Wednesday, March 30, 2011

PTA Sponsored Q & A

I went to the Q & A sponsored by the PTA tonight. Boy am I glad I went.

On the panel were five people, all of them taking on new jobs.
Susan Enfield, the new Superintendent; Robert Boesche, the new CFO; Pegi McEvoy, the new COO; and Sherry Carr and Steve Sundquist who are completely new to providing governance and oversight as Board Directors.

I have to say that every time Dr. Enfield spoke I was more and more pleased with her appointment to the job. She spoke about students instead of schools. She spoke about the connections between teachers and students. She spoke about accountability in ways that came closer to being concrete terms. And when she had to deliver bad news, she did it. She was honest about what could or couldn't be done and she was honest about the way things are. It was wonderful.

Every time that Steve Sundquist spoke it made me try to think of everyone I knew in West Seattle who might be able to run against him. Maria Ramirez, where are you? We need you. He pretty consistently said the wrong things.

Mel took notes and she's the journalist on the team, so I'll let her write another thread with the details, but WOW! Dr. Enfield ran the table. She was great.

Newsy bits: Dr. Enfield wants to add a second Executive Director of Schools to southeast Seattle. I guess she thinks that the Executive Director job is a good place to invest. This way the two of them will have half as many schools to follow as Michael Tolley has now.

Dr. Enfield definitely wants to invest in early intervention. I'm not sure how she is going to pay for it. She definitely wants the District to take a role in assuring that the interventions are provided and she wants the District to take a role in facilitating them.

Dr. Enfield wants to use the MAP the way in was intended to be used: as a formative assessment to lead to more personalized instruction for students. She talked about a MAP report that had the scores on one side and suggestions for differentiation on the other. Not a mandate or a requirement, she was quick to say, just suggestions.

Dr. Enfield expressed, in this one brief meeting, more appreciation and respect for the work of teaching than I heard in three and half years from her predecessor.

There was a lot of vague talk with all of the usual buzz words: accountability, trust, blah blah blah, most of them coming either from Robert Boesche or Steve Sundquist. They weren't so impressive.

Dr. Enfield was really great. She might actually be the honest, caring, hardworking person who could change the culture in the JSCEE. She'll have help from the two people she has hired, from the new General Counsel, and from others. The possibility is now on the menu.

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

Oh puleeeeze Charlie! Susan Enfield is not getting the job done for Special Ed. Not even in the ballpark. Talk to families whose children are being railroaded into self contained classrooms because she refuses to staff for inclusion.Talk to families in IcS who are still waiting for services.Dr. Enfield has pledged to address these community concerns but there is no evidence of follow through.

So far her sped community engagement has been window dressing.

Not impressed

kellie said...

I also attended the meeting and I agree with Charlie's assessment. There certainly are serious problems but I think the premise of actually addressing questions from the community was quite refreshing. I greatly appreciated the respectful tone and answers that focused on student learning.

I also found Robert Boeche to have much better answers after only three weeks than Don Kennedy provided after three years. I am very hopeful.

Charlie Mas said...

It's true that in the past four weeks Susan Enfield has not been able to make revolutionary change in Special Education.

So far - over the past 30 days - she has been nothing but promises without any real results.

Last night she spoke about a staffing ratio of two teachers and an aide per 18 students in ICS. That won't be until next year.

I can definitely see why "not impressed" is, well, not impressed. Surely she could have - and should have - made a lot more changes. She has, after all, had the job for nearly a month.

Charlie Mas said...

There was a lot of empty talk, mostly from Steve Sundquist, about budget challenges and priorities.

He said that elementary counselors would have to be cut, in part, because the State doesn't fund them.

He spoke emptily about "tough choices".

I went to ask him and Mr. Boeche about what other "tough choices" were on the table for cuts - was the web site upgrade (a multi-year $700,000 project) a possible cut? Was the second year of the NTN contract a possible cut? Steve punted. After talking like the Board took an active role in writing the budget, he said that the recommendations for cuts came from the staff.

Mr. Boeche, who is new to Seattle, presumed that there would be open conversation with the public about why we needed to make cuts, what cuts were being considered, and what could be cut. He encouraged me to become an active participant in school district issues. He said that active and engaged student families have a big impact on guiding the District. It was hard to keep a straight face.

While his naivete was both irritating and charming at the same time, he actually gave me a lot of hope about a culture change in Seattle Public Schools. He knew that SPS doesn't have a financial problem or an internal control problem so much as it has a culture problem. He said that he was convinced that Susan Enfield was the person who could fix the dysfunctional culture at SPS.

So that was weird.

But here's what has come out of it. Mr. Boeche told me that he wants people to send him ideas for ways that the District could make smarter cuts.

Charlie Mas said...

Here's a weird thing that I kept hearing last night.

I kept hearing from folks that the projected enrollment at their school that appeared in the school budget was lower than the school's current enrollment. I wonder how prevalent that is.

