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Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Another story praising the Superintendent in the Times

The Seattle Times published another story praising the Superintendent. Yawn.

This one appears in the news section of the paper instead of the op-ed page. It explains that all of the work that she has done over the past three years has just been a preparation for the work that is to come. That's why we haven't seen any results yet - she's just been laying the groundwork. The big thing coming will be the school scorecard and the resulting support that will go to struggling schools (the year after that). So really, we're still two years away from any change that she's created and three years away from the time when it would be fair to start measuring it. She says that it will take another eight to ten years.

So definitely she wants to be held accountable, but not until 2018 or 2020.

The superintendent says that the changes she is implementing are "It's proven, it's best practice, the research is out there." The people who did the research, however, say that Seattle is the first district to ever try their ideas. Hmmm. Is Seattle using something proven or are we among the first to try it. It can't be both, can it?

The Superintendent says "Having 87 schools and 87 ways to teach math or reading does not get the system or our kids anywhere. It leaves too many kids out." Okay, eighty-seven ways is too many. How many ways is right? Is it one? Will that not leave any kids out?

The Superintendent brushes off concerns about her connection with the Broad Foundation.

"She's impatient with those who charge that her connection with Broad means she intends to pursue charter schools. "We don't have charter schools. So let's put that over there, and let's talk about something else. How about kids being successful, how about kids being challenged? How about providing interventions to close the achievement gap?" Yes. By all means. Let's talk about kids being successful - what is she doing about that? Nothing that I can see. All of the advanced learning programs are deteriorating under her leadership. Let's talk about kids being challenged. The mandated fidelity of implementation and vertical alignment discourages differentiation. Let's talk about interventions - I'm not seeing them. Why are we continuing to promote students who have not met the Standards for their grade level without providing them with the support they need to reach grade level?

I judge the superintendent's performance by the measures that she sets for herself. '
By those measures she hasn't done much and hasn't made much of a start.

6 comments:

Melissa Westbrook said...

Why this article right now? It's so odd. Here's what my comment said,

First, Dr. Goodloe-Johnson was NOT the first superintendent to close schools in recent years. Raj Manhas started that.

Second, the Broad Foundation's mission might be to better education but it's on their terms. To wit from their website:

"We take an untraditional approach to giving. We don’t simply write checks to charities. Instead we practice “venture philanthropy.” And we expect a return on our investment."

And how is that investment return measured? This is not a nice foundation just giving money away - these are people who want to change the face of public education in this country and want it changed to how THEY want it. They are not hired, elected or appointed and to give them that power is scary.

Dr. Goodloe-Johnson has created a lot of churn in the district and as pointed out by CoolPapa, the results won't be known for a long time. Meanwhile the Superintendent continues to alienate parents and teachers in every corner of the district - 2 parent surveys showing dissatisfaction in nearly every area AND 12 schools' teachers voting no confidence in her leadership say that quite loudly.

There are more AP classes at every high school and that's good. However, the supports to getting more kids to take AP aren't there. There's a new math curriculum. Okay, but where are the promised supports for parents trying to help their students with math that they themselves don't understand?

She says:

"It's proven, it's best practice, the research is out there," she said.

Okay, why doesn't she cite the research? This Superintendent operates on the idea if she says something enough times, people will believe it is true. She should be challenged at every turn and isn't, particularly by the Board who are elected to oversee her work.

As for the Central Office, what do Steve Fink, from the Center for Educational Leadership at UW and Meredith Honig think of the fact that year after year the State Auditor says there are too many central office staff? And yet, despite the claims that there are reductions (they let the guy who fixes the blinds go, woo hoo) in staffing, the administration grows bigger (and yes there is research proving that as well). That the district uses central staff as a shell game, moving people around, changing job titles, etc. should tell you something. And guess what? They kept both the Broad residents they had for the last two years via a grant and now the district is paying their full $90K salaries (each).

As for the charter issue, Dr. Goodloe-Johnson is being disingenuous. That train is coming down the track and I predict it will probably show up on the ballot in the fall of 2011. It's one of the centerpieces of the Obama administration's education reform and a huge talking point right now. Yes, we have voted this issue down 3 times and there is not been research to show that, overall, charters do better than regular public schools.

