Disqus

Friday, April 03, 2009

Strategic Plan Update - for real

Unable to get information about the progress on the Strategic Plan through any other source, I made a public records request. The first batch of documents arrived today. There's 55 pages and I've been through them twice. Here are some selected elements:

1) There are now thirty-six projects in the Strategic Plan, "Excellence for All"

2) The projects are in various phases of completion in this order: "Not Started", "Define", "Plan", "Execute", and "Close Out".

3) You may be surprised to learn that as of 3/26/09 the Southeast Initiative was listed as "Not Started" and the Curriculum Audit Response was listed as "Close Out".

4) The Not Started label means that there is no Scope of Work document. Other projects listed as "Not Started" are:
* Phase 5 of the Special Education Audit Response, Behavior Audit
* Phase 2 of the Bilingual Audit Response
* Technology Roadmap
* Leadership Development
* Alternative Education Audit

5) These projects are in the Define Phase. Define Phase indicates that a Scope of Work document without costs and schedule is in progress.
* Special Ed Audit Response Phase 3: Organization
* Advanced Learning Audit Response Phase 2:Closure Work Phase 2
* Academic Data Warehouse
* Special Education Audit Response: Phase 4 High School Transition
* Professional Development Phase 2
* College Board
* Capacity Management Phase 2

6) These projects are in the Plan Phase. Plan Phase indicates that the Scope of Work has cost and schedule estimates is in progress, but deliverables are not yet identified.
* K-12 Assessment Strategy Phase 2
* Effective Annual Evaluations
* Performance Management System Tools and Training
* School Family Partnership Model
* Student Supports for College Readiness

7) These projects are in the Execute Phase. Execute Phase means that the deliverables indentified in the Scope of Work document are in progress.
* Closure implementation Phase 2
* Preparation for Labor Negotiations
* Student Assignment Plan Phase 1
* VAX/Student Assignment System
* Math/Science Curriculum Alignment Phase 1
* K-12 Assessment Strategy Phase 1
* BTA III Levy
* K-12 School Performance Model Phase 1
* VAX/Academic Systems Data
* Restructuring Safety Net Phase 2
* Hiring Process Redesign Phase 1
* VAX/e-SIS Phase 1
* VAX/Utilities Phase 1
* Financial Analysis (spending effectiveness) Phase 2
* Budget Process Redesign Phase 2
* Website Improvement Phase 1
* Customer Service Phase 1

8) These projects are in the Close Out Phase. Close Out means that transition to on-going operations is in progress.
* Advanced Learning Audit Response Phase 2: Closure work Phase 1
* Professional Development Phase 1
* Curriculum Audit Response Phase 1
* School Family Partnership Model Phase 1

For just about every project it is noted that the communications plan for the project is either totally absent or behind schedule. These notes on the absence of communications plans are dated mostly in September and October and, for the most part are classified as high priority concerns. The focus on communications, however, appears more on controlling the information that is released rather than releasing it. And by controlling, I mean put a strangle hold on it. The District appears to actually want more of a non-communication plan.

Among the notes is this one:
No central owner/coordinator of community engagement meetings and process may result in poor public perception, too many meetings, lack of leveraging of meetings, and potentially non-vetted public material.

The solution to this problem was listed as:
9/15 -- Family and Community Engagement team will be clearinghouse for community meetings. Meeting scheduled for 9/17 to figure process out.
9/26 -- Carol [Rava-Treat] is writing communication plan for Student Assignment Plan project. As part of that effort, she's looking at overarching communication plan. District-wide community engagement plan should be ready for review in the next week or two.


So it was Carol Rava-Treat, with the express approval of the Senior Leadership Team, who decided to restrict the communication with the public to far, far less than promised in the Plan.

51 comments:

Josh Hayes said...

The Alternative School audit is "not started"? Wasn't that on the table for this Spring? If they haven't started, they're sure as hell not going to get it done this school year, and probably won't even get it "started".

Let me just say this about that:

ARRRGHHH!

dan dempsey said...

Great Work Charlie,

WOW!!! the curriculum audit is at close out status.

That would be this one:
http://www.seattleschools.org/area/strategicplan/Curriculum_Review_Report.pdf

396 pages for $100,000+
A Curriculum Management Audit®
of the Seattle Public Schools
by
International Curriculum Management Audit Center
Phi Delta Kappa International

IMHO ... This report was largely buried and ignored because it had numerous recommendations for correcting deficiencies. Rather than change the district for the better it was easier to continue to pretend things are not that Bad.

