Mike. I'm talking to you. Your whole story now, your profile, is all about the Miles-high salaries.
Wrong. So wrong. One hundred and eighty degrees wrong. Think in terms of sack-cloth and begging bowls. That's what you want to project. Not the high-roller thing. You want to know what story lines you need to be projecting for the school system? I'll tell you:
"DALLAS SUPERINTENDENT SPENDS LUNCH HOURS PANHANDLING FOR NICKELS TO SUPPORT BELEAGURED SCHOOLS."
"IN AUSTERITY MOVE, DALLAS SUPER ORDERS TOP EXECS TO EAT LEFTOVER FOOD ON CAFETERIA TRAYS FOR LUNCH."
"ALL TOP SCHOOL EXECS ORDERED TO RIDE BIKES TO APPOINTMENTS."
"DALLAS SUPER SELLS BIKES, ORDERS TOP EXECS TO USE BUS PASSES."
"DALLAS SUPER SELLS BUS PASSES, ORDERS TOP EXECS TO WALK TO APPOINTMENTS."
"DALLAS SUPER ORDERS TOP EXECS TO CARRY POOR KIDS AROUND ON BACKS WHILE WALKING TO APPOINTMENTS, EVEN BIG ONES."
Since you took over as superintendent of the Dallas schools, the thing you've been in the news for the most is doubling the pay of your top executives. You've got four employees earning over 200 grand each.
You are putting the knife in the hand of the political forces that want to stab you in the back. Don't give them that knife! Damn, guy! DUCK!
It's right now, sir. I know you keep up with the news, so I know you heard or read about the heartbreaking testimony in Austin yesterday in the school district funding lawsuit. Rick Perry and the Legislature slashed their own support of Texas schools in 2006 and tried to cover it up with temporary Obama stimulus money. This was while Perry was bragging how independent Texas is of Washington.
Now the stimulus money is gone, of course. Districts are firing teachers and slashing programs. Witnesses told the court yesterday that the poorest, most minority kids are the ones who will pay the bitter price of educational neglect.
OK, it's disgusting. You know it. I know it. I know it's not your fault. But here's the reality, sir: Between Rick Perry's lies and the legislature's chicken-shit double-dealing, public schools in Texas have been boxed into a death trap.
Yes, sir. Death trap. They hate public education. They despise poor minority kids. They are running the public schools into the grave, because they want to run the public schools into the grave. It's not a mistake or an accident. It's an agenda.
And every time anybody tries to defend the schools, somebody brings up the Miles-high salary thing. Don't ... no, don't even try ... do not tell me all about attracting top talent. I get it. I know you're right. Sort of. You do need top people to bring about the kind of fundamental change you are seeking.
But you're never even going to get the chance, because you're about to wind up in the political alley with a Tea Party knife in your back. And somehow you don't seem to be even faintly aware of that very immediate threat.
The real stakes in the school finance battle right now in Austin really are not about school finance. The game now is about the extinction of public education in Texas. And the principle political ammunition in the hands of the Tea Party seeking that extinction is their argument that you and your profession are a bunch of freeloading, high-rolling, party-time fools living on the public tit.
Yeah, it's a libel. And yeah, maybe my suggested headlines above would be insulting, humiliating and way beneath your dignity on a normal day. But this ain't a normal day. This is a knife-in-the-back, dead-in-the-alley day.
You know what I don't get? I don't get how you can not get this. I'm starting to wonder if you're missing some nuts and bolts. You need a wake-up. If a masked man comes into your office and pours a pitcher of cold water on you, you need to say, "Thank you, Doctor."
An earlier version of this story inadvertently overstated the number of employees making $200,000 or more. By, like, a lot. It's been corrected above.