Thursday, December 10, 2009

Board Meeting Part Two (Transition Plan)

Transition Plan discussion.

Dr. Goodloe-Johnson started off the overview saying that transportation and grandfathering of siblings were two of the key issues for the Transition Plan that will be discussed next Wednesday the 16th at a Board Work Session.

She said that "transition rules are for one year and may continue or change based on actual student enrollment". Meaning, " we won't know how the SAP is actualized until students are in the seats" and then they will make adjustments.

My interpretation (and again, if you watched or were there, help me out) is that:
  • the transition plan will be for one year only (but may extend depending on the outcomes of that first year. Does this mean grandfathering siblings for only one year? It might and that's a key question to ask Board members to get clarification on at the Work Session.
  • I understand that no one knows how this SAP will work out but I worry about that "one year only" business as a up-front notice to parents that the district may only transition for one year. Again, we need clarification and no Board member asked a question about it.
She stated that they learned some lessons from the opening of Jane Addams.

She said that Instructional Directors had been appointed for Old Hay, McDonald and Sand Point and there had been community meetings for McDonald and Sand Point. Directors noted that both meetings were well-attended. She said no decision for supervision at Lincoln had been decided.

Which brought up the issue of principals. She said that:
  • the timelines are to be finalized by next week
  • that she, the Superintendent, had the sole power over transfers, hires and assignments for principals
  • principal selection process with involve the communities for remaining openings
I take that to mean she will make decisions on principal assignments that she wants and any left over, well, then those communities will have some sort of input. There was no discussion of how or why this might be.

Another key statement was that program designs are part of the budget process and that includes the costs for implementing the new SAP. Again, as I said in the STEM thread, she seems to be laying groundwork to explain why the reopening schools will likely have no real focus. She says there are costs and priorities and makes it pretty clear STEM is her main priority.

Harium asked about how people can be on the design teams. She said there will be a Steering Community for each school (along with two other staff-based teams - I'd have to go back and watch for the names of them). But, she said there would have to be a limit to who is on the Steering Committee. It seems obvious that it would be the case and yet she felt the need to say it.

Peter asked about how to apply and how to communicate with those members? She basically blah, blah, blahed this one with "we're working on it, etc." (FYI, Closure and Consolidation got its own SPS website page so I think the district could do that for each Steering Committee as well.)

Carr mentioned that the McDonald parent group had gone out and put a flyer on every door in their newly drawn area. That's called marketing, SPS and you're welcome. (This is just me saying that last sentence, not any McDonald person.) Carr also mentioned getting input from JA parents and G-J said they hadn't gotten that far. Carr then referenced a Jan. 12th meeting that I wasn't sure I knew about - anyone?

And this is where Dr. Goodloe-Johnson said what I reported in the STEM section; namely, that programs like Montessori and foreign language immersion cost money and we have a priority list. She said maybe in year two of the new schools they could discuss a focus and that people should be realistic about program placement.

Peter put in a plug for watching over Viewlands and Rainier View who will not be opening in the fall but be part of another school. He said they needed support. Dr. G-J said they wouldn't have design teams until next year in Oct/Nov. Peter tried to press the issue (but somewhat clumsily), saying parents would feel better if they knew a timeline for those two schools and Dr. G-J shook him off.

Kids, this doesn't bode well for ANY of the reopening schools. At least 3 of them get their design teams soon but not Rainier View or Viewlands. I think the directors in those areas should put together a community meeting for those schools just to get the conversation started and let them know what is happening (or not). Those with design teams, well, they won't see anything "actualized" for at least a year or more.

Kay asked about decisions about the schools grade levels i.e. K-5 or K-2, etc. Dr. Goodloe-Johnson said they didn't know yet. Kay also said that she was glad to hear there would be two-way communication with the community and not just posting of information. Dr. G-J smiled and said no, there would not be two-way communication with communities but that the design teams could do that. Kay seemed a bit taken aback and said well, there would be supports in place for that. Dr. Goodloe-Johnson kind of demurred on that so I don't know what will happen.

Michael also advocated for Old Hay which, as the only on-the-board Option school, doesn't have a community because they don't know who will sign up to go there. He said the district needed to be mindful of not forgetting about them. (But given Dr. G-J's frank talk on realities and priorities, I have to wonder if Old Hay will be an Option school.)

Groundwork being laid folks and if you don't like it, speak up now.


TechyMom said...

