Tuesday, March 01, 2011

The Next Superintendent

Let's look forward a bit to the next Superintendent.

First, we don't need some national search for a superstar. Please, no national searches and no superstars. We don't need or want a superstar. All we need and want is a competent, honest administrator. Frankly, we can't afford a superstar salary or a superstar ego. We need someone humble, who speaks plainly and clearly, and who wants things done plainly and clearly.

Second, we need a superintendent who understands that the work - the real work - is done in schools by teachers, not in the central office by administrators. The central office plays, at most, a supporting role. Most of the central office work is only indirectly related to teaching: operations, administration, and planning. The primary duties of the central office should be to take the non-academic work off the schools so they are free to focus on academic concerns. The central office's role in academics should be strictly a quality assurance role - making sure that schools and programs are doing what they are supposed to be doing and getting the outcomes they are supposed to be getting.

The next superintendent should put the central office house in order. That means getting all of the non-academic departments working effectively and efficiently. Nutrition, procurement, technology, transportation, warehouse, and facilities maintenance should be hitting their benchmarks and hitting them regularly. Human resources, recordkeeping, and enrollment should be delivering reliably excellent service. The administrative departments, including legal, finance and budget, and capital projects, should be responsive, transparent and accurate. Finally, there needs to be a completely apolitical and integrated planning process - enrollment planning, program placement planning, and capital planning are one and the same. Planning decisions need to be based on data, not on clout.

The next superintendent needs to redefine the mission of the central office with regard to academics. The proper role of the central office regarding academics is quality assurance. The central office should be like the schools' academic auditor. The Executive Directors should be able to visit their schools and confirm that classes are being taught at or beyond grade level. They should be able to confirm that students working below grade level are getting early and effective interventions. They should be able to confirm that students working beyond grade level are getting additional challenge. They should be able to confirm that IEPs are being followed. They should be able to confirm that ELL students are getting served properly. They should be able to confirm compliance with all Board Policies. They should know which students are struggling and which students are excelling and what is being done for them. They should also know which teachers are struggling and which teachers are excelling and what is being done for them.

The central office needs to provide leadership on special needs programs, such as Special Education, bilingual education, and advanced learning. District level expertise is needed in these areas because it is unlikely that the Executive Directors will have enough expertise in all of these areas to be able to fulfill their duty to confirm the quality of the services in the schools. The central experts will also be able to coordinate the efforts of the teachers in the schools around the district - sharing information on practices, materials, and training opportunities. They will act as consulting teachers and a resource for the classroom teachers.

In a similar way and for a similar purpose the central office needs to keep a few curriculum experts in the areas of math, science, literacy, CTE, world languages, arts, and P.E. instruction. These experts will help to develop the District's expectations for content and materials, will coordinate the efforts of teachers across schools, share best practices, and serve as a resource to the classroom teachers.

A look through the directory of the central office reminds me of only a few more departments - small ones like communications, traffic education, athletics, and support and prevention that are appropriate to maintain.

That's it. There is no other work for the central office to do and there is no other work that the central office should take on. The bloated bureaucracy is rooted in the mistaken idea that there is a lot more work that the central office should be doing. There isn't. I don't think we need dedicated full-time staff to work on policy and government relations, research evaluation and assessment, strategic planning, or partnerships. Even if we did, those things could be done in the context of some other work. Strategic planning, for example, can be a staff person in the superintendent's office, not a department of its own. That's if we don't decide that it doesn't need even that much labor devoted to it.

116 comments:

David said...
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Stu said...

First, we don't need some national search for a superstar

First of all, I agree with everything you said here. I especially agree with the hope that they don't start a huge "superstar" search.

That said, is there anyone around here, right now, that you think has the integrity and credentials to do the job? Just curious if there are local names, whether currently part of SPS or just in the area, who are particularly qualified to do this job and do it right.

Anyone got some suggestions?

stu

Goes deep said...

This just in from the news services:

"MGJ issued a statement through her publicist Charlie Sheen (recently added to her legal team) from her location holed up in a greenbelt near the old TT Minor school:

"My people love me"!

After questioning as to who those "people" are, Sheen replied:
"She can't see little people".

We believe they could be lured out of hiding by placing a carving station near an unidentified house in Tacoma.

More at 11.

Greg said...

Great post, Charlie. We need a superintendent focused on efficient and effective operations of a much smaller central administration. That may suggest someone very familiar with current operations, a promotion from within, if a principal or administrator can be found in SPS that has the proper mindset and talent.

Chris said...

Kay Smith-Blum can obviously run a business. A customer-oriented one, at that! There have got to be more people like her.

This is not to say that I'm all for running a school like a business. But a business that knows where the money goes, yeah, I'll take that. And as Charlie's post suggests, academic credentials are less important than a respect for those that have that knowledge and experience.

Guppy said...

How about you Charlie? Are you qualified? Are you interested?

Anonymous said...

Interesting that the Times story this morning floated Enfield as a replacement.

"Still, some are starting to float names for an interim superintendent. One that has surfaced is Susan Enfield, the district's chief academic officer and a former deputy superintendent in Evergreen Public Schools in Vancouver, Wash."

The more accurate reporting would have included Phil Brockman's name.

But hey, it's the Times.

Po3

Guppy said...
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Guppy said...

KSB would be a great superintendent!

Dora Taylor said...

Here, here! I couldn't agree more Charlie.

My hope is that the level of parent activism that I have seen in the last year or so continues and that we remain vigilant over our schools to ensure that this never happens again.

Anonymous said...

Enfield is dirty. She is part of the cabal. What has she done for teachers? Except make them miserable with MAP testing and edu-speak?

grumpy

mirmac1 said...

I second that. KSB for superintendent. She actually cares about struggling students (doesn't just pay lip service while handing out personal service or vendor contracts).

Herb said...

Last night I found myself looking at the news from 2007, when we first took her on. Googled MGJ, and Charleston, and found many old blog posts (and comments, of course -- often where the action is). Melissa having a cold feeling about MGJ when SPS first presented her. Charleston bloggers and parents saying good riddance (and listing the all too familiar reasons). Charleston parents being done with Don Kennedy as well!
The info is out there. We have the Googles. Let's do our due diligence this time and, for crying out loud, listen to our gut.

