During the last few days, I've been involved in several conversations about whose "fault" it is that the district is having such large problems. The argument has tended to divide people into two camps: the people who believe it is Raj's fault, and the people who believe it is the School Board's fault. I certainly lean heavily towards the side of blaming Raj, but obviously, there is plenty of shared responsibility and blame to go around.
Discussing the "Whose fault is it anyway?" question doesn't necessarily help us move forward with improving Seattle Public Schools. Yet, it is important to understand what has gone wrong in order to work on "fixing" it and preventing similar problems in the future.
On that note, I share this message from Charlie Mas:
I read Lynne Varner's editorial in the Times today and she and I have exchanged email about it. The end result is this question: How much leadership should the Board members show and what form should that leadership take?
Let's face it, the District doesn't have a strategic plan, doesn't have an academic plan, doesn't have a plan for closing the academic achievement gap, didn't communicate the closures correctly, doesn't engage the community effectively, and doesn't present an attractive face to the public. I can say that the Superintendent failed in all of these ways, but did the Board fail in all of these ways as well?
I am of the opinion that leadership by committee is impossible. Committees diffuse responsibility and muffle voices.
I have also concluded that the school boards were never expected to take on these sorts of challenges under these sorts of conditions. Things were a lot simpler when the money all came from the state, the state set the teacher salaries, there was no expectation to educate students like some that now appear in our schools in large numbers, and parent expectations were notably lower. School Board Directorships were largely honorary positiions. I think it takes a pretty extraordinary sort of person to get the job done today, so I don't blame the current Board members for their inability to get it done.