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Monday, January 26, 2009

Leadership Assessment

At the request of several blog readers, I'm starting a thread to discuss our assessment of the district leadership, staff and especially the superintendent, Dr. Goodloe-Johnson.

My comment on a previous thread summarizes my position on Dr. Goodloe-Johnson.

I think Dr. Goodloe-Johnson is going to improve Seattle schools for most children in the district. I don't necessarily like her, I certainly don't agree with everything she says/does, I'm concerned about her lack of support for alternative education, but I am impressed with her and believe she's the right person to lead our district.

It is standard process across the country to toss out the Superintendent every couple of years. That won't lead to better schools. We (the community) should work with the current superintendent, Board and staff to improve schools.


And in terms of a Board assessment, I think this School Board (overall) is thoughtful, principled and willing to ask hard questions of the Superintendent and district staff. My assessment of individual Board members varies, of course.

I plan on continuing to question and criticize the Superintendent, staff and Board and their decisions with the hope of improving education for all in this district. But I have confidence in their willingness to listen, their overall skills and knowledge, and their values and intentions.

53 comments:

north seattle mom said...

I agree with Beth on this. If anyone worked on these capacity issues with the last two Sups you would be delighted by MGJ leadership. I don't always agree with her and I suspect I never will and that makes it my job to stay active in this process.

Also, it is important to remember that there was only ONE candidate after the last vote of no confidence on Manhas. I think if folks are going to cry out for another vote of no confidence, they should be able to voice a plan to find the magical leader that means there will be no budget issues in education.

One other point, IMHO, the only reason we have this crazy EDM adoption was because of the last vote of no confidence. We essentially had an entire lame duck year and Carla just forced the EDM adoption ahead over objections in every corner. If MGJ had been in charge then, EDM would never have happened.

Melissa Westbrook said...

It's interesting because most urban superintendents (especially urban ones) don't last very long. I'll try to go off and to the research but I'd bet it's about 50-50. Meaning, 50% of the time a Board votes no confidence and 50% of the time the superintendent (for whatever reason) moves on.

I think Dr. Goodloe-Johnson is a bright person. But I also find her public persona curt and cold. I find her answers to any and all questions canned and full of jargon.

I just keep going back to her interview with Jessica Blanchard. Jessica asked her what she would be doing if she wasn't superintendent and she said, "Working at Nordstrom." Great line, made me laugh, very unlike her. But, to my amazement, she drifted off on a list of other things she could be doing like teaching at a college or university, working in private education, etc. I was surprised she would be quite that open with a reporter about her options. And then, there's that raise before she was even a year here.

No, I don't think Dr. Goodloe-Johnson will ever get a vote of no confidence; she'll leave because she'll get a better offer.

In the meantime, I feel glad that we do have someone intelligent in the post guided by, as Beth said, an overall thoughtful and principled Board.

Melissa Westbrook said...

It's interesting because most urban superintendents (especially urban ones) don't last very long. I'll try to go off and to the research but I'd bet it's about 50-50. Meaning, 50% of the time a Board votes no confidence and 50% of the time the superintendent (for whatever reason) moves on.

I think Dr. Goodloe-Johnson is a bright person. But I also find her public persona curt and cold. I find her answers to any and all questions canned and full of jargon.

I just keep going back to her interview with Jessica Blanchard. Jessica asked her what she would be doing if she wasn't superintendent and she said, "Working at Nordstrom." Great line, made me laugh, very unlike her. But, to my amazement, she drifted off on a list of other things she could be doing like teaching at a college or university, working in private education, etc. I was surprised she would be quite that open with a reporter about her options. And then, there's that raise before she was even a year here.

No, I don't think Dr. Goodloe-Johnson will ever get a vote of no confidence; she'll leave because she'll get a better offer.

In the meantime, I feel glad that we do have someone intelligent in the post guided by, as Beth said, an overall thoughtful and principled Board.

samdinista said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
dj said...

I am a bit less sanguine. I moved here from South Carolina. I lived there while MGJ was superintendant, and the Charleston public schools had an absolutely abysmal reputation. I have not said much about this because I do not claim to know if MGJ made them worse (she did not improve their reputation, certainly).

dan dempsey said...

North Seattle Mom said:
"Carla just forced the EDM adoption ahead over objections in every corner." ... and where was the school board????

To think that MG-J had nothing to do with this EDM adoption seems very naive. This adoption took place on May 30, 2007 and MG-J had already been selected as superintendent. Under MG-J's leadership Linda Hoste and Rosalind Wise last spring proposed IMP for high school once again. When MG-J arrived at the meeting she did an immediate back peddling when it became apparent that the Board was not buying it. Recently she made the comment that this adoption failed because of politics and the process was just fine.

What happened to Singapore Math? That sure looks like direct intention to ignore the directive of the school board.

IMP rated the worst of all high school materials reviewed by the state #15 out of 15. The adoption process is extremely flawed (but MG-J thinks not).

In the current High School adoption process again there is little emphasis placed on the mathematical competence of committee members .. at least that seems to be the case when you read the selection criteria posted on the SPS website.

The Seattle School District makes interesting choices for math program managers ... maybe someday the SPS will actually select a math program manager that is capable of teaching upper division high school mathematics .. then perhaps that person could make sound mathematical decisions instead of political ones.

I am with Samdinista on this one. Denny/Sealth was ridiculous. Pick almost any topic ... I am still waiting for that everyone held accountable to happen.