"transition plan will be for one year only"

So, what (if anything) does that mean for transportation for grandfathered students? Students are grandfathered through the highest grade at their school. Will they get transportation through the highest grade at their school?

ParentofThree said...

Interesting. Old Hay is an Option school, with no focus, little funding and is a "low priority" school. So who will sign up?

Carolyn said...

Melissa - you asked about the Jan 12 meeting. When McDonald folks met with Scott M of SPS, he said our first design team mtg would be Jan 12, at John Stanford Center. Sherry was there, that's probably what she was referring to.

Luz Villasana said...

Here's the "next steps" dates, which includes the Jan. 12th. one


Andrew Siegel said...

You know, I've worked in government, at big private law firms, at small nonprofits, at a public university, at a private university, in a service business, and in a goods-selling business. In every one of those settings, a leader who routinely communicated with constituencies the way the Superintendent does would be warned a couple of times and then summarily removed from his or her leadership post. Why do we tolerate it?

ParentofThree said...

"Why do we tolerate it?"

I don't know, and am hoping the two new directors has a firm conversation with the doc.

Did they give her the mile high bonus?

dan dempsey said...

Tolerate it?

From all appearances the Board remains the "Rubber Stamp" patrol.

Now that Cheryl Chow is gone there might be some hope for change in the structure. Kay S-B said in her campaign the job of a director is to direct the Superintendent. Hopefully the others can wake-up to that job description.

Central Mom said...

Andrew et al, I think it would be productive to have a philosophical debate...not a snarky debate, a true philosophical debate...on this blog, with school board directors, city leaders, and in the media on this point:

Is the better path for SPS specifically...given our community culture, our academic challenges, our funding realities...

1) for the priority to be on the Superintendent to serve "at the will" of community parents,
2) for the priority to be on a strong Superintendent who will move "forward" in many cases despite the will of the parents.

One track values community input, community values and community process above much else. The other values strength of professional knowledge and year over year change in a variety of areas above all else.

There are arguments to be made on both sides. In both cases the result needs to be the best possible achievement of kids within SPS at all levels.

The answer to the question would then guide, at contract renewal time, whether MGJ is the right leader at this point in time for SPS or the wrong person at this point in time for SPS.

ParentofThree said...

"Seattle schools chief to give $5,280 bonus to charity"

Betting it is the Aliance for Ed

Melissa Westbrook said...

Central Mom, c'mon. No one is saying the Superintendent should serve at the will of parents. She should be serving at the will of all taxpayers. She should be overseen by those elected to oversee her work. We're not even seeing that in a real and specific way. She shakes off their questions with non-answers and they accept it.

Does she have the skill set to run this district? Yes. Did the Board who chose her do so because people said they wanted (a) an educator and (b) someone firm with decisions? Yes.

All yeses but I'd say the variable is whether she is leading us in the right direction, at the right pace and in a manner that feels inclusive and not a brush-off. My answer is no.

Lori said...

The Sup should not donate her bonus; she should flat-out reject it and allow that money to remain available for our schools.

Basically, we the tax payers just gave her a very nice tax deduction. She donates $5200 and saves $1820 on her federal income taxes (assuming she's in the top tax rate bracket). So she is taking money out of our local schools' budgets AND out of the federal government's coffers!

I'm curious too about the 4 metrics that improved. Does the district do any type of statistical analysis on year-to-year changes in percent of students passing whatever test? There's always going to be variability; we shouldn't reward anyone if at the very least the differences are not statistically significant. And one year is not a trend. What about a linear regression/trend analysis to ensure continued growth year after year? That's honestly the only thing worth measuring since scores seem to go up one year, down the next, and so on.

And what about the 3 metrics that went down? Why isn't it in her contract that her salary goes DOWN when outcomes are worse? If there are financial rewards, shouldn't there be financial penalties? Can't penalties serve as an incentive as well?

dan dempsey said...

Transition Plan???

The transition plan I am interested in is .... the plan that makes every school a quality school.

"Every school a quality school"
OK I give up ... how will that happen?

Unknown said...

Melissa and Lori you both have it spot on!

ParentofThree said...


Dan spoke to this issue last night. You know those 6th grade Reading WASL scores that "increased" giving MJG about $1K of the total, well actually this group of students is down nearly 10% from when they took the 4th grade WASL.

