As I mentioned previously, I attended the Coe Elementary event last night. It was fairly full but I wish I had publicized it more as it was worthwhile being there. But it deserves a separate thread.
But a couple things happened and as I pondered them in bed last night (while nursing a cold) as well as thinking about all that has been written in the media lately, I came to some conclusions.
The first thing that happened is that one parent got up and said that it seemed like with the survey results and parents and teachers speaking out, that the majority of people want Dr. Enfield to stay. That got some decent applause. Not from me, though.
And it's not because I don't want Dr. Enfield to reconsider. I wish she would and I wish she would apply for the permanent job.
No, it's because that parent completely misread the survey results. As Charlie pointed out, so did Publicola and Crosscut. The parent also took it upon herself to say that the majority of parents and teachers wanted her to stay without a shred of evidence except her own experience in her own community.
I have no problem with anyone's opinion or perception within their community. Coe was going to write a letter to the Board and endorse her hiring but that was in December and, of course, things changed.
But she put it out in the either that this is what "most" people wanted.
Then, I had a woman approach me as I was walking to my car. She did not ID herself but told me that I was a negative person who wrote negative things. The first thing out of my mouth (as it generally is with matters about the blog) is "Thank you for the input." But she continued on to say that she isn't having a negative experience at her school.
I told her I rarely talk about "experiences" at specific schools precisely because I don't have first-hand knowledge. I told her I write more at a district level.
She then asked whether I had students in the system and I said no, I graduated both of them. She said, well then I didn't know what I was talking about. I had to smile because she should be a brave person and go tell that to the multitudes of Seattlites who DON'T have children in the system. Taxpayers are not allowed to say anything about the state of our school district? That's a big opinion to have.
She said she was very worried about the two new Board members. I gently pointed out there were still five incumbents and she said well, thank goodness for that. She said we needed continuity and stability. I told her the two new people had been duly elected as had all the Board members. I told her that the incumbent candidates had not done well in their four years. I pointed out Pottergate which she said was not a crisis and it wasn't that much money in the scope of the overall budget.
That's when something clicked. Here, standing before me, was a person for whom that professional veneer and stability at any cost, was more important than a person's job performance. She seemed not get that it wasn't just the money. It was the lack of oversight, the fear that Potter had engendered in many people at headquarters, it was Maier hiding an important document about the issue, Fred Stephens and others looking the other way - all of that either didn't exist in her mind or didn't matter.
(As an aside, about the money, DeBell had just announced at the meeting that they were lowering the reserve amount the district holds in anticipation of more cuts from the Legislature. It was about $2M which is about how much we lost with Potter. Also, it would be interesting to cut, say, $250,000 from her school's budget and see if she noticed. Even Carlyle said a million here and a million there still matters.)
My point is that I believe there really is something going on out there. Some is being directed and some is pure stubborn behavior.
We all know that the Times is tone-deaf editorially. They, along with Crosscut, seem to believe that somehow voters got hoodwinked and that Marty and Sharon are the early signs of the apocalypse for this district. No one seems to want to do the civil thing and accept the election outcome, be welcoming and give them a chance.
On the other hand, we have massive hand-wringing over Susan Enfield with words like "beloved" and the feeling we let someone good get away. No one let her get away; she is leaving on her own. No one pushed her out. No one was unkind to her. Apparently, she didn't get want she wanted early enough and made the personal/professional decision to leave.
Again, I was quite surprised by her decision. The Alliance was lining up with her, LEV, a couple of the unions in the district, many parents and the majority of the Board. That's a lot of support and yet, not enough for her to stay and see what happened.
I'm thinking that there are some out there who are going to take every chance they have to bad-mouth Marty and Sharon and really, to what end? Is it worth demoralizing them early on to make a point?
It's interesting because a big vibe from Michael and Susan last night was kindness. I get the feeling that they feel that people are being too rough, too inquisitive and too insensitive to staff.
Susan asked that people say thank you - to a teacher, to a cafeteria worker, to a staffer. She's right, of course. She said people are working hard and with good intent. (This echoes what Bob Vaughn told the AL Taskforce Committee - to assume good intent.)
I never assume bad intent because I know that the SPS staff genuinely care about the students in their care. There are a few very bad apples like Silas Potter and a few like MGJ and Don Kennedy who just can't be bothered to care. They are very few.
But I don't assume that all is well because I was told that. Why? Because each and every time we get promised that a mistake that was made won't happen again, it does. So skepticism, at least until this tanker gets turned around, is healthy.
What I thought was just an election hangover, though, is more than that. I think we should all be aware and be willing to correct impressions that are not valid or proven. Because once an idea gets out into the public, it tends to stick. It will not help the work of the district to have mistruths out there. It will not help the work of the Board of two members are not treated with the same respect as others.
We all need to behave civilly and work together to make this district great. If it is fair in one direction, it should be the same in the other direction.