Miles to Equity

A Guide to Achievement for All

Non-Fiction - Education
103 Pages
Reviewed on 04/03/2021
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Author Biography

I realized one day reading the news about the success of the Dallas ISD education program where the success started. It started with Mike Miles and the reforms he brought to the school district. I also realized these reforms were the key to bring equality and success to all children. I felt it was imperative for the story to get out. Knowing I am an accountant and cannot write I searched for a writer. I did not have to wait long because he came to me. Kurt Hulett requested to be connected on LinkedIn. When I reviewed his profile, I read he was living in the same town I had just moved to and he had already written a book about education! The stars were aligned. We met. We had the same passion and inspiration to get the word out, there is hope. We began our mission by flying to Colorado to talk to the visionary and inspiration that were brought to the children of Dallas.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Tammy Ruggles for Readers' Favorite

Miles to Equity: A Guide to Achievement for All by James Terry, Ph.D. CPA, and Kurt Hulett Ed.D., is a powerful book on how to bring positive change to school systems. This is a comprehensive, almost step-by-step guide full of direction and purpose, not just theory. It's actually been implemented, and it works. No one disagrees that the education system needs to be reworked, and the plan that the authors outline helps everyone succeed--students, teachers, parents, administrators, communities. One of the chief ideas they put forth is changing how the pay system works for teachers, saying that pay should be based on the quality of teaching, instead of years accrued. A bold school superintendent began with the idea of reworking the massive, malfunctioning, war-weary independent school district by implementing a new plan that would use teacher evaluation to determine pay. His tactic has military roots, and this is the philosophy he brings to change and leadership when dealing with large institutions such as education. To get teachers on board with the idea, the principals were approached first. The authors do a deep dive into a number of the methods he used to save the Dallas ISD in the span of three short but impactful years.

If education is important to you, you will love this book. Although you may not agree with all of the concepts and strategies discussed by Terry and Hulett, you will gain a good understanding of what can happen when someone decides to shake things up a bit in order to save schools, meaning students and what/how they learn, not just teachers and officials, though they need saving too. Teachers are as frustrated as everyone else, and most would love to see a positive change for our students. They shouldn't get all of the blame, and they actually have a lot of input into launching these changes. What I like is that the authors address ALL moving parts in question, and tell you how the change happened and can happen again. Seeing change could happen quicker than you think. It shouldn't take years for education to get back on track, yet until now, few people were willing or able to do much about it, or maybe they just didn't have a battle plan. Now they do, in Miles to Equity: A Guide to Achievement for All by James Terry, Ph.D. CPA, and Kurt Hulett Ed.D.

Jon Michael Miller

Miles to Equity by Jim Terry and Kurt E. Hulett is a professional, well-documented account of Mike Miles’s attempt to uplift the quality of Dallas Independent School District which, according to the authorities, was falling apart when Miles was hired to Dallas from his position in a much smaller Colorado district. The co-centerpieces of the rejuvenation system were TEI (Teacher Excellence Initiative) and ACE (Accelerating Campus Excellence). The core belief is that a direct correlation exists between student achievement and quality teachers. TEI is a way to accurately assess levels of teacher quality and to reward them according to success. ACE is a way to match top educators with most at-risk students. Miles’s plan was destined to encounter resistance on two fronts: first, from teachers used to being rewarded for seniority; and second, from top teachers being transferred to low-performing urban schools. Despite, such resistance, Miles’s plan was initiated, and according to Terry and Hulett’s extensive research, with outstanding results.

Miles to Equity by Jim Terry and Kurt E. Hulett is a professional research paper which shows the success of Mike Miles’s efforts to redesign Dallas’s school system. As a veteran of public-school teaching, I read the report with great interest, well versed as I am with the serious problems of public education. As I paged through the crisp, professional writing and the statistical charts documenting improvements in Dallas, I was especially interested in the plan of merit pay for teachers. It has always been clear to me that some teachers are more effective than others, but that determining quality teaching is a sticky wicket. It’s like determining a good book—a lot of subjectivity involved. After reading this account, I am now convinced that a reasonable way forward exists in this area. Miles to Equity convinced me that a way does exist to provide each and every student with a quality program to assure their future success. I only hope the national education community embraces the innovative ideas of Mike Miles as expressed in Miles to Equity by Terry and Hulett. The story of its success in Dallas is indeed inspiring.

Edith Wairimu

Miles to Equity: A Guide to Achievement for All by James Terry, Ph.D. CPA and Kurt Hulett Ed.D. includes a useful step-by-step process for achieving positive change in schools. In 2012, the Dallas ISD school board made the decision to hire Mike Miles, a former Cold War operative, as the new superintendent. Before this position, Miles had held various administrative and leadership positions. He was known to be straightforward and level-headed. Through his innovative model that championed reform via identifying, awarding, and retaining excellent teachers and working with principals and teachers to execute the model and improve performance, achievement scores began to improve. Students attending most at-risk schools were assured of receiving top-rate education just like students in more affluent schools.

