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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Op-Ed from Dr. Goodloe-Johnson

This op-ed appeared in today's Times. It seems to try to lay the groundwork for a new strategic plan. I say try because her 5 steps are somewhat bland. From her piece:

"That's why I've directed the development of a new strategic plan for Seattle Public Schools, initiated with funding from local philanthropists. Our first step is to assess our district's strengths and challenges. We are examining five priority areas that emerged from surveys and interviews conducted to date with key stakeholders:

• Support high-quality teaching and learning;

• Attract and support district talent;

• Drive districtwide efficiency and effectiveness;

• Introduce effective performance management;

• Strengthen relationships with stakeholders and partners.

This diagnostic groundwork will identify successes we can replicate and weaknesses we must address. It will include the findings from academic and operations peer reviews now under way by national experts. It will tap into the knowledge of our teachers, principals, central staff and community members about what is needed to move the entire district to excellence. It will capitalize on the energy and commitment of our new School Board, united in its pledge to academic achievement for all students."

Her use of the word "diagnostic" is a little confusing. I'm assuming she means that from all the conversations with parents and community they got clarity on what are the top items to be accomplished. I'm also troubled by the 4th goal because using the word "introduce" sounds like there has been no performance management ever.

I hope that when she does present her action agenda (I would think after McKinsey does its work) that there are real and recognizable actions.

15 comments:

APP Dad said...

Wow, vacuous or what? Nothing actionable, nothing accountable. What a waste of an op-ed.

nssp said...

Amazingly vacuous (good word :-). Wendy Mogel (the author/speaker) said in a recent lecture here in Seattle that all school mission statements sound the same "roots and wings . . . roots and wings." They all promise that (a solid foundation, + the ability to fly away).

I'm not sure whether this kind of vacuity is harmful, or just useless. But, I hate them anyway.

maureen said...

Has anyone seen the results of the parent/guardian survey the District did last spring? I emailed Linda Slater at the Family Involvement Office about it last week, but haven't heard back. It sounds to me like MGJ is using the results? (that is if they consider families to be stakeholders!).

Charlie Mas said...

I'm most intrigued by this statement:

"We need clear and realistic expectations for district leaders, central staff, teachers and students alike, as well as fair and predictable consequences for poor performance."

I'm looking forward to seeing these clear and realistic expectations spelled out. For all of the talk about it, I haven't seen any of it.

Where, for example, are the achievement goals that are supposed to be an integral part of the Southeast Initiative? What are the annual benchmarks? In cases with multiple measures, such as the Southeast Initiative, will the schools and staff have to meet ALL of them? ONE of them? MOST of them? SOME of them?

Spell it out. Until you do, the expectations are not clear. And we need them to be clear.

Charlie Mas said...

I have to say that I'm pretty much done hearing the new superintendent say that we will have these hard number goals, but not providing any hard numbers. Maybe the honeymoon period should last longer than this, but I'm getting a cognitive dissonance headache from these vague calls for specificity.

Paging leadership... come in, leadership... said...

This op-ed was clearly written by the same tired folks who have been putting out communications for the district at least the past year. It says NOTHING and says it poorly, to boot. A high school English teacher would have kicked this thing back in a heartbeat based on poor structure. Why would this academic leader use incomplete sentence after incomplete sentence? Let's end some sentences with prepositions while we're at it.

eternal optimist said...

Folks, this was an op ed, not a front page story. Limited words. Did you really expect her unveil her transformation plan for Seattle, and it's full accountability in an op-ed piece? Is an op-ed the proper forum to announce such a plan? I would hope it were announced with much more fan fare in a more formal setting, with media and the public invited.

She barely has her feet wet. She has still not finished her entry plan, and visits to all of the schools. Give her a chance, please.

This group can be like feeding sharks sometimes.

Charlie Mas said...

Eternal optimist, you raise some valid points.

Of course, no one ever suggested that this guest column was the appropriate place for her to announce her transformation plan or to provide the accountability details. We're just saying that we'd like to see those things.

