Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Board Tables Policy Decision, 4-3

Other stuff did happen at the Board meeting.   But this was quite fascinating (and confusing).  It was like watching a long tennis volley, back and forth with different points.

I will say that I think everyone made good points but clearly, the policy is being viewed through different lens.   I'm not sure anyone is wrong in this case.

What occurred was this; Smith-Blum had put a motion to take this Intro motion of 1620B off this agenda.  One big issue was that this Board meeting had been put off because of the snow last week so the next Board meeting is next week (and not two weeks from now). 

(To note: NO ONE said they did not want this policy or asked for it to be tabled indefinitely.) 

I'll go thru the whole thing because what was said should be parsed out.  There was some friction but I did not see anger or animosity.  (Indeed, the next item, they voted unanimously and later, all enjoyed a good laugh over a Patu miscue.)

It got started a little early when Director Patu, clearly upset, brought it up during the Director comments.   I think she felt she had been disrespected (she said it was unfair to accuse directors or ridicule them publicly).  I can't disagree with that statement.  After all, DeBell got the ball rolling last week and the media just jumped on it.

She said she felt she was being told to be quiet and not ask any questions.  She said they were there oversee the Superintendent and that she had many community members asking her for information or for help.  She felt that as an elected official her hands were being tied.

So when they go to the actual discussion since it was Smith-Blum's motion, she was asked to speak on it.

She said that collaboration is key.  She also pointed out that there is already a procedure around this governance (passed last June) with many of the same elements.  So it already exists and working on the specifics of how to carry it out was still work all seven directors need to do together.  She also explained how moving it to later Feb. (with approval in early March) would still meet the timeline for superintendent finalists.

Sherry then talked about the timeline and her concern over having this done before the superintendent search was underway.  She also said the policy was not about "what they do" but "how they do it."  She recommended they have a work session over the next week to work on it and then vote next week. 

She also said they needed to have the basics in place for the next superintendent. 

I will just point out that I heard none, zero, zip of this concern during the last superintendent search.  And who did we end up with?  The most control-freak superintendent ever.  (Who was constantly tried to gain more control and clearly she didn't need it codified...she just took it.) 

Peaslee then spoke.  She said they already a policy in place.  She said she looked at half a dozen districts and none of them had a 3-page policy followed by a procedure.   She said it needed to be clean and clear and devoid of bias.  She said there was no need to rush and they needed to get it right.

Martin-Morris spoke up and said he was "intrigued" by this notion of bias.  But he went on to express concern over the amount of work facing the Board and that "kicking the can down the road" wouldn't help.  He said they needed a "protocol"  or else the policy had no teeth.  (Yes, echos of Charlie and the issue of policies that the Superintendent doesn't follow and yet no enforcement from the Board.)

He also was worried about the timeline with the superintendent search.

Betty then spoke about her feeling that this policy was almost like "the weight of law" to her and that's how seriously she takes it."  She said she felt it was important that they ALL agree with the wording of the policy.

Harium said he thought they could get it done in a work session because it was just "word-smithing."  He then made a verbal slip that several of us noticed and had to smile.  He said they had "get back to managing the district."  I thought the Board didn't manage the district; that's a superintendent's job.  

Marty weighed in with what is such a pleasingly calm and thoughtful manner.  She said,  "I was initially interested in this because I see it as a vehicle for us to have real chance to come together as a group and talk about where each of us stands.  Then I looked more at it and I began to see it as addressing a problem and fixing something.  But what's broken?  I haven't been on the Board long enough to feel broken and we are in formation as a Board."  She said they needed to find out "who they are as a Board" and create a vision with the superintendent. 

She also said she appreciated the need for urgency.

Sherry suggested they Intro it tonight but put off the vote (because of the snow-delayed Board meeting) until Feb. 15 (3 weeks off).  This sounded plausible (and kudos to Director Carr for trying to find a compromise). 

But Michael said that they already had a motion and that would have to be offered as an amendment to the motion (but oddly, that didn't happen.)

Kay then said this: "I appreciate what Sherry said and I looked at the calendar. Tomorrow we have 2 hours of work on budget, so I carefully looked at the calendar before I crafted this motion."

What was interestng is that she talked about needing more time and that perhaps they needed to reach out to senior staff for input.  When she said that I thought, "Huh, that's a thought.  If staff feels overburdened from Board requests, input from senior staff on what would work best for them might be something to ask."
She also said she had benchmarked 25 urban districts and only 4 have this kind of procedure.  She said we are really breaking new ground here.

DeBell, clearly irritated by this point, had his say.

"This work was authorized at the retreat in December.  We talked about multiple governance issues and the proposition to have the Ex Ctm work on it. I do believe minutes reflect that*. As chair of the Ex Ctm, I thought important to work on.  I  

want to note that the Ex Ctm is ultimately responsible about this kind of work and it is the jurisdiction of Committee".

*There is a bit of disagreement about whether this discussion actually made to the list of work for the Board this year. 

He then said,  "I shared with Holly F. and Erin the first draft and then did the first rewrite."

Okay, but two things.  One, why did he share this first with staff and not any other Board members?  Why would Holly and Erin be expected to work over a holiday break?