I now understand the fast track process to close out status.
1. Report the truth
2. Have it ignored (and buried)
3. Closeout status

Let me just say this about that:

ARRRGHHH!

dan dempsey said...

Hey Charlie,

Given the fact you had to make a public records request to get this 55 pages of information, I think you might be correct that the district is trying to selectively control information releases.

dan dempsey said...

So at the execute phase we find:

* Math/Science Curriculum Alignment Phase 1

Thanks. I figured that April 22 would be the execution date for k-12 math in the SPS. Now I at least have confirmation from the Strategic Plan that I am using correct vocabulary.

dan dempsey said...

Curriculum Audit page 357:

District personnel have been involved in planning for a number of years but the breadth of the action planning has resulted in a “pie in the sky” attitude. Planning needs to focus around a few measurable goals over a period of two to three years to provide focus for the entire district.
--------------------------

Can anyone name the few measurable goals and how they will be measured?

Meanwhile back to "pie in the sky".

Look for the adoption of "Pie in the Sky" Math on April 22.

This completes the k-12 "Pie in the Sky" Math Program as CAO Carla Santorno provides the SPS with the final piece of her three pieces of Math Pie in the Sky:
EDM, CMP2, and "Discovering".
---------------
School Board voting:

CMP2: 6 for, 1 against
EDM & (Singapore): 7 for, 0 against
"Discovering": ? for, ? against

dan dempsey said...

Look like the SPS admin likes McKinsey better than the Curriculum Audit...

Speaking of Pie in the Sky ...
you might find a piece or two here.

From McKinsey:
Although SPS faces challenges, our work also identified strengths we can build on as we move forward:

Clear examples of a strong instructional core and examples of best practices in our operations
• Stakeholders who are committed to improving public education
• Hardworking, committed district staff
A leadership team that is focused on accountability
• A school board willing to prioritize initiatives and implement them fully
• Partners who are willing to collaborate for change and action
-------------------

McKinsey should have said:
A leadership team that is focused on using the word accountability as often as possible, rather than actually providing any accountability.

How accountable have the Quarterly District Admin's Strategic Plan Updates been? Does the SPS School Board even care about this continual neglect?
----------------
I am still waiting for D44.00 and D45.00 accountability.

Unknown said...

Charlie,

Are you going to post the records you received?

Charlie Mas said...

I cannot post the 55 pages of documents I received because Blogspot doesn't appear to allow people to post files.

Beyond that, many of the pages are not particularly meaningful.

And, to tell the truth, there are some things that it really would not be fair to the District or the District staff for me to make public.

There are some things that I believe the public should have and know, and I am working to get that information out into public hands.

There are other things that go beyond the promise of transparency made to the public that, if taken out of context, would create unnecessary trouble.

The last page of the Strategic Plan, "Excellence for All", is very clear. It says that each strategy will be developed with a detailed timeline that will include milestones and performance measurements so that we can assess our success. It also says that yo honor our commitment to transparency, all materials will be posted on the SPS Web site.

The timelines, milestones, and performance measurements are the documents that should be made public, they are the documents I requested, and they are the documents that I will make public when I get them. It is they, along with status reports, that I believe constitute a real status report - the one that the Board and the public should each expect and demand.

That's all I was promised by the Plan document, so that's all I ever asked for in my emails to the project managers and that's all I ever asked from Carol Rava-Treat or Bridgett Chandler. I only want what they told me I would get.

They, however, would not provide the promised level of transparency. So, to get what was promised, I have had to resort to a public document request. Now, in the course of that request I have gained access to a great deal more internal documents that go beyond the level of transparency promised to the public. Ironic, isn't it? Now they must rely upon me, and my sense of what should or should not be public.

They would have been far better off if they had just met the standard for public disclosure that they promised in the Plan.

That's our lesson for today, boys and girls. Making insincere promises and then breaking them has a nasty way of boomeranging back at you.

dan dempsey said...

How many times does the boomerang need to come back and hit someone to break a bad habit?

So Charlie will the SPS now communicate or can we expect you to file frequent requests for documents and be our official unofficial oracle of communication?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Interesting Charlie because as we both recall you tried to press Carol, at the last assignment plan meeting at the headquarters, on these issues of engagement and she got a little impatient with you and said she didn't know what you wanted her to say.