I think I will try to make a table with the projected enrollments as they appear in the school budget documents and the current school enrollments as they appear on the recent counts and compare them. The District projects rising enrollment. Shouldnt' that prediction be reflected in the predicted enrollments in the school budgets?

Maybe it is, maybe it isn't.

Maybe the District is intentionally under-predicting enrollments as a way to create budget cuts by under-funding schools.

Anonymous said...

"Last night she spoke about a staffing ratio of two teachers and an aide per 18 students in ICS. That won't be until next year."

The Special Ed PTSA issued a position paper on this and several other red flag items. A teacher, an IA, and 18 students is not service delivery, it is damage control. Susan Enfield is not listening to the evidence and concerns of the special education community or teachers.

Parent

KG said...

Charlie,

The District needs to CUT THE CENTRAL ADMIN. by 18.7 million to get to the 6% it needs to be at. Then they can afford what should be a priority and that is the elementary counselors. Pretty basic idea here with commonsense.
Until they do this I do not respect them.

An extra Exexutive Director. COUGH COUGH. Tolley is a BOZO.

Eric M said...

No more Executive Directors, please.

And I've learned to trust Charlie's take on this district (including, yes, his skepticism, which I see as a very good quality, even if it isn't Seattle (n)ice).

But Enfield did not just arrive at the district a month ago.

Among other things, the train wreck I've been following that is "science alignment" and the train wreck that is "science textbook adoption" find her at the controls, as Chief Academic Officer.

And the train wreck is still in progress. We (you, me, taxpayers) are lined up to buy textbooks before June

a) while laying off teachers.

b) and without PILOTING the books in a few classes for a year and evaluating results.

That is both stoopid and and morally and fiscally irresponsible. Science storerooms around the district are full of Active Chemistry, etc, books purchased about 8 years ago for 9th grade science that most teachers find generally useless.

Based on that thread from yesterday criticizing the criticizers, let me retract everything I just said.

Everything is fine, money is being well-spent, and everyone is happy.

Anonymous said...

Here is the URL for the Special Education PTSA Position Paper on the things that Enfield is talking about.

http://library.constantcontact.com/download/get/file/1101565913680-27/PTSA+Position+Paper+on+Service+Model+Proposal.pdf

-----------------
Position of the Board of Directors of the Seattle Special Education PTSA
Regarding the Seattle Public Schools “Service Model Proposal (based on feedback)”
January 25, 2011
The board of directors of the Seattle Special Education PTSA cannot endorse the attached “Service Model Proposal (based on feedback)” (hereafter, “the Proposal”) as currently communicated by Seattle Public Schools district leadership.
We appreciate the efforts of Seattle Public Schools to:
 Transform from a program-based model to a services model
 Ensure that ALL students have access to general education curriculum with appropriate supports and services
 Enable more students to attend school close to home, with neighborhood peers and siblings
 Enable more students to stay in their school continuously from K-5
However, the Proposal does not provide enough supportive data and detail for us to endorse it. The Proposal does not sufficiently address several critical questions and concerns, including the following:
 It displays an absence of any flexibility for Instructional Assistant staffing to be increased for Resource/Integrated Comprehensive Services (ICS) caseloads as individual circumstances warrant.
 The Proposal eliminates the staffing ratio currently used for the “Generic Self-Contained” service delivery model. That staffing ratio is 13:1:1 for grades K-2 and 14:1:1 for grades 3-5. Data are lacking regarding how the elimination of this staffing ratio will impact special education caseloads, service delivery, and student learning outcomes in the remaining service models.

To be continued ....
Seattle SPED Parent

Anonymous said...

Continued SPED PTSA Position Paper


 The Proposal implies continuing to “sunset” the Inclusion programs and thereby continuing to reduce the district’s continuum of placement options for students receiving special education services. The Proposal provides no data regarding how phasing out these programs has impacted special education caseloads, service delivery, and student learning outcomes.
 The Proposal lacks clarity regarding its financial impact. For example, how can the Proposal result in “more special educators in buildings” while staying within current budgetary constraints?
 To date, the district has not provided clear communication of the stages of implementation of ICS, what ICS will look like in its fully implemented state, and how success is being defined and measured. This Proposal is no exception.
 Similarly, the district has not provided clear communication regarding the professional development plan for equipping the teaching corps to successfully implement ICS.
 The Proposal does not include information on how the district is defining “LRE” (Least Restrictive Environment) which would help define the anticipated level of support and the classroom environment that students at each Service Model Level would experience.
 The Proposal does not account for the impact of a disability on staffing ratios. Most notably, the Resource/ICS staffing ratio does not appear to be flexible enough to accommodate children who are moderately impacted by their disability and may require sustained support to be successful in the general education environment.
 More authentic stakeholder engagement and collaboration with the district’s teachers and principals must occur to arrive at a Service Model Proposal that has the critical stakeholder commitment necessary to assure its success.
We support the district’s direction toward a more service-based model but believe the attached Proposal is not supported with sufficient detail to be ready for implementation. We welcome the opportunity to continue our collaborative relationship with the Seattle Public Schools district in moving toward the vision of an authentic service-based model for special education that supports students’ achievement of their Individual Education Program goals.


