Ach! Yet another conflict of interest!

They are breaking out like a teenager!

Superintendent Goodloe-Johnson was, and is, a member of the Board of Directors of the Council of Great City Schools.

This relationship has never been disclosed in the minutes of a Board meeting.

This relationship did not appear on her annual disclosure statement.

The District awarded contracts to the Council of Great City Schools to perform a variety of audits and reviews of District programs and processes.

She did not recuse herself from the decision to select the CGCS as the vendor for these contracts.

She did not constrain herself from recommending CGCS to decisionmakers about awarding these contracts.

These failures individually and together represent violations of RCW 42.23.030 and RCW 42.23.040 and, by violating those laws, they are violations of the District Ethics Policy E11.00.

I have, this evening, made a written complaint to the District Ethics Officer, Noel Treat.

I gotta say, this doesn't look good for her.


Charlie Mas said…
I will have to drop a quick note about this to the State Auditor's Office.
Nicole said…
I dislike her as much as anyone else, but isn't the district itself a member?

So wouldn't (shouldn't) the Board already know?
MAPsucks said…
why are we always the last to know...?
SeattleSped said…
The crappy CGCS audits reports generally all start like this:

In the late fall of 2007 and spring of 2008, Dr. Maria L. Goodloe-Johnson,
Superintendent of the Seattle Public Schools, and Donald Kennedy, the district’s Chief
Financial and Operating Officer (CFOO), requested that the Council of the Great City
Schools provide high-level management reviews of...(fill in the blank).

...The reader should note that the findings in this and previous Council reports
reflect conditions that existed largely prior to the arrival of Superintendent Goodloe-
Johnson, who take the reins of the district in July 2007, and Don Kennedy, who joined
the district on November 1, 2007. It was soon after their arrival that the Council was
asked to review various aspects of district operations and programs. The Council has
made note of the fact that the superintendent and her chief operating and finance officer
began moving immediately on many of the teams’ recommendations and given the teams
confidence that the district is on the right track with their initial reforms.

Finally, in at least one of the reports CGCS makes a point to thank the Broad Foundation for financing the study. That explains the crappiness of the reports (particularly the SpecEd one, in my book). These parties worked hand in hand to give MGJ carte blanche to muck things up the way she has.
dan dempsey said…
OK how about this REPORT just UPDATED by me.

No it is not looking good for Dr. Goodloe-Johnson.

Things will be much better when she is fired with cause.
dan dempsey said…
Try this for the results of SpEd testing..... changes from SY 2008-2009 to 2009-2010 on OSPI annual tests.

Let me write an audit using these results.
Charlie Mas said…

You are absolutely correct, of course, that the Board was probably well aware that Dr. Goodloe-Johnson was a member of the Board of Directors for the Council of Great City Schools. In fact, Director DeBell is also a member of that Board. Likewise, both Dr. Goodloe-Johnson and Director DeBell are also both members of the Board of Directors of the Alliance for Education.

The problem isn't that the Board didn't know that she sat on these Boards. Although, I bet if you checked there would be one or two Board Directors who don't know that she sits on the Alliance Board and more than a couple who don't know that she sits on the CGCS Board. But even if it were common knowledge, even if every member of the Board knew it, even if every person in Seattle knew it, she still has a legal obligation to disclose it in the minutes of a Board meeting and she still has the obligation to recuse herself from any discussion of any contract awarded them and she is still prohibited from trying to influence the decisionmakers regarding any contract with them.

She did not disclose. She did not recuse herself. She did not constrain herself from influence or recommendations. She broke the law.

You can brush it off as ticky-tack fouls or forgive it as a failure to fulfill some technical requirements, but these failures, according to the law, void the contracts. These failures put the District in an extremely awkward position that could end up costing the District a great deal of money. Her failure to follow the law (where was Gary Ikeda?) has put the District in a vulnerable position.

Besides, it doesn't matter if you or I think following the letter of these laws is a silly and unnecessary formality. What matters is if a Court will think they are a silly and unnecessary formalities.
seattle citizen said…
Joe Wise, of NWEA, is also a part of the Edison Schools company.

What a tangled web [they] weave.

