It's a good yarn, but it doesn't actually fit the facts. It doesn't fit the facts because
- The Board isn't all that fractious. Most votes are unanimous or nearly so. And no matter how fractious the Board may be, they all accept the votes and support the majority decision. I will say that Director Blanford violated the Code of Conduct when he called out his colleagues, and that was inappropriate, but he's new and clearly doesn't know what he's doing.
- The Board doesn't meddle. Seriously. When was the last time you heard tell of a Board Director stepping over the governance/management line? I don't think it has happened for well over a year.The last one to do it was Michael DeBell when he usurped the superintendent's authority to determine program placement and dictated the APP sites. The Seattle Times has tried to make it seem that the elementary math textbook decision crossed the line, but it didn't. That's a Board decision - by statute. And the Times suggested that the bell time study crossed the line, but the Board sets priorities. That's also part of their job.
So while this narrative is tempting and easy, it simply doesn't work for anyone who thinks about it and has any actual knowledge of the district. I can see why the Seattle Times editorial board likes it.
There is, however, a different narrative that fits the facts better than this one.
- Senior staff leave because they cannot reform the dysfunctional culture of the central staff. They either become part of the corruption, or, after struggling valiantly against it, they quit. Who would want the job of managing the unmanageable? Who would want to accept responsibility for routine failures by their staff? The morass that is HR at Seattle Public Schools is comparable only to the VA. There has been a lot of turnover in HR, hasn't there? Teaching and Learning, another dysfunctional department, has seen a lot of turnover as well. I think Wendy London had the job for a weekend.
- There are some unthinkably bad separations between responsibility and authority. Why so much turnover in special education? Gee, do you think it could have anything to do with the fact that they didn't really have any authority over their people? Their teachers report to principals instead of to them, and no one in special education had any authority over the principals. Actually, no one has any authority over the principals. We went through a string of budget people before we actually gave them some authority and control over the money.
- Other school districts in Washington see Seattle as their training ground. It's seen as a real coup if they can hire someone from Seattle. Working in Seattle Public Schools, especially as senior staff, looks pretty good on a resume and other school districts love to hire that. For the career ambitious, Seattle is a stepping stone on the way to something else.