Two, why was the first Board member he shared it with Sherry and not Kay or Betty who are on the Ex. Ctm.?  If it's their work, why not send it to them first?   I believe the first that any other Board members saw the policy was about at the third or fourth draft. 

I was surprised but Dr. Enfield chose this point to jump in.  She said:
 "I appreciate that every Board member is giving this serious thought. Last spring when governance policies were discussed and adopted was when realized we needed to figure out how to operationalize these policies."   She added (almost as if for effect)  "It is sorely needed."

So clearly she has been feeling aggrieved about Board requests even before any Board elections. 

Michael then stated that you can't just go to a website to check policy (something of a dig at Smith-Blum's work) and said Bellevue and Kent were in the process of writing this kind of policy.  He then said:

"The work environment is strongly affected by how Board interacts, collectively rather than individually. I agree with Sherry's Feb. 15th date. Note that taking an item off an agenda means we could table it and postpone it. We need to reassure them that we take responsibility seriously. "

I am assuming the "them" are the prospective superintendent candidates.  And that leads me to wonder a couple of things?

Is he still holding out for Enfield to stay?  Because I'm seeing a lot of signs that others up the food chain are thinking this way.  Either Enfield has signaled this to them or they are just wistfully hoping for something that isn't going to happen.

OR

Some Board members already have some candidate in mind who has signaled an issue with Board/Superintendent interactions. 

Kay again mentioned wanting to craft the policy more and seek input from senior staff.  She said the budget was a priority for tomorrow's work session.
Michael again seemed irritated and said this is the Board's work.  (Okay but Kay is only suggesting input from staff since access to staff seems to be a major problem on both sides.  It's not a crazy thought on Kay's part.)  He said there had to be a clear line on governance and management. 

Then he looked around and called for the vote.  It was 4-3. 

I believe this issue is of particular relevance to all of them but maybe in varying degrees and obviously, from a difference level of urgency to get it done. 

If this is the key to how the Board interacts with staff and the superintendent, then yes, I think it fair to make sure all seven people currently on the Board agree with it.
 
As I said, it was tense but then they all moved on, voted several more times, laughed and got through the meeting.
 
They are seven intelligent and thoughtful people; they will get this done and they will move on. 

62 comments:

dan dempsey said...

Looks to me like maybe this Blog and Charlie and Mel may have had an impact. McLaren and Peaslee were elected and here came a 4-3 vote with Carr and Martin-Morris on the three side. ... Now that is News.

Carol Simmons said...

Dear Melissa,

Great summary of the Board meeting. A couple of other notable moments which I observed were when the plaque was presented to the Board, the presenter was "almost" allowed to cross the thresh hold to present the plaque. Also, Director Patu's Advocacy speech was inspirational and deserves close attention. At one point Director Peaslee was "almost" able to converse openly with Chris Jackins and Melissa for clarification purposes regarding their testimonies. However,she was prevented from doing so by Director Debell citing Board decorum or protocol or rules of standard procedure. The 4-3 vote was extremely important and changed the operating culture of the Board for that period in time at least. Melissa was correct, the Board members went right on after the vote and evidenced no pouting. At the end of the meeting there was quite a discussion regarding the MOU between the District and SEA.....This will be voted on soon by the Board and it would be important to give input regarding this MOU. There was some speculation and several questions about the potential for Charter schools to be able to come in under this development. Director McClaren asked pointed questions regarding charter schools Director Patu asked for a policy regarding this "if something happens" and wisely noted "better safe than not safe." Jonathan Knapp, Holly Ferguson, Ron English all spoke to this topic with Jonathan assuring "levels of safeguards"..and that "we don't want that (charter schools) here" and that "80% of SEA would not support charter schools coming in"......it still seemed unclear regarding schools applying for a charter though and needs further clarification......Jonathan said they are carefully "tracking this bill." There was also a presentation about the skill centers and what programs would be offered where......but everyone was exhausted by then, so there was little discussion. Congratulations to Director Smith-Blum for her motion to remove the proposed Policy from the consent agenda and to Directors McClaren, Patu and Peaslee for holding firm. It took time and much discussion but the outcome was well worth it.

Po3 said...

Here's to the new 4-3.

And note to DeBell:

"collaboration is key"

Jack Whelan said...

I went to the meeting last night because I was interested to see first hand the current state of the board chemistry, and boy there was plenty to observe. Rather than tennis volleys I saw it as troop maneuvers before a major battle, each director taking his or her position, this one on the open plain, the other on a craggy knoll, and it was clear which way each director's gun was pointed. Three--four if you count Enfield--in one direction, and four in the other. The discourse was civil, but the underlying tension was thick.

So it was just interesting on that level, and Melissa's reporting on the details gives you a very strong flavor for the exchange, but I have to say it worries me. Because while, as Marty said, it's good that this issue has been flushed into the open so that the directors can use it as a way to hash out where they all stand on the power relationship between the board and the superintendent, it's troubling how it became such a public issue, and it's troubling that so early we have a cleanly divided 4-3 on an issue that should not have been forced so early in the new board's work together.

