Scratch That: DISD Teachers Love Superintendent Mike Miles

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It wasn't so long ago that it seemed the relationship between DISD teachers and superintendent Mike Miles had gone sour. They bristled at Miles' reformist rhetoric, with its implication that steering the district in the right direction will require the heads of a lot of long-time educators. They didn't like the outsized salaries Miles doled out to his administrative team as their own pay (other than a modest, one-time bonus) remained flat. Those unannounced, discomfiting visits to classrooms by administrators haven't gone over so well, either, and teachers are still sore about that 45 extra minutes that was added to their workday in the spring.

What a difference a week makes. Yesterday, the Morning News' Matthew Haag dug up some 51 pages of teachers singing praises about the district and, more importantly, the changes Miles has implemented. DISD apparently intends to circulate the document among teachers to reaffirm their already drawn conclusion that Mike Miles is a fantastic leader.

Take a pair of elementary teachers cited by Haag. "I feel the Core Beliefs are great!" one gushes, while the other concludes, "We have a quality direction from our Superintendent to teach our students effectively." The document goes on in that vein for quite a while.

As you can see from teachers' spontaneous outbursts of approval, all those reports of disgruntled teachers and a growing rift with Miles were merely an illusion. The two parties are apparently on extended, possibly permanent, honeymoon.

If only. Not surprisingly, the 51 pages of praise for MIles' reforms does not represent a spontaneous upwelling of good feeling by teachers but by a ham-fisted attempt to boost morale from the top down. The Morning News' Tod Robberson found earlier this week that district officials had been telling principals to strongly encourage teachers to jot down three to five warm-and-fuzzy sentences about Miles' Core Beliefs are. No consequences were explicitly spelled out in the letter, but it was clear that it would be in everyone's best interest to comply.

This comes from the same administration that, not long ago, was caught feeding principals jingoistic buzzwords and catchphrases to use when dealing with parents. Maybe such tactics worked in Colorado Springs, but here our bullshit detectors are highly developed, and they tend to sound the alarm at such egregiously bad attempts at spin.

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