Archives for category: Dallas

A small Texas charter organization has spent sizable sums to buy residential condos, claiming they are for “office space and storage.”

“Accelerated Intermediate Academy – the charter school network criticized for its purchase of a Houston condominium with taxpayer dollars – also owns a second condo in downtown Dallas where similar units have been appraised at more than $300,000.

“The network also shelled out nearly $120,000 in property taxes on the Houston property, including $45,700 in late fees and attorney costs, in 2016 after the Harris County Appraisal District denied a request for a property exemption, tax records show.The two-school charter network, which served fewer than 300 students last year at two campuses, spent $427,238 for the Houston condo and an undisclosed amount for the high-end Dallas residence, property records show. Both were purchased in June 2011…

“The property purchases and tax payments mean hundreds of thousands of dollars less for the academy’s classrooms, raising additional questions about the network’s leadership.
Accelerated Intermediate Academy has received about $55 million in taxpayer dollars since opening in 2001, producing solid academic results. It is one of dozens of charter school networks that are publicly funded and privately governed by nonprofit boards to provide parents an option in place of traditional public schools.

“A Houston Chronicle investigation last month uncovered the Houston condo purchase in 2011 and reported that the school’s superintendent, Kevin Hicks, earned more than $250,000 each of the past three years despite several parents and former teachers saying he rarely appeared on the Houston campus….

“School officials told appraisers in Dallas that the unit would be used for office and records storage, even though the school already had a 9,600-square-foot campus in the nearby suburb of Lancaster. That campus has never enrolled more than 17 students since opening in 2012, according to state reports. The Houston unit also was described as an office and storage facility.
Following both purchases, school leaders sought full property tax exemptions, which routinely are granted for charter schools. The network noted in a letter to Harris County appraisers that “the only funds we receive are state and federal funds….”

“Accelerated Intermediate Academy’s properties had high-end touches befitting their price tags, according to online real estate listings. The Dallas unit came with hardwood floors, stainless steel appliances, a wine cooler, granite countertops and access to a rooftop deck with a hot tub. The 1,118-square-foot Houston condo has floor-to-ceiling windows, hardwood floors and access to a pool with skyline views.

“As Accelerated Intermediate Academy has sunk money into buying properties, however, the charter network has paid teachers salaries that are well below average, payroll data shows. Most of its educators have earned about $35,000 to $45,000 in recent years. By comparison, the starting salary at traditional public school districts in the Houston area is about $50,000.

“The school also has stockpiled $12.5 million in cash, enough to cover six years’ worth of operating expenses; most schools keep three to six months’ worth of operating expenses in cash.”

Every storage space should be equipped with a wine cooler, granite countertops, and access to a rooftop hot tub.

Deion Sanders was a superstar in sports. He opened charter schools in Texas, which have closed. Now, he is joining with the notorious Koch brothers in a plan intended to end poverty in Dallas. The program, called Stand Together, aims to raise $21 million.

Chalk this one up to innocence. Or ignorance. Or naivete. No one has done more than the Koch brothers to rip apart the social safety net that helps Americans who are down on their luck than the Koch brothers.

The story in Inside Philanthropy begins:

As we’ve pointed out time and again, David and Charles Koch are eager for an image makeover. After decades spent attacking governmental overreach and financing the right’s policy infrastructure, as well as bankrolling GOP candidates, the Kochs found themselves with a family and company brand that had become synonymous with extremist and self-interested politics. Among other things, their recent efforts to repair that damage have included large-scale grants to institutions that help African Americans and stepped up work on bipartisan criminal justice reform, as we’ve been reporting.

What’s received less attention is Koch backing for a new national anti-poverty group Stand Together, which recently led Charles Koch to find a surprising ally in Deion Sanders, a larger-than-life figure also known by the nickname “Primetime.” Sanders has the distinction of being the only athlete to play in both a Super Bowl and a World Series. Following such an illustrious sports career, Sanders wants to give back, and he’s doing so in partnership with Koch and Stand Together.

According to Sanders, Koch is hardly the profit-hungry villain he’s sometimes made out to be. Commenting on a new joint effort between himself and the Koch-backed “venture philanthropy” organization, Sanders says, “I saw firsthand how wonderful and gracious and giving and kind the Koch family was in regards to really trying to make this country a better place for everyone.” High praise indeed, especially from a celebrity with very different roots than the usual Koch set.

Sanders’ charter chain, which opened schools in Dallas and Fort Worth in 2012, closed in 2015.

Even before Sanders’ first charter school opened, the Dallas Observer called them a “primetime scam.”

