DALLAS — Outside True Lee Missionary Baptist Church, some of the most vocal critics of Dallas Independent School District Superintendent Mike Miles lined up to jeer him on Sunday.
They carried signs that said "Dictator," "Save Our Schools," "Children First" and "Go Miles Away."
"We're actually out here protesting Mike Miles," said Joyce Foreman, who organized the demonstration. "He's going out to the churches in the black community spreading his propaganda about public education!"
Foreman said she can no longer afford to be silent after Miles and his board fired two high school principals and an estimated 400 Dallas ISD teachers.
Church members felt compassion for the demonstrators, but Dorthy Dunlevy said this argument should be held elsewhere.
"They need to be somewhere in church trying to learn about Jesus," she said.
Miles was invited to speak to the South Dallas congregation, and addressed them for about an hour. He answered questions about his controversial decision to hire effective principals and teachers, terminating those who aren’t up to par.
Felecia Clayborne is satisfied now she's heard both sides of the story. "Its always hard for people to make a change, and it's time for a paradigm shift," she said.
Miles also shared his desire to keep Pearl C. Anderson Elementary School from closing, and to reopen H.S. Thompson Elementary in 2014 because of new apartment housing going up.
"There is going to be several hundred kids in those apartments, so that will give more kids the possibility to go to a neighborhood school," Miles said.
One of Mike Miles' most ambitious reforms won a round of applause — especially from Joyce Baston.
"I'm glad he came kind of enlightened, and opened a lot of things I didn't understand", she said.
Miles said if the Board of Trustees approves, the district will pump $8.8 million into academically low-performing Pinkston, Lincoln and Madison high schools, along with the middle and elementary schools that feed them.
Miles said this is not equality... it's equity.
"We don't want the same dollars going to each school per each student. We need the dollars to go where the need is," he said.
With 50 new principals slated to begin work in the fall, the mix of funding and accountable leadership is designed to turn DISD around, Miles said.