Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Dr. Goodloe-Johnson on KUOW at 10 a.m.

The Superintendent will be on KUOW 94.9 FM at 10 a.m. to answer questions. Note: this will be after the news from Canada so more like 10:15 a.m.

(Question: when you e-mail staff with questions, do you cc your Board member? If so, when you get a reply, did the staff member cc the Board member? I find that staff do not cc who I did and it makes me wonder why. Likely to be just a lazy error but it would be to their benefit if they let the Board member know they did reply to the e-mail.)


Sahila said...

I submitted this, this morning.... it included a long list of specific concerns/complaints... wonder what the reply will be... Thanks Melissa for the question about CCing the Board... prompted me to remember that I had neglected to do that... something I shall fix now...

Dear Mr Scher -
my name is Sahila ChangeBringer and I am a parent at AS#1 (Alternative School #1 at Pinehurst)...

I am very concerned at the changes in the SPS District being pushed through by the Superintendent and I have been quite active in protesting those changes - attended rallies, written the Board, attended and spoken at Board meetings. I'm the parent dubbed 'a folk hero' by the Seattle Times for insisting that the Superintendent and Board look at speakers at Board meetings, to show respect and that they are really listening to their constituents' concerns.

Myself and some other parents from various schools are formulating a Direct Action campaign plan to protest the changes already underway and those yet to come in the next and following school years.

I have included the discussion below in this writing to demonstrate how strongly people feel about the changes happening in this District. These are some of the most involved, informed and qualified school community citizens and their concerns are being invalidated and dismissed by the Superintendent.

Some of our specific concerns are listed, and there are links to blog sites where you will get more detailed insight about what many parents really feel about the Superintendent's agenda for the District.

You will notice in all of these entries that while they are angry and frustrated, parents are not just complaining - they do actually acknowledge that problems exist in the District and suggest many creative ways of dealing with them. Most of these alternative solutions have been presented to the Superintendent and Board but have been ignored.

I and many other parents would be grateful if you would challenge Dr Goodloe-Johnson on these points and her agenda for Seattle Schools - corporatisation, standardisation, super-sizing, narrowing of curricula, scripted lesson plans etc, etc - and not allow her to use 'politico-speak' to evade answering the hard questions.

Thank you
Sahila ChangeBringer
tel 206 297 7511

Chris said...

10:34 - Re Alignment vs standardization: wow, she sounds so reasonable. But what she is saying is so disconnected to the decisions she as made over the last 2 years.

BadgerGal said...

Awesome question on the blackberry issue (if that was you). She said she has stopped...we shall see!

If I would have heard MGJ 2 years ago, her answers would have sounded reasonable. Now I find myself doubting and distrustful of her answers based on all the choas and deception these past two years.

SolvayGirl1972 said...

I found them to be, for the most part, NON-answers. She never did say how the collaboration between SPS and the city could be improved, even though Ross asked her twice, and VERY directly. All I heard was a lot of vague generalities—even to the very direct question from one caller as to why their principal was being moved even though said principal planned to retire in one year. The caller asked how this could be good for either school?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Bravo to Steve Sher, the host. He really did give her gentle pressure to give specific answers (and she mostly didn't). I was surprised there were no SAP questions taken; I wouldn't have submitted mine had I thought this the case. She did sound a bit testy in answering my question; I'm thinking the Board brought it to her attention.

Did anyone hear anything particularly new or striking? The only thing I noted is how she seemed to be dismissive of what was going on in the district in the past in terms of student achievement. When Steve pressed her on if she thought the past efforts were less than stellar, she demurred.

Here is the answer I received from Harium about staff ccing everyone on questions.

"Thank you for the feedback. One of the things I noticed is that we don't have a real protocol on handling electronic communication. Director Carr and I have been working on a process document that would address this. We will be presenting to the board during the summer at our next retreat."

On point as usual.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Whoops, forget this:

Dr. Goodloe-Johnson did say that (1) alignment is not standardization so we'll see and (2) that earned autonomy doesn't extend to curriculum.

another mom said...

