Board Retreat

I attended about three hours of the Board Retreat today, and I'm glad I was there for the parts I watched. I was the only member of the public in attendance from 10:00 to 12:00 when Sara Morris arrived.

The Retreat was primarily focused around one thing: a class on Governance from Don McAdams. He stressed the need for the Board to do the work of oversight. The oversight that he said the Board - any Board - needed to do was three types:
1) To confirm that management decisions (regardless of whether they were good decisions or bad decisions) were compliant with policy

2) To confirm that policies were followed

3) To evaluate performance relative to pre-determined benchmarks

I was freakin' THRILLED to hear him say these things.

Before I left at 1:00 I suggested that he get an independant perspective of the Board - rather than just hearing about them from them. He asked for the two-minute version (because I was leaving) and I told him that the Board was not doing ANY of the oversight he described; not a speck of it. He said that I should look forward to them starting to do it now - especially after that audit. I replied that they had been told by other sources on numerous occassions that they were neglecting that work and they continued to neglect it. He repeated his optimism. I also asked him what he thought of a superintendent who didn't act on a direction from the Board that was voted in a Board action. He said that it was a firing offense. I told him that it had happened here and nobody did anything about it.

As for the Board members, they spoke exactly according to their personal scripts.

Michael DeBell was wonderful. He laid it right out. He said that the District leadership had lost an appeal in Superior Court, had received a scathing audit from the State Auditor, that the teachers' union had voted almost unanimously no-confidence in the superintendent and that, for the first time in his memory, there was organized opposition to a levy. He said that if it had been just one of any of these four it could be shrugged off, but when the District gets these strong signals from other government institutions and from its partners, they need to very seriously consider the fact that they have a deep problem and they need to solve it.

Kay Smith-Blum seems smart and well-intentioned, but swamped under the learning curve.

Betty Patu's heart is in the right place. She feels, very deeply, that the Board is responsible, but she doesn't really seem to be able to connect that sense of responsibility to a specific action.

The four from 2007 were much more focused on how to document and organize the To Do list than taking any of the actions on it. Their blather was really frustrating.

The Superintendent did what she does best. She re-defined everything that everyone else said into terms that suited her.


dan dempsey said…
Good to hear the Board realizes they have problems. I liked the part about fire-able offense.

September 23 is the date for the Superior Court hearing on the "five" Recall petitions.

The part I find disturbing is these folks continually do not give a rip about evidence when making decisions.

So I am working my way through the NTN contract appeal and preparing for some motions and then an initial brief. This is NTN #1 you know the one where the Board never read the contract before approving it on 2-3-10. Now that is really not giving a rip about evidence.

I wrote Dorothy a letter in a comment at a different posting. It has the average annual District gain relative to State of WA gains (averaged over the last three years). It is clearly apparent that Everyday Math is a waste of time and resources. Three years of efforts 75 minutes a day etc. and improvement is barely greater than the state average. (see grades 3, 4, 5)

If you look at the annual growth rates and the strategic plan, then a director that finds the Academic goals of the strategic plan as anything other than a pipe dream is incompetent.

Remember all this concern is coming from a Board that voted 5-2 to extend the Superintendent's contract.

Note: We were informed that although the correct RCW was cited in appealing a board decision, it turns out there is an RCW that trumps it. The Superintendent's Contract approval and signing is NOT subject to appeal.

Another great reason to Vote against the levy.
dan dempsey said…

Thanks so much for taking the time to go to the retreat and report
Arnold said…
Yes, thanks for taking the time to go to the meeting. I appreciate your report.

I'm hoping Director DeBell can add the pending NWEA court case to his list! Then could we fire her!
dan dempsey said…
I think there is plenty in the State Audit to fire her.

Also about this:
"2) To confirm that policies were followed"

huummmm after for years of pointing out that D44.00 and D45.00 need to be followed ... I am not holding my breath.
Central Mom said…
That was a detailed report, Charlie, except for the last sentenct.
The Superintendent did what she does best. She re-defined everything that everyone else said into terms that suited her.

