Thursday, May 06, 2010

Soppy Story from the Super

The Board meeting of May 5 opened with a story from Dr. Maria Goodloe-Johnson. It was the heartwarming tale of a teacher's interactions with a student, "little Teddy Stoddard". The Superintendent told it as part of her observance of Teacher Appreciation Week.

The story itself was so sugar sweet it made my teeth hurt. I think four people in the room were struck with diabetes just from hearing it. Despite those charms, the story bugged me. It sounded like something from the Reader's Digest. It didn't ring true. It wasn't recent. It wasn't from Seattle. Doesn't she have any recent, local stories of teacher success? And what does it mean that she doesn't? More than that, her delivery of it bugged me. It sounded like she was reading it cold, as if she was reading it aloud for the first time. Call me grumpy, but everything about this story hit me sideways.

Today I Googled it and, sure enough, the story is fictitious. See this site or this one.

Why does this bug me? Why do I find it offensive that the Superintendent tries to honor the teachers in Seattle's schools in 2010 with a brief bit of fiction from 1976? Couldn't she find any real stories of real teachers doing real work here and now in Seattle? I guess not. How sad. There was supposed to be a Teacher Appreciation Powerpoint, but after the emotionally draining experience of her story she forgot to show it.

I don't recall if the Superintendent introduced the story as real. I couldn't tell you how she changed the story from the originally published version.

Again, I can't quite put my finger on why it bugs me so much that she chose to tell this fake story on this occassion, but it does.

72 comments:

Sahila said...

I'd venture to suggest that:

It bugs you because its fake, she's fake, everything she does here (claimed to be for our kids) is fake and your overworked BS meter hasnt been able to have a rest for a long time...

She's showing that she is completely indifferent to us... absolutely no respect for teachers or parents/the community... no respect for process, no respect for the law... here to do the Broad job and she'll spout fake sentiment and lies if she thinks that will make it easier and if she thinks she can get away with it... completely demonstrates what she thinks of us as a class of people, assuming we wouldnt work it out that it was fake...

What did you hope for, expect, Charlie after the past three years????

Melissa Westbrook said...

What?!? Someone Googled a teacher appreciation story for her (whether true or not), not about one of OUR teachers (despite the PowerPoint that shows we have a pretty fine teaching corps), not from this year?

You know I get some flack sometimes about being "nicer", getting along with the district staff and then you hear something like this.

How is this defensible? And, we're going into teacher negotiations and I'm sure this isn't exactly going to endear the district to the union.

Good for you, Charlie, for following your instincts.

Hippy Goodwife said...

Certainly doesn't add much to her already sketchy credibility. I would love to see this splashed across the headlines.

Dora Taylor said...

OMG!

Again, I am at a loss for words. (And, as you know, that doesn't happen very often.)

But GJ obviously isn't. Just grab something off the internet, better yet, have your staff admin get it for you, and just read it...badly.

I still think that she's just a wind-up doll for Gates and Broad. No doubt about it.

No contract extension for her. She doesn't even TRY to relate to the rest of us.

Keepin'On said...

I think, had I been there, what would have bugged me is that she didn't show the power point, and that she felt the need to read fiction instead of compliment the many wonderful teachers we have. This would bug me because I would temporarily forget why she is in Seattle, and also forget what she was hired to do. I venture to say many of us have forgotten what she was hired to do.

But then I would remember - she is not here to be liked. She is not here to inspire her teaching corps, she is not here to listen to students or parents. She is here to do three things: close schools; implement the New Assignment plan; and negotiate the 2010-beyond teacher's contract. Assignments one and two are complete - and three soon will be.

One does not hire warm, fuzzy and charismatic for that job. One hires a steamroller who can get it done and leave.

cascade said...

Personally, I was laughing too hard when I heard her say she had produced A TEACHER APPRECIATION POWERPOINT to follow along thereafter. Isn't that just the way to warm the hearts of the teachers?! A Powerpoint!!!

And I hope she gets a hell of a lot of flack for that story. I think it shows exactly how much she appreciates our teachers.

Can you imagine the lack of time she would spend trying to craft a "public appreciation week" speech!!!

TechyMom said...