I was only able to hear the last 15 or so minutes and she was talking about empathy when I tuned-in. What struck me was the formulaic responses to most questions and jargoned phrases such as a distributive approach... whatevwer that means. She sounds scripted and insincere and a bit too corporate. I understand that her communication style should not have a great deal of weight when one is evaluating her proposals, and she did inherit many of the district's problems.But to make the kind of changes that are coming with the new SAP, she needs to able to use the bully pulpit to rally parents around it. These are peoples children. I don't know it is a real head scratcher that the personal charisma is so lacking.

SPSMom said...

What I heard about earned autonomy all related to under acheiving schools. Her example was if a school has low reading scores, they will get a reading specialist. That's not automony, that is support services.

Nothing about high acheiving schools as it relates to that earned autonomy.

another mom said...

She made a point of saying that the District will start 2009-2010 school year with a 12 million dollar deficit. When pressed about where additional cuts would be made, I did not hear a real answer. Did I miss it?

Sahila said...

And she got a free pass with that 12 million deficit impression...

What she said was that some of the $34M deficit (this year) had been covered by a $12M infusion from the rainy day fund...

The rainy day fund still has money in it...

Its like taking cash you DO have from one wallet and putting it in the other EMPTY wallet in your other bag... its not about taking out a loan that you have to repay, with interest...

So, they'll say they are an extra $12M in the hole and use that to justify more cuts...

Sahila said...

I listened to the KUOW Marie Gooloe-Johnson segment this morning (Wednesday, 10.15amish)and, aside from marvelling at her ability to say many words and not anser, commit to or own anything definitively, was idly wondering why and how such a large divide has been created between what parents think are changes that need to be made for the better, and the changes being pushed by the Super and the Board...

The changes are so far away from internationally-recognised research and reform implemented successfully in other countries that what's going on here makes no sense, UNLESS there is another agenda operating under the surface...

I wondered if it would be a worthwhile exercise to assemble information/research about effective education reform and school-based management and examples of where its been implemented and the outcomes (pros and cons) and compare it to what the Broad Foundation and Gates et al propose and promote... and see for ourselves what really is going on here in Seattle...

And IF what's going on is obviously aligned with the Broad/Gates path, perhaps even verifiably directly influenced by these groups, it would be like Halliburton (ostensibly only an oil company!) and what has been happening in the mid and far East...

Surely there must be some steps we as a community could take if it turns out that certain external groups are influencing, manipulating, shaping the public school system in line with its own agenda.

If we could find the linkages, then maybe we can take action (legal included)to stop this before it becomes a fait accompli...

What do you think?

momster said...

sahila and another mom - the $12mm deficit relates to a "structural deficit", meaning that a one-time infusion from reserves solves only one year, so any teachers or ongoing operating expenses you pay with it could not be covered in the following year.

it's fiscally irresponsible to take on expenses that you can only pay if you take money for reserves - like taking on a $6000/month mortgage because you have $6000 in savings - but don't have another $6000/month income coming in to pay anything beyond the first month.

i wouldn't be surprised that if the state doesn't reinstate funding lost this year (e.g., i-728), the district would be looking to make another $12mm of cuts for the 2009/10 year or the 2010/11 budget.

Sahila said...

momster... I understand that... but the point of reserves (savings) is to have money for rainy days (or other specifically named purposes), and you USE that money for rainy days (or the named purpose), and according to the District, we're currently experiencing a veritable torrential downpour...

The fact remains that its not correct to imply - or state openly - that using funds from reserves creates a bigger deficit... it doesnt... it means the 'safety net' pot is a little more shallow, but even in this case its not empty ...

I would say its morally reprehensible to take steps that affect the quality of education our children experience while leaving a reserves fund untouched...

Charlie Mas said...

This is certainly a rainy day, and that's why they are using some of the rainy day money.

They don't use it all because it looks like more rain is coming.

momster said...

sahila, i disagree with your statement "it isn't correct to imply - or state openly - that using funds from reserves creates a bigger deficit" because it does, in fact, do nothing to reduce the structural deficit, and so, in fact, does create a bigger deficit than appears to be the case after the reserves have been applied.

the only thing i would grant is that it would be more clear if the sup't and others would be more specific in calling this a structural deficit.

i would suggest discussing reserves, recommended levels, and statutory requirements with someone from ospi or from brian sonntag's state auditors office, and reviewing audit reports for seattle school district.

before you use adjectives like "morally reprehensible" it's best to get more information about the matter at hand.