I thought maybe she wasn't the person to ask. Well, apparently you were indeed asking the right person but she wasn't inclined to answer for whatever reason.

Dorothy Neville said...

Oh Charlie, lol. The district proves itself prescient on one thing. They worried that if they actually had community engagement then they risked unvetted information being made available to the public. You managed to get "community engagement" and there you go, unvetted information.

What would happen now if perhaps ten more citizens submitted similar public records requests?

Sahila said...

Charlie said:
"And, to tell the truth, there are some things that it really would not be fair to the District or the District staff for me to make public."..

Well, if the District gave you the information under a Freedom of Information Request, in the act of releasing the information to a citizen, hasnt it made the information public already?

Why should all other parents/interested parties have to file similar requests to get the information that has already left the District's hands?

And, with all due respect... your writing implies you now know things that (in your opinion) may or may not be ready for public knowledge/wouldnt be fair to the District to make public ...

Where is the distinction between Charlie Mas (individual public citizen) knowing something and then deciding/choosing to withhold that information....and the District withholding information...

It would be easy to take offence at the implication that the rest of us are not to be trusted with
'sensitive' information that might possibly be embarrassing or otherwise difficult for the District...

If you say you have information, make it available... if you want to play god and hold the cards/information close to your chest, then dont titillate others with hints that you have extra insights that we others arent privy to, unless we also go to the trouble of filing information requests with the District...

So much game playing, so little transparency....and now parents/interested parties are doing it too...no wonder this whole system is so sick...

ParentofThree said...

"If you say you have information, make it available... if you want to play god and hold the cards/information close to your chest, then dont titillate others with hints that you have extra insights that we others arent privy to, unless we also go to the trouble of filing information requests with the District..."

Agree, especially if you are running for the board this fall. You really need to think about your own transparency. This game of "I have information you can't have" won't win my vote!

Unknown said...

It is a little strange to talk about transparency and say the following in the same post:

"And, to tell the truth, there are some things that it really would not be fair to the District or the District staff for me to make public."

I think it helps everyone to have full transparency in our government. What possible reason could there be for not having full disclosure of everything that happens in SPS? Give a hypothetical if you are uncomfortable with the facts in hand.

Charlie Mas said...

The level of transparency promised by the Strategic Plan was an appropriate level of transparency. It is the one I sought and the one I will provide.

Sahila asks: "Where is the distinction between Charlie Mas (individual public citizen) knowing something and then deciding/choosing to withhold that information....and the District withholding information..."

The distinction is that I promised to provide the level of transparency promised by the Strategic Plan document and I will, whereas the District made the same promise yet they will not.

That is the level of transparency which is appropriate and due to the public. I made no promise to disclose absolutely everything I know.

I am fulfilling my commitment; the District is not fulfilling theirs. That is the distinction. I think it a significant one.

SPSMom writes: "Agree, especially if you are running for the board this fall. You really need to think about your own transparency."

Yes, I do think about my own transparency. Board members have access to information that is not for public distribution. They are expected to keep that information confidential. If I am running for the Board, then I have to show that I am capable and willing to keep quiet at the right times as well as talk at the right times.

The information that was an "over-share" was more about internal district politics than about the execution of the Strategic Plan. If taken out of context and publicly distributed it would unfairly cast some good people in a poor light.

While I appreciate everyone's thirst for information, not all information is useful. Moreover, the only information I wanted was the information promised in the Strategic Plan. That's as far as I ask the District's transparency to go and it's as far as I am willing to push it.

It is very simple to send an email to Joy Stevens in the legal department and make a request similar to the one I made. Then any of you are free to transcribe everything you receive to this blog or share whatever details you think might appeal to the readers' idle curiosity.

For my part, I have a specific purpose in mind and I intend to achieve that purpose: to collect and distribute the information that was promised in the Strategic Plan.

My Word Verification is: defun. It feels very true. While it might be fun to gossip about some of the information that was sent to me, it would be counterproductive.

Dorothy Neville said...

Hey, I wasn't suggesting that Charlie share or that we all should ask for the same info. I was more wondering if that information was really necessary to send for the FOI request or if it was an oops. If more people asked, would they be more careful, or would they be forced to share?

I was thinking about how they seemed worried that at meetings we might potentially get non-vetted information and the irony there.