Also teachers union spoke about these scores. In 2001 students were up signfically more in all areas (I think) than they were in 2009. The point was no teacher needed/received any incentive then, what makes you think that an incentive plan would work now? AND, there is strict language in the teachers contract against incentives/merit pay.

What is more interesting is that they used 6th grade as a benchmark for success. My understanding about the WASL was that 4th, 7th and 10th grades were the "big" WASL years. The test for those grades was around a long time.
But yet they chose 6th grade?

Anyway, water under the bridge, sort of. I would like to know what that incentive plan looks like in her contract. Is that public information?

Charlie Mas said...

The incentive plan is described well enough in the document attached to the board action report on the motion.

I have no idea why the new Directors thought it was appropriate for them to abstain from that vote. Will they abstain from all votes on issues that pre-date their election? I don't think so.

Regarding the STEM presentation, I'm a little disturbed by the reference to the STEM Steering Committee, Design Team, and Building Work Group as the "governance structure". What will they be governing? Won't the school be governed by the principal and the BLT, like every other school in the district? What is the continuing role for these groups after the school is launched?

Also, I like how the Building Work Group is tasked with engaging the public - which absolves the other two committees from any obligation to engage the public or be transparent in their actions.

Why, in the budget, is there no ongoing annual cost for technology or software? How credible is that? They are going to buy a bunch of computers and load them with software and then they won't ever have to spend money on that again. Are they new to this?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Well, there's $715,000 annually. I thought that would cover tech upgrades and contracts for whatever software they use.

Central Mom said...

Melissa, I think I didn't articulate well enough.

1) Yes, I should have said "community/taxpayers" not parents.

2) What I meant to say is that there is a huge pile of issues that has needed addressing at the district, and MGJ is tackling them. Those committed to this blog are well-versed in talking about which of those changes they view as positive or negative. But in the greater, less-well informed community, there is a constituency that simply wanted change, period, and that's what they've gotten. So they're satisfied and view the superintendent's actions overall as "progress". I believe that this viewpoint encompasses far more Seattle citizens than would make most readers of this blog comfortable.

On the other hand, there is another (broad) group of constituents...again, not necessarily the avid readers of this blog...but out in the general public...that is willing to accept the longer timeline of incremental change IF they feel they can be part of the discussion along the way. Their higher (highest) priority is inclusion. On the muni side of the city The Seattle Process is both famous and infamous. Certainly it is ingrained in the culture of citizen advocate/muni interaction.

The pendulum swings. It always does. For these 3 years, MGJ has been buoyed by the Change side of the general constituency. But I'm curious about whether the Inclusion side of the general constituency may be about to take center stage again.

On the muni side, Greg Nickels lost his bid for re-election in great part because one of his perceived strengths (hard-nosed, get projects done now, my way) fell out of favor. McGinn is his grassroots activist antithesis.

Will the pendulum also swing in the District in the coming year? What is the pulse of Seattle?

Joan NE said...

Central Mom - I really like the clarity of your thinking. Do you have some ideas about how the "people" can get more control over what's happening to our schools?

Do you have any suggestions as to how the public can most effectively induce/compel the Board to reclaim the authority that it has relinquished to the Superintendent, and to exercise appropriate leadership?

Please share with us what you feel would be the hallmarks of effective and appropriate leadership by the School Board.

Are there certain things that worry you in the near term? For example, do you think the Policy Audit (approved by the Board April 2009, and scheduled for completion Sept 6 2009) is anything to worry about? Do you support the idea of a parent/teacher group forming to perform its own Policy Audit?

Do you think it that a grass-roots effort to pressure the Board to adopt the CEO evalation module of the the John Carver Policy Governance Model would be a strategically smart thing to go after?

What do you think of the voter's pledge idea?

gavroche said...

Blogger Central Mom said...

2) What I meant to say is that there is a huge pile of issues that has needed addressing at the district, and MGJ is tackling them. Those committed to this blog are well-versed in talking about which of those changes they view as positive or negative. But in the greater, less-well informed community, there is a constituency that simply wanted change, period, and that's what they've gotten. So they're satisfied and view the superintendent's actions overall as "progress". I believe that this viewpoint encompasses far more Seattle citizens than would make most readers of this blog comfortable.

Really? Where are you getting your info from? Because every SPS parent I have spoken to in the past six months is NOT happy with the "changes" in the school district, or are disturbed when they hear of what's been going on, and no one likes Goodloe-Johnson. I was even surprised to hear brand-new-to-the system-kids-in-kindergarten parents express their disgust with the Superintendent and how the district is currently being run. Talk about quick studies!

