Monday, November 21, 2011

Survey on ... the Superintendent VS the Board?

Yet another in the series of odd surveys the district is putting out, here's the latest.   At least, it is short but does require every question to be answered in order for it to register.

It's a all over the map.  Questions about what you think are should be the priorities of the Superintendent and the district, questions about the new leadership and its role, etc.

Here are two of the odder questions:

Since the change in leadership, do you think the Seattle School District is currently headed in the right direction, or the wrong direction?

Which leadership - Superintendent or Board?  That needed to be clear right up front but yet, you are left guessing.  Also, Enfield has been on the job less than a year and the election just happened - it's not a great question to be asking at this point in time. 

As you know, the Superintendent is hired by the School Board, who are (sic) elected by the voters.  There are different ways a Board and Superintendent can operate.  And of course the best model is the Board and Superintendent working together.  But in general - if you had to choose - do you think it is better to:

Have a strong School Board that establishes the direction and sets policy for the district, with the Superintendent responsible for implementing the vision and policies of the Board.

Have a strong Superintendent who brings a clear vision to the job - with the Board primarily in the role of overseeing the Superintendent's performance and holding him or her accountable.

Again, who wrote this thing?  Who is pushing this Board versus Superintendent power struggle?  I don't want one stronger than the other.  They have equal power (with the Board holding a bit more as they are the Superintendent's bosses in term of accountability).

I smell the strong whiff of Strategies 360 here along with the Alliance. 

What is the purpose of this survey?

47 comments:

SolvayGirl said...

I was a hard survey to take to make sure my "answer" really jived with my opinion. I just wish there had been a "Parent of school-aged child NOT in SPS," or some-such to indicate that we had left the system. It seems they really don't care about this part of the "market."

WV: "expests" I expests the survey creators have predetermined the results by the formulation of their questions.

StopTFA said...

Crap! I think Elway needs some help with writing a decent survey.

David said...

What I wanted to say in the survey is that I want a Board focused on its oversight function and a Superintendent focused on an efficient, effective, and, most of all, leaner administration.

A leaner District administration should push resources and authority down to the schools and then focus their efforts on what should be the smaller and simpler tasks of providing support for decisions made at schools and expanding what programs that work (that are popular and have high or improving results on objective measures like test scores) while cutting those that do not work (schools that are under subscribed and have low scores).

But this was yet another badly written survey that provided no way to say anything like that.

StopTFA said...

Here's a live link

Superintendent Qualities

Shannon said...

Following the link just sent me to a Surveymonkey page that said DONE and Thank you.

Peculiar.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Sorry, I forgot I couldn't link it after taking it.

Here's the address:

https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/SPSSchoolBoard

RosieReader said...

I actually liked the survey, primarily because there were so many "forced rankings." I can't imagine it's actually statistically valid, since who responds isn't randomized. Instead, it will likely be responded to by folks already pretty passionate about these issues on all sides.

As a piece of communications/PR, I think it's actually pretty effective. It graphically demonstrates that you can't have it all, and that even among the things that everybody wants, you can't do everything at once.

anonymous said...

The district is collecting public input, and I think all forms of public input should be welcome.

And, no, I don't think the survey is an Alliance or Strategies 360 conspiracy theory. That seems ridiculous and unless there is some type of information to prove it- I'd stop suggesting it.

my2cents

SolvayGirl said...

2ents...problem is anyone who has experience writing surveys knows that your can easily formulate your questions to elicit the response you'd like to see.

I noted that they had a lot of qualifying categories to check (family member of student in SPS, etc.), but not the one that the hundreds (maybe a thousand or more) of Seattle families who have children in private school need. I was forced to check "other" putting me in the same category as an empty-nester, childless adult, or person outside the District. That right there reduces the value of the survey.

A non-biased survey that is truly trying to determine public views always has at least one spot for "comments."

Sahila said...

@my2cents...

why dont you go and PROVE to us IT IS NOT a Strategies360/Alliance creation?