Anonymous said...

Enfield cannot get it done. Kay? Please.

SP said...

I agree- Enfield is a very bad choice. She should go away also. Every time I've heard her talk it's always supporting the party line and glossing over any concerns or valid questions.

Brockman seems to have a lot of fans (maybe as a high school principal?), but from the time he was Director of High Schools I was not at all impressed. He was not responsive to peoples's issues and allowed top down decisions on his watch, while always seeming very concerned on the surface. Does anyone have current experience with him as the new Executive Director?

Maureen said...

During the City Club Forum, I leaned over to my neighbor and said, "I wish Kay Smith-Blum could be Superintendent." She shows such passion and a willingness to ask questions, AND she answers email! (Though she does have some pet project ideas that I think are a little too ambitious.)

hschinske said...

I may be wrong -- I've underestimated KSB before -- but I don't think she has the appropriate experience. Plus, we need the hell out of her on the board!

Helen Schinske

Guppy said...

Not only shouldn't Enfield be Super she should go. Be fired. She is useless.

Guppy said...
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Guppy said...

If not KSB (who I think would be fantastic), how about we try to recruit the superintendent of Everett or Renton Public Schools? Or someone like them who has a track record and proven success!

skeptic said...
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Anonymous said...

The interim Supe can not have been hired in SPS by MGJ. If someone says we can trust Enfield or others because of their personal character, I say that is not enough.

We were supposed to trust MGJ. We need the next Sue to be entirely fee of her taint. Particularly when there is an ongoing criminal investigation.

Bird

Anonymous said...

The interim Supe can not have been hired in SPS by MGJ. If someone says we can trust Enfield or others because of their personal character, I say that is not enough.

We were supposed to trust MGJ. We need the next Sue to be entirely fee of her taint. Particularly when there is an ongoing criminal investigation.

Bird

Anonymous said...

Sorry for the double post and crazy misspellings. Apparently, posting from a phone is not a good idea.

Eric M said...

Teachers at my school got together after school yesterday to talk about this. Not one saw Enfield as a viable candidate.

Selecting Enfield would be a sign that's it's more of the same.

We have an opportunity for a sea change here. It would be devastating to teachers if we got Enfield instead.

Teachers like Phil Brockman for this. A lot. We trust him.

Anonymous said...

SP --

I am a parent at one of the schools that is under Phil Brockman as Exec Dir. My experience is exactly as you state -- he is implementing top down decisions while appearing concerned about issues raised by parents without ever really responding to those concerns. I have not been impressed and would not support him as interim superintendent or superintendent for that matter. I also think it's highly unlikely that the School Board would elevate Brockman to make him interim superintendent over Susan Enfield.

Parent

Sarah said...

"First, we don't need some national search for a superstar. Please, no national searches and no superstars. We don't need or want a superstar. All we need and want is a competent, honest administrator".

Agreed. Our schools are woefully underfunded. I suspect the board will buy out MGJ's contract at $264K. We don't need to invest nearly $750K to find a Superintendent. With enormous state cuts,dollars need to be kept in classrooms.

Anonymous said...

I have had a discouraging email volley with director Martin-Morris. I think we should direct our energies today tword ousting the current sup. It is not at all a given that she is out and even less for her hires.

MKB

dan dempsey said...

Enfield or Brockman? Maybe neither but then who? The "Learning Curve" will be substantial for an outsider to become effective.

Enfield is a define NO. Consider her role in the NTN Action Report Forgery.

Perhaps Brockman for interim Superintendent. He was interim Secondary Director prior to Michael Tolley. Remember the Secondary Director from New Mexico that came for a cup of coffee and then fled. Perhaps he saw the inner workings of this MGJ machine.

There is a giant amount of SPS redirection needed thanks to the continuing actions of several Rubber-Stamping directors.

So who will be the next four School Directors in Nov 2011?

Guppy said...

Director Martin-Morris should be ousted too.

I can't say that I'm surprised about his attitude. He has never, and will never stand up to the superintendent. Why would he start now. In fact I'm surprised he doesn't want to hire Potter back.

Let's hope that the rest of the Directors have some backbone and do the right thing.

KSB, Michael DeBell, Sherry Carr, Peter Maier, Betty Patu...Please step up. We need you now.

KSB for Super. said...

Harium does not see any reason to over-see MGJ's work. Can't wait to oust him!

KSB for superintendent. She is smart, fiesty, caring and wouldn't put up with any cr@#.

I wouldn't support Enfield- she plays too many games with staff funded by grants vs general fund dollars. In my opinion, she should finance more of her staff expenditures via TIF grant and leave general fund dollars for classrooms. Don't trust her.

Anonymous said...
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skeptic said...

MKB,

How appalling!

Can share with us what he said?

Bird

Anonymous said...
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KSB for Super. said...

Forgot to mention- KSB is fiscally responsible.

Lori said...

Anon about the buyout. The article in the Times today said a buy-out would at most be one year's salary, so $264K. I am assuming/hoping that they checked on that before reporting, because like you, I figured a buy-out meant the remainder of the contract. $264K is clearly better than giving her a nice half million or more

But regardless, giving the current SI even another penny makes me sick to my stomach. We've paid her a gross salary in excess of $20K per MONTH since 2007, and what do we have to show for it? Surely, at this level, she should have some cash reserves set aside in a rainy day fund. The taxpayers should NOT have to pay her any sort of severence or worry at all about her ability to scrape by financially until she finds another gig. We owe her nothing, and if she's the savvy adminstrator she claims to be, then she doesn't need another cent of taxpayer money. Anyone making that much per year should be able to go a few months without income and be fine.

The thought of giving her the equivalent of 4-5 teachers' salaries as a lump-sum buyout is absolutely repulsive to me and I hope it is to the Board as well.

hschinske said...

Who were the previous supe semifinalists? Seems to me there was at least one I liked the look of, but I can no longer remember her name and can't find it. I'm not even sure if it was from this last search or the one before.

I'm going to repeat even more strongly that we need to keep KSB on the board. With four members up in the air at election time, the last thing we want is to give up her seat too. Her performance on the board is one thing that so far DOES seem to be working. I don't think we can afford to let it go.

Helen Schinske

mirmac1 said...

The only risk with volunteering KSB for the job is...she trusts Enfield! Ugh, how could she be so blind?!

