Sunday, December 02, 2007

Uh Oh, Dr. Goodloe-Johnson Hits a Bump

This article was in Sunday's Times about the SEA not wanting to participate in the development of a "strategic" plan that a consulting company will be creating. Individual union members, meaning teachers, can make their own decision but the union as a whole is advising against it.

Here's their rationale from the article:

"But teachers say McKinsey has a history of recommending tactics the union opposes, including privatizing schools — putting a private organization or company in charge of public schools, something that's happened in a handful of other U.S. cities."

"In school systems across the country, the firm has recommended "empowering"principals to be leaders at their schools and greater use of charter schools. In a 2006 review of Ohio's schools, the firm recommended tying student performance to teacher pay — a method Seattle's union opposes."

One of nine recommendations McKinsey made this fall to Minneapolis Public Schools is that the district "set clear expectations for all staff, reward successes, and develop or remove low performers."

"That kind of language worries union leaders, who question McKinsey's objectivity. "There is a lack of trust that McKinsey will actually come to a conclusion different from it had prior to interviewing our members," Kimball wrote in a letter to teachers."

I don't know how much reviewing the SEA did; I'd hope it was a lot. If McKinsey comes in with a set idea of how to handle teachers and teaching issues, it would be troublesome. Every district is different.

On the other hand, every person who has a job gets evaluated in one way or another. Most people get a performance review. But teaching is a highly personal, subjective job. If a teacher has a class of challenging students, does he or she get credit for reaching 5 of them? If a teacher has never taking a challenging assignment, should he or she get dunned for taking what might be perceived the easier road? How to measure performance in teaching is a huge issue.

Another issue raised from the article:

"We have to establish a completely different relationship with a completely different downtown [administration]," said SEA Vice President Olga Addae. "And we are talking about a superintendent who is not well-versed in contract language."

Kimball said Goodloe-Johnson started at a time when teachers are under pressure and frustrated by their many responsibilities. She said there are many young and idealistic teachers in the district who have strong political views opposing privatizing schools. The superintendent will have to understand that environment.

Goodloe-Johnson moved to Seattle from Charleston, S.C., where there was no teachers union. She said she meets with the Seattle union regularly and stressed that she wants to support teachers."

This point is worth considering. Dr. G-J didn't deal with a teachers' union in S.C. because it's a right-to-work state. Is she going to need a learning curve on this issue?

The last word from the teachers:

"The resolution passed Monday said: "The members of the Seattle Education Association will view any consultation with McKinsey and Company as a serious, but unintentional error which impinges on good faith bargaining."

Wendy Kimball, SEA president, said she would sit in on the meetings but not participate. (By the way, she's one of the calmest people I've ever met and seems well suited for this job.)

The strategic plan is to be combined with the reviews of curriculum, special ed, etc. and should be complete by Feb./March.

So a new assignment plan and a new strategic plan, one by May and one by March? That's a lot of overhaul in a short period of time. The devil is in the details (or the implementation).


Anonymous said...

so she comes from a right to starve state?

I certainly have my problems with our union, and I don't know the solutions. however, teachers who think we'd be treated better without a union are dreaming.

you see, there is this stuff called supply and demand and money,

and there is basically a huge supply of 23 year olds ready to take the jobs of the 33, 43, and 53 year olds. If anyone thinks that your teacher corps should consist of highly paid managers and barely paid 24 year olds, then get rid of the union.

I am certain that IF teachers thought the latest greatest newest thing a ma bob great ideas were going be be paid for, and there was going to be some kind of sensible prioritizing of what ideas should be implemented and which should be scuttled, then teachers wouldn't mind the consultants.

given that it is unamerican for public or private sector management to do anything other than blame employees for doing stupid things, even though they are doing the stupid things because their managements told them to do stupid things, I don't see much point in talking with these consultants.

consultants get paid to tell managers how wonderful the managers are. period.

sun anon

Melissa Westbrook said...

Sun Anon,
I find your comments intriguing with most of the senior leadership very new. Dr. G-J hasn't really put forth any concrete ideas. Ms. Santorno has done a few things but nothing that establishes her vision either. Keeping in mind that I don't think consultants are really a big help, what managers would get a big nod?

Anonymous said...

I think one of the smartest things the district can do is hire consultants for two main reasons:

1. They tend to be objective and have a broad range of experience to bring to the table.

2. Having them do most of the work before you sit down to write the actual plan keeps the staff from getting burned out and actually gets a good plan done on time.

