Thursday, May 17, 2007

New Public Participation Policy Raises Protest

The Public Participation procedures the Seattle School Board approved in January of this year raised little fuss at the time it was voted on. However, last night at the School Board meeting, people who were unable to testify because of the new priority rules were frustrated enough that they interruped the meeting with a protest. (Protest delays School Board meeting, PI)

I wasn't at the meeting last night, so I don't know what actually happened, but folowing the new policy and procdures, the only people who were given slots on the agenda to testify last night were addressing items on the agenda.

Elementary Math Adoption - which had 18 of the 20 people testifying

Resolution 2006/07-15: Approval of Local Tax General Obligation Bonds for BEX III which Chris Jenkins signed up to testify about.

Amendment to Facilities Master Plan which Maggie Metcalfe signed up to testify about.

K-2 Independent Reading Classroom Libraries were also on the agenda last night but no one was signed up to testify on that item.

25 comments:

Charlie Mas said...

This is a cross post from the "If I were running" thread, so anyone reading it there can skip it here.

There were three elements present when this policy was changed in January that seem to have been forgotten.

One, the Board was supposed to try these changes and evaluate the results in six months. The six months are up next month. It is time for the Executive Committee to put it back on the agenda for a June meeting. Don't get license to make changes by telling people that it's just a trial and you will evaluate in six months and then forget that and act like it was a permanent change from the start. Do the evaluation and share your results and conclusions.

Two, a number of other practices were supposed to be introduced at the same time. The Customer Service staff were supposed to come to Board meetings and take complaints. Someone was supposed to collect the names and comments of anyone who was left off the list and make sure that District staff would get back to them to address their concern. A District Staff person was supposed to get back in touch with every person who signed up to speak and address their concern. All of this activity was supposed to be logged and tracked and reported. Needless to say, none of those actions were ever taken.

Three, all of the talk running up to the change in the public participation policy was about improving communication and - particularly - about creating dialog. There has been no improvement in either. All this change did was re-arrange the order of the speakers. It didn't do anything else. Changing the order of the speakers this week shut out all of the people who wanted to talk about military recruiters and shut out all of the people who wanted to talk about the principal selection at the African American Academy. How is that a good thing?

Charlie Mas said...

I can't wait to read the editorial from the Seattle Times in which they credit Director Chow for showing strong leadership by calling for a recess during the Board meeting and trying to get the other Directors to walk out with her. The Times will, of course, scold Directors Bass and Soriano for staying and talking with the people.

The only part I can't guess is how they will give credit to Michael DeBell for his example of leadership and proper conduct.


Here is a report on the incident from Maggie Metcalfe, posted on a discussion board:

There were 26 people on the waiting list, most of their topics were AAA principal selection and oppostition to recruiters in the schools. They were all bumped off the list in favor of the topics on the agenda. Chris Jackins' topic was Resolution 2006/07-14, mine was Amendment to the Facilities Master Plan (I also said Math adoption but that was not listed in the agenda) the rest of the 20 speakers were on the topic of math adoption.

AAA has a vice principal they want as principal, they went thru the district process for hiring, sent his name as the top candidate and the CAO and supt choose another of the top three against thier wishes. This is the second meeting they came to for strong protest. They tried to send only one name but were told that would invalidate the process.

The Youth Against War and Racism and Socialist Alternative groups opposing recruiters in the schools have asked for the issue to be put on the agenda over the last several bd meetings. They now have a proposal for new policy.

All of the above folks protested at the end of the speakers time and demanded to be heard. Cheryl refused to extend the time. Protesters chanted, Cheryl left the dias and took everyone with her out of the room except Mary and Sally who Refused to leave. Cheryl came back in and spoke to Mary, Mary came down and stood next to the podium to hear directly what people had to say, Sally joined her. Eventually Cheryl came out to speak with the people on the floor, she stood and listened but was inflexible in her decision to not extend time. Darlene was moving thru the crowd but not in the thick of it. I saw Brita talking to administrators.

The two groups asked that they at least be allowed one rep each to speak, Cheryl refused.

None of the people bumped from the list understood the new rules for getting on the speakers list.

Brita said...

Hello all,

Our board always takes a 10-15 min.break, sometimes right after public testimony, sometimes later, depending on the length of our agenda. Cheryl called for the break right after public testimony, which gives the board a chance to go talk with the public. I spent most of the break talking to a senior citizen I hadn't seen for months, next a mom from AAA, and then a group of students who wanted the board to revise the military recruiting policy. They acknowledged that they had received my email last week notifying them that this topic will be on the agenda of our next student learning meeting, which is the first step in getting it onto the board agenda.
I'll remind the Exec. committee that it is time to evaluate the new board agenda format and urge them to implement the rest of the suggestions of our subcommittee.

