Thursday, April 12, 2007

School Board "Public" Meeting

Cheryl Chow just came out and announced that the Executive Session is going longer than expected. Says she hopes they'll be out in 45 more minutes.

Brita Butler-Wall is in the meeting via phone. Mary Bass just arrived.

Will keep you posted.


By the way, how public is a "public" meeting when the number of media and district staff far exceeds the number of parents or other interested members of the public?


Dr. Gregory Thornton has withdrawn. Details on Seattle Times website.


Darlene Flynn moves that Seattle offer position of superintendent to Dr. Maria Goodloe-Johnson. Seconded.


Closing meeting, and opening up to press conference.


Chow: "The School Board's foremost responsiblity is to assure the district has excellent leadershp in the position of superintendent...any one of the six semi-finalists would have been an excellent match with the profile...because of the high caliber of candidates attracted to Seattle, we had a hard time narrowing the pool to six, and then to two finalists. The semi-finalists and finalists were not ranked going into this final stretch...kept an open mind about what we would learn about the candidates...a search of this nature is not a rank order race....we knew that we needed to move briskly or risk having top tier candidates accept other offers...needed to strike the right balance [in process]...So after naming well-qualified finalists, we set about seeing them in action...our intention to offer a contract to the person who was our front-runner...superb fit with our profile...our appreciation for her skills...were only deepened during our visit to Charleston...We are confident that she will build on, and enhance, the excellent work that has begun under the leadership of CAO Carla Santorno...we saw how the people in her community were moved to tears over the idea of her leaving.


DeBell [reading Brita's statement]: I am delighted to bring to SPS someone of the caliber of Maria Goodloe-Johnson.

DeBell: We were quite impressed with what we saw in Charleston. Dr. Goodloe-Johnson has had a real impact on that community....She has brought the community together in the pursuit of excellence...her focused and decisive plan was something that was on everyone's lips...had made the case for how to change public education there so that most of the community was aware of it. We're looking forward to a similar impact from Dr. Goodloe-Johnson when she comes to Seattle.

Soriano: When speaking with her, what really impressed me was her laser-focus on education. Wanted to thank the hundreds of surveys and e-mails that were filled out here in Seattle. We'll take those into...into discussion as we go forward.

Bass: So excited...[and other language about that; Mary spoke briefly and I didn't catch any more specific words] Edited 4/14 to correct a misperception highlighted in a comment.

Stewart: So excited....goes into a school and says "How are the children?"...She looks at the data, she sees where the problems are...she comes up with a plan, she implements a plan, and then she asks "How are the children?"...We heard from a result of the site visits...that she has a highly collaborative style and I appreciate that very much. And she gets things done....I think we have someone who will get real things done in Seattle.

Flynn: ...I had a chance to meet with the Asian Minority Coalition...went into that meeting feeling equally enthusiastic about the two [from community] gave us information that will be useful to Goodloe-Johnson as we go forward...We were all able to clearly see that both of these candidates are really, really strong....they had good theory of action, good specifics...very different styles...What I said about Dr. Goodloe-Johnson was, while both candidates were very inspiring, she has the ability to teach you into what you need to know to be part of the change...

Chow: We took very seriously questions that staff and community wanted us to bring to of the issues or concerns...initial comments was, you know, "Is she warm?" and the answer is absolutely "yes." We had the opportunity to talk with principals and teachers...[told story about Dr. Goodloe-Johnson coming to school to talk with students and staff after gang murder] Showed me concretely the type of person we have in our new superintendent. Not only will she talk about data...but she's there for the children...she's going to move our academic achievement gap to zero.

Q & A section of meeting

Q: "How will feisty personality fly in Seattle?"
A: Chow: heard over and over, don't go to Dr. Goodloe-Johnson with requests unless you have the data.

Q: "What do you know about Dr. Thornton withdrawing his name, and how did that influence your decision?"
A: Absolutely did not have anything to do with the decision.

