(Robert Scott is the Commissioner of Education for the State of Texas)
Robert, I'm going to get straight to the point: please do us a favor and take over DISD.
Get our school board out of the way.
Get the politics out of the way.
Appoint experts, with oversight, to fix the problems our administration can't.
You have had this as an option on the table before. I know. We've talked about it.
This time, please just do it.
We're at a critical point with our school district.
You have pointed out, in your January 13 letter to Lew Blackburn and Alan King ("Fiscal Mismangement of Grant Funds; Failure to Provide Supplemental Education Services; and TEA Monitor Changes"), our District is seriously breaking the law.
You acknowledge, in your letter, DISD's long history of non-compliance with Federal and State laws.
You point out that DISD's "failure to comply with Federal NCLB/ESEA requirements could jeopardize DISD's ability to receive $79,235,287 in Title I, Part A Funds."
Your letter correctly points out that DISD has more than 80 campuses that missed AYP ("Adequate Yearly Progress").
You point out we have identified 29,349 students who are eligible to receive tutoring--yet only 40 have actually received any.
You assert that should DISD "fail to expediently provide proof of compliance [with Federal law], the agency is prepared to take [serious] enforcement action."
I read DISD's reply back from Blackburn and King. We haven't. We're not complying. We're not going to comply. We're not capable of complying and, like the letter you received from King, all you're going to get from DISD are excuses.
There are many of us who, over the years, have tried to make a difference. Many of us have come and gone. Many of us don't have the time to devote to it anymore. Don't get me wrong, we've made some minor dents.
We find, however, our efforts are akin to using a pocket torch to melt an iceberg. The heat certainly stirs up the water--but the problems are too big. Eventually everything refreezes and becomes an iceberg again.
As a public, in general, we don't care. Our tax dollars are wasted and we don't care. Most of us don't understand the issues well enough to care. The issues are to voluminous to wrap our minds around.
Clouding it all are the politics.
Our teachers fight with the administration and the board. The board fights with the administration and the teachers. Right now, we're in the process of getting rid of our institutional knowledge base--in favor of an even more political system of "who you know" gets you that high-paying job you may not even understand.
We are cementing a process we've been working on for years: we are setting our District up for decades of institutional failure and mediocrity that will be difficult to undo.
We are damaging our childrens' hopes of graduating with the skills they will need to survive--let alone succeed.
Please, Robert, fix DISD.
At this point you're the only one who can.