Monday, April 30, 2012

Banda Reviews

From the Orange County Register, a yawner of a story on the hiring of Banda.   Their loss, our gain.

From the Seattle Times, coverage of Banda's selection.   Highlights:
  • Banda plans to spend his first year on the job, getting to know the city and the district without making major changes.  Some of the reporters at the press conference seemed startled at this but Goodloe-Johnson did a lot of the same with touring schools and doing assessments of various departments.  I cannot see anyone coming in and wholesale changing things.  Sharon Peaslee said the Board did want to change things that are working in our schools but wanted to address those issues that are still of concern.  Marty McLaren named Special Education for one.  
  • In choosing Banda over the only remaining finalist, Sandra Husk, board members opted for a low-key leader with a reputation for relationship-building. Board members said they chose him because they believe he can unite the community behind a collaborative approach that encourages parent involvement and emphasizes the importance of working in concert with the board.  I really think it was key to the Board to have someone they ALL felt they could work with collaboratively. 
  • Banda will start July 1.  Enfield leaves sometime mid-to-late June so Bob Boesche, as deputy superintendent, will guide the district in that short window of time.
  • One quote I liked came from an unnamed Anaheim Board member who called Banda "a rising superstar."  If he wants to make that ascension in our district, with the outcomes we would get from someone to end up being called a "superstar", fine by me.

Talk to KING 5 about BEX IV?

Meg Coyle over at KING-5 news is looking for a parent(s) who were affected by school closures and now see the BEX IV levy through that lens.  Anyone who can talk to her about it?

mcoyle@king5.com

Board to Offer Banda Job

From SPS:

The Seattle School Board on Sunday discussed the qualifications of the Superintendent finalists and asked Board President Michel DeBell to contact José Banda, the current Superintendent of the Anaheim City School District.

“I spoke with Mr. Banda on Sunday night and told him the Board is very interested in having him as our next leader of Seattle Public Schools. Mr. Banda expressed his willingness to accept the position if offered,” DeBell said. “We believe he is a strong fit for Seattle.”

The Board met in closed session on Sunday night. They did not take a formal vote on the candidates, but did direct DeBell to contact Mr. Banda. The full Board is expected to officially name Mr. Banda as their choice during Wednesday’s School Board meeting (May 2), and then vote on the contract on May 16. If approved, the new Superintendent would start after July 1. 

Last man standing.

Update (10:36 am) - Press conference at 1:30 p.m. with Peaslee and McLaren to discuss superintendent issue.  The district's press release has emphasized "Sunday night" over and over so they want that known that they picked Banda before Husk's withdrawal.

Husk Withdraws from Super Search

From the StatesmanJournal:

Salem-Keizer Superintendent Sandy Husk announced this morning she has withdrawn from the Seattle superintendent search process.

"In my communication with people inside the district last week, it became apparent that there are competing approaches as to where the district should go and how it should get there," she said in a statement.

" I do not feel like I am a good match for that situation. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting everyone in Seattle last week and I wish the best for the students, staff, board and community." 

Husk is still in the running for a second position, which she has declined to discuss.



Well, will you look at that?  I can hear the moaning all over town from the Times, the Alliance, LEV.

Tough.  This process was a mess and the mega-control way didn't work well.

What this means, I don't know.  

 

International Education in SPS

I had been meaning to write this thread for some time now.  It's a worthy example of how Seattle Schools starts off with a good idea but cannot follow-thru with execution.

I will be upfront and say I probably should have done more research so fill in the gaps if you know more.  But the issues are in very sharp focus right now and it is a program that is going to reach a stress level soon.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Eckstein/Garfield/Roosevelt Shine at the Reno Jazz Festival

The Times is reporting that Eckstein won two division places and four soloist awards at the Reno Jazz Festival yesterday.

Garfield's combo, won first place in the AAA division (probably some salve to the wound of not going to the Essentially Ellington contest in May in NYC).

Roosevelt's Jazz Band III won second place in the Apprentice II division. 

From the story:

The legacy and influence of Seattle's nationally-renowned school jazz band programs was manifest at the festival. Garfield high school alum Tatum Greenblatt played trumpet in one of the festival's featured professional ensembles, The Mingus Big Band. The middle school jazz band competition winner, from Lindero Canyon, Calif., is directed by Matt McKagan, brother of former Guns N'Roses bassist Duff McKagan, both graduates of Roosevelt High School.

Congratulations to all these fine young musicians and the great teachers who guide them (and the parents who back them).

No Surprise - the Times Endorses Husk for Superintendent

After being very late with this editorial, it finally showed up at the Times' website.  Frankly, it's doesn't lay out the greatest case and spends time writing around some flaws. 

One key item to note from the editorial (and remember for later on down the road if she is chosen):
 When it comes to talking and listening, she's more likely to do the latter. 

They even spend time writing about Enoch even though they state that he withdrew.  So why bother?  

He is well-read and steeped in the latest pedagogical research. But Enoch's track record of doing is more mixed. He has the least experience working with urban students and when he left one school district, it was essentially broke. His withdrawal was probably a good decision.

Not very nice (Enoch explained the financial issue) and not necessary unless you really wanted to back up the weak decision that is their endorsement for Husk.  

They end by saying there will be "large money requests" to the public - oh, you mean the billion dollars worth of levies? 

They also mention "the district's central office will rightfully remain under scrutiny for management and accounting weaknesses."  Oh, you mean accounting issues like the Board about to approve an MOU with the Alliance for Education for services that will give the Alliance a profit and should be sent out for a bid? Or is that about not being able to oversee principals and their actions (see Lowell and Van Asselt)?

I do want to take this point to say that whoever gets selected is going to hear from me the same lines I have said to our last four superintendents when I met them:

Welcome to our district.  What can I do to help?



DeBell's Statement on Enoch's Resignation

From SPS: A statement from School Board President Michael DeBell: “We enjoyed getting to know all three of our finalists last week and we are disappointed to learn that Mr. Enoch has withdrawn his candidacy. I want to thank Mr. Enoch for his interest in Seattle Public Schools and his commitment to public education. We know this is a two-way process and we want to find a leader who is a good fit for Seattle, and who believes Seattle is a good fit for them.”

Enoch Out

As I previously posted, a finalist has dropped out and it is Steven Enoch.  (The district decided not to tell me so I get official notice from the Times.  I suspect they will drop me as media when we get a new superintendent so I will be forced to state many things off the record.) 

From the Times:

“I have concluded that what Seattle needs is a younger person, potentially able to provide longer stability and direction for the district,” wrote Enoch, who will turn 63 next month. “I believe you have two very viable candidates that will better meet the long-term needs of the district.”

Enoch added he enjoyed his visit to Seattle for final interviews last week.

