Saturday, May 22, 2010

Saturday Morning Laugh

Oh those kids at the Times! What a bunch of jokers. They have this wonderful and silly editorial today about how great Dr. Goodloe-Johnson is doing and guess what? It's all based on their opinion. Now, other peoples' opinions, those are suspect but the wise ones at the Times', well, they know all. I'm not even going to print their nonsense here but here's what I wrote in the comments section.

My name is Melissa Westbrook and I am both a long-time SPS parent and education activist in our City. I write for the education blog Save Seattle Schools. With no arrogance, I would say I know this district far better than the entire editorial board of the Times put together. So I feel confident in pointing out the errors both in thinking and in the Times' final judgment on Dr. Goodloe-Johnson and her tenure at SPS.

This editorial is full of half-truths and stretches of the imagination.

-First, Dr. Goodloe-Johnson IS the public face for the district and so she is the main "lighting rod" for what has occurred in our district.
-Second, "lesser leaders" DID indeed close schools so she doesn't get credit for that one. Point in fact, she closed schools and now is opening schools at a cost of at least $50M. The enrollment numbers for the 3 opening this fall? Pitifully low because she refused to give any of them a real focus such as Montessori or foreign language immersion. So where is the great thinking here?
-Then, "enrollment has risen". It's not because of her leadership - it's because of a baby boomlet that this district largely ignored until just last year. Also, note to Times, we're in an economic downtown so the thought is maybe the private schools could have lost students.
-The Board did NOT create the Strategic Plan; Dr. Goodloe-Johnson and her staff did and the Board approved it. We did have a 5-year plan previous to Dr. Goodloe-Johnson. She just reformed it and called it her Strategic Plan. From the Plan, "It is built on the
foundation of work accomplished by past School Boards, Superintendents and community
advisory groups." So yes, past Boards, not just this one, created the Plan.
-that "nonscientific survey by a group of parents"? It was by the respected parent group CPPS (Communities and Parents for Public Schools). It covered 37 different zip codes from throughout city. Even Dr. Goodloe-Johnson's most favorable responses were still, overall, negative.
-that the Superintendent is holding true to HER vision and parents and community members recognize that doesn't mean they approve of it.

The last two paragraphs of the editorial are somewhat shameful. The Times (and their coherts) may believe that Dr. Goodloe-Johnson is a courageous leader but ignoring public input, brushing off wide-spread parent concerns and generally being a bully is another way to look at it. What makes the Times' viewpoint more valid than the survey respondents? Our test scores are marginally better and not statistically (there's that science stuff again!) better.

The last sentence is laughable. Here's the thing that has been true in this district for years; parents like their schools and HATE the way this district is run. That more and more parents see their principals shifted around like pawns on a chessboard, see a student assignment plan that splits siblings from each other, see a curriculum alignment that will change alternative schools from the basic idea of them presenting the curriculum in their own way, and lastly see this district struggle to control its budget as it continues to curry favor with private foundations for its own purposes, no I wouldn't call many SPS parents "happy". I would call many of them exhausted.

There was an additional survey done in the last week for parents and community through our blog. It was tailored along the lines of exactly what the Board will be looking for when they evaluate the Superintendent. It, too, shows parents and community to be very unhappy with the Superintendent's work. Both surveys and their results are available at:

www.saveseattleschools.blogspot.com

See you at the School Board elections in November of 2011.

15 comments:

Dora Taylor said...

http://www.seattleschools.org/area/strategicplan/SPS_Strategic_Plan_2008_Appendices.pdf

See page 38.

When you have the Broad handling communications for SPS, this is what you get.

Thanks for the heads up.

Charlie Mas said...

I know that the Seattle Times is entitled to an opinion and they are entitled to publish that opinion on the editorial page, but they owe it to the community they serve to have a well-reasoned and well-supported opinion, and this one is neither.

SolvayGirl1972 said...

Unfortunately, people without children and many people who have children but not in SPS are totally unaware of her "short-comings."

Teachermom said...

The writer of the editorial also spelled lightning and kindergartener incorrectly. Sad.

Josh Hayes said...

Wow. This is just infuriating. If there's a bunch of local power brokers who are more willfully ignorant that the Seattle Times editorial staff, I have not heard of them.

Every time I hear Joni Balter on KUOW talking about Seattle Public Schools, I am agog that she's allowed to talk at all about something about which she so plainly knows nothing. These are the opinion-makers we're supposed to respect? Feh.

dan dempsey said...

Josh,

I met Ms. Balter at Costco in isle 3 a few years ago when we were both shopping. She knew little then about the SPS math scene and seems to have remained "willfully ignorant", while maintaining her status as a Times authority.

Oh how I miss Jessica Blanchard of the PI.

Dan

dan dempsey said...

(Are they kidding???) (MGJ and well executes goals in the same sentence)

Cheerleading from the Seattle Times
MGJ's coronation REJECTED
by the readers

Charlie Mas said...

Although the editorial isn't signed, the email addresses for the members of the Seattle Times editorial board are listed on their web site.

See if they will engage their readership on this topic.

Ask them if they have facts and logic to support their statements that just wouldn't fit in the few column inches provided for the editorial.

Eleuterio said...

I cancelled my subscription.

Charlie Mas said...

I used to be able to laugh it off when the Seattle Times were so completely wrong with their editorials about Seattle Public Schools. It's not so funny any more.

I think it's time to confront them on their ignorance and blindness.

Send them emails that dispute both their facts and their findings.

Joni Balter is one of the worst offenders as a cheerleader for the District. She works hard to deny the community a voice in Seattle Public Schools. Ms Balter appears on radio talk shows on a nearly weekly basis. We need to confront her with call-ins.

Lynne Varner and Bruce Ramsey interact with people on their Ed Cetera Blog. Engage them there.

I know less about Lance Dickie and Kate Riley and the role they take. Forget Ryan Blethen; he's inaccessible.

seattle citizen said...

Who on the Times is in charge of editorial policy? Isn't a person named Broadman?

Sahila said...

I wish that all of our respective interest groups would get together and present a united front to the School Board and the Superintendent...

Native people, APP people, ESL people, Spec Ed people, Alt people, Option people, general ed people, latino people, african american people, white people, asian people, students, teacher, parents, community...

Surely we have a solid enough baseline - our dissatisfaction with the Super and the Board - to come together and demand change and to set some criteria for what we will accept in the future... once we rid ourselves of this destructive super and board, and maybe force into being a Community Oversight Committee or an Ombudsman, we can work together to address each group's needs....

Only sheer numbers will make an impact here, will counter the influence of Broad/Gates money via the Alliance etc and its time we used our numbers...

And it would be good if we could get something happening before summer break... otherwise it will take months to get the momentum going again after school goes back in September, and that's what the Super/Board is counting on...

emeraldkity said...

The odd thing is that the reason it occurred is that a teacher resigned and they put in an IA instead of a teacher.

Was this at Ingraham? If not, then it has happened more than one school

dan dempsey said...

Sort by highest rated for the board to view

tina said...

from what i understand MGJ pushed for QA elementary to be montessori, but due to QA parents/focus group/new principal it ended up tech (yuck. and no wonder it has low enrollment.). i would blame that one on QA parents/biased planning group/principal elliot (not one montessori parent was on the planning committee) and not on the MGJ.