WV thinks it's all ronch
ARB said…
dan, I cant access the spec ed testing link you spoke of...?
MAPsucks said…
Okay, Charlie, you're kidding, right? Gary Ikeda was covering her tracks. Misleading the State Auditors office. Gentling admonishing her regarding her abuse of the district credit card. Acting like MGJ's personal legal defender. Sh*t, he should be disbarred!!
dan dempsey said…
Dear ARB,

Thank You. Try this and see if it is better for SpED reporting.
dan dempsey said…
Few speak the truth when working under an arrogant, vindictive autocrat. Easily explains "no confidence" in her.

Twice, Dr. Eric M. Anderson attempted to write the Truth as best he knew it. He was ignored both times.

A: The authentic memo of 1/29/2010

B: The Correlates of High Performing Schools

The fact is research to determine what decisions should be make and why, is not wanted.

Fishing for any shred possible that might support MGJ's pre-made decisions is exactly what the Superintendent and her four (2007) directors wanted.

After 3.5 years in office, would not the four lackey directors see the error of their ways?
Bruce Taylor said…

DECEMBER 24, 2010

Because only 17 percent of children are grateful for their gifts, the North Pole School District has adopted a strategic plan, which launches several initiatives for Christmas, 2010.

Families have told us they want predictability in their gift assignments. Unfortunately, our existing gift assignment plan results in excess demand for some gifts, and inadequate demand for others.

To create predictability and ensure excellence for all, the North Pole School District has adopted the True Rejoicing Under the Tree Holiday Gift Assignment Plan.

When TRUTHGAP takes effect, students in the northeast quadrant of the North Pole School District will be assigned new skis. Students in the northwest quadrant will be assigned an XBox 360 or Wii. Students in the southwest quadrant will be assigned a karaoke machine. Students in the southeast quadrant will be assigned wool socks. Students in the central area will be assigned an iPod, which they all must share with each other.

Effective immediately, play will be guided by the North Pole School District's pacing plan. Children throughout the district will have the benefit of the same play experience on the same day. A child who has a playdate at a different house every day will not fall behind. Play alignment allows us to provide effective play-supervision coaching to parents.

Play alignment is not standardization. For instance, on Tuesdays, all North Pole children may be playing TROUBLE. Their play experience will be rich and diverse, based on the results of the Pop-O-Matic.

The most important factor affecting a child’s happiness is the quality of elves making toys at the North Pole. Studies conducted by the Holiday Privatization Foundation have shown that children with highly-effective elves experience 1.5 years of joy in a single year, while children with ineffective elves experience only .5 years of joy.

Our new collective bargaining agreement with the elves union enables us to replace these problematic elves with altruistic college graduates, who -- although they have never produced actual gifts -- will manufacture superior skis, Nintendos and iPods (under the instruction of the experienced elves who have not yet been exited from the profession).

Because children’s happiness cannot be enhanced without accurate, easily-understood data, the North Poll School District will frequently, carefully measure student happiness.

The District has awarded a $6.5 million no-bid contract for the Children’s Rejoicing Assessment of Progress. Children will not be allowed to study or play for approximately three-week periods during fall, winter and spring. School libraries and computer labs will be repurposed for continual administration of the CRAP test.

Because the happiness of children is our overarching goal, we will be reaching out to key stakeholders. We will work collaboratively with Wal-Mart, Target, Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, the North Pole Roundtable, the League of Gift Givers, the Alliance for Joy and other institutions with superior understanding of happiness. We’re listening -- and open for business!

none1111 said…
Thank you Bruce, for this wonderful gift of Christmas laughter. One of the funniest things I've read this year.
ParentofThree said…
"I gotta say, this doesn't look good for her."

After everything that has come down this year against MGJ you still cling to the hope that this will be the last straw. It's kinda sweet Charlie, that you still believe on this rainy Christmas eve.

I however, have come to believe over the course of this year that there is no last straw because MGJ is fully protected by the Gates/Broad et al Alliance.

Conflict of interests, pesky little fleas...that's all.

Next year I predict we will see major rollout of the Gates/Broad Reform, look for charter schools (voters opinions be dammed) run by Gates funded operations, staffed by underpaid overworked staff.
mirmac1 said…
Yes, Parent_of_Three, there is a Santa Claus. You must believe else you get a lump of coal in your Christmas stocking!
Santa said…
Sorry, Charlie. I'm afraid you won't be getting your Christmas wish. Even though you were a good boy, I am afraid Mirimac and Parent of Three are correct.

