Tuesday, June 22, 2010

More Schools Voting No Confidence

Maple Elementary and West Seattle High School are the newest schools to take a vote of "no confidence" in the Superintendent. Maple voted 17 yes, 1 no and 2 abstaining. West Seattle voted 35 yes, 3 no and 4 abstaining.

I do want to echo what someone else said in a different thread. We don't know, right off hand, how many SEA represented staff are at each school. I don't believe most of these votes are technically SEA votes. I would call them straw votes.

However, that these staff members, and a fair number at every single school, got together and took a vote tells me two things. One, there are a lot of brave people are out there because I can believe this could have repercussions for some and two, that enough staff from each school made the effort to take the vote.

I am a bit surprised that the SEA is waiting until early September to vote as a whole. They said they want to wait and see how the Superintendent handles the negotiations. Fair enough and maybe it's a bit of a bargaining chip for them but frankly, I doubt if they will see anything new from her that wouldn't already be expected. They did say they don't think her contract should be extended at this time and I agree. She's got two more years on her contract so what's the need to extend it now (except, of course, she may have let the Board know she would walk if they don't which is entirely possible)? She may have learned this tactic at the Broad Superintendent Charm School.

Lastly, some principal news. Ruth Medsker is being appointed the Interim Principal at WSHS. The parents and staff were promised a site-based process so perhaps that will come with a permanent principal appointment. Michael Kelly, from Roosevelt, is being moved to WSHS to fill one of the AP positions. Mike is good guy and I think it's a loss for RHS.

20 comments:

emeraldkity said...

I doubt if they will see anything new from her that wouldn't already be expected.

Agree- if anything I think we have learned that MGJ does not alter her plan of action for wind, rain or winter's cold. Or parents , teachers or voters.

However, I have been involved with SPS even before I had kids, which now is almost 30 years & I do not recall a community of teachers and parents taking such clear steps to illustrate that they are dissatisfied with the superintendent.

( people were not happy with Olchefske and board either- & correct me if I am wrong-, but I don't think the schools/teachers did anything like make their displeasure known as loudly as this)


I really don't understand the reasoning of board if they vote to extend a contract that still has two years to go.
We are a city of progressive Democrats for the most part & have we already forgotten how much the phrase ( and idea behind it), Stay the Course angered?
Next they will be saying they are looking for WMDs

Rabbit said...

Ruth Medskar......yikes.

Charlie Mas said...

I wonder if Ms Medsker's appointment as interim principal at West Seattle High indicates that she did not get re-hired as an Education Director. She had been the Education Director for middle schools and K-8s. Before that she was the principal at Mercer.

Regarding her work in these positions, I can't think of too many positive actions to report. A number of the K-8s are alternative schools, who feel they got rough handling from the District. She would have been the District person with the rough hands. She had much gentler hands when dealing with Madrona K-8. At Mercer, I believe she was principal there when a prospective parent on a tour asked about advanced math classes and was told to go to Washington for that.

I can say that she takes a top-down view on District administration and that she has demonstrated no interest whatsoever in community engagement. If she isn't re-hired as an Education Director that could be a good sign.

Meg said...

schools did vote no confidence with Olchefske (I don't remember it, but I looked it up). Eventually, the SEA as a whole voted no confidence.

And at the time, the Seattle Times reported as schools voted no confidence. And also what Olchefske's supporters had to say. It was almost like journalism.

Melissa Westbrook said...

The SEA publicly called for Olchefske to resign on Nov. 5 2002 after the $35M accounting "error/glitch" was discovered. This was 4 days after the Board voted in support of him. Interestingly, the principals association (PASS) voted against a no confidence in October 2002 but did vote no confidence in March 2003. Olchefske resigned in April 2003.

Don Nielsen, who was on the Board at the time said this,

"As long as he's a lightning rod, it's going to be tough for him to lead."

Funny how that phrase just seems to crop up whenever the powers that be feel threatened.

In an article in the Weekly in April 2003, Nina Shapiro wrote this:

"Predictably, supporters pronounced themselves saddened while critics applauded. Regardless, Olchefske may have had little choice given the mounting crisis of confidence he faced. Once, Olchefske supporters could claim that dissatisfaction was confined to a vocal minority. No longer. The overwhelming expression of no-confidence by teachers, in a vote conducted by their union early this month, made that clear. Even Seattle Education Association head John Dunn, an Olchefske critic, was surprised when 85 percent of them voted in favor of seeing the superintendent ousted. I was kind of awed by the consensus, Dunn says."

Here's the URL for the article; c

http://www.seattleweekly.com/content/printVersion/160808

From another Seattle Weekly article in Nov. 2002:

"As Anderson reports, the state auditor's office has been warning the district for years that it has major problems with its budgets and math, but the district seemed lax and disinterested in fixing the problems. The scope of the new budget meltdown was apparently hidden from the school board and downplayed internally. But there is no excuse for a financial mistake this massive, one that, on its face, suggests that people were either lying, cheating, or asleep at the wheel. Or all three.

At the very least, it screams out that internal systems are in chaos and that managers collectively are incompetent and fiscally reckless. The district's only defense is that the funds weren't misused. But that doesn't wash. Maybe no one is sunbathing in Bermuda, but spending tax money you don't have without permission is malfeasance. Sure, times are tough, but no public entity has the right to steal public money for its own use, however noble the cause."

Sound familiar?

Sahila said...

Melissa, maybe its time to remind the Board that those who dont learn from history, are doomed to repeat it...

Rabbit said...
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Rabbit said...
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dan dempsey said...

Meg,

Back in the two paper days of Times and P-I, it appears the Times may have had some journalism. {thanks for the historic flash back}

Journalism? Today none is required and none is given to school issues.