Several of us have spent a lot of time over the past couple of years, PROVING that Strategies 360/Alliance (funded by Gates) have been up to sneakiness...

The District has outsourced its work to both entities on many occasions...

AND a STRATEGIES 360 person is now the District's in-house head of PR/communications...

Why dont you put in the time and energy to prove us wrong and yourself right?

Steve said...

If you want to look at it again, and can speak Spanish, Tagalog, Chinese or Vietnamese, you can still see the survey at the link below, even if you've already taken it.

http://www.seattleschools.org/modules/cms/pages.phtml?pageid=189059&sessionid=2fb36410e86a7348edc763cc844ba37e&t

emeraldkity said...

Survey

Do they pay any more attention to surveys than they do to feedback at meetings?

Po3 said...

I thought it was one of the better surveys SPS has produced as it will capture some pretty clear cut data/opinions.

For example, if:

The majority of the respondents say the district is headed in the wrong direction, will be hard to ignore.

If respondents say the #1 priority is rigor, that will be hard to ignore.

Hope they publish the results!

someone said...

Wasn't the worst survey have ever seen - though there were a few times I'd have liked to have more than one item be top priority - as unrealistic as that is ;o)

Guess I don't see the conspiracy - just evidence of some "interesting" thinking - the whole sup/board power struggle question was odd - clearly someone out there thinks it's not possible to have a cooperative management? Or at least it's easy to interpret that question as "It has to be either or?" Maybe they just didn't think it thru - sometimes one does that when you are too close to a situation. Without knowing who is driving the survey's creation, it's hard to attribute motives.

hmmm...

Melissa Westbrook said...

"The majority of the respondents say the district is headed in the wrong direction, will be hard to ignore."

But in what area? Everything is wrong? Academically? Administratively?

Again, what is the purpose of the survey? Not "to get input" - what is it they are truly trying to find out?

Sahila said...

and Melissa .... how do the survey writers define their terms?

for example: what does "rigor" mean?

more testing?

from Merriam Webster online:

Definition of RIGOR
1
a (1) : harsh inflexibility in opinion, temper, or judgment : severity (2) : the quality of being unyielding or inflexible : strictness (3) : severity of life : austerity b : an act or instance of strictness, severity, or cruelty
2
: a tremor caused by a chill
3
: a condition that makes life difficult, challenging, or uncomfortable; especially : extremity of cold
4
: strict precision : exactness
5
a obsolete : rigidity, stiffness b : rigidness or torpor of organs or tissue that prevents response to stimuli c : rigor mortis

Examples of RIGOR

They underwent the rigors of military training.
the rigors of life in the wilderness
They conducted the experiments with scientific rigor.
a scholar known for her intellectual rigor

Origin of RIGOR
Middle English rigour, from Anglo-French, from Latin rigor, literally, stiffness, from rig─ôre to be stiff
First Known Use: 14th century
Related to RIGOR
Synonyms: adversity, asperity, hardness, hardship, difficulty
Antonyms: flexibility, gentleness, laxness, mildness

anonymous said...

No it's not as specific a question as I'd like to have seen, but I think they are looking for a general or overall answer.

When MGJ was super I felt the general direction of the district was headed in was not good. With Enfield as super I feel the general direction the district is headed in is the right direction.

That's not to say I think everything is going great in every department, but generally speaking, and overall, I think things are going well.

my2cents

Anonymous said...

I actually liked the last question. It is a fundamental question which the Board members have to first grapple with before looking for a superintendent to ensure a good fit. I don't think you can have both worlds and it is necessary to determine how the District will be run. There are pros and cons with each option and I don't believe one is better than the other. There are capable candidates out there; however, the board need to first know what they are looking for.

A friend of Seattle

Patrick said...

In some ways the District is heading in the right direction, but in others it's not, in my opinion. I answered "no" because I don't want the District to be able to say everything is hunky-dory now and they should retain Enfield without a search.

mirmac1 said...

