DISD school board trustee Ron Price submitted a letter, co-signed by trustees Carla Ranger and Lew Blackburn, at last night’s board meeting calling on the board to meet in emergency session Monday to consider a vote of "no confidence" in DISD Supt. Michael Hinojosa. The information was reported on WFAA-TV last night, along with video of people attending the school board meeting chanting "Jack Lowe must go" and yelling out all kinds of things after the board meeting ended.
A "no confidence" vote, as I understand it, doesn’t have any legal status, but it would continue eroding the public’s support of district leadership, as well as serve to keep the big budget scandal in the news, further eroding the public’s support of district leadership. In fact, further evidence of the continuing drumbeat seeking to get rid of Hinojosa showed up on the DMN’s education blog yesterday. The NEA-Dallas, a teacher’s organization, attempted to survey its membership concerning Hinojosa and the school board; 428 teachers and DISD employees responded, according to the poll, which was sent to teachers and also linked on the DMN blog so other DISD employees could respond. (I’m just reading this in the introduction to the survey, which you can read by clicking here.)
The survey, which doesn’t appear to have any basis in statistical relevance, nonetheless indicates that 94.1% of the survey respondents have "no confidence" in Hinojosa. Another question: Do you believe the DISD trustees have "the best interests of Dallas school children and Dallas educators at heart when they make decisions? According to the survey, 85.6% of the respondents said "no". That’s a pretty stunning number, with 85.6% of survey respondents claiming they believe most of the school board members don’t even care about the kids in school — something that, whether you agree with the board’s actions or not, is just plain ridiculous.
As far as I can tell, Price — the guy who "abstained" instead of voting yes or no on the DISD RIF plan a few weeks ago — won’t be able to get a majority of trustees to vote "no confidence" in Hinojosa. But the action will serve to drag Hinojosa further into the mud, while further eroding confidence in the board’s decision-making ability.
The board has done an admirable job so far of working together to deal with the budget problems and doing its best not to turn all of this into more of a fiasco than it already is. But this "no confidence" vote smacks of political expediency and media-preening, and it’s disappointing given that the trustees undoubtedly talked about all of this during last week’s performance review of Hinojosa. All in all, if I had to guess what direction Price is pushing things, I’d say he’s attempting to make himself look good on TV while suckering the Texas Education Agency into taking over all or some part of DISD. That’s the kind of loopy thinking that create the chaos that once dominated DISD and helped create the legacy of dopey decisions and unscrupulous behavior that serves as the foundation for today’s big mess. For those demanding a state takeover of DISD, think about this: We already have one huge and unruly bureaucracy, so do you really think it’s going to be an improvement to put another bureaucracy in charge of all of that?
Unfortunately, it’s getting harder and harder to see a way out of this situation where Hinojosa keeps his job through the school year. Personally, I don’t think he should quit, and I don’t see the district being better off without him from an operational standpoint. But politically, all bets are off. Dallas’ other political leaders aren’t coming to his defense, probably because they’re worried about their own political hides, and the DMN and the TV stations have all but written him off.
So unless a whole lot of really talented, dedicated and selfless people decide to run for each one of the open board positions in May (and that would be a first for the 28 years I’ve been in town), I think we’re in for a rough ride the next couple of years no matter how next week’s "no confidence" vote turns out. And in the meantime, kids will keep learning and teachers and administrators will keep doing their jobs.