Whether or not it is important or necessary to clearly define the procedure that follows from policy, I'm not sure, but this maneuver to shove this "interpretation" of policy through so quickly, in my view, was clearly a maneuver on the part of the new minority to control the new majority.

seattle citizen said...

I, too, was confused by Director DeBell, who had just said he'd gone to staff to get assistance on revising the procedure, stating that the procedure was "board's work" and, by implication, the board members shouldn't be going to staff to ask for feedback on the procedure.
Hmmm....

Ballard-ite said...

huh - the thing about DeBell going to staff first, not the committee he insists has, well, "first dibs" for want of a better phrase is very interesting....without knowing anything more, that leads me to think that perhaps staff/Enfield are the drivers on this one - especially coupled with Enfield's "it's sorely needed" comment. Michael perhaps wanted to be sure THEY were happy with the language before the rest of the board saw it? Pure speculation on my part - but things that make you go hmmm...

dw said...

Jack said: but this maneuver to shove this "interpretation" of policy through so quickly, in my view, was clearly a maneuver on the part of the new minority to control the new majority.

And on that count, it failed. This is an important issue, and we've just gotten a preview of how things may look over the next 4 years.

SC said: Director DeBell, who had just said he'd gone to staff to get assistance on revising the procedure, stating that the procedure was "board's work" and, by implication, the board members shouldn't be going to staff to ask for feedback on the procedure.

Yes, this is VERY bothersome to me as well. Until recently, I've seen Michael as the calm, middle-of-the-road guy. Not really in the ed reform camp, but willing to reach across the aisle and work with everyone. Now, I'm not so sure anymore.

I don't have any problem with the board working with staff to help craft policy, but:

1) This is a different type of policy. Its shadow is cast over much of what the board will do, or will even be able to do.

2) You don't go to staff about something like this before you've discussed with all the other board members. If that's really what happened.

anonymous said...

"At one point Director Peaslee was "almost" able to converse openly with Chris Jackins and Melissa for clarification purposes regarding their testimonies. However,she was prevented from doing so by Director Debell citing Board decorum or protocol or rules of standard procedure."

That's interesting. I'm sure Driector Peaslee knows the protocol for public testimony. Did she choose to break away from the rules? Did she feel that protocol did not apply to her? Or is she just new and learning the ropes? If the former, then I'm glad that Michael was there to rein her in, if the latter, I hope she learned from this and we dwon't see it again.

I don't like that the board can't interact during public testimony, but that is their protocol. If Director Peaslee doesn't like it (and I wouldn't blamer her at all if she didn't) then she is free to work to change it, but she can't just break the rules.

IheartSPS

Chris S. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chris S. said...

Isn't it funny how elections somehow change the *senior* board members?

This post makes me feel strongly that something clandestine is going on. The pieces just don't add up or make sense (note DeBell not being able to speak without contradicting himself.) Just like TFA. Public records request anyone? But, I don't have to know what's going on to know that I DON'T LIKE IT. Transparency, schmanparency, bah.

Dorothy Neville said...

Remember that this is the procedure to go along with the policy that is already in place and agreed to.

It is the interpretation of some editorializers that this procedure is needed to rein in loose cannons of insurgents on the board. That shows the bias of the usual suspects, but does not necessarily reflect the motives of Michael nor the validity of the procedure. (I have mixed feelings. Michael's quotes in the media seem out of line, but his explanation of the work at the exec committee meeting seem fairly reasonable.)

Michael's reaching out to staff was Holly and Erin, both lawyers who are heavily immersed in policy. It makes sense to include them in the crafting of a procedure to go with an existing policy. That's what they know. Now later in the discussion when one of the board members said staff should be involved, I think she was talking about something very different. I am not sure Michael got that. I agree with Melissa here that since this procedure does involve how the board can productively vs non-productively ask senior staff for answers or analysis, then it makes sense for the senior staff to provide the board -- especially new members who haven't got the experience -- with their point of view, perhaps some examples.

As for "almost conversing" with Chris and Melissa, well, I agree with Michael. This was during the board discussion late in the evening, not during public testimony. Melissa wasn't even there. Chris provides clear written copies of his testimony just for this purpose. They didn't need Chris to get up and re-explain his points. It is not uncommon for board members to ask about a point brought up in public testimony and expect staff to address it. Generally the board member has taken notes so remembers exactly what the issue is. That would have been more appropriate for Sharon to have done. That's what ended up happening last night. I think it would be bad precedent to bring Chris back up to the podium for conversation at that point.

As for the board addressing the public during public testimony, well I can appreciate the issues there. Yes, it would be better to have some reaction instead of stony silence. But if board members regularly commented directly after a speaker, then that could get long and derailed. Often a board member will address public testimony during their board comments. Sometimes the speaker has left at that point. So the board really should still address the point in during their comments for the sake of clarifying to the general audience, but should also make sure the speaker gets an email follow-up. And if the board asks about it later to get an answer from staff, then that staff person should be tasked with the follow-up. I have heard this promised. Heck, it's been promised about my testimony and the staff person did follow up. I cannot tell if that happens with other members of the public or other staff.

What is going on? said...

Something doesn't feel right. Why did the press launch a full scale attack and a full court press to get this passed?

There were 2 women that testified for this procedure. Why did one of those individuals feel it necessary to tape board discussion?

