Sunday, December 16, 2012

What would you have to say to the superintendent?

I don't make a habit of asking the staff to do things so much as asking them for information. That's because they don't work for me and they aren't accountable to me. I don't hesitate to offer suggestions for action to the Board because they are accountable to the public and they are supposed to represent the public.

So if I had the opportunity to speak with the superintendent, I wouldn't so much have suggestions for him as questions. They are big questions and perhaps some of them will be answered in the Strategic Plan. Perhaps not. The previous Strategic Plan was a management plan more than an academic plan. Is that what it's supposed to be? The new Strategic Plan is shaping up to be more of an academic plan.


  1. When does he think he will have a program placement framework in place and why is it taking so long? What's so hard about it?
  2. How does he think the division between governance and management works when it comes to enforcing policy? Is that a governance task or a management task? Who should enforce the policies that regulate the superintendent? Is is good governance or good management (or even good sense) to expect him to self-police? How can the Board take steps to require his compliance with policy if he doesn't want to follow it?
  3. What is the difference, in his mind, between curricular alignment and standardization? How can we make room for successful unique programs developed at the class or school level and retain curricular alignment? How can we have curricular alignment and retain successful unique programs developed at the class or school level?
  4. How can we overcome the opportunity gap without devoting resources to efforts outside the traditional school role?
  5. How can we properly serve our students with disabilities? What we're doing now isn't working.
  6. What is his Vision for Advanced Learning? The whole effort is adrift.
  7. How do we balance between allowing teachers the autonomy they need to do creative, responsive, professional work and confirming that a standard for instruction has been met?
  8. What does he perceive as the mission of the people in Teaching and Learning at the JSCEE? How do they support teachers? Do they have a quality assurance role?
  9. What does he perceive as the job a school principal? What are the critical tasks for a successful principal?
  10. How important is it to him that the District keep its promises to students and communities? Seattle Public Schools has never kept a single one. The District's trust issues are rooted in the fact that the District simply is not trustworthy. What steps will he take - if any - to keep past promises?

6 comments:

SPSLeaks said...

I would ask him whether he really believes the Alliance's hard sell represents what is truly best for our students.


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Anonymous said...

I would ask him how he can use the principal and teacher contracts to make schools accountable for genuinely serving students with disabilities. Seattle is one of the most exclusionary districts in the country for special education. I would ask Mr. Banda if he plans to use program placement decision making to challenge and change this difficult and regressive situation.

reader

Charlie Mas said...

I agree with reader that the superintendent needs to be the one to stand up for students with IEPs.

The superintendent is the one responsible for program placement decisions, for the confusing chain of command, and for allowing principals to refuse to serve students appropriately.

David said...

I'd like to see more focus on the finances of the district.

In particular, I'd ask him what he is doing to make sure spending is efficient (especially in central administration and this fiasco with closing and then reopening schools) and revenues are increasing (such as making sure levies are well designed and get approved, actively advocating for funding at the state level, seeking out major new grants).

Charlie Mas said...

The more I think about it, the more I focus on the trust issue.

This is what initially got me involved in school activism and this, more than anything else, is what keeps me involved in school activism: the District isn't trustworthy.

What difference does it make what Mr. Banda says about anything if we can't trust him? If we can't trust him then nothing he says about money, special education, or curricular alignment matters since we won't believe it anyway.

I'd like to see him take some positive steps to earn trust. He has hundreds of opportunities. He can choose from dozens of unkept promises and fulfill a few. That would be meaningful in a way that nothing he says ever could be.

Anonymous said...

I would ask him when they plan to improve the math curriculum. I have been asking this question for many years and both of my kids are out of college.

S parent