At the Technology Access Foundation we were able to knock out a very effective 10 year plan over a period of four months because we received a grant that gave us access to dedicated consultants who did all the research, used their vast experience, made us come face to face with some hard realities, and kept us on task.

Yes, the devil is in the details (and really the implementation 'cause this district has see a lot of plans that have sat on the shelf collecting dust), but if you don't get started you'll never know. The reason I think the dates Goodloe-Johnson has set forth can be met IS because she's using outside help. It would be impossible without it.

In terms of the teachers' union. Their blanket dismissal of using consultants (and I know they have an issue with this particular one, but instead of complaining about them maybe they could have come up with their own few to choose from) shows me they care more about staying comfortable in what they know instead of really figuring out the best way to educate our children. They throw out the "private money" red herring to make their dismissal look legitimate.

And don't get me started on the evaluation stuff. Why are they afraid of clear expectations and evaluations? Not every teacher is a good teacher (and saying you work hard and care about my child doesn't make you a good teacher), but for some reason we keep the bad ones (and some are extraordinarily bad) and continue to hurt our children.

Believe me, I know there's plenty of blame to go around because every single adult responsible for education has somewhere failed our children, but this article was specifically about the teachers and frankly at the end of the day, teachers are the ones who spend the most time with our kids in school.

When Goodloe-Johnson came I was really excited, but I told everyone the same thing "wait until she does something the teachers' union doesn't like, then we'll see what she's bringing to the table." So, let's see...

Anonymous said...

"they care more about staying comfortable in what they know instead of really figuring out the best way to educate our children."

I was waiting until someone blogged about this story, and had a whole rant ready to go about how SEA is so focuses on keeping the status quo that they defeat potential progress -- god forbid we reward effective teachers and let poor teachers go, oh the horror!-- but then Trish summed it up in one sentence far more elquently then I could.

WA law prevents charter schools. That law is not changing any time soon, so people need to get over the idea that partnering on projects (particularly when no one can dispute that the public money alotment is miserable) is somehow the next step to charter schools.

Anonymous said...

Here is the original email sent out by Dr. Goodloe-Johnson to the district:

November 9, 2007

Message from the superintendent

As I begin my fifth month in Seattle, I am impressed by the dedication and passion of our staff members in our schools and in our central office. I have seen areas of excellence throughout our District, where our students are successful, our staff are energized, and our families are engaged.

You may have heard about or been involved in some of the reviews that are underway in our district. The purpose of these reviews is to identify these areas of excellence, develop plans to enhance and expand those areas, and direct resources and best practices to areas in need. This can ensure that our district becomes a “District of Excellence,” recognized throughout Washington and the nation.

Today, I am delighted to announce a deepening of our relationships with local philanthropic partners dedicated to excellence in Seattle Public Schools. The support of our local philanthropic foundations has enabled us to partner with McKinsey & Company, a worldwide strategic management consulting firm with significant local ties and public sector experience. They will work with us to develop our multi-year strategic plan, which will include specific strategies to accelerate our vision of excellence as the norm becoming a reality.

You may be asked to participate in an interview with our McKinsey consultants, or to fill out a survey, or to participate in this work in some other way. I have designated Holly Ferguson as my point person for this. Ms. Ferguson is the Manager for Strategic Alignment; she works with me, my Chief Academic Officer and my Chief Financial & Operating Officer on strategic issues.

I look forward to sharing the results of McKinsey’s work and to collaborating with you all to achieve the kinds of dramatic improvements for our students, families, and staff that this moment offers Seattle Public Schools.


Dr. Maria L. Goodloe-Johnson, Ph.D.


Anonymous said...

Here is the resolution as passed by the SEA Representative Assembly:

Whereas, the Seattle Education Association has taken a strong position against the privatization of our schools, and

Whereas, McKinsey & Company, the consulting firm hired by the Seattle School District, has a history of supporting privatization of public services and assaults on workers' rights and unionization, and

Whereas, their 2006 Ohio Schools report advocated linking student performance to teacher pay along with "negative consequences" including demotion, deferred salary progressions, and termination,

Therefore, be it resolved that the members of the Seattle Education Association will view any consultation with McKinsey and Company as a serious, but unintentional error which impinges on good faith bargaining, and

Be it further resolved that because the results may be used to undermine our union, that SEA leadership immediately notify members of its official recommendation of non-participation in McKinsey surveys and communications with its representatives.

Anonymous said...