I was thinking along the lines of personnel data or something that really would be inappropriate to share. I agree that Charlie isn't the district and that sometimes it's better not to share.

Last year, my son's counselor told me an anecdote about a student. She was trying to explain why the AP Euro to AP HG move was beneficial. But an anecdote about a particular student has no place in such a discussion *and* most importantly, it was inappropriate sharing of private information. Completely unprofessional. I feel very free to share this much information, because I think it's instructive of the (lack of) critical thinking done by the staff with respect to the AP HG decision. Sharing what she said would be way inappropriate. I was thinking of Charlie's information along similar vein.

suep. said...

Charlie --- If you are not going to bring change to the way things are currently being done by the Board and are instead training to become just like them, why should we vote for you? More of the same is not what I will be looking for in new candidates to challenge Directors Chow, DeBell or Bass. Looks like you have a decision to make here. Whose interests are you going to represent---the public interest or SPS’s public image? This kind of exclusive treatment of information and patronizing attitude toward the public is what we’ve all had our fill of already from this Board and Superintendent. Disappointing to get it from you too. Of course there are internal politics going on in SPS. Clearly much of the motivation for the “capacity management plan” was driven by hidden agendas and politics, because it certainly was not driven by rational cost-savings or best practices for the good of our children. Sundquist and others admitted as much in their feeble attempts to explain their obsession with splitting apart APP, to give just one example. I very much doubt there is any information that you might deign unreleasable to us unwashed masses that would shock us beyond what we have already seen from this Board and Superintendent.

Charlie Mas said...

The public, myself included, is entitled to the information that the District committed to sharing with us in the Strategic Plan. We are not entitled to more than that - and that includes me.

The District, in the course of providing the information that they have committed to providing, have provided some information in excess of that. I should not have received that information. It was a mistake for them to share it with me. I will not compound the mistake by sharing it with a larger audience.

The public - myself included - is not entitled to absolute total disclosure of every single document in the District. Sharing information to that extent is counter productive in a number of ways. I won't be a party to it.

A few years ago, in an effort to be more transparent about how students are identified as eligible for Spectrum and APP, the District released test score data for nominated students. Due to some basic technical incompetence, the spreadsheets they posted to the web site included students' names. I noticed this and alerted them to their error. The data was quickly removed from the web site.

Although the spreadsheets had been online and available for no more than about 45 minutes I know of at least three people who downloaded them, myself included. I suppose I still have the files somewhere on my hard drive.

Would anyone expect me to re-post that student test data in the name of transparency? I hope not.

There is information that the public needs and should have and there is information that the public doesn't need and should not have. With regard to the Strategic Plan, the information that the public needs and should have is defined in the Plan. That is the information that you should want. That is the information that you should demand. Not anything else.

As for the question about whether I would be "more of the same" if I were to serve on the Board, I should hate to think that it all pivots on this single triviality. I don't think that my record indicates someone who will protect the district's reputation over the public's right to know. There is, however, a balance. I'm sorry if it makes you uncomfortable, but you're just going to have to trust me to strike that balance. If you can't trust me to find that balance then I wouldn't have your vote anyway.

You can have the information - but you won't get it from me. At least not until it can be viewed in the proper context. Go ahead and request the same documents that I requested. All it takes is an email. I will be happy to teach you how to do it.

Or, you can keep your eyes on the prize: the information that the District committed to sharing with the public in the Strategic Plan. Let's get that information out to the public.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I'd hard to know, when you're not a good mood, whether to post but oh well, here goes.

Charlie has made it clear and I concur - Board members and the district have to keep some things under wraps for many good reasons including legal ones. That they gave him information that he recognized as sensitive speaks to his good judgment not to shout, "Look what I found!".

When I asked the Legal Department some questions on a court case, they answered them pretty clearly on my main point and then elaborated. Afterwards I was asked to not discuss the elaboration as it was to make clear the main point and not for public consumption. I absolutely agreed to that. I had the answer I needed. I wasn't about to go blabbing around just because I had info.

I'm more than a little surprised at the hostility towards Charlie on this point. He isn't elected to anything and if you want to hold him to it when he does run, okay. But you will not find any decent, responsible candidate who will promise to tell everything they learn once in office. Not a one.

I certainly see from this exchange that it may not be worth being totally forthcoming here about what I learn. Charlie may have made a mistake even saying anything. Most of you have never met Charlie but saying that he would "play games" is entirely, completely in error. That is not the person that he is and he never would be. That anyone, after the time he spends trying to get information to put on this blog, would believe that about him is unfair and wrong.