Oh, how I miss the P-I's Jessica Blanchard.

Do Times publishers and editors prohibit reporters from the journalistic writing of stories?

Or do the reporters just refuse to write stories with facts in them?

Dan

Rabbit said...

"I wonder if Ms Medsker's appointment as interim principal at West Seattle High indicates that she did not get re-hired as an Education Director."

Well, one can only hope.

Ruth Medskar was an awful ed director. Besides being completely ineffective, she was dismissive, rude, and condescending to parents (and sometimes to staff too).

Sahila said...

This is the letter I wrote to the SEA leadership last week:

"Dear Olga, Glen and Brian - according to the SEA website:

"SEA's mission:
SEA is the voice of school employees in Seattle, uniting members as powerful activists for professionalism, equity and integrity in public education."

Many parents DO NOT see teachers or the union as our enemies. We see you as our partners in working together to ensure our children get the highest quality education possible within the public education system.

And you and I both know that the best environment enabling the best learning is one based on healthy relationships, collaboration, co-operation, and respect.

Many of us think parents and teachers should stand together against a common 'threat' to the well being of our schools and children - namely Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson and the national corporatist privatisation agenda she is implementing in Seattle on behalf of what Diane Ravitch calls the Billionaire Boys' Club.

Many parents are aghast at the collusion the AFT and Randi Weingarten seem to be engaging in with these rapists and shapers of public education.

We hope and trust the SEA is more committed to its members and is doing a better job at protecting their interests by not selling away their rights and sovereignty.

Many parents support you in your struggles with SPS management in ensuring that teachers are respected and recognised appropriately for their professionalism, skill, dedication and commitment.

Many of us would stand on a picket line with you, if and when teachers chose to strike to demand good salaries, benefits and working conditions, including more support and resources and smaller class sizes.

Teachers and students/parents: two legs of the three-legged stool that is SPS. The community's stance against the Superintendent strengthens the union's position. If we work together, we present the Superintendent with an insurmountable obstacle to implementing more of her reformist agenda, including bringing in merit pay, the attack on seniority, RIFing more teachers etc. Why would you not want that?

So, I am writing to ask if you - the SEA - will support our Community Declaration of No Confidence:
http://www.petitiononline.com/S3B62010/petition.html> and bring your presence to the Community Rally we will be holding tomorrow evening, Wednesday 16th June 2010, from 5.30pm at the John Stanford Centre in town (details in flyer attached). If you want a speaking slot, we would be happy to oblige.

Please contact me by telephone (206 679 1738) if you wish to be a part of this event.

Your signatures on our Declaration would also be welcome, as would your clear signal to your members to sign our Declaration and to hold votes of no confidence in the Superintendent within their own schools, as seven schools have so bravely done already.

I am happy to discuss this further with you.

In the meantime, thank you for your attention and support/endorsement and commitment to working with parents. Maybe this co-operation will be the way of the future, instead of the wedge the reformists are trying to drive between us.

Thank you

Sahila ChangeBringer
tel: 206 679 1738
member, Seattle Shadow School Board"


I have not had a reply (yet)... Olga spoke at the Board meeting that evening...

dan dempsey said...

Rabbit said:

"Ruth Medskar was an awful ed director. Besides being completely ineffective, she was dismissive, rude, and condescending to parents (and sometimes to staff too)."

Apparently we have found our next School District Superintendent.

dan dempsey said...

In regard to the Ruth Medskar WSHS news ...

The last full time appointed principal, prior to Bruce Bivins, at WSHS was Susan Derse. (I will not say more).

emeraldkity said...

And also what Olchefske's supporters had to say. It was almost like journalism.

LOL

I remember that- but I also feel like all that was a given- going by the budget deficit and his " supposed area of expertise".

He resigned- (and SEA had asked the board to fire him), but compared to this current mess- it seemed to happen pretty fast- considering it was in Seattle.


Even if SEA ends up officially requesting the board to fire MGJ- ( for any number of reasons- and I don't think they are hopeful about negotiations), I also would not expect MGj to resign.

Josh Hayes said...

Even if SEA ends up officially requesting the board to fire MGJ- ( for any number of reasons- and I don't think they are hopeful about negotiations), I also would not expect MGj to resign.

Maybe someone could suggest to Arne Duncan that he should bring the good doctor aboard as, I dunno, under-Secretary of Education or something?

Hell, I'd help her pack.

dan dempsey said...

Josh great Idea....

Maybe MGJ could help Dr. Terry Bergeson in San Francisco with running that Alliance 4 Education kind of organization.

How about printing up a list of organizations in desperate need of MGJ's expertise.

wsnorth said...

RE: WSH Principal

"Well, one can only hope.

Ruth Medskar was an awful ed director. Besides being completely ineffective, she was dismissive, rude, and condescending to parents (and sometimes to staff too)."

Shouldn't there be a limit? We have had our fill of ineffective, dismissive, rude and condescending Principals out here at West Seattle HS over the past several years. It's like they are putting a caretaker at this school to wind it down or something. Another SHAME.

Dora Taylor said...

Adams Elementary votes "No Confidence!".

See:

http://seattleducation2010.wordpress.com/

Maureen said...

Anyone else notice that Linda Shaw's article in today's paper ends with "Teachers at about 10 schools have now taken no-confidence votes of their own." NOT Teachers at about 10 schools have now PASSED no-confidence votes of their own. Sheesh.

Sahila said...

http://blogs.seattleweekly.com/dailyweekly/2010/06/maria_goodloe-johnson_faces_bi.php

People wanting to educate the press about what really is going on in the District, might also want to comment at the above piece by Nina Sapiro