Sped Parent

Anonymous said...

Ok, here's the first part of teh SPED PTSA Position Paper:

Position of the Board of Directors of the Seattle Special Education PTSA
Regarding the Seattle Public Schools “Service Model Proposal (based on feedback)”
January 25, 2011
The board of directors of the Seattle Special Education PTSA cannot endorse the attached “Service Model Proposal (based on feedback)” (hereafter, “the Proposal”) as currently communicated by Seattle Public Schools district leadership.
We appreciate the efforts of Seattle Public Schools to:
 Transform from a program-based model to a services model
 Ensure that ALL students have access to general education curriculum with appropriate supports and services
 Enable more students to attend school close to home, with neighborhood peers and siblings
 Enable more students to stay in their school continuously from K-5
However, the Proposal does not provide enough supportive data and detail for us to endorse it. The Proposal does not sufficiently address several critical questions and concerns, including the following:
 It displays an absence of any flexibility for Instructional Assistant staffing to be increased for Resource/Integrated Comprehensive Services (ICS) caseloads as individual circumstances warrant.
 The Proposal eliminates the staffing ratio currently used for the “Generic Self-Contained” service delivery model. That staffing ratio is 13:1:1 for grades K-2 and 14:1:1 for grades 3-5. Data are lacking regarding how the elimination of this staffing ratio will impact special education caseloads, service delivery, and student learning outcomes in the remaining service models.

http://library.constantcontact.com/download/get/file/1101565913680-27/PTSA+Position+Paper+on+Service+Model+Proposal.pdf

Special Education Parent

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this report back - I could not attend and wanted to see if it would be any different from the breakfast...so glad it was!

PAL

zb said...

Great to hear that Enfield is making good first impressions on our critical blog hosts. It is a positive, and I trust that they will be holding her to standards since they've done a good job of not being tricked by smoke and mirrors in the past.

"I think I will try to make a table with the projected enrollments as they appear in the school budget documents and the current school enrollments as they appear on the recent counts and compare them. "

I would love to see this table. I had already started to look for information to make it myself. Do you have a link to the current enrollments? I have the pdf with the projected enrollments but am not sure where to look for current enrollments.

(wow, the word verification is close to being obscene)

zb said...

Can those of you advocating for elementary counselors give us some examples of what services counselors provide at individual schools?

Are there any alternative models for those services (for example, counselors working at more than one school?).

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the report back. To hear that Dr. Enfield has the capability to be cordial and forthright is hopeful. Time will tell if it is happy talk in the first few weeks of her surprise ascendancy or whether it is genuine. I hope it is genuine.

As for Sundquist, get him off the board. Aren't there a bunch of democratic activists in West Seattle? Are these people completely clueless about his place in SPS Bobblehead-dom? Kick a little (@#*@ people.

-skeptical-

KG said...

ZB,

Yes, the District has been providing one .5 counselor at each elementary school the last few years. That answers your question about counselors working at mutiple schools. They work on anti-bullying, CPS issues, abuse issues, family deaths, coping skills etc. They are an intricate part of the school community.

ZB,

Could you tell us what 18.7 million dollars does in over spending it on the Central Adminstration? The District spends far to much on this. How does this help individual schools?

basically said...

zb

When my child was being bullied in elementary school, it was the counselor who dealt with it, provided support, talked to the families involved, and continued to keep an eye on the students involved. I cannot imagine a principal or even a VP having the time to deal with all of that stuff appropriately. The teacher sure wasn't taking care of it....

so for us, the counselor was absolutely necessary.

misswaterlow said...

Charlie, I call BS on “SPS doesn’t have a financial problem." Almost all public school districts in the U.S. have "a financial problem” and WA state schools more than most. We don’t fund our schools even nearly adequately.

The watchdog work you guys do at the district level is great, but it sometimes creates a serious “forest for the trees” problem. Scandal and mismanagement in the administration, though unacceptable, are NOT the reason we can’t afford more teachers. There is only one entity with the financial power to lift our schools to the level we (should) demand and it’s the state government (federal to a lesser extent). That we refuse to provide the state the revenue to do this - i.e. to tax our very rich selves - is inexcusable, not to mention stupid, greedy, and self-defeating.

A pox on those who continue to say “we won’t give public schools more money until they show they can be trusted.” Can’t you fund my kids’ education AND fight corruption and incompetence at the same time? Don’t CEO’s pay themselves even while they’re “restructuring?" I for one wouldn’t mind a bit if we were told, “this year we’re hiring hundreds of new teachers AND we busted this guy for stealing 1.8 million dollars.” If that’s how it goes, fine by me.

Give schools money!

KG said...

Miss Waterlow,

We should have passed the state income tax on the last ballot and had more $ for education but to many people believed the greedy side who said No. This country needs to "Tax the Rich and Treat them like the minority in which they are!!"