Saturday, November 19, 2011

Poking the Hornets Nest

It looks like the Board election has poked, prodded and possibly smashed open the hornets nest that is the education establishment in Seattle.  The initial charge, before the election, was clearly the Seattle Times but they have been largely mute since the election results.

Now the Alliance for Education has decided to really insert itself and frankly, if I were anyone on the Board (current or new and/or a person with a spine), I would not like it.
Let's get a round-up of voices.

I did look to see what Stand for Children (who supported all the incumbents but Maier and had no endorsement for that district) had to say.  Nothing said as is their way.  They always talk about community and yet, they have a tightly controlled message that could be from any state. 

What does LEV have to say?  Well, last week Director Chris Korsmo said voters "rudely" cast out Sundquist and called Marty McLaren "a retired substitute teacher" and did not even mention her by name.   She blames the union. (As did Lynne Varner on a Seattle Channel election roundup - it's all in the first 10 minutes and interestingly, Dave Ross seemed confused on her reasoning - there's a surprise.)

If the unions are to blame for Sundquist's defeat, what about Maier?  And why did Martin-Morris and Carr win then?

This week Korsmo says "voters got a jump start on silly."  She also says:

Two other incumbents were retained, which is good news, but with significant decisions on the horizon – like hiring a permanent Superintendent (which is an oxymoron these days, because urban superintendents have all the staying power of the Seahawks passing game) –  losing these two couldn’t be more ill-timed.

Ah, the Superintendent question.  Now we are coming to the crux of the situation for this group.  (And, again, I guess we all should apologize for running an "ill-timed" democracy that ruined someone's agenda. )

Through public disclosure, an e-mail surfaced this week from Jon Bridge, who is one of the CEOs of the Ben Bridge jewelry stores and an active member of the Alliance.  Mr. Bridge is a graduate of Garfield High (but it is unclear if his children attended SPS schools).  Like many other people who care about public education in this city, Mr. Bridge appears to give a lot of time and resources to philanthropic causes.

Mr. Bridge wrote to Dr. Enfield on September 12 with the subject title "TFA."  He said:

Thinking more about this.  If the Seattle Foundation doesn't want to make the donation, we should just reveal the donor and not be afraid of any support of the candidates.  They can independently justify the decision to invite TFA.  (Remember transparency is essential in Seattle and in your job.)  

Melissa and the teachers don't matter at all with the vast majority of voters.  We're concerned with providing the absolute best education opportunities for our kids.  TFA isn't the answer but is an option to provide our kids and the general populace will support this.  

Okay, clearly the issue of the TFA fee was always something murky.   As I have said, who was our mystery donor behind door #1?  Could it have been Gates?  Allen?  Bezos?

That he points out she shouldn't worry about the candidates is interesting.  Clearly he thought it might have political implications.

Good for him saying that transparency is essential - we were waiting for months for MGJ AND Enfield to be transparent on this matter.

I have no idea why he believes the "general populace" will believe whatever they are told.  "Yes, your tax dollars will go to X because we say so and we know for a fact it will work."  I'm not taking Mr. Bridge's word for it.

As for whether the "vast majority" of voters would listen to me (or Charlie); probably not.  But do the vast majority listen to The Stranger?  or any other media outlet? 

However, to say that teachers don't matter at all - I'm with several other commenters here who said when they go out doorbelling with a teacher, people listen.  I've had the same experience.  Teachers have more respect than the ed reform crowd wants the "general populace" to believe.  Teachers DO matter and their opinions about what happens in our district matter and well, if they don't know, who does?  

Also in this batch of is an e-mail labeled Board Meeting and TFA  from Sherry Carr to Noel Treat and Susan Enfield on September 10.

This is a conundrum.  I would say the final number is going to be two unless we make the phone call to find someone to be named to pay the fee for the two we have approved.

We are expending too much time and too much political capital on TFA.  Even at 30 teachers this wasn't a needle mover so at numbers like 6 or less we aren't taking about much of an impact.  You are on the brink of losing my support on this one - I would urge you to figure it out.  I'm not willing to engage in much more dialogue on TFA.  (bold mine)

Yes, quite a conundrum because according to what Sherry knew, there was no donor (or at least anyone who would put their name on the money).

Yes, the district (and Dr. Enfield) spent WAY too much time and too many resources on TFA.  The question is why?

So clearly Mr. Bridge was working the TFA issue and now the Alliance throws down a Memo.   This thing is a fun read (take a sip of your cocktail every time they say "we". )  Thanks to Cascade for this alert.

They first appear to just be answering the call for input from the Board on the next permanent superintendent's qualities.  The Board asked for input from all directions so this is perfectly fine.

They claim that so much progress was made (but admit more needs to happen) and it happened under CAO Enfield.  But then they go on to talk about increased enrollment (she had nothing to do with this) and a new collective bargaining agreement (again, not her area) and then this pronouncement:

As a means of continuing and accelerating these gains, we strongly urge the School Board to convert Interim Superintendent Enfield's contract to permanent without delay.  (bold theirs)

Then, they explain how SPS has had 5 superintendents in 16 years.  That's about the national average of 3 years per superintendent.

Let's see, one died, two got exited for their exceeding poor performances, one retired and one left on his own.  I would submit if the Alliance had shown some leadership in demanding better financial oversight of the district and stood in support of the work of CAICEE and Moss-Adams, we wouldn't have this unsightly record.  They didn't.

They claim a search would be "unnecessary and counter-productive."  They're entitled to their opinion but it is only an opinion. 

Then, they go on to lay out their "Expectations of the Superintendent."   Who asked for this input?  I did love "value the community as the 'owner' of its schools."  They also call out for "an unwavering commitment " to the teachers contract."  Doesn't every superintendent have to honor a contract that the district signs?  What is it they worry will happen? 

THEN, they lay out their "Expectations of the School Board."  Again, why?  Is this to serve notice to the two newest members and to remind current members what the Alliance "expects?"   My favorite?

Establish mechanisms to solicit input from representative samples of the public, not only self-selected individuals or subgroups.

First, the district does have a fair amount of meetings open to all.  They have been doing more surveys (poorly written but there's an effort made).  And self-selected?  Doesn't anyone who attends a meeting or write an e-mail "self-selected?"  And what makes a "sub-group?"  Does it have to have a Chamber of Commerce stamp of approval on it?

In the end, the Board and the Superintendent should to listen to ALL input and give none more weight than any other (unless it is large numbers of parents and/or teachers as they are the front-lines of public education). 

They then give two options which are not options at all.  One, to consider what a swell job Dr. Enfield has done so far.

Two, "carefully consider the cost of a search."  Uh oh, I guess that's the Alliance's way of saying "we won't pay for it."  "A search of choice will sap the system of time, attention and resources."  Oh, and all the expenditure of time and resources for TFA - that was worth it?

This is the most IMPORTANT job in the district and we need to get it right.  Money cannot be the reason to say no to a search. 

I know what the Alliance's public engagement looks like.  It's not an open dialog.  And their continuing claim of creating a community values group to dialog on the teachers contract is galling.   They sat in the offices at LEV for months, listening to a REAL coalition of groups work hard on figuring out how to be part of the discussion and then took that knowledge to create their own group.  I even called them out on it at a meeting and they kind of looked down at the table.

I am going to quote our reader, Skeptical, here because he/she says it better than I can:

The Alliance fails miserably, absolutely miserably, at being anything other than patrician, paternalistic and blatantly disrespectful to SPS's current teaching staff and to community members who differ from their ideas. 

The ideas on this blog threaten The Monied and In Control. Because the insiders can't control the owners and authors on this blog, and they can't minimize the impact of the blog, and the many citizens who read, think and contribute, despite their best efforts. And that's why I love this blog. Truth to Power, Alliance. Truth to Power.

So the Powers That Be have lost their control over the Board (and especially the two members who walked lock-step with them.   (Interestingly, they issued their "memo" one day after the election when they thought only lost one position.  I'm sure they were doubly glad they wrote it now.)   Now they need to have someone else they know they can  - choose your word; guide, handle, manipulate, direct - to carry out their vision.   I'll have to sit down with Dr. Enfield and ask her about all this. 

I don't know exactly what comes next.  I would think that if you want a fighting chance for a search, you might want to start e-mailing after November 30th (when we have our new Board).   I really have to wonder if these meetings were nothing more than an opportunity to say how well it's going and we're poor and oh, let's just keep Enfield.   It's almost as if everyone believes a search can't be done well. Nonsense.

I will put up this blog's credibility and ability to engage and get information out there that people can use over the Alliance's any day.   I would like the opportunity to work together but not if you continue to marginalize Charlie and me. 

Apparently, my Alliance friends, people ARE listening. 

119 comments:

anonymous said...

"Then, they go on to lay out their "Expectations of the Superintendent." Who asked for this input?"

Who asked for your input?

hornet

anonymous said...

I don't want a search. I think Dr. Enfield has done a good enough job to be given a chance. I agree with the Alliance, that it would be a tremendous waste of time, human resources, and $60,000 dollars to conduct a search.

my2cents

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
SolvayGirl said...

hornet—if you're reading this blog, YOU'VE asked for her input, otherwise why bother?

2cents—a "good enough job to be given a chance..." Seriously? Wish I could do "a good enough job" to earn the kind of money and be given the responsibility that comes with Superintendent of Public Schools in Seattle (makes way more than the governor).

I can't believe that Seattle will once again accept a Superintendent by default. Enfield may be fine, maybe just OK, maybe great, maybe she'll be gliding off in a golden parachute in two years. At the least I'd like to get the chance to see who else is out there. Personally, I'd prefer someone who is not entrenched in the system, and someone who is not committed to education reform in its current incarnation. But there may not be anyone better out there willing to take on the task. I think it's worth the time, money and effort to be sure.

anonymous said...

