Thursday, January 31, 2008

First report of findings from McKinsey

Last night the consultants from McKinsey presented their initial findings. The presentation can be found on the Strategic Plan web page.

There is nothing here that an observer of the District would not already know. These findings are not the plan, just early discussion points. For what it's worth, the consultants seem to have it right. I have to wonder, however, what outside stakeholders they spoke with.

The Strategic Plan web page now also includes the Communications review by the Broad Foundation and a copy of the Superintendent's Entry Plan. I also note that the due date for the Phi Delta Kappa curriculum audit has been pushed back to February.

I was EXTREMELY disappointed to discover that the review of the District's Communications was all about public relations and not about public engagement - authentic two-way communication. As the reviewer wrote: "Moreover, you might consider whether the Communications Office is adequately staffed in terms of skill set and people-power to led both the public engagement and communications functions for the district, given the demands of both. The two are certainly related but not synonymous." The report is almost entirely about the District's press plan. There is a very brief reference to customer service, but it was considered part of the District "brand experience". All of the interviews for the report were internal. Although the reviewer noted that the District's PR efforts weren't reaching low-income and immigrant communities, he did not speak with anyone within the Equity and Race Relations office, home of the Family Involvement department. Seriously, this thing was ALL about PR.


dan dempsey said...

When you have little substance to offer, there are two obvious choices.

1. Produce a better product
2. Produce better spin

#1 is time consuming and requires effort and talent. (It is however what you are supposed to be doing)

#2 Is far easier and quicker.

It seems that McKinsey & Co. would have us pick Door number two before we even see if there is a door #3.

Perhaps the SPS should start improving and developing sound educational programs rather than figuring out new ways to mislead the public.

Do the consultants ever say: Improve Academics by
1. Following existing School Board Policies
2. .....
3. ......

I will look closer at the report in hoping for more positive material within it.

Given Charlie's review I am not particularly hopeful at this time.

Whatever has happened to the Phi Delta Kappa report due in January 2008.

Perhaps McKinsey reccommended the district spin it before release.

Anonymous said...

Who paid for this report?

I find it interesting that the five bullet points for the Strategic Plan where identical to the reports five "key themes from stakeholders." I would have thought (hoped) that the Dr. G-J would have wanted to imprint some of her own findings, from her first six months, on her strategic plan.

Couple other tidbits I noticed in the report:

What is working?
"Students have ability to “choose” schools."

Well, sort of. But since no parents were interviewed as stakeholders, they would have no idea how the "choice" system actually plays out.

What is not working?
"Transportation management system has caused service problems"

Yes, I would agree with that. But I did not find any suggestions or best practices in other districts to help address this problem. So felt like more of an “FYI” than anything else.

Anonymous said...

1) I think the report was paid for by the Alliance for Education or some other outside sources. It certainly was not district dollars.

2) If Goodloe-Johnson had put her "stamp" on the plan she would have been excused of ignoring the report.

3) Success re: school choice has tended to be evaluated by looking at how many families get their first choice, second, third etc. How would the above poster have them assess how well school choice is working? Phone or mail survey? Maybe that's an idea for the future

Anonymous said...

Quick glance reveals:
Something to ponder is why, page 10, school leaders overwhelmingingly choose "Provides standard curriculum" and "Provides useful student achievement data that will shape instructional practice" (what would properly be called formative assessment). Not to say either of these is in and of itself bad, but it's interesting that they are chosen as the lead "wishes" of school leaders.
What does this say, good and/or bad, about the direction of public schools?
2) For you APP folks, note on page 13: "What best practice districts have done" under Montgomery Public: "Provided...half-time gifted and talented teacher..." (each building? Each "red zone building"?)which suggests some future where gifted is not a separate program (for better and/or for worse)but is in each building.
3) Note also on that page that both Miami and Montgomery have "School Improvement Zone" or "Red Zone/Green Zone." This idea, like our SE Initiative, strikes me as dangerous. Not only does it "label" an area ("Red Zone"?!), but there are students in those "zones" that are not at-risk or underperforming. If the schools in those "zones" become "improvement" schools, will the at-level or beyond, the gifted students still receive a full range of at-level and advanced class offerings?
4) I seem to note an error in the graph showing enrollment: Appendix 4, page 33, shows enrollment dropping from what appears to be 47,000 to 45,000. A bracket encompasses these dates, and is marked "-0.6%" but 2000 less than 47,000 is more like -4%. Anyway, the graph seems to show that contrary to public perception, the district hasn't really been losing students over the last 25 years: the enrollment just cycles around 45,000.


