Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Questions for Superintendent Finalists

Any thoughts for the Focus Group committee for questions that might elicit the most useful information from superintendent finalists?

What about media questions? (I have not confirmed that I will be allowed in but I hope to be. That said, I suspect there will be 15 minutes per finalist and I will be jockeying with other media.)

25 comments:

Brian M. Rosenthal said...

It's 45 minutes per finalist.

I'll be looking to solicit questions from parents as well.


--
Brian M. Rosenthal
Education reporter, The Seattle Times
www.twitter.com/brianmrosenthal

Jon said...

Questions:

Since every dollar spent on administration is a dollar not spent in the classroom, how will you measure the value of administration, minimize expenses outside of the classroom, and maximize the funds going to classrooms?

We can increase the number of teachers by about 5% by cutting our unusually large administration by 30-50%, which would allow reducing average class size by 1-2 students. If you believe funds are better spent on administration, why, and what will you do to measure the value produced by central administration? If you believe reducing class size is the priority, how will you shrink central administration and what metrics will you put in place to make sure admin is working to maximum efficiency?

Anonymous said...

When any subset of Tim B, Rueven C, Chris K, Lisa M, SFC, LEV, Sara M, AFE, Jordan R, Sherry C, HMM, Michael DB, KSB, CRPE, PFL, ... speak of Bill Gates, and start humming "How Great Thou Art"

how well will you harmonize?

AmericanServility

dw said...

@Jon

Be careful what you wish for. Think about all the extra bodies (i.e. funding) it would take to truly measure the value of central administration. Oh, and then they'd need an independent group to measure their own worth. lol

Anonymous said...

Two questions:

1) The Seattle School District has flirted recently with different conceptions of merit pay for teachers and principals. We have a two candidates for governor, one democrat and one republican, who have both said we need to "reward the best teachers." Where do you stand on merit pay in public education?

2) What will it take to get the BEX levy passed if the price tag approaches a billion dollars?

Emile

Anonymous said...

1. Name three current educators or public school districts you admire and why.
2. Name three current educators or public school districts you believe are not aligned or being managed in accordance with your own worldview on public education.
3. Do you believe Washington State needs a state income tax, to better fund education or otherwise?
4. Do you have a view on whether a school district is better managed by at large instead in district representatives?
5. Do you have a sense from your experience on what percentage of a progressive district budget should be allocated to teacher salaries?

- Analytical One

Jan said...

Many of us believe that the heart of a great school district lies in inspired leadership. In light of budget cuts and other pressures that have demoralized some of our teachers, what steps will you take to restore to the Seattle School District a district-wide sense of hope and unity, and to inspire great, creative teaching and a passion for learning?

How do you balance the need for alignment of learning objectives with the need for our best and brightest teachers to teach creatively and maximize their unique gifts?

How important to you are community ideas and parent/community input into District decision-making. If important, how will you facilitate the flow of information from the District to parents and the community, and the flow of ideas and critical feedback from parents and other citizens back to the District?

There has been much talk in this District about restoring "trust" between District administrators and parents. What specific steps would you recommend to begin solving this problem?

Anonymous said...

What is your single most important goal as Superintendent of Seattle Public Schools?

Which specific steps will you undertake to acheive this goal?

-StepJ

Anonymous said...

P.S. The yada, yada, lip service, lip service answer = bzzzz, you're out. Looking for your true passion and your specific steps to see it realized.

-StepJ

Floor Pie said...

The CDC now estimates that one in 88 children in the U.S. has been identified as having an autism spectrum disorder.

How do the candidates think that impacts our public schools, and in what ways do they think our school district can best serve this significant population of students?

Watching said...

Do you agree with any of the education reforms on the national level i.e. class size does not matter?

Where do you stand with SIG? Would you support laying off large amounts of teachers within the school as a measure to accept this grant?

How do you perceive the role of the school board?

Do you suppport funding Research, Evaluation and Assessment at $3M per year. If funds are available, would you put funds in classrooms before funding reasearch?

Do you support Teach For America within SPS?

Do you support direct student services such as elementary school counselors over administrative positions?

How do you feel about students needing to take MSP, MAP and EOC for math at the end of the school year?

How will you insure a functioning Human Resource Department?

How will you create a team to mange distric operations and finances?

Watching said...

Do you agree with any of the education reforms on the national level i.e. class size does not matter?

Where do you stand with SIG? Would you support laying off large amounts of teachers within the school as a measure to accept this grant?

How do you perceive the role of the school board?

Do you suppport funding Research, Evaluation and Assessment at $3M per year. If funds are available, would you put funds in classrooms before funding reasearch?

Do you support Teach For America within SPS?

Do you support direct student services such as elementary school counselors over administrative positions?

How do you feel about students needing to take MSP, MAP and EOC for math at the end of the school year?

How will you insure a functioning Human Resource Department?

How will you create a team to mange distric operations and finances?

Charlie Mas said...

