Dr. Maria Goodloe-Johnson has written a guest column in the Seattle Times announcing a New Day in Seattle Public Schools in which she lays out something of a Vision and has told us what to expect from her administration. Raj Manhas also did this shortly after he was made Superintendent.
Here's a link.
Here's the text:
A new day has come for Seattle Public Schools
By Maria L. Goodloe-Johnson
Special to The Times
This week, we welcome more than 45,000 Seattle students — and their families — to a new school year. It is a time full of hope and change, especially for those of us who begin the year in a new school — or a new city. My first two months here have been filled with focused work as well as opportunities to enjoy the magnificent Pacific Northwest. My family and I have been warmly welcomed to this wonderful city, and I am delighted to be here!
The start of each school year holds the promise of discovery, growth and academic achievement. At Seattle Public Schools, our responsibility is to fulfill that promise. We do so through high-quality instruction in every classroom and strong leadership at all levels. All of us are committed to — and will be held accountable for — these outcomes.
I am fortunate to assume leadership of a school district on strong academic and financial footing. On the academic side, the district created a vision supported by key milestones, and funded programs for 2007-08 that support achievement of each milestone. These include a project that places 500-book libraries in every K-2 classroom to promote independent reading; introducing an aligned elementary math curriculum and continued focus on middle-school math; expansion of the "Readers and Writers Workshop"; and serving more students through Project Excel, which provides extended learning opportunities.
Additional support for the arts and physical education is also in place. The "Flight Schools" program, which fosters family engagement activities and staff collaboration across the K-12 spectrum, will expand to include 25 schools in the southeast, south and southwest parts of the city.
Fiscally, Seattle Public Schools has a sound reserve and recently received top ratings from Moody's and Standard & Poor's. This position means we can focus on directing more resources to support excellent instruction in every classroom. I want to thank the Seattle community for your continued support of the levy and bond measures that provide critical funding for academics and excellence of our learning facilities.
Important work has been accomplished in the past year, but we have much more to do in the future. Overall, our students are making progress, but we can and must do better so that every student succeeds. My focus in the months and years to come will be to increase the use of proven best practices to create high-quality schools systemwide. Research in large urban districts shows that academic gains are based on a series of key elements — most important of which is excellence in the classroom. So, we will:
• Focus on quality curriculum, assessment and instruction across our district;
• Deeply examine data, which will drive our decisions in academics and operations;
• Provide focused training and development for our teachers so that they have the tools they need to effectively serve all students;
• Promote genuine family and community engagement, including expanding our capacity to be culturally competent in our community interactions;
• Build outstanding leadership — in the classroom, at the school and at the district;
• Conduct systemic audits to ensure we are operating in the most effective manner possible and using academic programs that work;
• Establish measures — and clear accountability — for outcomes.
These are proven effective strategies, but specific actions must be based on a deep understanding of the strengths — and challenges — of Seattle Public Schools. That is why I continue to be guided by the entry plan announced in July. Over the past two months I've met key leaders throughout the city and state; had insightful discussions with numerous community members; begun to meet teachers and staff; and worked closely with principals and district leaders to set clear expectations. I continue to analyze an array of data on academics and operations. A districtwide curriculum audit is under way and comprehensive reviews of district finances and operations are planned.
As this work is completed, we will know more about what is working, what needs improvement, and, most importantly, what our students need to succeed. Based on this knowledge, I will create a longer-range strategic plan for our system. The plan will be focused and practical; it will build on our successes, and be structured to improve the areas of challenge.
As our plan is implemented and adjusted based on results and changing conditions, I expect that the statement, "Every student achieving and everyone accountable," will accurately describe Seattle Public Schools. My goal is that every school will reach the same high standard that I, as a parent, desire for my own daughter. When I ask the question, "Would I entrust my own child's education and well-being to this school?", I want to answer a resounding "yes" for every school in the district.
I look forward to the work of the coming year, sharing with you a more detailed plan for Seattle Public Schools that will accelerate our progress toward this vision of excellence, and to meeting many of you as I visit our schools and communities.
Dr. Maria L. Goodloe-Johnson is the superintendent of Seattle Public Schools.