At the Southshore Supt Search Feedback meeting, some dude Elway was introduced. He said his firm would be preparing a survey. Some asked "what about people who don't have regular access to computers or email?" Answer was essentially, uh, I don't know.

anonymous said...

How would you reach that group Mirmac?

How would one even know which families do or do not own a computer?

nsf

dj said...

Yeah, that whole quiz was a little black/white for me, but I am glad they are at least asking.

mirmac1 said...

nsf, not your bank acct, right? : )

A take home in every students backpack. Translated in the appropriate language, of course.

Or, through school PTSAs

Just the way they used to do it in olden days.

Chris S. said...

robo-calls - are they coming?

I just had a bit of an epiphany about the reson for that last question. Is it an attempt to decrease the board's power before the new members are seated?

Explain the timing too - Sharon Peaslee's late-breaking lead.

Too conspiratorial? Or the simplest explanation? It's my understanding that written policy defines the superintendent as "directed by the board" and to change that is really a pretty radical and undemocratic proposal.

Melissa Westbrook said...

If this is so important, how come it isn't at the district's website? I can't find it.

You have to wonder.

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

The survey is on their Web site, isn't it? I to an e-mail from teh district linking me here: http://www.seattleschools.org/modules/cms/pages.phtml?pageid=189059

Anonymous said...

"Interesting" that this survey by the district is coming right on the heels of the Alliance survey.

Let's get real here. This district is tossing around in bed with the Alliance, LEV and the others, while the teachers go to work every day like a bunch of peons and your kids are gearing up for the next round of MAP tesing.

I find it disgusting that people on this blog are advocating for the hiring of Enfield who has already proven herself to be two-faced and a liar, both in emails and at the board meeting. She was protecting the nameless One that was alluded to by her ethics coach, Jon Bridge.

I no longer teach in Seattle but have good friends who still do. They deserve so much better than this.

--and so do your kids

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

I received my link to the survey in an email from Sherry Carr.

I would imagine that it would be difficult to ensure "one vote per person" if they simply put a link to the survey on the SPS website. But maybe someone who understands how these things work could weigh in?

anonymous said...

"robo-calls - are they coming?"

No Chris, mirimac will remind you that not everyone has a phone. Calls are bad as are emails.

We must only use kid mail. But I'm not sure that is fair either because not all kids have backpacks.

nsf

Sahila said...

@What's up Charlie...

thanks for asking that question... I too was wondering...

seattle citizen said...

RosieReader,
Did you ask for Director Carr to email you a link? Was it sent out in an email to all her constituents? I've received no such link from my Director. Hmmm.

Either way (you asked for it and received the link via email, or Director Carr sent it to all HER constituents but not others, and other Directors didn't) it skews the results, either towards involved people such as yourself who ask for things, or towards sectors of the city that got the email from Carr.

Very odd. Where's MY email?

FedMomof2 said...

Not related to this thread, but Gregoire has proposed taking a half-cent sales tax increase to the public for vote in March. She would use part of the revenue "buy back" the four days of school that she proposed be cut (instead of increasing class sizes). The additional revenue would also be used to prevent a $152 million cut in levy-equalization payments to property-poor school districts and a $160 million cut to funding for state colleges and universities.

Link to Seattle Times Story:
http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2016817276_statebudget21m.html

seattle citizen said...

I agree with mirmac - student-mail (home in the backpack) or some other old-fashionedy way to ensure ALL parent/guardians had a chance to weigh in - Many families, especially those in poverty, are without easy internet access.

Bruce Taylor said...

These questions are so fuzzy and open to interpretation, I don't believe the responses CAN be used appropriately.

Question No. 5: How should I assess the school board? If I answer that I'm happy because two dreadful incumbents have been jettisoned, will that be construed as an endorsement of the board's pathetic performance over the past four years?

Question 8: Could somebody please add a choice that says "Just because the direction of the school district has improved since MGJ was canned, that doesn't mean it's good."

