Wednesday, May 16, 2007

PI story on Carla Santorno

This article was in today's PI. Pretty good press for Carla and I give her credit for staking out a position and following thru.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Here here for Carla.

She's leading in the right direction, she's focused on making decisions based on academic research results, she's working with the teachers and community to build a program that is effective, and she is personally invested in having personal success to improve the scores.

I would encourage everyone reading this blog to focus on promoting the positive actions and efforts of district leadership. I am sick of the posts which focus on highlighting controversy, fuel bigotry, and involve personal attacks.

As an individual, I am on the defensive when you point out my failure, but thrive and accel when you celebrate my successes. It's time for blog contributors to get on the promoting what is good bandwagon and stop bashing. Dr. G-J deserves our support until proven otherwise. We haven't had direct experience with her and should not judge based on the review by those with their own agendas.

Think bees with honey, Law of Attraction....

Melissa Westbrook said...

I partially agree with Anonymous. I think you can always find dissent and unhappiness but not necessarily because people are being negative but because you will never, in any educational system, make everyone happy. However, we learn things by allowing everyone to speak. When I started getting active in the district years ago and going to Board meetings, I was astonished at how many things were going on that I never heard about. Most of them were not good but it helped to widen my view of the district and not just be myopic and stick to my old school. Things do have a ripple effect in this district and no one can just close their eyes and wish bad things away.

I, too, believe in pointing out the good things that I see happening. That's why I posted the article about Carla and about the group helping give grants to schools. I talked to a journalist for 45 minutes last fall about all the good things in our district. But I defend the right to talk about things that are troubling (the recent article from the Charleston Post-Courier) or concerning (the math adoption). I am troubled by the use of the word "agenda". An agenda implies trying to get something your way or get something done that you believe is worth fighting for. That could be true of all of us. But I think most of what is written here is more a belief about how you view education and, in particular, public education in Seattle.

Charlie has pointed this out in various ways but I'll say it again. District staff is hoping we will all be cheerleaders for our district and not critics. They would like us to still our voices and go back to our schools and raise money and volunteer and vote their way. It isn't us versus them but it's our district, too.

Charlie Mas said...

I was interviewed for this story, but nothing I said to the reporter was reflected in the final piece.

He asked me what I thought of the job that Ms Santorno had done, now that she has been with the District for a full year.

I answered that I didn't notice that she had done all that much in a year.

She shuffled the org chart, but to no noticable effect.

She set some clear academic goals, complete with rationale and metrics, but without any clear plan for achievement.

Ummmm... that's about it. Everything else appears to be business as usual. She may have implemented improvements, but they haven't yet had time to produce results.

I can say that she has either neglected or refused to implement the School-Family Partnership plan. The person she put in charge of Family Engagement (purportedly one fourth of the District's "Strategic Framework") regards family engagement as an indicator of White Privilege and holds it in contempt. Consequently, there has been exactly no progress in that area. The District has yet to even fill the position of Family and Community Engagement Coordinator. They didn't even post the position until May, eight months after the initiative was announced.

She has pushed forward with a number of decisions that make little or no sense, such as the middle school APP split decision, the decision to move Special Education students out of Lowell (a school that was practically built for them), some principal selection decisions, etc.

I don't see any improved accountability (she has failed to complete the elements in the accountability plan that were her responsibility), I don't see that teachers and principals are suddenly maintaining higher expectations for all students - not without a massive wave of non-promotions this year. Did you all notice that high school students who did not complete 5 credits as freshmen were not re-classified this year as they were last year?

There have been some efforts at providing remediation for students who are struggling to meet standards, but most of that effort is still concentrated at high school when it should be done much earlier. The District bolloxed Summer School last year, but that probably wasn't due to anything Ms Santorno did or didn't do, as it came so soon after she got the job.

I haven't seen an academic plan, have you? Goals, yes, but not a plan. I haven't heard of a plan to close the academic achievement gap by bringing every student up to Standard, have you? I haven't seen a plan to improve equity between schools, have you?

All in all, it is still too early to tell. But even if it is too soon to expect to see any results, it isn't too early to expect to see any action. Maybe she is working quietly, but I don't think that's a good idea. I think she should let people know about all of the positive steps she is taking and all of the positive results she expects. This is supposed to be a collaborative effort, so she should let us know what the effort is.

Charlie Mas said...

In response to anonymous,

When you write that Ms Santorno is leading in the right direction, what are you referring to?

When you write that she's focused on making decisions based on academic research, what are you referring to?

For myself, I would encourage everyone reading and posting to this blog to focus on all of the actions of the District and to regard them without bias - either positive or negative. I don't care for cranky negativity, but I don't care for thoughtless cheerleading either. There is, of course, no place for bigotry or personal attacks, but I haven't seen much of that.

As an individual, I take responsibility for all of my actions, the good and the bad. I am not on the defensive when you point out my failure, but am grateful for the help. I do not fear failure, but regard it as a sign that I am taking chances and stretching my efforts into new worlds.

I don't care to be on any bandwagon promoting any half of a truth. Moreover, I don't regard what I write as "bashing".

Hey, if someone does a good job they will get credit for it. If someone does a bad job, that will be said as well. It's not about complaining for the sake of complaining. That's just as bad as pasting false smiley faces on everything - they are both skewed views. Let's just look at things squarely and honestly. And if we have a complaint, let's couple that with a suggested solution. That's both honest and positive.