There is already a policy in place. Why the rush?

All board members did not have an opportunity to weigh-in on this issue. DeBell was absolutely foolish for not building consensus.

I applaud Smith-Blum's desire to get input from senior staff. That's collaboration.

For me, SPS is a billion dollar a year operation. I want board members to have information they need. If there is a future scandal- I feel this moment will have significant importance. I feel it is a mistake to tie the hands- and attempt to silent board members.

Feels weird- and my gut has never let me down.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Sharon didn't ask to talk to people during public testimony. She asked if it was possible to ask people who, during public testimony, had questions on topics they were voting on. She asked during one of these discussions.

She didn't really know they can't answer questions from constituents at a Board meeting after public testimony. Heaven forbid actually answering questions at a public meeting.

And to clear up an issue because Chris Jackins and I had our questions referenced.

During my testimony, during which I praise the MOU for the Creative Approach Schools, I had said no one should see this as opening the door to charter schools. I said it as a warning to those who might think so, NOT because it would be possible under this MOU.

So then Holly F. weighed in and said she thought I was mistaken. There was a bit of back and forth about it.

To be clear (because I've read the charter bill so many times):

- the only way to have a charter school is with charter law. So, no, the MOU would not allow charters to come in. It might allow for the teachers/parents to have an outside group come in to help them enact their vision but no one would run the school but the principal and the district.

- if there was charter law, a charter group wouldn't even bother with this MOU as it has a much higher standard of teacher buy-in (80%) than the charter bill (50%+1).

Melissa Westbrook said...

Ah yes, the two women who testified in favor, both are parents in the district. One of them sat with a Stand rep and was having a hard time with the wording of her testimony which gave me the impression she didn't write it.

Both of them referenced some odd things (and got a couple things wrong).

The first woman said the superintendent had done wonderful work and that people should have open hearts which was confusing because I'm not sure I understood what it meant in the context of this policy.

The other woman referenced the Elway report that indeed did state that people preferred a strong Superintendent to a strong Board. What gets left out is the wording of the question and, of course, they gave no middle ground for people who would have said "I want both equally strong to work together." She also said that there should be standards of conduct for Board members. There are but this policy is not about conduct; it's about how the Board interacts with staff.

Maybe that's conduct but I think of conduct as behavior.

wseadawg said...

Sherry then talked about the timeline and her concern over having this done before the superintendent search was underway.

She also said they needed to have the basics in place for the next superintendent.


Warning: RED FLAGS should be going up all over the place!

Folks, Sherry's comments clearly demonstrate that they are not being open minded about a Superintendent search, but rather, that they are after another puppy-milled, in-the-tank reformer. There is no reasonable person who would refuse the SI job in Seattle because such a policy was not in place, or might tie their hands a little bit. These moves demonstrate unequivocally that the current crop of SI candidates under consideration have an entitlement mentality as do their ed reformer supporters.

There is zero logical connection between the current policy debate and hiring a superintendent, except that certain folks want a Superintendent who will rule at will, without collaboration, and we can either "take them or leave them" at their annual review.

This is not collaboration. This is about arrogance, entitlement, and perceived superiority of high-ranking executives who can essentially look the board in the eye and say, "you can fire me, but otherwise, you can't touch me, so buzz off."

It's time we all wake up and smell the coffee on this one. Why is this so important? Who among us, when applying for a job, would dictate the terms of employment ahead of time, and refuse to take a job if it required us to answer questions or be inconvenienced every so often? With 250k per year comes increased accountability, doesn't it? Not less!

Enfield has insinuated that because she can't have unlimited power and discretion, she's not interested. Too many SI's nationwide have that same attitude, and guess what it proves: That it's all about them and their rising star; not about kids, parents or communities. The Broad CEO, er SI Academy fosters and furthers this "elite" attitude and the ed reformers are 100% in line with it too.

Instead of working so hard to set the table perfectly for a dyed-in-the-wool reformer, maybe the Board should start interviewing people and see what shakes out. I don't know who in their right mind is going to turn down a 250k per year job because they can't have 100% of what they want.

Are we hiring a SI, or a professional athlete who talks in the third person? The more I read and hear about this, the more I realize how screwed up and upside down our values and priorities are. Sherry needs to screw her head on straight, stop listening to "big pants" Korsmo and Co., and get real. This ridiculous side show has gone on long enough.

Why should we be blackmailed and held hostage to an unknown, unnamed SI candidate unless we give them absolute power? Only one reason I can think of: Arrogant entitlement.

We've been through that with MGJ. Never again.

What is going on? said...

wseadawg,

I had the same thoughts. I suspect the reform types want to set the path for a hands-off board and puts all the power into the superintendent's hands.

Ballard-it said...

@wseadawg - Who among us, when applying for a job, would dictate the terms of employment ahead of time, and refuse to take a job if it required us to answer questions or be inconvenienced every so often? With 250k per year comes increased accountability, doesn't it? Not less!

Could not have said it better myself - there is something afoot here in terms of possible candidates - you've outlined it excellently

wseadawg said...

