I read the story in today's Seattle Times on the new Superintendent of Seattle Pubilc Schools, Dr. Maria Goodloe-Johnson, and two things jumped out at me right away.
First, there is no news in this "news" story. The reporter interviewed the Superintendent, but she didn't say anything she hadn't said before. There were no announcements, no change in anything.
Second, the message came through, loud and clear, that Dr. Goodloe-Johnson has little patience for the "Seattle Process". From the article:
"Goodloe-Johnson said she would have little patience for the "Seattle process," shorthand for the inclusive -- but often slow -- way of doing public business."
I think that the recent experience we had with the Student Assignment Plan showed, without a doubt, that genuine, inclusive public engagement can be done and that it can be done easily, quickly, efficiently, and effectively. My view of the "Seattle Process" is mainly public hearings that are neither public nor heard. We don't need any more of the asynchronous monologues like we had with closures; we need real dialog like we have had over student assignment.
Perhaps Dr. Goodloe-Johnson thinks, as a lot of people within the central staff at Seattle Public Schools think, that public input is difficult if not impossible, that it is slow, that it doesn't provide good data, and that people have unreasonable expectations for how it will alter decisions. If that's the case, then she is as wrong as they are. The public input over student assignment has proven it. Yes, the way they conducted public engagement before was all those things, but everyone agreed that they were doing it wrong. When you do it right, the results are good for everyone.
The article was in the Times, so of course it took a swipe at the Board, saying that they struggled over which schools to close. I don't think that's an accurate characterization. They were presented with a motion and they passed it by a strong majority of 5 to 2. I think other people struggled over identifying the schools to close, but I can't say that the Board did.