Friday, November 16, 2007

Front Line Issues in Education by Gehrig Saldana


Gehrig Saldaña

On Tuesday, November 6, the Dallas Bar Association and Greater Dallas Chamber brought local and state education leaders together for a half-day program to discuss front-line issues in education. Speakers included Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert, DISD Superintendent Dr. Michael Hinojosa, Texas Commissioner of Higher Education Raymund Paredes and Interim Commissioner of Public Education Robert Scott.


A lawyer friend who helped with this symposium had some interesting observations on DISD Supt Hinojosa's presentation. According to this lawyer, there is buzz about some remarks the superintendent made. Dr. Hinojosa stated he had to take a lot of community pressure because of the reorganization and he even had to stand up to some of his "compas."

I've written before about the shoddy manner in which this superintendent and his top tier team carried out the recent reorganization. Many in the community were in an uproar over how badly this reorganization was carried out. and because his shuffling of chairs on the deck negatively affected individuals who are highly respected in the Latino community. They are highly respected because of their long history of advocacy on behalf of our community and track record of success. The way many of us see it, you disrespect them, you disrespect our community. Word is the African American community is also in an uproar.

Which Compas? I'm curious which "compas" he was talking about.
Steve Flores? Could it be Steve Flores, the one who did such a poor job in testifying regarding the principal that was fired (and then rehired) over use of the p-card?
Meet DISD's "Number Two": Steve Flores (, 4/26/07). Or, who ignored illegal behavior by the No. 2 cop at DISD? He was allegedly informed in 2006 by departing DISD Police Chief Charles Caddo about misdeeds by Donovan Collins. What did Hinojosa's compa, Steve Flores do? Nothing. This top cop got busted when someone went to the media about his misdeeds. Word is there will be some finality to the Donovan Collins saga soon. DISD's No. 2 officer could face charges, Degree from online college listed on résumé raises questions by KENT FISCHER,, 7/22/07. So, no, I don't think this was the compa Hinojosa was referring to. It doesn't look like Hinojosa stood up to him because Flores still has a top level position.

Arnold Viramontes? Could it be Arnold Viramontes, another top level administrator? You remember him. He's the one who is in charge of the transformation at DISD, i.e., reorganization. Do you think maybe Hinojosa stood up to him for the sloppy, shoddy, callous, disrespectful manner in which the reorganization unfolded? No, don't think so because Hinojosa was involved in the decisions about how the reorganization would unfold, so it wasn't just Viramontes making those decisions. Or maybe he stood up to him because of Viramontes' nepotism -- having one of his direct reports hire his wife and, in essence, Viramontes serving as her second-level supervisor -- in violation of the DISD Board's nepotism policy? (DISD couple's positions raise nepotism questions,, 8/22/07). Maybe he stood up to him for, don't think so... Viramontes still holds his top position.

Jose Luis Torres? Jose Luis Torres is another top administrator. He has been living illegally out of DISD boundaries since he was elevated to top administration almost 3 years ago. Word is he's Hinojosa's fair-haired boy (although Torres has hair that is really, really black, but you get my drift). Word is also Hinojosa's failed attempt to change the DISD Board's residency policy was in part, so that poor Jose Luis, who makes in the six-figures of DISD taxpayer dollars, wouldn't have to move into Dallas. (DISD schools chief stands by residency rule,, 2/13/07). Remember the DISD Board gave a strong NO! to Hinojosa's recommendation. So, guess this isn't the compa Hinojosa was talking about either. Does Torres continue to live illegally outside Dallas? It will be interesting to see where he's at come July 1, 2008. If he's still got his DISD job, will he have a bona fide DISD address?
And, oh, speaking of those who are highly respected in our community, how often do you see Flores, Viramontes or Torres at the forefront of community issues, fighting on our behalf? Or even Hinojosa, for that matter? Looks like they're take the money and run type of guys who don't worry about giving back or contributing to community efforts. If I'm wrong on this one, point it out, but I've never seen these guys out and about at community events. Word is Hinojosa shows up mas pronto que quick, hat in hand, when the downtown business establishment calls, but that doesn't seem to be the case for other communities for him or his three compas.

Also, there's a lot of concern in the community because instead of finally bringing equity in hiring at DISD, Hinojosa has turned back the clock on Latino hiring. He's not doing the African American community any favors in this area either. I guess Hinojosa lives in a 1950s world because what predominated in leadership back then is predominating once again. There is no real attention to diversity and equity at the top tier of leadership nor in the principal hires he has made. Many in the Latino community are of the opinion Hinojosa seems to feel as long as he has the downtown business establishment in his back pocket, everyone else can be ignored -- parents and community that make up the majority of the DISD constituency.

Loss of Support?
Hinojosa's already lost lots of support in the Latino community. I doubt he has much support in the African-American community. He lost the Board's support on one issue. Word is he's lost support of some trustees for good, to the extent he may not have the votes he needs for longevity. Hinojosa seems to be oblivious to the fact he has to deliver if he is going to keep the only support he has left, that of the downtown business establishment. You can get by on smoke screens only so long before the day of reckoning comes. You do have to produce results. Results have not been produced so far, especially in regard to test scores. I've detailed his additional failures more than once.

A Judas Compa?
Also, it's evident Hinojosa is out of touch with his cultural heritage. Compa is Tex-Mex slang for compadre. As you know, the compadre system in our culture holds a very special place of high regard. Your compadres are your family. By Hinojosa making this remark, it is evident he's no real compadre to anyone. If I were Flores, Viramontes or Torres, I would be worried. If he betrayed some who he calls compas, then he's certainly capable of that type of betrayal again. Maybe he should also remember that oft-repeated passage, "you reap what you sow." You treat people callously, with indifference, in a cold and uncaring manner, and maybe that's exactly how you will be shown to the door before you're thrown out of it. Time will tell for this compa.

Gehrig Saldaña

P.S. Someone might want to ask the superintendent about a conversation he had with some of his compas where he lamented that "Our own are airing our dirty laundry." Looks like that laundry isn't going to get clean any time soon, especially not when derisive remarks are made about compas. Looks like some of his compas are sharing insider conversations. You think maybe his compas are cut from the same cloth, you know, birds of a feather?

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