I'm with ChrisS and What'sGoingOn. I smell a rat in all of this, with Michael and the Ed Reform gang doing all they can to legally and contractually restrain the new board from going in a direction opposite that of where big ed reform and its big investors want us to go.

Michael's going down like Custer on this if he doesn't back off, because this Rock Star CEO/Run-it-like-a-business model the ed reformers love so much has caused so much damage over the last few years that two board members lost their jobs over it.

Michael: It's over. Let it go. Sherry: Do the same. Harium?

The community wants representation and wants its board members to have the ability to present its requests to staff. We aren't hiring a football coach here. We are hiring the overseer of our children's futures and the future of our school district for generations to come. That person should be not just accountable but available as well.

I don't want another MGJ who wants to close schools like GM closed factories. I don't want a another pseudo-math committee recommending the adoption of pseudo-math for feel good reasons to the detriment of my children, while ignoring mountains of negative data along the way.

But Michael, Sherry and Harium, after years of corporate sponsored board retreats full of corporate infused speakers and corporate backed ed policy writers can't seem to get the Kool-Aid out of their system, and see no other way than the roads laid out for them by the reformers.

I believe the minority are so polluted by this point that they simply see no other way to operate than caving even further to the pro-corporate ed reform crowd - like the good Democrats they all are.

Like with TFA, we are not getting the full story folks. Not even close. There are particular, specific plans and agendas just off the table that will come storming forward as soon as this policy is adopted. Just watch. And by then it will be too late.

Somebody needs to make the case as to why this is all so damn important and has to be rushed so fast. We could start by finding out who's been whispering in Michael, Sherry and Harium's ears for the past few months. That would probably tell us everything we need to know.

Anonymous said...

Melissa said a Stand organizer was "helping" a testimony giver. Interesting. Who was the person? The state rep or one of the locals?
I continue to wonder what the point of this group is on the local level. At the state and national level it appears to be a pure play to bust unions.

DistrictWatcher

Anonymous said...

Comes down to math afterall. Education consumes a hugh chunk of the state budget. SSD alone gets nearly $580 millions this year. Despite budget cutback, we haven't figured out ways to outsourced education like making ipads and iphone... yet. So for those who want to make money within the US borders, education is ripe for the picking.

Anybody think it's odd that the Mercer rebuild is costing the city $164 millions to do, yet the Garfield's renovation cost SSD over $100 million. Add the cost of our new district HQ at another $100 million. Use your EDM. Investment in education has delivered BIG payouts. For those who reaped, this is a great thing. (MBA lesson plan here) For our kids, the cost/benefit, not so much.

So yeah, if you want to make it about politics and money. You can just start there. Otherwise, I would ask our Board to think about what they mean when they say they are acting in our best interest. Who is the "our" in this? And like Charlie wrote in his thread, A question of scale, what you do, how you do it, and where your focus publicly or privately show who you are and where you stand. With math, comes the accounting of it. So please take your time to write a policy to make sure ALL are accountable in this equation.

voter

What is going on? said...

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/opinion/2017283660_guest20royer.html

Another Stand person weighs in. See above.

It is my greatest hope that Stand isn't using the media to discredit our directors to further their agenda. There was an enormous push for 1620B via Crosscut, Seattle Times Editorial and Seattle Weekly...particularily since we already have a policy on Superintendent and Board relationships. Feels weird.

I'm fine with people voicing their opinions. It is another thing to discredit and intimidate directors via media to further an agenda.

A woman testified on behalf on 1620B..and felt it necessary to video record 1620B discussion??? Why?

We're watching.

cascade said...

DeBell's policy proposal has further drawn a sharp distinction between the corporatists and populists on the board.

No doubt the corporatist backers, having been stung by this 4-3 thumbs down vote, will be finding and funding candidates to take out Smith-Blum and Patu in 2013. Which means a whisper campaign will be fully in place starting about now as to how awful this new board is. Which means it will be more difficult than needs be to steer this ship.

DeBell's unfortunate action has torn down the very institution (board and district) he was trying to stengthen. It's a real pity.

mirmac1 said...

There is a concerted effort to apply pressure on our Board members. These sleazeballs figure they might get video to use in a campaign attack ad. Like Betty, I'd say go ahed, make my day. If the Masters of the Universe want to post Betty's manifesto (Brava!) or Marty's heartfelt, reasoned statement, that would just be a slam dunk for the "general populace" (Jon Bridge, thank you for your silly arrogance, and for epitomizing everything I dislike about Alliance and Stand).

What's going on said...

"No doubt the corporatist backers, having been stung by this 4-3 thumbs down vote, will be finding and funding candidates to take out Smith-Blum and Patu in 2013. Which means a whisper campaign will be fully in place starting about now as to how awful this new board is."

Absolutely. Get ready. It is going to get really ugly. I believe these same groups will use the next 2 years to discredit Smith-Blum and Patu.

mirmac1 said...

Well, two can play at that game....

SP said...

What's up with this new type of procedure, "Board Procedure" (as opposed to "Superintendent Procedures")? Until now, I have not heard of "Board Procedures" under the new WSSDA-type policy structure. As far as I can tell, there is only one "Board Procedure" on the books (under Students), and all the rest of the procedures are "Superintendent Procedures (SP)."

