Monday, March 21, 2011

Trust Update

So how are we doing on the whole Trust thing?

On the positive...

1. The District has out-sourced Ethics Compliance to the City of Seattle.

2. The District says that they will revise their Ethics Policy to make it more effective.

3. The District continues its plan to address Audit findings.

4. The Board is working on Governance and Oversight.

5. The "Graduates Who Qualify for College Entrance" statistic was updated again.

6. The new web site continues to be built out.

7. The Superintendent will hold weekly Open Office Hours on Thursday evenings.

On the negative...

1. The District had to admit that they couldn't be relied upon to do Ethics Compliance in-house.

2. The District says that they will revise their Ethics Policy, but the District doesn't have a good record of doing the things that they say they are going to do.

3. The District's plan to address Audit findings is an INaction plan. They are mostly deferring action rather than taking it.

4. The Board's work on Governance and Oversight is making almost no real progress. As with the Audit findings, they have an INaction plan, not an action plan. They are mostly deferring action rather than taking it.

5. The Board's draft Governance Policy calls upon the Board members to praise publicly and criticize privately. This is an intentional effort to deceive the public written into their policy. That's no way to build trust. If we never see the Board hold the superintendent accountable, then why should we believe that they are doing it? And it is their job to hold the superintendent accountable. So the Board will never provide us with evidence that they are doing this part of their job. In addition, if they only praise the superintendent's work in public then they will give the public the false impression that they are only delighted with all of the superintendent's work. It is the antithesis of being open and honest.

6. The "Graduates Who Qualify for College Entrance" statistic is still wrong. It includes students who did not take the SAT or ACT and it should not. It includes students who fulfilled their World Language requirement in middle school and it should not.

7. The District staff have not fulfilled their commitment to correct the other mis-stated data in the School Reports. The count of Advanced Learners in the schools is still wrong. The percentage of "Students Making Gains on State Tests" is still wrong. The description of the "Students Making Gains..." statistic has not be revised as promised.

8. The new web site is dreadful. It is harder to find data and documents and many of them are simply missing. We are paying $700,000 for this while we don't provide struggling students with the support they need because we lack the funds to pay for it.

9. The superintendent's weekly Open Office Hours are by appointment and each appointment is 15 minutes long. It gives the word "Open" an interesting twist. I'm not sure what sort of discussion can occur in 15 minutes.


On the whole, the District is making progress, but very little. What tiny improvements we can see are only in contrast to the deplorable starting point.

14 comments:

Eric B said...

"The District had to admit that they couldn't be relied upon to do Ethics Compliance in-house."

It's very common for private industry to outsource the ethics question and complaint business. I work for a company that has a very good ethics policy and culture. We still have an outside ethics hotline in addition to the regular "complain through your manager" chain. Of course, if anyone had said that a $1.8M fraud was too far below them, they would have been cleaning out their desks that afternoon.

Given that there is a historical perception (and reality in some cases) of retaliation at SPS, having an outside ethics system is only a good thing.

hschinske said...

1. The District had to admit that they couldn't be relied upon to do Ethics Compliance in-house.

That increases my trust in them, if anything.

Helen Schinske

Maureen said...

Re. the 15 minute appointments, I would suggest that you find three other people who care about your issue and book an hour. If you can't find three others then your issue probably isn't worth more than 15 minutes of the Superintendent's time. That said, a reasonable amount gets said in 15 minute intervals at the Board Directors' coffees.

Johnny Calcagno said...

I am stunned by how little information is on the new website, and now by the fact that the links that go back to the old website don't work anymore. Frustrating!

Bird said...

Anyone have any idea why the district felt compelled to spend $700,000 on the website?

At this point, we are worse off with it as it has less information than the old one.

What's the gain?

Just sayin said...

The new website makes it h ard to find ANYTHING if you can't follow the creators "menu" thinking!!

mirmac1 said...

I'm taking a wait and see approach with our new superintendent. We all have a vested interest in student-oriented improvements and success....

Melissa Westbrook said...

I wrote to the Board about several issues and one was the website. I inquired if it was done. There seems to be a lot missing and yet no word on if this is it.

BEX continues to have its very own website (that looks nothing like SPS's). I never understood that.

FYI, looking for something? Go to Google, type in "Seattle Schools" and then the name, program, whatever. It generally pulls up pages and documents.

Michael H said...

"The District had to admit that they couldn't be relied upon to do Ethics Compliance in-house."

That didn't occur at all, Charlie. They acknowledged that they could not start an effective ethics compliance program from the ground up. The way you make it sound is that they said "we are just an unreliable, unethical bunch of schmucks that can't be trusted, so we had to outsource teh function." If you really think that, then I have to start moving you from the sane and reasonable column, to the marginally sane, and somewhat unreasonable column. Even if you ran for the Board (again) and won, you would not be able to do more than what they have been trying to do.

"The superintendent's weekly Open Office Hours are by appointment and each appointment is 15 minutes long. It gives the word "Open" an interesting twist. I'm not sure what sort of discussion can occur in 15 minutes".

Maybe the same kind of discussion that happens between a doctor and their patient - and that lasts only 10 minutes.

dw said...

The website issues could easily be fixed by hiring a content strategist.

But then everyone would whine the district was wasting money on hiring a content strategist and how it was just another sign everyone was overpaid at the Stanford Center.

So they'd dump the content strategist and go back to doing it in-house with the skeleton writing crew they have.

But then everyone would whine about the quality of the website and how they can't find anything.

Just another example of how people around here want everything but don't want to pay for it.

dan dempsey said...

dw,

What you said is perhaps very true:

"But then everyone would whine about the quality of the website and how they can't find anything.

Just another example of how people around here want everything but don't want to pay for it."


However people are tired of paying and paying and getting essentially nothing in a great many areas in the SPS.

Anonymous said...

The board refused to require the district to hire an operations person - content strategist - in conjunction with the passage of the money to license the new technology. Which is dumb, because then the 6-figure technology doesn't actually get used.

You get what you pay for and in this case the administration didn't want anymore outsiders in house and the board simply didn't pay attention to at least one strongly worded letter, written by my friend, that they'd get the result that you are seeing right now. If you don't like the current product, write in and complain and cc: the board every single time. The amount of content that is "missing" is absolutely horrendous.

-skeptical-

Anonymous said...

Dr Enfield's office hours all are booked up through June. They aren't taking any more appointments.... Guess that is a good thing and a bad thing.

PAL

Anonymous said...

$10.5M in IT Budget and we can't get a decent website?

grumpy

WV: pinger