Friday, November 20, 2015

Deputy Superintendent to Leave in January

Deputy Superintendent Charles Wright announced, via a letter to staff, that he is leaving SPS, effective Jan. 5, 2016.  It's a bit of a curious letter as he doesn't say anything about his future plans but does give a long list of the accomplishments that he has worked on.  He also says this:
As you prepare to work with a new board, more closely with the community, and continue to work with one another to strengthen the system’s ability to support students, I encourage you to read the book The Trust Imperative by Stephen Hacker. Some of you may recall that I mentioned this book to you in September 2014.  It will be an excellent resource as you engage in intentional conversations about re-building trust where you believe it does not exist. The book offers insights and tools to help you understand and build trust across a spectrum of key elements including trust readiness, worthiness and willingness.
I have heard that he has been handing this book out and I hope to read it soon myself.  I'm glad he asking staff to work on trust issues.  I'm not sure what he means/context of "worthiness."

I wonder who will get the blame for this change - the new Board not even yet in there or the Superintendent?  Maybe I should ask Sherry Carr who went out of her way in her farewell remarks to name how many of each category of senior management had left over her eight years in office.

34 comments:

Ed said...

The whole letter oozes "truthiness" as Colbert calls it.

GOOD RIDDANCE.

I lay it to the new board some of whom were NOT going to be lectured by Mr. Wright the way the last one was.

Ed

mirmac1 said...

My question is who will get the CREDIT for this change! When I heard he was to be the Chief Civil Rights Officer I about choked on my Big Mac.

I'm sure he'll be more lard on the top at the City of Seattle DEEL.

Anonymous said...

I looked that Wright book up on Amazon. Written by someone in Portland. Professional or personal friend? Dunno. But it seems to fall into that special snoozefest bookshelf space of Corporate Consulting. Book had not even one review. Not one. Not even a fake friendly one from the publisher. Geez, that's hard these days. Not promising. I suspect Stephen Colbert would have a ball with the book.

As for Wright, if he stays local my bet is the city under Murray or the state under the early learning grab for management types. Conjecture no evidence. Also conjecture - more downtown staff not wanting to deal with new board and bolting. Would not be a surprise. Would not count most as a loss.

DistrictWatcher

Transparency Please said...

Wright came from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. It isn't unusual for these individuals to come into the district, set-up systems and leave.

Wright was heavily involved in the city's prek program. He signed an agreement that allowed the city/ district to align computer/ data systems- something that left me feeling uncomfortable. When it came to the city's prek program, I felt he wasn't forth-coming with information. He would say one thing, but documents would say another. I was upset when the board was told that they would vote on the city's prek service agreement, but that document got shoved into a stack of papers; the board voted on accepting funding, but the superintendent signed the agreement.

My guess: Wright is heading for the city's DEEL. I'm not sad to see him leave.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I do not see this as a loss.

I know you might not believe it but I always hold out hope when new senior leadership comes in. I found it odd that Mr. Wright had moved to Seattle and, in a matter of months, was on the Board at the Alliance for Education. But his resume looked so good.

I found Mr. Wright to be a person who seemed to truly care and I again wanted to believe the best. At one work session a couple of years back, I felt moved by his words about wanting change for this district. He mentioned a consultant that had helped management. I thought about it and, for the first time EVER, went to a senior management person (Wright) and offered to raise the money to hire that consultant who he thought so highly of in terms of being able to move the district forward.

He turned me down. He looked surprised, thanked me but said they thought they could do on their own.

Well, lesson learned. I tried.

Last spring, he went to a Board committee to talk about asking for $1M for a consultant because they "could not wrap their arms around operations."

No, I won't miss him.

Murray says said...

"— Charles E. Wright recently became deputy superintendent of Seattle Public Schools. The highly regarded Wright moved over from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, where he was a program director. He was formerly a high official in the Denver Public Schools. He’s arrived at the district just as Mayor Ed Murray declares: “This city has to engage the school district in a way never done before.”


http://blog.seattlepi.com/seattlepolitics/2014/01/02/people-to-watch-in-2014-seattle-area-edition/

SPSer said...