To much churn and upheaval in this district. I'm tired of the constant churn and never letting the dust settle. We need some stability, and we need it now. I think Enfield has done an acceptable job thus far and I am hoping that the board gives her the job. Apparently a lot of others are hoping for this too. Their opinion, my opinion, and yes, even the Alliance opinion, counts just as much as yours does.

my2cents

Anonymous said...

Enfield and Sara Morris, CEO of the Alliance are speed dial BFFs. Morris cozied up to her the first weeks Enfield arrived in town. Their trajectory in Seattle is completely interwoven. Enfield and Sara..no Enfield and the Alliance come as a pair.

Frankly, I respect Enfield a hell of a lot more than Morris and her cadre of downtown snobs at the Alliance. (We can all remember that the Alliance backed Goodloe-Johnson all the way down into the sewer, despite huge community dissatisfaction. Many many Alliance members still think the crime that happened with Pottergate was that Goodloe-Johnson was fired.)

Enfield needs to stop living with the Alliance and get her own apartment if she wants to lead the smart citizens of this district.

Activist And Proud Of It

Sahila said...

WE COULD GO POKE THE NEST A BIT MORE...

by joining other parents etc all over the country, in OPTING OUT...

United Opt Out

Sahila said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sahila said...

From Peggy Robertson of the national opt out group:

"We have created a postcard and bumper sticker for opting out! Our goal is to have everyone mail a postcard to their school district no later than January 7th, stating how they are going to opt out of corporate education reform. We have left the opt out message very open-ended so that multiple ways of opting out apply - and you can add your own message. Of course the slam dunk is opting out of the state test :)..."
UnitedOptOut

someone said...

Just out of curiosity, why does it necessarily cost $60,000 to find a candidate? I'm asking because I don't know - I assume that's via some kind of "headhunter" service? Aren't there other options?

I guess I don't see the harm in seeing who might be interested.

mirmac1 said...

2cents,

Do you think $110K to Strategies 360 for "messaging" the District Scorecard, the canning of MGJ, the TIF whatever (guess they needed to sell it to their employees), was a good use of money?

anonymous said...

I think there have been a lot of poor uses of money. And I think a $60,000 super search would be another one.

my2cents

Melissa Westbrook said...

Hornet, I didn't make a superintendent expectation list OR Board expectation list. So what input? I'm giving my opinion. There's a difference.

Okay, so we don't have $60K to fill the most important job in our district but we had $110k for communications consulting earlier this year. Where's your outrage there? Apparently none.

I'm not saying my opinion counts more - I'm saying THEIRS doesn't. And I think they think it should.

Someone else, yes, you are right. We don't have to do it the headhunter way. And, I believe we have some pretty good people locally but we won't know if we don't open it up.

Sahila said...

I think 2cents got paid 2cents to plug the Alliance message....

anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

$60,000 is not that much compared with other ways the District has spent large sums of money. If I were Enfield I'd welcome the search so I'd feel legitimate at being appointed the Sup, if I were to win. Otherwise there will always be slams against her having had an insider track to the permanent position.
--Hold a Search

anonymous said...

Don't put words in my mouth. I never said I thought we had 110K to spend on communications consultants. We didn't, and we shouldn't have done that. That was money that was not well spent. I believe spending 60K on a super search would also be money that was not well spent, especially since no matter who we get the usual suspects will all think he/she sucks within 6 months anyway.

I think the super is doing a good enough job to be given a chance. You don't. No right or wrong, just a difference of opinion.

my2cents

Sahila said...

a super who lies "is doing a good enough job"....

interesting perspective, 2cents...

Jack Whelan said...

Regarding the super search--all parties have a right to lobby for what they want, but in the end it only matters what four out of seven directors want. If there are at least four votes to support a search, which directors are they? Or which are most open to being persuaded?

Anonymous said...

Melissa, you and Charlie are the best. Keep it up. You are driving them nuts because they can't control your message. I love it. And yes on the national search. $60K is a drop in the bucket considering how much money is wasted on messaging and unproven strategies.

-Missing Link

Anonymous said...

Computer issues have me up in the wee hours, so I may as well chime in too.

I'll use this trial balloon regarding Enfield: When confronted with holy hell after her incredibly cynical attempted firing of Martin Floe at Ingraham, she backed off and backed down. In a million years, MGJ would not have done so.

Virtually all the complaints posted here are valid and factual about SE. Even, and especially the BFF stuff with the Ed Reformers. That said, I truly believe Enfield has talent and can be molded into a decent SI. If anyone is going to change the tone, I sincerely doubt it will be another out of towner with no history we know of. SE has stumbled and screwed up on some key stuff, and the public has pushed back hard by electing two new board members, one of whom was instrumental in reversing the Floe firing.

Doesn't anyone want to watch this battle for the next few months? I sure do!

Things had better change downtown, and SE knows it. She embraces all the reformers, but even she will realize that stuff doesn't work as well as collaborative, sincere, good faith efforts.

At least she admits the Strategic Plan is a bust. Good luck every getting Maier or Sundquist to do that.

The chEoice really is Enfield's as to what kind of SI she wants to be: a doll of the ed reform crowd, or somebody who is willing to give teachers and those in the trenches the respect they deserve.

I truly feel the jury is still out, despite her tack toward the ed reform crowd thus far. I'm sure she'll break my heart a few more times yet, but, again, it's the devil I know thingy. WSDWG

Anonymous said...

I really don't understand then argument against doing a national search. People leave important administrative positions all the time and someone is required to step In and fill them on a temporary basis. Unless that person is uniquely qualified, and sometimes even then, the norm is to do a thorough search as soon as the calendar ofnthe profession allows. Sometimes the interim is a candidate and sometimes not. There is something weird and provincial and defeatist about the argument that we should settle for the random person who happened to be sitting around when the position became vacant as long as she is "good enough." We owe it to our kids to do a national search. And we owe it to ourselves if we want Seattle to be the world-class city that it should and can be.

--amsiegel

Melissa Westbrook said...

"That said, I truly believe Enfield has talent and can be molded into a decent SI."

I think Dr. Enfield could be a great superintendent for this district but I would like the opportunity to be sure she is the right choice.

My fear is that the "molding" will come at the hands (and whispering in her ear) from a few and not from all areas of this city.

I know Susan to be a strong person. I'm sure she would bristle at the idea that anyone would mold her.

But the political reality is that we are in a time and place where there is a larger agenda in play. There are tremendous pressures on her to follow an ed reform agenda. (I do not think the money poured into the incumbents' campaigns by Gates Foundation CEO and others was any coincidence.)

We had a promise previously on this issue. We didn't have a superintendent search with Joe Olchefske. We were told he was bright. We were told he learned at the knee of John Stanford. We were told no, he's not an educator but he's a financial whiz so we're getting that expertise.

We had a Board with bright, capable business types. It all seemed - to some - to line up beautifully. It did not.

Frankly, I'm not sure he would have survived a superintendent search but we were never given that opportunity.

I think it likely that Susan Enfield would win out. It could be that someone even better is out there (and locally, too). But we will never know if there is no search.

Ed said...

Much as I want to agree with Melissa and want to disagree with the folks who bought our last Board and supported MGJ to the end (Alliance and Don Neilsen), I agree with "my2cents".

Th $ 60k could buy a lot of library books and Enfield at least deserves a chance to sink or swin on her own merits.

Now I need to reconcile to my new strange (not you "cents")bedfellows.

StopTFA said...

Four Board members? Okay, here they are: Peaslee, McLaren, Patu and DeBelle.

Now some may question that last one. Let me repeat his statement, at the 9/7 Board meeting when addressing the TFA "anonymous donor" question:

"Unfortunately we have been moving in a direction in this country, thanks to the wisdom of the Supreme Court, where dollars, donations and money are treated as freedom of speech."

I think he would look at the Alliance's improper ultimatum as more of the same.

More on nontransparency later...

Anonymous said...

The one thing that makes me cringe when I think about Enfield staying on as the "permanent" Supt. is the point Charlie keeps bringing up about her gigantic blind spot to the area of Teaching and Learning.

She's cleaned house in every other department, but Teaching and Learning--the core department of the whole bleeping school district--is still a shambles. She can't seem to see all the dysfunction swirling around that department and there's precious little chance that things will get any better for students until someone who can see the warts in that area is in her job.

I fear that if Susan Enfield is given the "permanent" Superintendency, the children of Seattle will be doomed to more of the same MAP, TFA, and curriculum standardization; furthermore none of the desparately needed housecleaning that has taken place everywhere else in the JSCEE will reach the Teaching and Learning Department.

I have to advocate for a search. As the Ed Reform crowd would phrase it:

It's for the kids.

StopTFA said...

One more thing. How many times have we had the "textbook" carrot dangled in front of us? No matter what we do or say, they don't get *(%^$! bought. I'm tired of it (not directed at you Ed).

Anonymous said...

Anytime a group like the Alliance is doing a PR campaign should be the only red flag needed by the ordinary parent or voter.

What's worse, if the PR campaign to keep Enfield without a search works, then Enfield really owes them.

Why would any superintendent need to listen to these wealthy flagship organizations other than for political reasons? When the Alliance first started under John Stanford, they were trying to put money directly into student needs. They have evolved into a Frankenstein lobbying group whose main function is no longer funding for schools. Do Bellevue, Lake Washington or any other local district have to put up with a anything like the Alliance?

Imagine a superintendent who didn't care what the Alliance, LEV or others thought except if they were providing a direct good to the students of Seattle. Yes, folks, we've gotten jaded. A superintendent with integrity would actually treat these organizations in such a way.

I love how the Bridge boy counsels Enfield about transparency--don't be transparent because you're a public servant but do so in order to keep your job.

--don't forget how much these groups also "loved" MGJ

Anonymous said...

You're doin' a helluva job!

-The Alliance

Do we want a Superintendent-in-training, or an experienced Superintendent? $60,000 (if that's the figure) seems like a small price to pay to ensure a well run district. Heck, our PTA could raise that.

Sahila said...

