ramblings about the district simply makes the situation worse.

When Miles took the job a year ago, I predicted he’d be lucky to last three years here, primarily because politics typically trump common sense when it comes to running DISD. He’s going on one year in the job now, and this is where the proverbial stuff hits the fan.

His honeymoon, such as it was, is over, and he’s taking buckshot from all sides. Maybe he lasts another year or two. Maybe he doesn’t.

The guy was hired to do a job, so why not let him do it and fail or succeed on his merits, rather than run him out of town on the political rail?


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