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Monday, June 25, 2007

The Times: They Just Can't Help Themselves

Not content to wait a couple of weeks until their endorsements, the Times' editorial board has come out with yet another piece bewailing our current board. They promise "this page will parse the roles and qualifications of elected boards through a series of editorials." Oh boy.

They claim that with this Board that Raj was "just a vote or two" away from firing. Brita could weigh in but I do not believe that was ever the case. At a couple of points they might have thought about not renewing his contract but that's different from firing. I think the Board thought the time had come to move on when Phase 2 of closures and consolidations was so badly botched. But I don't think there was strife or animosity between the Board and Raj and the Times seems to make it sound like there was.

And, once again, they try to compare the Board of Regents at UW with the School Board. I'll bet they are very different in their goals and processes but it just might take some looking into.

12 comments:

Charlie Mas said...

The Times loves to accuse the Board of micro-managing when the Board had to step in when the District staff utterly failed to provide any accountability (water quality) or when the District staff either ignored or violated the District Policies.

The Times loves to point to the Board's rejection of the Phase II closures as evidence of the Board's refusal/failure to support the Superintendent, but they don't bother to note that the process for Phase II and the result of Phase II were in direct opposition to the Board's priorities, guidelines, and goals.

Anonymous said...

The BOARD set up the process for Phase II, and handcuffed the Superintendent with the limitations that prevented the right choices from being made. The Board did not move on from Mr. Manhas that night, when they tried to avoiod making the decision themselves and get him to pull the plan, he did not, telling them then that he was the one moving on.

Roy Smith said...

annoyed, which limitations are you referring to?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Annoyed, Mr. Manhas didn't follow the Board's directives for school closures. No one on the staff talked to the CAC about our procedure. He and staff knew they were proceeding in this manner and could not have been surprised when the Board rejected their work.

Anonymous said...

For me, it is too simplistic to cast Raj and staff as evildoers who thwart the helpless Board at every turn. Who wants a helpless board?
And if the same thing happens with the next supe - if what's-her-name finds support on the board lacking, will we blame the supe? At some point we have to hold the people we elect accountable.
I may not be able to fire Raj, but I can fire Michael or Darlene is my thinking.

Charlie Mas said...

This is typical of the confused thinking that I see evidenced regarding the relationship between the Board and the District staff. On one hand, the Superintendent is characterized as thwarting the Board (for which the Board is blamed) and then the Board is accused of failing to support the Superintendent.

The common theme is that credit is attributed to the Superintendent and blame is attributed to the Board - sometimes for the same thing. For example, the Superintendent gets credit for increasing test scores while the Board is blamed because they are still so low.

This is how the Seattle Times does it.

As Anonymous notes, the only people accountable to the public are the Board. So regardless of who is at fault, the Board is held accountable because they have the only neck in reach.

Let's get it straight, however. The Superintendent works for the Board - it is NOT the other way around. If the Superintendent cannot join with the Board's intent, then the Superintendent should move on.

Anonymous said...

The Supe should move on? Or should the board carry out its responsibilities and fire him or her. Again, it seems like we tolerate a passive board and an active supe. If the supe is thwarting board efforts, the supe should be disciplined or let go as any employee would be.

Charlie, I think you have it backwards. I and most families I know, tend to blame the supe for the district's problems. this is because we understand correctly who is running the district day in and day out. The board governs from a distance and can't really be blamed for things such as what's happening at RB or even for test scores (an academic matter, and thus under the supe.)
But I do blame all of us for whining about how bad Raj is and then accepting the board's inaction. Better they have fired him if he's so terrible.

Charlie Mas said...

Ahhh! Pardon my misunderstanding. I thought that the Seattle Times had been successful in their campaign to destroy public confidence in the Board and paint the Superintendent as the tragic hero struggling against an incompetent Board.

It is interesting to discover that this propaganda campaign has not only failed with you, but that your problem with the Board is that they didn't fire the Superintendent.

Forgive me, I completely misunderstood your position.

Yes. I feel the same. They should have let him go a long time ago, when he demonstrated that he would not toe the line on reform, when he failed to complete the executive duties, and certainly when he was whining about the Board to the press and the Alliance.

Anonymous said...

To not close T.T. Minor or any other school otherwise impacted by Phase 1. As for the CAC, well, if the CAC had actually made a recomendation instead of saying that a school should be closed but that they did not have a recomendation for which one, then perhaps the recomendation would have been carried through with.

Melissa Westbrook said...

There were many issues about the Central District schools that we as the CAC had no good data on. We were in no position to make this call given we had some good schools in bad buildings, some poor programs in bad buildings. No matter how we chose,we would have gotten slammed for the wrong choice. The district staff, with all their knowledge (and advance ideas on facilities) should have made this call and didn't.

Anonymous said...

"No matter how we chose,we would have gotten slammed for the wrong choice"

Welcome to what is the reality what happens to anyone who make a choice in this school district. Presuming that what was put on the CAC website and referenced in your meeting notes on the website is accurate, you had a lot of data (3000 pages worth, at least). So, what information did you need that you did not either get or ask for and not get?

Anonymous said...

Hi annie - re the Central Area and the CAC (of which I was part) - we knew there were 3 1/2 schools' worth of enrollment in 5 buildings in a one-mile radius (including Martin Luther King), all drawing students from the same limited geographic area.

We knew a lot about their respective WASL and value-added scores, building conditions, and demographics.

Maybe "data" isn't the right word to describe what we didn't have - and I don't think there was anything we asked for (except maybe time) that we didn't get.

We just came to feel that in an area with such a concentration of poverty (80%), English language-learners, and children receiving special education services, the solution required more intensive involvement of the communities affected (principals, staff, families, stakeholders) - people who really knew the schools and the children, and who could work collaboratively to combine them in one fewer building with a careful transition plan.

Even if we were the right people to do that, we did not have the time to do the level of community engagement we felt was required.

We knew early on that the Central Area should have been its own "quadrant" for analysis purposes - not included in the Northeast quandrant east of I-5 and north of the ship canal.

If it had been, with a discrete analysis of capacity vs enrollment and a "target" number of schools to be closed established by the board, the situation would have been more clear to everyone, including the board members.