Another product of the BROAD SUPER PUPPY MILL.... and the MO is the same everywhere these people go... destroy a district so it can be taken over by charters and TFAers...

Changes - Kaching, Kaching, Kaching

get big business - in this case in the form of Enfield - out of Seattle schools...

Name said...

we could recoup the 60k easily by offering a lower salary. An SI does not need to make 250K. In fact, offering the position at 180k might just bring up some honest people that would shy away from a 250k position.

StopTFA said...

What Melissa doesn't elucidate is the timeline of Enfield's lies. And I would point out that, as the Board meeting videos show, Enfield uses tortuous illogic, and channels MGJ (except smiley) in her impenetrable batting away of directors' questions.

8/17 - in response to Carr's question"

1. "The funds to pay for TFA is coming from a private source that we'll be able to share once we actually know that we are going to have these people in our schools."

2. "...until we've had the motion before the board there was no need to secure the funding...now we will move forward on the conversations we have had...

9/7 Again, to Carr's questions:

1. "What I have said all along, not know the final # of candidates we don't know the number, what the fund amount will be..."

2. "I don't have the names, I'll be happy to share, assuming those people, I assume, they would be comfortable with that..."

3. "I wasn't pushing that just because we've had other things to do, so that's the only reason."

4. "I just want to point out TFA's payment is at the end of October."

Oh yeah, and on 9/6 in response to Melissa's question at the Denny media event, TFA funding is coming from "a group of private citizens, next question." May as well said "talk to the hand" on that one.

Anonymous said...

I am strongly in favor of a search for a different superintendent.

Dr. Enfield was in charge of academics prior to her selection as interim superintendent. She is in favor of a one size fits all math curricula, the inquiry-based textbooks that land a quarter of our students into remedial classes in college. The achievement gap is growing and students of color are floundering with this math curricula. I hope the new board members address this since it is a much bigger deal than choosing a few TFA teachers.

The Alliance has overstepped their mission here. They should support the schools but not try to set policy or choose staff.

S Parent

Sahila said...

a post about the School Board elections and funding:

School Board Campaign Funding

StopTFA said...

Then on 9/9, Deputy Superintendent Noel Treat, former Ethics Officer so I expect an upstanding individual, tells directors in an email:

"I want to follow up...to be sure you all have the full background. Susan has heard from a couple community members that they might be interested in funding the TFA fee. NO ONE has committed to pay the fee. (so it was irresponsible to hire three TFA already, no?)..In this respect, there are no donors to announce because none have agreed to pay it.

To this Carr replies on 9/10 in the a.m.: "You are on the brink of losing my support on this one - I would urge you to figure it out."

Now unelected, unselected Jon Bridge weighs in with his arrogant "Teachers don't matter" email, adding "we should...not be afraid of any support of the candidates. They can independently justify the decision to invite TFA." Hear that Carr and Maier (the other two are TFA groupies)? He's essentially saying you can just screw yourself.

On 9/21, with the Seattle Foundation apparently browbeat to cough up $20K, you see candidate Maier rousing from his torpor and presenting his scholarly treatise on why I ended up supporting TFA. It's a tactic blah blah. Then candidate Carr says "what he said." So there was clear CYA, to assuage the embittered Masters of the Alliance and throw a bone to concerned constituents.

So there is an example of SE's honesty and ethics, NOT!. And to those that say I'm unelected and unselected, I'm under no illusion that I carry that kind of sway, however, to the extent district officials' OWN WORDS screw themselves - that's their and, ultimately, our childrens' problem.

Anonymous said...

I say they should definitely hold a search - Enfield is so-so at best -

- parents of 2 SPS students

po3 said...

Interesting those in favor of keeping Enfield all say she's done a good enough job; but can't point to any real successes.

Those in favor of a search have concerns about Enfield and can back up with a short list of examples.

Anonymous said...

Good point, po3

I say run a search - doesn;t have ot be a national search. Can advertise and see what happens -

signed, a parent

Disgusted said...

Jon Bridge brings up the candidates. We know individuals such as Matt Griffin provided funding for TfA and provided incumbents with thousands of campaign dollars. One has to wonder- Was there an attempt to protect incumbents?

Sahila said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Enfield? The same Enfield who took the school book levy money and used it to give raises to her buddies in administration?

And when confronted live on the radio said, "Well, it's not illegal."

That Enfield?

-JC.

Anonymous said...

As a taxpayer, I expect the Board to do a search. As a taxpayer who's children have aged out of the system but continues to support SPS, I expect a search. Even if the eventual hire is SE, I expect the a search. It is worth the $60,000 to do a search and I am pretty sure that there is $60,000 available in the central administrative budget to accomplish this. The Alliance can and should give their opinion but that advice should be no more or less important than mine. My letter is in the mail to the Board stating emphatically that they should conduct a search for the next superintendent.
MCB

word verifier is asking me to fill in the blank: consp_ _ I don't subscribe to conspiracy theories but might if SE is simply hired without a search.

StopTFA said...

Well MCB, DeBelle would seem to agree with you if he still holds to the principled position he took in September, when he said:

"(that when donations are treated as freedom of speech this) gives an outsized voice to those who have lots of money in our society, and can often diminish the voice of the average taxpayer or the average citizen."

When speaking of the TFA hiring process, he said:

"I am happy that (hires) were chosen in a competitive process, that is why I was comfortable approving the...contract at its origin."

So, will this businessman, who would seem to fit the mold of the Varner's and Bridge's in our community, succumb to Alliance's strongarming? Or will he hold to the notion that the deep pockets' threat diminishes the average citizen's voice and removes the benefit of an open, transparent, competitive process.

What will it be Mr. DeBelle? My respect for you really grew that day. Will you answer to Bridge or to the students, families and average citizens in our district, especially those Bridge and Co. purport to champion?

Anonymous said...

Bridge figures we're all just rubes buying baubles. I prefer hearing his real thoughts.

http://youtu.be/JeKYVxvzKcU

There are people we disagree with, and there are people who think we're all doormats for their filthy feet.

Which Side Are You On?

anonymous said...

"Interesting those in favor of keeping Enfield all say she's done a good enough job; but can't point to any real successes. "

Have done it in many other threads It's redundant and exhausting to repeat over and over again. Not going there again, but a quick SSS blog search will find what many of us feel are SE's successes.

my2cents

KG said...

Please do a search and furlough top
District adminocrats for another day to pay for it.

Anonymous said...

2cents, you could probably compact one or two into a succinct sentence or two, don't you think?

I can't help but agree that a $60,000 compare-and-contrast search might save hundred-of-thousands down the line. After all we've been through, no time to penny pinch. Enfield's relationship with Bridge and a letter than trivializes teachers and members of the community . . . unacceptable.

You are doing an excellent job, Melissa and Charlie. We are lucky to have you.

northender

The Real Arnold said...

@Anonymous:" an experienced Superintendent? $60,000 (if that's the figure) seems like a small price to pay to ensure a well run district."

So we get an "experienced" SI from out-of-state (most likely) that doesn't know anything about our state law about schools. That's what happened the last time. And she brought cronies with her that also didn't know crap about our state laws. Look how well that turned out - audit findings out the whazoo, a community in turmoil, a chastened Board (actually, more like intimidated). Betcha' they get someone from Broad again.

whitney said...

Enfield defended the bogus 17% directly to my and several peoples' faces at a Hamilton community meeting several years ago announcing the appointment of Bree Dusseault --stating "we used the state college entrance requirements." WRONG. Sherry Carr and PTSA leadership were standing right there and heard this defense. Enfield was Chief Academic Officer during that whole 17% debacle, and yet somehow, she gets a pass on that whole mess, and lets MGJ take the full blame. Investigation needs to happen regarding Enfield's role in the release of what was arguably one of the most damaging, cynical, and dishonest statistics in our school distict's history.

Enfield supports having untrained, uncertificated young people paid a full salary and benefits as "teachers" via TFA.

Enfiled fired a popular high school principal. And yet the only thing people remember is that she changed her mind when she saw the outrage. How about not firing him in the first place, and not letting speculation run wild about this upstanding man? What a forgiving bunch everyone is!

A national search is in order.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Again, because I'm not sure this is registering, I believe there are other local people who would be good. I'm not looking for some drive-by out-of-towner at all.

And MGJ didn't fail because she didn't know state law (what?).

I'm not against Enfield ending up superintendent but some of you don't remember how we got Olchefske.

We were promised, by a "professional" Board that he would be great. Not an educator but a financial whiz. No oversight (except by lone voice Mary Bass who was marginalized) and what happened? Financial scandal.

And we were promised, via the work of the CAICEE and Moss Adams, that it wouldn't happen again. But no one followed those directives and guess what? it happened again.

I'm not saying with Enfield that would happen again.

I'm saying that keeping someone on without review, without asking "hey what is your vision and how are we going to get there?" and without even looking around locally or regionally is not a good idea.

I remember being told keeping an interim super was all for the best. Sorry if I have some institutional memory here.

cascade said...

2 things: 1) Peaslee and McLaren campaigned on wanting a superintendent search. I'd best see them vote that way. Period. I think readers should take a second to remind them of their public commitment.

Second. Just read the Alliance letter again and it annoyed me even more the second time. I have a blog idea. The Alliance outlined Their Expectations of Superintendent and Board.

Let's outline our Expectations of the Alliance. Here, I'll start with the first sentence or two and others can copy it and add on. And so on. Perhaps Melissa or Charlie can mail the results to the full Alliance board, which of course includes the School Board.

As The Public, We Expect from The Alliance:

1) That you reduce your noticeably high overhead to run your organization. These are dollars that could go to the classroom.
2) That you stop disparaging our teaching corps in public AND PRIVATE conversation.

StopTFA said...

If the watchword is "stability", I ask how stable are anyone of us in light of the dissembling and obfuscation we see on myriad issues. Whether it be Martin Floe, TFA, or the latest pseudo-emergency, both the Board and district families can't be sure we're being told the truth, without spin or messaging.

