Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Steven Enoch Press Conference

What a difference a day makes.  You could not get more of a contrast between candidates than Banda and Enoch (except for the fact that both seem genuine and honest).

In his interview, Banda was more a Zen Master while Enoch could not be more enthused about the work.  He was very chatty and friendly.

We had a larger group today with Lynne Varner of the Times and David Goldman of The Stranger joining Brian Rosenthal and me.  

Q&A
You came saying you were looking for a good fit between you and the district.  What do you think?
I hope my perspective can be useful and that I can be a good leader for this district but that's for the Board to determine.  I really enjoyed visiting schools and seeing the good work going on.

We understand that your Special Ed program has been recognized as a model for inclusion; could you tell us about it and your thoughts on Special Ed?
The model for inclusion is the right thing to do for most kids (recognizing that some students have more severe disabilities).  The secret to success is 1)have teachers who receive these students in their class know the IEP and its goals/outcomes, 2) aides with kids who need them but be sure that the aides don't solely focus on child to the point where the child isn't part of the class (what looks the least restrictive could be more restrictive).  He said you need good communication between your special education director and teachers.  He said in his district they did have to cut admn staff but that they kept the staffing in Special Ed and had a Special Ed ombudsman to help parents navigate the system AND keep staff updated.

In the profile in the Times, it seems there were financial issues in San Juan district (WA state) and what assurance is there about your ability to manage the large SPS budget?
He stated he was disappointed in the story and said it was incomplete.  He said he heard from a previously Board member who said it was not correct.  He said to the best of his knowledge that review in the story was one year later and they had purchased a new office building and that had hurt their financial standing.  He said he was there for seven years and did great things in having buildings remodeled and raising the achievement levels.  He said was 10 years ago and he would have to look at records but said he remembered having good audit reports and no misappropriation or misuse of funds. 

Lynne Varner asked about disproportionality both in academic outcomes and discipline for Latino and African-American students. 
He said there is no "happy talk" about this issue and that it is sad it is not uncommon.  He said that 1) teaching matters.  The teachers who are in underperforming schools have to want to be there, 2) if what you are doing does not work, you need to change it, 3) learn best practices and network among principals and 4) if one school is closing that gap, then shame on others to believe it isn't possible to do so.  He said another tactic is to tackle a few things at a time and allow the community to experience success.  He said that involving student leaders at the high school level is important because they set the culture.  He said funding is important but that you need a plan especially more PD for staff.

David Goldstein from The Stranger did a sort of quick-fire line of questions.
Charters?  Not a solution for Seattle as there are some good choices here and with the new innovation plan just coming on-line to see how that works.
TFA? - love its mission but he supports the notion about being cautious.  He said if there are "proven and experienced teachers who are unemployed, that's who I would go with." 
Teacher assessment?  He said that Washington state does not have value-added exams but that Seattle's agreement doesn't rule that out.  He said assessment should not be based solely on student performance.  He also said that there issues around teacher who aren't part of student testing as well as who to credit for success at the secondary level where there are multiple teachers. 
Value-added?  He said the jury is still out and that it is new to use it as a metric.

You have a reputation as change agent but what about your longevity? 
He stated that he has been in districts as short as three years but as long as eight years and it depends on continuous improvement.

Could you talk about a specific disagreement you had with a Board member or Board and how you found consensus?
He said in his current district they are talking about a capital bond measure.  He wants to split it and the Board wants one bond measure.  He stated, "I get my say and they get their way."  He said there is no hostility in this disagreement but a difference of opinion.  He said boards are not elected to be rubberstamps and if there is never disagreement, then maybe they aren't all grappling with the issues. 

He was pressed on what the issue was with the capital bond measure(s).  He said he thought, because of current capacity management issues, that they should just get the money for the one elementary and vet the other options more thoroughly.  His Board worries that it could divide the district to only address one area now and could hurt a second election.  He said he respected their opinion. 

He was asked what the first thing was that he would do in office.
He said "talk to Susan before she disappears."   He said he would touch base, talk with the Board and find out about their deep passions and interests (why they are on the Board) and listen to staff but ask they listen to him as well. He also said he would send managers a suggested reading list.