In my business, I generally bring gifts. Despite the fact MGJ did not disclose her Council position, I can't stuff MGJ into my sack and take her far away from Seattle. Besides, I'm sure someone has given MGJ cover. For now, MGJ will remain Superintendent of Seattle Public Schools.

Don't worry though, wishes really can come true... I suspect MGJ will blunder things so badly- the board will encourage her to resign.
Anonymous said…

I've got the goods on you and your twisted elvish workshop. Don't try and skip my house tonight or I'll release thousands of documents showing you have no clue who's naughty or nice.

Julian A.
AEIC said…
One thing that still bothers me is that this complaint is going to get farmed out to yet another outside lawyer to handle because Mr. Treat as the Ethics Officer doesn't think he can investigate comlpaints about the Sup. I get the reasoning, but it is depressing to think that in addition to Mr. Treat's really big salary, the district (and in turn us taxpayers)is also going to pay big bucks to a law firm to investigate complaints against the Sup, and Mr. Treat will probably have to hire another law firm to defend the Sup.

Charlie, would you be willing to share who the outside attorney investigating the other complaint you made against the sup is? I am curious to know if it truly is an ethics specialist, or if it is instead the district just going to one of its usual outside attorneys (who have a natural disincentive to say anything negative about the Sup.
Curious George said…
I don't believe that the Superintendent is doing a good job and she should be let go.

However, I doubt that these violations will be sufficient to support firing her "for cause."

If I am reading Charlie right, his assertion is that that the Superintendent did not disclose her position on a nonprofit board with an organization that that was awarded a contract to do work with the school district.

The superintendent's board position is voluntary. She receives no financial compensation from the organization.

The disclosure statutes cited by Charlie require disclosure when a a "municipal officer" has a "beneficial interest" in any contract.

"Beneficial interests" do not include certain enumerated transactions. RCW 42.23.030 (1) - (12).

After looking at these enumerated exceptions, a Washington Court interpreted the statute to apply only to those contracts wherein the "municipal officer" has a "financial interest." Barry v. Johns, 82 Wn.App 865(1996).

Is the Superintendent receiving some financial interest because of the contract?

If not, then probably no violation.

Disclosure Notice: A am not a lawyer. I am merely a very curious monkey.
Howard said…
From the CGCS web site:

The Board of Directors is composed of the Superintendent and one Board of Education member from each member district. The Board meets twice a year to determine and adopt policies. It elects a 24-member Executive Committee, which exercises governing authority when the Board is not in session.

It sounds like the Executive Committee does the true heavy lifting for CGCS; in most other organizations, this Executive Committee would in fact be called the "Board of Directors". SPS is a member district, and MGJ And Michael DeBell's role here is to act as the district's representatives at membership meetings. As such their fiduciary responsibility is to SPS, not the CGCS.

Is this a violation of state statute and/or Board policy? Perhaps, but it probably shouldn't be. There's no substantive conflict of interest in this case. That being said, the superintendent and the Board should still be expected to follow the law and their own policies to the letter, even when these laws/policies are not functioning as intended - after all, they expect nothing less of their subordinates.

In general, conflict of interest issues become much murkier when the organization involved is a membership-based nonprofit (and SPS is a member). These organizations are, at least theoretically, supposed to be acting in the best interests of their membership, so conflict of interest is not clear-cut.
Anonymous said…
Board Policy F11.00

It is the policy of the Seattle School Board that no school district employee may have an interest, financial or otherwise, or engage in a business or transaction or incur an obligation of any nature, that is in conflict with the proper discharge of the school district employee’s official duties.

or how about F11.01:

No District employee shall use his or her position with the District to induce or coerce another person to provide the District employee or any other person with any thing of economic value, to require or pressure any other person to purchase equipment, supplies, or services from the District employee, or to secure privileges or exemptions for himself or herself, or other person(s).

Members of the School Board are duty bound to uphold their own policies. When their employee calls up buddies to induce them to consider buying some software, and tries to influence opinions of supposed "outside experts", she is breaching her official duties. That's cause. That's coal in the stocking!