Try reading the Phi Delta Kappa curriculum audit. Then read the Strategic plan "Excellence for All" and record what was to have happened and compare with what has happened.

The SPS still does not follow their own policies or even the math performance standards that are posted.

...this administration HAS NOT listened to that input

Look at the initial closure proposals put forth by the Superintendent ... flat out incompetent suggestions .. who is held responsible in facilities for that mess.

dan dempsey said...

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

Is there any data with which to assess the first 12 months of MJ-G leadership? The SPS board had none when they raised MG-J's salary 10%.

anonymous said...

Samdinista asked "Can anyone show anything she has done that illustrates her competence? can anyone show an instance of her listening to input and incorporating that input into later amendments?"

Here are a few examples.

The NE has known that there would be a capacity crisis for over 5 years, yet past administrations ignored it. MGJ not only acknowledged it, she is giving the NE a new school. That would be competent wouldn't it?

Regarding this new school...the initial proposal had TC moving into the addams building, and opening a new k-5 in the Decatur building. Sounded like a good plan, but the Tc communiy spoke out about how and why that wouldn't work. The greater community also voiced that they wanted a traditional school not another alt school. MGJ listened and the new proposal was revised to have a new traditional k-8 occupy the space, and leave TC where it was intact. That would be listening to the community wouldn't it?

The initial proposal included closing AS1. The AS1 community spoke out and asked that their program be saved, and the greater community spoke out about the negative affect closing a north end school would have on the capacity issues in the N and NE. MGJ listened and gave AS1 a reprive.

The community spoke out about the Pathfinder move too. Now Pathfinder is moving into Cooper instead of Arbor Heights as was suggested by many families. Again, MGJ listened to input and amended the proposal.

And how about APP. The original showed the north end portion of the split housed at Hawthorne. Once again the community said it didn't make sense, and MGJ backed off. The proposal was amended to leave north APP at Lowell.

And many many people spoke out about not moving Montlake because they are such a successful, highly desireable neighborhood school. And guess what?? Montalke is not moving. I guess MGJ had her listening ears on again.

I could go on and on, but I don't want to hog too much space on this thread. I hope that Samdinista can acknowldge that the proposal has been altered to reflect what the communtiy has asked for in many ways.

Don't get me wrong there are still parts of the proposal that I do not like, and neither do many others. Namely the closure of Summit. But we also have a Board that has been listening to community input. A Board that has the power to ammend or reject any part of the porposal that they see fit to reject. If I were a betting woman, I'd put my money on the board amending the proposal to move Summit instead of close it. That would of course, indicate that the board is LISTENING too.

Now go ahead and uncross your arms Samdinista!

Andrea said...

I, too, agree with Samdinista. This process has been crazy, hurried, and has broadsided many communities. I would venture to say that those who support the proposals of MGJ are not those whose programs will be closed or moved. MGJ has no vested interest in Seattle -- it's not her community, and she has no reason to "feel" what she is doing. A good leader, listens, explains, and supports the weakest links. This process has been quite the opposite for many Seattle citizens. I am for a vote of no confidence.

Beth Bakeman said...

allkidsfirst, one important distinction...supporting Dr. G-J as a leader is different than supporting the closure proposal.

I agree the closure proposal timeline was too short and the timing around the holidays was horrible for getting good public participation and input.

I agree that the closure proposal has some inherent flaws and some potential risks because of what has not been decided (like principal assignment).

I also believe that postponing closures to next year just extends the misery, stress, and damage to the public's confidence in our schools in the hope that somehow another year will magically lead to a better solution.

But whether the Board votes to postpone closures, cancel closures, or just change the closure plan, I believe the process this time around is miles better than previous rounds. And I give Dr. G-J much of the credit for that.

samdinista said...

Conversely, the central cluster is about to experience a boom in demand, yet capacity in that cluster is being decimated - is that competence?
It has been shown over and over on this blog, in public testimony and elsewhere that the overall savings realized from this plan are insignificant and won't cure the budget crisis. Some have argued, successfully I think, that after accounting for attrition as a result of the plan, the problem might even get slightly worse - is that competence?
Cooper is a successful program, with better academics than the programs Cooper students will be forced to attend - excellence for all?
How is the budget crisis being solved by a plan that doesn't save money?
How can we we have any confidence when the data used to drive the decisions is tragically flawed?

dan dempsey said...

I guess MG-J is lucky to have followed someone as incompetent as Manhas. I agree by comparison she is down right amazing.

Josh Hayes said...

Probably the thing that most worries me about district leadership is the other side of the coin: we face declining enrollments, so we need to close schools -- and that's been the only thing the district has really talked about.

Obviously, the elephant in the room is in the first part of the sentence: "we face declining enrollments". Why? It's not that the number of school-age kids in Seattle is declining, or at least not at anything like the rate of the SPS enrollment decline.

Surely when faced with falling enrollment one addresses both prongs of the problem: dealing in the short term with those falling enrollments, and in the long term, boosting enrollment. We have heard nothing at all about the latter. Frankly, I don't know what I would say or do to help boost enrollment, but this flailing, panicked closure process does nothing at all to generate confidence on the part of potential client families. Managing isn't just lurching through the day in the face of the day's challenges: it is planning for the future in a way which produces positive growth. I don't have much confidence in our current leadership to weather the current storms, and I have no confidence at all in their ability to figure out where the *%(!! they are if/when they come out from the other side.