We have seen the pendulum swing from de-centralized control to centralized control and back again. What elements of our academics need to be centralized to assure equity and minimum standards everywhere and what elements need to be de-centralized to allow teachers the flexibility they need to meet students' needs?

We know the mission of the schools, and we know the mission of the non-academic departments of the central administration. What is the mission of the teaching and learning department in the central administration?

Jon said...

Another question:

An unusually large percentage of children in Seattle go to private schools. Normal for a major city is 80-90%, Seattle's is about 70%. Is it important for public schools to try to serve all the children of a city? Why or why not? What would you do to determine why people are not choosing public schools? What would you do to encourage parents to choose public schools? Do you consider the participation rate in public schools an important metric for the success of your administration and would you hold your administration accountable for increasing it?

Walnut said...

Q: How can the district move their capital planning away from the historical model of emergency management and towards a policy that truly builds and maintains schools that support our educational goals, and are healthy high-performing structures?
It's a proven fact that better learning environments provide better learning opportunities. How can the district better plan and envision facilities that move us beyond just capacity management?

Anonymous said...

Floor Pie,

1 in 88 students with autsim.. what will SPS do about it?

Asked and answered.

They will cancel the autism programs. That is, they will cancel the effective programs. They're mostly all cancelled now except for the warehouses which continue to grow. The warehouses cost the same as the good programs, but that's not interesting.

sped parent

Floor Pie said...

Seriously, I really, really want somebody to ask that question about autism and would love to hear a detailed report on what they say.

And it's not just Crazy Old Floor "All Autism All the Time" Pie who feels this way. There are a LOT of us out here who are not speaking up either because they feel overwhelmed, ashamed, unentitled to an opinion, or just plain beaten-down to the point of flat-out cynicism. But we're here.

Anonymous said...

From all of my interview training in the past, the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. Ask questions in terms of how they applied their ideology, methods, fixed problems in their last position and what were the results. Just because they have grand ideas and the best intentions, doesn't mean they have the skills to put them in place and get results. I would rather have someone who gets results via a method that isn't my favorite than watch someone who I agree with, flounder and accomplish nothing.

And ask how they did it with a limited school budget.

-kitty

Anonymous said...

Floor Pie - parents of kids with autism, who do not advocate for their kid will get absolutely nothing, now or ever. That's the reality. Parents are the one who drove those programs into existence. Unfortunately, those coming up behind them took them for granted, as some sort of gift from a benevolent district. Nothing designated for people with disabilities was ever given without a battle. So, they've gotta step up or expect it taken.

sped parent

KG said...

Will you make sure the District is not hiding the truth about the historical over spending on central administration? Are students more important than central administrators?

Anonymous said...

Where do you stand on the math curriculum? Would you keep the reform textbooks (Everyday Math, Discovering Math) that many parents and UW professors dislike? Or would you allow more schools (like the Mercer Middle School) to adopt something else?

The achievement gaps for nonwhite students in math have been growing so what would you do about it?

S Parent

Floor Pie said...

Sped Parent, I know you're right, because I've lived it myself. I just don't understand why it has to be that way.

Everyone knows these children are in just about every classroom, many without IEPs or the slightest bit of official support. The teachers know it. The parents know it. The other children know it. Some principals know it (and some principals just think it's a discipline problem). And now this CDC news confirms what we already know.

So, like I said, I would like to know how the next superintendent would choose to proactively serve these children. Successful inclusion programs like John Hay prove that these children can thrive in a general ed classroom as long as there is an educated, empathetic community and a well-thought-out, intentional autism program.

Even if you're not a special ed parent, your student will be better off if your child's classmates on the spectrum are getting their needs met. Improvement in behavior is dramatic when they have the proper support, and that's good for everybody.

Okay. Climbing off the soapbox. Melissa, do please let us know what the candidates have to say about special ed!

Bird said...

How long do you plan to stay with SPS?

What would like to be doing after leaving this position?

Anonymous said...

As for the autism inclusion programs.... Where have people been? They have been most wrongly been fazed out. What is left this year is 3-5 for elementary schools. Next year will just be 4-5, and the year after is a big question. A group of district wizards waved their magic wands and declared all special education teachers generalists, with the exception of those who teach the most severely disabled. The big idea was for kids to attend neighborhood schools, rather than get transported to a program school.

The district invested so much in creating the autism programs--recruiting teachers and providing us training opportunities, and mentoring from more experienced teachers and experts from UW. Many of us teachers and instructional assistants developed a passion and a talent for working with kids with autism. I know that I am not alone in saying that the inclusion programs should return.

--Sorrel

Seeking Answers said...

I have a friend currently looking for a school for her daughter, who is aging out of her current private program and they did not get into the private school they were hoping for. Can you offer any thoughts for them? Which of the schools offer inclusion programs? What kinds of children are admitted to them? Please help - they're really struggling to make sense of the public choices after being in a private program for four years. Thank you!