Sahila said...

At what point do we decide that the precipitation we're experiencing is no longer a light 'shower' from which we can shelter, but a downpour for which we need more than cheap umbrellas to keep us dry and safe from flooding?

I do think its morally reprehensible to withhold from today's students the highest quality education possible, on the pretext that you have to put aside large sums of money for the benefit of future generations...

We're telling our kids that we dont value them enough to do what's necessary to fund a quality education... that their needs should be sacrificed for some future generation's benefit... and what a con job that is - most people only get one chance at education and the quality of access, content and delivery affects them and the quality of life and the choices they can make for the rest of their lives...

Sure have some reserves - that's sensible... but dont stockpile and hoard large sums of money while simultaneously delivering a sub-par education to most of our kids who dont have the luxury of going elsewhere to have this basic human right met....

Chris said...

Another irony: in response to the empathy charge, MGJ said she would people ask specific questions rather than making accusations. This right after she refused to answer the very specific principal reassignment question. I did think Steve Scher was quite good but he could have pointed that out.

Her excuse for not answering the principal question was that she coudn't "name names" on the radio. I would urge the caller to follow-up with MGJ in a more private setting. Hold her to that specific question wish...

Anonymous said...

I e-mailed a question which was read on the air about an increased budget for the superintendent's office, which she denied any knowledge of, and if SPS had considered a 4 day work week for the district office staff as King County is considering. I won't bother with her response to the question, it was inaccurate and can be heard on the KUOW site.

What was of interest to me is that in fact, referring to the 2009-2010 budget, page 23,, there will be an increase of $127,000 for her office, a senior admin and a "Broad Resident".

Is this a Broad Foundation resident? Are we suppose to be paying for the further establishment of the Broad's agenda and presence within the Seattle school system?

Can someone, anyone, enlighten me as to what they are referring to when they say "Broad resident"?

And by the way, we could have two more of our outstanding junior teachers back with that money. Two teachers that our students truly need.

another mom said...

Would someone please explain Page 5 of

I thought that SPS was a district of 46,000 or so. Does The 46,000 include students who are not full-time or??? According to this page the actual 2008-09 budget was based on average annual enrollment of 42,550. It is probably something simple that I just don't know, but ???

kellie said...

@ another mom
K students only count as .5 FTE. Homeschool students also get a point ratio depending on how many resources they use. The part where a whole student becomes a "Full Time Equivalent" really skews the numbers.

This makes understanding capacity crazy. because the budget numbers reflect the .5 FTE for all K students but as most K students are in the building the whole day that is a different number for the building.

another mom said...

Thanks Kellie.

momster said...

i heard some of the steve scher interview replayed tonight.

maria goodloe johnson seems like a bright and capable person and i don't have the major beefs with her that many on this blog do, but wow, i don't think i've ever heard anyone string together so many jargon-y words that mean so little - in response to every last question that is ever asked. i've heard people say she's real one on one - i hope so.

her speaking reminded me of something susan scott of fierce conversations said about a conversation " empty of meaning it crackles."

the superintendent's public speaking is so devoid of meaning it's like radio static.

pretty unbelievable. and pretty heroic of steve scher to keep trying to get her to provide some meaning - for alignment, earned automony (was that one dodge after another or what!?)

Josh Hayes said...

I listened to the interview this morning, streaming on my computer, while my kids read on the sofa.

My son, after listening for a while said, "You know what? For all the talking she does, she doesn't seem to say anything."

I think for a bureaucrat, that's probably a great endorsement. For a leader of schools, not so much.

I too found the explanation of "alignment" versus "standardization" less than edifying. Apparently, alignment is not standardization, but she was unable to explain how that works on the ground. As we all know, of course, alignment IS standardization, and standardized texts and lectures are clearly where she wants the district to go, but of course it would have been impolitic to say so.