Ben said...

"And how about APP. The original showed the north end portion of the split housed at Hawthorne. Once again the community said it didn't make sense, and MGJ backed off. The proposal was amended to leave north APP at Lowell."

If this is an example of a win for MGJ, then I think we're definitely in trouble.

She started with an absolutely terrible plan (Lowell splits into Hawthorne and Marshall), and ended with a merely rotten plan (half of Lowell to Marshall).

anonymous said...

Ben, I did not say that the APP split was a good plan. I don't know enough about APP or the benefits/negatives of a split to comment on that. What I said was when the APP community spoke up and said that it didn't make sense to place the north end APP at Hawthorne, MGJ responded by revoking that part of the proposal and allowing north APP to stay at Lowell. She did respond to community input, and that is a good isnt it? We really do have to acknowledge when something positive happens.

snaffles said...

I find MGJ a very cold persona. In attending the School Board meetings I have seen her actually toss her head back and turn away from the speaker as if to say "I don't need to listen to that". And the speaker was not being rude. (I think the first time I saw it, it was the night she got her raise!)

As for her leadership, I agree she is a leader..I question where she is leading the District.

There are times when I do not see a plan, I see a movement to please the most voters...leading to the best chance to pass the next levy.

There are times I see a sincerity to educate, yet a loss as to how to really reach students in the high risk category for dropping out.

I do not believe she has totally taken the time to understand the complexity of the Alternative Schools and why they exist in the District. These schools when not understood, become easy marks for removal.

I think she is powerful in her presentations and forceful in her desired directions. But I cannot say that the power and force yielded are bringing an equality and diversity that the District so desperatly needs.

I believe that she has beliefs and opinions that are deeply ingrained, and cause her to be unmoveable on certain ideas, subjects and directions. Thus I would not want to "cross" her behind closed doors.

suep. said...

In round one, the large, centrally located Lowell building was declared unfit, told it had to close, APP split and moved, and special ed was to be scattered throughout the district with no plan offered to them for where and how they would go. Absolutely heartless--and fiscally insane. These are the most medically fragile special ed kids in the district, Lowell is especially equipped for them, including a wheelchair-accessible playground structure. There is no way the district can afford to replicate such facilities--and nursing staff--in multiple locations. So, in round two of the proposals, the Lowell bldg was suddenly deemed ok after all (the $1.6 mil the district just spent on it suddenly became relevant), but special ed still didn’t know its fate until Jan. 6. Is that a commendable proposal from a superintendent who started her career as a special ed teacher? The treatment of special ed in this entire capacity management process has been appalling.

As for the Accelerated Progress Program (more info here: www.appinseattle.org), MGJ’s first proposal was not tenable. Take a centrally located, academically and economically well-functioning program, split it in half during a time of fiscal scarcity, and move both halves to the south-end of town to two schools that are within a few miles from each other, all in the name of “equity and access”? No north-end location, extra long bus rides for the kids in the north reaches of town, and no replicable curriculum, resources or plan to duplicate the program successfully. And grafting APP into more diverse school communities does not make the program more diverse—more testing and outreach is the way to do that.

I don’t believe Goodloe-Johnson “listened” to the APP community about this. She said as much herself in a Seattle Times interview where she claimed ‘parental advocacy did not influence my decisions’ (or something to that effect). I think she knew there would be pushback from the Lowell community to the Thurgood Marshall and Hawthorne plan, and she probably couldn’t legally or financially evict the special ed kids, so she was able to adjust the proposal to the slightly more sane version of keeping “north” APP at Lowell, claim credit for listening to input, but still keep her pre-ordained split, with half going to TMarshall—which is what I think was her real objective all along.

A cynic could also make a case for a similar setup with Arbor Heights and Cooper. Wasn’t the Arbor Heights pushback predictable? Didn’t the district ask everyone to come up with better “solutions”? Is it surprising Arbor Heights suggested Cooper should close instead of them? MGJ can walk away from this and say she didn’t come up with the idea of closing Cooper to save Arbor Heights—the Arbor Heights community did. How convenient.

As for Montlake, that was a feint. MGJ wasn’t serious—they were never even given a hearing date.

Has this process truly been “transparent”? No, it has been divisive and damaging. Should the board have awarded MJG a 10 percent pay raise, after only one year on the job, on top of an already generous salary of $240,000 during a recession? Should the Seattle school superintendent make more than the mayor of the city or the governor of the state ($166,891)? (Previous superintendent Manhas only made about $178,000.)

Will these proposals, if implemented, make Seattle’s public schools stronger, better? Will the 3,500 affected children benefit from this upheaval? The school district tries to refute the 20 percent attrition rate that happened last time they closed schools. I’m quite sure that thanks to this mess of a process and poorly thought out proposals, attrition has begun already.

Grade: D

Charlie Mas said...

I think that there's a vocal minority who are really upset about the capacity management plan and are using selective memory, clever manipulation of statistics, and conjecture to whip up melodrama over it.

I'm not saying that I agree with all of the plan and I certainly don't agree with every decision that the superintendent has made, but she as guided the District with some skill since she arrived, there is good evidence to show that she is doing her job, and there is good cause to believe that she is doing it pretty well. Just because I don't agree with her decisions doesn't mean that she's doing a bad job.

I don't get the sense that those who are complaining have a very broad view of the issues or history. They don't seem to see any priorities beyond their personal priorities.

