Sunday, February 26, 2012

Letter to the DISD Trustees

This is the e-mail I sent to the Board of Trustees.

To the esteemed members of the Board of Trustees for the Dallas Independent School District-

I am known as "Mr. Jones," and I am sure you are all aware of what I have asked my fellow teachers to do on February 29th.  I had hoped that by this point the board would have made some statement, whether via e-mail or in a public fashion, in regards to the disrespect that has been demonstrated towards the educators of DISD. However, you have yet to reach your hands out to us and begin a dialogue on how we repair our relationship and how we move forward.  

That is disappointing, but not unexpected.  After all, the actions of Mr. Flores and the remainder of the board have made it very clear to us that the opinions of the educators are not a welcome addition to any conversation.  It is a pity, considering we both share the same goal of providing a high-quality education to the students of our district.  

If you do not wish to ask the questions, then I will provide you answers to the questions you should have been asking us from the beginning.

Question:  "What have we done to upset you so?"

Answer:   Thank you for asking.  Let me start by reminding you that we educators understand that the district is in dire financial straits.  In fact, it appears as if every school year finds us in a predicament involving our finances.  Seeing as how we know that the district must make some cuts in order to repair its damaged budget, we have watched our colleagues walk away from the profession (or be escorted out by security with their dignity in shambles.)  We have all grit our teeth and watched our insurance premiums rise in concurrence with a pay freeze.  We have sacrificed two of our paid personal days and come to work when ill.  We have paid for more supplies out of our own pockets and said farewell to stipends and duty pay.  This we have all done and, with the exception of some teacher lounge grumbling, remained silent.  However, we feel insulted by the district's recent decision of extend the working day by an additional forty-five minutes.

Question:  "But we do not understand.  Why has the forty-five minutes upset you?"

It is simple.  Recognition.

Teachers get very few, if any, rewards for what we do.  Our pay is less than spectacular, we do not feel valued by the general public, and sometimes we fell like the punch-line to a bad joke.  We do not ask for much because we love what we do, and we find our own rewards in the every-day miracles that can occur in a classroom.  We do not expect the public at large to understand us.  

However, we expect more from you.  We expect you to thank us for the sacrifices we have made to help you solve your various budget crises.  Whether it was a cut in state funding or the simple mismanagement of $80 million plus, we have laid parts of our livelihoods down upon the chopping block.  Is a thank you too much to ask?

I stead of "thank you," we received a "Screw you!  You are not doing enough!  You must do more!  Henceforth you shall spend more time upon campus!"

Question:  "But why call on a sick-out?  Why not just tell us?"

Answer:  One guy did, remember?  Poor guy spent almost a week wondering if he was going to have a job when he woke up.  No thanks.

Question:  "But we need teachers to do more, and the forty-five minutes will be used..."

Answer:  Let me stop you right there.  First of all, you had no clue what the forty-five minutes was going to be used for.  You voted on it without any clear plans as to how it would be utilized.

No let's back up for a minute and logically think about this.  You have a large number of teachers who spend an hour, or more, beyond their contract time doing school related functions every day.  Whether it is taking papers home to grade, sponsoring clubs (which provide no stipends, remember?), preparing lessons, producing materials, holding parent conferences, tutoring outside school hours or during lunches, etc.  Now you mandate that said teacher must stay at work for an additional forty-five minutes.  Insulted by the insinuation that he/she does not do enough for the students, he/she decides to limit their work to keep within the new "mandated time."  Therefore you have now actually lost fifteen minutes of productivity from this individual, even more if they decide never to tutor during lunch.  That is only if a teacher works just one hour over the current time, but many work more than that.  You get the idea.

In many ways, you stand much more to lose from mandating the forty-five minutes than from the current hours you have in place.

Question:  "Is that really all you are upset about?"

Answer:  No, but it is the only thing that you can easily rectify right now.  The others are far more complicated.  I know we could find the money to give teachers their increases this year if the board was willing to look for it, but you could at least set the relationship between educators and trustees back on track with a simple reversal on this one policy.

Question:  "Where do we go from here."

Answer:  Where ever you want us to go.  We can start going about things the right way; working on solutions to our districts problems collectively rather than looking to scapegoat one another, or we can continue down our destructive path.  It think we both owe it to the students of DISD to put our broken district back together.

I beg all of you to please extend this single olive branch to your teachers.  Reverse the forty-five minute extended day and recognize us as the key component in the success of our kids.  Let's finally begin moving in the proper direction:  forward!

Thank you for your time,

-"Mr. Jones" 


  1. Wow! and you should add that teachers are also expected to have thick skins:
    they cannot express displeasure,lose their temper, or be even human or its considered insulting to students and the district. Teachers are to be better than superman, superwoman, the bionic man, woman, or Robocop, and to top it off, certain board members by their actions show that they do not care what teachers feel or think, or that they have lives outside of school, or families who depend on them or goals they want to accomplish. He who has the money makes the rules; but wait, there is no money, so why are they making unreasonable rules.....Dallas is on a backward rocket speed. Good luck!

  2. I'd like to know when they expect teachers to prep their rooms, move rooms,plan,etc. with no teacher work days next year. No one has asked that question.

    1. well, during that 45 minutes, DUH!

  3. Awesome description ...and lots of thing can be added like for example why board members don't switch places and teach for a week???? so they can have a very clear idea of what teaching is like...

  4. I hope every teacher that calls in sick is fired! Just like Reagan did to the Air Controllers. Your are ONLY hurting the kids and that is NOT the way to do this.

