Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Criticize Privately, Praise Publicly

At the recent School Board Retreat, the Board discussed a Governance and Oversight Policy that would define the Board's job.

On page 18 of this 21 page document, is a section titled "Board-Superintendent Communications". Under this section is this set of guidelines for communication between the Board and the superintendent:
Communications between the Board and the Superintendent will be governed by the following practices:
a. Exercise honesty in all written and interpersonal interaction, avoiding misleading information
b. Demonstrate respect for the opinions and comments of each other
c. Focus on issues rather than on personalities
d. Maintain focus on common goals
e. Communicate with each other in a timely manner to avoid surprises
f. Criticize privately, praise publicly
g. Maintain appropriate confidentiality
h. Openly share personal concerns, information knowledge and agendas
i. Make every reasonable effort to protect the integrity and promote the positive image of the district and each other
j. Respond in a timely manner to request and inquired from each other

Nestled in there, among all of the talk about honesty, openness, and respect, is the direction to "criticize privately, praise publicly". This practice would, of course, be intentionally deceptive to the public, and intentionally opposed to honesty and openness, and intentionally disrespectful to the public. This practice would create an alliance between the Board and the superintendent against the public. This practice would hide from the public the Board's work to hold the superintendent accountable for performance and require, instead, a constant stream of happy talk at Board meetings, work sessions, and oversight reviews. Imagine how those oversight review sessions will go if the Board is prohibited from publicly criticizing the staff's work. They will have to claim that everything is rainbows and lollipops all the time.

The practice is re-inforced further down the list where the Board and the superintendent are directed to "Make every reasonable effort to protect the integrity and promote the positive image of the district and each other" It is not the Board's job to promote the superintendent's positive image. It is not the Board's job to protect the superintendent's integrity - whatever that means. It is the superintendent's job to earn a positive image and to protect his or her own integrity (as if someone else can damage a person's integrity).

Why and how is it okay for the Board to advocate for a policy of deceiving the public?

50 comments:

Rosie said...

Do you really think this way? At first I thought maybe you were joking.

This notion, that you take people to task in private, not in front of others, is so basic and noncontroversial, I can't believe anyone would take issue with it. I don't think that holding a leadership position in a public entity changes that.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Rosie, when staff repeatedly puts off the Board, in PUBLIC, the Board should be able to say that they are disappointed that they do not have the information/data they requested to do their jobs. Period. This is not berating or being unkind. This is pointing out a work issue.

That this kind of issue has gone on and on means that what the Board is currently doing is not working.

I also think that "i" treads close to hiding things as well. The district should always promote the positive things in our district but be open about what isn't working. The cheerleading can come from PTA, Seattle Foundation and the Alliance.

Anonymous said...

I'm with Rosie. It's basic etiquette really, and an old adage: Public Praise, Private Criticism. It's almost laughable something this basic would have to be written as some sort of policy. If there is criticism to be made publicly, there should be a process for doing it. A job review. A rubric. Otherwise it just devolves into pointless potshots. And I'm all in favor of "i" also. You can promote a positive image and still be truthful. It's actually quite necessary. Neither of these precludes the board from seeking answers, from directing staff, or from any governance.

To me the bigger question is why do they need to spend so much time going over the basics of interpersonal communication instead of anything of substance?

--observer

someone said...

I think Charlie's post is more about perception - the lack of public comment of a negative nature leads to the perception that the board feels nothing is wrong, everything's hunky-dory. While I'm not a big fan of public in-fighting/berating, there's clearly room for a swing towards more forthright communication.

I would agree it seems kind of a given about interpersonal communication and wonder why time is being spent on something that seems so very basic. Is this a reflection of current board personalities or a indicator of dysfunction? I don't know enough to know the answer - just something I ponder....

Melissa Westbrook said...

I think it's about control. The Superintendent put a lot of things into motion to draw lines and corral the Board. I think the current Governance and Policy person thinks this useful.

I agree, it does seem odd to have this degree of minutia in a document but then, it wasn't written by the Board, was it?

