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Pushback Against Dallas Superintendent Continues

From guest blogger Alyssa Morones

Dallas school district superintendent Mike Miles' new principal evaluation system continues to draw ire from the community, reported CBS in Dallas. Shouts for his removal can be heard echoing across the city, from parents and south Dallas community activists to the head of the Dallas NAACP, Juanita Wallace.

The source of most of the complaints is the Destination 2020 plan, which, in an effort to improve Dallas schools, focuses attention on principal performance with its Principal Evaluation Plan. The plan implements a new principal evaluation system, 40 percent of which is based on student test scores, that would lead to the firing of principals who receive poor evaluations. Dozens of community members protested at the school district's headquarters earlier this year.

Linda Isaacks, the executive director of the Dallas School Administrators Association, said she is looking for a compromise from Miles with respect to the principal evaluation process. While she isn't calling for Miles to step down, she told CBS that principals "want to feel they have a process, so if they disagree with their evaluation, there's a process to question it without fear of retaliation."

County commissioner John Wiley Price and council member Carolyn Davis have also joined the chorus, along with three co-chairs of the Dallas Achieves Commission, Arcilia Acosta, Pettis Norman, and J. McDonald Williams, who penned a three-page letter spelling out their frustrations, reported the Dallas Morning News.

The letter questions Miles' process for reforming Dallas schools and his alleged failure to reach out to the Dallas Achieves Commission, which was created under former superintendent Michael Hinojosa to implement reforms in Dallas schools.

While the co-chairs took no significant issue with the Destination 2020 improvement plan, they said they "do object to the apparent abandonment of the Dallas Achieves implementation plan and to the closure of the Transformation Management Office function," which was a team of district personnel and Achieves project members created to spearhead this implementation.

They go on to say, "We are also deeply concerned about the processes by which you are going about making these changes, and their consequence," citing Miles' quoting of Arne Duncan's call for "disruptive change."

"Disruptive change does not always produce good results," read the letter.

Miles responded with his own letter addressing the commission's concerns and expressing a wish to meet to further discuss the issues they raised. (Miles has not been available to respond to EdWeek's requests since last Friday for further comments.)

While the superintendent's plan has been controversial, a growing number of districts are linking principals' evaluations to student achievement. In a May 29 webinar, we'll talk with district leaders from Hawaii and Chicago, two districts that are also developing plans to put in place principal evaluation systems that draw on student test scores.

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