“I loved the tours of the schools, meeting with staff, students and community leaders,” he wrote. “I most enjoyed meeting each of you as you are all wonderful individuals, who give unselfishly so very much to the the children of Seattle.”

This is very genuine and generous of Mr. Enoch to say this but I truly believe he could see the process had been corrupted and wanted no part of it any longer.  No one likes to feel like they are window-dressing for another candidate.

And so, despite all the controls and new consultants, Seattle Schools once again cannot hang on to its full complement of superintendent candidates until the end of the process.  

The Board has a mammoth discussion ahead of them today in trying to decide between Husk and Banda. 

Seattle Education This Week

 Monday, April 30th 
Seattle Council PTSA meeting: Navigating SPS: Steps for Positive Advocacy
JSCEE from 7-8:30 p.m.
Speakers: Ron McGlone, SPS Ombudsman, Adie Simmons, State of Washington Ombudsman, Bernardo Ruiz, SPS manager of Family and Community Engagement

Tuesday, May 1
Community Conversations with ELL and Special Education Directors 
6-7:30 p.m. at Jane Addams K-8, 11051 34th Ave NE

Please join Veronica Gallardo, Director of ELL and International Programs, and Becky Clifford Interim Executive Director for Special Education at one of their upcoming Community Conversation hours.

Wednesday, May 2nd
Board Work Session on International Education from 4-5:10 p.m. at JSCEE

School Board meeting from 6-9 p.m.


Agenda.  This is one of the last meetings at 6 p.m. as on June 6th, Board meetings will start at 4:15 p.m. with public testimony at 5 p.m.
Announcement of an offer to a superintendent candidate with a final approval - if accepted by the candidate - for May 16th.

There is a resolution for a RIF but this is a formality that the district needs to have in place.  Dr. Enfield has indicated that it is unlikely there will be any teacher RIFS but there were cuts at the Central Office level.

There is resolution in support of yet another year for Cleveland to have fewer instructional hours.

There are also several Board policy measures.  One is around International Education and I want to do a separate thread on that issue.

There is also the troubling Alliance for Education.  The main sticking point:

The fiscal impact to this MOU relates to the amount that the district reimburses the Alliance for
providing fiscal services for school accounts. This amount is intended to help offset the payroll
and other expenses incurred in providing this service. While the amount is expected to change each year, because it is based on total account activity, the MOU caps the amount as not to exceed 7.5% of the total school account activity for the calendar year. It is expected that annually this amount will fluctuate around the $120,000 amount. The funds for this reimbursement will come from the District’s operating budget. 


Unfortunately, the 5% cap proved inadequate to cover the direct costs incurred with these
services. The Alliance does retain the interest payments on the first $25,000 in each account,
and until 2009 that interest helped to defray the shortfall. However, with the dramatic reduction
in interest rates after 2009 (US Treasury rates fell from nearly 3% in mid-2008 to below .3% in
2009) and with the continued low rates, the Alliance has not had that funding stream to help
ameliorate the shortfall. The Alliance has indicated they are committed to supporting these fiscal
services, they are unable to continue to do so in a sustainable manner. Therefore, the proposed
MOU includes raising the cap to 7.5%


I do not support this change.  The Alliance has no business making money off the district and the district has no business using scarce General Funds for this purpose.  This should go out for bid and I'd bet you'd find someone who can do it well for under 7.5%. 

The Background Information states:

The stability of this relationship can transcend the traditional personnel churn that is seen
in urban districts and can provide assurance to funders and the business community that the
district remains on track with our goals. Furthermore, the Board President and the
Superintendent, as non-voting ex officio members of the Alliance’s Board, help ensure alignment
between the Alliance’s projects and the district’s overall goals.


I have never seen this wording before about the alliance as the steady state buffer against personnel churn.  The Alliance is NOT part of our district.  They are not a steady state buffer for business interests.  Also the wording in that paragraph - which I believe to be written by the Alliance - is "that the district remains on track with OUR goals" - caps mine.

Hello?  The district is supposed to be on track with the Alliance's goals?  Nonsense.

Also, the district has no business worrying about whether their goals align with the Alliance's projects.  It should be the OTHER way around.

Possible impacts:

While not authorizing the Superintendent to sign this MOU would not end our relationship with the Alliance, it would send a strong signal to schools and to the broader community that we do not value this relationship. This could result in the Alliance choosing to not partner with the district on district priorities, and could have a very negative impact on the schools if the Alliance chose not to continue supporting the school reports.

Please.  The impact would be that the district tells the Alliance what the district wants (and can afford).  The Alliance can take it or leave it but is not in a position to tell the district what to do with its funds. 

Other introductions:
  • termination of a lease for Lake City School for $3.2M.  WHAT!?!  They will used $300k from other contract funds/contingency and the rest will come from our Community Schools account.  
The Lake City School property is ground leased to Lorig Associates through 2082. The tenant
has loans on the property which come due this fall. In order to refinance, they have asked for a
restructuring of the rent provisions, which the district has declined to do. They have instead
offered to terminate the lease, if they receive a payment of $3,200,000, which would pay off their
loans plus about $200,000.

The property generates $75,000 annually in rent payments for the District.


 There is then a narrative on this where somehow the district will come out ahead in the future by the property producing new income or they use it for future school use.

Folks, that Community Schools account money is from the sale of school properties.  What are we doing using millions of it to pay off a loan to the leasee plus a profit of $200k.  Someone who knows real estate law - could you help us out?
  • payment of a change order to the tune of $300k for Hale.   It is quite vague on where this money comes from but it is because of change orders by the district.   So much for on-budget.
  • contract to reopen Mann.  This is fine except $8M of the money comes from BEX IV which doesn't have a firm plan as of this date and, of course, isn't passed.  What happens if it doesn't pass?  Seems cart before the horse to make legal agreements with money you don't have in hand.  But that's our district.

McLaren Meeting Today

I missed posting this before but Director McLaren has a community meeting today from 1:15-3:00 pm at the West Seattle Library, 2306 42nd Avenue SW.   

The Board continues their superintendent finalist discussion (albeit with one fewer person - details to come when I get an official press release) later this afternoon.

I am hoping that if they cannot find agreement for a number one choice, that they can all agree to their second choice.  Meaning, they need to have a united front on this issue and a split vote on a candidate is no way to start that person's tenure.

Better to be united in agreement on the second choice than the hard feelings of a majority vote that 2-3 other Board members did not concur on.

Where's the Times' Endorsement?

There are two important education stories in the Times today but there should be a third.

The Times was all set to put forth their endorsement for superintendent in their Sunday edition.  Lynne Varner was quite clear on this when we taped KING 5's Upfront with Robert Mak on Friday.