When the schools closed, they were in administrative chaos and saddled with crushing debt and dwindling enrollments.

Dustin Marshall, the businessman who sends his own children to private school, was re-elected to the Dallas school board in a run-off election against parent Lori Kirkpatrick.

The result was a significant reversal from May’s three-way race between Marshall, Kirkpatrick and Richard Young. Kirkpatrick almost won the seat outright, beating Marshall by 291 votes, but falling 23 votes shy of the required 50 percent threshold.

Kirkpatrick’s election would have flipped the board. Marshall’s election keeps it where it has been, in the status quo grip of fake reformers.

It always comes down to turnout.

Dallas is holding a crucial school board election. Early voting started on May 30. The election is June 10.

The balance of power hangs on this run-off election.

Lori Kilpatrick is a teacher and a mother of a child in the Dallas public schools.

Lori is in a run-off with businessman Dustin Marshall. Marshall supports all the failed corporate reform ideas, like Jeb Bush’s A-F school grading system, which is highly correlated with family income. His children attend private schools.

Lori is an advocate for public schools.

Her vote would be the swing vote that turns control over to a board majority that respects teachers and public schools.

Please vote.

I just heard from Lori Kirkpatrick, the school board candidate in Dallas who pledged to oppose privatization and end the insulting programs that rate, rank, reward and punish teachers. She is a parent of a child in the DISD.

The election was last Saturday. Last night, she sent a blast email to supporters saying that the final tally showed her 14 votes shy of reaching the 50% mark that she needed for a win. 14 votes!

She is heading for a runoff.

Her election will shift the majority on the Dallas school board and empower people who want to help students, teachers, and schools instead of ranking, rating, and punishing them.

Help her in any way that you can. If you are in Dallas, volunteer. If not, send a contribution of any size.

You can bet the Dallas Morning News will support her opponent, a businessman whose children are in private schools.

She needs our help!

Her website is

This report comes from a parent activist in Dallas, which held its school board election on Saturday (yesterday).

UPDATE: Kirkpatrick beat Marshall by 300 votes but fell short of 50%, and there will be a runoff. The future of Dallas’s failed corporate reform hinges on this race. Great that Kirkpatrick came in ahead of businessman Dustin Marshall. And fabulous that dedicated board member Joyce Foreman was re-elected!

Read what follows with knowledge that Lori Kirkpatrick came in first and is going into a runoff with Marshall.

“Great news from Dallas, Texas to report. Public school advocate, and tireless Dallas ISD trustee Joyce Foreman has retained her seat on the school board in today’s elections.

Also, public school advocate and parent Lori Kirkpatrick has won a seat on the Dallas ISD school board. In a runoff for the same seat last year, Dustin Marshall won by only 42 votes against Mita Havlick, another parent and public school advocate.

Marshall, a business person who lost this time around, is in favor of the district’s pay for performance (TEI) initiative, the proposed Texas Education Agency A-F campus grading system, expanded school choice, and, would you believe it, vouchers. He has also been heavily involved with Uplift Education, the largest charter operator in Texas. A textbook deformer.

Marshall, of course won the endorsement of the Dallas Morning News Editorial Board for being a “vocal supporter of the Teacher Excellence Initiative, the district’s evaluation system, as an effective way to measure effective teachers and hold them accountable for improving student outcomes. The DMN editorial writers still don’t get it, will probably never get it. But this time around, their candidate lost. Yay!

Kirkpatrick, the winner, states in a Dallas Morning News questionnaire, that “I am running for office because public education is under fierce attack. I expect my trustee to be committed to DISD and public education. I am 100% committed to DISD as evidenced by the fact that I send my daughter to DISD. This is in stark comparison to my opponent who has school-aged children all of whom are in private school. Additionally, I am opposed to diverting public money to private schools, unlike my opponent who voted against a resolution opposing vouchers and the A-F grading system.”

Further, she states, “Teachers with whom I have met feel very deflated due to the TEI evaluation system. I understand from them that many of their colleagues have left and won’t return due to this system. Teachers deserve to be paid fairly for the extraordinarily difficult job of educating our children. I will work to ensure we provide a fair evaluation system and thus pay so that we can maintain a quality educator at the helm of every classroom…..I think (TEI) is deeply flawed and needs a major overhaul. It is a factor in poor teacher morale, teacher turnover and hurts DISD when it comes to attracting new teachers. Education must remain a collaborative endeavor and should not artificially cap the number of teachers that can reach the top ratings, thus incentivizing those with less experience and those just becoming experienced while leaving the truly experienced teachers without the same opportunity to advance and gain fair compensation.”

