Thursday, March 03, 2011

Susan Enfield

Here's where we stand with thinking about a different permanent superintendent (or not if the Board ends up liking Dr. Enfield's work):

At its meeting this evening the School Board voted 6-1 to appoint Dr. Susan Enfield as Interim Superintendent. The appointment is effective immediately and extends through June 30, 2012. The Board anticipates considering whether to extend a longer term employment agreement to Dr. Enfield or conduct a search for a permanent Superintendent prior to January 19, 2012.

Here's what Susan Enfield's statement released today said (in part):

This is a very difficult time for us all. I know there are serious questions about our fiscal stewardship that we must, and will, answer for the community, our taxpayers, district staff, teachers, families and students.

Our immediate priority is to restore public trust in Seattle Public Schools. We will begin with the hiring of an interim Chief Financial Officer and a Chief Operating Officer. There is a national search underway for permanent replacements for these positions. We are also replacing the district’s internal auditor. I will work diligently with the School Board to make sure we hire only the best qualified people for these critical positions so that we can direct our energy where it belongs: serving our schools, teachers and students.

I will also work to ensure that our financial and operational issues do not detract from the quality of day-to-day teaching and learning in our classrooms. I know from my experience as Chief Academic Officer how incredibly fortunate we are here in Seattle to have dedicated and committed staff at all levels of the system who have continued to keep their focus on our students during these challenging times. I want to thank each and every one of them for this and I will be reaching out in the coming weeks to hear from them how we can work together to move forward in our core mission of educating all students. I especially want to acknowledge our teachers and principals and pledge to them my ongoing commitment to providing them the leadership and support they deserve.

I also commit to being out in the community listening to comments, questions and concerns about the School District. I will continue to have an open door policy so parents, employees and community members can offer input directly on how we can continue to improve.

Finally, I am committed to strengthening communication within the district and across our city with our community partners and our families.

I am glad to hear that Dr. Enfield recognizes the need for communication. I'm hoping we can find one person to be COO/CFO to avoid two highly paid positions but maybe that's what we need. It seems that work goes together. I wish she had said something about accepting help from the Mayor and City Council.

The Times story this morning about Dr. Enfield interviews the usual suspects: Sara Morris of the Alliance and Chris Korsvo of LEV, both of whom have been notable quiet during this whole thing. (LEV didn't even acknowledge that anything was going on.) They say the usual good things with the key being that she is approachable. I concur.

From the Times' review of her resume:

Enfield comes with an impressive academic résumé: two master's degrees — one from Stanford University, another from Harvard University, from which she also obtained a doctorate in education in 2008.

Enfield began her education career teaching high school in California in 1993. She became a school-improvement coach in Berkeley from 1999 to 2001, then moved to Pennsylvania, where she performed a six-month internship related to her doctorate.

She worked for eight months as special assistant to the Pennsylvania Secretary of Education in 2003 before becoming director of teaching and learning support for Pennsylvania's education department, where she worked for a year.

Named director of teaching and learning for Portland Public Schools in November 2004, she worked there less than two years before becoming deputy superintendent for Evergreen Public Schools in Vancouver, Wash.

What's interesting is the Evergreen superintendent has instructed his staff not to say anything about her, stating she wasn't in the district that long. She was there almost 3 years. Interesting. He says:

"I don't know her that well because she wasn't here that long," Smith said. "But she did advocate for special education and the people she was in charge of and did effect some positive changes."

I am more than willing to support Dr. Enfield. I have already offered my support to her. I believe she is going into this job very soberly. She knows what is at stake. But when she and I do have the opportunity to sit down and talk, I will be fairly blunt in what I hope to see from the district.

Dr. Enfield sought ME out when she came here (she has a great office - she collects rubber duckies). I was blunt then as well and told her that I didn't expect MGJ to be here for long and I asked her, "How would you feel about being an interim superintendent?" I don't remember her exact answer (she was very diplomatic) but I did want her to understand that this day would come.


SeattleSped said...

Dr. Enfield,

You have an opportunity of a lifetime here to fashion this district in a way that befits the values of this city.

Heed the SpED PTSA. I say dump ICS which was a bastardization of the external peer review.

Slim down CO and reach out to every school building. There's so much to do, and it can be so rewarding. You would earn your angel wings. Don't blow it.

Dorothy Neville said...

