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Lew Blackburn DKF Questionnaire Responses

Lew Blackburn DKF Questionnaire Responses

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Dallas ISD trustee Lew Blackburn's responses to Dallas Kids First questionnaire for May 2013 election.
Dallas ISD trustee Lew Blackburn's responses to Dallas Kids First questionnaire for May 2013 election.

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Published by: The Dallas Morning News on Mar 29, 2013
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03/30/2013

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Lew Blackburn District 5 2013 DKF Questionnaire Responses

2

Please describe your involvement in Dallas ISD or public education issues over the last five years.�

I have served on the Dallas ISD Board of Trustees since 2001, representing District 5. Since 1986, I have been a career educator, beginning as a teacher, and later serving as Assistant Principal, Principal, Human Resources Director, Business Officer, and Accountability Officer.

3

Please explain leadership positions and responsibilities that have prepared you for school board governance.

As an educator, I have served in leadership positions on the school campus level, as well as the central office level. Each of these positions required working with peers and subordinates towards common shared goals.

4

Please identify three specific issues that you think should be addressed in order to improve the quality of education in Dallas ISD.

Three issues are effective leadership, effective teachers, and positive and productive parent and community engagement.

5

If elected, what would you do to address each of these issues? �

I will encourage the administration to recruit, select, and develop campus principals and teachers. We must be careful in our processes and procedures so that we select the best candidates for the positions. As the staff, parents, and community members will be key partners in the success of the principal, it would be beneficial to have members of these groups to serve on the interview panels. Teachers, staff, parents, and students, where appropriate, should help select quality teachers for the campus. It is important to recruit and encourage parent and community engagement. I have encouraged and been involved in these processes since my tenure on the school board. Most recently, I have approached church leaders to get involved as mentors and volunteers.

Pol. Adv., Kids First PAC

Lew Blackburn District 5 2013 DKF Questionnaire Responses

6

Do you think Dallas ISD faces a teacher morale problem? If so, what do you think are the primary causes, and what would you do as a Trustee to improve morale?

There are many teachers who have expressed a low morale. While others have mentioned that their schools are improving. So, I can not say that the overall morale is bad. However, where we have schools with low teacher morale, we need our administrators to address the issues, and resolve to make the workplace better for teachers. As teacher morale suffers, so does students learning. I have spoken with teachers to hear their complaints, concerns, and challenges. I have met with administrators about teacher morale. With each group, I emphasize teachers being productive through positive environments.

7

Do you think Dallas ISD teachers and principals receive effective professional development?

No, teachers and principals do not receive effective professional development. The new administration reduced the Professional Development department to addressing only the School Leaders Academy. Principals are responsible for providing support to the teachers. Executive Directors are responsible for providing support to their principals. This has proven to be insufficient for new Executive Directors and principals. A more coordinated effort must be taken to properly address improving the knowledge and skills of our teachers and principals.

8

Please rate the following Dallas ISD practices in terms of effectiveness.

Very Weak Teacher recruitment Principal recruitment Teacher professional development Principal professional development Retention of high performing teachers

Weak

Somewhat Effective

Effective

Strong

Not Sure

Pol. Adv., Kids First PAC

Lew Blackburn District 5 2013 DKF Questionnaire Responses

Retention of high performing principals

9

For any of the Dallas ISD practices rated "very weak", "weak" or "somewhat effective" in the question above, please explain what you will do as a Trustee to improve the practices.

I meet with and encourage administrators on teacher and principal recruitment, and professional development. I listen to teachers and principals about why they consider leaving the district. I am offering suggestions, recommendations and advice on these areas of concern.

Text Block :
Please indicate your level of agreement or disagreement with the following three statements. �

10

Parental and community involvement is extremely low, which prevents Dallas public schools from consistently generating high-achieving students.�

Strongly Disagree

Disagree

Neutral

Agree

Strongly Agree

Comment: While I agree that parent and community involvement is low, it is not a predictor of high-achieving students. However, it does help when they are involved in a positive and meaningful way.

11

Dallas ISD's college-readiness failures (i.e., the district's SAT/ACT scores are in the bottom 25% of all U.S. test takers) are the school board's ultimate responsibility. �

Strongly Disagree

Disagree

Neutral

Agree

Strongly Agree

Comment: The Board sets goals for the administration. Increasing student collegereadiness is a key criteria for assessing their performance.

12

Students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds cannot consistently perform at high academic levels without first addressing poverty and other social issues.