As for "MGJ tackling" issues: taking an axe to a sliver is one way to "tackle" a sliver, sure. Is it the best way? Obviously not.

Taking a school district with some issues and making the schools worse should count for something -- and that's not a bonus.

Arguably Supt. Goodloe-Johnson is in fact NOT tackling the real issues of the district. What is she really doing to address the issue of racial and school inequality and the effects of poverty in the district?

Take a look at the "underperforming schools" or those with kids that have been struggling or may need extra help; those the reformites like to refer to as at the bottom of the "achievement gap." What has Supt. Goodloe-Johnson done for them?

Well, she booted all the kids (primarily of color) from Cooper Elementary and sent them in all directions, then handed over their nice building to Pathfinder, which has far less diversity or "achievement" challenges.
What has happened to the Cooper kids? How are they doing now? Has their "achievement" improved? Does Goodloe-Johnson or the Board ever ask about them? No.

She moved out the EBOC kids from Thurgood Marshall to make room for half of the APP kids, which she and the board split, directly undoing the work of former Supt. John Stanford. This leaves the kids of Thurgood Marshall to share their building with some of the highest performing kids in the district. How does that help the gen ed kids? It doesn't. In fact, it creates tensions. Just ask the principal there.

Goodloe-Johnson & co closed TT Minor despite the need for schools in the Central District, and left the kids (primarily of color) to basically fend for themselves. She provided no transportation for these kids to get to their new assignment, Lowell, and most chose not to go when childcare was no longer provided because the building does not meet code. (Add that to the list of deferred maintenance, Melissa.) So maybe more kids will fall into the "achievement gap" thanks to the thoughtless closure of TT Minor.


gavroche said...


And what about the kids of the African American Academy? What's happened to them? Has Goodloe-Johnson or the Board followed up on them? How does evicting them from their building help them "achieve"?

It doesn't. It merely takes "underperforming" schools off the books so MGJ & co can declare they have "turned around failing schools."

As for the kids, who cares about them? Goodloe-Johnson? The Board? If so, they have a strange way of showing it.

And finally, the math curriculum. The district has now selected a math textbook for both high school and elementary school that is inappropriate for kids who struggle with English. Again, even more kids are falling into the "achievement gap" as a result of the district's adoption of "Everyday Math." And now, at the Superintendent's behest, the district has adopted "Discovering" texts for high school. Texts that have already been used and rejected by the San Diego School District and elsewhere.

"Tackling" the issues of the district. I'd say no, what MGJ and co are doing is not tackling anything. They are instead playing a cynical shell-game and the ones who are suffering the most from all this poorly planned upheaval are the very kids that Goodloe-Johnson & co. claim they care about: Those at the bottom of the "achievement gap."

Seattle Public Schools - Everyone achieving, everyone accountable, except the Superintendent and School Board.

TechyMom said...

Gavroche, I think Central Mom may have been talking about voters who don't have kids in SPS. In the press, it looks like MJG is cutting through the Seattle Process, getting stuff done and cleaning up long-ignored messes. You and I may know that's not true, but the 26-year-old single voter in Belltown? Not so much.

gavroche said...

TechyMom said...In the press, it looks like MJG is cutting through the Seattle Process, getting stuff done and cleaning up long-ignored messes.

Maybe. But on the other hand, the Times came out against a bonus for Goodloe-Johnson, against lowering high school grad requirements to a D-average (btw, add that to the list of "changes" she is trying to implement -- what exactly does that 'tackle'?) and has questioned other decisions made by her and the board. It no longer gives her as free a pass as it used to and has had to acknowledge that there are justified criticisms that can be leveled in her direction.

It's not surprisingly, really, since many of these "changes" and manouvers are pretty indefensible.

And then there's the simple fact that Goodloe-Johnson demanded the closure of 5 schools to "save $3.5 million/year" only to demand three months later the reopening of 5 schools to the tune of $48 million.

Pretty hard to defend such poor planning, mismanagement of funding, lack of forecasting or use of demographic data.

That's right:data.

TechyMom said...

Yes, I hope that these budget issues are big and obvious enough that the public makes demands to get it fixed. The non-parent public may not understand educational philosophy, but they sure do understand $50 million budget shortfalls. Will we see turn-over on the board because of this? Maybe. It happened with the Port, right? Most voters don't understand those issues either.

