Saturday, March 05, 2011

Now, Everyone Has an Opinion

I checked Rep. Reuven Carlyle's blog as (1) he actually keeps it up, (2) he actually answers comments and (3) he cares about public education. Do I agree with all he likes/puts forth? Nope, but I have found him to be someone who listens to input.

Here's his latest on the school district. He graciously gives a shout-out to the bloggers, parents and others who have been diligent on this story. He is suggesting an education summit. The responses seem lukewarm and who can blame them? These summits, blue-ribbon committees and reports never seem to go anywhere.

My suggestion was for parents (maybe via PTA or any other group), teachers (via SEA), principals (via PASS) and any other groups convene in their groups and have three tasks.
  • what, for your group, would do the most to restore your trust in the leadership at headquarters?
  • what actions does your group believe would do the most to help our schools, short-term and long-term?
  • besides lack of trust, what actions/programs/plans does your group feel will not help your school and/or the district move forward? Please explain why (cost, efficacy, slow roll-out, etc.)

Do this within the next 2-3 weeks. Convene together and compare notes. Look for common ground. Look for compromise and consensus. Have staff sit in and listen (they don't facilitate or talk unless there is a question). Then have the Superintendent and Board craft an action plan.

That's my idea and reject it or shape it as you may. I just don't see having a summit first.

6 comments:

emeraldkity said...

I'll go first & I will state that I currently do not have kids in SPS- but I still volunteer with kids & care about the educational opportunities in this city.

what, for your group, would do the most to restore your trust in the leadership at headquarters?

For want of better idea- each board member solicit one thing in their district the constituents want fixed.
( I know this will be tough- but for instance- get rid of one of the RB principals & use the money for classroom staff)
And the district implements these ideas- and follows up on repercussions- alterations etc as needed.- These things should happen ASAP BTW.

what actions does your group believe would do the most to help our schools, short-term and long-term?
I liked the report card for Kendrick that showed increase in parent involvement at conferences & volunteering. Not numbers- because some schools are going to have more- but increase in % of participation.
You could even make it a contest- but have the principal be in charge of it- not district, because principal should know their school & what would work.

I would also like to see more outreach from the business community to fund scholarships for students continuing their education & be much more vocal about it.
Kids don't know about opportunities after high school & if they do- they don't know how they are going to pay for it.

None of the Seattle community colleges participate in the Stafford loan program.

Sure if you qualify for a Pell grant you can get that, but for most students who aren't in subsidized housing, they won't qualify for Pell- but it will still be hard to find the money for tuition & books.

The sponsoring business can pick what ever criteria they want of course- but the NMS already have scholarships- lets give a shout out to students who have made the biggest increase from 9th grade to 12 grade.

Students ( like my daughter) who had IEPs in middle school & are passing AP in high school.
Students who are interested in landscaping or photography- whatever.

Greg said...

Answering the questions just for myself but:

What would do the most to restore your trust in the leadership at headquarters?

Publish line-item budgets, shrink central admin below 6% of budget, push decision-making down to schools and principals.

What actions [do you] believe would do the most to help our schools, short-term and long-term?

Short-term, deal with budget issues primarily by shrinking central admin below 6% of budget and push decision-making down to schools and principals. Minimize cuts to teachers to mitigate the immediate impact on children and classrooms.

Long-term, focus central administration on two metrics as most important: average test scores and % of Seattle children going to public school versus private. Those top-line metrics track overall academic gains and parent satisfaction. People need to know what the goal is to achieve the goal and the current dashboard is too diffuse with too many goals for staff to know what to do. Focus on two simple goals -- academic gains and parent satisfaction -- and two simple metrics for them -- average test scores and % of children in public school -- and have a much reduced central administration optimize their actions to improve those two goals.

Anonymous said...

Melissa,

Have you read Carlyle's HB 1593? It effectively enables a Principals for America. It's now been passed overwhelming by the House and has landed in the Senate.

Signed, In the Know

Melissa Westbrook said...

Yup, I know about that disaster in the making (which apparently legislators haven't been clued into the fact that in order to assess teacher effectiveness, you need to know what it looks like). On my to-do list.

Kathy said...

Melissa,

I heard the testimony regarding HB 1593.

Plenty of well informed folks spoke against this bill for reasons you stated. Apparrently, this argument didn't resonate with education committee.

Theo said...

To start earning respect as a prelude to trust Enfield needs to scrap the top-heavy budget and rebuild it from the classrooms up. This will show that money is focused on the core mission of education and that a central office stripped of every non daily operation-necessary dollar will leave no room for millions to go missing or employees to get lost.