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Saturday, May 10, 2008

Dr. Goodloe-Johnson Shakes Things Up

Both the PI and the Times had articles about the various department redos at SPS.

First, I am glad that the district recognizes that it doesn't need a specific department for race and equity; it should be part of the fabric of everything the district does. Second, I wish that Caprice Hollins was going because I don't think she presents a good face on these issues. It almost seems it leaves her a bit of a lame duck without her department.

Also of note (from the Times' article):

"The reorganization will help close a $16 million budget gap for the 2008-09 school year, a district spokeswoman said, but precise cost savings are still being calculated. Over the past couple of weeks, the district eliminated 16 positions and added nine. More administrative jobs may be cut as the district reorganizes other departments."

"Auditors recommended the district's Human Resources Department undo a reorganization it recently completed. The department has had six directors in eight years and has "lost the trust and confidence of its customers," the review found.

No one is keeping track of "the most basic personnel information," such as job turnover and vacancy rates, and the department is prone to payroll errors. According to the report, the department's procedures are so unclear that one manager described them as "folklore."

From the PI article:

"A revised organization chart provided by the district shows a number of high-level leadership positions have yet to be filled. The chart also shows the district plans to:
  • Hire a director for the "support, prevention and intervention department," which will combine areas such as student discipline, health services, family support and community engagement;
  • Create a "department of school improvement" and hire a director to manage areas such as the district improvement plan and schools that receive federal Title I money to help disadvantaged students;
  • Eliminate the deputy chief academic officer job;
  • Replace the special-education manager position with an executive director who will have more responsibilities and will report directly to Chief Academic Officer Carla Santorno."

  • On that last one, I wonder what the difference is between a special-ed manager versus an executive director? What will it mean to Special Ed?

    19 comments:

    Charlie Mas said...

    I wonder what the difference is between a special-ed manager versus an executive director? What will it mean to Special Ed?

    I suspect the new position comes with higher pay, meaning that they hope to attract someone with stronger qualifications than Dr. Stump, the current special ed manager.

    After this, special ed will have advocate on an equal footing with education directors. Lines of authority and chains of command, however, will continue to be muddled. Does the teacher or the principal do what the special ed director tells them to do or what the education director tells them to do?

    It's possible that many of those in eliminated positions, such as Dr. Hollins, Dr. Stump, and Michelle Corker-Curry will be hired into some of the newly created positions.

    I'm confused by the conflicting budget reports. Here is talk about a $16 million budget gap for 2008-2009 and in the Excellence for All presentation, a growing "rainy day fund" is listed as one of the District's strengths.

    Jet City mom said...

    possible that many of those in eliminated positions, such as Dr. Hollins, Dr. Stump, and Michelle Corker-Curry will be hired into some of the newly created positions.


    Oh, let's break out the champagne

    anonymous said...

    This is the districts opportunity to get rid of Caprice Hollins. I hope they do it, and don't just shuffle her into another position where she will continue to be a disaster and embarrassment. It's high time for her to go.

    Unknown said...

    Currently, the Special Ed leadership is divided into two factions: one student-centered and one legalistic. They barely succeed in communicating with one another. The student-centered group has been able to do good work because of a failure of leadership; the legalistic faction, essentially in charge, lacks both legal credentials as well as an educational vision. While there certainly is a need for Special Ed leadership, if one of the lawyer wanna-bes is given complete control both Special Ed and General Ed will suffer.

    anonyms said...

    If you have a kid in special education, as it is now, you're pretty much on your own. The teachers and principals don't care very much about your 1 kid, the specifics of teaching them, or doing the right thing by them. The current special-ed manager with a bunch of consulting teachers... does very little for kids. Before computers, their main job seemed to be "knowing where programs were", since they shared that information with nobody. They also did placement. They do no consulting,advising, or anything related to the child's services. So, why would we want to keep that system? A more centralized system, with vastly different players can only be an improvement.

    I don't buy the "legalized faction vs service faction". I don't see any evidence of a legalized faction working in Seattle or a divide. If we had a "legalized faction", then I would expect we would have services which met legal minimums. That also would be an improvement.

    Charlie Mas said...

    Has anyone seen this "revised organization chart provided by the district"?

    dan dempsey said...

    Hey we are getting close to year one with MG-J. How many years was her contract written for ?

    anonyms said...