Anonymous said...

To the AAA people, try pushing a canidate that spells his name right on his own cover letter next time.

Anonymous said...

Oh, that was a very productive comment 'anonymous'. Let's put some flesh on those bones you just threw.

The VPs name is Henterson and spell check changed it to Henderson. So you would put that over the fact that since he's been at AAA:

* The teachers now know how to adjust their instructed based on student data

* The test scores for 4th graders showed the largest increase of any school (80% passed reading and 40% passed math)

* The middle school is actually now moving in a positive direction and safe to attend

* The parents and students have a genuine connection to him and want him for their principal

Did you ask yourself:

* Why the district would even interrupt progress like that?

* Why they would bring someone in who doesn't even know the community? He says he volunteer there, but nobody remembers him.

* Why the district screwed up the process so bad that everyone who participated should be fired?

* Why the current principal wasn't contacted by district personnel until nearly 3 weeks after the decision was made.

* Why the district sent the announcement to the secretary of the school to send out to the families without showing it to the current principal or giving the current principal time to talk to the families?

* How the new principal is going to have any positive impact on a community (teachers included) who don't want him?

I give the AAA community credit for focusing on the flawed process, their accomplishments, and the fact that they want to continue with their positive work.

In the scheme of things, you don't know if the resume was sent in soft copy and whoever printed it accepted the spell check correction or whether it was sent in hard copy. But no matter, it's a very small mistake that I'm sure any of us could have made, and for you to point that out and overlook all the great things that have happened at AAA since he's been there shows exactly where you're coming from.

Why don't you go to AAA and tell the families that they don't deserve continued success because of a typo?

Melissa Westbrook said...

I would gently point out that AAA also had the worst middle school WASL scores in the city. This discrepancy between the rising 4th grade scores and the dismal middle school scores can't be ignored. AAA also continues to be chronically underenrolled.

What happened in the process that was so wrong? Were there parents on the committee? I myself served on a principal search committee this year and it was made to clear to us that we had to pick and be willing to take any of 3 candidates we selected. Was this not made clear to the committee at AAA? We were also told not to identify our top choice but were also told that in our notes we could provide more information that would show who we truly wanted. Was the committee not told that?

Anonymous said...

Yes Melissa, you can gently point that out, but you'd be missing my point. Henterson Carlisle has been a VP at AAA for a year and started aggressively implementing a plan to clean up middle school and get them on the right track. He has made amazing progress. Nobody is going to turn that school around to stellar WASL scores in a single year, but what the district has now done is put a grinding halt to the progress because now all the focus is going to be on what to do about having a principal they don't want.

In terms of the process, yes, parents were on the committe, and yes they were told about picking the top 3. But that came way after they were told by Raj and the former Chief Acadmic Officer Steve Wilson in a meeting with their support group Friends of AAA, that Henterson Carlisle was being brought in to be groomed by Rickie Malone to take the principal position when Rickie retired. They were also led to believe that after the sessions Ruth Metzger (their Director) had with the parents and staff about who they wanted for their principal, that their input would be heavily considered.

There may be a new process, but that wasn't what the AAA community was operating on because they were told something totally different right from the start.

Anonymous said...

The principal hiring processed was flawed for many schools. Sacajawea also participated in interviewing, chose three candidates and after all the other schools received their principals. Was given a principal that did not even participate in the interviewing and was supposed to be assigned to another school altogether.

We knew nothing about Mr. Dorsey prior to being told he was our new principal. The district has not provided the meeting with parents to discuss the process that they had promised to do.

WE ARE STILL WAITING.

Anonymous said...

If Carla Santorno does anything at all in the next year I hope she cleans up the principal process, dumps principals that are incompetent and have no chance of improving, send every single principal through up to date professional development, and establish a tough evaluation/accountability system with real teeth.

She also needs to put some strategies behind those goals she's been parading around too.

Charlie Mas said...

Here's a funny thing about Seattle Public Schools - it does not function as an institution.

By that I mean that when someone in SPS gives you a promise, it is a personal promise - they are not obligating the District to anything. And when that person leaves SPS - or changes jobs within SPS - that promise becomes void. Their successor is under no obligation whatsoever to fulfill the promises made by the predecessor.

In short, this means that every promise that Steve Wilson made was instantly voided on the day he announced his retirement.

Mr. Wilson knew this, but he continued to make promises to communities right up to the end. He made those promises knowing that neither he nor anyone else would ever fulfill them. How's that for integrity?