Some questions:

1. Did the superintendent overstep her authority by accepting private moneys without first getting School Board approval?

2. How can McKinsey & Company be objective when it already has an educational management outlook? See this Economist article. Parents seem to want smaller class sizes, but McKinsey & Company don't believe they help improve education.

3. Because the scope of the McKinsey & Company audit is unknown, how do we know what they'll be examining? They could, for example, provide the superintendent with data that would justify more school closures.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 3:41pm, on your point:

2. How can McKinsey & Company be objective when it already has an educational management outlook? See this Economist article. Parents seem to want smaller class sizes, but McKinsey & Company don't believe they help improve education.

Most consultants I've known, heard of, or worked with don't start over from scratch. They don't have one experience, then forget everything they learned in the research--otherwise, what value are they adding other than helping to organize?

Of course these guys have an opinion and the article you pointed to in the Economist clearly states that was based on research. But does it mean they're going to prescribe one way for Seattle? No, it means they're looking at Seattle's situation through the lenses of their own experience.

Don't agree with that? Cool, then I go back to my other point. If the teachers' union doesn't like McKinsey, then why don't they supply the district with other consultants?

This District needs help! And it needs it bad. Today, not tomorrow, not next year. The District is failing too many of our children. Now we have someone who is trying to help and she gets slammed out the gate.

The attitude of the SEA and some other folks who oppose any real effort to help Seattle's children is exactly the reason we're moving our family out of the city. And I'll have to say, we've been talking about it for about two months and this latest article is what threw us totally into the "move" column.

Anonymous said...

ms. dziko
you speak like someone who is on the side of management.
The pay and the privelages attached with being on managment's side can give people the feeling that they are better and they deserve to be better compensated.
In my decades of fortune 500 employment, what I saw most managers excel at was obtaining credentials to 'prove' they deserved their better pay and perks, excel at dodging blame, excel at placing blame elsewhere, excel at staying employed ..., and excel at hiring consultants to prove that they were better than others.

I rarely saw managers who were in fact better at managing resources than others, and therefore actually deserving of the bigger paychecks and perks.

For the last 30 years, given the explosive growth in management's slice of the national pie, given the explosive growth in management consulting, and given the implosion of middle class and blue collar jobs, consultants such as McKinnsey deserve scorn and umemployment.

Unions are the product of crappy management, and the crappier the management, the crappier the union.

Keep blaming the union, you'll be better paid taking the management's side.

anon on sun 2

Anonymous said...

anon on sun 2, I'm on the side of kids (my own and others).

This is not about management vs everyone else. Leave that red herring alone and try dealing with reality.

This is about when in the hell are we as grownups (management or otherwise) going to stop protecting grownup interests and educate the children?!

Anonymous said...

The following was included in the letter that SEA President Wendy Kimball sent out:

The motivation for this action [passing the resolution] comes from reviewing public documents and reports and articles about McKinsey. Some are referred to below:

Business Week reported “Enron isn’t the only client (of McKinsey) to melt down…. “ the report goes on to identify Jeffery Skilling, CEO of Enron as a former McKinsey partner and that McKinsey had advised the firm for 18 years or that McKinsey’s business strategy of “loose-tight culture” was an underlying Enron operating principal. Other McKinsey clients in that went bankrupt during the same period, according to business week included “Swiss-air, K-mart, Global-Crossing, Exide Technologies and North Point Communications Group”.

CNN recently reported that McKinsey developed a strategy for insurance companies to make more profit by denying “soft tissue” medical claims from accidents. Allstate and State farm are reported as two of the giants that took on the strategy.. one former Employee said the strategy “relies on the 3 D’s – denying a claim, delaying settlement of the claim and defending against the claim in court.”

On the education front – McKinsey has worked in Minneapolis and Cincinnati – We contacted key union leaders in both states and reviewed reports. Below is some of the information received:

Minneapolis and Cincinnati locals reported the following. McKinsey and Co. research in the educational arena is very thin. Their recommendations include much of the work already being done including: aligning curriculum, focused professional development, financial integrity, clear expectations, cultural competence, parent engagement, rigorous course work, etc. Other recommendations are more focused on the business model of flexibility in personnel management and placement, principal empowerment, centralization of decision authority, performance pay models, and looking to charters for possible solutions.