    I have something from the district titled "Learning and Teaching Reorganization" (draft). Which is basically an org chart, and in paper. Don't know if it's on the website or not.

    Michael said...

    "dan dempsey said...
    Hey we are getting close to year one with MG-J. How many years was her contract written for ?"

    Why are you so focused on (what appears to be) getting rid of MG-J? Yes, its only been one year so far, but when does anything in the public sector, especially the Seattle School District, get done quickly? If MG-J had come out with a plan any sooner than she did, the reaction would have been that she didn't have enough data. If she took too long, then the reaction is that she is struggling to get a handle on things and is indecisive.

    I don't remember your specific position on school closings, but if MG-J was to come out and announce tomorrow that the worst performing schools in the District were too be closed as of the end of this school year and all those students reassigned before fall 2008, the uproar would be deafening and that she was a dictator or some other nonsense that doesn't listen to stakeholders.

    My point is that no decision that has real impact in this District can ever be undertaken in a quick, decisive manner. All the sensitive feelings of folks that claim to be informed must be taken into account so as not to risk a damn lawsuit from "concerned" folks who don't see how suing the District only takes money away from its core mission and DOES NOT help anything.

    But seeing as you are the one that actually said "Raj Mahal" in an earlier posting last month (or the month before) when referring to the John Stanford Center for Educational Excellence, it wouldn't surprise me that your inquiry as to how long MG-J's contract was for is because you want to get rid of the African-American superintendent. Maybe you don't think she is up to the job. Or maybe you want the job because you think you could do a better job.

    Instead of counting the days until her contract expires, why don't you (and every other activist) actually try and work with her or the Board instead of just griping about it on this blog. And if you actually have the guts to do that, be ready to accept the fact that those with actual responsibilities for decisions in the District may not agree with your opinions or positions. And when they don't agree, accept it and move on.

    I'm obviously rambling here (it the east coast in me) so I'll stop (until some other inane comment is made).

    Melissa Westbrook said...

    Michael, I cannot speak for Dan or his comments. But you said,

    "...why don't you (and every other activist) actually try and work with her or the Board instead of just griping about it on this blog. And if you actually have the guts to do that, be ready to accept the fact that those with actual responsibilities for decisions in the District may not agree with your opinions or positions. And when they don't agree, accept it and move on."

    First, many of us have tried, for years now stretching into a decade, to work with the district and various superintendents and boards. It is a hard bureaucracy to crack. And, most of us came in with the "what can I do to help make this work" attitude that gradually hardened. You may be new to the district, I don't know. But pardon us if we are somewhat suspicious and cynical. That said, I welcome and hope to help be part of any new plan, goals, or initiative that will move our district forward.

    Second, most of us have had to accept the district's decisions. Part of the frustration is being able to have very, very little impact on decision-making. It is very frustrating to see the same mistakes made over and over, to ask for accountability and what that truly means to this district (and never have the question answered) and to see new parents who come in with hopes and energy to give and give up in confusion and disallusionment.

    It's not just ranting and griping (admittedly some of it is but that's to be expected); it's asking for real answers and not just educational double-speak.

    I'm going to be at the Roosevelt Strategic Plan meeting and hope to hear good things. Most of us don't keep plugging away and showing up at meetings just to have something to do.

    Michael said...

    Melissa,

    Thank you for a reasoned, rationale response. How very refreshing!

    I admit that I do my fair share of ranting and raving on other issues on other blogs, so I agree that some is to be expected.

    One thing I note from the newspaper reporting is the following:

    "No one is keeping track of "the most basic personnel information," such as job turnover and vacancy rates, and the department is prone to payroll errors. According to the report, the department's procedures are so unclear that one manager described them as 'folklore.'"

    Well, the District didn't have to spend all that money on a consultant "auditor" to discover this. The State Auditor's office, for each of the last seven years, has reported on the payroll losses that the consultant alludes to. All those reports are available online for easy reading.

    anonymous said...

    "Second, most of us have had to accept the district's decisions. Part of the frustration is being able to have very, very little impact on decision-making."