I wax and wane in my opinions about Steve Scher, but I thought he did a very good job of asking uncomfortable questions and pointing out when answers had not been given. I'm afraid, however, that Dr. G-J remains steadfast in feeling that other voices are irrelevant: damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Josh, I believe you are correct in your last statement. It could also be phrased that she's doing a slash and burn to get us at a place where she can leave and be able to say, "Look at all I accomplished." Maybe she really does think all this quick action is for the best. But she's leaving a lot of unhappy people in her wake (but isn't that how she left her last job)?

One last note, Steve Scher asked her about the organization of her last job. Apparently each region has an elected Board so she was dealing with something like 5 School Boards! I'm sure our one Board plus Seattle nice must have been quite the relief to her.

Charlie Mas said...

Here's the funny thing. Later, when she pushes forward with her agenda, she will be able to claim that she told everyone all about it. Moreover, she will list this radio interview and the non-answers she gave as part of the public engagement she did telling people all about what was coming.

I once was part of a group that was trying to work with the District staff on an issue. We had a couple meetings with them, but they wouldn't say anything in the meetings. Many of them literally refused to talk in the meetings, the rest either made only vague statements or would simply answer "We haven't started thinking about that yet." They were aggressive non-participants. Later, when they moved ahead with a plan that we really didn't like, they listed those meetings as evidence that they had done community engagement and that the community had input to the decision. We couldn't believe it.

Watch. You will see that this radio interview appears on a list of her community engagement efforts, despite the fact that she refused to answer questions and spoke almost entirely in jargon.

wseadawg said...

Well that was enough "eduspeak" to last me for awhile. She'd do better to stick to plain English in answering questions.

I understand some hedging and being non-committal, but that's different than being coy. And she is way too coy.

Re: the principals cyclone, I thought her refusal to give an answer, citing privacy concerns, etc., was total nonsense. She could have explained her criteria better - so it made sense - without getting into anything personal. Clearly, she doesn't want to talk about it.

And my how testy she got when confronted with the infamous "don't lose sleep" comment. She originally made that comment to boast about her own self-confidence. Now she's claiming it meant she's tired at the end of the day and needs a good night's sleep. (Well don't we all?) And she tries to turn the negative feedback she brought upon herself against the public, imploring us to "be specific." Sorry Maria, you said it. I'm not buying the explanation she gave to Steve.

Clearly she recognizes that she's alienated parents. Perhaps that was told to her in her performance review. If she taps the vast reservoir that is parental support, and truly engages with the community, she will be successful in Seattle. But to do so requires abandoning some top-down, Broad Academy, militant strong-arm and intimidation tactics, and instead working with the community and give-and-take fashion.

This is how I see her dilemma: Is it going to be about Seattle's kids and families, or about getting more "Reformer" feathers in her cap, and increasing her status in the Educational Reform community, and all the national press and perks that goes with that? I don't believe it can be both.

SPSMom said...

Well said WSeadawg and we can only hope that one of her cronies is reading and reporting back.

In terms of the Broad Academy, another poster commented that ove $100,000 is budgeted to be paid to a Broad Fellow to join the district next year and was asking what the position entailed.

Anybody have any idea why such a high salaried position is being created in the super's office?

Josh Hayes said...

Well, SPSMom, anyone who knows me can affirm that I am indeed a broad fellow. I wonder if they'll pay me for that?

I also come, at no extra charge, with both height and depth, something our incoming consultant may not be able to say, alas.

Sahila said...

If this District is heading in a direction dictated by Broad ideology - see the plan to hire another Broad grad to the Super's staff - isnt it time the Board came clean and told us - their constituents - that in plain English?

gavroche said...

I agree with Sahila, especially in light of what the Broad ideology is all about -- and the curious fact the Supt. Goodloe-Johnson has denied that Broad has anything to do with charter schools (when in fact charters are mentioned as a chief objective in various documents on the Broad site). What are she and the District being so clandestine about?

And who exactly is this "Broad Resident"? Don't we have a right to know? And why does SPS admin, which is already oversized, need another admin person? I would rather the District bring back 2 teachers for that money ($100,000).