This powerfully written article by John Connally appears on Kirkpatrick’s website. It deserves to be quoted in its entirety.

“I attended the recent debate between the two main candidates for Dallas ISD District 2 at Mata Montessori School.

On one side of the stage, Lori Kirkpatrick, a physician assistant at Parkland Hospital; on the other, businessman and incumbent Dustin Marshall. The debate was quite brief but still revealed a striking, if by now familiar, distinction between two visions for public education.

Kirkpatrick spoke of the gift of public education to society, conveyed an empathy for schoolteachers working under hostile conditions, and underlined the cost to society of not providing teachers and students with the necessary resources and support.

In contrast, Marshall expressed concern over an apparent mismatch between teacher evaluations and student test scores, and focused on the need to craft incentives to drive below average teachers out of the profession and expose “failing” schools. (According to this logic, parents would then have the knowledge required to choose between public schools — as if the choice of where to locate one’s family is comparable to choosing between two different colored apples at the grocery store.)

This hard-nosed business approach to overseeing schools actually has a long-failed history. Yet it’s an irony that, no matter the facts and evidence, this same approach is pursued relentlessly by those very people who portray themselves as objective and rational.

Why is it that this business-driven approach to public education has such a failed history? One reason is that treating teachers as self-serving individuals driven only by monetary incentives to achieve high class test scores can lead some to respond in kind by gaming the system to save their jobs. Notorious and extreme examples of this have been documented in places like Baltimore, Washington, and Atlanta.

But the more general answer to this question was given by the renowned scholar, James Q. Wilson. Public schools are not “production” or “procedural” organizations but what Wilson called “coping” organizations. This means that their operational activities and outputs are not easy to observe or measure. This is an intrinsic characteristic of public schools. To think of a public school as some kind of black box with well-defined measurable inputs and outputs is a pretense; indeed, a dangerous and dehumanizing pretense given all the students in danger of being tagged as failures at an early stage in life.

There is a further irony here. All this emphasis on test scores, rote learning, and impersonal teaching, is only advocated for students in public schools. For students in private schools it’s often just the opposite: intramural sports, Shakespeare, and joyful inquiry, sometimes taught by outstanding former public school teachers who reluctantly fled the system to escape the mind-numbing obsession with constant assessment, monitoring and micro-management.

It’s therefore not surprising that the issue of public v. private schools has come up in the race between Kirkpatrick and Marshall; in particular, concerning why the incumbent, Marshall, chooses to send his own children to a private school while promoting himself as the best qualified person to be public school trustee for Dallas ISD District 2.

Marshall took umbrage at the suggestion his decision had any kind of broader significance, explaining that he sent his children to the same private school he attended and of which he had such fond memories, claiming that one of his motivations in running for office is to help others experience the same positive start that he had at a private school.

Of course, from the perspective of a private citizen, where one chooses to send one’s children is one’s own business, and there are plenty of circumstantial reasons one can think of as to why parents may choose not to send their child to the local public school.
But what does it mean — as a matter of public policy — to view one’s private school experience as a kind of ideal to which public schools should aspire? Public schools differ in crucial ways from private schools.

Unlike private schools, public schools are subject to elected school boards, class size requirements, building regulations, as well as all kinds of state regulations, such as being required to cater to students with special needs. Teachers in public schools must have state certification and public schools must comply with a state-approved curriculum.

Private schools are not subject to these constraints. Further, private schools are not bound by the U.S. Constitution, including the Bill of Rights. In contrast, public schools have no discretion on such weighty matters.

So while one should not begrudge the incumbent his fond memories of private school, it does not necessarily seem the appropriate kind of experience one should be looking for in a public school trustee.

Interestingly, in his debate with Kirkpatrick, Marshall sought to allay any fear that he was some kind of educational extremist, stating that he disapproved of the recent appointment of Betsy DeVos as United States Secretary of Education.

But why is it so many people agree that DeVos is unqualified? The question was recently put in an interview to Diane Ravitch, former Under Secretary of Education to George H.W. Bush, and a leading national thinker on public education. Ravitch responded (talking about DeVos): “Well, she does not understand anything about education except for escaping from public schools. She’s never taught. She’s never supervised. She’s never attended public schools. Her children did not attend public schools. She thinks that public schools everywhere are just awful …”

If these kinds of criticisms are appropriate of DeVos, are they not also relevant to other candidates for public education posts (like this District 2 Trustee seat) when their experience, both as a parent and student, is limited to that of private schools?