Herb said...

KUOW is discussing the super situation on The Conversation at noon today. (not reflected on their website last I checked, but thet just announced it again.)
They're asking for opinions NOW on their feedback line: 206-221-3663.

Anonymous said...

On the federal bloated program level, 82 federal programs just to improve teacher quality. Grab your easy money now !

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703749504576172942399165436.html?mod=WSJ_WSJ_US_News_3

Public School Parent

Anonymous said...
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Joanna said...

Getting a great superintendent in short time will be difficult. I don't have any great ideas at the moment. So far none of the names mentioned seem to be actually qualified or people I would trust without a lot more vetting. Hopefully, the recent revelations will help move the politics of the District to a more in-the-interest-of-the-public and schools and away from what is good for business. Business can profit from a well-educated workforce, but should not be the driving factor. The problems are deeper than just the Superintendent and she should not stay very much longer.

However, I would be concerned that if she isn't removed she and this one situation will remain the subject, overshadowing many of the other issues. I'm sure that if a few of the others who are still working there remain, firing her will do little good, unless the new hire was willing to really shake things up.

The only reason I would be hesitant to fire her immediately is that at least she is a known quantity-good or bad. A new hire under these same circumstances may not be any better and less known. Maybe we should make her work for her money until a good decision can be had. Should this Board be the one to do the hiring of a new Superintendent? I am surprised to hear myself question immediately firing her.

These people who get buy outs still leave wealthy. Is this Board qualified to hire?

Salander said...

The NE area high school at which I teach has been handed a budget that cuts 4.9 teachers without cutting the number of students.

In the past few years (EVERY year)when teaching positions have been cut we have been able to buy back some teaching time out of our supplies budget. Of course, that is no longer an option as their is now no supply money left.

This entire crew of current administration makes me sick.

How dare they! Who do they think they are to continue funding their pet projects while stacking our classrooms to the rafters.

Anonymous said...

Principal King at Lowell has been out recently for "superintendent training". Not totally sure what that means but an interesting coincidence.

Maureen said...

I think we should make some attempt to think outside of the Seattle edu-wonk bubble we all live in. A new Superintendent will have to at least pass the smell test for the powers that be in Seattle Education. That includes, much as some here might not like it, at least some of the people at Gates, A4Ed, LEV The Times, etc. They may (or may not) be somewhat cowed by the current situation, but they are the ones with the money and the public ear. An interim appointment may be a chance to bypass them, but it seems to me that any sort of search ('national' or not) for a permanent replacement will have to involve them to some extent. I think the trick will be to make their influence public and make sure they aren't manipulating things outside of the public view.

Not even the SCPTSA has weighed in on this and they may have more influence on the general less- informed public than this blog. And is the union setting up to do something?

Anonymous said...

"I'm reserving judgment for our conversation tomorrow,"
Harem Martin-Morris said Monday.

Seattle times front page story today

MKB

none1111 said...

Should this Board be the one to do the hiring of a new Superintendent? I am surprised to hear myself question immediately firing her.

This has been my worry for the past couple days, and I've been reluctant to even post it.

Everyone listen-up. If the supe is replaced right now, guess who gets to make that decision? The current board! And while KSB may be a great director, she's just one voice. Michael is probably not going to do anything stupid at this point, so that's two. Betty is a wild card, but at best that's three. The other four can vote as a block and bring in whoever they (or their financiers) want. My gut says that they will be heavily influenced by the political insiders who are hell-bent on controlling our district. Why would that change now? While some of you might feel it can't get any worse that MGJ, that's no sure bet. Can anyone say: Don Nielson?

I think I still prefer to see MGJ (and a bunch of her minions) gone ASAP, merely because opportunities like this don't come along very often, but there is definitely a danger here that most people are ignoring. Out of the fire...

Joanna said...

Principal King might be an interesting choice. With any candidate vision, understanding the system and insight about how to make it work, and a strong sense of bringing people together with an ability to withstand pressure from a lot of groups to make good decisions are all important. Oh and a willingness to be transparent. This takes real confidence.

Anonymous said...

It would take months to hire a new super, well past the Nov elections.

Po3

Chris said...

Wow, I was just googling-up Harium to see who he is connected to and I found this quote about the wack-job who ran against him:

"Blomstrom's stated reason for running for School Board is to bring attention to what he calls the "Seattle Mafia" — sinister corporations and community leaders he believes have corrupted the school system. That's most of what he addressed during the show, saying closing schools was "a sham" and that corporations have virtually privatized public schools. He opposes the Washington Assessment of Student Learning and said it isn't fair that public-school students have to take it while private-school students don't. And he said corruption taints school levies because school officials "play so many games" about what happens to the money.

Doesn't sound so wacky now, does it?

"

Chris said...

should attribute the above to seattle times:
http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/education/seaschoolnotes.html

Anonymous said...

What a simple minded post! When will start thinking beyond "grade level" and towards individuals? The needs of every student is so much more than a "grade level expectation". The idea that a superintendent will check every student's IEP is also ridiculous. What would that look like? What if their IEP was stupid (many of them are in fact stupidly written at a 1 hour meeting)? Would you like your student's entire educational life be based on a 1 hour meeting? I'm sure you wouldn't. Believe it or not, IEPs are mostly dictated by the district, and are NOT the most important thing to students with disabilities. Imagine all those students with disabilities in the south end, all potentially acing their IEPs. Who cares that they aced their IEPs... when none of them are capable enough to graduate? Much more important is that students with IEP's should be making progress in general education and have access to everything that all other students get. Much more important is that general educators take responsibility for ALL students. This is not happening today.

parent

John said...

Chris, that is really beautiful.

Anonymous said...

I vote for Carla Santorno. She was great, she is qualified, she knows the district, and she is local. I realize that the kill-and-drill math people don't like her because she doesn't want to return to stone age math, but that should not be the only consideration. I had many dealings with her and I believe her to be a person of high integrity and someone who can relate well to all the constiuencies.

Another Parent.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Sorry did not sign above post:

Po3

Anonymous said...

