Trustees tour district of DISD superintendent finalist in Colorado




Posted on April 13, 2012 at 6:33 PM

Updated Saturday, Apr 14 at 9:34 AM

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - You notice small differences the moment you walk inside a school in Harrison District 2, the current district of DISD superintendent lone finalist Mike Miles.

For starters, the doors to the classroom are all open.

It allows administrators to walk in at any time and monitor how class is going and evaluate teachers, something Miles does nearly everyday.

"I think there is no way of knowing what's going on in a school district - what progress teachers are making, how reforms are being implemented - if you re not visiting schools," Miles said.

The open environment is something Dallas ISD trustees noticed right away on their tour of the Colorado Springs school district Friday.

Dallas ISD Trustees Lew Blackburn, Bernadette Nutall and Mike Morath walked the halls with Miles, seeing how he works with students and critiques his teachers.

"I thought he had a good objective," Miles said to one of his principals while discussing one teacher.

Educators in Mike Miles system are constantly evaluated.

"We expect results," he relayed to Dallas board members, while walking down the hall.

Until now, DISD trustees have relied on second-hand information to learn more about Mike Miles.

Friday, they got their first up-close look on how he does business.

"All we're doing is seeing what was told to us, to see if it matches what we see on the ground," said DISD Trustee Mike Morath.

He continued to be impressed with Miles' hands-on approach, and how the students in his classrooms are taught.

"The rigor that the curriculum was delivered with, the degree of engagement the students have - there's enthusiasm," he said.

Miles would make classroom visits a high priority in Dallas.

But he is still not prepared to say whether he would implement other kinds of reform, like his innovative pay-for-performance policy regarding teachers, which has split educators at times.

"There has been massive turnover in Harrison, I don't think that has always helped the kids," said Thad Gemsky, executive director of the Pikes Peak Education Association.

He said some of Miles policies have created an environment of fear in the district, which has contributed to 32 percent of its teachers leaving last year.

Miles disagrees with this critics, and lets other numbers speak for the success he's had.

Graduation rates and test scores have increased under his watch.

It's a trend Dallas officials hope to continue in North Texas.

They are still discussing a contract with Mike Miles, but Friday the superintendent told us if it was up to him, he would like to spend the next seven years making Dallas ISD a better district.