I have worked with Wright and I found him to be a man of integrity, good intent, sharp intellect, and someone who genuinely cares. He held central office staff accountable in a way that I haven't seen before at JSCEE. This is a huge loss to the District.

Anonymous said...

Say what SPSer? He could barely read or write. Hardly a sharp intellect. Accountable? The root word in "accountable" is count. They never count anything. And nope. Nobody at JSCEE knows how to count anything, and this man did not teach them to count. Not how many dollars, not how many students, not percentage of passing vs last year, not how much better. Nothing. If you can't count - you aren't accountable. Perhaps he does care. Unfortunately - not enough. MW is right. This is not a loss. It is a plus. Hopefully - this is a management boondoggle that does not need replacement.

Another SPSer

mirmac1 said...

Good riddance. Please take Cashel Toner with you.

Anonymous said...

Integrity and good intent? Maybe he couldn't count but he was still a step up from some of the other bamboozlers who have flitted through JSCEE upper management. Adios Mr. Wright. Good luck. Tis the wishlist season. May your replacement have your skills, but also be able to count, and cost a whole lot less than the rare air salaries usually going to downtownies instead of our class needs. And may you not reappear as a Gates payroll grant in the next 365 days.

DistrictWatcher

Catherine said...

He wouldn't run to replace Dorn would he?

Wanda said...

Why replace this unnecessary position?

Why not lose an administrative position that had really no mission whatsoever, except to Banda.

It might start a trend.

Anonymous said...

Take Michael Tolley with you. He also has loads of good intent, but a similar inability to read, write, or count.

Another SPSer

Transparency Please said...

I respectfully acknowledge SPSer's comment. I got the impression that Charles Wright is a gentle man and I'm confident he worked hard to improve the lives of children. I sincerely wish him well, but I did feel the level of transparency could have and should have been improved.

I have more of a problem with Michael Tolley. Given a choice, I would have preferred Tolley to leave.

X said...

Totally agree with Transparency's comments.

Tolley needs to go.

I don't even agree with AnotherSPSer that he has good intent. Vaguely similar to the notion of NCLB, his idea of "fair" is NCGA, or No Child Gets Ahead. The only way to do this is by requiring all classrooms in all buildings to work from the same (inadequate) plan, schedule and overall roadmap. This all but guarantees kids who are ahead -- for whatever reasons -- are ill-served, and it all but guarantees that kids who are struggling won't get adequate help.

While you're at it, send Heath out of town on the same bus with Tolley.

Charlie Mas said...

I find it somewhat ironic that Mr. Wright would take it upon himself to school people on winning trust. I don't know that Mr. Wright ever won much trust at all.

Wasn't it Mr. Wright who, at a Board retreat, told the Board - in a scolding tone - that the staff had no capacity to take on any of the Board's priorities for the year - including bell time. A few weeks later he committed countless hundreds of hours of staff time to the City's pre-school initiative without any approval from the Board.

Or am I remembering it wrong?

mimi said...

It's easy to throw stones when you haven't walked in someone's shoes. He actually cares about the kids.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Mimi, not valid. Of course, we all can say no on knows unless you are doing the work of a teacher, a principal, etc. I think he did care but I think he may have cared about the wrong focus and the way to get ahead.

ProSleep Mom said...

Charlie- I remember that he told the Board that they sent way too many emails to staff, with too many requests for information; and he presented an analysis of how many emails this year vs. how many the previous year- hence the scolding. It was astounding.

I don't think he said they didn't have time to do Board priorities, but he did seem to be the one who organized some political theater; not sure if it was at the same Board retreat. When bell times was presented at a meeting, the entire senior staff came behind the podium, indicating that their work would be (negatively) impacted by doing bell time work. Really, the IT dept is negatively impacted by bell times?? C & I?? It was also astounding.