I agree that Susan Enfield has the opportunity to shape her career. If she manages to follow through and calm things down, reduce chaos, restore trust. Slow down or eliminate initiatives that we cannot afford and that have been shown to break working programs instead of repairing broken ones. If she can show true leadership here by doing exactly what an interim leader in these circumstances ought to do, she will be immensely attractive for future cities looking for superintendents.

Here are two things she could do immediately.

Significantly scale back MAP testing. Test only once a year and no testing for K2 or high school. AND start the honest objective process of analyzing if the MAP is a useful tool at all.

Follow Olga Addae's advice to restore the old seating arrangement at board meetings. The superintendent is the employee of the board and acts as the secretary of the board. She should be sitting to the side at the end. I believe (and Chris Jackins concurred) that the super used to sit on the side. Chris' recollection is that the arrangement changed during Maria's tenure.

Dorothy Neville said...

And with a Super with strong educational background AND strong COO and CFO with business savvy, integrity and commitment to getting financial controls and operations in order, we do NOT need a CAO. Let's run the district without a CAO for the time being and see how that goes.

Northender said...

Slow down is a good mantra - I'm thinking of some of the budget cut proposals - well, really, all of them.
Given the need for a new CFO, and the questions involving management under the old one - it would seem beyond prudent to review ALL the numbers and ensure cuts are coming from the right places, with accurate, unbiased numbers driving the decisions

MAPsucks said...

MAP was foisted on us, ostensibly to "inform instruction". Instead it is being used as a crude tool to rank and evaluate teachers and schools. And, it doesn't even perform as advertised by the NWEA sales folks in MGJ's office.

Dr. Enfield
Dump MAP, save the money (they are making a killing), there are better benchmark assessments that can be used to help schools, NOT punish them.

Greg said...

Dorothy and MAPsucks, I might agree with your suggestions, but the budget is the priority, no? The budget shortfall seems severe and urgent.

I think SeattleSped has it right, that the solution is significant cuts to central admin (as Board member Kay Smith-Blum has also advocated), but Northender has an excellent point that budget decisions are complicated by lack of confidence in the current state of the district's accounting.

Dorothy Neville said...

Greg, significantly cutting back on MAP would help the budget. We pay per student, so if we eliminated K2 and HS we could save significant money. As well, with fewer numbers to crunch, the Research and Assessment folks could have better use of their time (and perhaps have FTEs cut, just like everywhere else downtown).

Schools would use fewer dollars for subs during the administration, and parents and teachers would take it as a symbolic as well as real act of good faith.

As for the budget, sure, Kay says we need to reset and think about the budget in light of the daylighting of Kennedy's appalling obfuscations to the board about real spending downtown. I agree. I know it would be hard to schedule, but I do think it is possible. We don't have to have a budget until June, yes? We won't even get firm figures from the state for a couple more weeks.

Unfortunately Peter thinks this year's budget cycle is too far along and that new CFO and COO and SI cannot change anything until the next budget cycle. I do not yet know what other board members think. Neither Peter nor Kay are on the Finance committee (although Peter used to be).

mirmac1 said...

Sorry Greg, but what does it take? It's all about the mythical line item veto. Give me a line item budget and I can tell you where to spend and where to cut. Until then it's all couched in angst and sloganeering.

Jan said...

I suspect that Kay Smith-Blum, Betty Patu, and Michael DeBell all disagree with Peter on where we are on the budget. Smith-Blum in particular I KNOW is unhappy with what the central administration folks have offered up as cuts. If even ONE of the others (Carr? Meier?) is willing to put his/her foot down and say they won't stand for being bullied into a budget by MGJ's and Kennedy's refusal to provide honest answers and numbers -- we will get something done.

Frankly, at this point, I think some of them are willing to just say -- here is the deal. You get X percent. Figure out between now and June how you are going to deploy it in central, and we will approve the budget then. The rest is going back into schools and classrooms. End of discussion.

Jan said...

Also, while maybe a COO is not always necessary, there is a LOT of clean up/clean out work that needs to be done downtown to deal with the toxic climate. Even if they don't have a permanent COO, they may need one for six months or a year or so to head up that work, and to help figure out how to redeploy work as central staff numbers are cut.

Chris said...

Let's bring this over to the Enfield thread:

I'm trying hard to be open and trust. She would score big points with me for ending this arrangement. Yep, she might have to choose between me and the Alliance. Of course a lot of people might agree with me. One for every Alliance dollar? Maybe not.