Anonymous said...

"How would the above poster have them assess how well school choice is working?"

By including some parents as part of the interviewed stakeholders, maybe? They interviewed students, but not teachers or parents. With two kids in SPS, I feel like a stakeholder and would have liked to have some of my peers be represented.
I wonder what the teachers think?

"If Goodloe-Johnson had put her "stamp" on the plan she would have been excused of ignoring the report."

Personally I would not have accused her if ignoring the report, would have actually had more confidence in her skills to lead this District going forward!

Anonymous said...

The Urban Special Education Leadership Collaborative is a reform movement that partners with the Education Policy Reform Institute. Its campaign for finance reform directly aligns with the School District's Alliance for Adequate Funding of Special Education/Prescott-Gates/Evergreen Freedom Foundation.

For parents in higher achieving districts 'choice' is a school finance issue. For parents of under-achieving schools the concern is equity.

From past experience, this administrative is divisive. They will implement expensive reforms such as outsourcing support services to their consultants. You will see a backlash of resistance and a flight to outlying school districts. Administrators, teachers, and finally students. Unless school districts implement stronger finance controls and invest in quality academic programs, they will be constantly victimized by these reform moguls.

Anonymous said...

I can't understand why OSPI would give the Washington Alliance for Better Schools a $395k grant - when the School District Alliance for Adequate Funding of Special Education has a lawsuit against OSPI. Aren't they the same organization of 12 school districts who paid so they could have a lawsuit over inadequate funding. Their proposal is identical to Gitting it Right Initiative in Ohio - it seems it was criticized for it vagueness in describing what they meant by high quality education.

The trouble might be its attorneys struggling to be educators, they don't know when to stop playing with fire.

Charlie Mas said...

Some quick notes...

Dan, and others, the Strategic Plan by McKinsey will be focused on improving the quality of the District's work. The Communications Review was focused on assessing the quality of the District's Public Relations. I'm sorry if I sowed confusion by discussing them both together.

Phi Delta Kappa report is now due in February.

All reviews are spun by the District before they are made public. That is the usual practice. The reviewer issues a draft version of the report and the discusses possible edits with the appropriate District staff. The staff always have the final report in advance of the report's release to the public. That's the standard operating procedure.

The repetition of the five "key themes" is clearly driven by the Superintendent. They may be from stakeholder inverviews and research, but as filtered through her. There is no question (or effort to hide the fact) that she set the themes of the Strategic Plan and McKinsey is marching to her drum. Let's not read too much into the language on McKinsey's Overview Of The Project page which lists them. After all, the stated objective on that page is practically unintelligible. I defy you to make sense of it.

The McKinsey work is underwritten entirely by a contributor. Of course, that contributor didn't pay for the staff time that supports the consultants but, hey, what are you gonna do?

The Communications review was, I believe, paid for by the Broad Foundation.

Although no parents were interviewed as stakeholders for the Communications Review, the McKinsey consultants, working on the Strategic Plan, say that they did interview "external stakeholders" and they do have data from those external stakeholder interviews on slide #27, SPS Stakeholder Communication Analysis. Again, I apologize if I created confusion by discussing both reports in a single post.

I, too, was surprised that school leaders said that they wanted standard curriculum and student acheivement data more than anything else from the District Central Office. We need to listen to that and give it credence.

The variance in affluence was poorly presented because it would only make sense if there were a normal distribution of poverty among Seattle schools. Instead, the distribution is bimodal, so the quartile line graph fails to capture the most significant feature of the distribution.

While the District has a number of efforts to support the highest needs schools, there is no assessment of the effectiveness of these efforts. They may well be useless.

I was shocked by the poor availability of the teacher mentoring program.

As we all know, the Performance Management elements are practically non-existent. It's good to see that spelled out and reported. Same for communications. It is non-existent and they said so.

I note that McKinsey uses the word "communications" to mean communication, not public relations or media contact. That's a good thing.

Anonymous said...