Previously (in the old policy system) the Board had to approve both Board policies (ie D.48.00) and Board procedures (ie D48.01). I thought that the new/big change to the WSSDA system was that procedures were now going to be written by the district with no Board review (and thus called Superintendent Procedures) and did not have to be approved by the Board?

Are Board Procedures going to be now introduced for other Board Policies as well?

Anonymous said...

It makes sense that the powers that be are going after anyone who could rock the boat ASAP. Their side has always operated under the sound political practice from war fighting - the best defense is good offense.

It is good to see Sherry showing her real skills, the skills which enabled her to thrive in middle management at Boeing - 'the big boss says 2 + 2 = 5, so the consensus is 5 = 2 + 2, and since this is Seattle, you're a consensus wrecker if you have different ideas'

Obviously DeBell's hand wringing about the community was a ploy, a tinge of conscience, a mix of both - and now he's stepping up for the loss of Sundquist and Peter.

One thing I can advise the De-form-istas about - they don't have to worry about the SEA figuring out anything until ... 20 October 2013. The crowd at 4th Ave S & S. Lucille are too busy jumping to Arne Duncan's baloney, playing Deer in the Headlight, or doing What Me Worry to start figuring out how to help board directors who are going to bat for the community instead of the privateers.

The Horror

Melissa Westbrook said...

The Stand person was local.

Oh yes, I think it's on but so be it. I haven't backed down from too many fights so this one doesn't worry me much.

Chris S., Miramac, Wseadawg, and everyone else speaking up - your instincts are right. I read this great book about personal safety called The Gift of Fear by a famous safety expert, Gavin DeBecker. (He also wrote a good one about protecting your kids called Protecting the Gift.)

I never forgot one line in the book about how a deer in the woods who hears a noise nearby does NOT go on eating. Ears up and usually...run away!

Mr. DeBecker's premise is that we are losing our instincts (or having them socialized out of us, especially women because we want to be nice).

Michael has never acted this way before. I KNOW him to be a smart and caring person. Something or someone has convinced him to act otherwise. It's not just losing Susan.

If your gut tells your something is wrong, listen. You're probably right and even if not, better to have listened to that signal than to have ignored it.

What's going on? said...

Brewster's first post election salvo. Putting a "scare" into Smith-Blum and Patu:


http://crosscut.com/2011/12/19/seattle/21697/Two-big-shockers-for-Seattle-schools-and-cops/?pagejump=1

Considering the nasty article perttaining to 1620B, I believe Brewster will be true to his word.

Melissa and Charlie, Thanks for this forum.

Anonymous said...

Michael didn't act this way before because he could hide behind Steve and Peter and act like the "voice of reason." In fact, he voted with them most of the time.

"Losing Susan" and being pressured by his business and power-broker- buds appears to have put Michael into a frenzy. At last night's meeting, DeBell's rattled nerves (starting with forgetting how to start the meeting) and mannerisms reminded me of the William Macy character from the movie "Fargo"-- another weak, passive aggressive type who was in way over his head.

--enough already

Anonymous said...

By the way, I love how Charlie keeps avoiding this whole debacle,
after being a messenger for DeBell on this very topic just a few days ago.

If he hadn't brought himself into the story itself by being another media outlet for DeBell, Charlie would have every right to stay mum.

Since that was not the case, the silence speaks volumes.

--enough already

mirmac1 said...

I tell ya, hitting them in the pocketbook is a good thing. Keep emailing their advertisers. Include some of the media's choicest gossipy tidbits. And tell them you will not patronize a business that supports this kind of irresponsible journalism. Post it on your Facebook and Twitter accounts. Let them know we will not go quietly. In fact, we will not go at ALL!

Another suspicion in my mind...Enfield SHOULD NOT disparage the district or the Board. In fact, that MAY be why the Evergreen District can't talk about her, because she was in a snit and badmouthing (in private) her employer. They probably came to a mutual agreement NOT to discuss their disagreements.

Just wild speculation on my part...

mirmac1 said...

I am surprised by my usual like-minded buds supporting, what is in my mind, an unnecessary poorly-written procedure.

I say NO procedure is better than a BAD procedure.

Juana said...

Can somebody enlighten me what measurable academic gains have been made under Enfield either as CAO or as interim superintendent? Is the wish of some to retain her due to the fact that she is a breath of fresh air personality-wise from Goodloe-Johnson? If yes, is that enough to fall over one's face to persuade her to stay? (I'm looking at you, DeBell and Martin-Morris.)

suep. said...

Is it possible that DeBell wants to run for higher office once his term ends with SPS, and the power-brokers-that-be in town have offered him a quid pro quo of some sort if he plays point person for their ed reform agenda right now? (Just a theory...)

I have seen him act somewhat like this before, actually, during the whole capacity management/school closures debacle. He seemed to fall in line with The Agenda, ask few questions of Goodloe-Johnson and her fabricated-data-driven 'strategic plan,' not listen to parents, and think ill of those who questioned the plan. I remember him stating angrily (and conspiratorially, I thought) that 'there are people out there who want to harm the district.'