I had to scroll down there and make sure WV wasn't calling me a peeon or anything...

Anonymous said...

Dr Enfield,

Dump ICS! If you aren't going to fully implement the special education audit, doing 50% of it isn't a viable plan B. Funding ICS at half the rate the audit recommended is essentially a plan B and a completely different path. The current contract funds ICS at less than half the recommended staffing ratio (22:1), the proposed new contract funds it a slightly better than half the recommended recommendation (18:1). Also, ditch the wildly unpopular "special education supervisors"! No one would miss them, not even the special education teachers. Most of them were "promoted" with only a year or so experience. If we are indeed to anoint a sort of superty-duper teacher, or master teacher, or consulting teacher, or supervising consulting teacher, or special education coach, there should be a vetting period and a very high standard. Parents should be satisfied with the service they get from them. Currently, there is no standard and all we have is more cronyism.

We do not have the budget for an in-house early retirement program for a bunch of high priced teachers that do not serve students, or even like them. Most of all we need competence in the central office special education staff.

Yours truly,
Another Sped Parent

none1111 said...

Dorothy mentioned a couple things Enfield could do immediately: Significantly scale back MAP testing. Test only once a year and no testing for K2 or high school.

I agree that it should be scaled back, but maybe not that far. 2x/year, in FALL and SPRING (there is talk the district may eliminate either fall or spring, but that's just stupid, winter should be eliminated for multiple reasons) would provide almost as much information as 3x. Although I don't believe this would save any $ based on the current contract.

I also agree that K2 should be dropped entirely. Using this test for kindergartners is ridiculous. Would grade-level eliminations actually cut our costs? (I didn't dig)

On the other hand, I'm not sure why you'd want to drop it for high school. It seems that it would be just as useful (or not, depending on perspective) in 9th/10th as it is for 7th/8th. (?)

Follow Olga Addae's advice to restore the old seating arrangement at board meetings.

This is really interesting, something I hadn't even noticed. I've always thought that position at any table could be interpreted in different ways. If the supe sits at one end, that could be considered either the Head of the table or the Foot of the table, depending on your perspective (or wishes!).

Anonymous said...

I believe we need both a CFO and COO - the functions of these jobs are too different to be done well by one person and the district needs to really clean things up, making it more critical to have 2 separate positions. Given who our mayor is and the city council, I wouldn't be inclined to accept their "help."


none1111 said...

I believe we need both a CFO and COO - the functions of these jobs are too different to be done well by one person

Agree 100%. I could never understand why MGJ would think that one person (let alone DK) would be able to handle both roles. They are very different roles! In hindsight (and along the way) the logical conclusion was that she wanted her trusted lieutenant to oversee as much as possible.

Perhaps if you had a Supe that came up through the financial ranks you could skip the CFO and have a primarily COO type in that role. And in that case you'd want a CAO. Or vice-versa if an operations person rose to Supe. But with an academic person in the top seat, I think you need both a COO and a CFO, but not necessarily a CAO.

Bird said...

On the other hand, I'm not sure why you'd want to drop it for high school. It seems that it would be just as useful

I can imagine, but don't know, that the MAP test would not be worthwhile for a subset of high schoool students who are approaching the ceiling of the test.

I know for my own child the past three MAP tests have provided erratic results, largely, I think, because of the K-2 ceiling.

Perhaps high school students who have passed the state tests could be exempted.

I think the test might be useful for other students because the range can be so wide for acheivement levels in high school.

I agree that the Winter test should be dropped and that the MAP test is too inaccurate to be used to evaluate teachers and provide merit pay.

I do think, however, that the MAP test has an important advantage over the state test, in that it can give you information about where students fall on the continuum instead of simply providing pass/fail information, which is of very limited utility. I do think achievement testing can be useful, particluarly when aggregated at the school or disrict-wide level where the individual inaccuracies can be washed out by the larger number of test takers.

I'd be ok with switching to the a different sort of test that could provide similar information, like the old ITBS test. In any case, I think if the district is going to be spending this much money and time on testing they should be compelled to make the aggregated data public.

hschinske said...

The ceiling is definitely too low for high school students, apart from those working significantly below grade level (and honestly, what are above-level MAP results going to tell you by high school anyway?). Heck, I think the ceiling is too low for high-achieving middle school students (plenty of 6th-graders are already well into 11th-grade norms, which is as high as the test goes).