Sahila said...

this is Broad-speak working its way into policy... remember how Broad told the Directors they ought not to take notice of the parents/public, cos we only have a 'single' issue focus, and that they should listen only to 'experts'...

and remember that utterly insane memo the Directors signed in 2007, giving over their power to the superintendent... has that been rescinded?

We need to look at this move in the context of Payzant's views re how the public has taken the board off the reform track...

Greg said...

Seems to me the entire section (Section VI.4) that you quoted is vacuous and should be removed. All of the lines a-j say is that the Board should be pleasant and professional. Professional behavior from the Board should be assumed, I would think.

cascade said...

I hate to fall into the conspiracy group, but it really does sound as though A) The Alliance by way of Sara Morris B)Holly Ferguson or the foundering Communications Department or C) Steve Sundquist put that whole section together.

I agree that it should be yanked. Professionalism is fine. But the Board is NOT there to be a cheerleader. That's for the Alliance. And it's not there to make staff feel good. If staff wants to feel good, then they themselves should do a professional job and there will be no problems.

If there are problems, I want to hear about it. That does not mean an attack job from the board. It DOES mean thoughtful criticism from the board. Whispered "there are problems" smoke signals at Board coffee hours is NOT the way to run this District. Give it to us straight up, and yes, in a professional tone.

I hope Sundquist and Martin-Morris are not re-elected based on their inability to stop cheerleading and start thinking during workshops and meetings.

Eric B said...

I think there's a middle road available here. I don't think that the Board should call out staff with a "why aren't you doing your job?" question when staff doesn't have data. That's just bad manners and doesn't lead to trust between the staff and Board. Lack of trust is part of how we got into the mess we're in.

On the other hand, the "I don't have that data" statement can and should be followed up with a "when can you have that to us?" or a "I'll expect you to have that at our next meeting so the public can see it." statement. Pretty much what item (j) says.

As for (i), anyone remember when some Board members were running around filing lawsuits? It's hard to get more dysfunctional than that.

WV: panican

emeraldkity said...

Nestled in there, among all of the talk about honesty, openness, and respect, is the direction to "criticize privately, praise publicly". This practice would, of course, be intentionally deceptive to the public, and intentionally opposed to honesty and openness, and intentionally disrespectful to the public.

It reminds me of the attitude staff/administration take when responding to community concerns.
" If you can't say anything nice- don't say anything at all" & but we worked so ha-ard, on _____- that's what should matter- not that we didn't accomplish anything

The board needs to be public with efforts to gain transparency of operations for the public.
I, as a voter, want to know what the heck is going on with MY schools, My money & My kids.
Thats why we elected them. If they can't do it tactfully, then maybe they need some retraining, but no more closed doors other than absolutely necessary.

Patrick said...

I agree with Eric B. If someone really needs to be bawled out, do it in private, but Board members should politely but firmly refuse to accept "I dunno" (or "I don't want to tell you") for an answer.

Anonymous said...

Wow! The Twilight Zone!

A person has a PUBLIC position, a person is in PUBLIC, and we're only supposed to babble in Sesame Street banter because anything else is "criticism" ?

And what is praise? Is it like pornography - I know it when I see it? Ooops! I meant "what is criticism" ...

Unless we all worship the emperor, clothed or not, we shouldn't speak?

Should we only sing "how great thou art" in their august presence?

Can I bring the rose petals to throw at their feet?

This kind of thinking is appropriate for someone who should NOT be working in the public, or, it is appropriate for the Orwellian venal trying to control language, thought and action, or is appropriate for those who don't know what I'm talking about because they're dumb.

The Orwell Zone

Juana said...

I too wonder why certain given and acceptable behavior needs to be spelled out. This reminds me of the kindergarten covenant that my son and his class agreed on. If they need to spend time on things like this, when are they going to have ample time to deal with pressing issues??

Anonymous said...

Criticize privately, praise publicly is messed up.

They might as well say say "propoganda is where its at".

They ought to just treat each other with respect. No bias. No cover-ups. Just communicate respectfully. Criticize respectfully, in front of the public.

We need transparency!!
How can they not focus on that right now rather than focusing on personal images.

wv - imagine school board meetings as an opret, set to song.

blogonomous

Sometimes their foolishness is what is most transparent.