For example, the initial recommendation that Lowell be closed was quickly changed so that Lowell would stay open, but that's not good enough for gavroche. No, she still has to be punished for even suggesting the idea in the first place.

samdinista judges the entire process exclusively on how it impacts Summit. There is no acknowledgement or recognition of how the plan was changed regarding other schools and programs in response to community input. samdinista rejects all evidence that is inconsistent with the pre-determined negative assessment of the superintendent.

I think it is very easy to complain about some hard decisions that have to be made. I think it is very easy for people to take a narrow, self-interested view. I think it is easy to neglect some of the constraints on these decisions (especially if you aren't aware of them). What's hard is doing the job, and I don't hear many practical or workable suggestions for real improvements in the capacity management plan or in the managment of the District.

She has taken the job to manage a huge organization that has been essentially un-managed for the past six years (if not longer). None of the usual management tools or practices are in place. Her actions are tightly constrained by labor union agreements, a distrustful community, the dysfunctional culture she inherited, and a number of other legacies that she never would have chosen for herself.

She has to build everything from the ground up. Change does not come overnight and it does not come in one year or two. Just the same, the progress has been nothing short of remarkable. If she can successfully fulfill her plans on time, we will see some very real and effective improvement in how this district functions.

I don't know if she can do it, but it won't happen as a result of catering to the narrow self-interests of the few at the cost of the many.

I expect the Board will find a home for Summit and add the needed capacity to the northeast.

I expect the District will find a north-end location for north-end elementary APP and will make the APP splits work.

I expect the District to make the promised progress (more or less) on the Strategic Plan and for it to bring real improvements in education for students.

And if we do these things it will be thanks to Dr. Goodloe-Johnson's leadership and management.

uxolo said...

Charlie,
We remember how complimentary you were about Olchefske, too. People who defend the programs they know best are not self-interested. Speak to the point and don't pick on the public.

Ruthie said...

Charlie, I'd be interested to learn why you expect the District will make the elementary APP split, as it's currently proposed, "work." Are you assuming that the proposal will be passed in its current form?

Free said...

"For example, the initial recommendation that Lowell be closed was quickly changed so that Lowell would stay open, but that's not good enough for gavroche."

Why should it be?

samdinista said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
anonymous said...

I know the communities that are affected by the closure proposals have very different perspectives than the communities that are not affected by the proposal. That is a given, and I understand that. Fighting for your program is natural, it's a given, and it's a necessity. But you have to fight fair, and you have to fight clean, if you want to be heard, and respected.

Many AS1 and Summit families are (rightfully) bitter about the closures, but instead of organizing, compiling favorable data, and fighting clean they have taken to attacking the District in it's entirety, the Superintendent, the school board directors, other alt schools, neighbors and long time contributors to this blog.

As a long time alt school parent myself, I have to say that I am ashamed of your behavior. If the entire AS1 and Summit communities are made up of parents like the ones who post on this blog, I understand why your programs are unsuccessful by all measures, and always on the closure list. Do you ever stop to ask yourselves why are we always on the closure lists? Why is TC never on that list? Why does Salmon Bay get all city transportation? Why isn't ORCA, or Pathfinder on the closure list? Why isn't the District limiting TOPS draw? No, you don't ask yourself these questions. Instead or trying to figure out what you can do to become sustainable, you decide to fight, conjecture up conspiracy theories, blame enrollment center employees, and rebel in every way you can.

Many other communities have been affected by the closures too. Lowell has been very vocal about the split, but never vicious. They talk about their dislike of the plan, why they think it won't work, and back it up with data. It is coherent, and it is civil. I have yet to hear a single one of them attack another school or program, the district, or MGJ.

Same for all of the other programs affected. TOPS was on the last closure list and though very vocal, they can keep hold their heads high as they handled themselves in a very proud way. They fought hard, but not dirty. They reached a hand out to other alts for assistance, they didn't try to tear them down and throw them under the bus.

I am disgusted by the AS1 and Summit families dirty fight. It is shameful, and it makes your community look bad. I'm expecting your next move will be to pick up handfuls of sand and throw it at MGJ at the next board meeting.

At this point the only reason that I would advocate to keep either AS1 or Summit alive is so that the parents from these two communities don't infiltrate my kids schools. It would be poisonous. At this point I truly feel it is best to keep you all grouped together in two buildings, so I am definately advocating for both of your programs to stay alive.

samdinista said...

um... I'm not even going to justify that ad hominem attack with a response.

joanna said...

Maybe my comment did not post. Continuing to focus energy and time on splitting APP is NOT a no-nonsense approach. While most of us are busy continuing to advocate for our schools and programs in hopes that School Board will hear our story, MGJ is willing to disrupt thousands of students, communities, and growing programs to accomplish splitting a program that seems to be working.

I have posted in other parts of this blog regarding these issues and will again tomorrow.

Charlie Mas said...

Uxulo now speaks in the royal "we". Impressive. The memory is less impressive. I would not describe the bulk of my comments on Mr. Olchefske as the least bit complimentary. That said, it wasn't all critical; I gave credit where credit was due, as I do now.

Ruthie, I expect the elementary APP split will work because the necessary elements of a successful program will be present: a critical mass of students and teachers and a supportive administration - the people. The building and the location don't matter very much. There are successful Spectrum programs that are less than half the size of each half of APP, so I have no concern about the cohort sizes. The District has a very strong interest in making these programs successful, so I fully expect supportive principals and the professional development, fair share of resources and welcoming environment that comes with that sort of leadership. These schools will have small general education programs and I think that a significant number of the students in those general education programs will be APP siblings, so I'm not expecting a lot of friction between programs. Also, since that is everyone's deepest worry, I think that there will be plenty done to avoid it.