(We discussed the superintendent candidates.  It airs at 9:30 am and 11:30 p.m. on KING 5 on Sunday; 11 am Sunday on KONG.)

It's not at their editorial page (and one reader says it is not in the print edition).  I suspect something is going on.  Someone may have dropped out or the process may have been compromised to the point where the Times is waiting on their endorsement.

Curious.

More on the other two stories in the next thread.

Do We Have Drop-Out?

Can't say which candidate but there's talk out there from credible sources that one superintendent candidate may have dropped out. Details as I get someone to go on the record.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

District Updates

  • As for the Focus Group Committee recommendation issue, several readers pointed out that on April 19th there was a press release that had said the same thing.  
A 25-person Community Focus Group will meet with each candidate next week and make a recommendation to the School Board.

 Do I think this was all an error?  Not sure.  I think since the committee's own non-disclosure form said there would be no recommendation, it is an odd mistake.  (They had to sign it before the April 19th press release.)  It could have been someone laying early groundwork to say there was a recommendation in case cover was needed for a superintendent choice, either during Board deliberations and/or when there was a public announcement.
  •  The Times will be revealing their pick in Sunday's Times.  You have three guesses.
 Over the last two weeks, we have reached that $1.1 million target by identifying positions for reduction and notifying those employees. In the majority of cases, these positions will end on August 31, but in a few cases, the effective date is sooner. In total, we eliminated 11 Central Office positions. Of these positions, four were vacant and will not be filled. In addition to the positions eliminated, Central managers identified more than $380,000 in non-staff funds to be eliminated to help balance next year’s budget. 
  • Cathy Thompson is leaving as head of Curriculum and Instruction for a position at UW.  Her last day will be May 24th.   Wendy London will replace Thompson on an interim basis.
  • Noel Treat will be leaving as deputy superintendent at the district deputy city manager for Mercer Island.  His last day will be May 21st. 
  • Bob Boesche will serve an Interim Deputy Superintendent through the summer bridging the gap between when Dr. Enfield leaves (sometime in late June) and the start of our new superintendent's term in early August.
  • No independent verification but it seems that Tom Bishop in Transportation may also be on his way out. 
One the one hand, none of this movement is surprising.  Noel Treat is a very bright guy and I personally didn't see this as a final landing for his talents.  Also, we are ending the tenure of one superintendent and people do tend to leave or look for other opportunities around the departure of a superintendent.

However, it leaves a lot of gaps including the lack of a hire to fill the Special Education director position.

I worry a bit that whoever comes in may chose to bring his/her own people and that didn't work out well under Dr. Goodloe-Johnson.  

This strengthens the hand of some of the long-term senior leadership and that is not an altogether great thing. 

I know the Board was working on the superintendent appointment late yesterday afternoon and may be working through the weekend.  My thought was they have have decided last night, made the job offer and gave the person the weekend for an answer.  Then, if the person says yes, then they make an announcement early next week, possibly at the Board meeting on Wednesday. 

Blog Standards

It really should go without saying but I'll say it:

Do NOT EVER sign a real name if it is not your own.  

Not in jest, not out of spite - don't do it. 

No one has the right to try to speak as someone else nor use their name as a moniker. 

Friday, April 27, 2012

Super Search; Fast and Furious News

Update:  The information below has now disappeared from the website.

You pick:

1) We are paying some big bucks for Communications that makes huge errors in what they write to the point where they say something that is not true.

2) Someone who put this information up originally had to back off because of how incredibly suspicious it looks to say the Committee made a recommendation when they didn't (and it wasn't even part of their charge.

I pick #2 but remember this happened going forward.

End of update.

Something is happening.  The SPS website says this:

 Community Focus Group to recommend next Superintendent from three finalists.  Board will make final decision in early to mid-May; media interviews online.  A 25-person Community Focus Group has met with each of the three candidates for Superintendent of Seattle Public Schools and will make a recommendation to the School Board. 

What?  Folks, we have been told all along the Committee would NOT give a recommendation.

In fact, the non-disclosure form that tells the members they cannot discuss the questions or answers also told them that they will not be making a recommendation.

I feel certain that given that form, that no vote was taken by committee members.

So what to make of this odd statement that they WOULD be making a recommendation to the Board?

Could it be poor wording on the part of SPS Communications?  How could they get it THAT wrong?  (I'm trying to reach someone in Communications but nothing yet.)

And who directed this to be put up on the website?  The Board office doesn't know.

It almost sounds like someone trying to shore up one particular candidate.

I understand that the Alliance, LEV, etc is pushing hard for their pick..

I urge you to write the Board with yours  (schoolboard@seattleschools.org)

More news as I get it.

Friday Open Thread

What's on your mind?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

I Pick Enoch

After reading and talking and researching, if I had to choose a superintendent, I would choose Steven Enoch.

Pros - experienced, enthused, open to new ideas, nothing to prove, not using SPS as a stepping stone to next job, able to claim good academic outcomes for his district, keeps up with new educational ideas

Cons - had already planned to retire, possible financial issues at one district

Folks, there is no perfect superintendent.  But I can see Enoch interacting well with the Board.  His enthusiasm would match theirs for progress and new ideas.   He wants to listen, to learn and to interact with teachers and parents.  

For someone who was about to retire, he seemed to still have fire in his belly for this work.

Second choice would be Banda but by a hair.  I think he is a little too green to step into a job this big and complex with the issues we have today.  But he seems to be bright, caring and someone would could communicate well with many people.

Husk is bright and savvy but her ambition shows and it is worrisome to me.  I have a nagging doubt that there is a second offer and that it might be a ploy to get the Board to worry about "losing another one."  The governance issue and her lack of understanding the issues here in SPS is troubling.   Frankly, I see some red flags and feel my gut saying no. 

I urge ALL of you to e-mail the Board tonight or first thing in the morning with your thoughts.  E-mail them at
schoolboard@seattleschools.org

Husk Interview

Sandra Husk was our last finalist interview.  She speaks in a crisp, polished manner and with confidence.  There were three people in our interview; Lynne Varner and Brian Rosenthal of the Times and me.

Q&A
Why are you the right person to lead SPS?
When you look to fill a superintendent position, you need a good match between needs and talents.  You look for a track record of closing the achievement gap, a good communicator and someone who can build a team. 

You had some sort of professional business certification for your district in Tennessee.  Do you believe a district should be run like a business?
She said she had this certification in her district in Oregon as well and that it is a quality assurance one.  The idea is to make sure your district and central office are providing services to schools.  She said we benchmark student progress and teacher progress but it's rare for the whole central office to have that kind of accountability.  She said it empowers employees to be involved in problem-solving and efficiencies.