In closing, f you want to know something from the district, do what we do...ask.

Maureen said...

I'm with Charlie on this. Context is everything. I follow District news much more than most and I have been flat out wrong about things that I have seen out of context. I don't want SPS to share every bit of drivel they generate with me, I do want them to follow up on their commitments. Thank you Charlie for holding them to that standard.

dan dempsey said...

Charlie Mas is an incredible guy.
Seattle would be the recipient of great service should he be elected school director.

Charlie through great effort and remarkable talent regularly produces incredible insights. He is a true Seattle treasure. I may not always agree with Charlie but I always respect his well reasoned opinions.

Once again he is spot on. This time about the sharing of district information.

rugles said...

I cannot post the 55 pages of documents I received because Blogspot doesn't appear to allow people to post files.

OK. That’s a good enough explanation for me. I'm not going to be reading a 55 page document once, let alone twice.

Beyond that, many of the pages are not particularly meaningful.

Well, I didn’t really need a second reason, but…hey, are you saying some of the pages are particularly meaningful?

And, to tell the truth, there are some things that it really would not be fair to the District or the District staff for me to make public.

I guess you are.

There are some things that I believe the public should have and know, and I am working to get that information out into public hands.

I had no idea documents received from an FOIA request conferred special powers/status to the recipient.

As for the “working to get the information out”…Control A then Control C then Control V. I don’t think of that as work myself, but I’m a little old school.

There are other things that go beyond the promise of transparency made to the public that, if taken out of context, would create unnecessary trouble.

Probably a good idea than to not draw unnecessary attention to these things that go beyond the promise of transparency to the public.

Charlie Mas said...

I had no idea documents received from an FOIA request conferred special powers/status to the recipient.

A request for public documents is not a Freedom of Information Act process. At least not as far as I know.

As for special powers or status, we all have information that we can choose to share or keep private. There's nothing particularly special about that power or status.

Control A then Control C then Control V. I don’t think of that as work myself, but I’m a little old school.

The documents all came as .pdf image files. I cannot copy and paste them, and I don't have any OCR software, so I have to re-type them. I think of typing as work, but I'm old school, too.

Again, I suggest that anyone who wants to know what was in the documents that I don't regard as worthy of sharing should make their own public document request and get their own copy of the documents that were sent to me. Then they can post anything they find to the internet for themselves.

beansa said...

Charlie, I admire your principles.

Thank you for providing a real update on the strategic plan. I hope that your continued committment to holding SPS staff accountable will improve their community engagement process.

rugles said...

As for special powers or status, we all have information that we can choose to share or keep private. There's nothing particularly special about that power or status.

As stated, I disagree.

The documents all came as .pdf image files. I cannot copy and paste them, and I don't have any OCR software, so I have to re-type them. I think of typing as work, but I'm old school, too.

Again, I suggest that this was all you needed to say. Why go on to talk about public information in your possession that you don't want to make public.

ParentofThree said...

I think it was great you notified the district of that spreadsheet with all those students names on it, but why did you then download it?

Dorothy Neville said...

"I think it was great you notified the district of that spreadsheet with all those students names on it, but why did you then download it?"

Actually, the district posted this excel file with some data on testing so we could see for ourselves a bit about how testing worked to qualify kids for HC programs. It was supposed to be very limited and of course names were stripped. No one would know until they downloaded it and then played around with it (two things the district said to do) to see that the data that the district thought they had deleted, they had instead simply hidden, a feature of excel they didn't understand. Charlie could not possibly have known that the hidden information was there until after he had downloaded and looked at it.

This was five or so years ago, IIRC.

anonymous said...

I'm with Charlie on this one. If he was privy to information that was not meant to be public, or was taken out of context, I think it honorable that he chose not to share it. Personally, I trust him enough to know that if he says it's not appropriate to share, then it's not appropriate to share. So, I don't want to know.

But for anyone who does really want to know, please have at it. Make your request to the district.

Now, can we move past what Charlie chose not to share and get to what he did share.

Thank you for posting all of this information Charlie.

Dorothy Neville said...

You know, you can get text for a copy-paste from a pdf. There's a choose text tool.

Tosca said...