I don't think the long-term solution will be the one currently proposed. I fully expect a north-end location for the north-end students. And, as anyone who has ever driven from Ballard to Capitol Hill knows, that would be a real benefit for north-end families.

On top of that, I am really looking forward to a written, taught and tested curriculum for APP. People are so worried about the possibility of variation between sites, but don't seem the least bit concerned about the current and significant curriculum variations we have - right now for real - among classrooms.

I don't know if Seattlehorn's comment was intended as sarcasm, but one of the really good things about this process has been how the District has listened to the community, considered the information the community provided, and changed the plan.

samdinista, however, is keeping score between the have nots and the have mores. That's not helpful, constructive, or informative. Instead, I suggest that samdinista keep score between good ideas that were accepted and bad ideas that were accepted. The idea to continue AS#1 is a good idea. It doesn't matter whose idea it was. That's just too petty to regard.

samdinista wrote that Cooper students "are being distributed to less successful programs farther from their homes" but that is just factually incorrect.

Cooper students are being moved into programs CLOSER to their homes and - for most of them - MORE successful than Cooper. Yes, 86 of the 286 Cooper students are going to West Seattle, Highland Park, or Roxhill (schools CLOSER to the students' homes), but 200 of them are being assigned to Pathfinder (not moving), Alki, Lafayette, Sanislo and Schmitz Park, all HIGHER performing schools or to Gatewood, a comparably performing school.

Let's remember that although there are 270 students who live closer to Cooper than any other elementary school, only 85 of the 300 students at Cooper (as of October 1) lived in the Cooper reference area and only 8 of them lived in the walk zone.

The decision to preserve the Montessori program at T. T. Minor is a good decision. It is a separate decision from the decision to close the building. It's not as if families in the Leschi area petitioned the District for the program to be relocated to their school. Perhaps samdinista also thinks that the Thurgood Marshall families petitioned to have APP come to theirs. This sort of talk is misleading, divisive, and destructive. It should be exposed for what it is and samdinista should be ashamed of giving voice to it. By the way, "tony Leschi" is actually Blacker than T.T. Minor (78.5% vs 67.0%), half as White (7.7% vs 15.5%), and just about as poor (70.4% vs 78.6% FRE). Yes, very tony. Check the facts before you spew these nasty insinuations. It's worse than irresponsible.

Sabia said...

From all sides, I've heard "this is putting the cart before the horse" in the implementation of the closures plan before the student assignment plan as well as before the alternative schools audit. This does not inspire confidence in the leadership.

As quoted by Jessica Blanchard (and another blogger on here), MGJ said that parental advocates didn't influence her decisions. As the parents are the primary educators of the students, this lack of listening to the needs and input of the community does not inspire confidence in her leadership.

Do I think MGJ is a leader? Yes. Do I think she's leading the direction in which the city wants to see the education of their young people to be lead? No. Do I think she's bullied the principals and other district staff into going along with what she wants? Yes.

MGJ's informing us that the Summit K-12 community wouldn't fit into her busy schedule for a meeting to discuss our ideas for input was a slap in the face. This does not inspire confidence in her leadership.

Peter Maier informed the Summit K-12 community that the Board had "received enough emails about Summit, please stop sending them" at the same time the official word was that SPS was accepting all input from the Seattle community and to send it to the Board members as well as the district staff.

Several Board Directors have talked to our community and said they support a central location for Summit K-12, for population density in the NE reasons, for access and equity reasons, for alternative school support reasons...and then they have gone and not taken the stand for Summit K-12 that has been expected. This does not inspire confidence in the leadership.

Are there politics in every organization that exists? Yes. Do unfavorable decisions sometimes have to be made? Yes. Can these decisions be made in such a way that the negative impact on the most people is ameliorated? Yes! They have not, in this process, though, and this inspires people to lack confidence in the leadership.

I have much more to write on this, and a finite amount of time at my disposal right now. I will try to get back to this later. Thank you for reading.

Sabia Becerra
Chair, Summit K-12 Parent Group

Charlie Mas said...

By the way, you don't seem to know what an ad hominem attack is.

adhoc focused on your behavior, which has not been honorable, and your writing, which has not been well-reasoned or even truthful, and supported the contention with facts. There was no name-calling, no use of dismissive or discrediting labels, or conjecture as to motives (such as you have practised "Parents in tony Leschi sure liked the looks of that.").

James W said...

Charlie, you said about APP: "The District has a very strong interest in making these programs successful, so I fully expect supportive principals..."

My understanding is that the principal assignment process is driven by union rules, state law, and MGJ's promise of "super seniority" for principals displaced by the proposed moves. Can the district really control who shows up as a principal at T. Marshall and Hamilton? I am unfamiliar with the process---do you know how it would work in this case?

Josh Hayes said...

Charlie's right: adhoc's attack wasn't ad hominem. It was just silly. I assume I'm one of those "dirty fighters" at AS1. I wish I knew what adhoc was talking about.

It is undeniably true that the district has, over the last at least five years, pursued a policy calculated to do away with AS1. Closure is threatened every year, parents are directed away from the school by district registration staff who lie about us. Now, in the face of the resulting declining enrollment, their solution is to -- take away transportation for the cluster with the largest fraction of kids at AS1. That too is a fact.