About today's school scandal, she said she had read the paper.  She said that any indication of things not working should be address in how checks and balances work.  She also said that it was important to get accurate and timely info out to the public and be respectful of the need to know while having a balance.
The follow-up question was whether it would be announced to the press if she knew there was this kind of issue in a school?
She said to keep trust the public needs to know there is an issue and that there is an investigation going on.

(I followed up on this question at the press conference on the Van Asselt investigation and asked Sherry Carr about reporting this issue earlier.  I told her what Husk had said about telling the public earlier and Carr said that isn't how the district does it.  Carr stated that the district doesn't discuss on-going investigations.  Interesting difference of opinion.)

She was asked about the last time she fired someone and seemed uncomfortable with the question.
She stated that she had had to let someone "go" or have a difficult conversation around employee performance.

She was asked about governance with the Board and that she had indicated in documents obtained that she had wanted to have more governance over decisions in her current district without the Board approval.
She said the policy governance she followed was from John Carver and that the most important question to sort out is how the Board will measure success.  She said who is accountable, you or me?  If it is her, then she said she wanted the "executive progative" to do what needs to get done.  She said also said it was important to revisit these issues annually.

She was asked if she had looked at the governance in SPS and said she had not studied it enough to know.

What are the first things you will do on the job?
She said she would design an entry plan before she came in and how to know the community quickly.  She said she had looked at the strategic plan and thought it had the "right activities" but could be made simpler to understand.

She was asked about another offer.  She said yes but couldn't say more.  Lynne Varner extracted that it was likely in the NW based on Superintendent's Husk comment that "we" are committed to stay in the NW.

I asked her about Advanced Learning.
She said they had a TAG program (talented and gifted) in her district.  She said these students had different needs with an emotional component.  She said there were times they needed to be together and times they needed to be "part of a whole community."  She said her district had no official pull-out program but did a little of one and differentiated teaching and she liked both.

She was asked about teacher evaluation systems.
She said that in her district it was a "class project" with federal funds and Chalkboard funds (no, I don't know what Chalkboard is).  She said it was similar to what we are doing in SPS and that evaluation is a tool.

She was asked about how she measures success.
She said there was, of course, the academic outcomes and achievements but also a happy workforce and a respectful organization.

What about your communication style with the public?
You need to find a style that fits your community.  She said in Tennessee she was asked to church by some African-American groups and did go when invited.  She said she attends music events in her current district.

Charters?
She said that "evidently not" was the answer from Seattle on the issue of charters.  She has no experience with TFA.

This felt like the least comfortable of the interviews.  I say that not to mean I was uncomfortable but it felt less like she was trying to win us over with her answers than the other two candidates.  I felt that her answers were fairly generic even if the question was specific.  

Frankly, the answer on governance surprised me because clearly it has been an issue in her own district and she has been working on it for years and yet she hadn't read any of the governance issue information about SPS?  It seemed odd.

I was also surprised she didn't have more to say about parent engagement and outreach because Mr. Banda and Mr. Enoch had enthusiastic things to say about that issue.

Husk update

Going into another press conference for Van Asselt issue. Husk is considering another offer elsewhere (don't know where). Q&A to come. Important to start considering an e-mail to the Board TODAY for your pick. They will vote tomorrow.

West Seattle Blog Video on Candidates

Didn't know this was available but our colleagues over the West Seattle blog have videotape of the candidate interviews (only one 15-minute segment each).  It is a great way to hear and see the candidates for yourself. 

I believe that the public has the right to hear these people to inform their own opinion so I am glad for the opportunity to bring them to this blog. 

Banda

Enoch

I will, of course, post Superintendent Husk's when it is available (likely sometime today).

Another Black Eye for the District

I knew about this investigation and the results.  I had being holding off on raising the issue until next week out of courtesy to the superintendent search.  The Times got the info anyway.   (I don't have a total for the amount of money that is likely gone/missing but I think it is around $20-30K which is a great deal of money for Van Asselt.)

From the Times:

Seattle police are investigating the possible misuse of school funds by a former principal and a parent coordinator at Van Asselt Elementary School.


Former Principal ElDoris Turner retired March 16, two days after being placed on administrative leave following the release of an ethics investigation that found a "gross waste of public funds."


The parent coordinator, Ramona Fuentes, was fired Tuesday, according to the school district.


The investigation, conducted by the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission, found $30,000 in unexplained cash withdrawals from an unauthorized school bank account and sloppy record-keeping. In addition, the investigation found that Turner accepted payments from a group using the school gym and did not turn the money over to the district, as was required.

I have read the investigation and frankly, it made me feel sick.

 Principals know better and that this principal either didn't know or didn't follow protocol makes me very angry.

These are public buildings and fundraising funds and NO principal has the right to make up any kind of personal policy for his or her building.

But the 15-page report said neither offered "credible, documented justification for the large amount of cash that was withdrawn from the Account between January 2009 and June 2011."


The Seattle Police Department is investigating, said school-district spokeswoman Lesley Rogers. Police would not release any information Wednesday.

Sherry Carr, as head of A&Finance, was justifiably unhappy but said that the emphasis on telling employees to report any issues had happened in this case.  That is true but it took more than two years to fully come to light.

The probe started last spring after some Van Asselt parents and teachers, interested in establishing a Parent Teacher Student Association, asked how much money the school raised through fundraisers, and how the money was spent, according to the city investigation.


Turner's responses did not satisfy the group.


Investigators said parents relayed concerns about the use of cash at the school. Some said they'd seen a bag of money in a safe at the office, Fuentes counting cash at her desk and a shoebox of money in Turner's office.

The checks written on this account passed muster.  The issue was the cash withdrawals.

"Turner and Fuentes kept terrible records of the money that flowed into and out of the Account," the investigation found.


While it was Fuentes' job to keep records, she described herself as disorganized and forgetful and told investigators she had serious health and money issues.

And yet Principal Turner kept using her to take care of fundraising dollars.  Unbelievable.  

Another issue was the use of the gym.

A school-district employee ran a business that used the gym for youth-basketball tournaments.


The employee said he charged $3 to $5 at the door for the tournaments and sold concessions.
The employee told investigators his business was a nonprofit, but they determined it was not registered as one with the state.


Turner did not seem to think gym access was a big issue, according to the investigation. She told investigators she thought white teachers wanted to stop the employee from using the gym because he is a black man.

And again, we see race rearing its head in our district.  This accusation by Turner sounds like shades of Silas Potter.  We heard this from Greg King at Lowell in his investigation.

No one should be using race - in either direction - as a reason for behavior or actions involving their school.   If there is an issue, they should go to their Executive Director or the Superintendent. 



Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Technology and Enoch

Parent Cecilia McCormick, who is active in Special Ed issues, took it on herself to do some research on Superintendent Enoch's district and gathered info on their technology use  Here an e-mail she sent to the Seattle School Board:

I would like to share with you information provided by SRVUSD PTA yesterday.  Given the costs of scaling up our district's use of technology and its ever-evolving nature, I'm sure you would agree that the plan and direction should be developed in a thoughtful and flexible manner, so that we don't chase money down rabbit holes.

Each School Building has Tele-conferencing CapabilitiesAll middle and high schools have been fitted with a large media video screen and videoconferencing systems.  In their 84 pg CA state-mandated Technology Plan (TP), the district states "we anticipate using these systems for students' virtual field trips, leveraging guest speaker events simultaneously across multiple school sites, inter-school collaborations between students, and professional development/collaboration activities among staff." (I find the last use to be particularly relevant and helpful for collaboration among special education staff or "electives" teachers who often feel isolated in their buildings.)  The PTA and San Ramon Educational Foundation is considering expanding this effort to all elementary schools as well.

ALL schools have computer labsUnlike Seattle, SRVUSD has computer labs in every school, sometimes multiple labs.  I was gratified to note that ALL children have access to these computers, including Special Education and ELL students.  Students are given time during the day to work on skill-building.  Furthermore, "carts of laptop computers are quickly becoming the norm to bring near 1:1 computing experiences to the students in the context of their regular classrooms." 

All middle and high-schools, and 80% of elementary schools have interactive white boardsThese smart boards project a computer desktop onto the display.  Teachers can write with a stylus on smart tablet with the image projected on the display, and then save these notes for, say, posting on the Source (so parents can see how a teacher explained a math lesson).  These boards can obviate the need for separate TVs or DVD players as well.  Also, boards can be tied to a "clicker system" so that teachers can conduct quizzes with the feedback displayed instantaneously on the screen.  This would demonstrate whether students are "getting it" and make quizzes fun!

All middle and high-schools, and 60% of elementary schools have at one set of student-response systemsAs stated in TP, "these systems are being used for formative assessment across multiple curricular areas." Clickers provide instant feedback to teachers regarding their classroom's understanding of concepts.  This is SO much more helpful than MAP in terms of true formative assessment 
More use of "Cloud" computing and software"Cloud app tool use is seeing explosive growth in the middle schools. These tools are the foundation of project-based learning for integrating the essential skills of critical thinking, problem solving, communications and collaboration with the curricula."  
Finally, in my review of SRVUSD's TP, there was no mention of an "academic data warehouse" or thrice-yearly MAP-like assessments.  The district did not impose multiple assessments beyond those required by the State.  And, as you well know, SRVUSD is #1 in state scores, without incessant testing or school performance frameworks or school stratification.   See pg 41 of the TP.  The estimated budget for their technology plan is $11M.  What we could have done with the $Million$ invested in MAP (roll out for data coaches, labs, subscription fees is $7.8M)!

In my opinion, developing and implementing a technology plan like this must be initiated by SPS and not be expected from PTAs (with only wealthy ones able to provide this benefit, exacerbating the "opportunity gap").  I urge you to look at the SRVUSD Technology Plan - and set the wheels in motion for smart technology.

SRVUSD Video Conferencing  http://srvusd.ca.schoolloop.com/videoconf
 

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.  



New BEX IV Scenario

Just got a tip from a reader (thanks!) about a new BEX IV scenario.

This one costs in at just under $700M (I think they are trying to keep it under $1B between BEX and the Operations levy that will also appear on the ballot).

Jane Addams to Cedar Park?  Yup. New middle school at Jane Addams building?  Yup.

Winners
Arbor Heights - no mention of Roxhill joining them
SLU - Good luck with that one
North Beach - full replacement
Bagley (sorta) - partial replacement
Thorton Creek - stays a K-5
Mercer - gets an addition
QA - gets an addition

Losers
Roxhill
Rogers
Jane Addams community

I still don't get why TT Minor needs to be reopened. 

Wednesday Open Thread

Sorry, missed yesterday's Open Thread.

In big news from the AP Stylebook (the bible for news reporting), hopefully has finally won out in the usage wars. 

The barbarians have done it, finally infiltrated a remaining bastion of order in a linguistic wasteland. They had already taken the Oxford English Dictionary; they had stormed the gates of Webster’s New World College Dictionary, Fourth Edition. They had pummeled American Heritage into submission, though she fought valiantly — she continues to fight! — by including a cautionary italics phrase, “usage problem,” next to the heretical definition.

Then, on Tuesday morning, the venerated AP Stylebook publicly affirmed (via tweet, no less) what it had already told the American Copy Editors Society: It, too, had succumbed. “We now support the modern usage of hopefully,” the tweet said. “It is hoped, we hope.”

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Banda Media Interview

Or at least the media interview I was at because there were three.

Ours started late as the first one ran to about 25 minutes and that was good because we could push for a longer interview than 15 minutes.  The tv people went first with KING 5's Robert Mak pushing for all the media to be there together for 45 minutes.  No go.

Besides the TV people I saw The Stranger's David Goldstein and KUOW's Phyllis Fletcher, both sharp and knowledgeable.

As I mentioned previously, there was just Brian Rosenthal and me in our interview session although there was a cameraman from somewhere (likely KING 5) but without a reporter.  Why he got to stay, I don't know.

This was Mr. Banda's third trip to Seattle in the last five weeks and he called it "an interesting process."

Here's the Times' take on the interview; there are differences (including the fact that I didn't mention TFA nor did Banda but Rosenthal at the Times seems to think it was said).  

What was his specific interest in coming to Seattle?
He stated that it was an opportunity to work with a "progressive" large urban school district and there were many favorable opportunities to work with groups because of the location, businesses, educational institutions and engage in partnerships.

I asked about coming to a district more than twice the size of his own and that his district was only K-6.
He stated while he was currently in a K-6 district that many years of his career were in secondary education including being a principal of a high school.  He said his current work afforded him the opportunity to learn to focus on building the foundation to send his students off well to their secondary education.

How do you feel about a more active community and media?
He said, "For me, it's about engagement style which is huge in Seattle."  He said he had to go out into the business community in Anaheim and convince them to be engageed.  He said the variety of stakeholder groups in Seattle was an asset and he hoped to engage them all.

I followed up and asked how him might come to a decision if he was hearing one thing from one set of groups and another from yet another set of groups.
He said he would work with his Board and listen to each group and see how their feedback was aligning with district goals.  He said, "There is nothing more important than feedback."

He also stated that he would start with learning about key communicators as well as getting out into the community and, of course, into the schools.