Q: "When did you find out about his withdrawal and anything you can share about why he made that decision?"
A: Before we got on the plane yesterday in Philadelphia, we met with Dr. Thornton. He said to us at that time that he had been offered a small district in Pennsylvania (10,000) kids, but he didn't want to go there. Also said rumors going on about superintendent in Philadelphia resigning, but he didn't want to be superintendent there either. Said he wanted to be in Seattle. Found out around 10 am this morning from consultant, but not officially.

Q. "Has she accepted the job?"
A: She has not accepted the job...we have to offer it. After we stop questions here, I'll go and offer her the job...If I was a betting woman...I'd said we're going to be very please with her answer.

Q. Asked about the Finalist from Topeka press release goof.
A. We did not rank the candidates...did not affect our process...had the PR people draft 6 possibilities

Q. "Offering her a 3-year contract?"
A: Yes. If I had my say, I would offer her a longer one....but by state law cannot be longer...

Q: $240,000?
A: As a top...need to offer the job.

Flynn: Felt like my life got a little easier for lack of a second candidate...

DeBell: Maintaining some kind of ranking in my mind the whole time...had a very good impression when Dr. Goodloe-Johnson came to Seattle.

Melissa Westbrook: Not enough time...I don't believe as thoughtful human beings that you gave this enough time. It looks like Dr. Thornton dropped out and you accepted Dr. Goodloe-Johnson as a de facto candidate.

Flynn: As of my going to sleep last night, I was deliberating on two candidates.

Q: You talked about a focus on academics, can you give any more specifics about how things are now and how things are going to change?
A: Flynn: Focus on using data to inform action....current theory is around changing the outcomes is that you interrogate those outcomes...and you stop doing the things that don't make a difference and you start doing the things that make more.

BREAKING NEWS --- Cheryl Chow ---- Dr. Maria Goodloe-Johnson has accepted our offer and will...of course we have to negotiate, but she has accepted our offer.

Q: What are your specific problem spots you want to address?
A: Use data to identify problems and create strategies...aligning curricula...strengthen leadership in our building.

DeBell: ...she has a very specific strategy for raising achievement of children or color and children in poverty...extended learning day...summer program...expectation to offer AP classes to all students in high school...focused on improving achivement for all students...diagnostic testing throughout the year...

Chow: Handout from Dr. Goodloe-Johnson that she gave us during her visit to Seattle....her plan on how to come in and listen to the community and get the information and what she's going to do in the first 100 days.

Q: Question about why Dr. Thornton didn't want to come.
A: Chow: I'm guessing that Philadelphia didn't want him to leave...didn't want to leave them in the lurch...don't even know if he was offered interim...I think we had top candidates....we were a little bit ahead of the curve, so that gave us an opportunity...Flynn: things look quite different now in Philadelphia...I think he was sincere in his pursuit of this opportunity...DeBell: Once you announce finalists, you change the situation. It's a public process from then on. Apparently the governor of Pennsylvania didn't want Dr. Thornton to leave...why we felt compelled to try to move quickly...


Anonymous said...

Just announced that Thornton has withdrawn his name as a Seattle Superintendent candidate.

Beth Bakeman said...

Where was that announced?

Beth Bakeman said...

Ah, just saw it on the Seattle Times page. Guess it's official.

Anonymous said...

Good luck Seattle. I hope she does a better job in your city. She never trusted the public in Charleston after a small number of people had an issue with her pregnancy and the example she was setting for teens. She needs a fresh start because she couldn't let go of being overly defensive and angry.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I might have more to say later but right now (I was with Beth at the public meeting/press conference - Cheryl couldn't decide what it was) but I feel very upset. The rushed process at the end, the slip on the press release for the two finalists that didn't have G-J's name (with a BS explanation by the Board) and that Dr. Thorton dropped out and somehow, bing! Dr. G-J was their fav all along.

Beth Bakeman said...

As the School Board decision was announced, the straw poll results on Linda Thomas' PI blog site were:

Maria Goodloe-Johnson 23%
Gregory Thornton 44%
Neither of the Above 33%

Anonymous said...

Sorry to break it to you, but at least half of the votes for Goodloe were from Charlestonians who wanted her to go. Now that we know your address, we'll be watching to see what happens. I hope we are wrong, and she turns out to be the right person for you. She just never gave us a chance. This is coming from someone who was an early supporter, but who was turned off by how she treated people. Data is one thing, but you have to have a feel for the source and direction of that data, too.

