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Sunday, November 28, 2010

Who, Me? (Yes, You)

I had done a previous thread on Seattle Metropolitan magazine's high school issue. I wanted to point out some hard-to-believe things in the interview with the Superintendent. I'm going to forward the article to the Board - maybe if they see it in print, something will register.

First, read the article. She comes off in print as she does in person (which is not the easiest thing to do but she does it). Her answers: crisp, tart and not always on point.

Q: Your management style has been described as autocratic, that there's an aloofness, that there's an unwillingness to listen.
A. Aloof? I've never been described as aloof. What does that mean and where was that observed?

I'm thinking that she either never reads what is written about herself (and I mean by mainstream media, not here) or no one has said it to her face. But then she goes classic Goodloe-Johnson with "what does that mean?" and "where?" I might have to give her the dictionary meaning of "aloof" since she doesn't seem to know what it means. That she talks to people doesn't mean she can't be aloof.

Q: They say you spend more time using your BlackBerry during school board meetings than engaging the public.
A: I use my BlackBerry all the time. I had one person who was offended that I use my Blackberry. Okay, so I won't use my BlackBerry. How is that interacting with people?

This one is a red flag waving. One, there were many people who complained to the Board (and I know this for a fact and I know many of you sent those e-mails). Second, paying attention to public testimony at a Board meeting IS interacting with with people. It's paying attention to what concerns they are expressing.

Q: I guess it would be a lack of interacting. There's concern that you're not receptive to input from parents. People say you've said, "If I've heard a complaint from one person, I don't need to hear it from anyone else."
A: That's an absolute misrepresentation of the truth. I've never said that.

Well, I go on record here to say that substitute the word "parent" for "person" and it is the truth. She said it in her first year here in SPS and I heard her say it (again, not the only person).

Then there's a series of questions about the no confidence vote from the teachers. Blah, blah, change is difficult. My favorite?

Q: What do you hope to do to regain the confidence of those teachers?
A: Hope's not a strategy.

Then she's asked what she thinks when she hears about lack of confidence from the teachers. She says she can't presume to guess but I would be willing to bet she hasn't asked a single teacher why THEY think the vote came out the way it did. Her best sentence, "If you don't have any context for what they're concerned about, then any road will get you there or won't get you there." So she gets asked what she found out when she looked into the vote. Her belief (she says from SEA leadership) is that it's about MAP and her sitting on its board.

Really? You got a 98% vote of no confidence for that? No, that's not the sole or main reason but she's found a way to turn a lemon into lemonade.

Hilarious claim(s)? No involvement at all with picking MAP. Not the RFP or assessments, just taking the recommendations to the Board.

Levy talk (and please remember this as the budgeting goes forward and the district is deciding how to use levy money): "You clearly have to say what you're going to use the levy for." Okay, so if the cuts look deeper than any bandaid will cover, see what she says if schools ask for more money to protect their schools.

Last thing on this issue. Another story, about looking at high schools, says this:

Now Garfield is 150 to 300 kids oversubscribed (depending on whom you ask), has a football program freshly in shambles (depending on whom you ask), and—I discovered when I called to do a little preliminary scouting last week—employs at least two staffers who don’t know whether non–AP track kids can take AP classes. (They can. And let the record show: Those Garfield staffers were themselves a step ahead of an SPS employee who didn’t know Garfield was a high school.) In other words—and, uh, no need to stop the presses—Seattle Public Schools is loaded with enhancement opportunities.

Not good.

5 comments:

wsnorth said...

a-loof, from the original French a-leuf, meaning "I hope none of the board members ever get a spine".

another mom said...

I just read the interview. Yikes, this does not count as an effort to reach out to either teachers or parents. This was just awful.

mirmac1 said...

She treats parents and teachers little better than members of the School Board

Why-Do-I-Have-to-Answer-to-These-People

Charlie Mas said...

I have tried to focus my discussion of the superintendent on her job performance rather than her personal qualities.

When people - usually the press - suggest that I don't like her, I tell them that I don't even know her. We've never had a meeting; we've barely exchanged words. I have no opinion of her personally; my thoughts are about the quality of her work.

Honestly, I would hope that no matter how I felt about her personally - I actually liked Joseph Olchefske as a person and really disliked Raj Manhas - it would not influence my evaluation of her job performance.

That said, each time a little bit of her personality is revealed, such as in interviews or articles like this, or at coffee talks, I shudder with revulsion. The feeling reminds me of nothing so much as discovering mildew in a car trunk or under the sink which has spread and caused damage. My head snaps back as I clasp my hands over my nose and cry out.

I can't say that I have ever had that sense about anyone else that I have ever met. Her leering smile on her official portrait reminds me of no one so much as the Grinch.

I fear the depth of disaffection I find in her - it's like a sociopath. There is a great void in her heart that makes her capable of any atrocity. She has wrapped that void in scar tissue and drives it forward like a locomotive. I could fear for her child.

I recognize what an uncharitable view this is. I work to transcend my instinctive gibbering fear of the amoral callous abyss I sense in her soul when I think about the District, its governance and management.

Then again, like I wrote, I've never really met her. I could be totally wrong. Maybe she gives off that vibe but she's really a total sweetie. Maybe if I met her we would end up going for beers.

Anonymous said...

I have had the same thoughts about MGJ but am not brave enough to state it publicly. The inner recoil, the concern for her daughter are all there.

I read an account of two girl friends that encountered Ted Bundy. One immediately felt freaked and ran screaming in the opposite direction. One stayed behind and talked to him. One survived and one didn't.

It can be life saving to trust your instict.

-Not as brave as Charlie