I asked him about Special Education in his district.
He said that leadership was the key and that he had recruited a Special Ed teacher to be the director of his program.  He said they have a balanced program with more attempts to keep students in the regular classroom with an aide but with some pull-out work still needed.  He said they have a good autistic program and had noted some students from outside their district trying to get in because of the quality of it.

He was asked about teacher assessment and use of performance measures.
Banda said that there had been a bit of discussion in his interviews around this issue.  He said it comes down to compromise and that it was good to have a performance piece but not for the majority of the evaluations.  He said Anaheim did not use it because of the strength of the teachers' union but he believes it should be part of an assessment but not the majority of that assessment.

I asked about a specific time when he had a disagreement with a Board member (or the Board) about an issue and how it was resolved. (thank you to a reader for this question)
He stated that there had been a couple of Board members who had pushed for a project-labor agreement (meaning a certain amount of labor had to come from the community itself) and that he hadn't felt it was needd beause they didn't use it previously and had no issues with strikes from labor.

He was asked about the governance in Anaheim.
He said he was responsible for hiring of principals but via an agreed-to process by the School Board with hiring teams and input from the Board.  He said the Board had never opposed a hire he made for a principal.

I asked him about the Broad Academy interest noted on his resume.
He said they came to him and that he was encouraged to apply because it was very competitive and "cutting edge".  He said he was not selected but he was not heartbroken about it.

He was asked about the first 2-3 things he would do as superintendent.
He said he would get out and build relationships and make connections with staff, parents, groups, media, etc.

He was asked about Central Administration changes.
He stated he wouldn't make any right away and had no set plan for it.  He said it was important to look at systems to see what is and isn't working.

He was asked about a new strategic plan.
Banda said he thought the current plan was well-done and had goals and priorities clearly set out.

I asked about charters and ed reform and specifically his remarks about slowing down his district's efforts for RTTT funding.
He said that he didn't have a lot of experience with charters as he didn't see a need for them in his district and when he was at Oceanside district that had two which was a small number.  He said he felt that his district could do the work they needed to without charters.  As for RTTT, he said a couple of his Board members were enthused and he just wanted to slow it down and reflect on what that money would mean in terms of staff work, requirements and what the true benefits would be to children. 

My impressions:
  • a genuine person, not a lot of jargon or edu-speak
  • he repeatedly talked about engagement, relationships and listening 
  • not a lot of specifics.  It got a little unnerving because I kept waiting for something specific to hang onto and I just didn't hear it from him.  
  • naturally, I like that he is pretty blase about charters and I especially like his wanting to be sure about something like RTTT money before a huge commitment of time, both in getting the money and then having a plan to spend it.  
I will be interested to hear from the other candidates.  I thought Brian and I covered a fair number of subjects.  I have some of the same questions for the other two candidates but I may throw in some new ones as well. 

Cuts in Salem-Keier District by Husk

News from the Statesman-Journal in mid-April in Oregon (via one of our readers).  I would link to the story but you can't unless you pay.

Here's the lead storyline:

All library and media jobs at Salem-Keizer elementary and middle schools would be cut under a proposal by Superintendent Sandy Husk.  The 48 library and media instructors were notified Thursday of the plan, part of the district's attempt to deal with a $55M shortfall.


District officials have said they will need to lay off 9-16 administrators, 250-400 teachers and 130-230 support staff members to close the budget gap.

There were no quotes from Superintendent Husk.

Boy, and we thought it was bad here with our budget.

Update:  doing some more research, I want to point out that you need to keep in mind that this district has had major cuts the last three years with increasing amounts each year.  Also, the libraries will be open at the schools but staffed via media assistants or other staff.  Naturally, it is not the same as having a librarian and we all know that but the article did not say the libraries themselves would be closed and I didn't want to leave that impression.

Another interesting story (not to do with Husk) is that a charter school is being investigated by the Department of Justice over competing "boards" who say they are charge.  This after a vandalism incident over the weekend.

It was the culmination of turmoil that began shortly after the school year started at Bennett Pearson Academy and escalated in recent months, with several requests for police response at the school and an ongoing fight between parents and board members.
 
Last Thursday, a group of parents moved to replace board members with new board members, but now both governing bodies claim they’re in charge. The Department of Justice is monitoring the issue.

Salem police Lt. Dave Okada said officers were called to the school three times between Thursday and Saturday because of disputes about the board.

Michael Warren, a member of the first board, on Monday filed a temporary restraining order against three members of the new board as well as a former employee and West Coast Bank.

Marion County Circuit Court Judge Dale Penn signed the restraining order, which bans the defendants from entering the building and directs West Coast Bank to allow Warren access to the school bank account to make payroll.

It's "who's on first" at this school.

Interested in Later High School Start Times?

A group has been formed, the Later Start Time Working Group, and they are having a meeting this Thursday, the 26th, from 5-6 p.m. at the Wayward Coffee House on 65th and NE Roosevelt.

Banda Interview

Dear readers, I will put it to you - should I write about the media interview I was at this morning with Superintendent Banda with or without impressions?  Meaning, I could just write the questions and answers without my take on them.

 I thought maybe it would make more sense to give my impressions on Thursday after the last interview of finalists so I would have some comparisons to make.

I'll wait a bit for answers and then go from there. 

Monday, April 23, 2012

Banda Profile

The Times has a good profile of the work that superintendent finalist, Jose Banda, has done in Anaheim. 

Banda was born in Texas, the son of migrant farmworkers who had little formal education. His first language was Spanish.

When he was 2, the family moved to California, where he has stayed. His father began picking cotton at a ranch outside Bakersfield and eventually was promoted to supervisor. During breaks and summers, Banda and his six siblings worked in the fields, too.
 
"We really learned the hard work ethic," he said.

His parents also taught him the value of education.

"My opportunities came from having caring teachers," he said.

He has raised scores in a largely Latino community (although the district is less than half the size of SPS and serves only K-6 students).   He seems to be respected by parents and labor partners (although the teachers union rep declined to comment for the story). 

From the story:

Banda also has encouraged parents to become more engaged, in part by offering an eight-week course on how best to advocate for their children. More than 1,500 parents have gone through the program, designed by the Parent Institute for Quality Education.

The effort has led to more vocal parents. Before Banda arrived, School Board member Blumberg said, "At times I felt the district office had this big old bubble around it. The community didn't come in, stakeholders didn't come in."

Now, they do. And sometimes, they complain.

Banda has made it clear he's willing to listen. Last year, for example, scores of parents asked to expand a small Spanish/English immersion program.

"We as a board would probably have said there was no way," Blumberg said, noting budget constraints. "But he found a way." Mostly it was by juggling teachers and principals at key schools.

Considering the size of his district, that is a huge number of parents who stepped up to take the parent education course.  