    Why should you have an impact on district decision making? It is not your job. You are not an expert. You are a tax payer with an opinion. That's it. If you want more power, apply for a decision making position in the district. Otherwise, you have to accept that you have no power. The district can take your input as a courtesy, but they are not obligated to do anything with it. Remember, you have no power. Nor do you have any responsibility. None. That's the way it is. It's not much different from parenting. When rules are being made or changed at my house, I take my child's input, listen to her point of view, but ultimately as the parent, I make the decision. Because I am responsible for the outcome of those decisions. I take into account my daughters point of view, but my decision is primarily based on other criteria - Is it safe? Is it in line with our family values? Can we afford it? Listen my daughter can plead forever about getting the newest $450 cell phone, but she doesn't have to pay the bill. I do. So, I make the decision. When she gets older, and has a job, she will make the decision. When, you, Melissa, become Supt. of the district, you can make the decisions. Until then you can't, and shouldn't strive to.

    As citizens we are not responsible for the outcome of district decisions, so rationale would suggest that we shouldn't be making them. We can give our input but thats it. And, lets not forget that everyones input is different. Everyone has a different opinion. The district also has to weigh that. What will make Melissa happy, will not make others happy.

    Charlie Mas said...

    I don't know any member of the public who is asking for decision-making authority. To suggest as much is to demonstrate your inattention.

    People - internal stakeholders as well as external stakeholders - are looking to have their input heard and respected.

    And who are they? Why should their opinions be heard and respected? Because they are stakeholders. We, and our children, are the people who are impacted by the district's decisions. That gives us a right - yes a right - to have our voices heard.

    Let's not forget that the school district is a government entity, not a private enterprise. It is supported by tax dollars and needs to be responsive to the public it serves. It serves us; we don't serve it. It should be responsive to our children's needs.

    Advocacy is totally legitimate.

    Read the District's own material on family involvement. They (ostensibly) encourage student families to get involved in a number of ways - including advocacy.

    Some seem to think that the your choices are to silently accept what the school district offers or to simply go elsewhere. There is another option. We can choose to work to improve what the school district offers. Sometimes this means working cooperatively with the district, getting behind what they are doing and pushing. Sometimes, when the district is headed the wrong way, this means getting in front of what the district is doing and trying to push them to change direction.

    Either way, it is not whining, it is not ranting, it is working to improve the district and the work it does for ALL children.

    So pardon me, 1964, but advocating for children is my job. It is my responsibility as an adult in this society.

    And the District, historically, has not heard or respected that input, to their detriment and to the detriment of Seattle's children.

    We're not looking to be obeyed, we're looking to be heard. If you think we want to make the decisions, then you haven't heard us.

    Melissa Westbrook said...

    I could say a lot about the idea that I want things to happen to make me happy but Charlie said it all.

    RME

    Charlie Mas said...

    The small workgroup responsible for School-Family Partnership was a part of the department of equity and race relations. Yeah, I know, it explains a lot about the District's perspective on family engagement.

    So where will this workgroup land? Will it be in the same department as the Office of Family and Community Partnerships? Will it be in Communications? Will it be with customer service?

    All of these activities and efforts are related - if not redundant. Shouldn't they all be in the same department?

    dan dempsey said...

    Dear Michael,

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

    It is very clear that several of MG-J's decisions ignored the relevant data and were made with little attention to detail.

    On several occasions the MG-J administration has made decisions that were the exact opposite of what the intelligent application of data would indicate to be the choice for improvement.

    This district has suffered through a decade of a constantly expanding Math achievement gap for the following student groups: Black, Hispanic, and Low Income.

    It is interesting that you made the comment:
    it wouldn't surprise me that your inquiry as to how long MG-J's contract was for is because you want to get rid of the African-American superintendent.


    A little history might help here.
    After I noticed the continually expanding Math achievement gap, I attended my first Seattle-NAACP general membership meeting in November of 2006. I am currently a member of the education committee of that organization.

    Work with the district, great Idea. I ran spreadsheets for days constructing the relevant data in an easily understandable form. I submitted an indexed binder of relevant math data for the Everyday Math adoption. I asked for a response and after two weeks received nothing this was in early April of 2007. On May 7 Ms. Santorno offered to meet with me. When I sent her a list of questions to which I desired answers and told her that another member of the NAACP would be attending our meeting. She quickly reversed field and withdrew her offer to meet with me and then accused me of treating her poorly perhaps because she was a Black woman.

    I've spent an enormous amount of time just trying to get the SPS to look at the relevant data. Mr Manhas had no interest in the relevant data or communicating about it.