I do not think MJG should be fired. She should be improved. The board needs to force more accountability, and be more responsible for levels below the superintendent. Promoting one of her lackeys like Ensfield isn't going to change anything. KSB doesn't have widespread appeal nor common sense. At one community meeting she said she foreign language immersion schools and sports were the highest priority, and could not be touched in the budgeting process. Certainly she has a HUGE problem setting priorities or relating the real problems most families in the district really encounter. I don't even think she is a capable board member. She ran a clothing store. So what? Schools aren't clothing stores, right?

Notably Olchefski had to lose 35 million in a single year to be dismissed. While serious, this is a much smaller amount and one that was at a much lower level. 3 levels down is indeed a ways to go. No, superintendents don't know what every principal is doing. They will not be able to know if they are too corrupt. And what about Fred Stephens? Where is the hue and cry over him? He is in much more of a responsible position than MJG, his hands seem as dirty, and he as incapable as anyone else. Where is the cry for his ouster?

district observer

Jan said...

District Observer:

I think you are DEAD wrong. Remember -- this is the only loss we KNOW about. Who knows what else is out there, but she has played fast and loose with ethics on the MAP contract, did a horrible job of negotiating the STEM contract (and because bloggers, BLOGGERS, for petes sake, actually read the drecky thing, the Board had to revote to approve it later). The thing with the $7,000 party? Closing and then reopening schools, at a huge cost? No transportation savings (at least none that she has ever been able to report -- because she doesn't do the reports). No effect from all the dollars poured into the SE Initiative, which she basically abandoned? Under her reign, we have lost a LOT more than the Potter millions. And, since the auditor says the books are so bad they can't tell whether District assets are missing or mismanaged, who KNOWS how big the problem REALLY is?

Face it. She is a terrible manager of District assets. As Sahila noted, she really doesn't care. She didn't come here to manage the District. She came to "reform" it -- money and "little people" be damned. The Board should have declined to extend her contract last June. Except for KSB and Betty Patu, they were all too spineless to stop being nice and be good stewards of Seattle's children.

Moreover, you cannot "improve" someone unless they acknowledge they need to be improved. As MGJ herself has noted, she has never failed. She does not lose sleep. She does not worry. Evidently, that gets left for others -- you know, like parents whose kids are in buildings that will collapse in a major earthquake, parents of Southeast Seattle special ed kids, parents trying to figure out how to get their kids to school next year, given transportation cuts. I suspect her idea of improvement would be along the lines of firing a bunch of people below her, because she can (nope -- no sleep lost there either).

And Stephens -- well we would all be happy to rail at Stephens, but he is hiding behing the Department of Commerce phones, and is pretty much untouchable, unless Gary Locke and/or Obama do the right thing and show him the door.

Patrick said...

Anonymous, I resent the phrase "drill and kill". There are lots of things in life you have to practice in order to achieve competence. Math is one of them. That doesn't have to kill the subject.

NoamG said...

Enfield would be a very bad idea. She is useless and never answers and relevant and pertinent questions. Ever. "I will get back to you".

KSB is an interesting idea. She DOES answer email, I suppose. Does that qualify her? I was disappointed with her analysis of the TFA situation- very businesslike without really thinking about the people on the ground. I think she trusts enfield cause they are both rather perky 40 somethings. But I do trust KSB much more than Enfield.

Phil Brockman is my choice for an interim. I am biased- he was my principal for 6 years. And he was great- he let teachers teach and be innovative (no relation to our new eval system). He was efficient, maintained relations with the important communities, and yes, he didn't rock the boat much. I think that is very very important, especially now. Charlie's post was very wise- and after reading I think Phil is definitely the right person for the job.

Anonymous said...

NoamG

From what I hear Ballard HS for kids with special needs wasn't such a great place during Brockman's time and now that he is ed director there's still not much change. That makes him part of the problem, not part of the solution. There is too much cronyism already in the enfield crowd.

Northend parent

Anonymous said...
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wseadawg said...

Did Magic Johnson shoot too many free throws? I agree with Patrick: "Drill and Kill" is about the dumbest phrase in Education. Let's examine that phrase, shall we? So if we drill something too much, then what? The kids will get worse at it?

Or, is that phrase the perfect little jingle for reformers to make hard work sound regimented and boring, thus "killing" inspiration, as though "Discovery Math" with butterflies and sunshine will be so "enlightening."

Any worthwhile pursuit requires practice, and lots of it. "Drill and Kill" is a slogan used by charlatans to hock their wares. Why not instead say, "Here! Take the Easy Way out!" So character-building & skill-building, isn't it?

Absurd.

curiousreader said...

I can't help thinking of the "inside" person who mentioned on another thread that phones/emails/computers are still be monitored and questions asked as to who might have talked to the SAO. They mentioned Mr. English I believe as one who is on a crusade to stop further insider "leaks".
I keep coming back to the question of why would he/they be so upset about what has already been publicized. It's too late - the horse is out of the barn and the doors are burned off the hinges.

So that leads me to conclude, lacking other information, that there are other issues that have NOT been brought to the light of day - some other aspect to this story that is still lurking out there. Mr. English and others must be panicked it will be discovered.

What that also tells me is that it makes ZERO sense for anyone currently associated with the district to be appointed as interim supe - there needs to be an appointee with zero baggage, whose only agenda will be to turn the lights on all the corners at SPS that are still lurking in the dark.

Maureen said...

Anon, Who is Tom Murphy?

Anonymous said...

I was at a conference where Dr. Marshall was the keynote speaker, a very impressive man. I do not know if he is either available or interested, but he would be a good superintendent to deal with our achievement gap problems. He was a teacher for many years, and has very innovative and effective ideas for getting at risk kids to graduate and go to college. He is the founder of the Omega Club in San Francisco. He had the idea to start this club after running into his former students (he was a middle school math teacher, I think), and being appalled and heart broken that so many of them ended up as drop outs with drugs and criminal problems; so he started a club to offer kids without familial and social support an alternative to the gangs

http://www.street-soldiers.org/programs_bio1.htm

SPS Parent

Anonymous said...
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none1111 said...

Enfield would be a very bad idea. She is useless and never answers and relevant and pertinent questions. Ever. "I will get back to you".

My experience dealing with Enfield has been quite different. I've gotten candid replies in person and by email to my questions, and seen action when she directed a member of her staff to follow up on an issue I brought up.

