Sunday, January 04, 2015

Communication Plan revision - again

Here is the latest version of the superintendent's 100-day (or 120-day) communication plan. You can find it in the Friday Memo to the Board for December 19, 2014.

You can compare this plan to the plan he outlined for KIRO on the day that he was offered his long-term contract. I gave details about that plan in this blog post: Communication Plan. They generally match up except that instead of completing elements of the plan on specific days he only says that he will start them on those days. He doesn't say when the work will be done - if ever. Consequently this plan is not an action plan but an inaction plan.


Anonymous said...

Nyland seems to think the big issue with communications is that the public isn't getting to the right people at SPS. From what I've seen, however, the main problem with communication is that SPS often doesn't have an answer to the question, or an explanation for the situation. Getting to the "right" person isn't likely to solve that. If they don't have meaningful answers to give--or if they're trying to hide things--I have a hard time seeing how a new phone tree will help.

Communicate What?

cmj said...

There are some parts about the communication plan that I like, but overall I think that Nyland isn't tackling the major issues that prevent good communication -- like SPS culture.

Call sheets for the district and each department posted to our web site showing who to call for
which questions.
I like this and hope that the call sheets are very detailed.

Training 30 people at JSCEE most likely to make customer service contacts on a regular basis.
 Clarifying customer service expectations for the JSCEE.
 Providing opportunities for all JSCEE staff to engage in shaping, learning, celebrating customer
service values.

Honestly, this sounds like lip service. IMHO, one of the most serious problems with communications at SPS is the culture of disrespect towards students and parents. I don't see an hour-long training fixing that problem.

John Stanford was famous for declaring that bad customer service would be a firing offense. I don't know how many people he actually fired over that, or how effective it really was in changing the culture, or if it was even a good management practice, but it was a very strong statement from the district leader about the importance of customer service. It showed that he was serious about it.

Stanford also bluntly said that SPS exhibited "an inward kind of thinking that is more concerned about the comfort of the people who run the system than the public it is supposed to serve." Nyland is barely willing to admit there's a problem, much less admit how deep it runs.

There's a note under customer service training about "Planning proactively for open enrollment."

I like the idea about "Exploration / selection of a program for constant 24/7 recap of issues of greatest concern to our patrons."

Anonymous said...

What strikes me is Stanford came in and stopped the desegregation busing program and then died. MGJ came in and brought us pure neighborhood schools removing optional busing and then died. Two African Americans with terminal illnesses hired to basically re-segregate Seattle schools.

I am a big fan of the current system and the ideology of ownership behind it. The payoff needs to be equitable outcomes for all students, however.

For example, HCC kids should keep pushing onward and upward, raise the bar; but we must get our poorest and most challenged students up to that level as well.
The gap in achievement must be closed by getting the lowest up to level of the top, even as the top continues to rise.


cmj said...


Was Stanford perfect? Of course not. He probably would have left Seattle after his initial contract ended, if he hadn't died first. Just like with JFK, dying during the job made him more popular. But even accounting for the posthumous popularity boost, I'd argue that he was the best and most popular superintendent SPS has had since 1986.

Why is Stanford -- a man died years before current SPS freshmen were born -- relevant to the communication plan and PR at SPS? Because Stanford was quite good at it. Part of it was that he was quite charismatic. Part of it was that he actually did his job well. Of the superintendents since Stanford, I'd estimate that fewer than half the parents approved of any except Enfield (who was only an interim superintendent).