Can you add specific examples or quotes??
Sahila said…
Don McAdams is Broad:

which is why this statement should completely freak you out:

"The Retreat was primarily focused around one thing: a class on Governance from Don McAdams. He stressed the need for the Board to do the work of oversight. The oversight that he said the Board - any Board - needed to do was three types:
1) To confirm that management decisions (regardless of whether they were good decisions or bad decisions) were compliant with policy

The Board should confirm management (The Broad plant Super) decisions, whether they were good or bad? The decisions only need to comply with policy - which the Broad-influenced Board can rewrite as it sees fit? Not with the law? Not with what Board constituents want for their communities and kids???
Anonymous said…

Wasn't there a focus in the last school year to review policy by a couple of the board members? I'm thinking that it was DeBell and Maier.

I recall that they were saying that the policy had not been reviewed for several years and needed culling through.
Mr. Edelman said…
"I also asked him what he thought of a superintendent who didn't act on a direction from the Board that was voted in a Board action."

Which direction? Could you be specific?
Anonymous said…

Nice find on the Broad connection. You know it had to be there someplace.

Just who paid for McAdams to come in? That's my next question.

Second question, is the board aware that this guy is part of the Broad borg.
Sahila said…
The Board have all been given McAdams' books on governance to read... Harium told me that 18 months ago...

This is on a par with having Tom Payzant facilitate the superintendent's evaluation process last year....

Thomas Payzant - Superintendent in Residence, The Broad Superintendents Academy

Who asked Seattle Public School parents and community members if they wanted the Broad Foundation meddling in this district's management?

Did any of the Board members run on a platform of either bringing in or enabling vulture philanthropists to change education in this city in their own likeness?

Have any of them taken a stand on this surreptitious usurping of power within the District?
Thanks for going, Charlie. I planned to but the good weather stopped me.

And thank you for talking to Mr. McAdams and telling him that the Board (and the district management) have been told this before.

What you heard from Board members is exactly what I would have expected.

On the subject of the audit and both the district and the Board responses, I'll believe it when I see real, concrete action. Right now, it all smoke and mirrors and Ethics Officer BS. And I say that with confidence because we have heard from Moss-Adams AND the CAICEE committee (that Sherry Carr and Sara Morris both were part of) and yet here we are in 2010 AND still getting called out for poor management.

What is odd to me is how "managed" the Board retreats are. Why isn't the Board organizing their own? How hard is that? Why is the Superintendent there? It's their retreat and should be a time for them to talk.

"He said that the District leadership had lost an appeal in Superior Court, had received a scathing audit from the State Auditor, that the teachers' union had voted almost unanimously no-confidence in the superintendent and that, for the first time in his memory, there was organized opposition to a levy."

And that is why our friends over at the Times and the Alliance keep up their loud drumbeat, to try to drown out other voices and to try to get the public not to see the man behind the curtain.
Sahila said…
Melissa - while your belief in the goodness of people and the rightness of the world is lovely, its misguided here.... of course the Board retreats are managed... how do you think things have gotten this far in this District without everything being "managed"?

There is another agenda being played out - none of it makes sense unless one looks at it with that in mind...

I am mad at myself cos I never bookmarked a link I found, where McAdams very clearly wrote about limiting the power of a Board and making sure they didnt get in the way of a superintendent.... need to spend some time finding it again... with Broad superintendents in place in school districts all around the country, and school boards either being influenced by McAdams or being replaced by mayoral control, what else did you think was going on?

Here's Eli Broad again, from his 2009 annual report:

"The election of President Barack Obama and his appointment of
Arne Duncan, former CEO of Chicago Public Schools, as 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."
seattle citizen said…
THIS Don McAdams?!

ERIC Digest 141 - October 2000
New Patterns of School Governance

Read below: THIS Don McAdams is advising our board?! Since when?! THIS Don McAdams was on the National Commmission on Governing America's Schools in 2000?!