As reported by “projects.newsobserver.com” “the company wanted to keep secret every word of its 43 page proposal for a tax funded project to evaluate the DOT in North Carolina., “ October 2007 – N. Carolina

The Washington Post in an October 2005 article showed the connection between Wal-Mart and McKinsey. The reporters for the Post found that McKinsey’s advice to Wal-Mart included “in the first 3 to 12 months, the company was told, it should find ways to convince the public that its wages and benefits are better than perceived, spread messages that it cares for employees..... “

It’s for these reasons that SEA RA adopted the recommendation that our members not participate in the process, it is the belief that McKinsey is not an objective body and there is a lack of trust that McKinsey will actually come to a conclusion different than it had prior to interviewing our members.

We understand that that outside money has been donated to pay for the services of McKinsey, so district funds are not being expended on this. We will continue to meet with Dr. Goodloe-Johnson to insure that our members’ interests and concerns are presented.

Prior to the RA SEA leadership sent a letter of concern to the Superintendent trying to articulate why our membership has such a great level of distrust of outfits like McKinsey and why our membership does not trust that the outcome of this assessment will be anything other than another bash the teacher, bash the school employee, bash public education.


Wendy Kimball

Anonymous said...

ms dziko at 6:27

and how many years have you spent teaching, in particular the adolescents who are not part of the top 10 or 20%?

you might then have also have experience with incessantly changing and stupidly implemented great-ideas-to-fix-everything -

ideas which aren't paid for and which, by the way, don't fix everything. they do little to help you, day in and day out, help your kids in your class, but, whether you implement them or not can affect whether you stay employed or not.

for the cost of the specialists and useless training and useless trainers and consultants, maybe someone that money could have been put into ideas which would work - and ideas which would work won't be more bureaucrats downtown issuing edicts.

McKinsey isn't about better outcomes for our kids, they are about getting paid to tell management how wonderful they are.

if managers need to know how wonderful they are, they could listen to ... elvis sing 'how great thou art' for free on you tube.

anon sun 3

Anonymous said...

And how can we get rid of bad teachers????? It's next to impossible thanks to SEA. They're here for life!

Anonymous said...

Most teachers find it difficult to rise above the system. Improve the system, and you'll improve the instruction of most teachers.

How do you improve the system? You start by asking teachers for their ideas on how to improve the programs in their schools. I lack confidence that McKinsey & Company will take seriously the viewpoints of teachers--not with its record, anyway.

Anonymous said...

"The system" is SEA created and driven. What needs to happen is a contract between SPS and SEA that takes into account that there are BAD teachers in the system, and keeping them there does a HUGE diservice to our children. Ultimately bad teachers are what drives families out of SPS more than anything else.

Anonymous said...

Why would it be hard to "rise above the system"? It seems to me that when you have a LIFE CONTRACT, you have no excuse NOT to "rise" if you really want to. It is true that there's no real incentive to "rise" either.

The classical work enviroment is: good job = raises + bonus, bad job = fired Or demotion. Oh NO. SEA can't handle that. A reasonable alternative would be to base pay increases on the level of challenge in the job. You want a raise, go work in a hard school with hard kids. But... OH NO... SEA would never go for that eiter.

Anonymous said...

Anon at 9:48 PM said:
.."The system" is SEA created and driven.

Ms. Santorno unilaterally selected Everyday Math. Dr. G-J decided against all relevant data to mandate WSHS abandon a four period day that is making tremendous strides in closing the achievement gap.

The school board and administration refuse to implement policies D43 D44 & D45 that require defined necessary skills for grade level promotion and effective interventions. The admin won't even define the skills in math.

Project Follow Through specifically indicated the most effective methods to educate disadvantaged learners. SPS admin often chooses the least effective.

The SEA might be remiss in failing to stop all of the above actions, but it cannot be said that the SEA is driving this system.

Many excellent teachers would be a lot more productive with competent guidance from administration. Unfortunately the JSCEE more often than not is a source of confusion and ignorance rather than wise skilled guidance.

Anonymous said...

I like Wendy Kimball but am disappointed in the stance she and the union have taken - to advise its members not to cooperate with McKinsey on a project the superintendent has initiated.

In surveys done during by CACIEE and by Schools First, teachers are ranked near truth, justice and the American way in Seattle public esteem - but I wonder how long that will last when time and again they seem to protect their worst members at ALL costs. Yes, principals need to step up to the tough performance evaluations that some teachers need, and give them the information (and impetus) they need to improve, but the union could help by not making that so incredibly difficult.

I'm curious - of the countries listed as consistently top performing in The Economist article cited in another post (Canada, Finland, Japan, Singapore, South Korea), how many have teachers unions?