Of course, the best data in the world isn't going to help anyone if they never do any decent analysis of it, and I haven't seen anything come out of the MAP that would qualify.

I've argued before that if you're actually going to use the MAP results as they should be used, the winter administration is crucial, but practically speaking, if we can't get rid of the test altogether, and there's no hope of getting useful results from it anyway, I suppose we may as well just prune it back as far as possible.

Helen Schinske

none1111 said...

Bird said: "Perhaps high school students who have passed the state tests could be exempted."

I like the idea, but the state test would not be a good benchmark. The WASL/MSP tests are designed around specific grade level, and don't provide any data about a student's achievement level when it's significantly above or below their current numeric grade. That's why adaptive tests like the MAP can potentially provide valuable information. (NOT talking about evaluative data on the teachers, but definitely about the students.)

However, if NWEA would come clean and give us data about where the practical ceilings on this test are, we could use that data to determine if/when kids should stop taking it by default. Of course anyone can opt out if they want anyway, and I suppose there might be some kids somewhere who like taking it (?!), but since parents can already opt out, we're just talking about a default.

Regardless, I really doubt NWEA is going to publicly talk about the upper limits of MAP tests. They want high achievers to keep taking their test to help validate and level the most difficult questions. That's not a bad thing, it's just the way it works. Whether we like the test or not, the more it's used, the more data they get, and the more accurate the test becomes over time.

Jan said...

But -- if the purpose of the tests is to inform instruction, what use is the spring test (mildly useful for the next year, but next year's kids will be different kids with different starting points).

If that is its purpose, wouldn't we keep fall and winter? Spring does us that process no good.

If the REAL purpose is assessing teachers, wouldn't we want a completely different test, that is designed to do that? Because I thought the MAP was not valid for that purpose. What is the point of changing its use so that it CAN'T work for its intended use (informing instruction), and keeping it for a use that it is NOT supposed to be valid for?

Anonymous said...

Email from Dr Enfield to Our Schools Coalition:

SPS Parent

From: Enfield, Susan A []
Sent: Friday, March 04, 2011 1:53 PM
To: Sara Morris
Subject: A Message from the Superintendent

To the Our Schools Coalition,

I hope to meet with many of you in person over the coming weeks, but wanted to reach out virtually in the interim.

The Our Schools Coalition was integral to passage of our landmark collective bargaining agreement last year. Few districts have the benefit of such a large and committed group of passionate education advocates. Thank you for your long-standing commitment to the children of this city.

I am fully committed to the successful implementation of our new contract. I view it as a powerful tool to accelerate student achievement and support teachers in their work.

I take on the role of Superintendent at a sobering time. I know there are serious questions about our fiscal stewardship that we must, and will, answer for the community, taxpayers, district staff, teachers, families and students. We will begin with the hiring of an interim Chief Financial Officer and a Chief Operating Officer. There is a national search underway for permanent replacements for these positions.

My purpose is clear: to deliver on the promises made to our 47,000 students. I have high expectations for what they can achieve, and for our ability - as the adults in the system - to meet our obligations to them. I will work to ensure that our financial and operational issues do not detract from the quality of day-to-day teaching and learning in our classrooms.

I began my career as a high school English teacher, with a deep sense of responsibility to serve as a role model. Now is the time for us to model how to respectfully engage in difficult but honest problem solving.

Enormous challenges also present enormous opportunities. I pledge to you that I will serve this community, and especially our students, to the best of my ability. I look forward to our continued partnership.

Thank you for your support of our students.


Susan Enfield, Ed.D.
Interim Superintendent
Seattle Public Schools
“Every student achieving, everyone accountable”

Dorothy Neville said...

But... Our Schools Coalition hasn't updated their website since September and it doesn't even list who is in charge. Sara Morris is in charge of the Alliance. And her phrasing, about "accelerating student achievement" is straight from the Alliance's public message to Susan.

Anonymous said...

I don't know anything about the different organizations, email was forwarded to me by the BCDI (Black Child Development Institute).se

SPS Parent

Anonymous said...

I thought the Email from Dr. Enfield was interesting because it talked about the national search for a new CFO and COO. Why do we have to do a national search? I'm sure there are plenty of people in the area who are qualified.

SPS Parent