( THIS place,where I found the document, looks like it should be bookmarked by all: Clearinghouse on Educational Policy and Management - College of Education · University of Oregon)

"...Recognizing the political and administrative realities of school governance, the National Commission on Governing America’s Schools recommended, without preference, one of two forms of governance: "(1) a system of publicly authorized, publicly funded and publicly operated schools, based on some of the more promising trends within the prevailing system of public education governance, and (2) a system of publicly authorized, publicly funded and independently operated schools, based on some of the more promising alternatives to the prevailing system of public education governance."
The first recommendation extends current governance structures to include a few experimental strategies; the second recommendation effectively argues for increased privatization of school governance.
Writing in Education Week, two commission members, Donald R. McAdams and Adam Urbanski (1999), provide different views on the issues raised by the report. McAdams argues that a system of independently operated schools—the second option in the commission’s report—would allow school boards to "govern more and manage less." He believes that if schools were run by "individual nonprofit and for-profit organizations, cooperatives, sole proprietorships, and the like," boards would be free of the need to focus on the details of how schools are run and instead could "set standards, provide resources, and demand results."
seattle citizen said…
Run schools like "individual nonprofit and for-profit organizations, cooperatives, sole proprietorships, and the like,"

You heard it from Don McAdams in 2000.

McAdams is a privatizer to the core: Schools, staffs, curriculum, assessments...Check his official Broad Foundation McAdams "expert listing" bio

"...McAdams helped implement school accountability and
district decentralization, established charter schools, outsourced most HISD business
functions to private contractors, instituted more flexible personnel management policies,
an academic core curriculum for high school students, a new elementary school reading
curriculum and promotion standards."
Sahila said…
you will notice in the acknowledgements to his book - previously linked - that McAdams thanks Josef Olchefski and Tom Payzant and a bunch of others...

Olchefski - this agenda has been playing out in this district for a long, long time people, under your very noses - and you didnt know it...

I dont have time now to check out the affiliations of the others named- maybe someone else would like to take on that task...

its really, really useful to know all about who you are dealing with - I like transparency - saves a lot of time fumbling around in the dark....
It's Joseph Olchefske.
WenD said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
dan dempsey said…
Now let us all review the Affirmation of Responsibility that the entire Board signed on November 28, 2007.

In addition as Tom Payzant helped with the evaluation of MGJ, does that explain why "it was so narrowly focused on a few aspects" of "Excellence for All" that it missed most of the aspects of being a superintendent?

Harium's "song and dance" in support of the MGJ contract extension just needed to be done with a sound track from "Fantasy Island", which is clearly where the Board lives on so many occasions.

Policy, Policy, did some one say Policy as in #3 and #8 linked above?

Oh yes and #9 even mentions "data" .... I sent mounds of that to Maier, Sundquist, and Carr .... but data is never mentioned but rather avoided as these members "rubber stamp" MGJ's proposals. Harium's "NTN song and dance" avoided all data provided. Even avoided discussion of this.
seattle citizen said…
Can someone do a correlation between "Exellence for All" and Broad agenda? Point-by-point, where policies and strategies either directly create Broad conditions, or lay the groundwork for them?
WenD said…
Melissa: I call him "Diamond Joe." He is the epitome of epic fail. Finance guy who didn't have the chops to oversee a budget hole. We see this every day. The ones who ostensibly have the skills come up short, in a big way, but are never forced to pay the price or makes things right. I don't think this budget crash killed his career.

This is why I keep coming back to the idea of teachers leading schools. They're the real experts.

Charlie: What McAdams said to you is very revealing. Broad triangulation = coaching the board that's responsible for not one, but four deal breakers, while owning the words that condemn a superintendent (firing offense!)

This is how he answers the critics, to reassure them as if it's all under control. Well yes, it is under control. (Sahila, glad you posted this stuff. Have you considered starting a page just for Broad stuff? The players, like trading cards, the connections, etc.) McAdams knows the board won't fire the sup or buy out a contract. That's a poison pill.

What to do? More of what's being done right here, only broadcast widely. Make people aware that MG-J and board are responsible for more than a carving station. Having a district employee quit after what, breaking the law or at minimum, mismanaging monies, then paying them as a contractor? How much of this is going on? Has gone on? Cost of closing schools compared to reopening? Spending $ on tests that the sup oversees on a private board? There's more, so much more.

