Dallas ISD Will Bus 18,000 Employees for Convocation, and Teachers Are Pissed

Last week, Superintendent Mike Miles proposed giving teachers $750 in incentive pay for the coming school year. "Last year, we asked the teachers for a lot," Miles said, per the Morning News. "We asked the teachers to extend the number of minutes that they are teaching, and to increase the number of days at the secondary level, we didn't give them a pay raise, and this coming year, the accountability is going to be a little higher."

Extra cash is always welcome, but a one-time bonus isn't exactly causing DISD's rank and file to sing Miles' praises. There are a lot of causes for resentment -- huge executive salaries, a longer work day, pay that remains stagnant -- but a focus of the complaints of late is the convocation slated for next Friday, three days before school starts.

Teachers and staff will be bused to the Ellis Price Field House for one of three identical sessions lasting an hour and 15 minutes. There, they will hear Miles wax poetic about Destination 2020, his long-term vision for the district that now has its own logo. Attendance is mandatory: DISD's website reminds us "Principals and department heads will be taking attendance."

Convocations are standard fare for new superintendents, a way to muster the troops in advance of the school year, and they sound about like every mandatory work meeting ever: boring, pointless, way too long. Of course people are going to bitch, but that's life, right?

What's doubly irritating to teachers this time around is that the convocation is supplanting classroom preparation time, says Alliance-AFT president Rena Honea. Typically, there are a couple of days of classroom prep time built into the calendar. This year, teachers are getting emails telling them when their buildings will be unlocked

"They're expected to come up on their own time and not be compensated to have their room ready," Honea says.

Miles will have a tough job getting teachers behind him. Lest he be tempted to turn to spectacle at the convocation in hopes of swaying them, a word of caution: Don't drive into the room on a bulldozer. That's how former sup Yvonne Gonzalez introduced herself, and we all know where she ended up.

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