Having been told of the marvelous benefits of clear communication, hard numbers, and specifics, we'd like to have some.

The guest column had two purposes.

First, it was a marketing piece for the District, repeating the good news about progress at Rainier Beach High School and promising more to come (advanced learning opportunities and added arts and music programs).

Second, she used it to announce that she has directed the big time consultants to write a new Strategic Plan for the District based on the five listed priorities.

Here's why I'm disappointed by her announcement and feeling impatient.

This new Strategic Plan is NOT the one that she promised would follow and be the result of her entry plan. It is another plan. The strategic plan that was supposed to come from the entry plan was supposed to be delivered in January. The work on THIS strategic plan won't even get started until then and won't be delivered until MUCH later.

She says that the consultants will do their own assessment of the district's strengths and weaknesses ("diagnostic groundwork"), but that's what she says she has been doing since she was hired as part of her entry plan.

She wants the consultants to develop a framework for a new strategic plan - but on her web page she praises the existing Strategic Framework. We're throwing that one out and getting a new one. Is the old one voided as of today or will it continue to be valid until the consultant-developed strategic plan is announced?

So far, all we've had from Dr. Goodloe-Johnson is announcements of her intention to develop plans. We haven't even had the plans! The entry plan, you will recall, was her plan for developing plans. So here we are, on the eve of the day when we are supposed to finally see a plan from her, and she announces a new plan for making a plan.

It reminds me of swimming lessons as a child when the instructor stands 4 feet away from me and says "Just swim to me". I stick my head down and flail at the water for a few seconds, but when I look up she is still four feet away saying "Just swim to me". I swim and swim and swim but get no closer because she keeps backing up until she is all the way across the pool, saying "Just swim to me" the whole way across.

Pardon me if I'm a little impatient with that.

So Dr. Goodloe-Johnson now says that she is scrapping our current strategic plan - the one she praised. She says that she is scrapping her plan for a plan - the one that we have waited six months for and were promised would come in January. She says that she is scrapping the data that she collected for her planned plan. She says that she is scrapping her entry plan, which was her plan for developing her plan.

All of this work is getting thrown out in favor of the plan that the consultants will develop based on their own data, their own process for developing a plan, and their own timeline for developing a plan.

She DOES have her feet wet. She has been in the job for six months. It's a bit much for us to learn that so far it has all been a false start and she's going to start over.

Anonymous said...

Maybe Dr. GJ got caught up in the Seattle Process after all.

dan dempsey said...

Where are the results of the $125,000 audit that MG-J had done in September?

Charlie forgot to mention that plan. Was that plan to have an audit not a good plan once the results from the audit arrived or have they arrived?

I am so confused. Do we ever get any results from these plans?

Hey this McKinsey & Co. outfit is charging 6X as much as the September audit. Does that mean we will get to see results?

Anonymous said...

Dan, you are stuck on this audit. I agree, that we should see the results. But, please, for the sake of redundancy, can you refrain from posting it over and over and over again.
Thanks

dan dempsey said...

Anon at 3:23,

There is no prohibition on this blog from repetition. I always begin each of my posts with my name so that you can easily skip over them.

To review -
Watch out a lot of repetition following, you may wish to skip this.

I would like to stop repeating the following:

Failure of SPS to follow their own policies. Especially D43, D44 & D45. When SPS starts following I'll stop repeating.

Failure to follow state law RCW 28A 600.020 and its companion RCW 28A 400.110

Adoption of extremely poor math curricula in the form of Everyday Math and Connected Math Project, through a process filled with secrecy and deception for EM. Failure to use Singapore math. Failure to employ a qualified and competent math program manager.

Failure to use relevant data to improve this system by intelligently applying it.
Instead preferring the cherry-picking of numbers to support irrational positions.

I've seen no progress on employing system improvement strategies of W. Edwards Deming.