To sun anon at 12:58 with the suggestion that supply and demand will automatically replace the experienced 33, 43, and 53 yo teachers with the cheaper 23 yo's - you must know that smart managers will never replace an older more expensive worker who is demonstrating value - it's the ones who aren't demonstrating their value, who tell principals things like "I was here when you got here and I'll be here when you leave", who shut their doors during the day and clock out at 3:05 who should be replaced regardless of their ages - and it's those the union protects.

Anonymous said...

Also - though the younger teachers are less expensive, in a lot of cases, when they just get to the point where they are established they have a baby and leave the system because the salaries don't end up being worth paying for childcare.

Not that you should ever use this to discriminate against hiring young teachers, I'm just saying it would be silly to replace more experience/established teachers who would likely have a longer employment (that is incase the teacher was really bad but that case is hopefully more on the rare side).

Anonymous said...

Trish Dziko said:
"If the teachers' union doesn't like McKinsey, then why don't they supply the district with other consultants?"

As a union member, I will supply the district with consultants it has already used but chose to ignore: The District commissioned an evaluation of John Marshall Alt HS by the University of Washington. The evaluation was balanced, pointing to areas of success and areas needing improvement. But that did not supply the District with the needed fodder to scapegoat the school, paint it as a pure horror, so it basically ignored that report and sent its own hit team in, accompanied by the Seattle Times. This resulted in the desired negative article last December. There have been four or five "reviews" of Marshall, none substantive except the UW report, and that one goes unheeded.

Hmm, guess what, Marshall Reading WASL scores were up 30% last year. Many more students graduate than are reported by the Times. Students experience success on a daily basis in a caring environment...But none of that gets rid of Joe Drake or facilitates closing the school, now does it?

The District HAS able consultants, in SPS employ already (teachers, staff...) and also other educators in the city like UW et al. But these people might not deliver the news that some would like to hear to cut costs, to streamline, to corporatize, to standardize unique children, to push out the fringe students...Some administrators, just like some staff, want to keep high-paying jobs, want to suck up to corporate Seattle and corporate America ("jobs! they cry, "It's all about jobs! So what if there is always a need for low-pay grunts, which we can plan for by pushing out 'unsuccessful' students..." Fact is, this is a capitalist economy, there will always be a need for broom-pushers and widget-assembly-line workers, low paid, and a streamlined, standardized system will provide these workers. Citizenship? Art? Who cares?)

Trish, if you cared about education as much as the staff of Seattle Public Schools does, the front-line UNION employees, you would have stayed. That you left the District speaks volumes. Many can't afford to leave, many choose to stay to do the hard work. Good luck with Federal Way; maybe they will prove more malleable to your whims.

Anonymous said...

Trish pay no attention to the above anon at 11:18. It is obvious that you are passionate and committed to improving schools. It is clear that you hit a wall when you try to work with Seattle. Thank goodness Federal Way is getting the TAF Academy. If Seattle couldn't benefit, at least one of our neighbor districts can. I wish you wouldn't leave. I wish you wouldn't give up. It's people like you who give us hope.

But, I understand.

Good luck to you wherever you go, and thank you for all you have tried to do here.

Anonymous said...

Anon Marshall teacher (Gordon perhaps?), you fail to mentinon very critical fact, such as that UW only looked at the SPECIAL EDUCATION programs at Marshall, and did not do a comprensive review. The outside comprehensive review supported the internal SPS review that found fraud and horribly abusive actions by Mr. Drake towards staff and students.

Anonymous said...

Anon 1:20,

UW report was, according to sources in the school, originally commissioned for entire school. UW decided it was too big a task, and too laden in politics. It condensed to just the various Special Ed programs, but included aspects of entire school - school is framework in which Special Ed functions: School provides much support and vice-versa. So report commented on Marshall school in general in some aspects.

Anon 1:20, you say that:
"The outside comprehensive review supported the internal SPS review that found fraud and horribly abusive actions by Mr. Drake towards staff and students."

Show how the outside review shows data that supports the internal review's data (and indicate which internal review). Please cite evidence, not Times articles. Did you read any of the reviews? Attach them here digitally, please.

From all acounts inside the school, no review has been substantive except the UW. By one staffer's account, Terry Cash himself, author of the outside review, told the staffer that he didn't have time to do the review and that he was well aware that there were political underpinnings.

What does Dr. Drake have to do with performance reviews or program review and placement? Should Marshall be slimed in the press because of Dr. Drake? Tell us how your repetition of claims against Dr. Drake relates to program review...