According to Broad's web site and various documents located therein, apparently the Foundation's agenda is to install corporate charters -- and Broad trained superintendents/"CEOs" -- in troubled urban school districts that is has "honed in" on. (Superintendent Goodloe-Johnson is on the Broad board and is a graduate of their superintendent "academy" training program).

Below is an excerpt from Broad's 2008 Annual Report, all bold emphasis is mine,

...followed by a Broad press release from 2003 that uses a lot of corporate-speak to describe its objectives in how it trains its superintendents (or "CEOs" as Broad apparently considers them). (Note the strange pairing of "Corporate Profit" with "Student Learning").

"Leaders of school systems—superintendents, cabinet executives, school board members, principals
and charter management organization pioneers—are the key to successful reform efforts in
public education across the country. We invest in the recruitment, training, support and retention
of top school district talent.

Once the right people are in place, they need to be equipped with the systems and tools that enable
them to accomplish their ultimate goal: improving student achievement for all children. These
systems and tools range from better human resource operations that streamline the hiring of
teachers and principals and improve the placement of educators in the right schools, to stronger
budgeting controls that ensure critical dollars are pushed down into the classrooms. Our investments
enable school districts to implement the systems and tools they need to build more
effective organizations.

We recognize that there are a number of policy impediments—at all levels of government and
in the areas of urban district governance, management, labor and competition—that hamper
student achievement and reduce the opportunity for schools and districts to become high performing
enterprises. Our work is aimed at informing policy leaders at the federal, state and
local levels about the education challenges facing our nation, and at providing solutions to
those challenges with primary emphasis on professional performance compensation for teachers
and principals,
expanded learning time and national standards.
We invest in cities and charter management organizations where our dollars can be leveraged to
accelerate school reform efforts.

(continued on next post)

(part 2)

gavroche said...

(continued from previous post, and Broad Foundation 2008 Annual Report):

"In our work with districts, we have honed in on cities that are making the greatest progress in improving student achievement. Our work in this handful of
cities—including Chicago, New York City and Oakland, Calif.—has deepened over time as we
watched their progress. These cities have a common distinction: the school systems in New York
City and Chicago are under the control of the mayor, and the school system in Oakland was placed
under state control after facing bankruptcy.
We have found that the conditions to dramatically
improve K-12 education are often ripe under mayoral or state control.

In our hometown of Los Angeles, where public charter schools have gained an important foothold,
we have taken a different approach. Now home to more charter schools and more students attending charter schools than anywhere in the country, Los Angeles is experiencing an education
revolution from the bottom up. By reaching a tipping point, we believe that high quality public
charter schools will place the essential pressure on all other public schools to improve performance.
People. Systems. Tools. Policies. Cities. Charter Management Organizations.
These areas represent the majority of our investments in reforming American K-12 public education."


The Broad Center for Superintendents Training Academy Comes to Boston
April 9, 2003


School superintendents are in charge of our nation's greatest investment - our children. However, many have little training or background in complex financial, labor, management, personnel and capital resource decision-making. In fact, 98 percent of superintendents are trained as teachers - not managers. Additionally, the average urban superintendent's tenure is just over four years. This program will dramatically change this equation. The Academy curriculum will include the following sessions:
CEO Leadership: Developing a vision and theory of action for achieving an effective urban school system.
Corporate Profit: Student Learning: Learning theories and principles of effective instruction. Understanding effort-based education, standards-based education, testing and assessment. Evaluating theories of action for increasing student achievement, including charter schools and choice.
• Competence: Understanding urban district budgets, including sources of revenue, expenditure categories and fund investment. Identifying strategies for budget development, budget reduction and alignment of resources to district success indicators and student achievement. Identifying key financial issues for the attention of the new superintendent.
• Connections: Understanding the politics of race, class, and gender and how a superintendent can manage the dynamics of diversity
• Career: Becoming more prepared to participate in an urban superintendent search process. (…)"

Sahila said...

What I find interesting in the excerpts posted by Gavroche is that nowhere in this quite large quantity of self justification does Broad say exactly what is wrong with the current education system (I'm not disagreeing with the premise per se), or what an improved system will look like, for our kids...

