Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Clarity around the title "interim"

Seattle Public Schools bureaucrats love to play word games. Their favorite word game is to re-define words. They do it for a variety of reasons. They have re-defined "task force" and "advisory committee" to evade control by Board policy. They have re-defined "program" and "service" to expand superintendent authority. They have changed the definition of "curriculum" at least six times to confuse the Board and discredit activists. Today we learn the new, revised meaning of the word "interim".

A person appointed to a position on an interim basis has the job for a year. The interim appointee gets a mid-year review and, if they pass that review, they are appointed to the job on a continuing basis. For example, interim principals are appointed to schools without any consultation with the school community. That interim principal gets a mid-year evaluation and, with a positive evaluation, they are then appointed as the full principal of the school. Here's another example. Stephen Martin was appointed as the interim supervisor for Advanced Learning. He will have a mid-year review and, if his performance is found satisfactory, the job will be his.

By re-defining "interim" in this way the District can now hire people for jobs without anyone knowing that's what they are doing. Did your school get appointed that principal who has been bounced from building to building? Don't worry - it's just an interim appointment. Except that the interim becomes permanent if there are no disasters in the first four months on the job.

This reminds me of the way that the District uses the word "draft" - as in "This isn't the time to protest; this is just a draft version. No decisions have been made yet." Followed immediately by the adoption of the draft. This typically comes with claims that it is too late to make any changes and that the time to speak up was when the document was in its draft form. There are actually published documents that still say draft on them. It is a technique to defer - and eventually evade - debate. Likewise these rules around interim appointments are a technique to defer discussion - until never.

The public is going to have its say. The District gets to decide the timing. If the District allows the pulbic to have its say before the decision, then it is input. If the public isn't allowed to have any say until after the decision, then it is complaint. So the District gets to decide whether they get input or complaints. They choose to get complaints.

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

It's unfortunate that we have only heard from Charlie for the first time in awhile in the context of advanced learning, especially since this Stephen guy seems quite (even overly) qualified.

Sometimes, "interim" is in the context of whether or nor a highly qualified person can put up with the so-called process of Seattle or whether it's not worth the threat to one's lifespan....

Priorities, priorities...

--enough already

Charlie Mas said...

I don't have any complaint about the hire. I respect Mr. Martin and expect him to do well in the role. This was a highly anticipated hire, yet there was no announcement when it was made. Instead, it was done in a way that created the illusion that no hire was made and that Mr. Martin, as the former number two, was merely the "acting" supervisor in the department until a hire could be made.\

The definition of "interim" and the sleight of hand hire is the story here, not Mr. Martin.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Enough already, you might not make judgments so quickly. Charlie said nothing about Mr. Martin not being qualified. He is and I support his appointment because he is qualified AND he knows the territory. (That said, it had been an open position and they did get applications and then it was pulled so it's confusing what may or may not happened.)

Anonymous said...

On the other hand, sometimes there is actually a non-story after all, rather than a "sleight of hand."

In this case, unlike the situation with Enfield, it could be a coup for students, families, and teachers in the district.

--enough already

mirmac1 said...

This is how PASS members (particularly those with "issues") are recycled from building to building, without parent input. People say it's impossible to get rid of a bad teacher. No, it's impossible to get rid of a bad administrator. Heck, they get a promotion and a raise.

In the case of some interim principals, how will they get evaluated if the parent/school climate surveys aren't done until the end of the year?

Anonymous said...

There's no doubt...bad principals are recycled because $$$ talks, and it's extremely expensive to fire a principal (Gates, et al. are silent on this topic).

However, we are talking about a highly qualified person in a field where there is slim pickin's. Seattle is lucky to have Stephen Martin.

I say...be glad the district hired a highly qualified person (for a change). Celebrate, rather than crucify.

--enough already

Charlie Mas said...

I don't understand enough already's complaint here. I never said that Mr. Martin wasn't qualified. I never impugned Mr. Martin at all.

If anyone has slighted Mr. Martin it was Ms Heath and Mr. Banda who did not announce and celebrate his promotion and who did not simply hire him in the role outright.

I haven't a word to say against Mr. Martin, his qualifications, or his appointment to this position. I don't understand why anyone would think that I did. I certainly didn't "crucify" the man.