You note that you, too, were "surprised that school leaders said that they wanted...student achievement data more than anything else..."
Not just achievement data, but data "that will shape instructional practice." I think this is an important qualifier. Much of the achievement data currently in vogue has little to do with helping inform instruction in the classroom, to particular students, but rather is used to rank students and schools. Or, oddly, to compare Washington student achievement to, say, North Dakota student achievement using two different tests, under NCLB!
"curiouser and curiouser, said the rabbit!"
At any rate, this need identified by building leaders speaks to a need for formative assessments, not summative. Yea!

Anonymous said...

Eli Broad is the "B" side of KB Homes, the super rich real estate developer who built a subdivision in Texas on a military bombing range. More than a few landscaping projects there resulted in setting off explosions. The Broad Foundation also gave a site for a super modern new high school in downtown Los Angeles that turned out to be a contaminated hazardous waste site. It was found to be so bad it came under the Superfund regulations. The land might have been free but the cleanup expense to the LA school system was over $100 million. That was the cost to LA taxpayers to clean up the site before construction of the school could begin.

Anonymous said...

The second article seems unconnected to the first. In it, when asked about staff changes in October, the district's new chief academic officer, Randy Bynum, "said the change was part of a broader reorganization taking place in the district." The next sentence, unclear whether it issues from Bynum or is added as background by the reporter, is "The superintendent plans to change the responsibilities of associate superintendents and already has restructured some administrative offices." Well, that suggests these two phenomena are related, doesn't it?

Except they aren't. What possible connection could exist between these changes and the Superintendent's plans? The two are NOT connected.

The reporter should have followed up on the first statement (about "broader reorganization") or even (Is it too much to ask?) thought to ask if the changes in administrative assignments are RELATED to drops in student enrollment?

Because they are. In fact, these changes are a direct result of lower numbers.

The important result of these changes is that Burke High-Middle is losing an administrator. The high school will have one less because the assistant principal is taking leadership of the seventh and eighth grades. The person moved to Brentwood Middle is filling a vacancy (although one could ask why Brentwood, of all places, was left this long with a vacancy!).

Burke's numbers are down; CCSD pulls an administrator on that basis. Does anyone besides Randy Bynum think this move is helpful to Burke? Doesn't Burke, a school nearly taken over by the state last year, need MORE help rather than less?

Bynum suggests that "[Cannon's] new role will give him the opportunity to broaden" his involvement "in the Burke community." That's one way of phrasing it.

How about, "spread himself more thinly over the Burke community"?

Posted by Babbie at 3:07 PM

Labels: Burke, CCSD, District 20, planning, principals

Anonymous said...
Perhaps Dr. McGinley should ask Vashti Washington why she has been altering attendance records for District 4 in hopes of helping her AYP. I may be silly, but, I thought that was illegal! This isn't a maybe, this is I know so

3:49 PM
Anonymous said...
Do you mean she's claiming students are present when they're not?
I remember when the Principal at Rivers would call suspended students in to school if attendance was low, but what you're saying is on a whole different level.

4:14 PM
Anonymous said...
Well, based on these comments, it looks like line workers, front desk people and classroom teachers (not upper management) know what’s really going on in Charleston. They are the ones who will eventually tell the truth about CCSD. Diette should try doing some investigative reporting through these people & not just dutifully publish simple PR sound bites.

5:17 PM
Anonymous said...
Ladies and gentlemen, meet Clelia Casey, A.K.A. Bable, the woman who thinks she knows it all but chooses to teach at Bishop England High School rather than do some good from within CCSD.

Translation: Loser.

It'll soon be time to post her phone number.


I hope you are beginning to see what I see. If you don't know Randy Bynum, you will.

Anonymous said...

Eli Broad Education Foundation and its production of urban superintendents Abelardo Saavedra (for Corpus Christi), Maria Goodloe-Johnson (for Corpus Christi and then Charleston), and Nancy McGinley - the gypsy minstrels.
CCSD eventually appointed its THIRD graduate of the Broad Foundation's fellows program for urban educators, Randy Bynum, Sr., who was in its Class of 2007.

The Broad Foundation is active in Portland, Oregon. An on-line weekly newspaper, wweek.com, identifies its goals: "to create competition by starting publicly funded, privately run charter schools, to enforce accountability by linking teacher pay to student test scores, and to limit teachers' say in curriculum and transfer decisions." Whether true or not, this list sets up some interesting queries for CCSD. Portland parents are mainly unhappy about the closing of neighborhood schools in the name of progress.