Michael H said...

Charlie,

You've lost it.

Bird said...

Rosie,

I may be wrong, but I don't think Charlie is saying that Board members should never take the criticize privately tack. It's just that it should not be enforced policy.

It makes sense at times to criticize privately. It may be more effective and help maintain a solid relationship, particularly when the staff are responsive.

Public criticism can't however, be forbidden by policy. The board answers to the public and they need to be able to speak frankly with the public at times. They need to be able to criticize publicly if it will help them get the job done, especially if a public shaming is the only tool (outside of firing the superintendent) that the board is left with by an unresponsive staff.

And they need at times to be able to inform the public that they know and understand where and how things have gotten off course, and that they are working on getting the staff to fix what's wrong.

I would think this too would be non-controversial

moon mom said...

Maybe central staff should apply this courtesy to teachers as well. Why is it they cannot be criticized in public even though teachers are regularly denegrated publicly with lies like 17% ready for college and Teach for Awhile advocates who say they are able to close the achievement gap while the professionals won't?

I think Greg is right. It's about being PROFESSIONAL ~ not just Seattle "nice." The whole section should be removed.

seattle citizen said...

Michael H, I disagree. The board is SUPPOSED to ask questions, and an injunction to "criticize privately, praise publicly" simply smacks of everybody putting on a game face.
The board is a separate entity from the administration. They represent the voters. It is their JOB to ask questions, and some of those questions will be asked publicly, by necessity, and they will (one hopes) include critical comments and questions. As noted here, they don't have to be disrepectful, but they have to be honest.

Then to say, "praise publicly" merely reinforces the idea that everything should be handled behind closed doors, all critiques should be "private," then put on your smiley face and go glad-hand your consituents...it doesn't work that way.
Board meetings, other meetings where the public is allowed...all MUST contain open and honest dialogue, and as the superintendent's boss, the board MUST be asking critical questions, and where needed, making critical comments.

Look at the apparent lack of repsonse to board requests in the past. Even when told they publicly that they would get information, the board never did on numerous occasions. Maybe a little public spotlight will put a little fire under the admin in its quest for "everyone accountable."

Omnia extares: Let it all hang out.

seattle citizen said...

Bird: Jinx!
"They need to be able to criticize publicly if it will help them get the job done, especially if a public shaming is the only tool (outside of firing the superintendent) that the board is left with by an unresponsive staff."

"Look at the apparent lack of repsonse to board requests in the past. Even when told they publicly that they would get information, the board never did on numerous occasions. Maybe a little public spotlight will put a little fire under the admin in its quest for "everyone accountable."

Zebra (or Zambia) said...

http://www.myflsunshine.com/

Everything said by a public official should be public. See Florida.

Peon said...

SC, there is a difference between criticism and accountability. Don't you think?

Criticism: Why don't you have the data we are asking for tonight? You should come to these meetings prepared. This is a hiring market, and there are 100 other people just waiting for your job. Or to a superintendent: We pay you $260,000 a year and you made several mistakes on the NSAP. We expect more of you. W could fire you for this.

Accountability: Ms. Jones, we will be expecting that data and your follow up at the next board meeting. Or for the superintendent: What are you doing to correct the over crowding at Garfield? When can we expect work to correct the situation to begin? We will expect an update from you at the next board meeting.

SC, as a teacher I would think you'd understand this. How would you like your principal to sit in on one of your classes and call you out in front of your students? Probably not much. I bet you'd prefer he/she call you into a meeting outside of class hours, and discuss any issues he/she had with your performance in private.

Really, this whole thread is over the top IMHO.

Charlie Mas said...

I'm not looking for the Board to be abusive or to berate the superintendent or the staff - publicly or privately. I really don't understand people who equate criticism with abuse. There are plenty of professional and courteous ways to advise your employees that they have not met expectations.

What I don't want, however, is some sort of censorship on the Board that prohibits them from making any non-praising statements to the superintendent or staff about the quality of their work in public. I don't want the Board saying one thing in public and the opposite in private.