Lynne asked about the reading list.
Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard by Chip Health and Dan Heath about being change agents
The World is Flat/ The World used to be Us by Tom Friedman
Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns by Clayton Christensen, Johnson and Horn
The Trouble with Boys by Peg Tyre and that the issue is not boys but school structure.  

He talked about using technology more in the class and how it is the world of students today and that they are "young digital natives".   He also talked about younger teachers and their inclination and enthusiasm for using technology to reach students.

Impressions:
It was interesting because some of the reporters from the 10:45 am session stuck around.  One person thought him too chatty for the district.  One person thought he wasn't authentic.  But we could all agree - he had specific ideas and clearly had thought and read and experienced this work before. 

Mr. Enoch is clearly an experienced superintendent.  



28 comments:

StopTFA said...

I can't find one thing disagreeable to say. I'm speechless. Gaah!

I have a crush on him, I think. How embarrassing! : p

mirmac1 said...

story on King5

Anonymous said...

He sounds sensible and like he'd be really good for SPS. Watch the board drop him like a hot potato...

-betamomma

mirmac1 said...

Here is an (old) but interesting article Enoch wrote in Ed Week.

Taking charge of the parent-teacher conference

I think he clearly knows where teachers are coming. His background as teacher, principal and superintendent shows.

CT said...

He sounds reasonable, personable, and altogether not what Seattle usually ends up with. I heard from someone who used to teach up in the San Juans for part of his tenure there and she had nothing negative to say.

One quibble with one of his comments though - research shows that while younger teachers may be well-versed in using technology, they don't fare so well when they have to teach with it. It takes teaching experience - content knowledge and knowledge of student learning - to really utilize a technology as a valuable tool for student learning. (This is opposed to using tech primarily as an assessment tool, which is where things seem to stand now.)

Melissa Westbrook said...

CT, point taken and I think his point on younger teachers and tech was that it was part of their lives in a way that mirrors their students.

Enoch said PD was important for ALL teachers and I think wanting to use technology in the classroom would be followed by PD on how to do that.

Floor Pie said...

Huge thanks to Cecilia, Melissa, and to everyone who keeps asking the special ed question.

This is such a serious issue, as our numbers are growing and there is not a strong, reliable infrastructure in place to fairly, benefically accomodate the influx of students on the autism spectrum and support their teachers and classmates.

The more I hear about Enoch, the more it seems like he's the strongest of the three finalists in this respect. If you agree, even if you're not a special ed parent (because this affects your kids too -- they sit right next to ours in the classroom and will have a much happier time if there's adequate special ed support for their neighbors), PLEASE e-mail the Board and let them know. Maybe they'll listen. A girl can dream...

Anonymous said...

I was impressed with him until he got to the technology bit. Technology in high school is appropriate and can be learned easily. Technology is really not very useful in elementary and middle grades and often proves to be more of a distraction than a help.

Future Hale Parent

lendlees said...

Future Hale Parent-

I respectfully disagree about technology in elementary/middle school settings. While my child has a documented disability that allows him to use a laptop in class (elementary school), there are a number of students that would benefit greatly from using technology--especially when it comes to writing.

Learning how to use technology appropriately is key and the earlier students learn this, the sooner they become good stewards of technology.

Anonymous said...

I'm worried that the effort is already underway to undermine Enoch by pairing him with the "financial scandal" in San Juan, reminding people of Pottergate. With Husk's alcohol impairment plea as a knock on her, is Banda our presumptive Goldilocks - just right - candidate?

Best collaborator is what I want, and so far, that tilts in Enoch's favor IMHO. Which probably means he has no chance.

Radical, bold, revolutionary, renegade, Yee-Ha!! - That's what we tend to fall for around here. Reasonable? Humble? Honest? Boooooriing! WSDWG

mirmac1 said...

Enoch's media interview

WSBlog video

Someone said...