Sure, some of us are pretty cranky about this. But of course, our BLT is working with district staff on the restructuring program and developing metrics they can use, and so on -- in short, we ARE doing the things adhoc says we should be doing. If the district behaves in good faith, I see no reason why our enrollment won't climb, and if in a year or so it still hasn't, then by gosh, they SHOULD close the school -- assuming they've done their part, like not lying about us and suchlike.

Is that "dirty fighting", adhoc?

Syd said...

I do have concerns about APP cohort size and teacher training and adequate support staff. Vague assurances are not a plan. If there is a plan, I have not heard it. I want the nitty gritty. That would help me get behind a comprehensive APP plan. Instead I feel a very condescending, paternalistic attitude from the board and the supertindent.


Actually, I think that may be the biggest problem: there is a plan, but verbalizing it is seen as fomenting trouble. And maybe it is, but we are all adults. We can take it, and so can the district.

Also, many have pointed out that SPS is not even following the recommendations of the APP audit they recently(relatively) completed. That does not build trust. If you look at data, and then ignore it, where are you?

I do think it is relevant to take into consideration the very real affect of socio-economics on any school district. An APP program paired with a relativeley affluent general ed population is able to provide much more personal time and funding to a school than a school that is less affluent. Perhaps we need a new funding scheme. Of course we need a new funding scheme. Is the superintendent working on that? Is the board? It does not look like it. Building from the ground up means addressing bigger/fundamental issues as well.

Unknown said...

My opinion of MGJ has diminished during this process. I still can't understand why the assignment plan isn't being done first, and what some are calling "listening to community input" seems more like "the community has to point out the obvious that their data is bad or their thinking is flawed."

- The idea to put the north half of APP at TM? Dumb.

- "Lowell must be closed due to poor building condition"? Bad data

- "Montlake students drive by Stevens on their way to their new school at Lowell"? Dumb.

Charlie seems to be hoping that the current plan is not the final plan.

Well, if the final plan is good, then that is truly good. But it will be hard to forget the half-baked "plans" that we went through to get there.

Anonymous said...

Charlie said: "People are so worried about the possibility of variation between sites, but don't seem the least bit concerned about the current and significant curriculum variations we have - right now for real - among classrooms."

Charlie: People are EXTREMELY concerned about that issue, and it has been one of the chief concerns of the APP parents and how and why SPS would want to split the program BEFORE completing that critical work. But, like almost everything recommended by the APP Audit, SPS is ignoring that issue.

RIGHT NOW APP folks don't know how to fit 437 kids into a building built for 366. So some concerns are a little more pressing at the moment, if you don't mind.

Ben said...

We have never been given a real reason for the APP split. Building condition! No, not that. Special ed! Well, maybe not. Capacity! No, the two schools after the split will be just as crowded (if not moreso). Diversity! Still haven't heard how the split will lead to more diversity.

All we have heard is that MGJ has antipathy for alternative schools and that design teams will work everything out.

My son is affected by the plan, so I truly hope everything works out. I don't some people's optimism or the belief that because the district wants this to work, it will.

Ben said...

That is, I don't share some people's optimism....

Anonymous said...

As for MGJ's grade? C, but I'd like it to be alot higher, because I think she has it in her. I respect her for being strong, but NO, she does not listen well enough or respect solid, thoughful rational community input. She minimally complies with input requirements. And there's too much roadkill today in her "plan for excellence" tomorrow. That goes for the Board too if they support her. Hawthorne for South APP was DOA, and anyone with a pulse should have known that from day one. Same thing with North APP at Marshall - DOA. Forget A.H., why even bother mentioning Montlake for closure? Purely "political-cover" move.

If I'm Pathfinder or part of NECC, I like MGJ because she's been good to me. If I'm Cooper, APP, Minor, Meany, Summit or AAA, I don't like her because she's been bad to me. Big surprise.

anonymous said...

Since you ask Josh, I'll give you an example of some of your dirty fighting.

You are clearly frustrated (and rightfully so) that the district has limited AS1's transportation to 2 clusters, but instead of being productive, organizing, and making a cognizant argument in favor of a larger draw, you resort to dirty fighting and spite "I've put in an amendment request for no more than two cluster transportation to any school". Instead of reaching out to the alt community and working WITH them, you choose to throw them under the bus. It's ugly Josh.

How about this one Josh "I'm not worried that my proposal will in any way keep TC kids from their privileged spots and privileged yellow buses at SB". Surely, even you must admit this is dirty fighting, ugly and unproductive.

Then in another thread you move on to attack TOPS because they are not alternative enough. A claim you have also made in the past against Salmon Bay and TC. In reference to TOPS you say "based on my tours there a few years back, it seemed, frankly, like a traditional school with intensive test preparation, and that didn't strike me as alternative in any meaningful sense." You refuse to acknowledge post after post from parents like Maureen who continually try to explain how TOPS is alternative. I would think of all communities yours would be sensitive as to how it feels for someone to attack your schools practices, philosophies and pedagogy.

And on a personal level I can't forget your first response to one of my posts in which you accused me of being a troll. Moving right along in your most recent you call me silly.

