I had this really good meeting with Solynn McCurdy this morning. The more I think about it the better I feel about it.
As we were shaking hands and saying good-bye the last thing we were talking about was the idea of presenting a Strategic Plan Update for the community. The Alliance would sponsor the event and it would present a comprehensive and honest accounting of the current status of every Strategic Plan Project. There would be a comprehensive list of all of the projects. For each project there would be information on the project timeline, current status, costs, and compliance with the Community Engagement Protocols.
To the extent that the projects are moving forward and meeting expectations, there would be appropriate credit given. To the extent that the projects are stalled, behind schedule, over budget, wandered astray, and closed to the public, it would be duly noted as well.
A presentation like this would accomplish a number of necessary goals: 1) inform the community, 2) expose the truth to the media and the board who seem oblivious to it, 3) openly state the truth that the District leadership is trying to hide, 4) provide the Alliance with some needed independence and credibility.
I could easily see the Alliance sponsoring a series of authentic engagements in which both sides of District issues could be discussed substansively in a moderated structure. Among them:
* Curricular Alignment vs. Standardization
* The Plan for Intervention
* Do we have struggling schools or schools full of struggling students?
* Assessing and incenting teacher effectiveness
* The role of teacher effectiveness in student achievement
* The role of principal effectiveness in student achievement
* How will Performance Management really work?
* What autonomy can schools earn? (added 7/2/10)
* How can the City of Seattle support Seattle Public Schools
* Authentic Community Engagement by Seattle Public Schools
* The Board's Role
* Successful inclusive classrooms
* Whither Alternative Schools?
* The Vision for Advanced Learning
As you can see, we have material here for a year of monthly presentations.
I would really, really, really like to see District staff answer tough questions - asked in a respectful tone - from informed citizens. Wouldn't you? Don't you think the Alliance could bring the staff to such a forum? Would sponsoring such events alter your perception of the Alliance? Would this even be appropriate work for the Alliance to do? I envision these events recorded on video and available on YouTube.
Not only do I think that we would need the Alliance - or someone very much like them - to get the District staff there, but I WANT the Alliance - or someone very much like them - to sponsor and moderate. They have a credibility with the establishment that we don't have. I think the Seattle Times or the Seattle Channel could also host. For that matter so could the Rotary, the Seattle Chamber of Commerce, or the King County Democrats.
The more I think about this, the more I like it. I wonder if I could pitch it as an idea for a monthly (or more frequent) show on the Seattle Channel?
As usual, all of us are smarter and more creative than any of us. Ideas? Suggestions?