Tonight, both in person at the Stanford Center and on television on the Seattle Channel, residents of Seattle met Dr. Maria Goodloe-Johnson. My feelings about the second finalist for the superintendent's position were, again, mixed, but overall more positive.
My favorite quotes from Dr. Goodloe-Johnson:
- "The central office role is to build capacity and provide support for schools."
- "Courage is doing what you know is right for kids."
She responded well to questions about accountability, high school reform, and closing the achievement gap.
- We need to "look at brutal facts" about our schools and not just say that all our schools are good.
- High school reform requires smaller learning communities, connections between students and adults who care about them, preparation for jobs of the future, with a focus on technology literacy, ability to work in teams, and work with diverse groups of people.
- Closing the achievement gap means providing extra tutoring ("double dipping") during the day as well as extended time after the school day ends for those who need it.
Dr. Goodloe-Johnson identified her core values as "honesty, integrity, collegiality, team, and transparency." I found her believable and straightforward. She responded to questions quickly, and usually briefly, which sometimes left us without enough details, but mostly, for me, was a welcome contrast to Dr. Thornton's long and sometimes rambling responses last night. However, Dr. Goodloe-Johnson was weakest where Dr. Thornton was strongest. Her public speaking presence lacked passion and warmth.
I think Dr. Goodloe-Johnson and Dr. Thornton would make an interesting pair to lead a school district, with Dr. Goodloe-Johnson as the Superintendent and Dr. Thornton as the Chief Academic Officer, but Seattle already has a Chief Academic Officer.
Dr. Thornton's lack of experience as a superintendent concerns me. I don't want Seattle to go from having a superintendent with strong financial management skills and no education background to a superintendent with strong educational leadership skills and minimal financial management background.
Dr. Goodloe-Johnson's lack of passion and public presence concerns me. Seattle needs a superintendent who can help inspire and bring together teachers, parents and community members all across the city.
I wish I could have met some of the other candidates the School Board interviewed last week. Despite how excited the School Board is about these two finalists, I didn't see or hear the same excitement from many of the community members who participated in the interviews the last two nights.
I feel pretty comfortable saying that either candidate would be a big improvement over the current superintendent. I'm just not sure that's good enough.