Charlie Mas said...

Here's how I lay this out.

Dr. Enfield is good enough.

I acknowledge that she has a blind spot when it comes to reforming Teaching and Learning.

I acknowledge that she supported the positions and initiatives of her boss when she was CAO.

I acknowledge that Teach for America is another blind spot for her.

Despite these negatives, there are a lot of positives.

She did clean house in the rest of the District. Some of the biggest contributors to the dysfunctional culture in JSCEE are gone. Just gone. The new people she has brought into those departments are forthright, data-driven, caring, and highly competent.

She does get public input and she does respond to public feedback.

She has been in charge for about seven months - including some very busy and critical times - and she has kept the ball rolling forward.

I'm not saying that I think she's perfect, but I am saying that she is good enough.

What would we hope to accomplish with a search? We would hope to find someone better. I don't see a lot of upside potential here. First, I don't think we're going to find anyone who is way, way better than Dr. Enfield. I don't think we're going to find some kind of superstar superintendent who is going to make some big difference with their genius or charisma. Does anyone know of anyone out there like that who would want the Seattle job? Instead, we can only really hope to find someone who is slightly, incrementally better than Dr. Enfield.

If that. We could easily find someone worse. It would take us years to discover it and more time and money to shed them. There is also the possibility that we don't find anyone at all. Then what? Maybe we don't even keep Dr. Enfield. Is there anyone here who wants to contemplate the District with Cathy Thompson as interim superintendent? Anyone? I would reckon her to be next in line to the crown - not Noel Treat (with his one year of experience) or Pegi McEvoy, or the interim CFO who should have been returned to his retirement months ago.

So I don't see a lot of upside potential from a search and I do see risk in it.

Any new superintendent will need time to assess the situation and gain traction. That's time that Dr. Enfield doesn't need.

And as for Dr. Enfield's "blind spots", I think the Board is going to help her out with those. Teach for America? Gone. Unquestioned acceptance of Education Reform solutions? Over. Resistance to reform in Teaching and Learning? Maybe even that.

It's not about the $60,000. That's chicken feed. It's about taking a lot of risk to achieve a small return. I don't like that deal.

Charlie Mas said...

Dr. Goodloe-Johnson didn't have trouble so much with adjusting to a new state's laws as she had trouble adjusting to a District with a unionized teaching corps. I don't believe that the teachers at her previous district had a union.

Anonymous said...

What is the value brought to or inherent in the position of Superintendent that substantiates a salary greater than that of the Governor?

Let's just notch down the salary scale (quite) a bit for the Sup and those JSCEE staffers.

Market study adjustment my patootskie. If y'all are so valuable then go ahead and pursue those other opportunities.

-Compete, already.

Sahila said...

In my world, its got nothing to do with what incoming superintendents know about state law or how to work with unions...

its got to do with the question of whether or not they are willing to enact OUR agenda, or whether they are the puppets of the ed reformers...

Enfield has shown she's a puppet of the ed reformers...

as was MGJ...

either Enfield goes, or the BOARD controls her on our behalf (not her controlling the board, as MGJ and her A4E, LEV, S4C, OSC buddies were doing)...

otherwise, we're just continuing down the same horrible path...

otherwise, why did we pay big money to get rid of MGJ?

why did we bother to vote out 2 of the incumbent board members?

chunga said...

First of all, great post Melissa. You're doing the job our local journalists should be doing. Thank you. While I understand some of the concern about a search being risky, Melissa's reminder of how we've been burned before as a community seems very pertinent here.

One concern I have is that SE has backed down on some issues because she knows she's auditioning. Moreover, her backing off on Floe does not negate to me the fact that she made the decision in the first place to fire him. Moreover, she has expressed a continued commitment to both TFA and MAP. At the recent L of W voters town hall, I was also disappointed in her emphasis on growth in test scores. I've already seen some signs test scores are playing way too big a role (test score growth becoming a focal point in teacher professional development, Floe being fired supposedly in large part due to insufficient test score growth). This is the sink hole that many districts across this country have fallen into and it sucks the life out of school.

I appreciate that she did some housecleaning and does not take a confrontational tone with the public (that should be given). I was also impressed with her rebutting a LEV (or perhaps it was Stand) member that yes education funding was important (this was at Scott White's Ed town hall).

It will undoubtedly take an exceptional person to stand up to the corporate bullies and we may not be able to find such a person, but it seems like we ought to do our best. I am also concerned about SE's ultimatum - shouldn't we want to someone so committed they'll fight to get the job. Not someone who jets if we blink.

chunga said...

The board just posted a superintendent search survey at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/SPSSchoolBoard

dan dempsey said...

Charlie,

It seems you are doing a lot of optimistic hoping for change. It is a change I can't believe it.

And as for Dr. Enfield's "blind spots", I think the Board is going to help her out with those. Teach for America? Gone. Unquestioned acceptance of Education Reform solutions? Over. Resistance to reform in Teaching and Learning? Maybe even that.

Wait a minute? Enfield just shipped the legal appeal of TFA off to Freimund, Jackson, and Tardiff in Olympia.... that does not look like a move to end TFA by giving 6 months notice to do so.

When do you see this TFA gone?

When do you see a careful review of all options for closing achievement gaps?

Enfield refused to grant a Singapore Math waiver.

Acceptance of Ed reform has been Enfield's MO .... so how and why will the future be different?

The Discovering math disaster.... Everyday Math ... she has not done anything but confirm continuing in that direction.

To improve a system requires the intelligent application of relevant data .... look at her action reports.

The Cleveland waiver again filled with propaganda.

I am clearly not as hopeful as you.

Without resistance to the Common Core State Standards ... Ed reform will likely be swallowing the state not just Seattle.

SolvayGirl said...

Thanks Chunga...wish they had a category for "Paying for Private School Because of Disgust with SPS." As it was I had to check "other." I would have liked to have them be able to note that we were a family lost to SPS.

The Real Arnold said...

@Melissa: "...without asking 'hey what is your vision and how are we going to get there?....'"

Isn't it the Board's responsibility to set "the vision", and not their employees'(the SI)responsibility?

Michael H said...

@cascade: "As The Public, We Expect from The Alliance:

1) That you reduce your noticeably high overhead to run your organization. These are dollars that could go to the classroom.
2) That you stop disparaging our teaching corps in public AND PRIVATE conversation."

That's a tall ORDER, telling a private organization what they shouldn't talk about in PRIVATE, and how they should run their fiscal operation.

I'm sure they would tell you to kiss their back-side (saying it in public as well as in private - but especially in private).

Please explain: Who do you think you are, specifically? And, why do you think you speak for everyone ("the Public")?

Anonymous said...

Charlie,

What about integrity as a qualification? Sure, anyone can learn to behave if the bosses have a metaphorical gun to your head but it's how you behave and talk when you don't think anyone is listening that show one's character.

Susan Enfield has shown her true colors in disclosed emails and during the school board TFA lie.

So, this is the best we can expect for a public servant?

--I beg to differ

Charlie Mas said...

Dr. Enfield does what her boss tells her to do - just like the rest of us. When her boss was Dr. Goodloe-Johnson, she did things Dr. Goodloe-Johnson's way. When her boss is the current board she does things their way. And when her boss is the new board, she will do things the new board's way.

Teach for America has support from the current board. It will not have support from the next board. When the next board meets they will act to cancel the contract and she will cancel it.

As for integrity, I think doing your job the way your boss tells you to do it shows integrity. It's far more honest than undermining your boss and thwarting their efforts.

I think that Dr. Enfield's reversal on the Martin Floe decision, and her reconsideration of a couple other things that captured the public's attention (APP relocation, student newspaper censorship, etc.) shows that she acknowledges the community as her boss as well. That is a very strong positive.

Perfection isn't on the menu. We aren't going to do much better than Susan Enfield. She may not be the best possible superintendent but she is awful close to it and we can get her with almost no risk.

The cost of the search isn't just the $60,000. It's also the risks associated with it. The risk of losing Dr. Enfield without a suitable replacement. The risk that the new hire will be a disaster.

Dr. Enfield is not a disaster.

Ed said...

Charlie

The teachers at MGJ's former job had a union. But in a "Right to worl" state, only voluntary dues can be collected. Thus, only a small percentage are "Freight paying" members. The rest are "Free riders".

This keeps the organization weak by nature and is the same arrangement sought by every charter school bill heard in Washington State n the last twenty years.

If "Reformers" could ever get over the union question, true refrom could start.

Its those that can't tolerate voices who disagree with them (Bridge, MGJ, Ron English) that remain the problem.

uxolo said...

Enfield does what her bosses tell her to do? WHAT?

Her "bosses are the children and youth in the classroom who expect her to offer them instruction that will be engaging and valuable.

Charlie, the superintendent's job may be to answer to the Board, but the responsibility is to serve the children. See any one of Dan's posts to see why she is not worthy of the permanent position.

A leader does not wait to "be told hat to do."

dw said...

$60k is a drop in the bucket. The fact that it's getting mentioned so often, by so many, is a demonstration of the power of those who want Enfield to become the next superintendent. Stop bringing it up, you're only helping to make it one of the popular talking points.

But… there are other, more serious costs of a search (and likely replacement): the attention of the board for an extended period of time; the huge amount of getting-up-to-speed time for anyone else coming into the SI role (unless they were "home grown"); even more churn of high level staff, which always happens with a new boss; not to mention the chance getting someone much worse.

Charlie's Dr. Enfield is good enough post is full of wisdom. This is not a simple slam dunk in either direction. It's not a situation of whether or not Dr. Enfield has made perfect decisions at every step of her short tenure as iSI (she obviously hasn't). It's a question of alternatives.

