Update: And now the Times editorial board weighs in. Yawn. Same old, same old (you'd think they would try a new tack but no.) The Times absolutely refuses to acknowledge the reasons for the turnover in Seattle superintendents. What is the Board to do in the fact of not one but two financial scandals? Keep those superintendents? C'mon.
Then they speak of "a curiosity for a change in governance." I hate to break it to them but that "curiosity" is only Tim Burgess, LEV and the Seattle Times. Not in progressive Seattle.
And they speak of respect "for staff" as they incessantly berate the Board. Oh kettle, it's the pot calling.
End of update.
Of all the issues for the Times to cover about Seattle Public Schools, they pick the issue of superintendents working with school boards.
This is an old, tired issue that the Times has covered...repeatedly. In fact, it seems their go-to, defacto answer to ANY issue in Seattle Schools. That darned micromanaging School Board. It seems particularly inappropriate at this time (unless, of course, you were the powers that be in this town trying to send a public message to the Board about how they interact with our new interim superintendent.)
Did the School Board stand up recently on some issues and flex their elected muscle? They did and they were within their rights to do so. Especially on the issue of bell times. I say that because the staff does NOT set the priorities; the Board does. The staff then lays out a plan to enact those priorities.
This is one of the worst articles on this issue that the Times has published.
In it, it is revealed that Banda sent an e-mail to the board about treatment of staff about the elementary math adoption process. I had heard about this but that Banda released the e-mail - as he goes out the door - is very bad form on his part. But I suppose he felt the need to protect the staff from that bad, bad School Board.
From some of the comments from certain Board members, it seems that they don't remember when the admonishment was to not speak ill of each other publicly. That past Board members got royally called out, by the Times, over doing just that seems to be forgotten. And yet, it is now happening.
The litany of calling out goes on from Councilman Tim Burgess and the Alliance's Sara Morris.
I also have to wonder at the credit being given to Banda. He helped pass BEX IV and the Operations levies? Honestly, that work had started long before he got here and he was a figurehead. I didn't see him working those levies any differently from any other superintendent.
As well, there was this odd sentence in the Times' article:
He hired several senior managers and helped create a five-year plan to boost achievement for all students, regardless of race, disability, or background.
First, if you have openings at a government agency, you fill them. Is that an accomplishment?
Also, what is this about "regardless of race, disability or background?" Is that something new? It is not. And, there is some irony in that credit for how badly our Special Education services have been.
But others say the leader of the state's largest school district needs to be a strong moral authority for K-12 education - someone who can stand out in a district pulled in different directions by education advocates, and stand up to a School Board that's been accused of bullying and micromanaging by its top leadership.
Moral authority? Are we looking for a pope or a superintendent? Rep. Reuven Carlyle seems to have planted this idea to the Times as he is quoted as saying it.
The superintendent does not need to "stand up" to the Board. The superintendent needs to stand by his/her staff and work with the Board. Reasonable people can disagree and as long as it is clear on scope of responsibilities and authority, I think everyone CAN be reasonable.
(And fyi, the entire Board has NOT been accused of bullying/micromanaging but thanks for planting and nurturing that seed, Times.)
On the issue of bell times, Banda is quoted as saying that he told the Board, warned the Board, that there might trade-offs to pursing later starts for secondary students. Fine, he gave them the heads up but the Board sets the priorities. The staff can disagree but the Board is within their legal rights to set those priorities for the district.
And Charles Wright is quoted as saying he didn't feel "safe" in telling the Board bad news. That's pretty hard to believe given his performance at the last Board retreat. He certainly felt "safe" enough to call out the Board for asking for too much info too many times.
Could all members of the Board be more careful with their words? Probably. We all could. But I note that, time after time, the Board says thank you for the work before they say anything else. They give kudos and credit to the staff all the time and in public.
I also note that President Peaslee says that the public attacks on the Board don't help matters just as people claim the Board - some of the Board - attack staff members. She's right.
What's interesting is they get a quote from Marysville School Board VP Chris Nation on this issue but not our soon-to-be superintendent, Larry Nyland.
I'm more interested in what Nyland says and does.