Keepin' On has a point. Let's just hope that her resume has what it needs from Seattle at the end of this year.

Melissa Westbrook said...

"She is here to do three things: close schools; implement the New Assignment plan; and negotiate the 2010-beyond teacher's contract. Assignments one and two are complete - and three soon will be."

Where did you read this was what she was hired to do?

Keepin'On said...

Melissa-

I didn't read it anywhere. I assumed it using my keen powers of deduction at the time. At the time, this district needed those three major things accomplished, and so I assume she was hired to do just that.

Of course, you know what they say about assuming...

Steve said...

This will probably be made available via YouTube, and there will be plenty of humiliation to be had. Can't think of or find an actual story from her own district, and ends up with a fake story propagated via the Internet. How pathetic, and what a sad reflection on the district.

Joseph Rockne said...

If a high school student pulls a fictious story off of the web and passes it off as a true story in class....

What grade do they get?

There are 44,000 students in the Seattle Public Schools. If she can't come up with one decent story about teacher interaction with a student from that big of a population...she isn't looking.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I thought since the Board sat through it, they might want to know what transpired. I emailed them. After all, they are going to be doing her performance review so INHO, this might be included under staff relations.

gavroche said...

Blogger Keepin'On said...
(...)

But then I would remember - she is not here to be liked. She is not here to inspire her teaching corps, she is not here to listen to students or parents. She is here to do three things: close schools; implement the New Assignment plan; and negotiate the 2010-beyond teacher's contract. Assignments one and two are complete - and three soon will be.(...)


No one says she has to be likable. But can she at least be competent, worth $264,000 and respectful of our community?

And yes she closed 5 schools allegedly to save $3 million/year, which was hugely disruptive to thousands of kids and costly too -- but then did a quick reversal and decided to reopen 5 schools at a cost of $48 million -- and at least 3 of those schools aren't even close to filling up. Sandpoint, McDonald and Queen Anne Elem. have attracted about 60 kids or so each. How is that even remotely cost effective?
Some of the schools she moved into unsafe and unsuitable buildings (Nova to Meany; SBOC to Meany), some of the cohousing she opted to do isn't working (Thurgood Marshall), some of the kids who were evicted from their buildings have had a hard time of it ever since (Cooper kids and TT Minor kids).

So how can 'school closures' be filed under a 'successful accomplishment' worth putting on Supt. G-J's resume?

As for the Student Assignment Plan, I think the jury is out on that one. It's not at all clear how it will play out, or that it solved anything. West Seattle is a crowded mess, schools are being re-segregated throughout the city, and as mentioned before, at least three of the reopened north-end schools are ridiculously under-enrolled. In fact, the Supt. might want to leave town before the proverbial doo-doo hits the air-conditioning device on that one.

As for the teacher's contract, that remains to be seen as well. Beating up on teachers and trying to break their union is currently a national past-time of the ed reformers, so if M.G-J joins that particular bandwagon that would hardly amount to visionary leadership, but more of a pile-on. No bonus points for that.

Last but not least, the fake story. Unbelievably pathetic.

It certainly says something about our Broad Superintendent's authenticity, and her respect for teachers. Or her respect for the rest of us for that matter.

How to understand such a dismissive mendacious attitude? "Let them eat b.s," comes to mind.

(By the way, if a student stole content from the Internet like that for a class assignment, they would get an F.)

cascade said...

Melissa, you might want to mail it to a couple of talk radio hosts and The Stranger as well. Seems like a great community talking point to me!

PS: Clearly someone supplied her with the speech. Would it not be nice, also, to know who on Staff thought this was a bright idea? Because it shows a certain level of competency that should be publicly shared.

Patrick said...

Well said, Joseph Rockne. If she couldn't find a true story, why didn't she just skip it and go for the powerpoint? At least it would have been about real Seattle teachers.

MGJ doesn't deserve to be in charge of anything.

ArchStanton said...

"If a high school student pulls a fictitious story off of the web and passes it off as a true story in class....

What grade do they get?"


That was the first thing that came to my mind. Lazy, deceptive, and insincere - sheesh.

Sheryl S said...

I wonder if she is self-aware enough to understand what a public relations disaster this is for her, personally.