I've been impressed with her from what I've seen personally, but I'm not ready to jump on any bandwagons, especially because so many others here do not seem to like her. That's troubling.

Yes, I know Dan has some pet issues with her, and I do agree that some of what she has done was Not Good. But... how much of this is her own doing vs. working for MGJ? i.e. how far can you push against your boss? I think it's difficult to make that call either way. There's really no way to know until or unless they are in charge.

I know for a fact that some time back one staff member disagreed with one of MGJ's marching orders, and yet they had to actively sell it to the public. It was really painful to watch, and yet this staff person is a good person that we would be far worse off without.

Never forget that MGJ runs a dictatorship, which means it's hard to know which of her staff can be trusted. That may very well mean that the entire house needs to be cleaned out, but that has it's own set of problems. We may want to shut down a lot of BS programs and initiatives, but we do need to keep the district running, and that requires institutional knowledge.

Anonymous said...

@Maureen,

The former Super of Federal Way Schools.

Anonymous said...
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Chris said...

Now I'm thinking I want someone who can achieve complete and total financial transparency. I don't know who that person is, but I don't think we should have to go outside seattle/puget sound. This is an interim need - I suspect it is easier to maintain transparency than to get there in the first place. However, I would accept such a person as a permanent superintendent if they did a good job and a strong CAO were available. I say we keep Dr. Enfield as CAO long enough for her to show us what she is like without Goodloe-Johnson, and whether she can withstand the new era of transparency.

Lori said...

While I don't like the phrase "drill and kill," I do think mastery of basics math facts is something we should strive for for our children.

Watching my 2nd grader's frustrations with EveryDay Math (hey, this week, we're doing Geometry! Next week it's Algebra! Then we'll do some Multiplication, and don't worry that you haven't memorized times tables yet...), I can only say that I'd prefer "Drill and Kill" over "Diffuse and Confuse" any day.

And yes, I am coining that phrase: diffuse and confuse. Use it often and use it widely. EDM scatters concepts around widely and thinly, which results in confusion and lack of mastery.

(sorry to be so off topic... then again, maybe a change in administration will allow some local control over how math is taught..)

none1111 said...

I say we keep Dr. Enfield as CAO long enough for her to show us what she is like without Goodloe-Johnson, and whether she can withstand the new era of transparency.

I think this sums up my feeling as well. I don't want to gut the entire system without anything in place to hold it up.

And I hope we're not counting our chicks too early. I don't even trust that the Board will necessarily do the right thing, but I am hopeful.

Anonymous said...

I wonder how much the Seattle community owns the K-12 mess that we are in? I acknowledge that I own part of this.

Across the country, there are urban districts with better academic results than Seattle while having more challenges than our community. I've observed our community swings back and forth on the type of Board members we elect who then in turn hire their Superintendent of choice. Back and forth the pendulum swings. Centralize vs.decentralize; standardize vs. no standard; alignment vs. freedom and flexibility; CEO vs. Principals. I've heard that "This too shall pass" is a common saying in our Seattle community.

WE (Yes,I am one who have waffled)are fond of the latest and greatest, the "shiny new toy". We, as a community are fickle or have unrealistic expectations of our leaders and of ourselves. Longevity is the key! Educators know that patience is virtue. We allow for mistakes; it is a valuable part of the learning process.

I agree with all the comments regarding compentency, transparency, accountability, etc. However, does the Seattle community truly care about K-12? If so, why is it that such an affluent city, full of educated, talented people can't seem to put the right leaders to run our district. Surely, it can't be due to corporatate conspiracy or simply politics.

I wonder how our community can help recruit and retain good leaders. What structures do we need inside and OUTSIDE of the District. I hear this is one of the issues the district is struggling with in their current district plan.

A friend to Seattle

Maureen said...

I hope we're not counting our chicks too early

Me too, I'm afraid we're underestimating the power of the powers that be. But it's hard to judge the implication of the Times editorial (was that writing passed down for them to put on the wall?) And then there is the question of all the things the Board may know that we have only begun to suspect.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if the District would be open to the idea of having concerned citizens with skills in certain area to help out? "I've got skills!" I'm spending time blogging so I guess I can pick up the phone and ask Enfield where she needs help in. A lot of us volunteer at our schools. Why can't we volunteer at the central Office? I would think this would also help with the transparency, communicaty engagement and accountability issues.

Any insiders care to share their thoughts about this idea?

A Friend of Seattle

Everett? said...

How about the Everett Superintendent?

Central Mom said...

Folks, the board isn't taking a vote from the community on who to name Interim (though I certainly expect a place at the table for parents, teachers and community when a permanent replacement process is in place.)

Will MGJ be gone this week one way or another? No doubt, and with that announcement will come the naming of the interim. No board would remove its leader without naming an interim.

That means Enfield, almost certainly, because she is "next in line". I am saying this as a pragmatist, not necessarily as a supporter or non-supporter of Enfield. My point is to the smart readers of this blog who might want to start thinking, OK, and then what might our own individual and affinity groups next steps be? What would be best for our district's students? For fixing the ills of central admin? For the city as a whole?

Working with her? Beside her? Around her? Against her? Over her? What? And...How?!?!?!

Anonymous said...

Tom Murphy would be a huge score. The leadership and vision he provided in Federal Way was inspiring.

nec

Anonymous said...

No Lori, local control of Math or any basic instruction is something I really DO NOT WANT. It is entirely reasonable to standardize on a methodology, and possibly to allow different ways in alternative schools. Isn't that what alternative means? Notably, our private schools don't use the "kill and drill" methodologies, and their students are doing great. Lakeside uses a highly integrated EDM/CMP homebrew, based on interesting problems, and its students are doing great. Why should we expect so much less for our public schools? "The way we used to do it" also left most people behind. Let's not forget that.

As to the possibility that MGJ may have lost even more... so might Olchefski have lost even more than was discovered. But his identifiable loss was way more significant. 35M in one year vs. 1.8 over 3 years. Let's get a grip here. Perhaps the board could get a handle on the superintendent as a result of the scandal. A good deal of the oversight problem actually starts from the board itself. Obviously she knows she's skating on thin ice. We need a real way to monitor audits, all of them. And, we need a board that insists on that.