Googling Broad-trained personnel will certainly turn up some disgruntled, in fact, ranting, opponents of the foundation, especially after it joined forces with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. No doubt many, if not all, of these unhappy districts (such as the one in Christina, Delaware), like CCSD, had many problems waiting to be solved when these supers arrived. But Broad's philosophy (and follow-through) should raise concerns.
To assist them in succeeding, Broad-trained fellows have resources available to them that support their training, and Goodloe-Johnson took full advantage of them. According to Courrege's article, the "foundation has spent more than $100,000 in the district." Thus,
"--The foundation will provide McGinley with a strategic support team of superintendents and leaders who will come to Charleston periodically and work with her on any issue she picks.
"--The foundation paid for an outside expert to come in and look at the district's communications department to see what could be better, and it will do the same for the district's information technology department.
"--The foundation has paid for Jim Huger, an independent consultant, to lead school board workshops.
"--The foundation covered expenses associated with executive coaches for Goodloe-Johnson in her first years as superintendent and McGinley, just beginning her tenure.
"--Brenda Nelson, the school district's new director of community outreach, will apply for the Broad Residency in Urban Education program, which involves two years of management training.
"--The foundation, with the Council of the Great City Schools, gave an $18,500 grant to the district to review operational or instructional processes and capacities for change."
Board members Hillery Douglas and Nancy Cook and training-participant board member Ray Toler were satisfied that the foundation's support "has done a good job" in helping schools. And where are they now…
Broad Education Foundation training uses the expertise of other national organizations to address specific problems in a district--for example, the New Teacher Project (or Teach Charleston) to recruit teachers for hard-to-fill positions and Community Education Partners to run Murray Hill Academy.
In addition, what are the qualifications of Randy Bynum, Sr., to be chief academic officer, other than being a Broad Fellow? Try Googling "Randy Bynum."
Watch out Seattle…

Anonymous said...

The California State Supreme Court overturned an attempted Mayoral takeover of Los Angeles public schools.

Eli Broad wanted total Mayoral control of public education and had a public disagreement with Los Angeles Mayor Villaraigosa because the Mayor made a compromise agreement with the state legislature for only partial takeover - and even that so-called partial takeover was found to be unconstitutional by the California State Supreme Court.

Eli Broad of the Broad Foundation clearly supports Mayoral control of urban public school districts. This is a position against the independent oversight of public education by democratically elected school boards. The office of a mayor are infinitely more desireable locations than a district office. In order to mismanage a school district, you need privacy!

Didn't Rudy Giuliani do that in 2003? It practically happenned in San Diego too? SDCS went broke as I recall and the only thing preventing it from takeover was that San Diego went broke too. All the districts picked up talented educators. Denver? Hopefully you see what you're getting into.

And the stories people told in SD -An audit revealed booze was a budget item?, the straw man living on both sides of the country bought a Coronado flat and a principalship for his gf?, paying a crooked Del Mar developer to entertain ASB students?, etc.

SPS is ticking and who will be around to pick up the pieces when they're done with their looting.

Anonymous said...

So I have to ask myself, why would a real estate developer be interested in running urban school districts into the ground, thus promoting chaos, and subsequent exodus out of the community?
Nah, say it isn't so. Tick tock.

How is it LAUSD got stuck paying a $100 million for property to build a $45 million school.

Anonymous said...


This is a Broad Foundation Brochure, featuring the dynamic duo taking on San Diego City Schools in 1998

Together, Alan and Tony are making difficult but
needed changes, including replacing several
principals due to lackluster performance. They
relish challenging the status quo and are
prepared to be judged by the results. The Broad
Foundation is a long-term investor in developing
a leadership academy for aspiring principals.
We’re betting on San Diego’s leadership team
to transform San Diego’s schools.

They left an unforgettable footprint - more than half the principals were replaced, some escored by policemen, and then the district proceeded to go bankrupt.

I remember Tony throwing a can of soda in a first grade class and thinking to myself he must have been a handful when he was their age. (Logan Heights)

By Eric Wolff 01/15/2008

Tony Salazar, a principal partner of the McCormack Baron Salazar development team, seemed a little nervous facing down the crowd of Barrio Loganistas at Perkins Elementary School on Jan. 8. His job was to sell the community on why his firm should be selected to develop a long-delayed project—known as the Mercado—on a vacant 6.8-acre strip of land along Cesar Chavez Parkway.