Ironically, right now the 'people' doing the most harm to our district appear to be the likes of him and Crosscut, the Times and LEV et al who seem hell-bent on disparaging and knee-capping our democratically elected school board majority before they've barely had a chance to do their new job.

(I still can't believe that Brewster threatened Smith-Blum like that.)

What is going on? said...

"Ironically, right now the 'people' doing the most harm to our district appear to be the likes of him and Crosscut, the Times and LEV et al who seem hell-bent on disparaging and knee-capping our democratically"

Absolutely. I'm finding it intriguing that DeBell had an interview with Crosscut, disclosed "the catalyst" for Enfield's departure..and subsequently Crosscut, ST editorial and Weekly were pushing for 1820B- and discrediting our board. What a coincidence!

mirmac1 said...

I don't believe that Enfield is at all shy about disclosing the "catalyst" in (semi)private conversations...

Loose lips sink interim ships. There are only so many Broad-led middle management jobs to go around. Maybe MGJ needs a high-priced assistant?

suep. said...

If it's true that S. Enfield was unable or unwilling to work with our new, democratically elected, school board members –- a key requirement of the superintendent's job –- then she clearly was not suited for the job and it may be for the best that she took herself out of the running.

Which in turn makes the intimation by Stand for Children's Jordan Royer and Crosscut and others that the board should fall on its knees and beg Enfield to stay, illogical and somewhat pathetic, really.

Besides, if she were to change her mind again (like she did with her specious decision to fire Principal Floe), she could look like a capricious flip-flopper who doesn't really mean what she says. Surely no one wants that in a superintendent.

Charlie Mas said...

Just so we all know, there is no written rule anywhere that says that Board directors cannot respond to public testimony. There is no written rule anywhere that says that the Board cannot ask questions of citizens during the discussion of motions. There are no such rules.

This has been the Board's practice, but there are no rules against it.

Charlie Mas said...

Juana, I don't think that Dr. Enfield has been here long enough to be able to take credit or blame for any of the student outcomes.

Anonymous said...

Just reading Melissa's account makes DeBell sound like a "man in charge." There are two types of directors/committee chairs: those who lead by taking charge and those who lead by inclusion hearing all points of view in a neutral manner. I've always thought he spoke to the "inclusionary" model which I admire but seems to be currently following the "I'm in charge so I know best" model.

I've never felt DeBell was authentic and maybe we are now seeing that long-suspected duplicit nature from him.

n...

anonymous said...

SupeP. First of all Dr. Enfield gave notice within a week or two of the board elections. She didn't have time to work with the "new democratically appointed" board so I doubt her decision to leave was based on anything this board has done. Second, she has never said or even suggested that she is unwilling or unable to work with the "new board".

As for Dr. Enfield changing her mind - that's nothing more than wishful thinking on DeBell's part. Dr. Enfield just this week said in an interview that she will *NOT* be changing her mind.

Lets keep to the facts.

FBF

dan dempsey said...

Dr. Enfield was the CAO before being Superintendent. Perhaps she has been here long enough to be accountable for some academic outcomes. She has continued to support the No Positive Results ... k-12 math program ... She had yet to do anything about actually acknowledging that the Mercer improvement should be spread elsewhere and spreading it. She has actively resisted the creation and implementation of a "useful" instructional materials waiver policy.

She and Steve Sundquist stated to the Times when she became Super that the math direction was fine and that the teachers had become more familiar with how to use the materials.

She has played a major role in keeping k-12 math headed in the same NO Results direction its been headed for the past decade.

She has shown a large preference for political decision making rather than the intelligent application of relevant data, which makes her just like the No Results 2007 Gang of Four.

Anonymous said...

@FBF: Wait a sec! Enfield decides to bolt right after the election results are in, and you don't think the new board composition had anything to do with it?

It looks to me like she'd decided ahead of time that if she lost a solid board majority in her favor, she'd be out of here. And that's what happened.

You're correct that she made her decision before engaging in any work with the new board members, which makes her decision look that much worse, narrow-minded and petty.

Isn't the first rule of leadership that you have to learn to get along with people who don't share your views? Don't they teach that anymore?

WV says "tryme." Go ahead, make my day!

WSEADAWG

mirmac1 said...

I think Enfield's problem is her refusal to acknowledge that, because the Board is accountable, they have a right to vigorously represent their constituents interests. Like in the SE, for instance.

Sorry, superintendents do not walk on water. Many do not have superior administrative or strategic skills. Heck, some are blatanly dishonest and can't be trusted (Atlanta, Seattle, Detroit). We NEED the Board to oversee the admin's actions AND results, ask questions, and, yes, demand answers.

Patrick said...

WSEADAWG, she announced her decision to leave right after the election, but she may well have decided to leave regardless of the election outcome. That's her pattern of how long she stays in jobs. She may have another job already, her husband may have a job elsewhere already, and she just didn't want her announcement to affect the election.

mirmac1 said...

It is becoming clear to me that Enfield is part of the whisper campaign to the media. She has an axe to grind.

I believe DeBell is too astute and cautious to dish on internal matters. Frankly, if I were him, I would be PISSED that SOMEONE encouraged the ST, Weekly and Crosscut to gossip and smear directors, making it look like HE was the source...

Anonymous said...