SPS keeps repeating mistakes in an ongoing way. When they fix something that needs fixing, I'll stop mentioning that item repeatedly. I'll even give them an official Atta Boy.

The parents, and faculty deserve the praise for enduring this administrative incompetence.

Denny/Sealth is now the latest example in the seemingly infinite parade of mistakes.
Poor communication, little transparency and poor process strikes again.

Listening to your constituents and devising long term sustainable plans is definitely not an SPS long suit.

Anon at 3:23 I hope you were able to skip over the above repetitive comments.

At least I am capable of using some name or screen name repeatedly other than Anon. Oh - yes there is another repeated two words "dan dempsey" you only use one "anonymous". You're right you just got me again.

The monorail lunacy was stopped after the project was underway, because its opponents could recognize nonsense when they saw it and did not give up.

The problem in dealing with the SPS is there is so much nonsense it is hard to keep a focus.

The SPS make mistakes faster than the public can keep up.

Ask the person on the street who has no kids for an opinion on the SPS.

Until system improvement strategies like those of W. Edward Deming are employed this nonsense condition appears to be permanently in place.

Anonymous said...

Thank goodness you didn't get elected to the board. There really is something wrong with you. It scares me to death that you were in our class rooms at one time.

dan dempsey said...

Anon at 8:30 AM,

Excellent work --
just attack me.

Don't discuss any of the principle issues that effect student learning in Seattle, for that would entail some effort.

With an informed public like you, it is little wonder there is so little improvement in this district despite the $9,000+ spending level per student.

You do an excellent job of paving the way to private schools for those who can afford it.

I suggest you visit the
Newsless Courier.
Google the "Newsless Courier".

Then read the blog entry and comments on "Deja Vu"

Deja Vu in Seattle: Supt. G-J's Vague Ideas.

Looking forward to your next personal attack on me, perhaps you could include something worth discussing.

dan dempsey said...

I am really tiring of the attacks on my classroom abilities from those who are unable to post their name and fail to contact me.

In response to Anon at 8:30 AM who said:
... There really is something wrong with you. It scares me to death that you were in our class rooms at one time.

I repost the following from "Go Diving" --- Yes yes it is more repetition but I am tired of the drive-by slander.
------------------------------

Here we have another Anon who knows all about me but never writes me.

Several corrections are in order.


Anonymous said...

... I think she is a very nice woman. But, she, like you, ran for school board. ( Maggie has never run). Neither of you even came close to winning a seat.

Did you ever stop to think that I was running for a non-partisan position?

I've always been an independent. I was informed that unless I was willing to say I was a Democrat I could not speak at their forums.
I declined to say I am a Democrat because I am not. Thus I spoke at no democratic forums as I was not invited.

The CityClub excluded me from their forum -- this is a legal violation as they are a 501c3 organization and are prohibited from doing so.

I raised $700 as I solicited very little money. Only if I made it past the primary was I willing to ask others for money. Yes, I incurred a debt from running this way - so what is your point? I spoke only at the Pathfinder forum and received a very favorable review from the WS Herald and many positive comments from those in attendance. Steve Sundquist, I would estimate spent around $50,000 in the primary race. Computer phone calls. Large full color brochures etc. He was an excellent political candidate Never saying things nearly as specifically as I did. Steve as a retired person has enough time to devote to the job, and I wish him well. I was vehemently opposed to school closures and still am. This was a significant difference between Steve and me. See my post on Harium's Blog we have the same vision. Maria Ramirez has a long history of commitment to Seattle, families and children. I was in my first year in Seattle and received 17% of the vote.

...The public does not think either one of you are rational, nor do you share beliefs that support the majority of kids in Seattle Schools.

(I am unaware of your polling data to assess the public view of Maggie and me as irrational. Please provide it. I have encountered few of the public who share your view---relevant data please)

Really what are my beliefs and how did you become such an expert on them? Certainly not by sending an email to dempsey_dan@yahoo.com

Here is what I believe and ran my very small campaign based on:
A better education for all.

