John Wiley Price first inserted himself into the debate over school reform in Dallas ISD when he showed up at a November board meeting to lambast Superintendent Mike Miles' heavy-handed attempts to enact change. His specific complaint then was the departure of longtime administrator Shirley Ison-Newsome, but Price made it abundantly clear that Miles had made an enemy for life.
He wasn't kidding. As the school reform guillotine hovers over the necks of more than 60 principals placed on growth plans, Price's anti-Miles crusade has turned biblical.
Miles, it seems, has been making the round of southern Dallas churches in hopes of drumming up support for -- or at least quieting opposition to -- the coming principal shakeup and other less popular elements of his reform plan. Price caught wind of the visits and, as the Morning News' Matthew Haag reports, recently sent a letter to 75 pastors urging them to reject Miles' message.
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"It has come to my attention that now Pontius Pilate plans to parade through many of your churches with a fake Jesus in tow," Price wrote. "It amazes me, but I must say that I am not surprised. While Pilate may find no fault in the prisoner that has been charged to judge, we do. Thankfully, this time, we get a chance to make it right."
Price declined to expound upon the metaphor, saying he preferred to leave it open to interpretation, but it's pretty clear that Miles is the fake Jesus, and Haag suggests that Board President Lew Blackburn is Pilate. But Price seems to be placing himself and his constituents in the role of crucifiers which, even if this Jesus is fake, does not seem a flattering role.
But while some elements may be somewhat puzzling, Price's message is not. This is war, and Price won't stop until Miles is gone. It's exactly the type of parochial backlash Jim predicted not long after Miles was hired.
Miles is digging in as well. Despite some squeamishness from some board members, he's shown no sign of watering down his reforms. Expect a pitched battle when the board discusses principals' fates next month.