    1. I agree. What company is not getting employees to work longer and with less medical benefits right now?

  5. "Mr. Jones",

    It's pretty clear you are an angry, tired, and bullied teacher within Dallas ISD. You are bright, engaging, and understand what it takes to garner attention. Unfortunately, you are misinformed. There are very real reasons why Alliance AFT has not "condoned or condemned" your proposed sick out. First, Alliance AFT's role is to provide a collective voice to protect members. This sick out takes away any kind of collective voice, removing any power, that Alliance AFT may have within the district. It does this because of what is stated in federal and state law. Texas, an "at-will" state, allows employers to end the employment arbitrarily. Dallas ISD has policies in place that do not allow the simple decision of an administrator to end a person's employment without proper documentation or cause. This sick out is plenty for the district, in their adversarial system, to end an employee's employment. Every teacher or support employee that takes part in your proposed sickout would be accountable for their actions. Alliance AFT can, and will, support any member to the extent necessary, but it cannot condone or condemn this action. Each member understands their situation better than union representatives ever will, so it will not make a stand that will either a) put a member in harm's way, or b) incapacitate a member's right to express their discontent for the malicious actions of the district. Either way, I feel that Alliance AFT has been there to support me through the chaos.

    To teachers and other support staff within Dallas ISD, please think about your actions. There may be more effective channels of action than a disruptive walkout that could not only endanger your employment but will imprint an "acceptable" behavior on the students you interact with daily.

    I am posting anonymously, because I am a current teacher in the district and have family within the district, as well. "Mr. Jones", it is ridiculous for you to call on teachers and support staff to "out" themselves while you are standing behind the front line. By pushing this sick out, you are doing the dirty work for the district. I'm sure they are laughing while they read your posts, and hoping and praying that you help make their job that much easier...

    You should be ashamed of yourself.

    - B

    1. I am a DISD teacher and I am disturbed and ashamed of you Mr. Jones.

      Could you imagine you work for a company and a worker did this against the board? This is America and if you do not like it we have plenty of other school districts you can work for. Please go look for another job, because you abviously could care less about your students.

      You could not pull me away from my students period! I love my job and could care less about the 45 minutes. We get so many other perks this is just silly.

  6. Welcome to the real world teachers! You are undervalued, underpaid, and under-recognized. The rest of us deal with this every day. We come in early, leave late and take second jobs to pay for our health insurance. We do all of this to KEEP our jobs. If you are unhappy, there are school districts all over the country where you can apply. That is the only form of protest that works. If there is a "sick-out" and enough teachers do not show for work...doesn't that add another day to the school year, increasing the amount of money the district is behind???

  7. I watched the news show this morning and I have a couple comments.

    These blogs remind me of that teacher-sub last year that went to the media outlets to get the school board to reinstate spanking our children. Thanks go to the school board for not setting us back 50 years.

    I know teachers will do the right thing and this is not it.


  8. I am appalled at the number of educated people commenting on this board who seem to have forgotten the concept of a Bill of Rights or the principles set down by our founding fathers and other great historical figures. The state of Texas with their policy of preventing strikes is a violation of the first amendment and our right to peacefully protest actions which we disagree with. So much of this country's progress would have been at best slowed if not outright prevented if workers hadn't banded together and struck in demand of rights and recognition. And we hail these men and women as heroes in our textbooks and on TV, yet here you are condemning those who would risk their very livelihood to follow in their footsteps.

    As far as teaching our students "bad behavior" I would like to point out, along the same vein, that teaching our students "citizenship" and "civic virtue" is actually required in the social studies curriculum. By participating in the sick out, we would be teaching our students that apathy and acceptance of bad circumstances is NOT an okay behavior. We would be encouraging them to honor the First Amendment just as we wish to and our government ought to. In order for any form of American government, be it national, state, or even just the district administration, to be a reflection of the will of the people, then those who are affected by it's actions must take an active part, stay informed, and above all BE HEARD, and the board has made it very, very clear that it does not, so far, care one fig for anything we have to say. They suspended one man who protested via email, evicted the Occupy members, kicked people out of their board room, and chased off masked picketers? They are not acting as representatives of anyone but themselves. What a pack of miserable tyrants.

    1. This was written by Mr Jones...Duh. Only a bunch of lemmings would follow this guy.

      Do not loose your tenure by doing this.


    2. This was not written by Mr Jones. This was written by one of the top history teachers in the district who is anything but a lemming. I'm just tired of complaints with no action.

      Miss A

  9. I 'served' 10 years in public school. I am now blessed to teach at a private school for kids with special needs. We are treated like professionals, and respected by our director. Decisions are based on what the kids need, not state laws, how it looks to the community, or to gain other recognition. She tells us when to be there, but only when there is a reason (kids, meeting, etc.)When we don't have anything to discuss, meetings are cancelled. Of course we spend hours grading planning, and talking to parents. We do that when and where we want. Some of us would rather take work home. DISD teachers will resent the unpaid extra time, which will make them less productive. The burn out rate for teachers is already so high! Use common sense, board members. Don't lose anymore good teachers who really care about kids.

    1. Glad you made the right choice for yourself and your happy now. This is what anybody unhappy should do.

      God Bless

  10. Using the kids for your agenda is disheartening and feel you need to be removed Mr. Jones. You do not exemplify what our children need.

    If active teachers do not show up you will be making it easy for the board to have you removed.

    Retired Oak Cliff DISD Teacher

  11. Mr Retired Oak Cliff Teacher, the "children" need good teachers who aren't down trodden and discouraged. They need teachers who are up beat and enthusiastic, not beaten down. Get real folks. Slapping the extra 45min is not a message about spending time, its about administrators placing blame for poor performance issues which ultimately lies with administration and parents. Its about controlling people and gaining "authority" over them so that they can continue their bullying ways. I think you obviously don't really care about the "children" because if you did you would support the teachers in this.

    1. Sorry to disagree but you were overwhelmingly proven wrong yesterday.

      Next time do not use the kids as pawns.

      Retired Oak Cliff DISD Teacher