His district passed a bond measure in 2010 and he managed to win the support of Disney (Anaheim is where Disneyland is located). 

Interesting, though, that he is in a conservative area and the articles says the local paper there barely covers the district.   Welcome to Seattle, we're different.


Seattle Special Education PTSA Meeting

Seattle Special Education PTSA General Meeting
Tuesday, April 24th from 7-9 pm at JSCEE Auditorium

Topic:  Student Discipline/Elections of 2012/2013 PTSA Officers



We are pleased to welcome our guest speaker Stacy Gillett, Ombudsman with the Governor's Office of the Education Ombudsman, who will share a presentation on Student DisciplineStacy will cover the Procedural Safeguards related to Student Discipline for students receiving Special Education Services. She will also share thoughts on promoting a school climate, policies, and procedures that focus on understanding challenging behavior and teaching positive/expected behavior rather than punishing children.
We also have invited Pegi McEvoy, interim Chief Operations Officer, to share a brief Facilities and Capacity Management Advisory Committee (FACMAC) update at the beginning of the meeting.

Elections of Executive Committee Officers for the Seattle Special Education PTSA for next year will also take place at this meeting.  Nominations from the floor are welcome.



 

Goodbye to Noel Treat

From SPS:

Dear colleagues,

I am proud of the work we've done during my time at Seattle Public Schools and hope that I have helped make a positive difference.  My time here has been some of the most rewarding of my career, but I have decided to pursue a new opportunity as Deputy City Manager for Mercer Island. 

This is an exciting opportunity for me to be part of a strong city leadership team and address new challenges.  Please know that my decision is not a result of the current Superintendent search – I was not an applicant and am pleased with the candidates who have been named as finalists.  

I know we are in the midst of a transition at SPS and I am confident the School Board will find a new leader to continue the work in a positive direction.  I will still remain a part of the SPS community and look forward to supporting the District as a parent.  My last day in the office will be May 21.

I wish you all the best.

Noel Treat
Deputy Superintendent
Seattle Public Schools

I am sad to see Noel go.  I think he was widely respected and I thought he really had good ideas and energy.

Look Who's On Twitter

Okay, so getting with the times, I got a Twitter account - #westbrookmel.

So do follow me but don't expect 20 Tweets a day.  I don't have it in me.  But I will be Tweeting more this week as I follow the superintendent search.

The Superintendent Selection Process

In the end, the Board chooses the superintendent. This is pretty much the Board's most important duty and they are responsible for it. They have to make the choice. Not only that, but they have to determine their process for making the choice. When it comes to everyone else working in the District, the readers and writers on this blog generally support autonomy and oppose micromanagement. We want teachers to be free to do their jobs as they see fit. We oppose their micromanagement by principals and certainly by central office bureaucrats. Similarly, we oppose the micromanagement of the superintendent by the Board. The Board sets policies, priorities and goals, but then it is up to the superintendent to determine how to achieve those goals within the context of the policies. If we support autonomy for workers, to determine for themselves how to accomplish their duties, then we should support that autonomy for the Board as well.

The Board has the duty of selecting the superintendent. No one else has that responsibility. They should decide what information they need to make that choice and how to get that information. They have. They set a process that works for them. Yes, they were guided by their hired consultants, but they did not slavishly follow the consultants' recommendations. They decided that they wanted to see the final candidates in four exercises while they are here in Seattle: school visits, a series of brief press conferences, an interview with a selected 25-person focus group, and a meeting with the Board. That's what the Board decided they needed and so that's what they are doing. They decided that they did not see the candidates field questions from the general public, so that's not going to happen.

Some folks are disappointed that about the absence of a public meeting. The Seattle Times certainly is. I'm a bit disappointed myself, I suppose. Public meetings like that can be really entertaining. But I respect the Board's choice and, even more, the Board's right and authority to make that choice.

Here's the thing. If we are going to be consistent and we are going to allow people some measure of autonomy to determine for themselves what they need to do their jobs and to determine for themselves how they will do their jobs, then we have extend that value for autonomy to the Board. This is their duty, not ours. This is their decision, not ours. Let's trust them to go about it as they see fit.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Pineapples Don't Have Sleeves

If ever there was a reason to pull a stop on standardized testing mania, it's this story.

The Hare and the Pineapple.

Yes, apparently in NYC's 8th grade standardized test there was a reading section, based on a story by Daniel Pinkwater, the children's author, about a hare and a pineapple having a race, based on The Tortoise and the Hare.  (The story was altered from Mr. Pinkwater's original according to Mr. Pinkwater.)

So the Pineapple challenges the Hare to a race and as all the other animals are standing around, the Crow says the Pineapple has something up his sleeve because the Pineapple can't move.  (It is also pointed out that pineapples don't have sleeves.)

So when Hare arrives and takes off, they are confounded but then the Hare finishes the race and everyone cheers and eats the Pineapple.  The End.

What?

Naturally, if you are an 8th grader who can actually READ, you may have a problem figuring out the moral of the story.

The Education Commissioner says the media didn't print the whole thing and "it makes more sense in the full context of the passage" but admits the questions are "ambiguous."   Here's the whole thing

Mr. Pinkwater told the New York Daily News that it's the "world's dumbest test question."

Apparently this question has been used in several different states and confused kids in all of them. 

Now if the use of this story is to challenge kids to think differently about motivation or find nuances in stories, there are better stories. 

Here's a 1931 8th grade test for comparison from The Answer Sheet blog at the Washington Post.

From Valerie Strauss of the Washington Post:

The problem, of course, isn’t one test question that people think was badly drawn, or the strong likelihood that other questions on these exams make little sense or actually assess only a small band-width of skills, concepts and knowledge that we want students to know.

The problem is that the results of standardized tests are being used in New York and other states to assess not only students but teachers, principals and schools through complicated formulas that purport to show how much “value” a teacher adds to a student’s achievement. Researchers say that “value-added” assessment models can’t do what supporters say they do and are unreliable accountability.

The stakes of these tests are getting higher as educator evaluation systems are being put in place that are based largely on how well a student does on these exams.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Get Out There!

Not that it has likely missed your notice but it's going to be a hopping weekend here in Seattle. 

First up - good weather with Sunday being the best day at 73 degrees.

Second, big celebration starting at the Seattle Center in honor of the 50th anniversary of the World's Fair.  The kick-off event starts Saturday at 10:30 am with opening ceremonies in the Mural Amphitheater.   According to the Times, those ceremonies conclude at 4:30 p.m. with

"The Chair Spectacle": 200 community members in procession to the International Fountain with movement performed on and around chairs, accompanied by music related to the 1962 World's Fair.

Could be great.

Festivities throughout Saturday include a skateboarding party, zip-line rides, a beer garden with trivia games, and a variety of food trucks and carts.