    Sorry but given the MG-J mandate for 6-periods at West Seattle, no appeal and no consideration of relevant data, and watching the waste of $2+ million per year for academic coaches for Math teachers because Ms Santorno selected the same k-8 math materials that were a documented failure in Denver (Rocky Mountain news article covering the DPS Consultants report) on April 5, 2007 prior to the Everyday Math Adoption on May 30, 2007.

    So you think I just sit home and complain, well you are certainly entitled to your opinion.

    If you would like to perhaps alter your opinion through research look at the letters to Mr. Manhas and Ms Santorno on this page.

    You can begin reading at the April 10 letter to Linda Hoste.
    The letters Page

    The education kakistocracy makes it extremely difficult to provide an adequate education to our children. As a nation we are suffering through a tragedy in math and science education. Cisco will be hiring 300,000 network engineers over the next 5 years. That will not be happening in the USA as we only produce around 15,000 per year tops. The top engineering school in the world is the Indian Institute of Technology.

    While some are willing to quietly accept total incompetence in math science decision making as it guts our nation, I choose not to do so.

    Watch 2-Million Minutes and get a grip on education reality from a world wide perspective.

    Consider the following as we have another drink of TERC/Investigations now replaced by Everday Math Kool-aid + Connected Math Project.

    Here is the News from Sudhakar Kudva:
    -----------------
    Hewlett Packard (home of the largest computer and printer ink business) - Just announced shutdown of their Vancouver WA, campus. Largest campus is in Bangalore, with 18,000+ people.
    Cisco Systems (the largest computer networking company in the world) - shipped some of their top execs to live in India, and grow the company from about 60,000 worldwide employees today, to over 300,000 employees in the next five years. Most of the growth will happen in India.
    Microsoft Corp (we all know dear Bill Gates) - Grew from 20 employees to over 1200 employees in a bulging campus in Hyderabad, India. Added R&D work to their portfolio, in addition to product support.
    Intel Corp. (I, Sudhakar Kudva, worked there for 24 years) - Successfully completed an entire state-of-the- art R&D project to Bangalore, almost completely staffed by Indian employees. They probably employ around 3,500 engineers and technicians in Bangalore at this point.

    Of course, we can say we shoulda, coulda, woulda done the right things here in this country, by educating more engineers. But these jobs are not coming back, because they are creating prosperity in other parts of the world, which in turn creates demand for their products. China and India, a market with two and a half billion potential users, is a lot more lucrative than here. Plus they don't have to fight the education bureaucracy to get well trained people. Bob Compton ( creator of 2-Million Minutes) has realized that, and he is doing his best to wake people up in this country. I think we should try our best to educate him on why we think it got this bad.

    -------------------------

    Snooze on Seattle and have some more Kool-aid from the SPS pitcher.

    anonyms said...

    But these jobs are not coming back, because they are creating prosperity in other parts of the world, which in turn creates demand for their products.

    Oh please Dan, pinch yourself for a change! And why is it that all the wonderful jobs are going to India and China? Hmmmm, let's see. Because the people are a lot CHEAPER overseas!!!!!!! India does NOT educate everyone. Go to India, you will see most people are illiterate! And those who are educated, and who don't make it to the US... yes, they can work for HP, Microsoft, etc for a tiny fraction of the cost a US employee would be. The fact is, US companies don't want US engineers because they cost too much.

    BTW. The jobs aren't flocking to Finland or other European well educated nations either. Those countries are even more expensive than the US.

    reader said...

    From the Special Ed PTSA:

    "On Tuesday, May 27th, from 5:00-6:00 PM at Green Lake Elementary School (2400 N 65th St, Seattle, WA 98103), the Seattle Special Ed PTSA will be hosting a meeting with Michelle Corker Curry, assciate academic officer for the Seattle School District.

    Michelle will be addressing the recent reorganization of the Seattle School District's Special Education Services, and its impact on the district's task force to implement changes to special ed. Anyone having questions or concerns regarding this reorganization is encouraged to attend. The meeting is free and open to the public.

    Interpretive services are available upon request"

    dan dempsey said...

    Dear Anonyms,

    Try confronting the situation at hand, rather than the situation that you would like to confront.

    Reality stares the USA in the face but we are too blind to look back.

    China and India, a market with two and a half billion potential users, is a lot more lucrative than here. Plus they don't have to fight the education bureaucracy to get well trained people.

    It appears you have not watched Two Million Minutes and are unacquainted with the math materials currently in use in almost all of WA State.

    Snooze on

    or read a few pieces on
    The Math Underground