When it comes to potentially bringing in a new SI, probably from another region, stop and think about what that means. Very few people are qualified (even remotely), available, and interested in coming to work in this type of job, with the incredible scrutiny inherent. In all likelihood the list will be very short (remember last time!) and we are not going to know very much about any of them. We might get a slight upgrade, but we could very easily get a downgrade, along with a bunch of churn. I do trust that the current board won't be totally snowed like the previous board was, but you can bet your last dollar that the "powers that be" will be wielding whatever influence they have to make their minions look good on paper. Or alternatively, as Charlie mentioned, does anyone here want Cathy Thompson as our next super? No thanks.

Enfield's tenure here has certainly been a mixed bag. Bad: TfA, math (so far, but likely to change), and I'll go along with Dan on much of the NTN situation. But there have been a bunch of good decisions as well, many around personnel replacement. As far as I can tell, they have (almost) all been significant upgrades. But as much as anything else, she has drastically slowed the rate of sheer chaos that MGJ brought upon this district and city at large. If I was put in Enfield's (stylish) shoes 7 months ago, that would have been my top priority. Slow down this runaway train.

So what to do? Next post.

dw said...

I think it would be terribly imprudent to blame Enfield for the vast majority of what came into the district prior to MGJ's dismissal. Yes, she was the CAO, but she was working for one of the most dictatorial bosses this city has known. In that kind of environment you watch your step very carefully every. single. day. if you want to remain employed tomorrow. You bide your time until your boss makes a mistake. And that finally happened.

But what about the past 7 months? Isn't she in charge now? Nope. Enfield continues to have a very pro-ed-reform boss: the current board. How could she not support TfA when the majority of her bosses are supporters? Yes, some of the FOIA emails seem pretty damaging, but many of them read a bit differently when you think about them in this context.

So I would argue, very strongly, that until the new board members are sworn in, and the balance of power changes on the board, NO ONE knows Susan Enfield's true colors. None of us, myself included. Over the ensuing weeks, the board will be working very closely with Dr. Enfield, and in time it will become clear whether or not she is a good fit for the new board. But it will take time. The big question is: how quickly can this determination be made?

I really doubt it will be obvious (unless it's clearly a bad fit) within the first few weeks, although one could potentially see the TfA situation speed up the mutual understanding. So what to do?

I see a couple options, and there are probably other variations on this theme:

- Push for an extension of the "interim" title. Not for a year, but for a few months, maybe three. Enough time to allow the newly constituted board to properly assess their ability to work together productively with Dr. Enfield.

- Perhaps less desirable on both sides, but they could offer a shorter than typical contract with some kind of incentive for agreeing to such. The idea would basically be the same as extending the interim title: buying time. As such, there would be an expectation that any termination compensation would be very small.

I don't think there's huge downside to this because the board can always dismiss the superintendent if things are not going well, under contract or not. The contract ensures that's possible. And I don't think it's unreasonable, politically, to say hey, we're a new board and we need to be smart about making this decision.

I'd love to hear some (non-knee jerk) thoughts. Just remember, not a single one of us knows Dr. Enfield personally, nor can any of us read her mind.

Melissa Westbrook said...

The Board SHOULD set the vision but usually doesn't (except in the most vague, kumbaya terms). Maybe they will this time. But it IS the Superintendent's job to prioritize and explain how it will happen.

"I don't think we're going to find some kind of superstar superintendent who is going to make some big difference with their genius or charisma. Does anyone know of anyone out there like that who would want the Seattle job?"

Who said we wanted someone like that?

Also, there are plenty of people out there (witness the numbers that applied for every job MGJ did). As I've said before, this is actually a GOOD urban district.

Picture this; our district has its footing and is now running well and is well-managed. We have a grip on capacity management. Most of the focus, resources and time spent in this district is not on financial scandals and mismanagement but on ACADEMIC outcomes.

You don't need a superstar for that job. You need someone committed to this district and this city. I have a couple of people in mind but I can't say who they are because it might jeopardize their positions. And, they can't apply if there is no search.

But I see your points Charlie and I could easily accept Dr. Enfield as permanent superintendent. I really would like a one-year term because I support the idea of her working with the new Board first. I think through compromise and consensus, this is the option the Board will pick.

But I remember what came before. Olchefske, Enfield's BFF relationship with TFA (this was not just going with the program) and the Martin Floe situation.

But understand that if the Alliance is pushing this hard for Enfield, it's for a reason.

anonymous said...

"Moreover, she has expressed a continued commitment to both TFA and MAP."

Chunga, were you aware that SE has REDUCED the number of times MAP tests are given per year.

As for TFA, I believe the new school board will be able to move the district away from TFA.

Do we really want to can a super over a few fixable, issues, and mistakes that she has hopefully learned from? And do you really think a new super won't have any issues? I totally agree with Charlie that we'd be taking a huge risk doing a search or hiring someone else. We know what we have in SE, and she has done a good job thus far. Not perfect, but good enough.

As for this statement "I am also concerned about SE's ultimatum -"

Remember, we have no idea if this is true or false at this point. Dr. Enfield has **NOT** said this publicly. We do not even know who Melissa's source is? Right now, it is pure speculation and rumor mill. I'd hold your judgement on this one.

my2cents

anonymous said...

"I think that Dr. Enfield's reversal on the Martin Floe decision, and her reconsideration of a couple other things that captured the public's attention (APP relocation, student newspaper censorship, etc.) shows that she acknowledges the community as her boss as well. That is a very strong positive."

Couldn't agree more, Charlie. SE is new at the job, and there is a learning curve. Hopefully these were teachable moments for her. The important thing is that she listened to the community and reversed her decisions and that is HUGE.

my2cents

Anonymous said...

My student was a senior at Ingraham last year during the Floe debacle - and I was not at all impressed by how Susan Enfield "reversed" her decision. The letter she sent to Ingraham families was condescending and to me, said that she felt her decision was right but that she was bowing to public opinion for a little while. I was not impressed at all. While she might be an improvement over MGJ, she is not a significant improvement. It makes sense to at least see who else is out there -

signed, a less-than-overjoyed Ingraham parent

kellie said...

Charlie,

I think that is very well said. I concur with your assessment here. I also agree that SE has made remarkable changes in a short time.

I have worked on capacity related issues for 9 years. I have seen more genuine progress in the last six months than in all the previous time combined. I sincerely believe that if the current group picked by SE had been in place, we never would have had those tragic rounds of closures.

To me the tragedy is that this transformation is happening at the time when nearly every resource has been exhausted. Remember when we had a "rainy day fund."

The type of conversation that is being had at FACMAC where there is a genuine community engagement could only happen with the culture set from the top.

I am satisfied with SE. I don't know if the upside to a search is worth the distraction cost. I could be completely wrong about this and I am not afraid of a search.

That said, for nine years, I have had some successes at thwarting the district on some crazy initiatives. But the effect was only to blunt some of the most egregious behavior, rather than to do anything that improved the core work of the district - improving teaching and learning.

I never dreamed there would be an opportunity to have a dialogue. There is a genuine dialogue about capacity issues. I also never thought the capacity mess could be untangled enough to return the conversation to the appropriate focus - teaching and learning.

IMO, returning the conversation to teaching and learning is a very high bar and I believe there is every indication that this expection will be met.

Chris S. said...

Charlie's post made me pause - yes, we could do a lot worse. However, we can do a search and choose her. She may not be moldable, but she IS trying to develop her career, and a search would be good for her and us.

Frankly, though, the Alliance's heavy-handed support is really concerning. I do not share their values. Why do they think she is so great? And all this urgency to avoid a search - don't you smell something that they don't want to come out?

mirmac1 said...

Just curious, how do the supts with the Edmonds and Lake Washington School districts measure up? They don't seem inflamed with scandal and teacher bashing.

Kathy said...

The board sets the vision for the district- and controls the funding streams. With a new board in place-What would it look like to retain Enfield?

Enfield has not shown herself to be fiscally responsible. Enfield has continually supported testing, data and administation overwhile proposing to eliminate classroom support. This causes me grave concern. But with a new board..what would this look like?

I've not been happy with Cathy Thompson. The district put an enormous amount of pressure on our level 5 school causing the principal to withdraw a request for a math waiaver. Again, with a new board -how would this look like?

In light of the TfA e-mails, I"m concerned about truth and transparency.

There are benefits continuity.

Chris S. said...

Dumb question: if the new board wants to "give her a chance" to see how she works with them, could they extend the term of her interim appointment?

Melissa Westbrook said...

I don't think she would accept the "interim" any longer. But many supers do go with a one-year contract.

That's my middle ground. She hasn't been Superintendent that long, the Board is newish and we want to save money right now.

Anything is possible - it just depends on who is willing to negotiate.

anonymous said...

I like the one year contract idea too! Great middle ground.

my2cents

Anonymous said...

Chris S.
Don't think that's a dumb question at all. I hope they do the long-term dating thing to figure out the lay of the land, to explore ideas and thinkings, to develop effective communication and working relationship which hopefully will result in mutual trust and respect and better management of this district.

By electing some new folks in, we do have a new board who can determine if Dr. Enfield is our gal and for Dr. Enfiled to see if this is where she wants to be and who she wants to partner with.

Seattle mom

mirmac1 said...

Remember that 40 PEOPLE applied for the Broward County School Superintendent position (including our inimitable MGJ).

There's got to be at least two or twelve who are better than Enfield.

Anonymous said...

A good litmus test might be the 1 year contract. If she balks, then it would show that she's somewhat clueless to the community's concerns after what we went through with her predecessor. It would also demonstrate what she thinks of herself and whether her priorities are in order. Lastly, it would show what kind of common sense, or lack of it, she has.

With two new board members, she should anticipate and expect an extension or a 1 year offer. To demand more, given this district and her tenure in it, would be tone deaf as can be on her part.

If the majority still want a search, have at it with my blessings. But I think we need to be very careful, very honest, and very observant about what is currently available. Nationally, Ed Reform has taken much deeper root than here in Seattle, much to the chagrin of the local pro Reform groups, and much to the credit of our engaged community. And nationally, in places like DC and NY, people are beginning to filter through the lies, bogus statistics, cheating scandals, and propaganda, and realizing that much of the "improvement" has been hot air.