There are some good comments from former employees and parents over on the Seattle Times about Mr. Enoch - about 180 degrees from the type of stuff one would expect to hear if he truly was the incompetent manager the article made him out to be - so far I think either Mr. Banda or Mr. Enoch have potential.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know which schools Enoch visted? I'm assuming they won't announce where Husk is going today, but if anyone knows that too, that'd be helpful.
thanks

--ok mom

Melissa Westbrook said...

Ok, same schools - Beacon HIll, Mercer and Ballard.

Anonymous said...

I can see kids with disabilities using technology but other kids benefit from not using it before middle school. Many tech industry parents are purposely sending their kids to Waldorf schools who have no technology in K-8 because it enhances creativity in chidren. Technology is a tool and can be easily learned in high school or later.

Future Hale Parent

Josh Hayes said...

I think one of the things I like most about Enoch is his age: I don't think he views this position as a stepping-stone to the next big thing. I can't help but feel that at least some of our recent Supes have had their eyes firmly fixed further on, rather than here, and that has damaged their effectiveness.

Anonymous said...

I very much like his example re: a disagreement with the board. Reasoned, not emotional, practical, balanced. We need this type of board/super relationship.

Ed Voter


He said in his current district they are talking about a capital bond measure. He wants to split it and the Board wants one bond measure. He stated, "I get my say and they get their way." He said there is no hostility in this disagreement but a difference of opinion. He said boards are not elected to be rubberstamps and if there is never disagreement, then maybe they aren't all grappling with the issues.

Anonymous said...

I have faith in the new composition of the Board, that a decent choice will be made. And let's hope it's not Husk. I hope I'm correct.

-Aaarghh!

tech user said...

I can see kids with disabilities using technology but other kids benefit from not using it before middle school. Many tech industry parents are purposely sending their kids to Waldorf schools who have no technology in K-8 because it enhances creativity in chidren. Technology is a tool and can be easily learned in high school or later.

FHP, I'm mostly on board with what you're saying, but I think saying "high school or later" is pushing it. By the time a kid gets to high school they are already immersed in basic technology, whether they like it or not. And by that I don't mean they're designing circuits or writing software, but they are using much more technology on a daily basis than almost any of us did growing up.

But I'm 100% with you for younger kids. Use of tech in middle school is probably necessary to some degree, but not a lot. And virtually nothing in elementary school is necessary, and as you allude above, depending how it's used, can be detrimental.

While my child has a documented disability that allows him to use a laptop in class (elementary school), there are a number of students that would benefit greatly from using technology--especially when it comes to writing.

Don't forget that your kid is an exception. It's great that consumer tech has evolved to the point that kids like yours who need help have it readily available now. But for most kids the physical act of writing (a lot!) is an important part of fine-motor and brain development. When that's not possible, or would be a huge hindrance to a child, then I'm all for what your kid is doing. But...

Learning how to use technology appropriately is key and the earlier students learn this, the sooner they become good stewards of technology.

This part is BS. It's like saying that learning to drink responsibly is important, so let's make sure our kids learn how to do that as young as possible. Kids in elementary school have no need to be wading out into vast portions of the internet, for example, and some actions are not "undoable". There's a reason Facebook and other sites are off-limits to kids. Use of technology in schools could probably be its own very long thread, so I'll stop here.

mirmac1 said...

"This part is BS. It's like saying that learning to drink responsibly is important, so let's make sure our kids learn how to do that as young as possible."

Sorry tech user, can't agree with you on this one. Look at it this other way.

"This part is BS. It's like saying abstinence, self-respect, and birth control is important, so let's make sure our kids learn how to do that as young as possible."

Our children are inundated with media garbage and peer pressure. Even my child, who watches at MOST 2 hrs/wk of tv (kids channel) see the toy robots, fake cell phones, and Barbie bots. I say the sooner a parent starts talking and showing what's okay and what's NOT okay the better (and I don't mean PreK-2, of course).

BTW, the SRVUSD Tech Plan talks about what the district considers age-appropriate use of tech as a tool. Of course, ANY district would include parents (sorry Gates Jr. not you) input in the formulation of such a plan. As it stands, principals are flying blind and I don't envy them.

