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.
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.
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.