Given SE's recent comments about the 5 year plan, I think she's acknowledging that it's not working so well here either. This is so much different than her flagrantly dishonest and "contemptuous of the public" predecessor, that we should be happy.

The last board ensured that the SI didn't have to deal with the community because they would back her 100% on anything. Those days are over! We've restored the balance of power to the Board. It's a new day, and we need to realize that first, before we go looking for Mr. or Mrs. Right as the next SI.

So let's talk grades, then: If I had to grade Enfield, I'd say, despite the scandals, B-. Maybe C+ because of the TFA antics, but look, she had tight strings on her lips from her Alliance bosses among others. (The same people who owned the Board!) I think she was more concerned about speaking out of turn and exposing what Ed Reformer was paying for TFA, rather than caring what the community thought. She won't be able to do that with the new board, so I do not suspect she will.

This board can perform oversight and hold people accountable unlike the last board. That's enough of a great start compared to where we were only a few short weeks ago for me to feel good about the next SI's role, and who that person will answer to, whether its SE or not. WSDWG

Anonymous said...

We owe it to our community to do a national search. A competivites process is done for board members and lower level positions. Why should this position be any different.

I disagree with Charlie that the risk is too great to do a national search. I believe a the greater risk is to settle of mediocrity and set that example for our students and community. We deserve the opportunity to at least go through a process to see who else is out there. Discussions behind closed doors are not the way to go. Haven't we learned anything in the last year?

A friend of Seattle

dw said...

(Not a big deal, but I'm a little curious if my posts above were too long and people glossed over them, as they boiled down to these 2 suggestions)

Chris S said: if the new board wants to "give her a chance" to see how she works with them, could they extend the term of her interim appointment?

Melissa said: I really would like a one-year term because I support the idea of her working with the new Board first.

I concur with Melissa's concern: I don't think she would accept the "interim" any longer., but it's something I hope the new board will explore. And I don't think it's unreasonable, given that the board composition has significantly changed.

I would also be fully supportive of a one-year contract. Toss in some reasonable merit-based incentives if necessary, to keep the base salary from continuing to escalate.

Like others, I am concerned about A4E's memo, but maybe they see it as a compromise as well. It's a big risk for both sides to open up a wide search.

mirmac1 said...

dw, it's not a compromise. It's a shot across the bow.

I don't care if you're a new director, or an experienced director, you're at a disadvantage if the Supt and her senior staff cannot be trusted to give you the full story, the complete truth. Period.

Why did this MAP renewal take so long? Not because of any citizen input, of course, but because it seems to have taken a six week to find out that an unauthorized staffer exceeded his authority, ane executed a procurement agreement that was the Board's purview. Another audit finding.

Why were TFA placed in classrooms without the right permits or certificates in hand? Not due to any concern for the students mind you but because that's what the pro TFA agents (including SE) wanted and that's what happened. Another audit finding.

And on and on.

mirmac1 said...

excuse typos peas : )

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
dw said...

re: TFA
Now, Charlie, you're saying that the new board is going to vote it away. The composition of this board guarantees no such thing.

I don't think there's any way the new board is going to approve any more TFAers. Marty, Sharon and Betty are no-brainer No votes. They only need one more. Sherry's email shows that she's at the brink of dropping support. Michael appears to be reaching the end of his patience. Kay is a question mark (anyone have good insights into her latest TFA thinking?). Harium is a koolaid drinker, but he's the only one left.

I think the handful of kids that were granted teaching positions this year will (and should) be allowed to continue, but that's the end of it.

Anonymous said...

My main problems with SE have to do with her decisions as Director of C & I.

Narrowing of curriculum, destroying good programs in order to standardize instruction, unwilling to consider waivers, movement to "teacher proof" curriculum.

Standards should be the minimum, not the limit of instruction. And there should be more paths to reach them not fewer.


We've invested huge amounts of money & energy into standardizing instruction. I pretty mad that we aren't seeing huge gains for struggling students, because we've thrown a lot of babies out with this bathwater of standardization. I think that struggling students need something different, each of them, not something that's same for everyone.

I want to see a search.

-high school parent

cascade said...

Michael H gets all huffy over the idea that the Alliance could be asked by the public to cut down its overhead and to stop disparaging teachers. It wants to know where I get off asking a private group to do that.

Dear Michael: The point is that in The Alliance's letter it demanded that the School Board "Actively
support and champion (the superintendent)– publicly and privately

What's good for the goose is good for the gander, Michael. Either, The Alliance needs to shut up -- and yes I use shut up to show my outrage -- PUBLICLY AND PRIVATELY -- about Seattle's teaching corps, which is by and large good, and getting better all the time -- or it needs to stop demanding what The Board should be saying PUBLICLY AND PRIVATELY about the superintendent.

You see, Michael, it's become clear to many of us in the community that all the good the Alliance does - and it does a lot of good - is ultimately undermined by its "cozy up and whisper" tactics to get what it wants from downtown administration. If it continues in that vein, then we the public can certainly SHOUT (we don't even need to whisper) about the outrage we find in the One Percenters trying to rule the school district for The 99 Percent of Us.

cascade said...

And, Michael, you ask how dare we ask a private group to lower its overhead?

Well, Michael, there are dozens of not-for-profit websites out there that analyze this very thing, then encourage people to make or not make donations based on it. You might remember a few years ago when the Red Cross was turned upside down by the public outraged over its high oversight.

See, Michael, the Alliance keeps a mighty big payroll, with mighty generous salaries, for Sara Morris and the rest of the staff. That's money donors give that they think goes directly to schools, when it doesn't. In fact, a lot of what the alliance does doesn't go to schools. It goes to the projects your Ed Reform (Jon Bridge..."Seattle voters don't care about teachers") board members have specially picked out. Your career learning fair? Great. NCTQ aka Teacher Bash...and a number of other projects come with a political slant that it is high time this full community understands and discusses.

So do you think I'm going to call out The Alliance on its memo that Tells Our New Board How To Act? You betcha. I have my own view of how our new board ought to act. And it begins with no longer bowing and scraping to the will of The Alliance. There are more voices in town. Many. More. Voices.

And PS: My number one reason for thinking there should be a search for a new superintendent is because I don't believe, in my heart, that Enfield won't listen to your cozy little group as her first point of reference. Which is too bad. I like her. But I cannot support her because I want more community input for the next board and next superintendent.

cascade said...

While I'm at it, for those of you fond of those public disclosure requests, wouldn't it be fun to get the phone number(s) of The Alliance's office and/or the email address of Bridge and Morris and etc. and do a little search on the contents and frequency of their contacts with Goodloe-Johnson and now Enfield. Especially Enfield. That could answer the "search or not to search" question right quick.

StopTFA said...

Sure thing cascade, although I gotta tell you the apparatchiks are onto the whole "transparency" thing. It's all by phone or personal email addresses. Of course ANYTHING that has to do with SPS business MUST be preserved. At least most agencies and firms that do business with agencies realize this. SPS probably does not.

WV: time to "retool"

Anonymous said...

The Board and Superintendent make program placement decisions - this includes what happens to APP over the next year or so. They're in limbo, with Lowell APP in a temporary home, Hamilton is overcrowded with no room for all the upcoming APP classes, and Washington seems overcrowded as well.

What is Enfield's vision for APP? What kind of decisions will be made on her watch?

The APP review of a few years back stressed the need for a defined curriculum, but it still seems to be a work in progress. Many of Hamilton's teacher issues are being exacerbated by a LA/Social studies curriculum that is largely teacher developed. The high school LA adoption has left some middle school APP classes without texts that were used in years past. The Math Pathways "alignment" has left some students unable to take higher level math. Thank goodness the Science alignment was put on hold.

Where is Enfield on all of this?

StopTFA said...

Let me clarify, MUST be preserved per the archival rules established by the Secretary of State. Which for senior leadership, like a superintendent and senior admin staff, would be for years. That is why most self-respecting businesses have robust email preservation and destruction policies.

Jan said...

Here is my take:

Charlie says -- keep her. We could do worse, and she has been a positive influence everywhere EXCEPT in "Teaching and Learning."

Ok -- but teaching and learning are the core. They are the very heart. ALL that other stuff is important, but it is ancillary to teaching and learning. It's like saying -- I have stabilized the patient, stopped the bleeding, cleaned out the arteries, and replaced the damaged organs. I fixed everything except the stopped heart. We could never get his heart started again. But I did a great job on all the other parts of the corpse.

So -- is her current stance (for TfA, against curriculum waivers (i.e., for standardization and top down imposition of curriculum and materials, even when they are unsound and test scores reveal little or no improvement (or deterioration)); what seems to be an ability to ignore major leadership fires raging at Lowell, McClure, HIMS, etc.; for continued MAP testing --etc.) is all this "good enough?" Or is she "good enough" because we think we can reasonably count on her to change her position on some of this stuff, now that the Board has changed?

I would ONLY want to go forward -- even for a year -- if I had some sense that she could see, and acknowledge mistakes made ON HER WATCH as CAO in the curriculum/instruction area -- and she indicated what she liked, what she doesn't, and how she would approach a fix for what she doesn't (and obviously, her assesssment would have to make sense to the Board). Otherwise -- we really need to look for someone better. Now.

It also bothers me that Charlie's post seems to assume (unless I am just not reasoning it out like Charlie intended) that conducting a search means losing Susan Enfield as a candidate. When a college team fires a highly paid coach on an expedited basis, and asks the assistant to step up on an interim basis with the understanding that there will be a search later (after the board elections), it isn't often the case that the interim refuses to be a candidate for the final position unless the school agrees to drop the search. And it is even more rare for the school to wuss out on the search because of the threat.

I realize all this is speculative. And perhaps that is not her intent. But it would seem to be assumed in Charlie's "risk" analysis -- and if that is her "offer," I am not inclined to accept it AT ALL, and CERTAINLY would not take it on anything short of a 1 year contract, with some pretty clear parameters for success.

cont'd

Jan said...