Actually, Mr. Wilson and Mr. Manhas both knew that when Mr. Wilson took the CAO job, he only agreed to do it for two years. No one said so, but he was always an interim CAO. This was one of Mr. Manhas' worst acts. Because Mr. Wilson knew that he wasn't permanent, he didn't take on any big projects, such as an academic plan, because those decisions should not be made by someone in an interim role. This delayed progress on academics at SPS for two years and worsened the misbalance between academics and operations.

It's not just commitments that expire when people change jobs. Very few of the District's processes are determined by Policy. The vast majority of them are set by the person in charge. So you may get used to the way that something is done, principal selection, for example, but if it isn't set by Policy or by agreement with the union, then the person in charge of it, say the Chief Academic Officer, is free to change the process at will. Moreover, when that job turns over - we are now working with our third CAO in four years - the entire process is thrown up into the air and no one can tell you how it will be done.

An excellent example is program placement. There is no policy that governs program placement. The Superintendent determines program placement unilaterally. The Superintendent (or, more accurately, the CAO) can use whatever process he or she wants and can change that process at will.

The current program placement process is the antithesis of the open, honest, transparent, engaged, and accountable culture that the Superintendent claims he wants to foster. The decisions are made by an anonymous committee in closed meetings using unknown criteria.

The Board Student Learning Committee recently reviewed a program placement decision. Their process was revealed to be thoughtless, if not capricious. They made a choice which was the one choice the community begged them not to make, they used no data before making that choice, they didn't consider any alternatives, they didn't consider any public input, they didn't consider what would most beneficial for the students. The process appears to be driven by horse-trading between principals refereed by education directors.

If this is how Ms Santorno does program placement - a process that she is free to alter at will and conduct in any way she sees fit - what in the world makes you think that she's going to follow an open, honest, transparent, engaged, and accountable principal selection process?

Melissa Westbrook said...

The last posts from Sacajawea and AAA about their principal process are upsetting. I had felt that we finally had a process that EVERY school would follow so that no community could complain that they didn't know the process and that the process would be adhered to. It feels like by putting forth a process that the district is saying they have a contract with the stakeholders that they will not break (unless a candidate bows out).

I would ask the question "why do district officials keep doing these things?" but Charlie has already answered it.

Melissa Westbrook said...

The last posts from Sacajawea and AAA about their principal process are upsetting. I had felt that we finally had a process that EVERY school would follow so that no community could complain that they didn't know the process and that the process would be adhered to. It feels like by putting forth a process that the district is saying they have a contract with the stakeholders that they will not break (unless a candidate bows out).

I would ask the question "why do district officials keep doing these things?" but Charlie has already answered it.

Marie said...

Sacajawea picked three canidates that that were universally popular. At least one of those three decided that they did not want to go to Sacajawea. The principal process is not all that unlike a med school match, both sides have to want each other. Sometimes this means that a school does not get any of thier choices, because surprise, thier choices either don't want them or want another school more. Throw in a union seniority process and a principal displaced by closures, viola, Mr. Dorsey has a right to the open job.

As for AAA, there is a lot of misrepresentation going on from both sides. As to the above side post re: spelling the name right, well, I have done my fair share of hiring, and it absolutely matters that someone is sloppy in the application process. If you can't spell my name (or your own name) right on the cover letter, the first impression is that you are careless and sloppy. Maybe the AP was brought in in hopes of being groomed, but if your tenure is highlighted by worst middle school WASL scores in the city and chronic underenrollment, and you are careless in the application process, you are not going to be a lock.

Beth Bakeman said...

I'm confused about why Barry Dorsey ended up at Sacajewea. What had been announced previously was that he would be the principal at Dearborn Park as the current principal was retiring.

So who is going to be the principal at Dearborn Park now?

Anonymous said...

Marie, if you read the post carefully, you would have noted it was mention that Henterson has been at AAA for just a year (this year) and like I said earlier, you're not going to see a total turnaround in a single year, plus the WASL scores aren't even out yet for this year, so none of us knows if there was any impact there. What is known is that the middle school portion of that school now has order and an academic focus and that is because of Henterson. That is what shouldn't be interrupted by introducing a new principal who has absolutely no connection to the school community.

You also don't know if an electronic version of his resume was sent and whoever printed it out accepted the autocorrect. If that's the case, is that his fault? I don't think so.

Anonymous said...

Ellen Punyon is going from Wing Luke (where she was great) to Dearborn Park, and Davy Muth is replacing her at Wing Luke - from where I don't know.