I wonder if her communications staff is professional enough to understand for her?

Central Mom said...

Wow. Just wow.

I agree that the "powerpoint celebration" is funny.

But the teacher vignette actually wants to make me weep for the quality of leader our city has. The district needs so much better.

Shannon said...

This should make the press. Where are our citizen journalists? I would read this story in the Times, even.

This is why we teach our kids (3rd Grade APP) to consider the reputation of online sources.

Our sources come to reflect us, proxy for our integrity.

They reflect on us.

If she were a car salesman I would expect this.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I've put the word out far and wide so let's see what the press does (or does not) do with it.

Keepin'On said...

To finesse my point -

I did not mean to imply that she is doing those things which she was hired to do in a competent manner She certainly is not.

I just think she gets to plug in her resume that she accomplished those goals, and move on to the next unsuspecting district.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Exactly right, Keepin'On. I see much of what she does as bullet points on a resume.

Again, from former candidate Joanna Cullen, effort doesn't equal results.

Of course, in this case, there was no effort at all.

She dismisses parents, can't muster the effort to celebrate teachers (even for a week) and seems to have created a lot of churn.

What next?

seattle citizen said...

This from the fictional 1976 story on one of the links Charlie provided:
"On that very day [when Teddy gave her his dead mother's perfume], she quit teaching reading, writing, and arithmetic. Instead, she began to teach children. Mrs. Thompson paid particular attention to Teddy. As she worked with him, his mind seemed to come alive. The more she encouraged him, the faster he responded...."

I think one of the commenters made the connection I did: Fictional Teddy's fictional teacher actually TAUGHT THE CHILD, instead of reading [WASL], writing [WASL] and math [WASL] She "paid particular attention to him...worked with him...encouraged him..."

I, for one, am glad that at the very least the "teacher" honored yesterday was the exemplar of teaching children instead of standards.

I wonder how Teddy did on the MAP in grades four and five...

Michael said...

The Superintendent and her executive "team" have nothing but contempt for the citizens that fund district operations. They despise parents that try to get involved, despise more those that demonstrate the duplicity of district management (think Meg Diaz and her budget issues from late last year). They do not want anything or anyone to get in the way of their "strategic plan," which is to squeeze more money from those in its taxing district to fund pie-in-the-sky plans and programs for which no one will ever be held accountable.

This telling of a fake story is indicative of that attitude. She must have been thinking to herself that no one would actually take the time, or make the effort, to check out thte story.

Sahila said it well: "...she'll spout fake sentiment and lies if she thinks that will make it easier and if she thinks she can get away with it..." She is truly a piece of work.

WenD said...

@Keepin On: I agree. She's here with a to-do list. Based on everything SPS does, and does not do, I'd almost wager this is just another mind game, almost done on purpose. More disdain for the peanut gallery.

@Melissa: I think you're nice. I haven't met you personally, but to me, nice often means being honest when decisions depend upon it. That's what you do, consistently, and I appreciate you for it, so don't go changing on us. You're doing fine.

gavroche said...

Good points, Seattle Citizen.

Also, after watching the Supt. read the story (now available on the Seattle Channel online: http://www.seattlechannel.org/videos/video.asp?ID=4549), I think it's possible she didn't know the story was fiction.

Whether one of her assistants found it for her, or whether she truly keeps it under her pillow for inspiration as she conducts teacher contract negotiations, who knows? (Ok, I made that last bit up.)

But what is certain is that she didn't bother to think of her own story to tell about a real teacher she knew or admired in her own life, someone she might have met in all her years working as a principal or however long she taught, or any local teachers we might know whom she may have met in Seattle when she supposedly visited all 92 schools at the beginning of her tenure, or any SPS teachers she has since met or observed in the three or so years that she has been here.

So maybe "lazy" is a better adjective here. "Disappointing," too.

And cribbing from the internet still earns you low marks and never replaces authenticity.

Sahila said...

Talking about insincerity and lack of respect...