S. Claus
Joan NE said…
My recollection from hearing the diclosures last January at the Board meeting is that the Sup and the directors need only report that they are an officer of a company in the cases where the directorship is voluntary. They are not required to disclose if the position is paid. This struck me at the time as very odd, as backwards. Maybe I heard it backwards. I think not, though.

I do not know what law governs the annual disclosure.
Joan NE said…
RCW 42.17.240 says that financial disclosure reports are required of all elected officials and all "exective state officers."

RCW 42.17.241 says these reports must include all directorships held. It doesn't not distinguish between paid and unpaid directorships.

This law does apply to the directors of the public school districts (since they are elected), but does not appear to apply to the Superintendent of a school district.

Maybe there is another law that says that superintendents of school districts must also make similar disclosures. I do not know.
Joan NE said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joan NE said…
Here is a law that may be applicable to the present situation:

RCW 28A.625.050

Title: Certain corrupt practices of school officials — Penalty.

(1) Except as otherwise provided in chapter 42.23 RCW, it shall be unlawful for any member of the state board of education, the superintendent of public instruction or any employee of the superintendent's office, any educational service district superintendent, any school district superintendent or principal, or any director of any school district, to request or receive, directly or indirectly, anything of value for or on account of his or her influence with respect to any act or proceeding of the state board of education, the office of the superintendent of public instruction, any office of educational service district superintendent or any school district, or any of these, when such act or proceeding shall inure to the benefit of those offering or giving the thing of value.

(2) Any willful violation of this section is a misdemeanor.

Someone has found emails that show that MGJ intimated that CGCS might get the alternative schools audit contract from SPS, in return for CGCS giving a certain contract to NWEA.

This law might be applicable to this situation. I understand that the person who discovered these emails is following up on this matter, to find out if there is criminality evidenced.
Dorothy Neville said…
Plus, read the emails describing the NWEA board. It includes all expense paid travel to the board meetings and the member seminars.

As Michael DeBell learned by talking to city politicos, the nondisclosure during contract approval is a Very Big Deal for most people. Even without direct renumeration, these positions are important for networking and career enhancement -- therefore there is indirect financial interest.
Santa said…
Wonder how much the district paid for the report.

No matter how much language is twisted and contorted, this transaction does not feel right.

It does not feel right for MGJ and DeBell to sit on a board and pay unknown amount of SPS dollars to this Council for a report.

This feels very similar to MGJ's NWEA board position.

MGJ and DeBell get coal in their stockings for this one. Unfortunately, I feel this will be their worst punishment.

I agree, full roll out of Charter schools will be introduced to Wa. State this year.
SE Mom said…
Thanks, Bruce. That was a good laugh! I especially liked the list of collaborative partners at the end.
Joan NE said…
I realize now that RCW 42.23.040 may be the reason why our directors and superintendent are disclosuring only their "non-salaried" offices on non-profit boards.

Is it not implicit in this law that in the following situations the official's interest exceeds "remote"?

1. Salaried officer of a non-profit company
2. Salaried officer of a for-profit?
3. non-Salaried officer of a for-profit?

If I am correct, should not our Supe and our director be disclosing EVERY position on a board, whether for profit or non-profit, whether salaried or not?

Remember that MJG has an expectation of continued career support from The Broad Foundation if she serves them well. I view this as the Mother of MGJ's conflicts of interest. But it may not be illegal.
owlhouse said…
Nicely done. This would have made an excellent spoken word piece at the last board meeting. ;)
Thanks for sharing!
Charlie Mas said…
I am not relying on Santa, that fat anti-semite.

I don't want him to take MGJ away in his sack. I'm counting on some gifts from real people:

1) A prosecution for any of the various misdemeanors or gross misdemeanors committed by the Superintendent as a result of her failures to disclose. These include a violation of RCW 9A.76.175 for making a false statement to the Board when she submitted an incomplete disclosure statement and claimed it was complete, and multiple violations of RCW 28A.635.050 for her undisclosed conflicts of interest. Either Dan Satterberg or Rob McKenna can bring me this gift.

2) The superintendent's conflict of interest makes the contracts between the District and the Council of Great City Schools void (per RCW 42.23.050). In the absence of a contractual obligation to pay the CGCS, the payments to them constitute gifts to a private corporation and a violation of Section 7 of the Washington State Constitution. There could be consequences that would reflect very poorly on the superintendent. Any litigant could bring me that gift.