In the days before Joseph Olchefske resigned, the Board was all over the media talking about how they supported him and wanted him to stay on as superintendent. Then, when he resigned, they were quoted in the paper saying that they were relieved and that they had been privately encouraging him to resign. They lied to the public because they were committed to publicly praising and only making statements that promote each others' positive images.

Charlie Mas said...

Anytime your public message isn't the same as your private message, you're deceiving the public. That may be okay for private matters, but not for public ones.

As public officials, the school board owes their first loyalty to the public, not the superintendent or the staff.

It is the Board's job to hold the superintendent and the staff accountable and we, as their employers, deserve to see them do their work so we can be sure they are doing it. If we can't see them holding the superintendent accountable then we don't know they are doing it.

If all they ever do in public is praise the superintendent, how will it look when they suddenly fire her because, unbeknownst to us, they have been critizing her performance in private. They will look like psychos.

The Board works for us and they owe us their candor and honesty. A Policy that requires them to only speak praise of the superintendent in public is dishonest and a disservice to the public.

seattle citizen said...

Peon,

That's twice you've said "as a teacher I'd think you would understand this." Do you have a fascination with this phrase? Is there a reason you repeat it?

joanna said...

The Board should not criticize staff publicly. They should ask questions, and if they are not get timely answers or if they feel the staff is not as informed as they should be they should direct the Superintendent to do a better job. She is their employee.

Certainly staff seemed a little discombobulated during the last Capacity Management work session, as did Susan Enfield. Maybe it is understandable with the recent changes in leadership. Soon all need some direction form the Superintendent.

It is the Superintendent's job to ensure that expectations are met. In the face of this type of discussion if Board questions are not answered publicly, and they continue to give the Superintendent a high rating, then all are acting as the Board desires. The board members don't really want to publicly discuss whatever question they asked.

wsnorth said...

I think some of us here have lost it, as well.

I think points a through j are fantastic and exactly what they should have been doing all along.

It is petty to single out one point for such ridicule.

All strong and well functioning families, businesses, and organizations do this - it is just common sense.

none1111 said...

Even if the Board decides they don't want to criticize the Supe or staff in public (and in all fairness, that should be their call), it should not be codified into policy.

As Charlie said, it basically amounts to censorship of the Board.

Anonymous said...

No, but I will single out the over-priced part timer Holly Ferguson for perpetuating this dreck.

grumpy

Salander said...

This sounds an awful like the prescriptive cut and paste deformer handouts that have become the litanies of "teacher training".

Peon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Charlie Mas said...

Peon, I don't think you are seeing this in the same context as I see it. It is not comparable to a teacher being corrected in front of students. If the Board publicly expresses any disappointment with the performance of the superintendent and the staff, who, in that scenario, is analogous to the students? The public?

The relationship between superintendent and the public is not analogous to the relationship between a teacher and the students. There is no hierarchy that would be subverted or discipline that would be undermined.

Let's be very clear about these relationships:

The superintendent works for the Board and the Board works for the public.

The Board's job is to hold the superintendent accountable for his or her performance. That includes both praise for good work and criticism for poor work. Again, criticism is not abuse; it is merely an unfavorable evaluation. If the Board prohibits itself from making criticisms in public and requires only praise in public, then the Board will never be seen by the public as doing their job of holding the superintendent accountable.

The public needs to be able to confirm that the Board is doing their job just as the Board needs to be able to confirm that the superintendent is doing his or her job. This rule would prevent that.

Again, criticism is not abuse. It is not humiliating. It is not damaging to people's psyche or motivation. It is, rather, an integral part of improving performance.

Where in the world did so many people get the idea that criticism is somehow necessarily abusive or humiliating? And, if it is, then the Board should not do it in private either. There is no call for abuse at any time.

The public is entitled to know the Board's evaluation of the superintendent's work - whether is meets, exceeds, or does not meet their expectations.

ArchStanton said...

I'm with Charlie on this one. The SI works for the board and the board works for the public. the logical extension of this policy would be to only allow the public to praise, but not criticize the SI. How would the public testimony at board meetings look then?