Anonymous said...

Let's welcome Dr. Goodloe-Johnson and move on to a new era to improve Seattle Schools.

This is an opportunity for Dr. Maria and Seattle to start afresh and model effective and responsive relationships among all constituents (superintendent, staff, parents, students, school board), and respectful disagreement for the greater good.

Let's model for our children how to work through our differences and focus on both short and long term goals for our schools.


Anonymous said...

I have nothing but bad feelings about this decision. Some might say it's another in a long line of bad decisions from SPS, but this time the stakes are much higher.

If Dr. G-J enters as a strong advocate for SPS, she'll have to win loyalty among parents, teachers, and staff while changing the way decisions are made within SPS. This is risky.

If she partners with the the mayor and those who want an appointed board, common curriculum, etc. she'll lose support from her primary constituents. On the other hand, if she's a strong advocate for SPS and is opposed by those who want to remove autonomy from SPS, she'll lose again, unless parents support her 100 percent. Nothing in her record at CCPS tells me she can win the hearts and minds of Seattle parents.

I really want her tenure to be successful, but if she fails, we may see SPS taken over by the city. Sounds a bit extreme, but 12-18 months may tell a different tale.


still anonymous said...

Let's look toward November and the school board elections - we have a critical opportunity to review the incumbents and the candidates - and ideally to improve schools for the city of Seattle.

Plus simple majority has passed in the House and the Senate!

Maggie Metcalfe said...

You sometimes have to listen closely to hear what Director Mary Bass is saying, her style is not middle class white. She usually has something significant to say to her constituents, especially to let them know that she is looking for accountability and trying to give voice to those that have no economic power in the district decisions.

I have never actually heard her say "blah, blah, blah" but I will look for it in the future.

I guess the other directors just deserve a little more respect than she does?

Beth Bakeman said...

Maggie, my apologies to Mary Bass if that's how my writing came across. I didn't have any trouble understanding Mary Bass. The problem was she spoke very briefly. I was typing as I listened. When I finished typing the phrase from the previous Board member, Mary was already done speaking and all I could remember was that she very excited. I actually considered omitting the line for Mary altogether, but that didn't seem fair either, because she had spoken and she was excited.

Beth Bakeman said...

Have edited Mary's section and posted a note about the editing.

Thursday was the first time I have ever done "live blogging", literally typing and clicking "Publish" every few minutes during the meeting, without any chance to read or edit my work.

Obviously, that has risks and downsides, but overall I think it worked well as a way to share information in real time.

Anonymous said...

To Maggie Metcalfe:

You comment re: Mary Bass and her speaking style is offensive, bordering on reverse racism.

I have the greatest respect for Ms. Bass, and I'm white, if this matters to you, and I suspect it does, since you chose to "color" her speaking style with little provocation. She was the only board member who had the integrity to question Joe Olchefske on budgets that didn't make sense. No body else on the old board said a thing. It was Ms. Bass who stood up and kept questioning him. At no time did I hear a specific ethnicity in her speech, audible or written. She was standing up and providing oversight when no other member of the board chose to do so.

Applying that to present speech, I still see or hear nothing that sets her apart along racial lines. She's a professional, intelligent person and board member. Period. WenG

Anonymous said...

OK Maggie, I know you, and I know that you mean well, but........
If I were Mary Bass, I would be so offended by your comment "her style is not middle class white". So, what exactly is her style??? Low income, black??? Something else??? And, exactly what defines her "style".

I am not African American, and perhaps just don't get it, so I asked my husband.....who is African American. He said he would be mortified if someone categorized him in this way. He works at Microsoft and says that he couldn't imagine his boss saying the same type thing to his fellow employees. You have to listen closely in meetings, Jack's style is not middle class, microsoft, white.

UGGGGG!!!! Soooooo frustrating.

Anonymous said...

Now reverse the Mary Bass comment, and imagine this post on a blog frequented predominantly by African Americans.

You have to listen closely to Brita Butler-Wall, her style is not lower income, African American. Her style is middle class white.

Isn't that appaling??