3) With the contracts with the Alliance voided by RCW 42.23.050, the District is at risk of losing the funding through the Alliance. Will the Alliance pay without a valid contract? Not if Sara Morris comes through for me.

3) These conflicts of interest could put the District in a very vulnerable legal and financial situation. I could really go for an article by Linda Shaw explaining that vulnerability or an editorial by Lynne Varner scolding the superintendent and the Board for putting the District in this kind of jeopardy.

4) Finally either as a result of the legal headache, the financial losses, or, more likely, the simple embarassment, the Board could bring a dismissal for cause. They wouldn't even have to pay her any severance because under RCW 42.23.050, these violations are grounds for forfeiture of her office.

That's my wish list.
kprugman said…
There has to be more than a conflict of interest to warrant an investigation from the AG - proving an intent to defraud the public is a difficult thing to prove as you all well know. The attorneys on both sides understand the problem - and they're skirting the law.

Now I for one prefer watching Sups ski the slippery slopes of charter schools and standards-based testing. There's been lots of talk and many threats made toward teachers. Their war on poverty means the destruction of public education, beginning with Title I. The results have had devastating consequences for education. San Diego is still reeling from the financial aftershocks of Birsin and Alvarado's efforts to reform students and teachers. During the Birsin years, more than 50,000 students left the district.

How many years have we been going round and round with these dopey birds. I'm disappointed (but not surprised) that the public has failed to elect board members that are not entangled in some way with education reform.
Anonymous said…
To Parent of Three:

I note your assertion that we will get charter schools regardless of the will of the voters. You might want to check in with House Speaker Frank Chopp, who has said unequivocally that no charter school legislation will pass on his watch. Please get back to us after you have talked to Frank. Thank you and Merry Christmas, even to reformies.

-- Ivan Weiss
seattle citizen said…
" Even without direct renumeration, these [many board]positions are important for networking and career enhancement -- therefore there is indirect financial interest."

Broad board -->
Council of Great City Schools board-->
Alliance for Education board-->
NWEA board-->
Secretary of Seattle Public Schools board

So if one wanted to be a change agent, uh, Reform agent, these are exactly the boards to be on:

Broad (with Gates and others) - the planner
CGCS - the national urban networker, facilitator and lobbyist
Alliance - the local facilitator and lobbyist and marketer (with Our Schools Coalition, et al)
NWEA - the test company that provides the tool to a) narrow "success" to little numbers on a graph; and b) evaluate teachers.

Then of course, one needs to become a superintendent to enact the Reform strategy in the cities...Charleston, Seattle...
Anonymous said…
You're right about Santa, Charlie.

There are some among us, I am not one of them, who are doing some very heavy lifting when it comes to research regarding the potential illegalities of GJ's moves.

It's taking time and it is taking money that these people do not have.

If we're serious about her ouster, we need the best legal advice that we can get. We cannot rely on a prepaid set of board members to do anything to get rid of this superintendent. Has anyone seen DeBell, Maier, Sundquist, Harium or Carr do anything so far? What makes you think that they will do anything in the future? They have been bought and paid for and they are now selling our children down the river.

I suggest that we set up a legal fund to pay for the best legal advice that we can get. That in itself will send a signal to all that we are serious about getting rid of GJ along with Broad and the rest of the billionaire bullies who think that they know better than we do about how to raise and teach our children.

Let me know your thoughts on this blog or e-mail me at
Mr. Edelman said…
Once upon a time, back in the days when I was a community activist in the San Juans, a group of us wanted to challenge the county's violation of the Growth Management Act. I lived on a small, non-ferry-served island with a year-round community of about 100 people, with a decades-long history of political activism. We faced a county that, though small, had what appeared to be superior resources, backed by well-funded business interests.

We raised funds, hired the best environmental lawyer we could find, and filed suit. I myself served the suit on several county commissioners and the county prosecutor. The mere act of filing the suit affected the political situation in the county, and one seat changed over in the next election. With the new configuration of the Board, the county changed positions, and we won, without ever having to go to trial.

Now, if you want to, you can pursue legal angles all on your own. I wish you luck. But as a county commissioner once told me, the law is never simple. If it were me and I wanted to go the legal route (which I don't), I would raise funds and hire the best law firm out there.