Anonymous said...

I LOVE that he recommended "The Trouble With Boys". The way schools are currently structured fails to serve many (perhaps most) boys. There really are large differences between the sexes in behavior, communication & learning style that go beyond socialization, something I didn't realize until becoming a Mom to two boys. My vote is for Enoch.

Mom to Boys

Anonymous said...

Mom to Boys: I noticed that (and loved it) as well. It took me years to figure out why my 3 boys don't learn like I did and didn't seem to get from school what I did (and then I felt terrible that it took me so long to figure it out).

Mom to 3 boys too

dw said...

I have to say I'm squarely in the camp with Future Hale Parent and tech-user. Mirmac, I don't know if I agree with you or not, your comparison makes no sense at all. You're talking about topics that are not only of a different nature, but if anything, a vector in completely the opposite direction.

As for the pull of "media garbage", I totally agree that we should have discussions about things like that with kids. My kids understand that most of what they see or read in the media is biased, and that much of it is oriented toward selling products. They ridicule advertisers, which I must admit makes me happy inside.

But that's understanding media, not technology as I think it's intended here. There's zero reason for an elementary student to be hooked on texting their friends, or on facebook, or blogging, or any of the things that involve online participation. Not just because of the potential risks, but because it's distracting from all the direct interaction that young kids need to grow up and function properly in society. The tech can easily be learned later, but learning how to interact with peers in person, that's another story. That's not to say that there shouldn't be discussions around those technologies - there should be! But young kids just don't have the life experiences to understand how to use those tools no matter what they've heard from parents. Hell, there are thousands of stories that would suggest most teens don't have that ability, but you can't keep them locked up forever!

On the other hand, if you're talking about tech from the standpoint of teaching your kid Scratch or Ruby, well, we've misunderstood each other, cause that's fun stuff.

Back to the topic at hand: at least I know we agree on Enoch for Superintendent!

Charlie Mas said...

"Technology is a tool and can be easily learned in high school or later."

I absolutely disagree. This is a grotesquely out-dated understanding of technology.

Technology is NOT a tool; it is a medium.

dw said...

Charlie's comment made me go back and read all the comments in this thread that talked about "tech". What stands out to me is that technology is so huge and overarching these days that I think it's clear people are talking about several different aspects of technology. Charlie's description certainly doesn't mirror that of a dictionary, but it makes sense within the context that he (and many of us) live in, and how he uses technology. For the guy who is designing the chip that powers the next iPhone, or the gal who is developing the next cancer-battling drug, they would almost certainly disagree.

I think at least some of people's disagreement stems from the fact that they are thinking about different wedges in the technology pie.

For example, when Melissa said his point on younger teachers and tech was that it was part of their lives in a way that mirrors their students. that says to me that she's thinking about things like smart phones, facebook, blogging, etc. Because most teachers, and in fact most people, are not technologists, and would not consider themselves as being highly knowledgeable about technology. Rather, they are users of certain kinds of technology and services that pervade their lives. I agree with Melissa when comparing young teachers to high schoolers, and perhaps middle schoolers, but not so much with elementary kids. At least not yet, although even that is slowly changing.

On the other hand, when lendlees is talking about her kid using a laptop in class, she is talking about a completely different wedge of the pie. This is a fantastic use of technology, and it is most definitely a tool, so Charlie's definition doesn't apply. At least not without grossly stretching meanings.

When considering the use of technology in the classroom we could also be thinking about something like iPads delivering interactive textbooks. On the surface this looks like a tool, but the ecosystem surrounding the tool could be looked at as more of a medium.

This doesn't even touch "traditional" technology, which is yet another wedge. The term "tech" is just too encompassing to use without some kind of qualification.

In that context I'll qualify what I said above as being related specifically to the slice of technology related to the things I mentioned. That wedge is ill-suited to younger (elementary) kids, and there most definitely is time to learn that post-elementary school. There's also a difference between kids being aware of this kind of tech vs. using it. And a difference between a read-only usage and online interaction. There are many layers to this discussion.

mirmac1 said...