The project has become exactly the sort of blight it was intended to eliminate 15 years ago, when it was conceived. The people in the audience had been here before. They remember Sam Marasco and others making pitches. They remember having their neighborhood designated a redevelopment zone. And they feel keenly the frustration of losing 15 of their 40 years of additional property-tax revenue—known in redevelopment lingo as “tax increment”—as the brown dirt in the shadow of the Coronado Bridge on-ramp has grown a dense crop of weeds. They know they’ve been stiffed by the city for years, even as they watched Downtown, just a mile away, grow into a forest of hotels and condos. They’ve been promised by their newish City Council representative, Ben Hueso, that this time will be different, that he’ll make sure the Mercado becomes a reality.

The meeting itself was a rarity: Not often do cities ask developers to present ideas to the public before they’ve even been selected. But, redevelopment project chief Robert Chavez said, the city “really wanted to open up the process” in an attempt to placate a frustrated community. The two short-listed developers had to make their pitches to anyone who wandered in that damp night.

This will shed more light on the history of some of these buggers and how they manage their staff.

Chancellor Alvarado’s efforts as advocate for the school system and shaper of educational reforms were overshadowed by a series of personal financial scandals that emerged publicly in March 1984. A series of investigations revealed that during his years as District Superintendent he had borrowed large sums from subordinates, authorized extra pay and promotions for some of them, possibly as “payment” for the loans, and engaged in other financial irregularities. As additional charges were gradually added, the Board first suspended Alvarado, in late March and then accepted his resignation on May 11, just prior to a scheduled hearing on the charges against him.

Look at who's purchasing land for redevelopment in Denver - its man-made blight, resulting from willful negligence.

Anonymous said...

Alan Bersin's critics question San Diego fund's expenses.

By Todd Milbourn -- Bee Staff Writer
Published 2:15 am PST Friday, March 10, 2006

The foundation collected money for the fund through private donations from groups such as the Walton Family Foundation, Wells Fargo and the J. Dallas & Mary H. Clark Fund.

Bersin often used the fund to reimburse his travel and entertainment expenses so the district wouldn't have to. The San Diego school board was not involved in the fund's creation and did not have oversight over its spending. That led school board members to question the foundation's activities.

Bersin spent $574,733 through the fund during his tenure, according to the report. The report calls into question about $44,871 of that, including: $471 to attend President Bush's inauguration; $160 for the Union of Pan Asian Communities annual fundraiser dinner; and $500 to Nice Guys Inc. of San Diego for an advertisement in a program booklet at an awards ceremony.

Bersin said the money was well spent, validated by improved test scores among San Diego students. Between 2002 and 2004, scores for Latino and African American students on the state's Academic Performance Index rose 8 percent and 6 percent, respectively.

He said the fund allowed him to bring in consultants, offer a signing bonus for a communications director and pay the commuting expenses for Anthony Alvarado, the San Diego district's chancellor of instruction who commuted from New York for a year and spearheaded aggressive reforms of classroom instruction that upset teachers unions.

What the article neglects to say is SDCS experienced a exodus in excess of

Mr. Bersin's fierce defense of his past actions hides his more recent actions. Bersin holds a paid post in the for-profit Harvard Corporation as an "Overseer", with duties including "fundraising" for Harvard university.

As unconfirmed Secretary of Education in California, he has already misused his position to destroy the integrity of the Middle School Textbook revision process. He
1. Hired a Harvard professor, known to be an abusive hate-monger and general pompous gasbag, as a Consultant.
2. Installed him OVER the duly-appointed Curriculum Content Review Panel (CRP), as a "Super-CRP" along with 2 of his equally unqualified buddies.
3. Allowed this gang to ride roughshod over the concerns of parents, and ignore all the hard work they put in to correct the textbooks.
4. Conducted closed-door meetings to accept his Consultants' unscholarly opinions over the well-informed, careful opinions of real practising experts in the California education system.
5. Organized ringers from Communist and Islamist gangs to come in and disrupt the Board of Education's meetings, preventing legitimate parents and scholars from even speaking.