I AM HEARTBROKEN... I'VE BEEN UNFRIENDED BY THE LEAGUE OF EDUCATION VOTERS - THEY DONT LOVE ME ANY MORE... I have been unfriended from the LEV facebook page...
http://www.facebook.com/educationvoters?v=wall

It only took a day... it seems LEV didnt like my comments showing them up to be an agent for the Broad Foundation and other corporatist education reformers. I was just getting into the swing of things - pointing out how the Boards of LEV, A4E and S4C are stacked with the same people and all three organisations get most of their money from Broad and Gates, talking about the CREDO Report on the effectiveness (of lack of) of charter schools, posting links to Diane Ravitch, the Broad Report blog and even our own SeattleEd 2010 information - all my contributions have been stripped out, and just after someone called William Wilson (who uses a certicated teacher icon as his avatar) accused me of paranoia because if LEV were so bad, they wouldn't let my comments on!!!

So funny... am still posting on the Alliance for Education and Stand for Children pages... why dont you join me there? Wonder how long that will last... CENSORSHIP RULES IN THE USA, DESPITE THE FIRST AMENDMENT OF THE CONSTITUTION...

seattle citizen said...

In reviewing the original story from 1976, I find no mention of the race of little Teddy Stoddard. Interestingly, he is a "little Black boy" in the Superintendent's version.

I small point, but as she used this story to illustrate good teaching, why does color matter in this story?

I don't get it. The original story had the "universal child" being helped by the teacher; last night's version had to bring race into it.

Why?

Meg said...

Ah, power point, that classic way to show love, affection and appreciation.

So... the Superintendent's vision, in her strategic plan, includes in her vision for schools, "district leaders and staff model excellence for our students." So. Hmm. I don't wanna be excessively bitchy, but if she's going to model plagiarism, couldn't she do it with a little excellence (and maybe even some elan)?

Who's actually surprised by this, though? I mean, really, honestly, genuinely surprised or shocked? Being grossed out, weary or generally disgusted doesn't count as surprise or shock.

seattle citizen said...

I do hope that people click on the powerpoint link Charlie provided. It's actaully not so much a powerpoint but rather a "special edition" School Beat that focuses exclusively on the many, many educators who have won various and sundry awards and acclaim. Golden Apples, grants, kudos....mainly the warm, honest appreciation of members of the community. I'm sure the educators are glad to be recognized with these heartfelt honors from the community as expressed by the awards, grants etc. THESE, and the individual thanks of community members, is the real thanks that I'm sure educators appreciate.
There's an idea for a blog: "The Roll of Appreciation - The Good Seattle Educators and Programs Do."

SPS mom said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Meg said...

To be fair (and I should be, since I was certainly rather catty) - I just watched the story, and she didn't say it was a real story or about a Seattle teacher.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Meg, I think you are being truthful in the reporting. Yes and that's being fair.

But how many Ed Directors are there? She couldn't call one of them for an inspirational story they heard during the year?

seattle citizen said...

SPSmom, I didn't see the ORIGINAL story as about "poor, downtrodden children" so much: It was a story about a struggling kid, who had had a huge tragedy in his life. His mom is dead. He is unwashed because of it (dad is clueless) No mention of money or downtrodden-ness that I can remember. But by changing the story to make it a Black boy, she injected the "downtrodden" aspect - Blacks are, in the context of the story, suffering from lack of teacher's attention (I mean seriously, I really want to know: why is the child Black in this version?)

But you are absolutely right that the "poor, downtrodden" piece falls right inline with the "reform" movement: Identify a group of children by a) the boxes their parents check on enrollment forms, and b) test scores, and come up with a "group" of children who are suffering. Blame the system, use the low scores of the "poor" and "minority" groups to justify changing the entire system...

You don't see reformers going after wealthier white chidlren's schools, no do ya? Except as massive collateral damage, as ALL schools are "reformed" to continue the numbering/grouping system set up to inject reform in the first place....

Hence, Teddy is now Black. Somebody checked his box.

seattle citizen said...

Melissa, there are a bucket load of inspirational stories on the School Beat powerpoint that didn't get shown. She didn't even need to talk to an Ed Director. In this case, even tho' I'm no fan of the ol' PP, this one could have at least shown a wide variety of great stuff teachers in SPS are doing.
But if she'd asked around, I'm sure she could find about a thousand stories very similar to li'l Teddy's, here in our own district.

Michael said...