Pol. Adv., Kids First PAC

Lew Blackburn District 5 2013 DKF Questionnaire Responses

Strongly Disagree

Disagree

Neutral

Agree

Strongly Agree

Comment: Whereas a student's socio-economic conditions may not be as desired, they can be taught how to be more resilient whereby they can still be successful academically.

13

Dallas ISD's superintendent has identified the following structural problems that negatively affect student achievement. Which three issues should be "top priorities" (please highlight exactly three top priorities)? Similarly, which issues are less important? Please label at least one issue as "not critical". �

Not Critical Teacher morale is at a long term low. Principal evaluations are routine and meaningless. Educators do not have access to comprehensive, powerful technology to guide learning for each student. The District's budget is not driven by instructional priorities. Principals are paid the same regardless of performance. Teacher evaluations are not accurate or rigorous. There is no standard or process for identifying high quality candidates for schools, classrooms, and central office positions. Micromanaging staff is a pervasive problem and undercuts progress. There is no accountability for poor customer service (where customers are parents and students). We are losing strong candidates because the hiring process sometimes takes months.

Important But Not a Top Priority

Top Priority

Pol. Adv., Kids First PAC

Lew Blackburn District 5 2013 DKF Questionnaire Responses

14

Analyzing information is a fundamental Trustee responsibility. What information will you rely on to have a full understanding of board issues, and what groups will you call on for perspective (e.g., staff, central office, constituents)?�

I ask for information relating to personnel, finance, school operations and instruction. Often, I will call on top-level administrators responsible for these areas for additional information or clarification.

15

Please highlight three school district micromanaging pitfalls, and explain how you would avoid these pitfalls as a Trustee.�

Three areas include personnel, finance, and operations. While I may ask for information relating to these areas, I steer away from telling or directing administration on processes or procedures. Where appropriate, I will bring an issue to the attention of the superintendent, and the board.

16

What local organizations are you affiliated with, and how have they influenced your thinking regarding the needs of the district? Please give at least three examples.

Church and social organizations keeps me in touch with "everyday" people. They tend to treat me as they did before I was elected to the board. They give me advise without asking for favors. They share concerns of their own, as well as those of others.

17

How do you plan to balance the needs of your individual voters with the needs of the whole district?

I listen to voters and other constituents about their concerns. I try to educate them in areas where they have a lack of knowledge. Also, I try to advocate for the success of the district, with them as volunteers or mentors.

18

Who will you consult with when considering and making key decisions for the district?

I will consult with people who will have direct contact with the outcome of the

Pol. Adv., Kids First PAC

Lew Blackburn District 5 2013 DKF Questionnaire Responses

decisions. Also, I will consult with experts in the areas of the decision. Additionally, I will consult with people who have experience in the areas.

19

What is the ideal relationship between the superintendent and the Board of Trustees?

Traits of an ideal relationship between the superintendent and the Board of Trustees include: professional, cordial, respectful, collaborative, cooperative, trustworthy, and honest.

20

What district relationships need to be created or improved?

Business and community groups, as well as parents, that can positively support the enhancement and improvement of the district.

21

What are three questions you would ask a candidate for Dallas ISD superintendent? What would you want to learn from those questions?

How will you spend your first 3-6 months on the job? How would you maintain a good working relationship with the board? How would you facilitate collaboration towards reaching goals? It is important to know the superintendent's plans for entering the district, and how she would begin building relationships and partnerships. The superintendent and the board should be on the same paths towards improving the district. A bad working relationship is not conducive to positive productivity. When people work together, more in accomplished. If the superintendent is willing to seek and strengthen collaborative efforts, the goals will be more easily accomplished.

22

How will you encourage parent and community collaboration with teachers, principals, and the superintendent?

I will continue to talk to parents and community members about opportunities to be involved in our schools. I will continue to invite and encourage parents to be actively engaged in their child's education. I will continue to bring community members to the attention of the administrators and superintendent.

Pol. Adv., Kids First PAC

Lew Blackburn District 5 2013 DKF Questionnaire Responses

23

How do you plan to communicate and connect with all Dallas ISD stakeholders -students, parents, teachers, school administrators, and the community?

I will continue to attend school and community meetings, events, and gatherings to talk about Dallas ISD, and the many pockets of pride. Social media will continue to be a resource for getting information to our stakeholders.

Pol. Adv., Kids First PAC

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