If she really wants to to the Big Money, Big Ed reform gig, there would appear to be LOTS of Districts out there who want that. She can hang out with the foundations, lobby for the big, expensive contracts, give the raises to the downtown folks, fight with and disparage the teachers -- it's all there, in the right district! But it's a huge distraction to the work we need to do here, and the budget we have to do it.

If, as Charlie says (and he may be right -- I have no doubt that the price of employment under MGJ was lockstep loyalty to the regime) we don't know her, because she has always worked for Ed Reform bosses (Supe and/or Board) -- when and how to we get to find out who she really is, what she really has to offer? As Melissa says -- the fact that the Alliance is shilling for her the scariest, most unhelpful thing I can imagine (other than maybe a letter from MGJ recommending that we make her position permanent.)

And Charlie -- while some of the BIG stuff may be gone -- if she at heart thinks like the Alliance, she will never have the best interests of the kids, their families, and the taxpayers at heart, as compared with the interests of the foundation donors. The whole TfA thing would never have happened like it did had Dr. E., from the get-go, told the Foundation, the Alliance, etc. -- "what do you mean, the donors want to remain anonymous? I suppose I can run it past the Board and see if they are interested in anonymous donor funding, but frankly, it is not in the best interests of the District to refuse to disclose funding sources. Why don't you clarify with donors whether they are opposed to disclosure, and if not, it is likely we will look elsewhere or change our minds about TfA hiring." Why do I get the sense, from the emails, that the message conveyed was more: oh, well, we would love to oblige the donors on this -- but the rabble rousers sort of have the board's ear on this -- and I am not sure I can slip through anonymous donors -- you know how that sort of thing goes.

She was the decider at this point. And it seems to me she was totally doing the bidding of the pro-TfA crowd.

Anonymous said...

@What's up? You said:

When she lied to the board, her bosses clearly weren't happy,
so she wasn't doing her bosses' bidding. Sherry Carr made that clear in the lastest batch of emails and DeBell was very public with his displeasure.


To which I ask: And how did they ultimately vote? In favor, no? So Michael and Sherry went along like good little scouts too.

We shouldn't be lionizing people for the occasional "concerned comments" or "displeasures" and such. Like Harium's or Mary Bass's last minute amendments with the closures that didn't have a snowball's chance in hell, people give way too much credit to board members when it isn't do. Yes, it's shocking and inspiring when a board member says or does anything that runs counter to the big Ed Reformers, but that's not the same as actually doing anything about it.

Instead of Sherry saying "You're almost losing my support," or whatever it was, why instead did she not say "I still cannot support this," instead? Why was she predisposed to support TFA in the first place, i.e., for it, before she was (almost) against it, instead of at least requiring TFA and it's proponents to make their case? So why was Sherry a hero for basically saying, "Gee, um, I'm almost uncomfortable here...help me out..." Sorry, but that doesn't cut it for me. Talk is cheap.

I believe we need to hold all these folks to a higher standard, and I look forward to doing so with the new board members as well.

Meanwhile, let's not accept tough talk, but insist in people walking the walk, before we give them any credit for anything. WSDWG

Jan said...

my2cents : - "CAN a superintendent"??? How, exactly, is it "canning a superintendent" when you:
1. ask the old one to leave on an expedited basis,
2. ask her right hand person to step into the role, on an "interim" basis on a one year contract -- explaining that the post-election board should handle the search for a long-term replacement; and

3. Then -- when the new board is formed, announce that you are going to actually do a search for the next superintendent, but would be thrilled if she were a candidate, because she has a fair amount of community support?

Canned? Hardly. We have exactly 8 months of her work as an interim superintendent to go by (much, but not all, ok), PLUS several years of her CAO work to go on (mostly dreadful -- but we want to excuse it, because she was under MGJ's thumb -- and she was, to some extent -- I KNOW she worked to mitigate some of the worst excesses).

How does an 8 month stint give us enough of a track record to go on that we should absolve her from the rigors of what every other candidate would have to go through -- a full blown superintendent search? I get this icky feeling that this is all Alliance/LEV/Ed Reform manipulation. And -- if it is, and she wins, they will try to own her -- and she will let them. I cannot TELL you how badly I wish that Melissa's "rumor" on her position had been to the effect that she loves the job, she thinks she has done really well with the short amount of time, and the limited resources she has been given, she looks forward to working with the new board in their search, and the fully intends to be a candidate, as she feels that she has all of the qualifications needed, and valuable history into the District's unique history and issues. Oh well. Too bad.

Charlie Mas said...

I don't think this should have been deleted as I think its ends with a signature.

It also raises some valid concerns that should be addressed.

So I'm going to re-post it.

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

Charlie says that Enfield is a good girl scout who is doing the bidding of her bosses on the board.

The TFA emails revealed (without doubt that Enfield) was the TFA promoter-in-chief--no follower there.

When she lied to the board, her bosses clearly weren't happy,
so she wasn't doing her bosses' bidding. Sherry Carr made that clear in the lastest batch of emails and DeBell was very public with his displeasure.

So, which boss is she pleasing? Her board bosses or the powerful, unelected powers-that-be?
Charlie, you regularly rant that Enfield is not following procedures and laws, and now you are advocating that she be hired.

You clearly stated when the first TFA emails were disclosed that they revealed the character of someone who is not fit to be the permanent superintendent. Now you say that she was just following orders (which is a pathetic defense, even though inaccurate in this case, of a leader).

This is a person who went after a
beloved principal, based on the observations of an unqualified ed reformer (Bree) who was hired and
continues to be supported by Enfield.

She lied to the board in order to protect some nameless One who continues to stay nameless behind the shroud of a non-profit.

Her main accomplishment as CAO was to push TFA into Seattle. Now, Charlie, you're saying that the new board is going to vote it away. The composition of this board guarantees no such thing. Even if it did, this unethical trainwreck (created by Enfield)cannot be buried under the rug so easily.

--What's up, here, Charlie? You are talking out of both sides of your mouth

Charlie Mas said...

I agree that Dr. Enfield was the prime mover within the District behind bringing Teach for America to Seattle.

That said, however, there are a lot of people - including six board members - who are good with that. Just because I think it is wrong doesn't mean that it is. The other side has an argument. I don't think their argument has merit, but they do.

Anyway, it doesn't matter. The new board will not support it. I don't think Dr. Enfield will fight the Board for it.

I do strongly advocate for compliance with policies and laws and some of them have been violated.

This weekend I had a conversation with Director DeBell about the non-compliance with the Program Placement policy this year and I'm going to drop the topic. I'm not truly satisfied, but I've reached acceptance. I will look for compliance with the policy in the coming year, but I won't raise the topic of this year's decisions again.

Dr. Enfield has made some sincere overtures about finding a way to compliance with the policy.

I will not fault Dr. Enfield for standing behind her employee's judgement. She hired Ms Dusseault and backed her; I respect that. She did not casually reverse the decision. She did, however, reverse it in the end. I respect that as well.

Let's also remember that the Board practically asked for a head to prove that the principals were being held accountable.

As to her squishy answers about the TFA donors, I don't think she could name names because I don't think she had them. I think she was given strong assurances from the Alliance and others that donors would be found, but it doesn't appear that they were, in fact, identified until the last minute. This was one of those moments when we could have used a Board member with critical reasoning skills. Dr. Enfield said that she had been assured of donors. The question that was never asked was "Who gave you this assurance?"

Again, this objection is TFA related and, as I wrote, I think the new board will cancel the TFA contract. Look for it in the new Curriculum and Instruction Policy Committee (hopefully with a new chair).

Charlie Mas said...

I agree that Dr. Enfield was the prime mover within the District behind bringing Teach for America to Seattle.

That said, however, there are a lot of people - including six board members - who are good with that. Just because I think it is wrong doesn't mean that it is. The other side has an argument. I don't think their argument has merit, but they do.

Anyway, it doesn't matter. The new board will not support it. I don't think Dr. Enfield will fight the Board for it.

I do strongly advocate for compliance with policies and laws and some of them have been violated.

This weekend I had a conversation with Director DeBell about the non-compliance with the Program Placement policy this year and I'm going to drop the topic. I'm not truly satisfied, but I've reached acceptance. I will look for compliance with the policy in the coming year, but I won't raise the topic of this year's decisions again.

Dr. Enfield has made some sincere overtures about finding a way to compliance with the policy.

I will not fault Dr. Enfield for standing behind her employee's judgement. She hired Ms Dusseault and backed her; I respect that. She did not casually reverse the decision. She did, however, reverse it in the end. I respect that as well.

Let's also remember that the Board practically asked for a head to prove that the principals were being held accountable.

As to her squishy answers about the TFA donors, I don't think she could name names because I don't think she had them. I think she was given strong assurances from the Alliance and others that donors would be found, but it doesn't appear that they were, in fact, identified until the last minute. This was one of those moments when we could have used a Board member with critical reasoning skills. Dr. Enfield said that she had been assured of donors. The question that was never asked was "Who gave you this assurance?"

Again, this objection is TFA related and, as I wrote, I think the new board will cancel the TFA contract. Look for it in the new Curriculum and Instruction Policy Committee (hopefully with a new chair).

StopTFA said...

So that we all sleep better at night, thought I'd pass along an email from Jon Bridge's to me (and yes I AM Cecilia)

"Cecilia - -

I just got wind of an email you sent to the School Board in where you attached an email I’d sent a while ago (about 2 mos. ago)to our interim superintendent. I truly believe that transparency is absolutely essential in all our dealings and in the School Board’s and Superintendent’s actions. It’s important, though, that the readers of your message know that I don’t and can’t speak for the Alliance (I’m on the Board and a past chair, but not in “control” did I say in control? no). I was alarmed to see that the attachment referring to my email was entitled “teachers don’t matter” as if that were my personal philosophy (sorry if I interpreted your words "teachers don't matter" as meaning teachers don't matter). My comments in that email were in response to the TFA funding by the District and not intended to reflect anything more than that (Melissa, does that make you feel better?). My concerns were that we should adopt a minimal TFA involvement as a “test” - - and that in that context only the teachers’ negative response would not matter (okay, thanks for clarifying that! *cough* BS *cough*). My background and concern has always been to support and care about our professional instructional staff. ( By the way, you are ”right on“ in your email about openness in the superintendent appointment process.)

