I had written to Susan Enfield, our CAO, at the beginning of June to ask some questions. Here was my e-mail to her:
"I was reading the Times recently and they had an editorial on Congress and the emergency public school aid. They referenced the school improvement grants here in Seattle and said this:
"In Seattle schools teachers at Hawthorne Elementary, West Seattle Elementary and Cleveland High have agreed to be evaluated under a new system that holds them accountable for meeting student academic growth goals. In exchange, the teachers are eligible for extra compensation."
I reviewed the SPS press release on this along with each school's fact sheet and I didn't see anything about extra compensation. Could you tell me where I might find information on this or did the Times get something wrong?
Also, you may have heard (or read) that I pointed out my disappointment in your report to the Board on the Native American program issues. This is a pretty important thing to get right given how the district hasn't been doing due diligence especially around the federal grant. I was very disappointed to hear you say at the end of May Board meeting, ""I think we want to get to a place where we are not reacting to things that crop up as perhaps a 'pseudo-crisis'".
Is what happened truly a "pseudo-crisis" to you? I find that hard to believe but you that's what your statement seem to say given the context in which you were speaking. It was probably hard for the Native American parents in the audience to hear that from the very person they would think would support and help them."
She was gracious enough to set up a meeting to talk and so we did this week.
On the issue of extra compensation for teachers under this SIG grant, YES, there will be extra compensation. (Now why this wasn't in the press releases about the grant and/or how the Times found out, I don't know.) She said it will be a "group compensation" meaning the whole staff will get paid extra for meeting goals. She also said there would be school-wide professional development (as opposed to individual) and that the money for the compensation would come from the grant. In addition, there would be opportunities for individual teachers to pursue career ladder opportunities (leadership but not necessarily as a goal to leave the classroom).
It's a lot to take in and I just have to wonder what the SEA thinks and how other schools will feel and well, it's a way to pilot compensation for results.
As for the Native American issue, Susan pointed out that she has met several times with NA parent groups and feels they are making progress. She realizes that there has been damage to the relationship and is working to repair it.
Where her wording about a "pseudo crisis" was flawed was in that she was trying to say that there has never been a real long-term plan for the Native American program and rather than just muddle along, they are creating a 5-year Plan so they won't have these issues just popping up and then reacting to them. She agreed she could have phrased it better and has gone over her remarks with the NA parent group. She also said she is moving the program out of "Intervention" and under "Academics". She said she wants permanent and sustainable programs.
We spoke briefly about the new Ed Directors and she did say that each region would have a Special Ed person assigned to it. We didn't go into logistics but she seemed sincere about making sure that Special Ed was being watched over.
This is the second time that Dr. Enfield has given me time to talk to her without feeling rushed or pushed. I find that she and I seem to have common ground and that even when I don't fully agree with her, I see her points.
That said, she has commented to me that she came to Seattle based on the Superintendent and her vision for the district.
I have said elsewhere in this blog that I would be fine if, for whatever reason, Dr. Goodloe-Johnson left the district that Dr. Enfield would make a good interim Superintendent. She's a fairly calm, reasonable person who is easy to talk to on a number of subjects. (Dr. Enfield also went to a superintendent academy/charm school - this one at Harvard.)
I bring this up to report on the issues I raised in my e-mail to to Dr. Enfield but also to point out that we do have some good talent on-board and hypothetically speaking, we would not be adrift if the Board made a decision to not extend Dr. Goodloe-Johnson's contract.