Anonymous said...

So which schools are supposed to be having a mid-year comment period this year? Who is keeping track of all the interim appointments?

I was doing a search on what the review might be and came up with this post from last summer about this year's JSIS interim appointed principal. It says very clearly:

"As is our practice with an interim appointment, the John Stanford International School community will have an opportunity to provide feedback at approximately mid-way through the 2013-2014 school year. Then, we will decide if a search needs to be conducted for a permanent principal."

from:
http://www.seattleschools.org/modules/cms/pages.phtml?pageid=298083

So, JSIS folks. Have you been notified? How about any other schools? Ever seen this "practice" in practice?

Ann D.

Anonymous said...

No notification for us yet...

JSISmadre

Charlie Mas said...

I just love the language used here:

"[i][b]As is our practice[/b] with an interim appointment[/i]"

As if this was some long-standing practice instead of something completely new that they just introduced.

Susan Enfield was the interim Superintendent. She did not get the job after successfully passing a mid-year evaluation, so either this practice not in place then, she failed the mid-year evaluation, or she was exempted from the practice.

This is so 1984. They invent something new and then pretend that is how it has always been.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes it is hard to shed one's reputation. It appears enough already has had enough already. After so much negative conjecture it look like righting the ship may take more than a few weeks off.

-Ted

Lynn said...

You know, when I have a neighbor or coworker who frequently wants to discuss something I'm not interested in, I don't pop into their home or office and scold them for wasting their time and energy. I might try beginning our next conversation on another topic. If that doesn't engage them, I move on and find someone else to spend my time with.

I read that "As is our practice" line in principal announcements this year and thought it was odd too. Has a school community been given this opportunity in the past?

I wonder if the executive director for JSIS has a process in mind for gathering feedback.


Charlie Mas said...

Now with the correct html!

I just love the language used here:

"As is our practice with an interim appointment"

As if this was some long-standing practice instead of something completely new that they just introduced.

Susan Enfield was the interim Superintendent. She did not get the job after successfully passing a mid-year evaluation, so either this practice not in place then, she failed the mid-year evaluation, or she was exempted from the practice.

This is so 1984. They invent something new and then pretend that is how it has always been.

Anonymous said...

Hey Charlie and all...

Speaking of definitions...

Does anyone have any historical information about the definition, purpose, mission, objectives or any other defining statements about APP? I'm hearing that there really isn't an officially state purpose or objective of APP, but I'm baffled by this. This program has been around for something like 20 years, right? Wouldn't there have been something written up about it when it was formed? Wouldn't there be some kind of framework for the program? Does anyone whose been around have any recollection or old files or anything that could shed some light?

(And by APP, I mean APP, not spectrum or ALO or Advanced learning in general.) :)

Thanks,
Eden

Anonymous said...

oops, please forgive my typo's (not the first and won't be the last...)

"who's" not "whose"
Eden

Charlie Mas said...

Eden,

There is, currently, no Board policy on APP (or any other advanced learning program). There was a policy, but the Board suspended it on January 29, 2009 and has never made a new one.

There have been a number of statements over the years about APP (and other advanced learning programs), but they are subject to change without notice or process. Sometimes the District claims that they are meaningful and guide the work and sometimes the District brushes them off as web site marketing content.

The only real, authentic, reliable, or enforceable statement of the definition, purpose, mission, or objectives for APP (or any other advanced learning program) must be codified in the Board policy or the superintendent's procedures. There are no such things.

There is, however, Policy 2090, which was recently discussed. This policy requires the Board to provide:

"A clear statement of expectations for the district's instructional programs,
B. Staff, resources and support to achieve the stated expectations; and
C. A plan for evaluating instructional programs and services to determine how
well expectations are being met."

As you can see, "programs" is plural and there is a reference to "programs and services" so it doesn't refer to all of the schools generically. Also, APP has been defined as a service and is therefore part of this mandate to the Board.

The Board, of course, has done not done this work. Not now. Not ever.

The people who want to call the Board dysfunctional should highlight failures like this instead of debates on the dias.

Anonymous said...

Charlie, thanks

Where can I see the policy that was suspended in 2009?

Eden