Danny referenced this blog and some of the posts about this issue. Happy to hear Danny checks in here sometimes. Here's what he said:
"It's hardly a Goldman Sachs-style bonanza. It's no AIG outrage. But a plan to give the chief of Seattle Public Schools a pay-for-performance bonus — albeit only $5,280 — had parental jaws hitting homework tables around the city last week."
He gives some background:
"I'm willing to take the heat on this," DeBell said. "Anytime you set goals and then attach money to them, it's going to shine a much brighter spotlight on whether those goals are being achieved."
True, money raises the stakes. I probably wouldn't be writing this column about how Seattle schools met only four of 20 goals if someone wasn't getting a dubious cash reward for it.
But schools are not widget factories. Texas just spent $300 million on merit bonuses for teachers and saw no effect on student achievement. Or on teacher retention."
"For instance, she is getting a $1,320 bonus because 2,254 out of 3,019 city sixth-graders passed the WASL reading test. That's 26 more kids than the goal set by the board. And about a hundred more than passed the same test last year.Pretty specific. But I wonder: Does a central administrator in the job only two years have much to do one way or another with such small swings in citywide reading scores?"
So I have been considering two things about this. Neither is about whether or not she gets the bonus: it's in the contract and she did what she is contractually obligated to do to get it. (Whether she really deserves it or should keep it is up for discussion.)
One, to the Board and the Superintendent - good luck with those teacher contract negotiations in the spring. You certainly can push for merit pay or teacher review standards but boy, have you dug yourselves a hole. At the end of the day, Dr. Goodloe-Johnson did give direction to those teachers who raised the WASL scores her bonus is based on but the teachers had to do the work. They will be able to say, based on value-added data, we want more money for what we do.
Two, and this is something I have been thinking about for awhile, is that Dr. Goodloe-Johnson has been a bit of a whirling dervish since she got here.
- audits (not all of them done yet, not all of them complete).
- curriculum review of core high school subjects to be followed by middle-schools
- Student Assignment Plan and everything that radiates out from that including Transportation, Capacity Management, facilities' maintenance and enrollment.
- opening a STEM high school. It is a huge undertaking because of the time and resources involved and the absolutely necessary outreach both to parents and to the scientific community who both need to buy-in and be a part of this effort.
- Strategic Plan - a huge, overarching vision for this district that has (too lazy to check right now) but about 30 different moving parts
- MAP (Measures of Academic Progress) in every single school
- One teacher contract negotiation with another one this spring
- closing schools and reopening schools with all the necessary planning and costs involved
Plainly stated, I think our Superintendent and our district are overreaching. I think they are trying to take on too much, too fast. I do not believe that any of these things are necessarily being done well and with the thought that is needed. Some of this, of course, had to get done but not all of it.
Does that mean I think staff is incompetent? Absolutely not. Does that mean I think staff isn't trying? Quite the opposite. I think they have so much on their plates, they are barely keeping their heads above water. I think they likely are tired and worried about getting things done. I get the distinct feeling (not often but sometimes) that staff wished they could say something publicly but can't. (I think that is true about staff I've been able to communicate with easily and now get my e-mails forwarded to Joy Stevens, the Public Disclosure officer. There are a couple of holdouts and if you are reading this, thanks.)
Are we a wealthy district with the money and staff to carry this out? Not really. I suspect that is why the Broad residents were brought in. They are smart management people who know how to plan and enact broad-based plans (and hey, they're half-priced for two years). There is a huge amount of moving parts here.
So why would anyone do this to herself and her staff? Well, you would if you were ambitious. You would if you had your sights set higher than a small urban district. Your resume would look hugely padded out if you had this list that you could say you planned and were sending into motion. You could say you left the district with a lot "done".
Dr. Goodloe-Johnson is a professional who is out to cut a big swath through this district. I think she takes no prisoners and is certainly not out to make friends or have any emotional attachment to our district. I wouldn't really call her a superintendent because I don't think she truly cares about this district as the living, breathing organism that it is. (Contrast that with John Stanford who embraced this place from the minute he took the job. I don't think he was the saint many have made him out to be but I did like his style and I felt he reached staff, the powers that be AND parents better than any superintendent I've seen. It does matter.)
I think the Board thought "here's someone to get it done and we don't care if she's touchy-feely."(Again, I said previously that I don't have to like her to respect her ability to get things done. Problem is, I see a whole lot of churn and not a lot of good things coming out of it.) I think they are a little surprised to see they got a gun for hire. I think they are hoping positive, forward things will come from all this effort and action.
Despite her raise last year and bonus to come this year, I'm still waiting.