As Patrick noted Tuesday, the Dallas Independent School District's board of trustees has narrowed down its short list of interim superintendents and hopes to name Michael Hinojosa's temporary replacement by no later than Monday. And while newly installed board president Lew Blackburn won't say who's on that list of four or five candidates, it would appear one familiar name may be under consideration: former DISD superintendent Nolan Estes, who came to Dallas from D.C. in '68 and left a decade later to teach at the University of Texas at Austin.
On her blog last night, Carla Ranger posted a letter to the board signed by two dozen educators, religious leaders, activists and other familiar faces -- among them Zan Holmes, John Fullinwider, Frederick Haynes III, Diane Ragsdale and Beverly Mitchell-Brooks -- urging the trustees to appoint Estes. The letter, sent yesterday, is the second such missive the group has sent to the board this week. They write: "We feel strongly that Dr. Nolan Estes is the person who should take the helm as Interim Superintendent until your superintendent search is successful in bringing in a permanent leader to replace Dr. Michael Hinojosa."
Even today, the mention of his name seems to evoke either praise or outrage. A Harvard-educated man, Estes was hired by a liberal school board; by the time he left, it had swung full-circle to become a conservative board of education. Philosophically, he was and is a conservative Baptist, yet he was always a progressive educator. His school politics were pragmatic but so murky that, at times, liberals complained that he was slightly to the right of Henry VIII while conservatives believed that he was a flaming liberal. But he was the consummate politician, always landing on his feet. Had he not, he never would have lasted a decade in a job with a life expectancy similar to that of a World War II paratrooper.