Seattle Citizen says: "I mean seriously, I really want to know: why is the child Black in this version?"

Its called "The Bigotry of Low Expectations."

Renee said...

This is just disgusting to me, but indicative of the way she runs things. At least some principals know how to do Teachers Appreciation Week - We've gotten a wonderful breakfast, water bottles, and books that were passed around and signed by students (THAT was the most amazing)

ArchStanton said...

"I do hope that people click on the powerpoint link Charlie provided... I'm sure the educators are glad to be recognized with these heartfelt honors from the community..."

I looked at it. It's too bad she felt her inspirational story was more deserving and forgot/ran out of time to show it.

Charlie Mas said...

Now that the streaming video of the meeting is available, I can transcribe her introduction of the story:

"I want to take five minutes to share with you a story that has inspired, motivated, and humbled me and many others. It's a direct reminder of why teachers do the work that they do."

So she didn't claim it was real, but she didn't give the author credit either. Where I come from you cite the source for any substantial quote. She read the whole piece without giving the author credit.

She did alter it a bit. She did go out of her way to make the student Black.

And she TOTALLY bolluxed the moral of the story.

She closed by saying that she thought it was a very appropriate salute to thank every single teacher in Seattle Public Schools.

emeraldkity said...

What does it mean that she has to go to a thirty-five year-old fictional story set outside Seattle to illustrate great teaching? Is she saying that she doesn't know of any stories of great teaching from this year in Seattle? Why doesn't she? Doesn't she believe that there are any?

What does it mean that whomever fed her the story chose one that could be easily verified as a hoax, a sham, a fable

Is there trouble in paradise?

Charlie Mas said...

I think we need to allow for the possibility that the Superintendent told the truth and she has known about this story for a long time and it has long been a source of inspiration for her.

That is possible. It would just be, I don't know, weird. Just because I find the story merely saccharine instead of inspirational or motivational doesn't mean that the story couldn't affect her in those ways. Not that she should apologize for her taste - I certainly wouldn't want to be called to account for mine - but it's just so... corny.

ParentofThree said...

The tradition of late has been to actually invite memebers of the community to the meeting and to honor them with their work. For example, at the last meeting the principal at CHS was honored for her work.

Why was this tradition not followed this week during teacher appreciation? There is not one teacher whose work stands out? There is not one student with a story to tell? Not one principal who could come talk about their teachers?

It is very sad time for Seattle Public Schools.

Chris said...

It's teacher-appreciation week. Not fiction-appreciation week. She is clueless.

emeraldkity said...

I think whomever made the comment on another thread that Maria ( Antoinette), is shopping at Neiman Marcus while the rest of us are slogging through the bins at Goodwill, is accurate.

For someone who makes $100,000 more than the governor, with much less media accountability : reality is just another word.

It is pretty easy to wrap up your to-do list if nothing changes your focus- not others needs or wants and especially not what is compassionate or practical let alone ethical or legal.

I have heard speakers use a fable in talks before, but then they connect it to real life- however- Maria is getting farther away from the dimension that we live in.

I am flabbergasted that no one, not Carla, nor any of her co-workers/friends seem to have told her how she comes across to the public- can it be that she /they don't notice or care?

BTW I noticed that in Charleston one of the things celebrating Teacher Appreciation week is the Superintendent's Cup- a tennis tournament encouraging lifelong fitness for adults and children.

Charleston is also having to make budget cuts without teacher layoffs. Last year they furloughed administrators for four days, teachers for two.

Steve said...

If you Google "Teddy Stoddard," you'll find a few variations on this story, with slightly different names, etc. You'll also find some versions that describe the child as being "black". It's definitely not the prevalent version that has been circulating since it was first published in 1976, but it's out there. Depending on where the superintendent or her staff saw the story, it may have been this version.

seattle citizen said...

Steve, so noted. My question, I suppose, was reflective of my suspicion that ethnicity and race is injected to direct reform efforts. one wonders is the choice of this version was intentional, and for what reason.

hschinske said...

I recently read a long but interesting blog post by a minister that concerns (in part) the use of embellished or fabricated stories in sermons: http://crbcviews.blogspot.com/2010/04/stephen-ambrose-ergun-caner-and_29.html

Seems to me Dr. G-J may well have been speaking from within this same tradition, where inspirational stories are expected rhetoric.