You do fight dirty Josh. It's ugly and you should acknowledge it. Unfortunately I have seen this same aggressive style of fighting coming from many AS1 and Summit families. You appear unreasonable and narrow minded. When we moved here 16 years ago a friend warned "Seattle is so liberal it's conservative". You give true meaning to the phrase.

anonymous said...

to adhoc and Charlie? please cool the hostility, it doesn't help your case any, and it doesn't contribute constructively to the discussion so please stay on topic and refrain from personal attacks, thank you.

Charlie Mas said...

Ha ha ha ha!

Oh... wait... maybe Lurker No Longer wasn't making a joke. It's so hard to judge tone of voice and I usually give folks the benefit of the doubt.

James W, The District absolutely can control who shows up as principal at Lowell, at Thurgood Marshall, and at all of the other schools.

Syd is looking for a detailed plan, and there isn't one yet. That's just not the nature of things. It wouldn't be a wise use of the District's resources to plan very far beyond the decisions. Otherwise they would have to throw out a lot of work every time the proposal changed. So they only have a sketch of a plan so far.

I'm sorry that you interpret the absence of detail as paternalistic. The detailed planning will start after the Board vote. You are welcome to be a part of it.

There will be a detailed plan about who works where and there will be an APP curriculum written (it's in the works now). They will accept some of the recommendations from the APP Review, but they won't follow them all. That was never the intent.

The state is working on the new funding scheme that Syd wants. There was some news about it today.

I understand Brian's perspective, that the taste of discarded ideas remain in your mouth long after they have been spat out. You wonder how anyone could even consider such moves. That's also the nature of an iterive process. First drafts look like crap. We just usually don't get to see them. Please try to stay focused on the plan that the Board adopts on the 29th; that will be the one that matters.


wseadawg will be pleased to learn that the APP curriculum will be ready in time. I hear that it is nearly finished now. Folks were working on it long before this capacity management idea heated up. It's not a public process, but it shouldn't be. It will, however, be a living document, so there will be changes and refinements over the years. Likewise, other recommendations from the APP Review are sure to appear as well. You can contact Bob Vaughan and ask him about his progress on this project. It is one of the initiatives of the Strategic Plan.

As for how the kids will fit into T. Marshall, that question was answered. The functional capacity of 366 was with the E.B.O.C. classes in the building. Without them, the functional capacity is more like 430. Yes, the school will be full, but I expect the general education enrollment to be pared back in the coming years as it moves to one class per grade.

Ben speaks the truth. The District has not been clear about why they think they have to split elementary APP. It's not building condition or diversity or LRE for special ed. Those just aren't true.

I think the truth begins with Lowell being really very overcrowded. You can say that Lowell and T. Marshall will be nearly as crowded after the split, but I expect each of these general education programs to shrink down to one class per grade over the coming years.

Then, once you accept the idea of the program being split and having some room at two locations, there arises the opportunity to improve access - particularly for north-end families. And we'll only have that when we have a north-end site for the north-end students.

I regret that no one from the District has ever said it this clearly or stuck to the story, but the part they don't want to say out loud is the part about the shrinking general education programs, not any nefarious plans for APP.

As for me, my kids are in APP and at NOVA, so you might think that I would have a negative view of the plan. I don't. In large part because I don't view the plan from a personal perspective and judge its merits strictly on how it impacts me and mine. Also because I know and trust my children's teachers and I know and trust their principals. In the end, those are the people who define my children's educational experience - not the folks at the JSCEE.

seattle citizen said...

Way too much vitriole against each other here, people...

All who are "sniping" at each other, I've read many of your comments and been impressed. Some good, some bad...

Can't we leave out the back-and-forth who-said-what, unless it relates to substantive clarification? Sure there's angst, sure people are writing dumb things (myself included) but we're adults, let's move on.

I know one APP person in here who went out to John Marshall and stood, and fought a good fight for students the person had no connection to. Let's all try to do some uniting in discussion, instead of dividing.

end sermon

Ben said...

"I think the truth begins with Lowell being really very overcrowded. You can say that Lowell and T. Marshall will be nearly as crowded after the split, but I expect each of these general education programs to shrink down to one class per grade over the coming years.

Then, once you accept the idea of the program being split and having some room at two locations, there arises the opportunity to improve access - particularly for north-end families. And we'll only have that when we have a north-end site for the north-end students. "

Yes, but.

The general ed cohort at Marshall will already be 1 class per grade. There's certainly no room there for 2 classes per grade of APP (which we've been told we can count on) AND 2 classes per grade of gen ed.

Also, I'm glad that north-end families would have an easier time with APP after the split, but it wasn't their access that was held to be paramount. It was non-white families' access. That was/is the diversity people are talking about.

north seattle mom said...

Lurker No More, Charlie and Adhoc may not play Seattle nice but they never name call and they are not hostile.

That said, it would be good for everyone to take moment to realize that a lot of communities are in genuine mourning and a whole lot of pain at the moment. Regardless of your personal opinion of whether these closures are ultimately for the good or ultimately for the bad, closure are incredibly stressful on the families and communities involved. It is stressful and confusing for the students involved and posters may not be at their best when they are posting about their soon to be changed to closed community, so trying to read things with a little bit of grace will go a long way.

rugles said...

Some things Charlie said

I think that there's a vocal minority who are really upset about the capacity management plan and are using selective memory, clever manipulation of statistics, and conjecture to whip up melodrama over it.

This seems “dismissive and discrediting”

I'm not saying that I agree with all of the plan and I certainly don't agree with every decision that the superintendent has made, but she as guided the District with some skill since she arrived, there is good evidence to show that she is doing her job, and there is good cause to believe that she is doing it pretty well. Just because I don't agree with her decisions doesn't mean that she's doing a bad job.