I repeatedly stated and continue to state that:
The SPS fails to follow their own policies D43.00, D44.00, & D45.00 which require effective interventions when students are not learning required necessary skills. This district fails to even define the required necessary skills at each grade level. The students are socially promoted because the leaders believe that retaining students will lower graduation rates. Currently 58% of SPS students graduate on time. Many students have enormous problems when after being socially promoted k-8, they encounter a high school curriculum with less than middle school skills.

I began my school board testimonies when Sally Soriano informed me that she believed that almost all West Seattle teachers were in favor of the Interactive Mathematics Program materials (IMP). In fact the exact reverse was true as JSCEE sometimes misleads school directors.

I had been banned by building level administrative superiors from communicating with JSCEE admin.
The reason for this was that after two weeks of employment I was told I could not follow state law, so I wrote a letter to Supt. Manhas and CAO Santorno (RCW 28A 600.020). Of course neither one wrote back, legal violations no problem just ignore them. Ah yes the arrogance of upper level large public school system admin. Union? Union? what union.

When this district asks for input, it is fishing for compliments not input.

A cattle ranching cowboy's white attractive daughter I taught Calculus to during 2005-2006 is currently on a $40,000 per year scholarship at Georgetown. From my first teaching in the 1968-1969 school year you will today find an electrical engineer and an architect who designed an 8,000 square foot residence in Japan, he credits me his grade 7 teacher of all subjects and 8th grade math teacher as being one of the two most important teachers in his life. The other was his architecture professor.

You both are passionate about smaller, sub-groups of students. That is commendable, but not at the expense of the entire community. Every child deserves to be in an engaging, challenging classroom.

Finally you got something at least partially correct. I do passionately care, except it is for all students.

You and Maggie seem to think that anybody who is succeeding are taking from those who are not succeeding. I don't agree. Neither, obviously did the public.

You could not be further removed from reality.

For your information I've taught in more different diverse locations over my long career than any teacher in the Seattle School district. I took a one-year leave of absence from the North Thurston School District and taught at Gonzaga Prep in 1992. Walking down California Ave. this summer with a large campaign sign held high above my head at a crowded street fair, I heard a voice yell --
"Hey Dempsey were you at Gonzaga Prep?"
I yelled back --
"Sure was"
Then came "This is Zanna Stone you were my best math teacher ever."
Zanna went on to graduate from WSU and teach for a few years prior to the birth of two children. She is currently married and a Seattle resident.

To educate kids is the reason I teach.
You Anon and other similar Anons are the reason many leave teaching.


I spent part of today the first day of my vacation tutoring for two+ hours a young lady who wants to be a nurse. She needs to learn more math so that she can perhaps pass the Compass math test this time and get into a nursing program. She is not a current or former student of mine. The charge was zero - she wants to learn. She is another victim of Dr Bergeson's colossal decade long math disaster.

My strategy has been to reverse this decline. Dr Bergeson hopefully will be removed by Dr Richard Semler in the Nov 2008 elections.

My thinking was that to reverse this incredible continuing carnage of students would be extremely difficult. Dr Bergeson has all the power and I have near zero as you Anon have so eloquently expressed. My plan was to point out to the Seattle schools that their actions in math have continuously widened the math achievement gap for Black and Hispanic students over the last decade. They could not care less. The math program manager is a former Bellevue Science teacher and probably not even highly qualified to teach math.

To improve a system requires the intelligent application of relevant data.

To improve this system will probably require a lawsuit. The only way I can figure to stop this rolling disaster that has so many students leaving the SPS for private schools is with a lawsuit based on discrimination.

Anon if you have a better plan, let me hear it.

By the way I volunteered two hours today to help someone learn, what did you do?

No No, I mean other that take a cheap shot comment that you were too lazy to even put a screen name on.

------------------------------
So there you have my response to your drive-by slander.

Why not instead of using Anonymous; use the screen name:
Minister of DisInformation