I second Friend's idea of volunteers in the central office. This has often been offered and soundly rejected, repeatedly. Clearly better community relations, that is meaningful is necessary. But that doesn't mean rolling over to loud special interest groups, or to those who think they know how best to teach. For example, the NSAP was a long time in coming, and completely necessary. Waiting for the community to come up with the plan, would have meant it never would have happened.

--District Observer

Melissa Westbrook said...

Friend of Seattle, I really appreciate your willingness to roll up your sleeves. But the district - at the district level - is not interested in parents' help. Many of us have offered in ways, big and small, and been rebuffed. I know marketing professionals who said they would be happy to help the district to market itself. No go.

But who knows? Maybe that might be something that could happen under a new Superintendent.

Joanna said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I realize that Board members are already deliberating and probably this post is too late.

To SPS Board:

All of us on this blog and many in our communities are depending on you to exercise your leadership responsibilities in helping restore public confidence in our District. However, I don't believe a common definition of "leadership responsibilities" exists. For me, leadership is about modeling for others specially in times when mistakes are made. Many of us parents, teachers, educators would not cast our children or students aside when they make mistakes. Instead we extend a helping hand, give them back the tools then need and give them confidence that learning is a process. There must be accountability and there must be a commitment to journey together. I'm not perfect; no one is perfect and I think it is unreasonable for our community to expect that any Superintendent is too. We tell our kids that mistakes will happen but what's important is how you deal with them.

The ball is on your court.

A friend of Seattle

ps. I realize my views maybe the minority in this venue; however, I have faith in the owners of this blog that freedom to dissent will be allowed.

SPSdad said...

Has anyone seen the recent article in the NYTimes about (the governor?) limiting/capping salary for School sup's? It cites examples of NY, NJ, and other E Coast urban districts,and lists out several salaries of same.

Anonymous said...

@Melissa: Yes, let's hope the "new" administration is more receptive. I will say though that I would also be hesitant to let outsiders in if at the same time I find on the blog writings which dismiss, minimalize and counter attack the work (good or bad) which I am doing. Perhaps a less than "in your face" approach would lead to a more productive outcome. Perhaps a "backdoor" channel? Does it currently exist? Surely the leadership team values this type of communication also. I see this kind of thing on movies between governments or two parties in a stare down situation.

A friend of Seattle

GreyWatch said...

re: brewsters' crosscut article.

I liked his short list of interim candidates. What's Norm Rice up to these days? can't imagine he'd want the headache.

Dorothy Neville said...

not Norm Rice! We need a CEO/CFO type with experience and integrity. Norm's got his good qualities, but he's a politician, not a CFO.

Friend in Seattle: sure, nobody is perfect. The issue here is deep distrust and the conclusion that she is just not doing the work that needs to be done. She should not be hiding bad news from the board. She should be ensuring that promises to the board are kept. The board needs certain information to make decisions. Did you see Peter Maier get candid about not having capacity planning documents that they were supposed to get? Did you see him furious when the "Strategic Plan Update" was just a few anecdotes about how some of the initiatives are working out really well. No data, no benchmarks, no analysis.

Sure, you don't turn your kid out into the street for making mistakes, but you also act. You remove them from situations where they have shown they don't have enough mature judgement. And Maria is an adult on a job. This isn't a personal relationship, it's a professional one. If you hire someone to remodel your house and they not only let their employees steal your belongings but they cover it up, do you keep letting them work for you, because we all make mistakes? Is it ever appropriate to fire an employee?

Jan said...

District Observer:

Local control of math and other instruction would be FAR superior to what we currently have. Look at Schmitz Park -- they "localized" their choice -- managed to wangle a waiver out of the District, and are beating hearly everyone hands down, using Singapore.

You claim private schools don't use traditional math? Many do. Explorer West did when one of my kids went there. Children's Academy in Kent did, when one of my kids went there. Bush School did, when one of my kids went there.

And your example of Lakeside is weak. First of all, discovery math techniques work MUCH better in a high performing/gifted population (seen the tests that Lakeside kids take when they apply?) and the class sizes are 10 or 12, instead of 26 to 30, with grade level differentiations of 2 to 4 grades.

Secondly, pop into the Lake City and Wedgwood Kumon centers someday, and ask how many of their hundreds of students are Lakeside kids. LOTS! Many of those kids are unable to master math using that horrible discredited system, so they do it after school, on their own dime, and their own time.

Third -- discovery math techniques are particularly horrible for special ed kids, ELL kids -- any populations for which direct instruction methods work best. There aren't a lot of those kids at Lakeside. There are LOTS in our public schools.

I agree with your endorsement of Friend's idea of permitting volunteers to help downtown. But I still contend that we will never get to the bottom of the District's problems with a Superintendent who doesn't give a fig for managing (except managing pr). This Superintendent didn't come here to manage the District. She came here to collect another "reform" gold star, on her way to what she hopes is a position with the Obama administration. We will never get through this mess with her at the helm.

Anonymous said...

The District needs someone like John Stanford as Superintendent. Although he wasn't an educator, he was a smart businessman and asked tough questions. He didn't stop until he got answers. He made people accountable for what they said and did. You couldn't bluff your way with him!

Concerned Citizen

Joanna said...

This post disappeared?
FYI
David Brewster on Crosscut:
http://crosscut.com/blog/crosscut/20140/Open-letter-to-the-Seattle-School-Board/
WOW, I left out a "don't" in my last post regarding Brewster's aricle.He is probably still way more into the Gates Foundation and other big businesses as a solution than I am. I believe that they can be a part of the problem when their agendas don't drive education. Educational community needs should drive what they ask of the businesses, letting business know what they need. These big businesses drive too many different agendas and do not always act in the public interest.

Of course, this assertion could take hours to argue and support

wseadawg said...

Sorry for a pet peeve, but "mistakes" don't just "happen" anymore than crimes just happen. People make or commit them. In an age where accountability is constantly requested and discussed, we need the mistaken and the criminal to own their deeds and atone for them. Otherwise, they'll just go on "happening" forever.

Been there said...

Not to be uncivil but....no other way to say this:

John Stanford was all image, no substance, double talking liar and (all in all) a fool.

RIP.

Jan said...

Dear "A friend to Seattle:"

You said: I hear this is one of the issues the district is struggling with in their current district plan.