That's how I would do it. Otherwise, talk is just that. The School Board is hard of hearing, and their hearing won't improve until they lose big in court, the state auditor fines them, or a few seats change hands--or all three. Then, remarkably, the Board will begin to listen to what reasonable people have to say about how to improve the education of this city's children. Until then, they will remain deaf, dumb, and blind.
Anonymous said…
Members of the school board, particularly those with political ambitions, as well as the Broad, do not want negative publicity. They are adverse to that.

A solid, well-founded lawsuit would do just that. It would bring a lot of negative publicity to them and very positive publicity and support to the rest of us.

Donating funds and hiring an attorney would bring everyone together along with all of the information that individuals have complied. Reading this blog and various list servs, there is enough information at hand to provide a good attorney with plenty of ammunition.

We can all complain and wring our hands over the state of our educational system in Seattle, but unless we pull together and do something that would make a difference, nothing is going to change.
Anonymous said…
And yes, Warehouse, I agree, at the same time the state auditor needs to be made aware of all infractions and we need to find and support solid candidates to run for school board.
Mr. Edelman said…
"And yes, Warehouse, I agree, at the same time the state auditor needs to be made aware of all infractions and we need to find and support solid candidates to run for school board."

It appears that folks here are informing the state auditor. Bully for them.

And I agree with you that we need to find and support credible Board candidates. That's why I personally won't go the legal route. In the long run, I'd rather work on building a community coalition that can defeat a few Board candidates--a coalition whose influence can outlast the next election.

Too many education activists have failed to understand that one of the key sources of the fake ed reform movement's power is their infiltration of the Democratic Party. Their power isn't just about money; it isn't even just about money influencing Democratic candidates and office holders. It's about placing people associated with fake ed reform organizations in grassroots positions within the Democratic Party.

That is a smart move on their part, and if we aren't doing the same, then they are smarter than we are. How many of you out there are members of your Democratic Legislative District organization? Have many of you have thought about running for PCO? Do you attend any Democratic organization meetings? We will get whipped and whipped again if we aren't more politically savvy than they are.

Do not kid yourself. Energy, knowledge, and virtue don't win political struggles. You have to be smart and you have to be organized and you have to be tenacious. And you have to be willing to take advice from people who are wiser and more experienced than you are.
mirmac1 said…
LA Teacher's Warehouse, how effectively can legit board candidates campaign against the $100K war chests of faux education activists? It's a push, but we gonna damn well try.
Mr. Edelman said…
"LA Teacher's Warehouse, how effectively can legit board candidates campaign against the $100K war chests of faux education activists? It's a push, but we gonna damn well try."

There is a danger in so demonizing your opponents that you imagine them to be all-powerful. That is what they want you to think.

In the last legislative election, a very young, lightly experienced and pro-education candidate Joe Fitzgibbon ran against Stand-for-Children candidate Mike Heavey (with family name recognition).

Joe Fitzgibbon raised $115,104.38 and had independent expenditures on his behalf of $61,303.02. Mike Heavey raised $100,346.88 and had independent expenditures on his behalf of $84,950.33. Heavey ran a conventional sign-and-media-heavy campaign. Fitzgibbon ran a grassroots door-to-door campaign supported by a coalition of community and political groups.

Fitzgibbon won 57.30% of the vote; Heavey 42.70%.

If we have credible candidates to run against the incumbents, we can beat enough of them to change the direction of the Board. More importantly, the coalition we create to challenge them can outlast the election.
seattle citizen said…
LA Teachers' Warehouse is right about how the Reform industry has infiltrated the Democrats. They've particularly gone after the minority communities that are a part of the Democrat's base. By using (misusing) high-stakes test scores to convince minority power bases that whole, entire schools are failing, and that charters are the anwser, they've garnered great power.

Education should happen in these communities that helps paint a more accurate picture.

Of course, as soon as one says, "Reform is wrong," one will be accosted by loud voices say, "we're tired of waiting, let's try it anyway." Be prepared to answer that.
Mr. Edelman said…

We need to get better at debating these Stand-on-Children types in public. I include myself in this.

These debates always come down to a kind of competition of terms. If you can get your opponents to argue on your terms, you win. So don't argue on their terms. Argue on yours.

In addition, I can't believe how many public speakers don't memorize their speeches or even have the foggiest idea of how to deliver them. If what you have to say is too complicated to memorize, then your message is too complicated.

