Studying the Dallas School Board and the "Theory of Action for Change"
One of the more astounding discoveries I have made about the Dallas school board is that its recent behavior has been based on a so-called "theory of action for change" -- part of a program called The Reform Governance® Framework run by an outfit called the Center for Reform of School Systems (or CRSS). You can see the Framework's flow chart up above; click to expand, if you dare.
This, by the way, is not a secret. It's one of the first things you find if you Google the DISD board of trustees. I just didn't know about it. You probably didn't either.
And, uh, if this is a "theory of action" we're looking at, I think it would be darned interesting to know what the theory is. Chaos theory, maybe?
The board has been undergoing training provided by CRSS and paid for by the Meadows Foundation. CRSS is the brainchild of Don McAdams, a former Houston ISD board member who has been a key consultant to major urban school districts all over the country.
He's not quite in the same boat with Eli Broad, founder of the Broad Prize for Urban Education, who believes in "mayoral control of school boards or ... no school board at all." And he's definitely not in the same boat with noted national education expert and reformer Chester Finn, president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, who has described school boards "an aberration, an anachronism, an educational sinkhole," and who has urged that we "put this dysfunctional arrangement out of its misery."
But he does have a lot of ideas about how school superintendents should more or less gently, subtly tell their boards what to do. And I think this training the board has been taking is all about doing everything by consensus and not allowing the public to see any rough edges.
Let me say this about that: If Lois Parrott or Kathlyn Gilliam had been on this board, scrounging around for skeletons in the closets and giving them a big ration of shit once in a while, we would never have drifted into the sinkhole we're in now. And maybe the board would not have decided to solve its political problems by suspending its elections.
As it is, calling the DISD a banana republic at this point is a slur on bananas.
Maybe we oughta ask what that "theory of action" is, specifically. Believe I might do that after I'm all done giving thanks for living in a free country. --Jim Schutze
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Observer's biggest stories.