Anonymous said...

Hi Anon at 11:18am. Wish you weren't anonymous so I could properly address you. Oh well.

It's too bad you're calling me out that way and you don't have your facts straight. My family hasn't left the district yet and we're not going to Federal Way. In fact it's cheaper to live anywhere else but the city, so your "those who can afford it" line doesn't resonate with me or many of my friends and acquaintences that have left the district.

My job as a parent is to ensure that MY OWN CHILDREN get the best public (because we believe in public schools) school possible. My job as a parent is to make sure all the kids in my kids' school get the attention they deserve.

Making sure Seattle Public Schools is a great district is NOT MY JOB. If you're a teacher, it's yours.

I'm doing my job. Are you?

And please stop with the anonymous stuff.

Anonymous said...

Trish, for some it's just not wise to publicly comment. Sorry for the inconvience. I work for this district.

You write that
"...In fact it's cheaper to live anywhere else but the city, so your "those who can afford it" line doesn't resonate with me or many of my friends and acquaintences that have left the district"
Many are locked into the place they live. Poverty, language barriers, etc do that to a person, to families, to communities. It's not so easy to up and leave.

You also write that your "job as a parent is to ensure that MY OWN CHILDREN get the best public (because we believe in public schools) school possible. My job as a parent is to make sure all the kids in my kids' school get the attention they deserve."

So you will leave the District that's stuggling so your children get a "better education", meanwhile the district you left behind suffers all the more because you, a knowledgable, articulate, motivated person has left with her children. Fewer numbers for the district, so less money; one less activist, so less action...Sort of a vicious circle, dontcha think? Last one to leave turn out the lights.

And then...
"Making sure Seattle Public Schools is a great district is NOT MY JOB. If you're a teacher, it's yours. I'm doing my job. Are you?"

Well, this just doesn't make sense. Which job are you doing if making Seattle Public Schools a great district isn't your job? I don't get it. At any rate, it's ALL of our jobs, not just the staff. AND, most staff are beholden to policy, direction, curriculum, facilities, and pay from the administration. We can be the best staff in the world, but if we are not directed, if we are not funded (hey, I am the only one in my family with a masters degree, a very expensive masters, and I make half what my brother and sister make in regular jobs....go figure...), if we are not supported fully by active community members such as yourself (but you're leaving?!) then what are we to do? You want us to carry the education of your children completely on our backs for the mere pittance of respect and renumeration we get? That's faith...

Having said that, I do ask that you stay. While I might not agree with all your actions and Ideas, at least you have been very active in trying to support our children. For that I thank you and hope you continue such action anywhere you go.

anon from anon

Anonymous said...

I can't believe the Union would flat out say that they would ignore an independent review, regardless of the reviewer's starting ground. Seems like the Union is sticking to their views, so maybe they should be the ones that are summarily dismissed... oh wait, our hands are tied and we can't do that. We just have to hope that the Union will try and be more openminded. Good luck with that!

The main goal is to improve the school system. If the district gets FREE money from the private sector, why not stay openminded and get some benefit from it? I can't imagine that the ONLY thing consultants do is pat managers on the back and tell them how well they've done. Based on the Economist article, it looks like they've done a lot of research and have a fair amount of experience. I, for one, am hopeful that they can do something to improve things for our children.

Anonymous said...

anon at 3:31pm: If you work for the district, I would appreciate a signature on your posts. Are you violating a contract if you make public comments?

If you are that concerned about guarding your identity, then I can only conclude that Ms. Dziko's decisions are the least of your concerns. It would seem you should instead focus on the integrity of SPS leadership and the effectiveness of SEA, not someone who tried and whose efforts were met with suspicion. (And FTR, I'm not just remembering the opposition of unhappy parents and RBHS staff. Raj Manhas comes in for equal blame for not fully supporting Dziko’s proposal.)

If SPS is this rife with long knives and corruption, we need to hear about it. I also agree with Ms. Dziko that after some considerable effort on her part, she’s doing what she needs to do. Our kids can’t wait for yet another study to be paid for and ignored, or window dressing for plans that have already been finalized. WenG

Anonymous said...

The School Board decided to close Marshall before any review was done. People seem to forget that the purpose of the UW review was to help identify new sites for the special education programs at Marshall, period. The only outside review that was done of the programs was the one that included all of the "Safety Net" schools. I have read all three, and anyone who wants to read them can find links by searching the PI and Times websites, who posted PDFs. The shear amount of rumor mongering and false inuendo is austounding, makes me wonder if you perhaps are a CEASE member...