Could you elaborate? I agree with you that there is a lot of "back and forthing" in this area. But I never felt, when this Superintendent came, as though the community had asked for her brand of heavy-handed, ed reform, top down leadership. We needed someone who would take the time to identify District strengths and problems, use District assets to meet needs where available, deal with the SE Initiative problems and the new student assignment plan, etc. We NEVER clamored for standardized curricula, moving principals around willy nilly, closing 5 schools to open 5 more, 110 coaches at a cost of millions, a SEA no confidence vote of over 90%, etc. etc. We needed a seasoned people and money manager. Instead, we somehow picked a hard-headed, stubborn ed reformer. Sometimes -- you just choose the wrong person. In my opinion, she is just the wrong person.

Anonymous said...

One consideration for a new superintendent is Dr. Gary Plano of Mercer Island. He is the former superintendent of Kent School District and former union president of Mukilteo School District. He has the leadership and expertise to reach out across the table.

Joanna said...

That is I agree with Jan regarding needing to get a Superintendent with the qualities she outlined. Someone who can really manage people and resources with much less of an agenda.

"We needed a seasoned people and money manager. Instead, we somehow picked a hard-headed, stubborn ed reformer. Sometimes -- you just choose the wrong person. In my opinion, she is just the wrong person.

Joanna said...

I was definitely taking some action that ate this postings. I am wondering why it disappears.

FYI
David Brewster on Crosscut:
http://crosscut.com/blog/crosscut/20140/Open-letter-to-the-Seattle-School-Board/
WOW, I left out a "don't" in my last post regarding Brewster's aricle.He is probably still way more into the Gates Foundation and other big businesses as a solution than I am. I believe that they can be a part of the problem when their agendas don't drive education. Educational community needs should drive what they ask of the businesses, letting business know what they need. These big businesses drive too many different agendas and do not always act in the public interest.

Of course, this assertion could take hours to argue and support

Meg said...

I'm probably going to invite all kinds of trouble (and will admit I haven't thought this through super-carefully), but... what if the board talked with the city, and the city helped supply the interim Superintendent?

I really am wondering, not declaring. What would the pros be? What would the cons be? For interim Superintendent?

Seems like it would be worth considering - it might get us someone with accountability to more than just the board, who is likely to stay in Seattle once the interim gig is over, and who will be from outside of SPS administration. On the other hand, it might also open a huge can of political worms - both for worries of mayoral control, even unofficial, and for local ed reformers to be able to influence issues through city government.

Maureen said...

Meg has posted another information packed but hilarious piece at Dolce & Nutella.

In it she says:
I think it will be a 5-2 vote, with Directors Maier and Martin-Morris saying the Superintendent is still viable as a leader, and Directors Patu, DeBell, Smith-Blum, Carr and Sundquist voting to oust her.

You know, I saw Maier's face on KIRO tonight when he said he was really angry. I don't always agree with his reasoning, but I believe he is really stressed out about the budget. I'm betting he will vote MGJ off the island because of the $1.8 Million. At least if he doesn't have to vote first. I also believe Harium might vote with the majority if he knows his vote won't make a difference.

How is the order determined?

Maureen said...

A new editorial from the Seattle Times: The mixed record of Seattle school Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson. begins: In the nearly four-year tenure of Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson, this page has been a fan, a defender, a critic, even an apologist.

Charlie Mas said...

My ideal candidate for superintendent would be someone who had success running a creative, knowledge, service, or sales business (architects, lawyers, accountants, sales people, software, etc.) of a comparable size.

People from those industries know that all of the value is created by the professionals on the front line and that you have to trust them, you have to give them freedom to do their jobs as they see fit, you have to support them with the tools they need to succeed, and you can still hold them accountable for their performance.

I want someone with real management training, a strict business sense, a tight mission focus, and experience establishing internal controls.

I want someone who doesn't claim to know about education, but who does know how to set and maintain performance expectations for staff. Someone who won't hesitate to fire people who need to be fired.

The central office shouldn't be about academics, it should be about operations, but those operations need to be in service to academics rather than the other way around.

For too long in Seattle Public Schools academic priorities were ignored and decisions were driven by operational expediencies. We can't let the operations tail wag the academic dog anymore.

I would welcome someone from outside the education business because I don't think the superintendent job should be a job for an educator. I think it should be a job for a manager/administrator.

Anonymous said...

Jan, I simply don't believe you. I don't know any Lakeside kids doing Kumon. None. Kumon will not help with state standards btw. But I agree, that Lakeside students will probably do well with a number of different types of books. Yet it is interesting that this discovery path is the one school has chosen. Why would that be? I assure you, parents are more than satisfied with it. The math is outsanding there, and it produces superior results. We need thinkers. Thinking and discovering actually makes math more interesting. Yes, it is harder sometimes, when you are actually required to think. Nice as they are, rote mechanics don't stay with you that long. And, I know first hand that discovery math can work well with kids with disabilities. Believe me. I know this first hand, the hard way. Sure, Schmitz Park has had great success for 1 year. Let's see if it continues. And, it isn't exactly a challenged population either.

The usual complaint against EDM is lack of multiplication drill. BTW. Same as Singapore... it has no multiplication drill either. Classroom teachers can be expected to provide that on their own without a book can't they?

But whatever, lots of proponents of thinking math that are now superintendent candidates.

--Observer

--Observer

Guppy said...

I hear you Charlie, and I get what you are saying. And I agree that strong administration/management skills are absolutely essential, but I'd like to see some educational experience as well. That said I think KSB is hands down the best board Director that we have and she is a business woman with no education background whatsoever, so who knows, Charlie is probably right.

ArchStanton said...

@Maureen said... A new editorial from the Seattle Times

Yeah, they can see the writing on the wall and have finally acknowledged that their horse isn't even going to finish.

Guppy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
KG said...

John Stanford was a Superintendent who drove the District to large deficits as he was in command in one of the largest increases in Central administration ever and to this day puts the school District in shortfallls every year or two we enjoy today. Someone like him would not be prudent.

mirmac1 said...

The Board meeting has as its first order of business terminate MGJ and DK and assign Enfield as interim Supt.

Guppy said...

Observer did you read what Jan wrote? She said that she believes Lakeside does well with inquiry math because of the following (and I agree):

A) they have small class sizes, 10-16 students, compared to SPS classes of 30. This alone makes a huge difference.