As far as the appointment of a permanent superintendent goes, I have to say that Susan Enfield has demonstrated the skills and ability through a “trial by fire” this last year. Seattle would be (in my opinion [that clearly is just your, and the other Alliance Board members' opinion]) ill-served by opening up a full-blown search at this point (full-blown? as in advertising the position?). We have direction and momentum and having spent the last half century plus working with the schools as a student, parent and advocate, I know how disruptive that process can be. I hope the Board as our representatives realizes that and chooses to continue the direction toward excellence that our District is headed toward (So Jon, now that we are on intimate terms, did you think MGJ was on a direction towards excellence?). Dislocation at this point will only be of detriment to our children.

Sincerely,
Jon Bridge"

P.S. Glad I checked my junk folder, no...seriously! LOL! I'll post my email to Board that prompted this extraordinary "enagagement"!

StopTFA said...

Dear Directors,

It has come to my attention that the Alliance for Education (in actuality, a district-contracted fund-raising group) has, in my view, improperly interjected itself into district business. It's Memo to the Board, dated November 9, 2011, touting what it asserts are gains achieved ostensibly under Dr. Enfield's aegis, and decrying perceived churn in the leadership position, ignores the numerous arguments FOR a competitive search. Some of these arguments were cogently presented by Director DeBelle at the September 7, 2011 Board meeting on the matter of daylighting funding for TFA candidates, identified through the hiring process. His comments touched upon both the issue of HOW superior candidates are identified, and WHO dictates the vision and direction of our school district.

First, on the matter of the school-based hiring process for the TFA candidates, Director DeBelle said:

"I am happy that (the applicants) were chosen in a competitive process, that is why I was comfortable approving the...contract at its origin."

Those of us in the private sector, which I expect include the executive board of the Alliance, would expect that top candidate would be identified by comparison with other qualified candidates. This should also hold true for the public sector, particularly in light of the need for an open, transparent process. Apparently, even Jon Bridge would agree on this as he notes in the attached email: "Remember transparency is essential in Seattle and is your job."

In his declaration of concern regarding the seeming difficulty with identifying private donors for specific objectives, Director DeBelle said:

"Unfortunately we have been moving in a direction in this country, thanks to the wisdom of the Supreme Court, where dollars, donations and money are treated as freedom of speech....(that when donations are treated as freedom of speech this) gives an outsized voice to those who have lots of money in our society, and can often diminish the voice of the average taxpayer or the average citizen."

cont.

StopTFA said...

cont.

I applaud Director DeBelle's insistence on transparency in this, and all matters. He states a truism that applies in legislative chambers throughout our great country. We no longer have a democracy when one person's vote counts more than another's.

Our recent election demonstrates that a majority of voters wanted change in the direction of our district. Voting is the hallmark of democracy. Elected officials are our representative government. I find it improper that a group of business people would say to our representatives that their duty is to: "Exhibit true leadership is defining for the community what excellence in public education looks like." I do not vote for someone who's going to tell me what I should want, who will treat me like I wouldn't recognize excellent education if it kicked me in the rear. My gosh, what an arrogant statement!

Finally, on the issue of "churn", the Alliance memo suggests that five superintendents in sixteen years is an unacceptable level of churn. Disregard the fact that some don't seem too concerned about harmful practices leading to churn in the teaching ranks, let's examine their statement further. First, one retired after many years of service; another met an unfortunate death at too young an age; one retired but some feel was forced out due to difficult school closures; finally, two were terminated due to incompetence. In fact, Seattle has a reputation of supporting, in fact embracing, superintendents who demonstrate that students come first. The exception is Raj Manhas, a man who I personally thought showed us a caring and ethical approach to leadership. Of the last four, only one was selected through an open, yet bungled and untimely hiring process. Goodloe-Johnson was the last person left, so we should not judge a superintendent search based on that result. Are you aware that 40 people competed for the Broward County District superintendent spot this Fall? I would say Seattle is as, if not more, desirable to live in than Broward County.

I ask the newly-constituted Board to seek excellence in our next Superintendent, to not feel pressured by a group that does not represent your constituents, to launch a timely, well-managed search for the permanent Superintendent.

Thank you,

Cecilia McCormick

Anonymous said...

Isn't anyone bothered by her refusal to apply if they don't just hire her? There's an arrogance there that bothers me. Her letter to Ingraham families was condescending? Someone else's words. Small stuff, I guess. But, she doesn't ring authentic to me. Never has even as chief academic officer.

I know, irrational. Maybe.

northender

Charlie Mas said...

I'm kind of surprised that no one has defended the idea of a search so that we can broaden the candidate pool.

Anonymous said...

@Charlie: "As to her squishy answers about the TFA donors, I don't think she could name names because I don't think she had them. I think she was given strong assurances from the Alliance and others that donors would be found, but it doesn't appear that they were, in fact, identified until the last minute."

From Enfield's ethics coach, Jon
Bridge, in his email to her:

"If the Seattle Foundation doesn’t want to make a donation, we should just reveal the donor..."

Obviously there was, and is, one donor and Susan Enfield (as this email makes clear) knew who the donor was when she lied to the board. However, we (the citizens) still don't know who this donor is because this one person is hiding behind the shroud of the Seattle Foundation. (Ethics alert, Jon Bridge, Transparency alert!)

Be careful how much time you spend with these people, Charlie. You are starting to sound like them. I've been noticing that even before this tortured explanation.

--kool aid and red wine make a nasty spell WV-sollipsy (no kidding)

StopTFA said...

And we'll never really know because, even though the contract says SPS SHALL pay, they figured out that by having the(se) dude(s) pay TFA directly, nosy people like me can't find out.

(WARNING, WARNING Jon Bridges, transparency meltdown!)

Anonymous said...

I'll add to the Jon Bridge pile on because frankly he deserves his moment in the bright sun of full democratic participation in our schools.

I won't out the challenger, but Bridge categorically refused to meet with one of them, despite multiple direct and 3rd party 'asks'. Not even the kindness of a response. Not interested in talking about better SPS education. Nothing. Blew her off.

Jon is all about communication now that his name is out in the public as a Superintendent Whisperer. But he liked the status quo just fine, thank you, and the transparency he apparently wanted was between his ideas and the superintendents' follow through. It's the Alliance's Way or the Highway. It's quite nauseating really.

Unimpressed Friend of Challengers

Melissa Westbrook said...

I can only say that re-reading Mr. Bridge' e-mail that I do not believe what he wrote to Cecilia.

It's pretty clear that he is talking about the election. He references "candidates" and "voters". He was not talking about selling TFA to the public.

Sometimes I just smile.

Anonymous said...

Oh Oh, shut the curtain. The daylight hurts my eyes!

John Bridje

Anonymous said...

"Superintendent Whisperer." Perfect.

LMAO

Charlie Mas said...

I just had a thought.

Imagine if the Alliance had contacted Pegi McEvoy. Would it be out of place for Dr. Enfield to say that wasn't cool and that if they had anything to offer to the District that they could send it to her?

What if the Board told the Alliance that any messages they have for the District they can send to the Board, and not to the superintendent?

Jan said...

Charlie -- Am I correct in recalling that the Superintendent sits as an ex officio member of the Alliance Board? If so, it would be pretty hard to limit the Alliance's conversations with her (though I am sure the Board could insist that she resign her position, if they wanted to). All this made a great deal more sense during the Alliance's early days -- when they actually did fundraising FOR the District. Now that they are mostly attempting to channel Foundation/donor money to the District on whatever the terms the donors dictate, the potential for a conflict of interest becomes much greater.

I think we need to sever all official District ties with the Alliance, go back to the drawing board, and come up with an entity that serve the purposes that the Alliance originally served (raise money for District-selected purposes; serve as the "conduit" for money that parents and others want to funnel to schools, relieving the schools of the burden of developing and maintaining systems for the receipt of those funds.) I definitely think we need to re-examine the amount of District (read -- taxpayer) money that the District channels to the Alliance, given that (a) the Alliance has other (foundation, donor) sources of funds for its work, and (b) the Alliance no longer works "for" the District (read -- the Board) but instead works for the big money sources that provide its donations.

This doesn't make them "evil" per se. But it also doesn't make them loyal, or ethical, or transparent.

SolvayGirl said...

I remember when the Alliance had an annual event (in a high-end spot like Beneroya Hall) to honor TEACHERS and successful programs (sort like KCTS's Golden Apple Awards). Admission was relatively cheap—$10 if I recall—and you got to hear great speakers like Harry Belafonte or Maya Angelou.

Teachers were nominated by parents, etc. and selected by a committee; we were thrilled to have Graham Hill's then and current vocal music teacher, Cherrie Adams, recognized (and she was thrilled to get to meet Belafonte and get a $1,000 cash prize to put back into her classroom). It was a celebration of what SPS was doing right.

I think that was the last year they did that; they've been straying from their original purpose ever since.

Jan said...

SolvayGirl: Yeah -- that doesn't sound much like the current Alliance, does it? Now, it would all be fancy high-priced dinners and galas, expensive national ed reform speakers -- and heaven forbid we should recognize "teacher excellence" since teachers are now the villians. I suppose instead they toast "excellent test scores!" Ugh. Bleech.

Anonymous said...

How about a thread on the role of the Alliance and how it has evolved over time?

--thanks

natdalton said...

Interesting post! It is crazy to see how much education is constantly changing since I left the field to do property management. I am hoping that they can find someone who can change the way children are educated and the way money is spent in our schools.