Helen Schinske

Lori said...

Maybe I'm taking this too seriously, but there's a part of the story that really offends me:

Mrs. Thompson had watched Teddy the year before and noticed that he did not play well with the other children, that his clothes were messy and that he constantly needed a bath. In addition, Teddy could be unpleasant. It got to the point where Mrs. Thompson would actually take delight in marking his papers with a broad red pen, making bold X's and then putting a big "F" at the top of his papers.

We're supposed to relate to this teacher, who took delight in boldly castigating this child for his work? What if Teddy's mother hadn't died and he just had a hard life? Would she have had this epiphany about her need to teach him? Did she end up being a good teacher to all the other children in the class? What if Teddy had had a learning disability instead of his sad story? Would she have helped him then?

Maybe I'm just in a weird funky mood today, but I find this story sort of repugnant. All children deserve an attentive teacher, not just those who have endured personal tragedies.

seattle citizen said...

Lori, I agree. My first thoughts on hearing and then reading this story were a) why wasn't she working with this kid from the get-go? Was it just the tragedy of the loss of his mother that sparked her maternal instincts or whatever? She literally became his "mother" at the end - did the story have anything to do at all with teaching, or was it that she felt his loss and wanted to be a sort of substitute mom?
My other thoughts were also about the other students: Were there other "smelly" students? Did she increase her assistance to THEM?
Then there is the comparison between this sort of personalized attention to needs created outside the classroom, and how in a worst-case aligned, MAPped, classroom the teacher would merely have noted the falling RIT score, looked at Descartes and told herself that "these things" (lower-level skill/knowledge remediation) are necessary, started feeding him that, and ignoring the root causes of his trouble...

That is why I was confused by the use of this to illustrate "good teaching": It is at odds with the standardized systems currently being set up to monitor and enforce strict classroom regiments.

Lastly, IF the teacher in this story HAD had an epiphany, and started giving ALL her students this sort of personal attention and effort, where would she find the time with 32 students, and who would be paying for the extra hours?

ParentofThree said...

Seattle Citizen, remember the story is fake don't overthink it too much, it never happened.

seattle citizen said...

Pof3,
Of course it's fake, I was merely wondering what the point was, and looking at some of the implications of its message.

hschinske said...

Wow, I've been looking this story up and it's actually *famous* for being fake -- it's even been attributed to Winston Churchill! There's a book called _The principal's companion: strategies and hints to make the job easier_, by Pam Robbins and Harvey B. Alvy, which has the Churchill attribution and suggests telling this story in order to inspire teachers.

I must say, the story really makes no sense: why on earth would Teddy give a present to a teacher who'd been so mean to him?

Helen Schinske

SPS mom said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sahila said...

the longer this goes on, the more sorry I feel for MGJ...

I mean, what kind of an interior life does she have if:

she needs to either get this off the net herself or have a staff member do it for her?

she believes this fake story - with all of its implications and inconsistencies and contradictions - truly shows something positive?

she doesnt seem to recognise all of the dysfunctional aspects of the story?

she thinks this story is going to be a credible and sympathetic metaphor for what she's been trying to do in the District?

she apparently expects that we will be appreciative of the story?

she doesnt understand the very fundamental requirement to attribute the source and own up to it not being her own creation?

I mean... really... what does this say about who she really is?

If it wasnt so damaging, it would be pitiful, just as it is pitiful that Harium, for example, doesnt see her conflict-of-interest associations with Broad, A4E, NWEA and political fundraisers as problematic...

Guess we just are not living in the same reality/universe...

HolmWrecker said...

In my chosen career, which I retired from at only 40, we have a saying: Those who can't do, teach.
The best thing I ever did not do was go to a single day of high screwel, they teach lies and omissions and indoctrinate our young in a negative, horribly disgusting manner.
I'd bet some of my teachers are still doing the daily grind...Not me. And not one shred of thanks goes to a teacher, not one shred.

Charlie Mas said...

First, I just can't let this go yet. It fascinates me. I keep turning it over and over in my mind trying to find a perspective that makes sense.

