EDITORS NOTE: We tried to find every article and link available; however, I am confident we missed some. If you have information to add, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
In April, following Dr. Dana Bedden leaving RPS under a cloud of mystery, rumors quickly circled that Dallas Dance was the obvious pick to become the next RPS Superintendent. While nothing was confirmed, rumors were fueled by the fact that Dance resigned right before Bedden was outed combined with his ties to the Richmond area. In June, it seemed Dance had moved on as it was reported he accepted a new job. Dance was spotted as an attendee at the August 23rd RPS Teacher and Staff pep rally. On September 10th, an individual posted in the Support Richmond Public Schools Facebook group alleging Dance has been on RPS payroll as a part time consultant worth $12K/month.
In an effort to confirm the rumors and garner more information on what type of consulting Dance may be involved in, I started searching the RPS Board Docs website and Check Registry. Insert rabbit hole of research here. The goal of this post is to provide access to resources and information for Richmond residents. Personally, I believe we should all be able to have all of the facts before formulating an opinion. Dance is someone who has an involvement in RPS and has a wealth of experience in education. In a world of fake news, alternative facts, and opinions sans citations, these links should serve as a resource to get the full picture of who Dallas Dance is and where his connections lie. Or... in other terms... Six Degrees of Dallas Dance.
Apollo 20 Program
Dance worked on the Apollo 20 program when he was Houston's middle schools chief which was a program to "revamp" four failing middle schools. Apollo 20 was an initiative of the then-superintendent and involved implementing charter schools best practices. The Apollo 20 program ended in 2013 and a new plan was implemented in 2017. Here is a history of the Apollo 20 program.
Dance was selected to be the BCPS Superintendent in 2012. Here are some links from his time at BCPS:
2014 increase in benefits
In May 2016, a former employee filed a complaint that resulted in a November panel decision that he violated financial disclosure rules when he did not report income received as an online adjunct professor at U of R. Part of Dance's response to the questions about his adjunct teaching activities was to say he only spent about 4 hours per week on Saturday working on the class.
The STAT (Students and Teachers Accessing Tomorrow) is a program Dance implemented in BCPS to close achievement gaps. You can read about the STAT program on the BCPS website, through the blue print document, in a 2016 analysis, a 2017 opinion, or a journal article.
Regional Magnet Schools
In Maryland, students can’t cross between city/county lines for magnet schools so Dance suggested they should have regional “Governor’s Schools” like in Virginia. Dallas’s idea for the regional magnet school was to get funding from a philanthropic organization and renovating an empty school building.
LIFE AFTER/OUTSIDE BCPS
Dance's employment after Baltimore Public Schools get a little fuzzy because there is a lot of different information out there. A local blogger took the time to write a comprehensive piece connecting the companies Dance worked with after his time at BCPS to their involvement in Baltimore schools. The information below is broken down based on company, not timeline. Each section will list the source for his affiliation and any connections found related to the companies.
President/CEO of The DDance Group, LLC
Source: Listed on LinkedIn as his current position since September 2017.
Senior Vice President of MGT Consulting Group
Source: Upon his departure from BCPS, Dance said he accepted a position as Senior VP at MGT Consulting Group. In addition, his LinkedIn profile lists this position from June 2017-August 2017.
Organization Information: The website lists their services as: disparity research, facilities master planning, feasibility/impact studies, human capital services, needs assessments, program evaluation studies and reviews, strategic planning, student housing studies, and technology.
Dance's Involvement: A June 29th article in Baltimore Sun said he was starting as Senior VP at MGT Consulting on Monday (July 3rd). It says MGT’s main focus is improving operational efficiency but Dallas is leading a new effort to advise schools on improving academic performance. He said he would build the instructional side and wanted to help school systems with school leadership, equity work and school turn around.
Organization Connections: The CEO and Chairman of the Board at MGT is Trey Traviesa who is also the co-founder and managing partner of Strategos Group. Trey is a Republican and served in the Florida State House of Representatives from 2004-2008. In 2005, he was selected by Jeb Bush to sponsor a voucher bill. Bush had 3 education bills submitted that session, they all failed in session. The first was a bill for an amendment to the Florida State constitution; the second was to offer vouchers to students who failed the state’s reading assessment for three years in a row; the third was to tighten oversight of schools that receive voucher money. In 2002, citizens voted to approve an amendment to the Florida Constitution that by 2010 classes would be capped at 18 for K-3, 22 for the remainder of elementary school and middle school, and 25 for high school. Bush disagreed with the bill because he claimed it would cost $27B over 8 years to implement. So in 2005 he submitted legislation to get an amendment on the ballot for voters to consider a modified plan to calculate average class side at the district, not classroom, level to give districts more flexibility on attaining the average. The legislature did not pass the amendment to go to the ballot. In 2013, Traviesa spoke at an online town hall meeting for the Florida Alliance for Charter Schools. In 2016, Trey was on the founding board for The Collaboratory, a K-8 charter school focusing on math, technology, and arts. Trey Traviesa's political history can be found on Vote Smart.
Partner at Strategos Group
Source: Originally, this was listed on Dance's LinkedIn; however, it has since been removed from his page. He is referenced as the Partner of Strategos Group in a comment on a blog post. This title can also be seen on a cached version of his biography on the ISTE website which has been updated.
Organization Information: Strategos Group services include lobbying, business transaction advisory, and public opinion architecture. On their website, Strategos lists 4 examples of work they have done but only two are related to education. The first example is they lobbied for AMIkids to get more money from the state legislature. The second example was in 2013 when Florida was looking for a new standards-based assessment provider and they represented ACT Aspire to help them get the contract. Dallas is not listed on the Strategos website, but his LinkedIn formerly indicated he was a partner.
Organization Connections: See above information regarding founder of Strategos Group, Trey Traviesa.
Senior Fellow at Center for Digital Education
Organization Information: CDE fellows write papers and serve in an advisory capacity to private and public sector leaders. CDE is a national research and advisory institute for K12/higher ed technology trends, policy, and funding
Dance's Involvement: Link to CDE Fellows profile
Board Member of International Society for Technology in Education
This rabbit hole originally started with trying to confirm his consulting role in RPS. Below is the screen shot of a $12,500 check listing made out to MGT of America LLC which is the LLC for MGT Consulting. The check is dated August 22nd which would coincide with Dance's time as an employee. It is also labeled as a consulting cost.
This is a lot of information to sift through, but hopefully it provides some insight regarding Dance's background and skills which add context to his potential role as a consultant for RPS.