Anonymous said...

"The School Board decided to close Marshall before any review was done."
Phase I closed the Marshall BUILDING but, unlike the other closed buildings, didn't say where the Marshall school would go. There was a promise to the board that a review would be made to find a place for the programs. The review was to move the programs, not close them. Marshall was the only school of the seven to get such a review(s)after the Phase I closure announcement. Review about school performance, if you look at board policy, leads to remedial action, not closure. Policies available online. Review to relocate and review to...close? are two different animals. Why then is Marshall school being closed?

"People seem to forget that the purpose of the UW review was to help identify new sites for the special education programs at Marshall, period."
So which sites did the UW identify? I read that report, someone had a copy at a board meeting, and it analyzed the various special ed programs, but didn't suggest where they go. If I recall.

"The only outside review that was done of the programs was the one that included all of the "Safety Net" schools. I have read all three..."
Which three? CAC? UW? First district review? Second district review? National Dropout Prevention Center? Safety Net Task Force?
Tell us where to locate the reviews done internally by the district (all the four listed above)in addition to the UW report. Yes, the NDPC report is online. It's supposed to study three other schools (why these four?) but spends most of its energy on Marshall for some reason. Others have said that some of the other programs have their own problems, just like Roosevelt has problems and Cleveland has problems. It has been said by Marshall staff that little time was spent in classrooms by NDPC, no documents or curriculum was collected...what are their findings based on? "No rigor..." Who says? How do they know? Why did the Times have this quote from the report before Marshall staff did? Have you read the internal report cited by Times last December? Tell us where that report may be found so we can all read it.

"The shear amount of rumor mongering and false inuendo is austounding, makes me wonder if you perhaps are a CEASE member..."
Please cite all reports, identify locations where they can be found, cite supporting data, otherwise the reports themselves are just rumor and innuendo. You say you have read three reports: Which three, and please point us to them. I've already read the newspaper articles about them.

Even if Marshall is failing in some ways, policy demands remedial action, not closure. Would Garfield be closed because of problems, or would they be fixed? Would Nova be closed? Why the attack on Marshall? Why the attacks on Marshall students and staff with innuendo and rumor in the Times? Marshall does many things well.

Anonymous said...

This smells like CEASE, which means it will be an unreasonable, unrealistic conversation on all levels. I would suggest ending it here.

Anonymous said...

Well, actually the district didn't say where the Graham Hill students should go, either. So certainly it wasn't just Marshall.

Anonymous said...

I am going to respond to the original post........this is from a teacher who was anti-union for many years........until working for SPS. I think that the union's mistrust of the use of consultants comes from deep mistrust of the district administration. And that comes from experience. I am relatively new to the district, and most of the teachers I have met are older and have been here longer. And most are excellent teachers.

I was so anti-union (and I am a liberal democrat, so it's not a matter of conservative politics) that I bought Friedman's book The Teachers' Unions in hardback. Then I experienced the human resources department at SPS, district administration at SPS, and 5 principals at SPS (some as a teacher, some as a parent), and went running to my union rep to sign up.

I am not going to get into details because it is not necessary.

"Bad teachers" are a convenient scapegoat. There are some truly bad ones, but not as many as people would want you to believe. The majority of the "bad teachers" are created by years of failed programs initiated by administrators but not followed through on. They are created by increase of responsibilities coupled with an erosion of supports. They are created by constant chaos and confusion and turnover of district and building staff. They are created by principals who don't have managerial or leadership skills.

Talented,creative people with options may opt out of teaching much sooner than they imagined they would. That is not to say that there are not talented and creative people who remain, but they are usually working in isolation and eventually get bitter, and learn their own ways of ignoring administration and trusting their instincts.

If there is a huge supply of 23 year olds who are chomping at the bit to take the jobs of the older teachers (which I am not so sure about), they will not remain in the field for long. I am in my late 30's, and I am one of the youngest teachers where I work. And I am at the point where I consider leaving teaching on a regular basis due to frustration with administrative policy and attitudes. The teachers who are younger than me are extremely talented, and already showing signs of major burn-out. Loving your students, at a certain point, isn't enough to keep you going.

Personally, I am interested in the findings of the consultants. I have read the reports on Special Education and Gifted Programs with great interest and mostly agreement. I don't think that consultants were needed to come to these findings, but at least they were accurate, in my opinion. Not the worst thing that the district has misspent money on.

