The Process: In case you didn't already get the idea, I think the superintendent recruitment and selection process fell apart during the last week. The rushed, poorly planned presentation of the offer to Dr. Goodloe-Johnson as the new superintendent during spring break, the denial that Dr. Thornton's withdrawal affected the decision, the abrupt end to an opportunity for public feedback that had been invited until April 17th, the fact that the school district web site still does not have (as of 6:24 this evening) any news of the decision, all contribute to a less than optimal way to bring in a new superintendent. The main reason given by School Board members for the rush was that they were worried they would lose both candidates to other jobs. I say, if the candidates were insufficiently committed to Seattle to take another job if offered first, then let them go elsewhere.
The Decision: But, that is now all in the past. The decision has been made. The way things happened during the past week may affect my decision about who to vote for in School Board elections this fall, but it will not affect my willingness to work with and support our new superintendent. As one School Board member said to me, this decision comes 4 years too late. The School Board stuck with Raj Manhas for way too long. And I have no doubt that Dr. Goodloe-Johnson will be a big improvement over Raj.
I believe that the "Superintendent Entry Plan" Dr. Goodloe-Johnson presented to the Board during her visit to Seattle (which for some reason was not shared with the public at the time, was shared with the press today at the announcement, but is not yet available on the district website) looks quite positive.
She has a clear idea of what to do the first 100 days as superintendent. A few highlights as I see them are:
District and City Tour
- Arrange to meet the Mayor and City Council. Arrange community opportunities for introduction and to meet the broader Seattle community.
- Meet with Union Representatives to understand structure, work and concerns and current agreements.
- Meet with all the college presidents to discuss teacher recruitment, retention and partnership.
- Attend community meetings and share my vision and goals to improve student achievement and close the gap.
- Establish relationships with [a long list of community organizations including] Center on Reinventing Public Education and the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle.
District Senior Staff
- Review student success plan.
- Request briefing papers from the staff on critical issue areas.
- Establish a leadership team to include principals.
- Attend instructional level principal meetings.
- Determine a schedule for regular off-site planning sessions with the board (at least three in first year).
- Hold a board retreat within the first week to discuss communication processes, policy governance goals and potential work with the Broad Foundation.
- Meet with local newspaper editorial boards. Target trade press (i.e. Education Week) for early interviews.
- Revise, adjust 5-year strategic plan as needed.
- "Strategic Support Teams" (spend a closed-door working weekend with highly regarded urban superintendents from across the country --- Arlene Ackerman, Mark Roosevelt and Tom Payzant)
- Ask the Broad Foundation for assistance to fund policy governance training for board members, fund project management training for the district, development of a leadership institute and provide assistance in facilitating the superintendent's evaluation and additional leadership retreats as needed and agreed upon by the board.
- Make connections with national foundations that support urban education and reform.
Strategic Priorities for the District
- Accountability of the entire system
- Assessment of staff performance
- Determine what programs need to be evaluated for effectiveness and ROI
Rebuild Public Confidence in Seattle Public Schools
- Clarify and widely communicate expectations for accountability and improvement
- Analyze all data from the 100-day entry plan; share outcomes and plans for improvement
As I said during the school closure and consolidation process, I'd really like to fight for something in our district rather than against something. So now is the time for me to begin fighting to support our new superintendent in accomplishing what she has promised, working with other people around our community to hold her, the district staff, and the Board accountable.