Make the bigger picture easy to see in one sentence. People who aren't looking this closely don't see the corruption, or if they do, they shrug and say "Whatevs" because it's been going on for years.

This time has to be different.
End it now, or this school district is gone.

The arrogance from MG-J and other sups is classic. Look at finance, look at corporate boards. CEOs mess up? Pay them more. Fail upward, and defend it all with lies and PR. The only problem is that a public school district isn't in the business of paying shareholders and granting huge bonuses to managers. So why are they playing this same game? They're making money off failure, pretending to fix the problem. They can do this, because so far, nobody has stepped in to stop them. There aren't a lot of parents like the ones here who make the time to find out more. Most of us are lucky if we help our kids make it through. That alone takes a lot of energy. This is why I accept counter-arguments on discussion threads here, but I don't accept comments that Melissa, Charlie, Dan, Sahila, et all are simply negative or angry.

Somewhat related to this, Seattle Weekly just had a story on for-profit ed. Students indebted for $50 to $80K for a certificate from The Art Institute of Seattle. Students who left, who couldn't afford the steep tuition for a culinary degree, found they were learning more in a shorter period of time at Seattle community college programs. What would that be? Goldman Sachs makes money from high-cost, for-profit schools. Our community colleges offer excellent programs and instruction. Really, why would you pay a for-profit for a degree, all for a $10/hr job?

If you vote for the levy, and the board and sup overseeing it, you're paying for the bullet that goes through your back. McAdams knows this.
WenD, I laughed when you suggested trading cards (could there possibly be enough people in ed reform?) Silly me. (Yes, I know who Joe O. is very well.)

Actually, I do have Bingo Board Meeting sheet. I'll bring some next Board meeting.
seattle citizen said…
Melissa, along with those bingo cards and the whiteboard, don't forget the eight-by-ten color glossies of the crime scenes. They're pretty gory, and might stir people to sit up and notice.
Arnold said…
@Sahila - "The decisions only need to comply with policy - which the Broad-influenced Board can rewrite as it sees fit? Not with the law?"

Board policies must adhere or comply with state and local law. Just because they make a policy doesn't make it legal. Sometimes they get it wrong, but that is why they have lawyers.
Sahila said…
you could go to the Broad Report:

and here:

as a fololow up to the Lines of Influence diagram, I've suggested a diagram naming and placing all the Broad/Gates people now in the federal and state DOEs and in all the various states in their school districts...

dont have time to do that right now, but its on the agenda...

there is a diagram something like that doing the rounds - I will find it and post later...
seattle citizen said…
I'd add to that, Sahila, a diagram showing, in each "Broad district," policies as they were before, policies/procedures (curriculum, automony, staff, etc proposed and/or enacted by board and superintendent, degree of change that actually was made, and whether those changes are moving further along (towards Broad policy) or are stalled, or are regressing.

Lastly, what metrics are being used in each of these instances to assess the effects of these changes on students, and whether those metrics show "growth," "non-growth" or a combination depending on how many and what kind of metrics are utilized.

Could you get on that tonight?
ParentofThree said…
Slightly off topic- but this is on MGJs bio on the Broad website under her SPS accomplishments, to date:

"Goodloe-Johnson's accomplishments include: increasing enrollment by 300-400 students per year for two consecutive years; strengthening and aligning the district's math and science curriculum; developing a school improvement framework based on the needs of each school in the district; offering Advanced Placement courses in at least four subjects at every high school; and expanding music, art, and advanced learning programs."
Thanks for that Parent of Three.

"...expanding music, art, and advanced learning programs"

I have to wonder what this is based on?
ParentofThree said…
"I have to wonder what this is based on?"

The belief that if you say it, then it must be true.
dan dempsey said…
My oh My this is good News. For the first time in recent memory DeBell seems to be impacted by public opposition.

At the time of his vote to extend the superintendent's contract the Audit report was known, the appeal of the math decision had been successful in superior court, and several school faculties had voted no confidence.