Like it or not, the SI is in a fairly visible an somewhat political position. I think the SI should expect to deal with a certain amount of second-guessing, armchair-quarterbacking, and GASP even criticism - just as any mayor/governor/president does.

Peon said...

Sorry Charlie, you responded to a post I deleted, because I realized I just repeated the same thing I posted earlier.

I understand what you are saying but I don't agree. Personally, I appreciate criticism, especially when constructive. It guides me in my work. However, I appreciate that criticism being delivered to me privately. I would not like it if my boss came to me in front of all of my co-workers and criticized my performance. No matter how constructive. Or polite.

I think the superintendent, administration, JSCS staff, and teachers all deserve the respect of being reprimanded, or criticized privately.

That does not mean they shouldn't be held accountable, publicly. That doesn't mean the board can't demand answers to their questions and that those answers be delivered publicly. That doesn't mean that they should quietly accept it when they are given the run around. What it means (at least to me) is that criticism should be done privately.

Maybe I'm not truly understanding though. Can you give an example of when criticism, publicly, would be appropriate and effective?

Christopher said...

I did and I will (again):

When a member of staff does not have data available that the Board has requested (in a timely manner), I believe it is ok to say:

"I am disappointed that I do not have the data the Board requested in order for us to make informed decisions. I thought our request was clear."

No finger pointing. No berating. Just a simple statement of fact. The message gets received and the public knows the Board is holding staff accountable.

I don't see that as too hard to do instead of the Board shrugging it off or apologizing for asking questions (as Kay and Sherry are wont to do).

JvA said...

I agree with Charlie, absolutely.

I also believe that some of the problem with making "praise publically, criticize privately" is shown in this comment thread: no one is crystal-clear what exactly may constitute criticism. I do NOT want my elected Board erring on the side of not voicing a concern in case it may be construed as criticism.

Peon said...

I concede. Christopher's example of criticism does seem like it would be appropriate in a public forum.

Anonymous said...

Oh for gawd sake, the super manages a $500 million school budget. On her salary as a public employee, she can afford some big girl panties. Yes, that means she can face some constructive criticism publicly if earned.

CEO gets taken to task by their shareholders when they perform poorly. I want a leader who can handle this difficult job and yes, deal with the slings and arrows pubicly and privately. I want her to walk into RBH and face the kids, students and their parents. I want her to listen to them and hear their voices. She is going need to some steel there.

--wanted: some muscle not muffle

someone said...

I think Charlie has hit the nail on the head with this statement:
If the Board prohibits itself from making criticisms in public and requires only praise in public, then the Board will never be seen by the public as doing their job of holding the superintendent accountable.
That's exactly it, exactly what should happen.

Charlie Mas said...

I think Christopher's example is pretty good, although I would not have added the "I thought our request was clear." dig.

Here's another example:
At the most recent quarterly Strategic Plan Update Mr. Bernatek made a presentation on the District Scorecard and the School Reports. In that presentation he said that the District would update the FAQs for the School Reports and make some other editorial changes to the explanation of the statistic "Students making gains on State tests". He also said that the District would correct the mis-count of advanced learners. That was in December. It's now March and the corrections have not been made. I think it would be perfectly appropriate for a Board Director to say: "We were told that these changes would be made promptly, but they have not been made yet after more than three months. That falls short of our expectations for action, candor, and follow through. When can we expect these promised changes?"

That's criticism - it sure isn't praise - but it isn't abusive. It isn't a "dressing down". It isn't even a reprimand.

Maybe I don't have the same sort of pride that other people have. I feel no shame about my failings. I don't enjoy talking about them, but the truth is the truth and everyone who needs to know when I have messed up probably already knows that I have messed up. It won't be news to them.

Moreover, if others hear of my mistakes then they may learn from my failure and avoid the errors that I made. It can benefit the group.

We are all struggling with similar challenges and none of us is always right.

If Dr. Goodloe-Johnson's Seattle misadventure were made into an opera it would be a tragedy and her tragic flaw would undoubtedly be her hubris. She simply could never admit any failure or mistake. She insisted that the Southeast Education Initiative was a success. We cannot learn from our errors if we do not admit them.

