Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Response to the Floe Decision

The Times' article this morning on the reversal of the Floe firing has some great quotes.  This from Paul Hill of the Center for Reinventing Public Education:

"It kind of gives a blueprint for resistance," said Paul Hill, director of the University of Washington's Center on Reinventing Public Education. "It invites a political response to every action."

He said it also suggests that Enfield didn't realize Floe could mount a strong political response to what she likely viewed as a straightforward personnel decision.

Boy, Professor Hill makes a lot of assumptions.   Blueprint for resistance?  You mean like calling your School Board member, creating a Facebook page, going old school with a peition and talking to the Superintendent?  That kind of scary blueprint?

Also, people act like somehow parents are now going to get listened to more often by the Superintendent and staff.  One half-way success does not make parents any more powerful than they were before.  Which is to say, parents had little power before this and I doubt it has moved them forward much.  What it does do is give people hope. 

And Floe mounted this "political" response (there's that word again)?  No, he didn't and he would have been in a lot of trouble had he done anything like that.  I talked to him and he said the outpouring of support astonished and humbled him.   He did get a lawyer but he was too busy running a school to organize a "political response." 

I also like that "straightforward personnel" decision.  When was the last time SPS fired a principal?  Nothing straightforward about it.

Others thought differently.

There's no shame in listening and reflecting and hearing, on a deep level, what a community is saying," said state Rep. Reuven Carlyle, D-Seattle.

"The whole community needs to prove to the superintendent that this is a good place, that the leadership is good leadership and deserves to stay," Nevins said. "I think we're all here to support the principal in that, in whatever we can." (Cindy Nevins is the PTSA President at Ingraham.)

"How long has it been since there has been a leader in Seattle Public Schools who will actually listen to a community?" said parent Rosemary Daszkiewicz, the PTSA's legislative co-chair.

School Board President Steve Sundquist also said he thought Enfield made a wise decision.

But finally something did get said outloud:

Enfield said she wouldn't — and couldn't — give the precise reasons why she wanted to fire Floe, saying it was a personnel matter. But she did explain it wasn't as sudden as it might seem — that it rested on a year's worth of observation and evaluation by Floe's supervisor, Bree Dusseault.

And something didn't - Ms. Dusseault has clear connections to the CRE so of course, they aren't going to like this decision. 

I also had to laugh at this comment over at the Stranger Slog:

Fear of helicopter parents and pitchfork parents means that teaching professionals cannot practice their profession, and mob rule also silences the voices of quieter or more polite parents and kids. There needs to be more insulation from mob rule in how the district is administered. We've had mobs rise up about everything from mathematics textbooks to Principal Floe at Ingraham. It's not a way to run a school district. 

Yes, these mobs have done SO well in getting change in SPS.  Time after time this fearful district has kowtowed to these terrifying parents and community members.   It's just been win, win, win.

18 comments:

Charlie Mas said...

I'm curious about how this episode will be reflected in Ms Duesseault's performance review. She guided the superintendent into a manure pile. That has got to be some kind of a career-limiting move.

Steve said...

And how long has Ms. Duessault been in this position? I see on this blog that there was an announcement in August 2010 of her appointment to the position of "Education Director", so has she really been on the job for less than a full academic year? Unless she held a similar supervisory position over Principal Floe before that, she's been monitoring him for only 8 months.

Anonymous said...

Under no circumstances should Dusseault be put in any oversight capacity of RBHS. Period. She has neither the experience nor now the credibility nor the community ties to become involved in perhaps Seattle's most complex education issue.

That community needs much stronger support. And the district central administration has done wrong by RBHS for more than a decade now.

In fact, where Duesseault can be effective within SPS is a matter of some debate at this point. Nobody wins from this public SNAFU of proportions epic for SPS.

-critical-

PS: Geez, the Seattle Times still has the story as its top headline. There could be worse PR for SPS and Enfield's leadership, coming on the heels of the Wroten/Garfield scandal, but it would take some effort to surpass it.

gavroche said...

This may shed some more light on Dusseault's qualifications for the Executive Director's job.

As New Orleans restarts its schools, most are now charter schools

Steve = It doesn't sound like Dusseault has had much of a supervisory position before, at least not on the level she currently has in SPS.

She herself was a Principal for less than 3 years, at a charter school in New Orleans. [Floe has more experience than she does.]

According to this article, her background is in business consulting.

From the article, dated September 4 - 2007:

And at New Orleans Charter Middle School in Uptown, an economically and racially mixed area, first-year principal Bree Dusseault prepares to measure her idealism against reality as school begins.

... Like Schaffer, Ms. Dusseault, the principal at New Orleans Charter Middle, is driven by idealism more than pay. When it opens, the school's population will be largely poor and black. "This is an opportunity for people who like dreaming big ideas to put them into reality," says Dusseault, a multidegreed business consultant.

How does this background qualify her to oversee and judge multiple schools and experienced Principals here in Seattle?

It would seem that business consultants are the new pox on public education.

Anonymous said...

Paul Who?

All these public figureheads weighing in just proves that the Floe firing was a closely watched trial balloon (that exploded in the Ed Reformers' faces).

I presume they're on a conference call right now saying, "Okay, that didn't work. So how can we do it more clandestinely & bullet-proof next time?"

And is CRPE legitimate when all they do is shill for Ed Reform? Hearing them on the radio from time to time is grating. Roza is so rude she can't stop interrupting other guests and her points are weak and random. Somebody pays her to do this?

@Gavroche! Wow! Nice catch!

WSEADAWG

Maureen said...

It has entered my mind that Ms. Desseult should be appointed principal at RBHS and be evaluated on what she does to turn the school around. It would be interesting to see her rise to that challenge.