But I can understand why the union is against it. However, I will talk to consultants if they approach me.


Anonymous said...

I appreciate your perspective teachermom, it echoes what I have heard over the years from my own childrens teachers, who by the way have been pretty fabulous by and large. Without a double there are a few "dud" teachers out there, but they are few and far between, at least at the schools that my children have attended. Those "dud" teachers were around when we were kids too. I remember some of them clearly. But, by and far, our kids have had fantastic, dedicated, teachers who work hard and do the best they can with what they're given.......despite the state of SPS and public education in general.

Anonymous said...

I agree with teachermom. It may be difficult to force out "bad" teachers, but it's not impossible. The problem is overrated, in my view. An underrated problem is attracting, hiring and retaining "good" teachers.

For example, SPS hires later than most districts. It's not that we get the leftovers. But we do lose some very good candidates to other districts.

Once we've hired the teachers, what do we do to retain them? We have a STAR mentoring program for new teachers, but I've heard a lot complaints about the program. SPS and SEA need to think carefully about whether the progam is really accomplishing what they want it to accomplish.

Anonymous said...

Here is an interesting fact. New teachers only get a mentor teacher for their first year in the class room. Our child has a second year teacher. She has no mentor this year ,she is completely on her own. To make matters worse, all of the other teachers at our school get an intern/teacher student from a local college. Our teacher does not as she does not have enough experience to mentor a new teacher, being new herself. So while all of the experienced teachers have interns helping them, our brand new, inexperienced teacher gets nothing.

This just doesn't make sense to me.

Also this teacher taught her first year at Rainier View, and now in her second year is at Bryant. Two very very different schools with very different cultures. This must make the situation even more difficult for a brand new teacher.

Anonymous said...

Anon at4:33,

I agree with you, too. Hiring and retention are big issues for SPS. When I moved to Seattle, I went to the "recruiter", who told me to go to the district website. I have a Master's in Special Education, and at the time had 4 years of successful experience working with kids with emotional/behavioral issues. Rather than find that out and "recruit" me, he told me to go look at a website.

I had looked into working at The Highline District as well at the time, and they actually recruited. But I already lived in Seattle, and hated commutes. But a lot of young teachers are not restricted by location, and look into a few neighboring districts, or even in a few states.

I wonder if there will be a consultant report on the human resources dept. at SPS. I have been very sad about the opportunities that may be lost to our kids due to poor recruiting and lackluster interviewing skills.

Anonymous said...

Teachermom, please don't burn out or give up. We need and appreciate people like you. As a special education parent, I think that reviews like the district conducted ARE extremely valuable. The consulting staff, and most especially, general education staff, NEED TO HEAR that information. And, at the very least, they provide a basis for parent's claims which could aid parents seeking to get what they need from the district. In the case of special education students, the needs are great and legally required. I'm happy to have a district review documenting their own well known deficits in such a thorough manner.

Anonymous said...

Confusing misdirection from the JSCEE in curriculum issues and behavioral concerns at the secondary level sends many new teachers to other districts.

Retaining new teachers will continue to be a problem if this district remains as confused as it has been.

Anonymous said...

That's hard to believe. Currently, there's a surplus of teachers and it's actually hard to find a job in SPS. My school has a lot of super "subs" who are actually young teachers looking for a job at SPS. And they're all pretty darn good.

Anonymous said...

Anon at 5:07 said:
"That's hard to believe."

Hard to believe or not SPS has difficulty with teacher retention.

At West Seattle High last year several first year teachers, headed East of the Lake for year two. Other experienced teachers also left the district.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 5:07 -

That is curious, because I went to the SPS employment page, and there were 60+ open positions on their website if you search teaching positions and special ed teaching positions. I don't know what the teachers you are talking about teach, or if they are holding out for/avoiding particular schools, but there are open positions.

There are probably some postings that have been filled and not taken off the site (pain in the
#!@ if you are actually applying for jobs), but there have to be some unfilled positions among all of those.

It is an issue.


ScootCoot said...

Rumor Control Please...

Word (rumor?)is starting to circulate that "the board" is in discussion as to whether Ms. Goodloe-Johnson should be given a 10% pay raise - anyone hear of this...? Evidently, from the sparse "rumor" I heard, this was being discussed at the last board meeting (18 March 2009)...

If there is any truth to this, it wouldn't make economic sense for her to be given a raise considering the "short fall" the district keeps talking about - can you say "AIG"...?

Just wondering...