The Superintendent said that this story inspires, motivates and humbles her. I'm trying to figure out how it has inspired her. What thoughts of hers could be said to be inspired by this story? Not MAP, not standardized texts, not performance management. What has this story motivated her to do? Did it motivate her to close schools, to withhold Title I and LAP funds, or to dump students with IEPs into classrooms without adequate support? Where is there any sign of humility from her? Not in her unilateral decision-making, not it her appeal of the Spector decision, not in her salary demands.

I think the part of the story that inspires, motivates and humbles her must be the part at the beginning when the teacher takes glee from making big, fat red X's on the student's work and marking it with a prominent "F".

gavroche said...

Blogger Lori said...

(...)
Maybe I'm just in a weird funky mood today, but I find this story sort of repugnant. All children deserve an attentive teacher, not just those who have endured personal tragedies.


I agree with Lori. So a truly cynical mind might wonder if the Supt's real intention in telling this somewhat repugnant apocryphal story was to depict teachers in a negative light.

But that would be terribly, terribly cynical, wouldn't it?

Almost as cynical as RIFing 167 teachers on Teacher Appreciation Week, or sending the district's 3,000 teachers an illegal letter declaring their contract null and void. Who would do such a thing?! Oh, that's right -- Supt. Goodloe-Johnson did that last year!

So maybe reading this story on Teacher Appreciation Week this year is her idea of being nicer.

pjmanley said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Michael said...

One local news (aggregation)website has picked this up. www.orbusmax.com

Maureen said...

I listened to her reading the story (the orbusmax link takes you to it) and it really struck me that this (fictional) Mrs. Thompson was (from what we hear) an awful teacher. She was thrilled to give a struggling 5th grader Fs. She looked down on a 4th grader for his poor hygiene. She did not get around to reviewing her students' past records until December. The sporadic positive response she received from this one child so over shadowed every other thing she had done in her career that it seemed exceptional. (Well, ok, standing in for his mom at his wedding should be exceptional!)

Could it have been a deliberate ploy on the Supe's part to downplay the excellence of our teachers?

What an odd thing. Maybe one of us should post on a Charleston blog and see if this story is a perennial favorite of MG-J? Or maybe she dusted it off just for our contract negotiation season?

In the real world, my kids' K-8 school has a Facebook alumni page where the kids (some are now young adults) talk about what a difference their teachers (many of them still at the school) made in their lives. Too bad MG-J isn't their Friend.

(WV is thinking about applying to Cornisph for Art Scphool.)

wseadawg said...

Charlie: I think you nailed it with the gleeful (and thus "bad" - as usual) teacher giving the boy an "F".

That's the only part of the story that aligns with MGJ's agenda to scapegoat teachers, weaken the union, intimidate and silence teachers from speaking out, and bring in TFA and other Alternative Certification (& non-union) teachers to weaken and threaten the teaching corps.

This was not about little Timmy Stoddard, MD. This was yet another example of anti-teacher propaganda.

Shame, and shame again on MGJ and her demonstrably incompetent PR minions.

Jasper said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jasper said...

According to LA teachers warehouse's post on the open thread of this blog, 36 SPS teachers were RIF's this week. RIF'd on teachers appreciation week? I knew MGJ was cold, corporate, and heartless, but geez this take the cake.

Teachers should be the very very very last thing to go.

This sucks.

Joseph Rockne said...

Here is a link to Dr. Wayne Dyer's reading:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mvmCp_BOeIc

Maybe we could have kids do interpretive readings of the Teddy Stoddard story.

Joseph Rockne said...

Here is a power point Teddy Stoddard:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VrVg1Y9RKNQ

dan dempsey said...

I was speaker #1 at the board meeting. As I waited and listened to the story my immediate reaction was "my God these board meetings are long .... now she does this pathetic sham story to make it even longer. I've heard true stories that are worth telling but testimonies should be focused on a relevant topic and limited to three minutes. DeBell made this point right before the start of testimony ....

Right after the "Supe" took way more than three minutes to be miles away from any real purpose at all. This story had zero to do with teacher appreciation.

Check the SPS data for Black students without home support ... and math achievement ... Odds on high school completion are not great ... Medical School?