I respect and appreciate Charlie's level of professionalism on this, and I am happy that he has the good judgment to hold back on that which is not appropriate (even if the District apparently lacked that judgment).

I would suggest that the anger and near-vitrol displayed here has little to do with Charlie (at least I hope), and everything to do with the distrust of the District. Because they have a long record of withholding information and forwarding their hidden agendas, the result here is displaced anger. I, too, am sorry and disappointed that some people choose to attack Charlie personally, and I hope that if those individuals stop and reflect they will find that Charlie's position is in fact the only responsible one to take.

Unknown said...

I disagree that there is vitriol here. I think this is a philosophic issue that citizens deal with in an open government for which they are responsible.

I have been thinking about this all day. I think there are things in government that are a covenant between the government and a single individual. In those cases, such as your SS number and the Feds (or the individual student test scores mentioned above), I believe there is is an expectation of privacy.

Also, Charlie does not work for the government (at least not yet), and really we can have no expectation that he go out of the way to post more than he has time or inclination to do. As he noted, it is not easy to post 55 pages using this technology. It might have been more politic for him to just say the functionality does not exist, but who wants that anyway.

Here is the big however:

However, SPS is a government organization, not a private company. There is very little they do that should not be transparent. There is no national security issue here. They have no private interests to protect from competitors. The internal politics of the school district is our public business: it often explains why things are done. The rules that apply to a private business have no place here (and are also counter-productive in private business).

So while I support Charlie's right to spend time as he pleases as a private citizen (after all, I could make the same request he has), I believe the argument that some things are not useful to share, and in some cases are hurtful, is the wrong road. I believe it is the path taken by the current board. I believe they think they are doing the right thing by keeping everything simple with no hint of all the thinking that goes into planning. That just makes everyone think that either no thought is going into planning or nefarious deal making is going on and power hungry bureaucrats are making up rules for their own purposes. Everyone loses on this path.

Charlie Mas said...

Tom's position is a thoughtful one and I understand it.

For me, the difference is the distinction between the District telling nothing and my telling what the public should know and needs to know. It's not like I think I am "doing the right thing by keeping everything simple with no hint of all the thinking that goes into planning". On the contrary, I am working to get the information about the thinking and and the planning to the public.

Not all of the information that came to me falls into those categories. The interest in the parts that I don't think are appropriate to share is idle curiosity at best and a prurient interest at worst. There's no good in it.

The goal was to get the information that the District committed to sharing in the Strategic Plan document. Nothing more. I remain focused on that goal. I will not be distracted by trivialities and I will not distract others with them.

You can be sure that I'm sorry I mentioned that there was anything off topic in the packet I received. I never imagined that anyone would be interested in it. It was that disclosure that got me into trouble here. My lesson: disclose less going forward.

I also learned that there are a few folks out there who really don't trust me. With little more effort than they spent complaining about my choice they could have requested the information for themselves. I'm astonished that they have the energy for one but not the other.

Sahila said...

Maybe the lesson is disclose everything....

Charlie Mas said...

Sahila, why don't you do the request and then disclose everything. Then you don't have to rely on me and you can have the high moral ground.

Anonymous said...

Because it would mean effort for naught. She would find the same information in the same format you did. And she would find that it was irrelevant to the discussions at hand and ignore that portion of the material, just as you are doing. Or worse yet, go to the effort of specifically transcribing those portions of the information merely to make a point - at the expense of keeping people focused on what's important.

I look forward to reading what you do get transcribed Charlie. And I hope people can move forward and drop this. Including me.

h2o girl said...

How can the Southeast Initiative be under the "Not Started" category? That confounds me.

Sahila said...

You appear to miss the point, Charlie...

If I want to get information I'll submit a request...

If I want to post that information, I'll do that...

What I wont do is post SOME of the information and then TELL people I'm not posting other information because I think it might embarrass the District or I dont think its relevant or state (by my actions) that I am now the gatekeeper of what other people need to know...

I'm not going to set myself up on some pedestal dispensing info as and when I see fit... who the hell do I think I am and why should other people trust me to make decisions about what they should and shouldnt know?

Reminds me of a time when I was a broadcast journalist in New Zealand and the Television New Zealand news channel had a marketing tagline to the effect that citizens could trust them to choose and bring them the news they needed to know... gatekeeping and censorship and power and control games...

I believe in total transparency, total honesty, total 'realness'.... stuff the game-playing, stuff the internal politics, stuff the one-upmanship, stuff the pretense, stuff the agendas, stuff the power-over crap...