If California taxpayers don't toss this fellow out while they still have the time, they can enjoy his crookedness for the next several years.

He has already got California sued by two organizations on Civil Rights / State Law Violation complaints. Add the expense of that to the San Diego investigation, and the costs are already mounting.

You know something this keeps getting wackier, because I just found another resignation of a Broad Foundation flunky. Its too good not to post.

By Helen GaoUnion Tribune, STAFF WRITER, Aug. 23, 2007
SAN DIEGO – A high-ranking official with the San Diego Unified School District agreed to resign in exchange for six months of compensation totaling $100,406, according to a settlement agreement released yesterday.
Chief Administrative Officer Jose Luis Betancourt came under pressure to step down after he pleaded guilty last month to a misdemeanor charge of violating federal conflict-of-interest laws.Shortly after retiring as a rear admiral and commander of the Navy Region Southwest in October 2005, Betancourt became a consultant for a company that sought a $300 million contract with Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command.
Federal law requires a one-year “cooling-off period” before certain high-ranking government officials can lobby their former employer. Breaking the law resulted in a $15,000 fine and one year of probation for Betancourt.
The board was divided over whether the settlement with Betancourt was too generous. Trustee Mitz Lee said she preferred to give him three months of pay, because under his contract, Betancourt could be terminated with three months of notice, without cause. He had 18 months left on his contract.Betancourt's critics felt his guilty plea reflected poorly on the district as it is emphasizing a culture of ethics.

Last year, the district hired an ethics officer and started a fraud hotline.

Anonymous said...

Could we stick to talking about Seattle and people who are involved with our schools here?

Anonymous said...

This is relevant - Seattle has been at the center of charter reform efforts for over 24 years. Tony Alvarado just gave a presentation at Seatac - the Center for Educational Leadership has been training future leaders, including Tony and Alan.

This is a non-partisan group of Cryptics with ties leading to Ralph Reed and Abramoff.

They are about as progressive as the Social Democrats.

Dick Lilly, "Giving a boost to teacher training"
The Seattle Times, April 28, 1998, B1

One of Superintendent John Stanford's top goals is to give teachers more
opportunities to develop their skills, and to make sure that when they do,
it directly benefits their schools. One of Tony Alvarado's top
accomplishments as superintendent of schools in New York's District 2 has
been to give schools control of what their teachers do to improve their
professional skills. That is why a group of two dozen Seattle educators and
school activists visited schools in Alvarado's district. During the
three-day visit to more than a dozen schools, they looked at innovative
ways to help teachers with "professional development," activities that
include college courses, time set aside during the school day to work with
other teachers, and other ideas. The trip was funded by contributions and
organization provided by the Cross City Campaign for Urban School Reform,
an education reform think tank based in Chicago but with an office in
Seattle, and Seattle's Alliance for Education, the largely business-backed
charitable organization supporting the Seattle Public Schools.

Anonymous said...

This is the result of a three-year tenure?: McGinley = Goodloe, more of the same at CCSD

Let's look at the record from August 2007. Nothing to crow about here. Start a checklist of Seattle and its gotto start looking like this. A disease with no cure.

Is CCSD still throwing everything but the kitchen sink in the path of the new Charter High School of Math and Science?

Are meetings being held in CCSD in violation of the Freedom of Information Act?

Has any progress been made on the details of the phantom "AP Academy" at Burke or the phantom "High-Tech High" at Rivers?

Has any progress been made on ending de facto segregation in District 20?

Does Fraser still have half a principal and multiple substitute teachers instead of permanent ones?

Has Charleston Progressive received any of the resources that would make it a true magnet school instead of a magnet in name only?

Is Buist Academy still hiding vacancies in its upper grades while a thousands-strong waiting list, well, waits?

Have the Superintendent and Bill Lewis surprised an unsuspecting District 20 with the planned destruction of two neighborhood schools?

Is the District now channeling resources that should have gone to CPA into a school it plans to destroy?

Has the overflow of disgruntled Buist applicants channeled by fiat into St. Andrews Elementary caused multiple ongoing problems and an overcrowded school?

Has the Superintendent allowed a free flow of conversation with any constituency in CCSD besides the school board?

Is CCSD still channeling dollars into non-profits that don't produce?

Is the Mayor still meddling in CCSD and claiming not to?