DALLAS - The lone finalist for the Dallas ISD superintendent's job is getting preliminary praise from a pair of respected local education specialists.
If ultimately hired later this month, Mike Miles will bring with him high expectations of leadership and reform. After the announcement of his being named "finalist" for the Dallas job, Miles, the superintendent of the Harrison School District Number 2 in Colorado Springs, Colorado, had an announcement.
"I have no doubt that together we can make Dallas the greatest school district in the nation," Miles said.
DISD parents and taxpayers have heard those words before from new DISD superintendents. Bold promises peppered the portfolios of his predecessors, including Yvonne Gonzales before she went to prison, and by Bill Rojas, who was fired after less than a year.
Make no mistake, Mike Miles has his detractors.
On the Internet, a Facebook page is titled, "Mike Miles, Get Him Out." The page is littered with criticism from parents and staff members hoping he leaves Colorado Springs.
But two education experts in Dallas like Miles' record of gains in student achievement, as well as his record in the military. Miles has been a West Point grad, an Army Ranger and spent six years as a State Department intelligence analyst.
"I think that sometimes people see your military background and think you are going to bark some order and it's going to be followed," Miles joked after being named "finalist" on Monday.
Former DISD superintendent and education consultant Linus Wright said it will take a diverse skill set and bold management style to make a difference in Dallas.
"For someone to go through the military academy as this person has, you can say he has received the best training one can get in leadership skills, planning, organization and all the things it takes to run a large organization," Wright said.
Former George W. Bush appointee to the Department of Education, and current education consultant Kathleen Leos, said she likes Miles' grit. As a former DISD Board President, she also knows it takes a determined personality to pass painful reforms.
"It's really, really hard - it takes time," Leos said. "But anyone who's really visionary with perseverance can make it happen."
But perhaps the biggest test will be Miles' ability to work with the board. It’s a board with a reputation of aggressive involvement in district affairs.
To that, Miles assured the public, "my job is the chief executive officer, and I will make the decisions that pertain to that."