I'm honestly not sure if I'm being facetious here. Maybe she could use her energy and focus for good? I'm not sure what the RBHS community wants and I don't want to imply that she's good enough for them or that I think RBHS should go charter/TfA but they do need some attention. I don't see how she is qualified to oversee the person who will be doing that job. This would take her down one rung and give her some real experience and perspective and show RBHS that they are important enough to deserve a high level administrator.

CrankyParent said...

I love that they act like this is some opening of the flood gates. Parents have taken the same and in some cases even more actions trying to correct the bad decision of the school board and administration in the past and were pretty much ignored. Sibling placements in the New Student Assignment plan ring a bell for anyone?
I am actually pleased that the Superintendent is listening to the teachers and families involved in the school and in the community.
If this is the way she is going to work, I at least hope she'll solicit input BEFORE taking action, but it is a lot better than covering her ears and singing "lalalala" until the yelling stops. THAT is no way to run a district, using new information, feedback and input to correct decisions seems kind of smart to me. Then again, I may just be one of those crazy parents who thinks the district should be considering what is best for the students being served.

Salander said...

All central offices administrators should be put on PIPs. What have they done in the last five years to improve student achievement?

Lori said...

Maureen, we're on the same wave length. I just looked at her LinkedIn profile, and it doesn't appear that she has ever been a classroom teacher. I find that, frankly, a little shocking.

The best managers I've ever had were intimately familiar with the day-to-day work that they oversaw due to having once worked in the trenches themselves. That's how you build a resume. That's how you build credibility. How can someone who's never taught assess how well a principal is doing as instructional leader of a school and mentor/supervisor of teaching staff?

It reminds me of once having had to work with a "consulting" group comprising newly graduated Ivy Leaguer's who were going to re-organize the way my department worked within a large health care institution. I'd sit down with these folks who couldn't even begin to comprehend what I was talking about. Their final report was to basically just do the opposite of everything we were doing (even though that had proven inefficient 20 years prior). It was the biggest joke/scam/absurdity I'd seen (perhaps until now). It's sad that 20 years later, seemingly intelligent people continue to fall for these fix-it-quick scams devised by the inexperienced.

More info said...

From NYU Alimni Magazine,
Fall 2008:

Although Ashe was founded before Katrina as the New Orleans Charter Middle School—the first charter in the city, in fact—they have restarted small with only 50 fifth and sixth graders and five teachers. This has enabled them, as Dusseault, the sole administrator last year, puts it, “to be in everyone’s business all the time. I have every parent in my cell phone and so do all of the teachers,” she adds. “We know everyone’s first name, last name, and most of the kids’ middle names.”

http://www.nyu.edu/alumni.magazine/issue11/11_feature_neworleans.html

mirmac1 said...

Wow, 10:1 ratio, pretty hard to screw that up. But you missed the best part of the article:

They have also exposed students to a range of careers through regular Friday speakers, including the New Orleans Shell Shockers soccer team and a group of Stern MBA students who ran the youngsters through a crash course on how to start a friendship bracelet business, from raising capital to marketing. Mel Ochoa (STERN ’08), who organized the trip and has taught the curriculum before, noticed that the Ashe students seemed more shy and hesitant than most. But with rebuilding so much in the air, they quickly grasped terms such as “loan” and “revenue” and applied them to local businesses rather than multinationals such as Nike and Coca–Cola, examples previous students relied on. “It was the first time I’ve seen that, students using real–world examples from their community,” Ochoa says. For weeks after the Stern volunteers left, Dusseault recalls hearing students throw around new vocabulary such as “venture capitalist” and “entrepreneur.”

It would make Bill Gates proud...

Maureen said...

Here's a link to the NYU article More Info posted.

Anonymous said...

Looks like KIRO may be doing a live interview with Susan Enfield this morning. Here is a link to the feed (which has not started as of 11:15am)

http://www.kirotv.com/video/27939543/index.html

Reader

Jan said...

Actually, mirmac1 -- that particular unit sounds pretty cool. I would much rather hear kids throwing around loan, revenue, and entrepreneur than cubicle, lobbyist, and multinational conglomerate. True entrepreneurs are just little business guys, with good ideas and a willingness to put it all on the line. They are, as a rule -- devoted to customer satisfaction and feedback (something we saw nothing of under MGJ). Mind you, it is not at all clear to me that Bree has ever BEEN an entrepreneur -- many business consultants have not -- and I have not read her resume.

Jan said...

CrankyParent -- very good point. Parents get Dr. Enfield to listen and reconsider/delay on ONE decision, and the CPRE/Ed Reform oligarchs act like it is total catastrophe. (I suppose, when you are accustomed to having money, power, and access mean that you ALWAYS get your way, maybe it DOES seem like that to them.) A pox on them all. I seriously am so fed up with educational bullying by the astroturfs and their backers.

Anonymous said...

Jan: You nailed it! The entitled, "we've got money so we know better than you" mentality of the Ed Reformers is disgusting. So is there relentless scapegoating of teachers and their absolute exploitation of struggling students in order to conduct purges of those who oppose them, so they can slide their cronies and zealots into positions of power and influence they have no business being in.

Since they can't persuade or earn their way into our schools, they buy it. Are the gang-of-four's school board seats for sale like they were the last time around? We shall see.

WSEADAWG

Anonymous said...

Their, not there. Sheesh! Too much blogging...

DAWG

LRL said...

How could Bree have even been hired with such little experience? It's all about youth among the Ed. Reformers--what is that, anyway? The TFAers are supposed to be better because they are new, Bree is better because she has little experience, no burned-out,good-old boys, but c'mon. Isn't this just a bizaare way of looking at things? It just goes against the grain--like wanting a surgeon who has never performed the operation because he has a fresher perspective....