I misspoke if I said tech was a tool. I agree with Charlie on that one. (And I know I was stretching with that analogy but I'm known for my histrionical nature).

Social networking is so prevalent (shoot, you can't even comment online without a Facebook account sometimes) and will only become more so. And how many parents let their kids play on their phones to kill time. (I can only HOPE I was barely smarter than my phone to lock out access to anything inappropriate). My child has a phone to be in contact with us re: activities and transportation. One friend was texting her too frequently so there was a teachable moment on what the right use and what's the wrong use of this medium.

Tech is also a medium for new ways to express yourself. My daughter draws with colored pencils and with Adobe Illustrator. She creates animated videos with kooky dialogue and funny characters (much better than zoning out on SpongeBob). She went to a summer camp to create movie soundtracks on her digital keyboard. I'm not talking K-5 here, but she's in sixth.

As for K-5, well my child has always struggled with handwriting (like her mom). I would rather she focus on the substance of the writing, not on the appearance. Yeah, she'll have to use a pen sometimes and her writing will be illegible like mine.

One thing to note is the "clicker system" Enoch's district uses. Our PTSA just bought one for our MS because the teachers REALLY wanted a way to quiz students and immediately see who's grasped the concept and who needs some more support. I think it adds a dynamic to the classroom that will keep kids engaged. Again, it's a medium to convey information and results.

Jan said...

Yikes, Charlie. I am such a dinosaur. For me, technology is neither a tool nor a medium -- it's a problem. While we all tap our toes waiting for the Board to decide who will captain the ship next year, could you expand on your "tool" versus "medium" comment a little. I have a feeling there is a whole lotta "there there" that I have never thought about at all.

Charlie Mas said...

Jan, it's hard to answer that question without getting all McLuhan on you. Media are extensions of people. By writing here I am extending my voice. By reading here you are extending your ears.

Yeah, never mind that approach. I sometimes think that even McLuhan didn't understand McLuhan. Let's try it a different way.

Think about where you saw computers, who used them, and how they were used in 1992, just twenty years ago.

They were primarily in offices, used by clerical staff and some number-heavy professionals, and they were used for word processing and calculating. They were suped-up typewriters and calculators. They were tools. They did the same work that was done before, but did it more efficiently. They produced letters and ledgers.

Few people had them at home. Email was obscure. The internet was command line. Most programs were command line. Back then, when you turned on your computer you saw this:

Ready...
C:\

If it was high-class, that was in amber, otherwise it was green. Either way, it was points of light on a screen that had 24 rows of characters in 80 columns. Does that ring any bells?

There was a lot of talk about people getting computers to use at home, but there wasn't much real reason for them. Were you really supposed to store your recipes on it?

I started using computers in 1976, and for almost twenty years, from then until 1992, that's pretty much what they were like. That was just twenty years ago. Think of how they have changed in the last twenty years.

Think of how you use your computer today. You probably don't use it for word processing or calculating much at all. When was the last time you used it to write a letter that you then printed out and mailed to someone? You probably use it mostly for internet and email. You might play some games on it or watch videos. Those are all media uses. And that's if you're just the most passive type of user.

Lots of people - lots of people - use their computers to create web sites, write blogs (that's me AND you), create music, create video, actively distribute media (music, video, and news - ever post a video to facebook?), create games, create presentations, and much more.

When you hand someone a pen, you don't know what they will do with it. Will they write a poem, a letter, a story, a book, or a play? Will they draw with it? Will they stab you with it? You don't know how they will use it because it isn't a tool, it's a creative outlet. The computer is now the same.

We are falling towards an era when almost everyone will have a personal device, like a smartphone or a tablet, that they will use for just about everything: communication (phone, text, email, voice, and others), entertainment (audio, video, games, and others), news (commercial media, social media, and others), commerce (making payments, getting coupons, and more), and more (GPS, camera, web browsing, apps like One Bus Away, and more). The very fact that we cannot possibly predict how this device and this technology will be used is one of the primary pieces of evidence that it is a medium more than a tool.

Think of this: a photograph used to be proof.