Dr. Goodloe-Johnson is an ambitious person and there's no crime in that. But a lot of what she is doing looks like bullet points on a resume. That she is putting millions of dollars into one school, STEM at Cleveland, and taking Title One money from other schools for STEM's program is troubling to say the least. But it seems that is going to be her crown jewel.

The Board can extend her contract but folks, the minute she gets a better offer, she's gone. Make no mistake about that.

Dr. Goodloe-Johnson is a bright person with a decent superintendent skill set. She is simply a wrong fit with this district and her dismissive and disrespectful manner with parents and teachers doesn't motivate or inspire. And that's what you really need to move forward. People who believe in you.

Maureen said...

Why this article right now?

Maybe Linda Shaw is being a journalist and trying to respond to the issues parents and teachers have raised?

Sahila said...

Could it be the Board vote on her performance evaluation/contract extension tomorrow night?

The Times justifying/laying the ground to undercut community displeasure when the Board does extend her contract until 2013...

Eric M said...

It's because the Times hadn't run an article praising her yet THIS WEEK. So it was time.

Look for another article next week, commending the school board for their courageous vote to support her laudable reforms, in the face of misguided parents and teachers. And bloggists.

Anonymous said...

Wow, I didn't know bloggers had such a bad rap in Seattle.

The difference between us and the Times is that we can't be bought.

Anyway, I just posted this to the Times article.

I will be giving this testimony tonight at the Seattle Public Schools’ Board of Directors’ meeting regarding the performance of our school superintendent.

Good evening.

This is regarding the performance evaluation of our superintendent, Dr. Goodloe-Johnson, who is also a board member on the NWEA board of directors as well as the Broad Foundation.

What I have seen over the last two years as a parent in the Seattle school system is a disconnect between the decisions made by the superintendent and what our community needs.

There has been little to no understanding as to how our neighborhoods are growing and how we relate to the communities that we live in. There has been and will continue to be growth in the Central District and the Capitol Hill areas and yet schools were closed last year.

We had a budget deficit of $35 M last year and yet our superintendent hired additional staff while teachers were laid off, most of them Broad residents.

We take pride in our alternative school programs that have no equal in the United States and yet some of those programs have been dismantled rather than supported.

At first glance one would think that the actions of the superintendent don’t make sense, but they actually do. There are two different agendas at play in Seattle. There are the goals of the true stakeholders in our schools, the parents, students, teachers and our neighbors who understand what is needed in terms of education, smaller class sizes, clearly defined and consistent wrap around services, adequate materials and books and a safe and comfortable environment in which to work.

But there is another agenda at work as well.

This is from the Broad Foundation’s annual report for 2009 written by Eli Broad:

“The election of President Obama and his appointment of Arne Duncan…the U.S. secretary of education, marked the pinnacle of hope for our work in education reform. In many ways, we feel the stars have finally aligned.

With an agenda that echoes our decade of investments—charter schools, performance pay for teachers, accountability, expanded learning time and national standards—the Obama administration is poised to cultivate and bring to fruition the seeds we and other reformers have planted.”

There is a clash of agendas and values between what Eli Broad and Bill Gates think is best for us even though neither has any experience in public school education and what we know will work. Class sizes do matter. No, schools should not be closed, principals fired or half of a teaching staff removed because a school is “Low Performing”. It takes money that can be counted on on a consistent basis, not one time bribes to the top, to ensure that each student receives the education that has been promised. It takes a commitment to those schools, students and families to work through the issues that face some of these children every day. You don’t just close schools. That impacts the lives of everyone in that neighborhood and shows a lack of faith in those families that are impacted the most.

And no, we don’t want our teachers to teach to the test.. Performance pay is based on test numbers and if merit pay happens in Seattle, our children will lose out on a well-rounded education and the opportunity to develop their creative and critical thinking skills.

We need someone sitting next to our School Board President who shares our goals and values not someone who was placed in Seattle to carry on the dreams and hopes of a wealthy few. Then the stars will have truly aligned for us in Seattle.

Jan said...

Great testimony, Dora. I wish that the five directors who voted for contract extension had been truly listening, and had cared.