Of course, unlike DeVos, Marshall has not explicitly advocated for vouchers. Indeed it would be foolhardy to do so — the public is strongly against these ideologically-driven social experiments. It is for this reason that Marshall’s opponent, Lori Kirkpatrick, is undoubtedly correct in emphasizing that one needs to look beyond words to specific actions in assessing where one comes down on this highly charged political issue. In this regard, Marshall’s recurring advocacy of competition and school-choice as the panacea to the problems of public schools is significant — student against student, teacher against teacher, school against school. Reward the winners and drop the losers — precisely the kind of thinking that led to the original idea of vouchers.

How did this Darwinian survival-of-the-fittest paradigm come to be seen as appropriate for public education? And how is the system supposed to replace all these supposed “underperforming” teachers that Marshall is so keen to drive out the system? What better and more experienced people are going to choose teaching as working conditions become ever more hostile?

But perhaps that’s not something we should be concerned with. Diane Ravitch points out that many of the “school choice” advocates seem to think that computers can do much of the work formerly done by “inefficient” teachers. Again though, the plan is selective. As Ravitch puts it: “the poor will get computers, the rich will get computers and teachers.”

The truth is that there has always been a battle over two alternative visions for public education. One sees it as essentially about knowledge and enrichment, as education for life as a citizen through the cultivation of independent critical minds, and therefore crucial to a functioning democracy.

The alternative perspective sees public education as serving quite different ends: the sorting of students at an early age to determine their place in society and role in the workforce; the promotion of deference to authority, conformity, passivity, and docility.

The two visions are incompatible. Take your pick.”

John Connolly lives in East Dallas. He has a Ph.D. in Political Science and has several articles published on law, politics, and education.

Postscript to Diane, normally information has been sent about Dallas ISD elections before the vote, but the results have not been favorable for the pro public school candidates. So, the results information is being sent after the vote because there was in fear of jinxing the election. Today was a great day for Dallas ISD.

[I guess my correspondent in Dallas jinxed the outcome by declaring victory before all the votes were counted! Here is hoping that Lori Kirkpatrick can maintain her lead in the runoff and became a member of the DISD board.]

Saturday is the election for school board in Dallas.

Dallas is a rich city that has many impoverished students and English language learners in its public schools. It needs a school board committed to these children.

If you live in Dallas in District 2, I urge you to vote for Lori Kirkpatrick.

She is the mother of a child in second grade in DISD.

She believes in public education.

She believes in treating teachers like the professionals they are.

She wants community schools with wraparound services. As a physician’s assistant, she understands that children need access to more than the classroom.

​She vows to oppose privatization of taxpayers dollars.

She will fight to expand Early Childhood Education to ensure that all Dallas ISD children are Kindergarten ready.

Please vote.

Dustin Marshall won the special election for the Dallas school board by 42 votes. Marshall is a private school parent; he defeated Mita Havlick, who is a parent of children in the Dallas public schools and an active volunteer.

Marshall’s election returns control of the board to the corporate reform faction that previously hired Broadie Mike Miles, who left after three years. Miles’ disastrous reform policies pushed out hundreds of experienced teachers and demoralized the teaching staff. He set unrealistic goals, based on his test score targets.

Every vote counts.

The Dallas public schools have been controlled by corporate reformers for many years. In 2012, the board hired Broadie Mike Miles as superintendent. He made grandiose promises, drove away hundreds of teachers with his laser-like focus on test scores and merit pay, then left after three years when none of his promises and goals were met.


At present, the board is tied 4-4, between the stale reformers and advocates for public education.


This Saturday, Dallas has a chance to install a new board majority by electing Mita Havlick, a public school parent and school volunteer. 


Her opponent Dustin Marshall has the support of the conservative, test-loving Dallas Morning News. He sends his children to private school.


The Dallas school board has some wonderful activists, including two who are my friends, Joyce Foreman and Bernadette Nutall. If they are in the majority, the rebuilding of public education in Dallas will begin.


Please vote this Saturday!



Joyce Foreman, vigilant Trustee of the Dallas Independent School District, stood up and said “no” to yet another charter school in her district. She persuaded the City Council member representing her district to say no. The charter was not approved. Foreman wants better public schools in her district, not a marketplace of schools. For her courage and foresight, she was blasted by the Dallas Morning News, one of the most conservative editorial boards in Texas.


You would think that an elected representative of the district would know more about its needs than the editorial board of a corporate-friendly newspaper. Joyce Foreman understands that a great city needs a great public school system, not a marketplace of choices. That may work for shoes and toothpaste, but not for children.


Joyce Foreman speaks for the people of her district. Stay fearless, Joyce. Ignore the editorial writer at the Dallas Morning News, who probably went to prep school.