Friday, April 20, 2012

Hopes for our New Superintendent

Many, both here and in the Times' comments section, have expressed unhappiness that none of the finalists are local.  That doesn't mean no locals applied; I know of at least two who did.   I don't know if some of the other locals did but there is star power in Mary Alice Heuschel in Renton and Rob Neu in Federal Way.

I just listened to the KUOW discussion about the finalists.  The pundits were all struck by the fact that these low-key finalists all come from smaller districts.  They were also all struck by the lack of any public meetings for these finalists. 

What was interesting was Knute Berger's statement that the Board has asserted itself in the last couple of years for "equal or greater force than the Superintendent."  That a member of the media thinks that this was a good thing is telling.  He also said that the district "provides the drama, not the superintendent."  Hmm.

Joni Balter of the Times thought they should have picked a more dynamic or commanding figure for superintendent.  

She also mentioned how the Mercer Island capital bond was resoundingly defeated on Tuesday.  She noted that when John Stanford was superintendent, he was stung by the loss of a capital measure in SPS and how next Feb, the district could be asking for over $1B between operations and capital. 

I happened to be looking at Federal Way's website and found Superintendent Neu's State of the District speech.  I thought it was a great speech and I hope whoever wins out for the SPS superintendent job has this kind of commitment and drive. 


25 comments:

mirmac1 said...

You are right Melissa. I recall Neu's position during the TFA thing (an idea pushed by his #2 person, which is one mistake he made). Neu felt that NO TFA should be hired if good teachers were RIFfed.

mirmac1 said...

You are wrong Melissa : )

Renton's supt was very happy to get TFAers, if they were free. Big FAIL!

Watching said...

We will need a respected superintendent to pass $1B levy.

Anonymous said...

They want a star. It isn't a star we need. It is a public servant with experience and an understanding of children and learning, the job teachers do, and communication with community. A hard working person who cares. Remember Albert Shankar? I want a super who thinks like he did. Win-win for everyone.

n...

Josh Hayes said...

Hardly surprising that Ms. Balter thinks "command" is what we need: it fits right in with the "best and brightest" mind-set at the Times (and, I guess, in the downtown establishment).

Frankly, I think a quiet, effective, competent administrator is exactly what we need. We don't need sweeping initiatives, overarching philosophies, and all that happy horse-poop. Get bloated central costs down, get the savings to the classroom, and do the job you're supposed to do. Is that so much to ask?

Melissa Westbrook said...

I said nothing about TFA so I'm confused about the comment. That she was glad for TFA doesn't discount her other abilities as a superintendent.

Watching, it appears that at least two of the finalists did just guide through their districts capital levies.

Of course, $1B+ is a different kind of sell.

mirmac1 said...

Being "wrong" is okay. I'm wrong all the time.

Anonymous said...

I was very disappointed in the KUOW commentary this am. It was evident that they hadn't done any research or investigation other than read the press release.

One of the commentators said it was a stepping stone move for all 3. It sure doesn't look that way for Enoch at least. And they said it was a big pay raise for all 3 of them. Raise for Husk, cut for Enoch and not sure about Banda. Someone corrected that on air, but really, how hard is it to do some google research?

And I almost fell out of my chair w/ the "the district provides the drama, not the superintendent" comment -- The supes job is to SUPERVISE the district employees. So the district functions properly and so things don't happen... things like financial scandals a la Potter, perpetually misinterpreting enrollment data, property selling issues, permitting insubordinate principals.. True the district is the stage where the drama plays out but with decent management, by the superintendent, perhaps there would be less drama?

And all that nonsense about the overly assertive board... puuhlease.

KUOW, you can do better.

-npr listener

Eric B said...

I'm with those who don't want a rock star. Rock stars move on after starting big initiatives but before anyone can say if they had any good results. A competent administrator who cares about public input would be plenty.

That attitude may not make us a world class city, but I'm OK with that.

Anonymous said...

I just want a superintendent who will bring us a better math curriculum. I think it is the biggest weakness in the district.

S Parent

Anonymous said...

I'm in with n..& Eric B. The last thing I want is a rock star. We sure love falling in love with "boldness" around here, even "bold incompetence" like with MGJ. The more I think about that debacle, the more I realize what a charlatan she was. Not again, please.

Joni B is chasing yesterday's bandwagon, as usual from the Times. No surprises there.

As I said earlier, I want a boring, competent, objective-minded person who doesn't make lofty, unrealistic promises. I've had enough of those types already. Steady, responsible & dare I ask: Honest.

I guess what I really want is a grown-up, with morals, scruples, and integrity. Unfortunately hard-to-find in today's SI stables.

My early preference is for Enoch, because he seems the most sincere, which probably means he has no chance, because the powers-that-be can't get enough of false prophets.

How about somebody who meets parents & community members first, instead of the Chamber of Commerce, LEV and the BRT? I must be dreaming. WSDWG

Jan said...

"Bold incompetence."

Love it, WSDWG!

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

Anonymous at 7:20 said: "We don't need rock stars, we don't need bold. We need someone that will inspire staff to be their best.
Another bold "my way or the highway" type ala MGJ is something we should all agree is a mistake we don't want to repeat. Enoch and Husk have that. I see nothing in Banda that differentiates him from our past mistakes."

I am intrigued. I didn't see a lot in Banda that said "more of our same past mistakes." Can you elaborate on what parts of his cv led you to that conclusion? Similarly, my initial impression was that Husk was associated with more (maybe not a lot more, but more) of the kinds of decisions I have not liked (NTN contracts, fuzzy math, schools run like businesses). I would love to hear why you like her -- because I worry that I am leaping to flawed conclusions.

Miss Waterlow said...