Displays include "Celebrating Century 21" featuring "The Future Remembered" artifacts from the 1962 World's Fair, and a traveling history exhibit, "Centuries of Progress, America's World's Fairs, 1853-1982," open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily, Saturday through Oct. 21.

Next, HuskyFest at UW and it's turning 150 (so there, Space Needle).  Lots of free events - free Burke Museum and Henry Art Gallery, a scavenger hunt, face painting, solar car races on Red Square, pies/poems and lots more.  (Note: if you have never been in the library, Suzzallo which in right on Red Square, go in and take a gander - the reading room is straight out of Hogwarts.) 

Last (but not Least) - Sunday is Earth Day.   There are events through the Puget Sound area.  Go hug a tree and pick up some trash at your nearest park.

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. 


Friday Open Thread

Last day of Spring Break vacation for the kids. 

Hey, we now know who the mystery date superintendent finalists are.   I am planning to be ready with at least three questions to  each finalist (I'll be lucky to get one but better to be ready).  

Upcoming threads:
- International Education and its costs
- CTE - looks like the Obama administration is coming back on-board with that issue

What's on your mind?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

More calls for civility

Here's an interesting trend: calls for civility in the discussion of education issues in Seattle.

They are coming from a variety of sources.
Here's one from Alison Krupnick that I read in Crosscut. Yeah, Crosscut, where the editor referred to the two newly elected board members as "insurgents" and refuse to interview them as candidates.
Here's one from Robin Lake of the Center for Reinventing Public Education that appeared on the EdWeek blog.
Here's one from me on this blog in August of 2010.

And, as usual, there are a lot of Ed Reform organizations re-posting the articles on their blogs. They re-post from each other and the Seattle Times a lot.

What I really like about the first two is that they are calling to Education Reform organizations to be more civil even more than they are calling on folks on this blog to tone it down. Actually, not only are our posts more informative, less biased, and more civil than you typically see on Education Reform blogs, but our comments, as rough as they are, do not compare to the scathing flames that are typical on the Seattle Times.

So I'm happy that other folks are taking an interest in toning down the confrontational rhetoric. That's one more middle ground that we can share.

Education Calendar is Full

There are just a plethora of events and meetings coming up.

Friday, April 20th
Community meeting with Director McLaren from 5- 6:30 p.m., High Point Center

Saturday, April 21st
Community Meeting with Director Peaslees from 1-2:30 p.m. at Northgate Library

Tuesday, April 24th
Community meeting with Director McLaren from 1-2:30 pm. at SW Library

Thursday, April 26th
Curriculum&Instruction and Operations Meeting of the Whole from 4-7 p.m.

Saturday, April 28th
Community meeting with Director Patu from 10am to noon at Caffe Vita

Citywide Teen Summit
South Lake High School, 8601 Rainier Ave. S. from 10 am to 3 pm
Addresses issues including teen pregnancy and prevention, self-expression and technology.
Hosted by the Seattle Alumae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority and Delta GEMS in partnership with South Lake High School.
Features guest speakers, a DJ, giveaways, and a performance by ABK, a Native American rapper
FREE and lunch is provided.
For additional information, contact deltagemschair@yahoo.com.

Monday, April 30th
Seattle Council PTSA General Meeting - Navigating SPS: Steps for Positive Advocacy
With Ron McGlone, SPS Ombudsman, Adie Simmons, Director of the state ombudsman office, Bernardo Ruiz, SPS Manager of Family and Community Engagement
At JSCEE
6:30 p.m. - Snacks and socializing
7-8:30 p.m. - Meeting


Tuesday, May 1
Community Conversations with ELL and Special Education Directors
6-7:30 p.m. at Jane Addams K-8


Wednesday, May 2nd
UW Lecture Series - Strife and Progress: Transforming Public Education in Big Cities
Featuring Paul Hill, Center on Reinventing Public Education, with results of a 3-year study of 6 cities that have adopted a "continuous improvement" portfolio strategy.  Discussion with other Evans School faculty.  RSVP at esevents@uw.edu or 206-221-7779


Also, the UW has a Distinguished Lecture Series for Early Childhood, schedule here.  It runs from April to June with talks on Play and Development, Literacy, Diversity and Immigration, Approaches to Learning, Dual Language and Early Mathematics.  All are free and open to the public.

Sandra L. Husk

  • She was previously at the Clarksville-Montgomery district in Tennessee, before that in Mapleton Public Schools in Colorado.  She has had about a 5-year tenure at each job.
  • Like Mr. Banda, she has worked in a bilingual school 
  • Post doctoral studies include: Consensus Building and Conflict Resolution and Public Sector: Labor and Management Cooperation.
  • Her current salary is $188k. Interesting contract note: a requirement to get a physical every two years
  • Her district has 9% gifted students, 14% Special Ed, 19% ELL, 60% Fr/R
  • Also worked hard to pass a recent bond measure.
  • A quote from the Tennessee Business Journal from her in 2006- The Clarksville-Montgomery County School System is the only system in the state that has earned ISO 9001 Certification, an evaluation system based on international standards of quality used in business and manufacturing. “This is a continuous improvement system,” Husk says. “It is part of our accountability component. We are reviewed every six months to business standards. Only ten schools in the nation are certified.”
  • She pleaded guilty to a DUI in Colorado in 2000.  
  • Good profile of some of her work in Tennessee

Steven W. Enoch

  • Enoch has also worked in the private sector as executive director of a large educational seminar and conference organization.
  • Married with grown children.
  • Announced March 28th, 2012 that he was retiring from the San Ramon Unified School District.   From the San Ramon Valley Times:  Enoch said he plans to continue to be involved in education. He is interested in the challenges of urban education, leadership development, global learning connections, high school reform, and changing classrooms through technology.
  • Letter to parents about budget cuts 
  • From San Ramon Valley Unified School District: Academically, SRVUSD currently ranks 6th among all unified school districts in California, and is the highest ranking unified school district in the state with enrollments of 9,000 or more (California Academic Performance Index, 2008). Over 94% of our graduating seniors attend college or university, and district students are accepted into the University of California and the California State University systems at rates far exceeding state averages. Furthermore, the district has been recognized for its excellence through such honors as the coveted State Department of Education's Distinguished Schools Award (schools in the district have received this honor more than 50 times, more than any other district in northern California), and through recognition by the U.S. Department of Education as National Blue Ribbon Schools.  The district has a wide range of state and federally-mandated special education programs. The district's Inclusion Program is a model in the state. 
  • San Ramon Valley Education Foundation 
  • His salary was about $240k and since he is retiring, he would likely be receiving a California state pension as well as an SPS salary.