I would be interested in this “good evidence” Unfortunately, none is cited. Not so interested in causes of beliefs. And is it possible to make bad decisions and yet do a good job?

She has taken the job to manage a huge organization that has been essentially un-managed for the past six years (if not longer). None of the usual management tools or practices are in place. Her actions are tightly constrained by labor union agreements, a distrustful community, the dysfunctional culture she inherited, and a number of other legacies that she never would have chosen for herself.

She has to build everything from the ground up. Change does not come overnight and it does not come in one year or two. Just the same, the progress has been nothing short of remarkable. If she can successfully fulfill her plans on time, we will see some very real and effective improvement in how this district functions.


Wow. Charlie you have out done yourself here. Beyond effusive.

I don't know if she can do it, but it won't happen as a result of catering to the narrow self-interests of the few at the cost of the many.

No need to call anyone names, you narrow self-interests expecting to be catered to at the expense of the many people know who you are

I expect the Board will find a home for Summit and add the needed capacity to the northeast.

Summit has no home.

I expect the District will find a north-end location for north-end elementary APP and will make the APP splits work.

There is no north-end location for APP.

I expect the District to make the promised progress (more or less) on the Strategic Plan and for it to bring real improvements in education for students.

There has been no progress (more or less)

beansa said...

adhoc,

I think you are basing your opinion of both the AS1 and Summit communities on some blog-post comments made by a few people, which really isn't fair. What transpires in the comment section of this blog in no way reflects the work that the parents of AS1 have done to advocate for our school.

At AS1 we have had, and continue to have meetings and we are exploring and trying to find answers to all of the questions you posed. Many of us have not been at the school very long, and we have inherited some obstacles and challenges from previous years - but we are still trying to save and improve our school.

My understanding is that AS1 has endured some intense growing pains, many of them related to the loss of our deeply committed and charismatic principal a few years ago. We lost enrollment due to disagreements about the governance of the school. Many of the families lost were the most active in our Site Council. Perhaps a silver lining of this whole closure process is that it drew in quite a few of the new parents at AS1 and spurred us to action.

One of the things I was so proud to witness during the public hearing at AS1 was that none of the speakers threw another community under the bus. Many of the parents and community members had spent hours preparing data for their testimony. Several even asked the district to restructure the school under NCLB as a way to improve it.

Since we found out that we are losing all-city transportation, we have had meetings and email correspondence, brainstorming ideas to try to ensure that ALL of our students will have transportation to school next year. We have talked about hiring a driver, carpools, vanpools, parents escorting students from metro stops.

Adhoc, you said that we just cook up conspiracy theories and rebel, but you are wrong. I have been quite impressed and inspired by the parents I've met and worked with at AS1 this year, including the ones who post on this blog. I hope that you will reconsider the opinion of us that you posted here.

Charlie Mas said...

rugles asks: "Is it possible to make bad decisions and yet do a good job?"

I don't know. Of course, I didn't write that she made bad decisions; I wrote that I didn't agree with them. Just because I disagree with a decision doesn't mean it is a bad one. I could be wrong. This is a critical difference between people who have perspective and those who don't.

As for the rest of Rugles critique, time will tell if the Strategic Plan is implemented, if there will be a north-end location for north-end elementary APP, and if Summit gets a home for next year.

Josh Hayes said...

I'm going to agree with North Seattle mom here. I'm sure that tempers are running hot with the vote only two days away; as I noted on another thread, closures force those who should be allies to regard each other as competitors instead, and that can't be a good thing.

I'm done arguing with adhoc. There's no point, and I'm sure the blog is tired of the vituperation anyway.

Good luck to everyone in the upcoming vote: I hope we all get what we want, and when we don't, that we can figure out how to move forward from it.

Oooh -- "blexoryl". Sounds like an acne medication.

Meg said...

I think it's too soon to know if she's a good leader or not. There hasn't been time to see how her efforts have played out. Is she a strong leader? She appears to be, but keep in mind that a strong leader is not always a good leader. You can strongly lead people to do pretty dumb things. And from what I hear, she is better than previous superintendents. But again... that she's an improvement is still a whole different kettle of fish than being good.

I object to this closure plan, and not surprisingly, it makes me question how good she is at her job. Even so, it's hard not to look at it a little more objectively and say that people who are great at their jobs do sometimes screw up impressively. I think the strategy for this plan is correct, but the tactical implementation is a hot mess.

Overall? She could turn out well. She could be a disaster. The result is likely to be in between. She did inherit quite a mess, but she knew that coming in, and she's amply compensated for it. To really find out what her leadership got us will take a couple of years.

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Garima Goyal said...

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Digital Hive said...

You are right at this point and but also I feel like this would be very early to judge someone so early and also if the situations are as you said then it would be the correct to go ahead in the path.

Blupord said...

All I can say is that if you are doing the job for others' benefit and education then you must never step back and go on with it. But one must be 100% sure that the path is great and also it will help the other person for a good reason.

David said...

There can never be any other good thoughts other than the thought of helping others.
But all I wanted to say is before judging others first know everything about the other person whom you think is doing the right job.

Protouch said...

Well said i think do whatever makes you feel you are doing right. But do you know if she is a great leader or not as the result for her work has not come up and so we cannot judge her so fast.