Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Keep This in Mind As You Read My "Big Picture" Series

Yup.

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11 comments:

TheGoodFight said...

I'm not trying to NIT PICK you, but you did write this about SPED issue "I do not believe there is bad intent in any of this. "

I was thinking about this last week-end and it's hard not to believe that a lot of these problems are intentional for the purpose of creating divisions. Divide and conquer, as they say. If we are all getting along what sense is there in a Mayor take over? If schools are providing the supports students need, why create charters?

If we just use the term "student" and not prepend AP, SPED or GEN-ED it would go along way in stopping the distinctions that are creating silos and weakening community support for schools.

All students need supports, they just vary depending on the student.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Good Fight, I like to believe in the good in people. I believe there are good, smart people at JSCEE.

So I try to give them some benefit of the doubt.

And I also know that when you say something like it appears intentional that many parts of this district - that are centrally managed - are near failing, you will get called a "conspiracy theorist."

I agree with your assessment and my "Big Picture" series is an effort to connect the dots on this picture.

Anonymous said...

Of course there are some good, smart people at JSCEE. The organization, however, routinely violates the educational rights of extremely vulnerable students who have federal legal protections because of their vulnerabilities.

I think it's a result of incompetence and lack of concern about those who aren't important in the district's sense of priorities.

In the case of JSCEE, attempting to distinguish the motives of individual employees from the effects of their organization is moot in terms of outcomes and effects of the vulnerable students.

Since we're quoting people, wasn't it Anne Frank who said, "Despite everything, I think people are good at heart."

--enough already

Anonymous said...

I have to say that I don't think "good" or "smart" has anything to do with it and that this is a common myth. Moral and ethical behavior takes HARD work which is cultivated over time and often a thousand times a day in small decisions. The hardest kind of behavior is putting the needs of a more vulnerable person (i.e. students) over yourself (i.e. SPS employees). This requires backbone and a willingness to pay the price for standing up. The price will often be lack of promotion, dismissal, firing, "blackballing."

Lots of information (i.e. "smart") or a pleasant demeanor (i.e. "good") does not automatically translate into courage.

Backbone

Anonymous said...

YES! Thank you, Melissa. This quote hits it on the head EXACTLY! THIS is why we (and I am speaking to "me" here -- because I am a black pot and have no business picking on any kettles that may be out there) cannot just "vote down the next levy" (disgruntled armchair reaction capable of being "spun" by the ed reform crowd. No, although I have the political instincts of moss -- the ONLY way we are going to deal with this phenomenon -- in education and elsewhere -- is by much more direct, impossible to misconstrue, public activity. IF we vote down levies, it had better be in the context of a highly organized and articulate public campaign that makes it CLEAR what parents are doing (i.e. -- NOT begging for mayoral control to relieve themselves of their elected school boards; NOT asking for the District to be split up; NOT asking for "more charter schools!")

I also sat yesterday and watched the news report on the "other" school districts who are staging their one day walk outs this week. And it sort of changed my mind on the SEA's decision. I DO think it matters that they joined THEIR voices to the voices of many other schools districts. I think it would have sent the wrong message had they not. I am really glad (in retrospect) that their political instincts led them that way, and I am unhappy with myself for second guessing their attempts to do what they can to increase state funding for schools. And while the "make up" day may be late in the year and less effective than a full day in mid-May, it all seems to pale beside the days, and days, and days of teacher, student, and administrator time lost (with NO make up days) to overtesting.

Jan

Anonymous said...

I think there are two things here - Noam Chomsky's quote, which applies more to the Bill Gates types, AND the other which is the day to day workings of SPS, which better fits this quote by anonymous: "Never ascribe to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence."

I do believe that nationwide the right and the conservative Dems are trying to allow private corporations to take over education so that they can make billions from it (it's sick). I don't, however, believe the majority of district employees are doing any such thing. The district is a world unto itself and has become almost disconnected with reality. Why are they not freaking out over capacity? How can they not see what seems so obvious? They are their own echo chamber and they are not interested from anything that doesn't come from within, but I don't think the regular employees are behaving the way that they are so that they can be taken over. That would take far more planning than the district seems capable of.

-tetley

Anonymous said...

Since I know some of those "regular employees" I can say that no, they aren't trying to be taken over - they are just trying to function within a truly dysfunctional system. When I hear some of the stories that come from just one or 2 departments, I am boggled how anything ever gets done. What is primarily at the core of things, at least from my limited view, is a massive lack of internal communication - there are employees who have NEVER been introduced to their manager. NEVER. And who's manager has no clue what they do because they've never bothered to ask. I can only assume, based on the microcosm I'm aware off that this happens in other areas too. The right hand not only doesn't know what the left is doing, it has never met the left.

I have no doubt there are games afoot to help insure a takeover but its a very very small set who are playing it.

reader47

Melissa Westbrook said...

Absolutely to the notion that there are is a small SPS group working with outside forces.

I know the average JSCEE employee 1) works hard, 2) usually in a silo within a department, 3) has very little say in what happens and 4) would not know what is happening above them.

TheGoodFight said...

Wasn't Goodloe-Johnson associated with the broad foundation ? Who did she bring with her from South Carolina?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Michael Tolley is the last of the Goodloe-Johnson hires still at SPS. Yes, she had gone thru the charm school that is Broad superintendent training. Several news stories have shown that various other charm school grads have fizzled out as well.

Anonymous said...

Although if I recall right (and maybe I don't), the one person she truly "brought with her" was Don Kennedy -- and I think he also left when she did.

Jan