I met Neu briefly when he was freshly arrived from Detroit. This is scant evidence to to go on, but remember thinking, “I like that guy - I wish he were our superintendent.” He has an east-of-the-Mississippi forthrightness. He has, what?, five kids? For some weird reason, that makes me want to trust him. Maybe because he also made a top-notch presentation. Substantively, he's made some interesting changes like making AP, IB, etc. opt-out programs (above certain scores on MS tests) - with the caveat that those who don’t test in can still opt in if they want to try. This is a good idea. Quite a good idea, actually. Not going to save the world, but shows good instincts for making relatively simple, inexpensive changes that can have a large effect over the whole district over time.
I still wish he were our supe, but I’m glad Federal Way has him and it would be gross to try to poach him (andI don’t think he’d do it).

Miss Waterlow said...

As for wanting a “star” - ech. But I want someone tough who will do more than quietly administrate. Some of you seem to want that and I understand and I wouldn’t turn my nose up at someone who quietly did excellent work for our schools. But, in the context of the current corporate public school reform juggernaut plus budgets that come with large sucking sound effects, I, personally, am ready for a rabble rouser - someone who will get up in the face of this feckless, shameful legislature. There is no reason our superintendents have to put on a good face when they get handed a bag of crap, yet this is what they continually do - Enfield was the queen - “this is a good opportunity for us to become more efficient” and that kind of nonsense. Thank you sir, may I have another. So, after years and years of that, I want a big, burly mama or papa bear who’s going to say “oh no you don’t! Oh no you don’t do that to MY district!” I don’t want a star but I want a champion. I really do. We’re the most pissed on district that ever was (local public opinion-wise) and we wouldn't deserve it but for our crummy, bootless, sly, unintelligent superintendents. Our schools - our kids, our parents, our teachers, our specialists, etc. - work hard and they deserve someone who’s going to kick a** for them.
That’s what I want. I don’t see that in a cursory view of this line up, but Enoch does strike me as the most promising at the moment.

dan dempsey said...

Miss Waterlow wrote:
"But, in the context of the current corporate public school reform juggernaut plus budgets that come with large sucking sound effects, I, personally, am ready for a rabble rouser - someone who will get up in the face of this feckless, shameful legislature."

Do not forget to add our feckless shameful WA Supreme Court .... get it their faces by not reelecting them..... There are several superior court judges who also deserve a careful inspection before casting votes in their direction.

====
I am just amazed that the Supremes decided it is OK for constitutional rights to be violated for another 6 years because the legislature has a plan to make things OK by 2018...... gives you an idea of why k-12 Ed in WA .... is in such sad sad shape.

Courts are simply interested in having things run orderly ... if justice gets dispensed it is an accident.

The characteristic of a republic is that "all" citizens are protected according to the constitution and the laws ... last I checked those students in k-12 are part of "all".

KG said...

Keep the Duggan Harman's of the school district from moving central
admin. budget items to other line
items so he can LIE about the actual cost of Central Admin.

If this could actually be done which has not been in my 22 years with the District the money could actually be helped to address the acheivement gap.

Only Central admin. should take furloughs as they are a responsible for the shortfall the district is quagmired in perrenially.

I hope the new superintendent has a spine.

Anonymous said...

Miss Waterlow: very good points on getting a rabble rouser -- a real defender. You make such a compelling case, it made me wonder why I was so willing to settle for "quietly efficient." I guess I think that the ed reform crowd (and a powerful, nasty lot they can be when in full fight mode) would make it extremely difficult for this board to ever choose a "true defender" of Seattle's kids. Look at what they have already tried to do to Kay Smith Blum, Sharon Peaslee, and Marty McLaren! Given that, I think that "quiet - but genuine - competence" is about the best we can hope for. But I sure like your premise.

I suspect we are still at least one director, maybe two, away from being able to hire someone who will feel that the board has his/her bak in really standing up for our kids and their right to learn (as exposed to big business's right to make money off them, experiment on them, use them as political pawns, etc.) and our obligation to deliver to them the greatest opportunity to learn that we can imagine (and afford).

Braessae

Sahila said...

why dont people here connect with the superintendent hopefuls and communicate to them what we are hoping for?

Surely these people have contact numbers/email addresses...

At the very least, point them to this blog so they can read our concerns...

There's no rule to say we cant talk informally with them outside the format created by the district...

If the District wants to shut most of us out - or at least control the process for any communication - go around the district...

Watching said...

Oops. Article was written by a Superintendent candidate regarding FOIA. None the less, should be a good seminar.

Anonymous said...

I would be interested to know how these candidates feel about alternative schools (Seattle's community bases schools).

BTW I heard that South Seattle Community College has asked the Middle College High School program there to leave at the end of this school year.
Does anyone know what is going on (the real reasons rather than the stated reasons)?

--Labor Scholar

Anonymous said...

Not to worry. I'm sure you'll all be hating the new one too, in a few short months.

-spectator

Anonymous said...

@spectator

For those of us who've had the misfortune of being participants, rather than spectators, in the past decade of SPS, let me assure you:

We want nothing more than a competent and honest leader.

I suppose outrage at abuse and lying can look like "hating" to a spectator.

--enough already

Anonymous said...

I have never hated a superintendent. I have really liked some of them, even when I disagreed them.

I did NOT like Maria Goodloe - Johnson at all. 'Nuff said about her on this blog.


I did take a wait and see attitude with Susan Enfield. I totally disapproved of her supporting TfA and conspiring with Tom Stritikus.

We also need a school board (a thankless job, yes) that does not rubber stamp ed deform tactics such as TfA. After all, when SPS breaks the law, eventually there will be a cost, financial and otherwise.


---Modern Sound (in Rio de Janeiro).