Now since the whole union voted an overwhelming NO CONFIDENCE in MGJ and there is organized opposition to the levy .... DeBell is not shrugging it off and the class of 2007 are organizing "to do" lists.

Well that is an improvement.

Now fire the Superintendent with cause. Make that #1 on the "to do" list.
Sahila said…
My strategicly-oriented mind says that McAdams was brought into town for the 'retreat' to shore up the Broad influence on a shaken, stirred and wavering Board... just to keep them on track and focused, you know!
Sahila said…
SC - I trust you were joking in your last post, asking if I could get on to it tonight!!!

Personally, think its time some other people took on some of this research - not hard... google the right key words and it all just pops up!

I'm busy moving house and digging for truffles (income) to avoid complete homelessness!
Sahila said…
"Being paranoid simply means one is in full possession of all the facts." Arundati Roy.
Meg said…
McAdams may be Broad or Broad-affiliated, but it still sounds like he was telling the Board what amounts to common sense, and what they need to hear.

Do we ask how it was he got hired to advise? Yes. Because that's a little odd. Do we reject what he says because of his known politics? I think not.
seattle citizen said…
Meg, we might not reject what he has to say out of hand, but question? Question his motives for what he says? Absolutely.

For instance, if he is in favor of privatizing schools, and he is on record as being so, then what does he mean when he tells the board to confirm that decisions are compliant with board policy? (he says this twice, evidently: "1) To confirm that management decisions... were compliant with policy 2) To confirm that policies were followed")

Is there subtext? Does he want policy to change to reflect his goals of privatization?

Have they?

And what has he been telling the board that we don't hear? What have others been telling the board?

I'd add that the reason why he was brought in is very, very important: Who asked him? The superintendent? The superintendent chooses who will advise the board? Isn't it supposed to be the other way around?

I am extremely suspicious of this situation, and will question everything about it.
CRHoff said…
"Betty Patu's heart is in the right place. She feels, very deeply, that the Board is responsible, but she doesn't really seem to be able to connect that sense of responsibility to a specific action."

This is the story of school board members in this state, at least most of them. No vision, and no insistence as "we all have to get along," even if this doesn't produce any results.
Chris S. said…
My reaction to finding out Don McAdams would be there for the audit discussion (and I know very well who he is) was OH THE IRONY! He advocates for a weak school board and he got one. Voila, audit findings. Lots of them! What a surprise. Sounds like he was incredibly two-faced about that with Charlie. Perhaps he mistakenly believed he had a strong manager at the helm...
CRHoff said…
Washington has, by practice, "weak' school boards.

The boards have great authority but they act like herd of cats and spend most of their time trying to placate their superintendents.
Charlie Mas said…
I read Mr. McAdams' book. I think he actually is an advocate of strong Boards, not weak ones, but, more than anything, he is an advocate for sharply defined roles for the Board and the superintendent.

He sees a line between governance and management, and he wants the superintendent to stay on the management side and to own it, and for the Board to stay on the governance side, but to own it.

He is strongly opposed to Board's getting involved in management, but he is equally supportive of the Board doing ALL of the governance work.f

The governance work includes oversight. The oversight work includes reviewing management decisions - but not reviewing the decisions to judge whether they are good decisions or bad decisions. To do that would be to second-guess of micro-manage the superintendent and it would be a trespass by the Board into the management of the District. Instead, the Board should review the decisions to confirm that they are compliant with the law and with Policy. That is governance work, and not only appropriate for the Board to do, but necessary for the Board to do.

If the decisions are good or bad will be captured in the performance oversight. Bad decisions will result in poor performance, such as falling pass rates on the HSPE. The Board has a duty to conduct such reviews and the results of these performance reviews should be reflected in the superintendent's performance evaluation.

Oversight also means that the Board should proactively confirm compliance with Policy. That is governance work and the Board has to do it.

I contend, as I am sure Mr. McAdams would contend, that a Board that does these things is a strong Board, not a weak one.