Maybe you were just being naive...or maybe you needed to show off that you had gotten some 'dirt' amongst the information that was released to you...maybe you wanted to "show off" how discriminating and virtuous you were in not passing on 'sensitive' information - I dont know.... but it was really weird to include a reference to material you were choosing to withhold.... what kind of reception did you expect with that kind of disclosure?

anonymous said...

"I believe in total transparency, total honesty, total realness"

Yes, but you must acknowledge that there are certain things that are not and should not be public information (certain Human Resources information, disciplinary action taken against a student, a teachers personnel records, a students WASL scores, etc.)

The district has every staff member, every administrator, and every students phone number and address. Should that be disclosed and made public? Should we be able to find out where Dr. Vaughn lives and get his home phone number? How about your personal information Sahila? Should I be able to know where you live, what your phone number is, and what your child's WASL scores are? After all the district does have that information. Should they disclose it? How about Charlie? If he came across a document with your personal information on it, should he post it here in the name of total disclosure?

Charlie, you probably shouldn't have mentioned that you had the information. This thread has officially been diverted away from talking about the real issues facing this district and that's too bad.

Sahila said...

One of the real issues facing the District IS the lack of transparency, the lack of forthrightness about agendas, the lack of disclosure...

Because of this lack, there is no trust...

Charlie - through what was probably a poor judgment call (as opposed to an ulterior motive) in referring in his post to having access to information he made the decision not to share - was (unintentionally) contributing to the lack of transparency and disclosure, leading to further distrust....

There's no difference between the District doing it and Charlie doing it... the Staff and the Board and the Super all probably have what they think are very good reasons for choosing not to be transparent and for failing to disclose... just as Charlie thought he did.

Nevertheless - its a poor moral, ethical, strategic and PR decision and it does nothing to solve the problems we are facing...

Melissa Westbrook said...

Charlie ALREADY said he regretted saying anything and wouldn't again. Are you looking for a pound of flesh?

I know Charlie Mas, I've sat through countless meetings with Charlie Mas and I've (gasp!) even disagreed with Charlie Mas.

Sahila, you're no Charlie Mas (and hard to believe you were in journalism given your take-no-prisoners attitude).

We are actually all on the same side here in supporting public education. Don't alienate the very people who would likely stand with you. And please, let it go.

Josh Hayes said...

I'd just like to point out, by way of example, that the district's database managers are not on top of everything.

I asked for information this last year and was given everything I asked for (Yay!) and more (uh...Yay?). It turned out they'd pointed me to a database that nobody should have had access to, one which included quite a bit of confidential information. It was an honest mistake on their part, and I informed them, and they closed the hole. There was no malfeasance on anyone's part, it was just a screw-up, and between us we fixed it. It would have been wrong to point out the hole before it was fixed.

The point is, you can ask for information and get stuff you really SHOULDN'T disclose. I think we should just end this whole "gotcha" thing with a "nuff said" and let it go.

Charlie Mas said...

Here's the point:

"There's no difference between the District doing it and Charlie doing it... the Staff and the Board and the Super all probably have what they think are very good reasons for choosing not to be transparent and for failing to disclose... just as Charlie thought he did."

There IS a difference.

First, they are public officials with a responsibility to the public. You pay their salaries and have a claim on them. In contrast, I am not a public official. I don't owe the public diddly squat. You have no claim on me.

Second, they are witholding information that they committed to distributing. I am not withholding anything that I said I would distribute.

Do I have additional information? Yes I do. I know lots of stuff - including items that aren't public information. Not just personal stuff but stuff about internal District politics. In order for me to function effectively as an activist it is necessary for me to have relationships with District staff. Part of having these relationships includes keeping confidences. I owe it to those folks to protect their confidentiality, to honor our relationship, to demonstrate my trustworthiness, and because they are human beings worthy of that respect and loyalty.

I am not keeping anyone from having the information I have. You are free to have it. I will give you any help you need making your own public document request. You just won't get it from me.

I understand that some people have an issue with this.

Some are saying that it would be okay for me not to distribute the information if only I had not mentioned that it exists in the first place. I don't know what principle of transparency is at work there.

Is it like saying that you know a dirty joke but can't tell it in mixed company? Okay, that's bad form but it isn't a moral failing.