Central Mom said...

Exactly Techy Mom. Or the 65-year-old taxpayer who had tired of watching and hearing about District messes through the post-Stanford decade. Or, to some extent, the bigger $$ in the Business Community who may or may not have (have had) kids in SPS but certainly were viewing the Board/Super interaction during the 1st round of closures as chaotic, which doesn't play well in the business world. An Agent of Change has played well.

But Business didn't get Mallahan into the Mayor's office, which was a reversal of past trends. And on the District side, at least one of the 2 board members just elected doesn't think the superintendent is "all that". Perhaps both. And other board members are starting to be a tad more public about their concerns w/ CEO/CFO answers (see Dora Taylor's report on the finance committee from today.)

So again...is the pendulum swinging back to a high value on citizen inclusiveness in District matters, with a tradeoff of slower decision-making timelines. Or...will the administration ride on delivering the SAP and managing the schools at a time of state funding crisis (nothing is the District's fault, it's all an output of $$ shortages) to stay in place for another 2-3 years?

I'm stirring the pot here. I really want to know what readers are hearing from the general public. I certainly know which outcome I'd like to see regarding leadership staying/moving on.

Joan NE said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joan NE said...

Central Mom - I find you adept at not making your own position clear (a compliment to you)--though you are clear that are not on the fence--your purpose appearing to be to elicit opinions.

While I like hearing the opinions of those who write to this blog, I would prefer most of all to see the results of a statistically and demographically valid, meaningful survey. By "meaningful" I mean having relevant, important, decision-informing questions. I would like analysis that breaks out results by parents/non-parents, residential sub-region, family income category, type of school that children attend (esp. tradiional, alternative, montessor, IB, LI), etc.

I will volunteer time to collect data, if someone would design the survey instrument. I think it would have to be an all-volunteer effort. I don't think the District would conduct a meaningful survey, since in doing so they incur a pretty significant risk of getting data that they wouldn't like.

Joan NE said...

Gavroche - if you are interesting in working on concrete grass-roots action strategy, prioritizing actions, and then helping to realize the highest priority actions, please contact me. I know other people who want to do this, and am trying to help them get connected. joan@mathascent.org

Karrie said...

Speaking of transition plan and siblings....

I have a 2nd grader at Coe, which is NOT our reference school under the NSAP.

We got a letter from SPS asking us to fill out a form listing any incoming Kindergarten-only sibling for 2010-2011 school year that we would like to attend Coe with my older child. We were asked to send back immediately so they could plan for how to accomodate siblings during the transition.

So - data is being collected as to how big of a "problem" sibling priority could be. they only asked for one year (not if we had any children entering K beyond next year) so my guess is siblings MAY get a 1 year transition grace period, if the data is favorable.

TechyMom said...

We got that survey too. The survey was rather poorly designed. It says to only send in the form if you do have a kid starting K next year. They will have no way to distinguish between people who don't have incoming K students and those who forgot to send in the form.

Lori said...

Interesting, Karrie and TechyMom. When did you get this letter? We are at a school that is well-known for popularity and lack of space, but we did not get any letter like that from SPS.

And what a wasted opportunity. Why would they only inquire about 2010/2011 year? Why not collect data through 2015, which is supposedly the first time boundaries may change? I mean, even if they don't do anything with that data right now, they are going to want the data at some point, aren't they? Why waste all that postage only asking about one year?

StepJ said...

The Sibling letters were only sent to families that live outside the attendance area of their current school.

It sounds like a new transition plan will be done each year until 2015. The Sibling letter only asking for information for one year and the comments MGJ made about the Transition Plan (that Melissa reported) lead me to think that way.

Families would only know one year at a time about grandfathered transportation or siblings.

If this is the actual intent, that is a lot of prolonged uncertainty for families. It is a lot of energy churn and repeated financial expenditure for the District.

If you did receive a Sibling letter and your incoming sibling is not entering K in 2010 - please write in the correct year for your child and return the survey anyway.

It would certainly be more efficient to collect all of this information with one mailing than repeating the expense and effort each and every year.

TechyMom said...

We got the letter earlier this week. Since I only have one child, and there was no way to indicate that, I followed the instructions to 'disregard this letter.'

Joan NE said...

This survey may be another example of token community engagement, carried out to fulfil the letter but not the spirit of the community engagement policy.