Friday, December 08, 2006

1+1=0 versus 1+1=3

It's unfortunate the most visible critics of Seattle Public Schools have been so negative about the extent of the crisis in our schools.

It's equally unfortunate that the leaders of the district have responded by exaggerating in the other direction. They are correct that there are many positives to cite regarding academics and finances. And, we appreciate that they are sticking up for the district. But, their leadership blunders have had a real cost even if they don't show up in the WASL averages or this year's budget. They can dismiss the Seattle Times and other critics, but they cannot dismiss the valid concerns of many parents, citizens, and staff who value attributes such as stability, vision, and community participation.

The message to the School Board and district leadership is simple: You cannot earn back our confidence without first acknowledging your mistakes. Only then can we take the next step of working together to make sure we don't repeat those mistakes.


Melissa Westbrook said...

Okay, I'll bite. What should they be apologizing for? I can think of a couple of things (Phase II of school closures, failure to control a couple of Board meetings, the Board's failure to not get a new superintendent sooner, the constant ineptitude of communications).

I have to tell you, though, if you hold your breath waiting for an apology, you'll run out of air. This is a district, that never, ever apologizes. It isn't just them. No public entity, unless forced by a court, ever wants to apologize. (Take that back, I think the Board did apologize for the botched superintendent search although they certainly didn't take the blame for botching it.)

There's really only one apology that I would ever care about and that would be from Joseph Olchefske for getting us (and leaving us)such a morass of problems. That will never happen.

So I content myself with moving ahead but never, ever forgetting the past.

Charlie Mas said...

Andrew, remind me, please, of the Board's mistakes that you want them to acknowledge.

I know of and can list leadership blunders by the Superintendent, but remind me of the Board's.

Remind me, please, of the Board's bad actions or actions that the Board failed to take.

Andrew Kwatinetz said...

Well, for starters: If they are the Superintendent's boss and in charge of hiring the next Superintendent, wouldn't it be a good idea to publicly acknowledge where the Superintendent has failed rather than just point to his successes & say what a great job he has done? Furthermore, I think they should share the blame for the poorly executed closure process as the communication was not clear and they did not insist on closures in the context of a larger plan (which I still believe is the main reason things got out of control). Isn't it their job to hold the Superintendent accountable on behalf of the public? Do you think they've done that? I'm not in the Board is all-bad camp. I give them a lot of credit for their hard work and persistence despite unpaid and not enough support. But, I wouldn't say things are working well as is. And, I would rather they participate in the discussion of how to make things better than to try to paint an overly rosy picture of our current situation.