I remember political discussions about the Iraq war that ended when conservatives, unable to counter the arguments of those who opposed the war, would ask "Why do you hate America?"
I remember how right-wing talk radio personalities discounted and dismissed oppostion to President Bush's policies by accusing those with opposing views of hating the President. This petty and obsessive hatred of G.W. Bush was the presumed source of the opposition to his policies and the fault-finding in his actions.
Let me be very clear. I don't hate Dr. Maria Goodloe-Johnson. I don't even dislike her. I have no personal feelings about her of any kind. I have never met the woman, she and I have never talked, I have no personal sense of her at all. It wouldn't matter to me if she were a saint or an ogre. Honestly, I wouldn't care. It's not about her personally in any way. It's about her job performance.
Her performance evaluation should be all about how well she has fulfilled the duties of her office. It should be all about that, about all of that, and about nothing else.
It should be about what she has done in the past year. Not about things she hasn't done. So it should not be about the money that the District might save next year if her promises about central office cuts come true. Nor should it be about her plan to bust the teachers union or contract out all of the schools to corporate cronies since she hasn't actually done that yet either.
What kind of job did she do last year?
Let's start with what matters: academics.
She did not make progress on curricular alignment. She pushed Standardization ahead a little further - though not much this year. We are no closer to real curricular alignment today than we were a year ago. She didn't take even a single step towards it because she has yet to address the real impediments to curricular alignment. The schools and teachers that were delivering lessons below grade level and who are neglecting to cover the state-defined curriculum are still doing it. She did, however, spend about $750,000 to consultants to support this effort.
She did not make progress on closing the academic achievement gap. She didn't even take any steps or formulate any plan to close the gap. Our best hope here might have been Response to Intervention (RTI), but after paying this idea some lip service, she abandoned it. Then she eliminated all of the elementary school counselors who were integral to implementation of RTI.
She did not make progress on improving test scores. Not everybody cares about this, but some do. We did not make our goals for test score improvement. That's just an objective truth.
At the most critical level, the student level, our academics are no better today than they were a year ago. Students who are struggling are no more likely to get early and effective intervention that will quickly bring them up to grade level. High performing students are no more likely to get the more challenging lessons that they need either. The MAP assessment was supposed to identify the strengths and weaknessess of individual students so teachers could personalize instruction, but there is very little evidence that this is happening and it isn't happening very much anywhere - certainly no more than it was happening before. This was the promise of the MAP as a formative assessment and the student data warehouse. That promise is - as of now - unfulfilled.
I can hardly give voice to the damage that the superintendent has brought to Special Education. I fully support inclusive classrooms. Done right they are magnificent. The superintendent's implementation of ICS, without training, without support, without reasonable ratios, is the direct opposite of the right way to do it. I cannot express my horror at her actions in this area. It is very likely criminal. It is certainly cruel.
The Superintendent is also responsible for the District's assets, both financial and real. I can't say that her budget of last year was well-considered or that it reflected the Board's priorities. This is the budget that spent $10.3 million on coaches. This is the budget that was reported one way to the Board and the public and another way to the OSPI. This is the budget that reflected central office growth in the face of enrollment decline. This is the budget that had hundreds of thousands for consultants working on the Strategic Plan and had lay-off notices for 200 teachers working in classrooms. Who is a fan of this budget? It isn't good work. The District has no idea what it is spending, where, or for what. The State Auditor's report was not good. The Native American program is a special failure, but it appears against a background of more consistent, if less spectacular, failure.
There is also a capital budget in addition to the operating budget. The District's capital spending includes salaries for project managers, litigation costs for Ingraham's addition, cost overruns for Garfield, and, now, costs to replace all of the carpets in the Southshore building. The capital budget, however, didn't have enough to maintain our buildings. The backlog of maintenance and repairs is growing, not shrinking. The superintendent has poured money from one capital funding source to another like a mad scientist mixing solutions. Money from BEX II flows into BEX III and then to CEP and then to grants and then back to CEP and then back to BEX II. BEX II was going to pay for Project 1 at School A, but now it will be used to buy Project 5 at School J. It is hard not to think that the complicated back and forth isn't intended to obscure the funding sources for projects. Where is the money coming from to pay for anything? This does not reflect good work.
The maintenance of the buildings - or, more accurately, the lack of maintenance of the buildings - also reflects the superintendent's poor results for protecting the District's assets. Then there is, of course, all of the lost equipment. Then there was the failure/refusal to move school equipment when schools were relocated. She is not a good steward of our assets.
I suppose Capacity Management should fall under this Facilities umbrella. Bad work there. It was just bad work all the way around the track. It did not result in the promised savings. Much of it had to be undone - closed schools were re-opened. We have overcrowded schools in the north end of West Seattle where Cooper was closed. We have long waitlists at alternative schools following the closure of two of them. During the process the District claimed that Sand Point and McDonald could not be re-opened, then, the next year, the District re-opened them. The District initially claimed that half of the excess capacity was in high schools, then they claimed that no high schools could be closed and that they had no high school excess capacity. It was a botch job.
Program Placement is squeezed between Capacity Management and the New Student Assignment Plan that will be regarded next. Program Placement continues to be totally corrupt and political. The Policy is violated at will. Otherwise it would be impossible for north-end elementary APP to be south of the Ship Canal, for Hawthorne to be selected as the Spectrum site for the Mercer service area, or for Muir to be selected as the Spectrum site for the Washington service area.
The superintendent is getting a lot of credit for implementing the new student assignment plan. I don't know why. First of all, she is two years too late with it. Second, she utterly failed with the Southeast Education Initiative which was part of it. Third, she utterly failed to achieve the stated goal of providing more equitable access to programs and schools. Her decision to make language immersion and Montessori programs attendance area schools was in direct opposition of this stated goal and doomed the goal. Finally, she didn't do very well with the sibling preference issue. Not well at all.
The superintendent is also the secretary of the Board. As such she has proven incapable of providing the Court with a certifiable administrative record. She regularly violates Board policies. She spikes any chance that the Board might have to sponsor authentic community engagement. She plays games with the Board agenda. She has not performed well in this capacity.
The superintendent's record on labor relations is very, very bad. The Board has been compelled to read acknowledgements of unfair labor practices in their official record. The superintendent was supposed to negotiate labor agreements with the teachers and the principals this past year, but she punted. Instead of making progress on this front she delayed and deferred, signing one-year status quo contracts. The quality of labor relations is near an all-time low.
I don't think that I need to explain how poorly the superintendent has peformed as the face of the District. Public perception of the District is not better than it was a year ago.
There are other elements of the superintendent's job, but I don't see any notable achievement among them. Discipline issues have not improved - student behavior is no better and schools are no better dealing with discipline matters. Equity has not improved. Political support has not improved. The District hasn't made any friends in Olympia or in City Hall.
It's not political. It's not personal. It's about performance and her performance has been poor.
Let's have some accountability. Let's have some performance management. Let's start with the superintendent. That's one definition of leadership: going first.