In response to a direct question, on January 29, 2009, over a year and a half ago, the Board voted to direct the superintendent to review and recommend revisions to Policy D15.00. She has done nothing along those lines. She simply ignored the Board directive and the Board simply forgot they directed her to do it.

In response to another direct question, the superintendent has a habit of saying "What I hear you saying is... " I find she falls back on this habit when things get sticky for her. I also find that what she hears people saying is often much kinder to her (and leaves her blameless) than what I heard people saying. She also uses it as a technique of implying that the idea that people expressed is completely novel to her - even if it is an idea that had been expressed before. As in "What I hear you saying is that you now want my decisions to comply with federal law". This rhetorical device also suggests that she is but an instrument of the Board's will and has only been doing their bidding, so if she has done wrong it is either because they bid her to do wrong or they misstated their instructions. Sort of like the way an evil genii makes all of your wishes hurt you. It is done well and with subtlety, but, now that I have planted the seed you may recognize it the next time she does it.
Charlie Mas said…
What I wrote above is essentially the talk that Mr. McAdams gave the Board between 12:00 and 1:00. He told them that governance included oversight and he described oversight in essentially those terms.

I don't think he knew how completely the Board had utterly failed to do any part of that job. I don't think that anyone on the Board or the staff told him or would tell him.

If he had known, I imagine he would have spoken much more sharply to them and worked a bit harder to explain to them the seriousness of their failure.

At least I hope so.
Dorothy Neville said…
Charlie, here's an example or two. Using what you understand (and from McAdams' book) can you suggest what the board should have done in this circumstance?

When Meg Diaz reported on the budget discrepancies -- between the public budget and the OSPI one -- the Audit and Finance committee met and Don Kennedy explained it away with coaches. Now several things here:

Kennedy did not have all the answers, he kept saying "I'll get back to you on that." And I don't suppose he ever did. So, what's the role of the board when the CFO brushes them off like that? (Meg's discrepancy was about $30M, coaches are about $11M, I never understood how anyone explained the rest of the money.)

Then, with respect to the coaches, I think everyone was surprised that we are spending $11M a year on coaches. So what seemed to me is that the Super just said, yeah, we got coaches. We like coaches and think they are tops. End of conversation. So what can or should the Board do then? My feeling is that they should have insisted on reports detailing what the coaches do, benchmarks, goals and results. How much do these coaches "add value"?

In your understanding, how would a strong board respond to these sorts of issues?
Sahila said…
the hole in McAdams argument is that school districts are not businesses and so ought not to be run on a business model - which is what his form of 'governance' is... a Board, representing shareholders, who dont get involved in day to day management activity that falls under the jurisdiction of the CEO (the Super)...

We dont have the luxury of allowing this form of governance to rule in education - when your CEO makes lousy decisions and cant do his/her job with any semblance of competence (or maybe it is competence in this case cos of the different agenda she's following), the Board cannot afford to just let her get on with it without interference - its not just dollars we're losing, its the potential in each kid's life, which arguably only exists for a brief window of time...

Education is a public trust, not a 'for profit' venture.... different ethics and 'rules' ought to apply...
"Instead, the Board should review the decisions to confirm that they are compliant with the law and with Policy."

So McAdams would say that as long as the above happens, they really can't do anything about how the Superintendent enacts policy? Please.

Again, my understanding of the Board's role is to create policy and direct the Superintendent to come up with a plan to enact it. Once that is APPROVED by them, then it's hands off (unless the Super does something non-compliant). I believe that once the Superintendent comes to them with a staff-generated plan, the Board still has the right to point out flaws, make suggestions, give input from parents/community, etc.

To say as long as the plan is compliant and that's the end of the Board's involvement seems to make a weak Board to me.

I think what would be good for anyone running for School Board is to carefully study what the law says about what a Board member's duties are and to make that clear when he/she is running.

Members of the public have varying understandings of what the actual job legally entails versus what someone might think it does.
Charlie Mas said…
I cannot speak for Mr. McAdams, but I'll give you the best answer I can based on his book and what I heard him say on Saturday.