Question 9: Does "professional development" mean "top-down enforcement of instructional practices on teachers using mathematically unsound textbooks"? Or does it mean "giving teachers meaningful opportunities to implement traditional math? Does "increasing rigor" mean establishing ALO's that aren't a mere joke? Or is it code for the C-average graduation requirement?

Question No. 10 says "the district cannot do everything at once." It's a question of false choices. Can't we replicate programs like Schmitz Park math and simultaneously close the achievement gap? Can't we expand create more option schools and simultaneously mitigate the NE capacity disaster? (Why weren't Jane Addams, Sand Point and MacDonald re-opened as option schools with attractive programming e.g. language immersion, Spectrum or traditional math?)

Question No. 11 Should the new superintendent have expertise in capital planning and management, or perhaps expertise in advanced learning?

I suspect this survey is politically motivated and will be spun by the education privatizers.

And yet I responded anyhow. I'm just that desperate to believe that my opinion counts.

Sahila said...

as to policy, governance and implementation...

there's me, in my naivete thinking that the board, as our representatives, creates policy on what and how the district IS, based on what we, their masters want for our children...

then the super implements that policy...

and the board supervises her implementation and makes sure she is carrying otu the wishes of the people...

Just like government with a big "G"...

oh wait - that aint working too well, now, is it???

What with all those lobbyists buying up the congressmen and senators and getting what they want for their bankers/special interest groups, rather than what we want...

Now, where have I seen that play out close to home, I wonder???

For those who dont know me, heavy sarcasm alert...

mirmac1 said...

nsf,

yer a jeeniues! Of course, by phone! Why didn't Mr. Elway expert say that?!

Dur!

Anonymous said...

I got the survey link from an Kay Smith Blum email last night.

I found this survey very odd. I don't know what they are going to do with the answers. The questions were so vaguely worded that the answers won't give you a clear idea of what the recipient intended.

-And So it Goes

Anonymous said...

My link came from the Seattle School board. Seattle School Board: SeattleSchoolBoard@seattleschools.org

--Lisa, but too lazy to log into Google

Guichon said...

They do not have equal power.

Name said...

I received a link from Smith-Blumm (even though I am not in her district but have communicated with her in the past) and one from the school board to the email I have on file with my children's school.

I thought the survey was decent and would have chosen to have a strong SI with the board providing oversight if I thought that they would actually follow through in firing a rogue SI and not have it cost half a million.

I agree with others that at least they are asking for feedback.

Anonymous said...

Chris S at 2:11

if you assume the most duplicitous, under handed, condescending, arrogant, elitist, power hungry motives of the well paid cliques running billy's messaging merry go rounds, you will rarely be wrong.

if you were good enough to be 1 of them, then you wouldn't be you, you'd be 1 of them.

How Great Thou Art

StepJ said...

It seems like a rather odd premise at the start.

Which branch should be eliminated/or have more power...Executive/Legislative/Judicial?

We are currently in a situation without these checks or balances...and the question is how best to make it worse?

Anonymous said...

I do not have time to read everything on this thread. Thank you blog owners for giving the opportunity to comment on the survey. What an odd and unresolved survey. I wound up not completing it. No, I'm not going to give a priority of classroom instruction v support services. Are they really that feeble? I really hope everybody boycotted the survey. It makes me very unhappy that that is the level of thinking that is going on and I cannot for the life of me figure out what it had to do with the question of whether or not to have a national search for the supt position.

Baffled parent

mirmac1 said...

You are exactly right, baffled. Where was the question "should we have an open, competitive process to secure the best superintendent we can, who has exhibited values like honesty, ethical behaviour, competence, etc etc.

dan dempsey said...

Best Superintendent .... well check this for an evaluation instrument.

This is as close to a completely meaningless evaluation instrument as is possible. It measures essentially nothing.

How writing a list of 20 goals passes for an evaluation instrument could likely be explained only by the Superintendent and the Board ..... going where no one has gone before ... voyaging through empty space.