The Superintendent had a lot of pep rally points that we've heard from her focus for this school year. But there was some more up-to-date info on certain subjects.
- She was asked about capacity management in West Seattle. She said that they had a team of staff and community working to help work on this issue (she didn't say but I assumed she meant the Demographics Taskforce). She said that the district wanted to be "prepared in advance and not just reacting to enrollment changes." She also said capacity management also includes related programs needs and I was grateful that she acknowledged that issue.
- Again on capacity managment, she said that they had heard "loud and clear" that parents want to give feedback but also to be consulted on what options are available before decisions are made.
- I asked her about who is funding TFA (again). She said it was a "group of private citizens." This is troubling because (1) I suspect there was one person/foundation and they dropped out when the TFA hire numbers were not there and (2) this business of wealthy private citizens jumping in to manipulate/manage issues. This came up in Philadelphia where the superintendent was paid $900k to exit (stage left). About $400k of that was private citizen funded and the district won't say who they are. It's one thing to give a sum of money to the district anonymously for the benefit of all - it's another to give money in the shadows to manipulate policy. We will be getting to the bottom of this soon.
- She was asked about attendance and the Mayor's initiative (which I have yet to write about) to promote better attendance. She said there would be a taskforce of staff and principals to talk about what to do about long-term suspension rates.
- It was interesting that she got asked about how parents can track their student's progress and only mentioned MAP and not the Source. She also mentioned that it would only be required twice a year (winter and spring) with an option to take it in the fall.
- I asked her about the hiring freeze which, of course, they deny is a hiring freeze. But the big news here is (1) they want to take a firm count at day four and the end of two weeks. They do not want to wait for the Oct. 1 count to fill in any gaps. The second item here is that she had a "cabinet" meeting with HR and they have identified schools most likely to be overenrolled (she would only name Garfield and Sealth). She said they would put at-large subs there to handle any issues that arise. She said the Executive Directors would be checking in with her at the end of every day to update her on staffing issues. This is VERY good news and evidence that pushing back may be working.
- She was asked about one year from now and she said (1) show growth on MAP and other tests, (2)families feel more connected to their child's school, (3) that the district listens to families about what they see and what they need and (4) she does like this work and would be happy to stay.
- I asked her about Spectrum as she had now said (about 4 times) about involving families in decision-making. She said well, some people like it one way and some the other. I said that families were not being asked. She said that she meant she had heard from some families. She said the Executive Directors would be meeting with Bob Vaughn of Advanced Learning about parents feeling not engaged in these decisions. NOW is the time to e-mail Bob Vaughn and the Ex. Directors about your thoughts. (I'll post the e-mails elsewhere.)
- She was asked about the high school math curriculum but basically said that they are looking at trend data and it's on the upswing this year. She said teachers "have worked at it for a few years and gotten better, more confident and more agile" in using it. She said she was speaking about the math curriculum at all levels.
- She was asked about the work and what surprised her. She said there were surprises every day but that "I love this work" and she was amazed at how "people in Seattle are so actively invested" in education.