First, regarding the difference between the budget numbers reported to the Board (and the public) and the numbers reported to the OSPI, I think it would depend on the relationship between the Board and the superintendent. If the relationship were good, the Board would make it clear that they insist upon consistent reporting of financial statements and that if the superintendent were to repeat the difference it would be a firing offense. If the relationship were not good, the superintendent would be fired for attempting to perpetrate a deception and for providing misleading and confusing financial statements. I would point out that a McAdams Board would have had a stronger role in writing the budget and it would not be possible to mislead them in this way.

As for Mr. Kennedy's failure to have data ready for the meeting and failure to produce the promised data, a strong Board would not direct the superintendent to fire him (that would step over the line from governance to management) but they would count her failure to fire him against her in the performance review.

Same for the failure of the Transportation folks to deliver their promised report. Same for Bob Vaughan's failure to implement the APP curriculum. Same for everything that the staff promised and failed to deliver.

Dorothy's sense that a strong Board should demand a report detailing what the coaches do, benchmarks, goals and results is completely consistent with what Mr. McAdams teaches. In fact, they should expect and annual report on these metrics and a complete review of the effort every two or three years. That's what he said on Saturday.

I'm telling you, Mr. McAdams wants a strong Board.

The Board should not step over the line, however, and involve themselves in the management of the District. They are not the experts. If the decisions by the managers are bad then it will show in the performance measures and the managers should be held accountable then. A McAdams Board would not hesitate to fire a superintendent for poor performance.
wseadawg said…
WenD: Amen! You've got in spades! Everybody wants to be the next mover and shaker, because it's ultimately all about them. That's what this crop of reformers is all about. If Davis Guggenheim (Waiting for Superman) wanted to help poor minority kids, he'd volunteer at his local elementary that he admittedly drives past everyday on the way to his kids private school.

Sure, all the hot-shots want to see schools run like Fortune 500 companies, because in those companies, the suits never get their hands dirty or go near the assembly line. So, of course MGJ & Co. follow the same ethos of Wall Street hucksters, because, in the end, its fame, riches, and influence that is craved, not a better world for everyone.

How many times, in how many different industries and communities must we witness this in until enough of us wake up and say ENOUGH?

As for DeBell, he's done this "independent-thinker" thing several times, and in the end, he always caves. Always. He and Steve will be chuckling and giggling at unfunny things again before you know it, while they carve up another program or community. All in a days work!
Dorothy Neville said…
Thanks, Charlie. It helps me to see lots of specific examples to get the general picture. I know the board should not manage Kennedy or Bernatek or others, but when I see them in action, it makes me want to scream. Your explanations clarify how the board should react more effectively than that.

Imagine, annual reports with real data! Real analysis! Meg could stop making Crappy! Charts! and have more time for ice hockey and her kids. And her kids' ice hockey.

I like DeBell. I could imagine being neighbors and attending potlucks together. (I cannot imagine that with all the board members.) But while I am sympathetic to how he feels, I am so frustrated. Four significant issues he mentions and that if it were only one he could shrug it off? Well, all four of those issues are symptoms of the same disease. The audit is a pretty clear diagnosis, but it really just confirms what parents and teachers have been trying to alert the board about for years.

The organized protest to the levy is not really a symptom of the same disease; who would organize to protest a levy unless things were really really dire? No, organizing against the levy is a preventable complication from ignoring the disease.

If they hadn't shrugged off previous audits, if they hadn't shrugged off all the parent and teacher concerns, so many broken promises, well then, they could have started treating the disease before it became so widespread and so many complications set in.
seattle citizen said…
Which comes around again to:

The board needs staff. They need researchers, at least.

I'd propose that these researchers be neutral, not Broadies....maybe citizens who volunteer? Oh wait, the board doesn't seem overtly responsive to citizens who research...

But some people to help them understand all the policies and how district actions reflect those policies.
Charlie Mas said…
The don't think the Board needs research staff. The Board gets plenty of research already - independent research from citizens - but they choose to ignore it. It's clear to me that the Board - other than Kay Smith-Blum - isn't interested in any data or analysis that doesn't come from the staff.