B) Kids must test into Lakeside. They get the best, brightest, most motivated kids, with involved, wealthy parents. They weed out the rest. They don't have to deal with them. SPS does, they have to take every student that comes to them.

C) Lakeside does not serve many ELL and Special ed students. Seattle Public Schools do.

Of course Lakeside students do well with inquiry math. They'd do well with just about any math materials.

Can you address the three issues above?

Personally, I like inquiry math and my kids have done very well with it. I'm not saying it doesn't work or that we shouldn't use it, however it is just not reasonable to compare Lakeside to SPS. We have to use what works best for SPS students as a whole.

Sarah said...

Wonder if there is interest from within Davis, Wright & Tremaine. One of their attorney's is very involved with the state's paramont duty to amply fund education.

How about a sharp financial person from KPMG?

Not excited about inviting government involvement.

Anonymous said...

In response to the questions about a local, qualified person to do the job, how about John Welch (Superintendent of Highline Public Schools)? He's an up and comer and has done tremendous work in that district.

-Concerned parent

Anonymous said...

OK Guppy. Do you really think some students deserve a thinking methodology because they're somehow just smarter or test better? I'll answer your questions directly(though it seems like repitition).

1) Of course smaller class size is better, but it is better for almost everything. Lower class size wouldn't change a whole curriculum though. You wouldn't use something inferior... just because your class size was smaller. Larger class size doesn't preclude the importance of thinking and discovering. Perhaps you're thinking you just can't expect much from a large class. I disagree. 2) Of course students test into most private schools, that doesn't change the curriculum (again). You don't need to test into the need for thinking do you? 3) And, I believe I already addressed the special ed case. I'm quite familiar with that. Very familiar. Students with disabilities deserve the opportunity to experience curricula requiring thought and discovery, and a range of curricula, for that matter. Students with disabilities need to have challenges beyond the constant spoon feeding. And they can do well with it. In fact, they need it the most of all. Unfortunately, spoon feeding is the usual case for them. And, unfortunately, most private schools do indeed discriminate against people with disabilities, while at the same time, proclaiming a love of diversity. No that is not good, but it has nothing to do with a curriculum choice.

Observer

Patrick said...

Observer, what do you mean Singapore doesn't have multiplication drill? I am using Singapore at home to supplement, and we just finished a bunch of two and three digit multiplication problems out of the Singapore textbook, and there were more in the workbook if we needed them.

Comparison with Lakeside is right up there with "Let them eat cake" for understanding of the problem.

Anyway, sorry for the thread hijacking.
I'm not sure running the schools like a business is possible, let alone desirable. I do want the superintendent and the board knowing where the money is going. But other aspects are inappropriate for a public agency. Agencies can't be run as little tyrannies where nobody questions the boss. (I know, MGJ tried.) Putting in only yes-men gets us the current situation, where bad news was buried so it could grow up to be terrible news.

A superintendent must lead by example. If you want ethical behavior, you must start with your own behavior being above reproach. No parties at the public expense, no suspicious undisclosed board relationships. If you want workers to take a pay cut, must start with your own.

A public agency has to disclose much of what it does. Living in a fishbowl like that would rule out a lot of what happens in the private sector.

Getting things done in the public sector is about persuasion and positive relationships, not about giving an order from the top. Trying to rule like a CEO will get resentment from the teachers, the public, and eventually even the board.

Guppy said...

Observer what is your opinion as to why inquiry math works well at Lakeside and yet doesn't work well in SPS (based on test scores)?

Anonymous said...

Inquiry works well in some SPS schools? No need to eat cake. Too bad so many think public school kids deserve less. And good-ole-fashioned didn't work well in lots of schools back in the day? Why was that?

Observer

Charlie Mas said...

Gee, can we not re-open the debate on math instruction right here and right now?

I think that we can all think of situations in which inquiry-based math instruction would work well and situations in which it would not work well at all. Likewise for direct instruction. There are plenty of examples of both strong and poor outcomes with both styles of instruction.

Neither instructional strategy is inherently better or worse or more or less than the other.

Here in Seattle we have ample evidence of widespread failure of inquiry-based math instruction. That doesn't mean that it couldn't work well elsewhere - or even that it couldn't work well in Seattle Public Schools under different conditions.

There are folks who can point out historical failure rates for direct instruction and who find it equally ineffective.

I have my beliefs and reasons for those beliefs. You have yours. Inquiry-based math instruction was a disaster for my family, but there may be some folks who experienced a disaster with direct instruction. It is highly unlikely that we're going to settle this question here.

I'm happy to discuss it, but let's not stoop to cheap accusations.

klh said...

Well, I think the math comments on this thread have probably died out with all the excitement over MJG and DK being officially gone as of last night, but thought I'd throw in another comment anyway.

My kid has struggled ever since the curriculum switch three or four years ago - the switch to a new way of learning when he didn't have the background was really tough on him.

He's done Kumon, I've brought home Singapore and other things to supplement - and I've really read through the books (CMP now) to try to help him.

When I read through them and really had to understand what they were driving at - the basic premise didn't seem that bad. I can see why some would support them, and why some people could get good results.

However, in practice - my kid's class has never had time to do even a decent majority of the problems in any of the books - and that's with homework every night. There is a lot of practice in them, but much of it doesn't tie to our standards. So they aren't able to really master the curriculum that's presented each year in the books.

Then - there really are times when they are poorly written. You have to assume a lot to answer some of the questions because the english in them is not always clear. Translating math into english is not always easy, and the authors frequently miss the mark.

The realities of our district are what make that curriculum inappropriate. If students were able to master each year's curriculum before being promoted to the next level, we would probably see reasonable results.

But that often doesn't happen. And they are promoted anyway. Then, with all the dependence on language and thinking things through in this curriculum, it becomes increasingly difficult each year for someone who is even a little bit behind to comprehend what they are supposed to be learning.

A more direct instructional method could be a real help to those who are trying to catch up or who find the language confusing (ELL and a lot of native english speaking kids and parents too!).

Joanna said...

Meg, I know I am late in responding to this. I understand that Elaine Ko works for the city now. I would want a little clarification on her role her before jumping jurisdictions and adding more layers of complexity.