There was much upset at Whitworth about principal assignments because apparently Barry Dorsey was well-liked there and was announced (I think) as the principal-to-be for the combined Whitworth/Dearborn Park community. The reason given to the Whitworth community for Barry Dorsey's "unselection" (which came well before his announced assignment to Sac) was apparently not something that sounded very plausible to them (I can't remember what it was), and they really felt jerked around, esp by their ed director Gloria Mitchell.

It's so hard to know what the real stories are - how much is principal performance, how much is family or personal issues, how much is district shenanigans wrought by a culture that generally pays only lip service to community engagement...

I feel for the communities, though, especially now that they can't bring their issues to public testimony at board meetings. I'm sure Darlene Flynn is right there for Sac, though :)

Beth Bakeman said...

Oh, that's too bad for Wing Luke. Davy Muth was principal at Fairmount Park, which is being closed. I don't know much about her (yes "Davy" is a "she"), but she's been at Fairmount Park as principal since 1998 and had nine years to improve instruction at that school, but I certainly didn't see or hear any evidence of that happening.

Anonymous said...

Actually, Wing Luke doesn't do so bad. If you look at their test scores, the children are way below state average in the lower grades, but there is stady improvement, and by 5th grade they are above state average in every category. Of course, they are not competetive with the affluent Bryant, or Montlake, but they do show that they have stady improvement over the years with the children they get (almost all low income, minority).

Anonymous said...

6:20, I think that's what Beth is saying - Wing Luke did very well under Ellen Punyon's leadership, but what will happen when she leaves for Dearborn Park and Davy Muth takes over?

Charlie Mas said...

Wing Luke uses a lot of small learning groups broken out by skill level. For example, at one point in the day when all the third grade is working on reading, the third grade students form into reading groups across classes so that students of similar skill level are grouped together. They also do some looping.

I don't know if the small groups are formed only within grade levels or across them as well.

The new principal can retain those strategies or replace them.

Wing Luke is, strictly speaking, the Spectrum school for the South cluster, but not many South cluster Spectrum students are enrolled in their program. Wing Luke doesn't make much mention of Spectrum and, due to their small learning group model, it doesn't make much difference there.

The school's 4th grade WASL pass rates slipped a bit this year, but that isn't necessarily meaningful. On the whole, Wing Luke is one of a chain of schools along Beacon Hill, along with Beacon Hill, Kimball, Maple, and Van Asselt, that are showing strong results on the WASL. Dearborn Park is coming along as well.

None of these schools is doing the same thing as any of the others, but they are all getting good results.

Those good results aren't showing up at Mercer, but it may be too soon for that. It may also be because Beacon Hill and Kimball families are in the Central middle school region - choosing between Washington and Meany - and families in the Southeast middle school region can also choose Hamilton or McClure with transportation provided.

Anonymous said...

I hear that Eckstein's current principal, Marni Campbell, is being transferred too. To a school "that needs her more". Has anyone heard anything about this? Is it true? And, if so, who is replacing her at Eckstein??

Anonymous said...

Do principals have any say in it when the district says they want to transfer them to a school they feel will need their help more? I know it is probably flattering and exciting to have a challenge, but what if the principal said no? Would it be okay? I know that they can't force teachers to transfer schools if the schools they are at want to keep them...is the same to be said about principals? Just curious since you hear about this situation so often.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I had heard that about Marni Campbell who is Eckstein' principal as well. I know she toured another school. I would think that principals (via the union) would have a lot of say in where they end up (except in case of emergencies i.e. the problem at Whittier this year). If you move a principal and he/she is unhappy, you don't really get an enthused principal. And, if a principal is doing well at a school, you really get a lot of upset parents. But sometimes if a principal wants to try a different level (i.e. move from middle to high school) and a just-right opportunity presents itself, the principal might go for it even if it hadn't been the plan.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I had heard that about Marni Campbell who is Eckstein' principal as well. I know she toured another school. I would think that principals (via the union) would have a lot of say in where they end up (except in case of emergencies i.e. the problem at Whittier this year). If you move a principal and he/she is unhappy, you don't really get an enthused principal. And, if a principal is doing well at a school, you really get a lot of upset parents. But sometimes if a principal wants to try a different level (i.e. move from middle to high school) and a just-right opportunity presents itself, the principal might go for it even if it hadn't been the plan.

Anonymous said...

"Do principals have any say in it when the district says they want to transfer them to a school they feel will need their help more?"

Absolutely. Keep in mind that a high school principal is the top of the heap pay wise. Perhaps Ms. Campbell has put herself in the running for an open HS position.