Some are saying that it is somehow immoral for me not to share every scrap of information that I collect from the District. I disagree because I don't think I owe it to anyone to share everything I know. When did I make that commitment?

Some are saying that it is hypocritical of me to complain about the lack of transparency and openness from the District when I myself select which information to share and not share. Again, I disagree because transparency was never promised to be 100%. I want the District to share information to the extent that they committed to sharing it. I am sharing information to that extent, so I don't see the hypocrisy. I am holding myself to the same standard to which I hold them.

Have none of those complaining about my refusal to disclose made their own public document request yet? Is this really just about my choice and not about the information?

Finally, some seem to think that I'm power-tripping. I have no response to that. It's just not something I do or feel any motivation to do. The whole idea is alien to me. If I were power-tripping I don't think I would suggest that you go to the source to get the information. I am not a gate-keeper. I don't think a gate-keeper would direct you to a gap in the fence.

I guess these questions are worthy of exploration, but that can be done off the blog. My email address is readily available from my profile.

Sahila said...

This isnt a 'gotcha' thingy... these actually are quite serious citizenry and governance issues...

Josh... what would be the right thing to do would be to point out the hole AND fix it...and do that publicly... so we all know what and where the problems are and we all are responsible for fixing them...

One too many innocent little 'screw ups' that are fixed on the quiet and beyond the public gaze and you have Watergate.... and I know that's hyperbole and I'm choosing to use it as an analogy in an effort to point out that this issue is not trivial and really bad things can and do happen when people and systems choose to become gatekeepers of information... which, Melissa, is one of the reasons I became a (very good and quite well-respected)journalist - to ensure that information wasnt kept locked away from the public...

TechyMom said...

Charlie,
Can I ask that you start a separate thread to discuss the information you posted? If people want to keep talking about disclosure here, fine, but I want to talk about the strategic plan.

rugles said...

Josh-Your example is not quite on point. You didn’t post, however indirectly, that the confidential information was available, nor did you offer to help others find it.

Melissa-You’re no Sahila, either. The way to get people to “let it go” is to let them have their say. Not get one last word in, then say lets not discuss it anymore.


Some are saying that it would be okay for me not to distribute the information if only I had not mentioned that it exists in the first place. I don't know what principle of transparency is at work there.

Is it like saying that you know a dirty joke but can't tell it in mixed company? Okay, that's bad form but it isn't a moral failing.


Charlie-

There is no principle of transparency involved here. As you say, you know “lots of stuff” that you keep confidential. You never promised to be “100% transparent”. The principle involved here for me is common sense. If you don’t want to call attention to something, you don’t say I’m not posting these documents because I don’t want to call attention to them. Has nothing to do with morals and moral failing. Can you email me the joke?

dan dempsey said...

Can I ask that you start a separate thread to discuss the information you posted?

Ditto

I would like clarification in regard to the South_East Initiative.

What was not started? ....
The promised communication or the Initiative?

TechyMom said...

How can "Advanced Learning Audit Response Phase 2:Closure Work Phase 2" be in the Define stage, while "Closure implementation Phase 2" is in the Execute stage? Oh, and does that mean that there are Advanced Learning Closures being defined? Ruh Oh, Shaggy.

How can "School Family Partnership Model" be in the Plan stage, while "School Family Partnership Model Phase 1" is in close out. Did they do Phase 1 before planning? Well, ok, maybe they did. That sounds like SPS.

The Technology Roadmap is not started, and yet there are bunch of technology projects, mostly related to the VAX, being executed. Speaking as someone who has managed a lot of software projects, this likely means that we'll be doing a lot of rework once we decide what we really wanted the system to be.

TechyMom said...

Charlie, are there more details in the documents on what each of these line items means? Just as an example of what I'm wondering about, what does it mean to be defining an Academic Data Warehouse or to be executing Customer Service Phase 1? Who is doing that, what are their deliverables, when are they due, that sort of thing. Thanks again for getting this info and making it available to us for discussion.

Charlie Mas said...

rugles, put your email in your profile and I'll send you the joke.

It is HIGHLY objectionable. It involves two sailors and a nun shipwrecked on a deserted island.

Charlie Mas said...

TechyMom,

I am looking forward to additional documents that will address precisely the questions you ask.

For each project there is supposed to be a detailed timeline complete with a workplan and performance measures. That is the information that I asked for.

ParentofThree said...

Could it be that this stratigic plan update is dated?