Long on laudable (who wouldnt want an improved educational outcome for their kids?) rhetoric, short on fact and detail about the current situation, causal factor, remedies and what the 'best' possible result would look like...

When people come to me and talk about a social institution such as public education and use business terminology and analogy in that conversation, and then fail to show me exactly how they are going to fix things and what the result will be.... well, that's when I become wary and resistant and suspicious of their motives....

Anyone who really is interested in and understands what education and children and the future are about does not come to the reform and management exercise from a purely business perspective... education is one of those areas in life where cost and profit need to be measured in terms other than dollars...

Sahila said...

Gavroche - if you havent already, I'd encourage you to put your last two posts on Harium's blog....

owlhouse said...

Thanks for sharing, gavroche. I wonder if the Broad resident is here to be "mentored" by Dr GJ, or the reverse. The funding of that position, especially in this time of budget hardship, is an issue- but I'm far more concerned with the role and responsibilities of this position.

I've been watching Broad and other key charter supporters/funders for a while now. What I find most telling is that they do very little to support or "reform" the systems in place. Rather, they work to build parallel systems using public funds, avoiding public oversite, limiting enrollment, trampling labor relations... These schools continue to rely on the public system as their failsafe, the net for students who don't attend or are removed from Charters.

So why "public" charters? If the public system is broken, why piggy back off it? Use the market driven business model to build a private system. Eli Broad, the Walden family, Gates foundation- have plenty of money and could set up there own string of private schools, offering full scholarships for all participants.

Anyway, this isn't the first time concerns over Broad's influence have been raised. Thus far, questions have been dismissed with misinformation. A good way to raise red flags.

Interesting to note that in Broad's hometown of LA, where "public charter schools have gained an important foothold," teachers last week ended a 24 day hunger strike. And in Chicago, where Mayoral control has made conditions "ripe" for advancing charters, teachers have filed suit over the resegregation of the schools. Charter schools have done little to improve the challenges of these districts and if fact, may be contributing additional problems.

seattle citizen said...

We're paying $100,000 for a "Broad resident" and nobody knows what for?
We're laying off a hundred teachers and paying $100,000 for a "Broad resident"?
When $100,000 of our tax dollars are spent on something besides teachers, and spent out of district, to boot, one would think we would be told what it is FOR...

dan dempsey said...

Wsaedawg said:
"This is how I see her dilemma: Is it going to be about Seattle's kids and families, or about getting more "Reformer" feathers in her cap, and increasing her status in the Educational Reform community, and all the national press and perks that goes with that? I don't believe it can be both."

Well with that $753,000 for Education First.... It is pretty clear she is going for .."Reformer" feathers in her cap.

dan dempsey said...

In regard to Broad folks:

"Bernatek, Bradley T"

is a Broad resident. He was Carla's principle data cherry-picker for the Everyday Math adoption. When I questioned Brad in May 2007 about the math collapse in Denver Middle Schools he stated that he had yet to find anything written that attributed this collapse to instructional materials. Denver uses Everyday Math and Connected Math.

Here is the latest communication from Brad. On June 17, MG-J said the State will release WASL data tomorrow, we will release Seattle's next week. (it did not happen ... so I inquired by sending Pam Oakes an inquiry labeled SPS WASL test results???).

Brad replied on Monday afternnon:
They have not been posted yet. We have had to do some additional data scrubbing and hope to post preliminary results by Wednesday.

Then I received this from Brad:
Bernatek, Bradley T would like to recall the message, "SPS WASL test results???"

Don't those Broad folks just fill you with confidence?

Apart from MG-J are these folks salaries paid by Broad or the SPS?

Sahila said...

Data scrubbing... now, I dont always get what you Americans mean when you use the Queen's English (cos you've taken such liberties with it! LOL), but the word scrub means to make clean, doesnt it?

So, what in the data needs to be cleaned up?

Bad results? Polish it up for public consumption, so that the District can continue to laud itself on performance towards "Excellence for All" and justify more and continued standardised testing?