The Board DID try to respond to Meg Diaz's analysis of the financial statements, but they were easily discouraged when the river they were following led to a swamp.

The Board DID respond to the discrepancies that citizens found in the NTN contract vs the story they were told by staff, but they didn't want to admit that they hadn't read the contract, so they just paved over the problem.

The Board was told about any number of other problems. They are informed. They hear about it - the superintendent's failure to respond to Board direction to review Policy D15.00, the failure to implement the aligned, written, taught and tested APP curriculum, the unfair labor practices, the failure to deliver a transportatio report, the failure to fulfill commmitments, the routine violations of policy. They know about all of these things. They know that closing schools one year only to re-open them the next year was a huge waste of money. Yet they choose to tolerate all of it.


Because they don't want to replace the superintendent. They don't want to go through the rigamarole, they don't want the "progress" to be delayed, they don't want another Strategic Plan abandoned while only half-done. And, yes, they believe that they work for her - rather than the other way around - so they don't even consider it.
Sahila said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Central Mom said…
Frankly, there are a lot of folks in the community who DO understand that the board does NOT work for the superintendent. It is the other way around. And the citizens of Seattle elect the board.

Do I think we'll see change after fall 2011? You betcha. It will only take one seat to significantly change the dynamics of the board, and 2 new seats to revolutionize it. And I think the superintendent is well aware of this fact, otherwise you wouldn't be seeing the Welcome Back/Coffee Hours scheduled.

Now, the important point is who is going to take on Sundquist and Maier. Practically speaking, of the 4, they are the most vulnerable by virtue of their philosophy and their vote record.

Surely, especially in West Seattle which has been absolutely put through the wringer in the NSAP and school closure process, a motivated candidate who can win (and this is key...who can WIN...can be found.

That means someone with connections and perhaps somewhat unknown to the establishment right now. Get moving.
Sahila said…
good questions being asked - where are parents, students and teachers in this equation...
Anonymous said…
Given the increasing high stakes of school issues and the need to have a knowledgeable School Board it is crazy that they don't have staff. Without their own staff they are at the mercy of whatever district staff give them. It is a part time job and the issues are complex. I'm not in favor of increasing bureaucracy per se, but since they are representing me I would like them to have the horsepower they need. They don't have it with this system.
Maureen said…
It seems that a significant number of Board members have been PTSA officers, especially at the HS level. Is there anyone from West Seattle or Sealth HS PTSAs now or in recent years who could be a candidate? What about Ingraham/Hale/Ballard for the Maier seat? It think that having a base of support at a school in your Director District is really valuable.

It seems to me that was part of Charlie's problem (at least why it was even conceivable that Patu could win). I think that can make APP/Alt school people problematic as candidates-they often don't have that base in a single geographic area. (Obviously that's not a rule-Harium's kids went alt K-8 - but he did have the Roosevelt connection and his alt school is in and draws primarily from his District.)
dan dempsey said…
Harium also had $65,000 to run against David Blomstrom.
Charlie Mas said…
Heck, even I could beat David Blomstrom.

Seriously, though, NOW is the time to recruit candidates and get them to Board meetings and to PTA meetings all through their Director District.
Anonymous said…
"Goodloe-Johnson's accomplishments include: increasing enrollment by 300-400 students per year for two consecutive years;"

AND close schools and rif teachers all at the same time!

Wow, that is something to be, uh, proud of?

Anyway, the increased enrollment had more to do with what we had said would happen all along during the last school closure. According to the census, more school aged children would be coming into the schools between 2005 and 2012 in the central area of Seattle and because of the economy, some students would be moving out of private schools and into public schools.

What a lame thing to post in the supe's bio.

I suppose, though, that if you don't have anything that is a true accomplishment, manufacturing something is better than nothing, at least from the borg's, oops, I meant the Broad's, point of view.
Natehc1984 said…
A question for the other commenters on this blog: I spoke to Kay Smith-Blum about later start times, and she said that she would bring up the issue in the retreat. Did she do that?

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