Patrick: Sure, that's also possible. The FACT is, we don't know because Susan won't talk openly about it.

My point is the unfairness and absurdity in blaming Sharon and Marty, when they just started their terms. The local media and some bloggers are pulling this narrative from their rears, even though it portrays Enfield as running from the kitchen because she can't take the heat. (Leadership?)

The story doesn't jibe, and it portrays Enfield in a far worse light than Sharon or Marty. I don't think Enfield wants this, and if Astro-T, I mean Strategies 360 is involved, somebody should demand a refund. WSDWG

mirmac1 said...

WSDWG,

Take a close look at Enfield's behavior the last few weeks. In discussions about "Board-Superintendent Relationship", she puts on a vexed face, shakes her head and says "this is sorely needed." That's code for "I'm pissed and I'm letting everyone know about it, but off the record, of course." Let others smear their hands to assuage her indignation.

This is poor form. But reminds me of her emails to BFF Janis Ortega, bemoaning those tiresome public comments....

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I know Mirmac. I know. But even so, she was so much better than MGJ, I was willing to give her another year, hoping she'd move in our direction. Guess not, eh?

The last thing I want is the departing Superintendent pushing this policy to grease the wheels and set the table for another of her BFF's fresh from Broad or some other "reformed" district.

At this point, why do we care what the departing SI believes is "sorely needed?" And what does she care? She outta here anyways.

I want something WE need and that works for US, because WE are the ones who'll be living with it, while she's off to greener pastures.

Ever notice how people who aren't good at a game always insist on changing the rules to favor themselves?

Consider the Source! Poor Sport Alert!!

WSDWG

Anonymous said...

"I believe DeBell is too astute and cautious to dish on internal matters. Frankly, if I were him, I would be PISSED that SOMEONE encouraged the ST, Weekly and Crosscut to gossip and smear directors, making it look like HE was the source..."

DeBell was the source. That's why he was quoted in the ST. Charlie also talked to DeBell, which resulted in the same narrative on this blog (albeit coated in a more palliative form) as Crosscut, Seattle Weekly and ST.

We can't have revisionist history, especially since it just occurred last week. Betty Patu was very aware of the source--DeBell--and made that clear in her comments to the ST and at the board meeting.

I'm no fan of Enfield's but the media gossip orgy this past week falls squarely on the passive-aggressive guy named DeBell--none too astute and extremely reckless as the new board president.

--enough already

mirmac1 said...

enough already,

I had my reasons to say what I said. Believe me, I'm not trying to give DeBell an admittedly small fig leaf.

That's neither here nor there. The question is, what are we going to do about it. Naturally, this kind of *(%$ makes me really pissed and I want to (will) retaliate.

Anonymous said...

My sentiments exactly, enough already.

n...

Anonymous said...

For what its worth, I don't think DeBell expected it to morph into the character assasination that ensued. That said, he was ill advised to speak to the press, he should have known better, and he owns it.

Charlie mentioned somewhere that the irony is that had the media frenzy not occurred-the procedure, policy what ever the heck it is- may have passed.

I was an admirer but DeBell comes off as petulant.

MC

mirmac1 said...

Okay, so we're in agreement; DeBell was a nim-rod, and the smear campaign blew up in the power-brokers' faces.

: )

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

Wow! Watched that long meeting last night on TV. I found the discussion on the MOU interesting. Especially the questions regarding the possibility of this being a pathway for charter schools. The only one who seemed to think it totally impossible was Jonathan Knapp. I hope he's right. Generally, they all agreed it it couldn't happen but none so certain as Knapp. I would rather have heard that certainty from Thompson or Brockman who nodded a lot but said little.

n...

anonymous said...

No mirmac, DeBell isn't a nim-rod. He's a public servant who has volunteered on our school board for the last 6 years. You may not like his decisions or actions, but lets refrain from calling our public (volunteer) servants names.

2C

mirmac1 said...

2C,

When I see a public servant, who has done much for our students, self-abrogate for the dubious purposes of powerful business interests and an entitled princess (I say that because I know he knows better...he knows what his counterparts in other agencies have done), then I am appalled.

I will agree. I should not call a hardworking volunteer names. Wouldn't it be nice if our one-newspaper town and other tabloids exercised the same restraint?!

Signing off,

a bat-sh*t crazy, micromananaging, harpie, parent.

Charlie Mas said...

Okay, this is a small point, but I need to clear up the confusion around the epithet Nimrod.

Nimrod is a biblical character. He was a king and he was famous as a mighty hunter. Get that? Nimrod was a great hunter. To call someone a Nimrod is to praise their hunting prowess.

Bugs Bunny called Elmer Fudd "Nimrod" as a sarcastic comment on his skill as a hunter. Bugs did this a loooong time ago when general audiences had greater familiarity with the Bible than they have today.

Folks who know Nimrod's reputation from the Bible got the joke. Folks who did not know who Nimrod was figured that it was a word that meant numbskull.

If we're going to have name-calling on this blog, then let's do it right.

Don't call someone a caudate or a coprophage unless you know what those words mean.

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful post, Charlie! I like to laugh and there's not much to laugh about these days.
n...

mirmac1 said...

So much for expanding my snarkisms...