When a teacher engages students in discussion does the teacher never suggest that a student's reasoning was less than perfect or even tell a student that they are just plain wrong? Of course they do. And they do it right in front of the whole class. It's not traumatic. It's common. Are teachers supposed to publicly praise poor student work and then, privately, advise the student that four times two is eight, and not ten as the student stated in class?

Dorothy Neville said...

Anyone want an example to evaluate? Look at the Feb 16th board meeting, at the Board comment part. (Let's see, public testimony, then superintendent update and then board comments?) Peter has strong words and calls out both MGJ and DK for not providing the board with the Capacity Management report they expected in January. Don actually hustled up to the podium to address him (in Don's typical convoluted style). Sherry backed Peter up and pointed out that there are more critical capacity issues coming.

Unfortunately, the delay of the report meant that the transition plan vote in January was not informed by all the data. So at some level, this was too late. But at another level? I thought was well spoken. What do you think? He called out both top execs by name, but was concentrating on issues and performance, not personality.

Outcome? Well, both Maria and Don were fired two weeks later. How's that for accountability? (ok, a little joshing, but anyone who thinks the firing was simply because of Potter should watch this. It is clear the board was not happy with overall performance of MGJ or DK.)

And the March 16th Capacity Management workshop: well, it seemed to me that there was a bit more of an attempt by staff to explain their figures. I still find their figures perplexing (as did the board) but was it a start?

Other examples. Sherry said recently at a budget workshop -- "The way you drew this graph is misleading. It looks like X is held constant when it isn't. I will show you later how we present that sort of information at work." Public criticism? Appropriate or not? Effective? I haven't seen the follow-up graph to know for sure, but when and if we do see the follow-up we will have an indication.

That is exactly the sort of public demeanor I expect from the board. I have heard stories of past board members berating staff in public. I never witnessed it, but I heard it from many different people. So that criticize vs praise line does seem a little too far. All the other guidelines put together imply "Don't belittle people, either in private or public." So I am not sure what the intent of that particular line about criticize privately means.

Charlie Mas said...

I had seen both Darlene Flynn and Irene Stewart speak pretty sharply to staff about the quality of their work and their missed deadlines. Their demeanor struck me as unprofessional and harsh. They didn't start out that way, but after the staff bumbled and stumbled everything for years it became exasperating.

More often then not Director Stewart would just do things for herself.

Seriously, the staff couldn't add a column of numbers and get the right sum. Examples abound. Checking their math almost always revealed an error.

I remember when the Student Learning Committee had to review the decision to split middle school APP the review had to be extended over a number of meetings and several months because the staff wouldn't show up with the promised data. When the staff finally did produce the data it didn't support the decision. Out of simple frustration with the staff's incompetency - as much as anything else, the decision was turned back.

Kate Martin said...

We need people in charge who are competent, honest and responsive to students, parents & teachers and a board that keeps them that way. Then everyone gets along.

Organizationally, if a board and a CEO are not in agreement, then changes usually occur until they are in agreement. If they fall out of agreement again, then, again, changes will occur in the composition until there is agreement. Sometimes that agreement manifests itself in a culture where oversight boards fail to due their due diligence and rubber stamp everything, follow up on nothing, and screw the "shareholders".

As soon as someone starts talking trash - and yes that includes politely chastising folks in public about being late with deliverables - or whatever the nature of the issue, then unless there are 4 votes behind that methodology at a time when leadership can change by that vote or the voters boot the board out and try to get 4 votes in their favor, it's not going to be seen as productive to make criticisms in public thereby self-marginalizing.

Usually that person or those people will be elected out of office as being out of line and that is whether they are right or wrong.

It's quite a conundrum.

I think more audits would be more productive than hoping the board or admin are going to become transparent to benefit the consituency. For one, their constituents are not necessarily the schools, students, parents, teachers or whoever. It's more often the campaign donors and their agendas.

The advocacy and activist groups could perhaps band together to organize and fund more audits and perhaps leave the puff pieces and all lightweight stuff to others who want to make sure the outward appearances are good no matter what is actually happening internally.