Miles to Equity is an important text geared toward providing a practical solution to address academic deficits present in large urban schools. It is based on the critical principle that all students deserve a quality education regardless of their background to help them excel. The book’s initial sections first cover Miles’s background and explain the huge gaps that exist in education between at-risk schools and those located in more affluent school districts. These discussions shed light on the problems discussed in the work and show why there is an urgent need to address them. The strategies suggested have also been executed and they have achieved positive results. They are laid out sequentially which makes it easy for others to replicate the process to achieve better academic performance. Miles to Equity by James Terry and Kurt Hulett is a crucial work that offers applicable solutions to achieve academic change in urban education.

Lesley Jones

In the academic year 2011/12, Dallas Independent School District (ISD) was facing a multitude of problems and needed to change its way of operating rapidly. They hired a school superintendent, Mike Miles, a former Cold War operative with a fresh and maverick approach to education. His dynamic leadership skills, new standards, objectives and incentives transformed ISD into one of the finest urban school districts in the country today. His model of change was built around key principles of reward for meeting expectations, student surveys and results. Mike's innovative guidelines immediately improved the mindset and performance of both students, principals and teachers His incentivised pay structure resulted in retaining the finest teachers, not only in the more privileged suburban places of education but also in the much-neglected urban and rural schools. In Miles to Equity by James Terry, Ph.D. CPA and Kurt Hulett Ed.D., discover how Mike's mission and his compelling road map changed how schools operated and created equal opportunities and futures for every child regardless of their background, race or socioeconomic status.

Miles to Equity by James Terry and Kurt Hulett is such an inspirational and optimistic guide on how one man's dynamic and unique approach to education transformed the opportunities for children across the class system. Mike's 7 key principles were superb, especially around accountability and setting out clear expectations and parameters in advance. The ACE Plan contract gave so much support to children and their families and this clearly motivated a positive change of attitude. The Core Value Framework was amazing and gave hope to the many who had become stuck in the poverty cycle. I also thought The Teacher Excellence Initiative was really refreshing where teachers were paid for performance not time of service or age. The results shown in the diagrams throughout were staggering. Children have no control over the circumstances they are born into and the changes Mike introduced are going to change the entire concept of education in the urban districts. I loved the comparison between teacher and student and athlete and coach; it was a powerful analogy. This statement from Mike was so accurate and his philosophy an absolute inspiration: "We are depending on outdated approaches, policies, strategies, and practices. In addition, the political realities that face most large urban school districts often serve as a barrier to true innovation and growth." A must-have for every school library.

Mamta Madhavan

Miles to Equity by Jim Terry, Ph.D., CPA, and Kurt E. Hulett, Ed.D. is an engaging and helpful manual for school districts and teachers to help them do their jobs better. They will help educators look at how they are educating children and will help leaders reimagine how schools operate. Educating children is a challenge, especially in large urban school districts. The book speaks about the disjointed and dysfunctional Dallas Independent School Board and how they hired Mike Miles, and how his organization's skills and bold direction completely changed the system. The book speaks about the story of Dallas's success and the leadership that brought about changes. Miles made sure that there was equity for students which meant all children got a top-class education.

Miles to Equity is for all those interested in school reform, educational leadership, and innovative strategies that will help make educational changes, urban education, school finance, educational equity, or just a good story. The authors also lay out reform efforts that will close equity gaps among affluent and at-risk schools. The topic of equity in education has been handled well and made understandable. The book also demonstrates how a small band of teachers and administrators worked really hard to implement reform that helped in closing gaps and in academic gains.

The insights into the leadership approach and the implementation of TEI (Teachers Excellence Initiative) and the development of the ACE program (Accelerating Campus Excellence) are shared in the book. The key areas of focus -- effective teachers, effective principals, professional and high-functional central office, and engaging parents and the community -- are discussed along with the key operating principles. The topic has been dealt with well by the authors and shares a model of education reform that is useful.

James Terry

Pre-publication Reviews:

Education Faculty, Ottawa University:
The book's major strengths include the successful story of turn-around for a large, urban public school district and how the changes occurred so quickly…

Adjunct Prof. CCSU:
The vision that is shared is a definite strength. As we all try to "reimagine" school, this is an account of how to get it done.

High School Assistant Principal:
I think the importance and relevancy are VERY clear. This is a timely work and a source of encouragement for others to follow. It could almost be a "how-to" guide of sorts. I highlighted so many sections and found myself nodding my head in agreement to what I was reading. Loved the equity/equality section, the large city vs inner city distinction, and the inclusion of rural schools. I thought the material was complete. I like the acknowledgement that "There is no correlation between the number years of teacher experience and student success." I found the teacher evaluation system work interesting - working in a union district, this often the most challenging part of an administrator’s role. I think the key point was made - "...that Dallas ISD was going on a journey not an exploration." In education, we often "explore" and that exploration leads to another and then another and then we are back at the first one without any clear results! It was made very clear that this work was an intentional mission with a targeted outcome - all to benefit our kids! Clear actions are provided to see results also. I love the part about teachers earning a professional wage. I would love to imagine a new public school like the one described being developed within five years!

Executive Principal, Knox County Schools:
Thank you for sharing the core beliefs of the district. It is helpful to have examples for admin to see when building their own plan…..good admin read