I think he is a bright man, but somehow missed that it is the Board who sets the priorities, and his job is to implement them.

Anonymous said...

mirmac1, you're comments are of a mean and nasty nature. The reader should make a note of it.

NotARobot

Transparency Please said...

The district supported early learning in their Strategic Plan.

The city's prek program is part of a research study called P20 and the research will be conducted out of Rutgers University. An Institutional Review Board will oversee this project to assure students are not psychologically harmed. There was little to NO discussion around this fact. At one point, district documents indicated children would be asked "culturally sensitive" questions. This sentence was removed, but we don't know much about the research that will be conducted. I never felt that adequate light was shed on this fact and there was never a healthy discussion on this subject.

As previously mentioned, many feel prek will benefit children. Yet, there was an astonishing lack of transparency.

Lynn said...

I believe he is leaving because the board did not support his proposal to increase the time, space and money allocated to preschool classrooms. Preschool appeared to be the only issue he worked on. I'd guess he's moving on to spread the gospel somewhere else.

I would like to see Shauna Heath leaving also. Her sneaky tactics to undermine the purchase and use of Math in Focus should not be acceptable to the board or the superintendent. I don't know what Michael Tolley does. Is he actively messing things up or just allowing others to do so? I can't see that we need him now that they're hired people to supervise principals and now someone to supervise the people who supervise the principals. Wasn't that his job?

Lynn said...

*your. I think you meant to write your? You should make a note of that.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Lynn. That IS constructive criticism...
NotARobot

Jan said...

I concur with Transparency Please. It bothers me a great deal that the City's preschool program is actually part of a large "experiment" on pre-school kids -- of sufficient magnitude that parental consent and IRB oversight is required. And there has been almost NO daylighting of the experiment, or discussion of whether this is what voters meant to "buy" with their tax dollars when they signed up for this.

Oh do I miss having a real newspaper! In the better old days, when the Times was more real and the PI was still here -- some good investigative reporter would have jumped on this. But today we just have the slumbering ST "Smaug," asleep on its dollars and its captive subscribers, and hard to rouse unless someone wants to suggest an estate tax.

I also agree with Lynn that something needs to happen w/r/t Shauna Heath. The elementary math insubordination fiasco is really a terrible situation. And the board should not allow it to continue -- it is not good for teachers to see downtown get away with these sorts of shenanigans without rebuke; and it is not good for kids to have their math curricula tampered with by someone whose fiddling has made the program worse, not better.

Wanda said...

NOBODY knows what Tolley's job is, including him.

Another MGJ chair warmer who needs to go before real change is possible.

mirmac1 said...

Smaug. Love it!

I'm hearing a City SPP preschool contractor is resisting enrolling a child with disabilities. This is a violation of Titles II and III of ADA and places the City in the cross-hairs.

Wright and Toner have set up a separate and unequal system within SPS preschools. If you're going to do something, do it equitably. No loss if these two leave. More time, resources, and focus on K-12.

Transparency Please said...

Jan, I don't think voters would have supported the city's prek plan ..if they knew an IRB board was involved.

Lastly, I can respect Toner/Wright for wanting to provide opportunities for low income students. However, in the process, there was not an attempt to support the interests of the district. Hundreds of administrative hours were spent on this project and the city is sitting on over $100M for early learning; the city should have reimbursed a cash-strapped K-12 educational system for administrative work.

The city's prek program impacts district operations and this initiative needed to be vetted in Audit and Finance...it was not. The city has plenty of funds and they should be reimbursing the district. As is, the district is providing free space to private prek providers that are supported by the city/Family and Ed. levy.

do it said...

yeah i would say notarobot =MC squared

Do it said...

Don't forget Blandford was party to preschool junket too. He's got to go.

Wanda said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

lol Lynn you have to get it right if you are going to be a grammar troll

LayOff

Wanda said...

I don't really understand why my comment got deleted but aren't jobs that pay more than the mayor and the governor kinda hard to find?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Not in the tech industries.