Grace said...

People, Criticism and Honest Feedback are not the same. Honest feedback do Publicly (can be straightforweard, blunt, real, but still respectful), Praise Publicly, Criticism (in its true meaning) Private.

Anonymous said...

Ok, no public criticism. Let's call it public constructive feedback. I still don't think the board is capable of doing any of this publicly or privately with any effectivenes even if we built a $100+ million (think JSCEE) woodshed at taxpayer's expense.

If the business of Silas Potter didn't see the light of day and was not displayed so very publicly, our former Super would still reign.

In all seriousness, there is something wrong about the Board avoiding confrontation and playing nice instead of applying due diligence and doing its job. How long do we sit on something not quite right? Until we have a corpse that stinks before we out it publicly? Does it make better to watch the public umbrage and flogging of our ex Super then? Was it better for her? I may not like her policies, but I did not want her humiliated like that. If transparency means a bit of public criticism or constructive feedback to save our next Super, I am all for it.

- The way we go on, NIxon would have finished his 2nd term

Charlie Mas said...

Grace, it appears that we have different definitions for the word "criticism".

You wrote: "People, Criticism and Honest Feedback are not the same. Honest feedback do Publicly (can be straightforweard, blunt, real, but still respectful), Praise Publicly, Criticism (in its true meaning) Private."

If criticism - in what you believe its true meaning to be - is something other than honest feedback, then I don't think it is appropriate in private either.

KG said...

Duggan Harman is a good example of "I do not have the data at this time". Though we should feel good that Bob Boesche has great confidence in him and respects him.
Also good to know that after 2 or 3 minutes Sherri Carr and Debell were smitten with Boesche. What a bunch of Bolongna. Boesche Respects Duggan for not knowing the data that he his hiding? It looks like more of the same.

Charlie Mas said...

I spoke to Director DeBell about this tonight and he saw it the same way I did. I think that language will be dropped from the final policy.

mirmac1 said...

I heard some constructive criticism from DeBelle tonight. Nobody ran crying to the little boy's room.

joanna said...

Ok, yes the Board should ask questions and if there are math errors they can certainly point it out. Again, after a staff presentation they certainly can in public direct the Superintendent to provide additional follow up material to them and to the public and express their expectations for the future. Remarks should be directed at the Superintendent.

But if, in fact, staff continue to fail to provide the information in a timely matter, and the Board gives the Superintendent good to great marks, then all are acting in accordance with the Board's desires. Again, in the case of Potter, the Board did not want to hear or see what was happening. And, when Potter was directly testifying to misdeeds in their face, they smiled and praised the man. I'm not saying that there are not sometimes incompetent staff, but I think often hard-working and smart staff are doing their best to present the material in a way that they have been directed, not necessarily in the manner they would present it. Often this is due to both the politics of the Board, their relationship with the Superintendent, and the agenda of the Superintendent.

Don't let the Board off here. They have the power to insist on a certain level of performance by the Superintendent and the Superintendent's staff. They hire and evaluate the Superintendent. If the Board is doing their job well and in a meaningful way for the public good, what I would consider real public criticism of staff beyond requesting more information should not occur. The recent ratings of the now-gone Superintendent reveal that she was accomplishing the goals that were important to the Board.

Jan said...

I hate to say it -- but Joanna is right. When the Board extends contracts, compliments the Superintendent in public, approves everything she asks for and is doing -- there is no other conclusion that can be drawn, other than that the Superintendent is doing what the Board wants. And it makes it darn hard then to pull off a firing "for cause" -- which is part of the reason we couldn't, and didn't.

Some of the Board has never seemed enthusiastic about the last administration (Kay and Betty). A couple seem to have come around, or are doing do (Michael and Sherry).

Steve seems clueless to me, and Harium's new total silence leads me to believe that MGJ must have taken the remote control for his unit with her when she left -- or maybe she was in such a hurry that she just didn't teach anyone else how to use it.

We maybe now have a "working" coalition of 4 directors -- 3 of whom are not up for election, and thus are clearly not "reformed" only for the campaign period.

Let's hope they can get something accomplished.