The obvious moves for teacher appreciation would be transparency and information, which are components of respect. If there is no respect then appreciation is a sham at best.

#1 Drop Spector appeal and get high school math process for adoption restarted... She should be fired for dragging this out without any valid reason.

#2 Let the community know about current situations under appeal:
a. NSAP
b. School closures
c. NTN contract filed today
d. Writ of Mandamas

Note the things that the "Supe" was supposed to get done might not go so well as

Two cases of "a" and
two cases of "b" have been dallied around so long that attorney Stafne has asked for discretionary review by the WA Supreme court.

A real need for:
Bye-Bye "Broad" + our "Supe"

Eric M said...

Thanks for the research, Charlie. Here's my facebook comment (actual Seattle Schools teacher)

This is hilarious. Watch my boss, Superintendent Goodloe-Johnson, honoring teachers by having her staff make a powerpoint (Whoa - thanks, Doc, I never saw a Powerpoint before! Too bad you forgot to present it!), then read through (for what appears to be the very first time), a 40-year old sugary sweet ficticious story about a mythical student. Her contempt for her audience- teachers,parents,humans, all multicellular life forms- will become the stuff of myth & legend.

owlhouse said...

I tried to let this go, thinking maybe this story was chosen to avoid singling out any single teacher here- thus excluding others or getting the story wrong. But then gavroche reminded me of last year's show of appreciation (rifs and the illegal letter) and Maureen made the fairly obvious point, Ms. Thompson is not a good teacher.

So for me, the lessen Dr. GJ is sharing is that life is incredibly complex. Children show up to school with complete stories and histories that have and will continue to shape them. There are no safety nets in place to ensure care and stability for children, no communication year-to-year, no carry over or wrap around services. The result is that children who were "bright" and a "joy" become "unpleasant" and "unsuccessful". We need teachers to step into the role of social worker and friend at times. In fact, it's not all about the ABCs. The relationship and personal knowledge of their students, teachers can not teach.

Since she has been inspired by this urban tale, perhaps our supe will restore counselors. Maybe she will acknowledge the importance of soft-skills, the human side of education, in considering teacher evaluation tools.

On a different note, I can't believe the story opens with the teacher "lying", saying that she'll love all her students equally. Can't believe anyone thinks wearing a bracelet and spot of cologne would take the place of some therapy for boy, parenting assistance/education for his father...

The story is inspiring in that it shows we need a more comprehensive type of school, better teachers. Maybe it is just a reform message. It's all very confusing.

owlhouse said...

And, fwiw, it doesn't sound like she had planned to present the power point, just direct folks to the website to visit it and learn of the fine work in our district.

Probably for the best, we didn't need her to read through a power point too.

Charlie Mas said...

I think I have finally made peace with this.

The superintendent never said that the story was true or new or local, so I guess it isn't that horrible that it isn't. It's a shame that she didn't choose a story that was true, current and local that she found inspiring, motivating, and humbling.

She didn't give the author credit, but she may not have known the story's origin. Moreover, it's not all that tragic that she didn't provide proper citation.

The superintendent never said that she was going to show the Powerpoint (although the title page was projected on the screen in the room).

I don't particularly care for the story, but I not going to judge the superintendent's taste in literature.

The story doesn't stand up to much analysis, but neither do many other fables.

The moral is perfectly dreadful "Yesterday is history, tomorrow's a mystery, today is a gift; that's why they call it the present." What does that even mean? That we should ignore the past and the future? Whatever, I'm letting that go also.

She didn't read it very well and she did muff the ending, but she has never demonstrated much skill as a speaker, a storyteller, or even as a reader. So what.

Yeah, I think I'm ready to just let this go now. My fixation on it was something that I felt was a flaw in me, but now I'm over it.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Well, Charlie, it's great to move on because it isn't the biggest deal in the world. However, it does add the list of items that point to a serious issue with the Superintendent's ability to relate to other people, whether it is teachers or parents. That time after time she comes up short or stiff or uncaring should tell the Board something.

Eleuterio said...

Here's the movie version of the Superintendent's story, complete with tinkling piano and heartwarming string section.

http://www.makeadifferencemovie.com/FullMovie/

Did she actually not know any teachers whose story she could tell in her own huge school district?