There are ways of writing speeches that can make them simultaneously easier to memorize and more memorable for your audience. There are ways to speak that enable you to connect with your audience. I'm sorry to say this, but: walking up to the Board and reading your intricately written speech off a piece of paper may be admirable and important, but it is not the most effective way of giving a speech.
Anonymous said…
BAMN in Detroit was effective in getting rid of Robert Bobb, the Chief Financial Officer who was selected by Broad to try and make an end run around the school board and put into place the mandates of ed reform.

They did it by fund raising, finding the right attorney and within a year's time, causing this person to back down and leave the Detroit School System by this coming March.

It can happen and it is one of the few ways to make something like this happen.

Without a lawsuit, Bob Bobb would still be in power.

Check out:
Anonymous said…
Warehouse, I do believe that we are singing from the same hymnal but I also believe that you must attack a problem from many different angles.

If one method doesn't work, it's always good to have a second and third back-up therefore, a legal precedence would not only help us in Seattle but others around the country who are becoming aware of what we are going through here and can use what we have done to protect their children and communities.
Anonymous said…
Oh yeah, and because of that defeat by BAMN, it made it highly unlikely that Bob Bobb would take over for Rhee as Broad had planned.

As it has turned out, he will not be returning to DC so it was a win/win for all...except Broad.
dan dempsey said…
Dear LATW,

Interesting comments on the delivery of testimony before the School Board; what will the brilliantly delivered speech accomplish?

To whom is this speech being delivered?

To voting Board Members?
To the Superintendent?
To the JSCEE Audience?
To the TV viewers?

If the expected successful outcome from any testimony is to come from either the Board or the Superintendent as either a vote or recommendation, with the current composition of the Board, then such an outcome seems highly improbable.

If a performance rubric were based on the laws of WA state and/or Policies of the Board. The Superintendent fails, and the Board scores only slightly higher than she.

To view public testimony as much other than a mechanism, to bring information to audience members and viewers or lay the groundwork for future legal action, seems high optimistic.
dan dempsey said…
LATW stated about an election for a state legislative position:
Joe Fitzgibbon raised $115,104.38 and had independent expenditures on his behalf of $61,303.02. Mike Heavey raised $100,346.88 and had independent expenditures on his behalf of $84,950.33.
Prior to 2007 no election winning school board member in Seattle had ever spent as much as $40,000.

In 2007 Peter Maier spent $160,000+, Carr and Sundquist were each well beyond $100,000.

Harium running essentially unopposed spent $65,000+.
dan dempsey said…
The biggest difficulty facing educational improvement is the complete failure to make decisions based on evidence.

Decisions are made based on politics and completely detached from classroom reality or the intelligent application of relevant data.
dan dempsey said…
Keith Scully worked to win the HS math lawsuit. This resulted in an appeal to be heard Spring 2011. Nothing changed.

Thomas Ahearn of Foster and Pepper was the lead on the "NEWS" school funding lawsuit over full funding of education. These two actions both were decided on Feb 4, 2010.

The state not only appealed the "NEWS" decision, it decided to steal the $208 million headed from the Feds to WA school districts and plop it in the general fund.
dan dempsey said…

Current cost $15,000 to win the HS math lawsuit and continue to this point. Much of the footwork was done by volunteers and Scully charged $200/ hour. By the time the appeal finishes the bill will rise to likely $20,000. The funding from community members is currently above $9,000.

HS Math decision information is available at the Seattle Math Group.

For an appeal of a school board decision, the filing fee is $235 in K.C. Superior Court.

To make a filing for the recall and discharge of school directors there is no charge.

To file an appeal of a recall decision to the WA Supreme Court is $280.
dan dempsey said…
Washington State School Director's Association's Amicus Brief is simply wrong

Our attorney has received an “amicus brief” (Brief of Amicus Curiae WSDA Dec. 2010) from the Washington School Director's Association supporting the District's position. An amicus can apply to have a brief considered by the court, but cannot argue.

We will file a response to the brief. As our attorney, Keith Scully says: Their argument that this case sets a precedent for increased judicial control of local decisions is … wrong. Judge Spector's decision simply says that a school board has to have information supporting its discretionary decision.

A link to the Director's brief is listed to the left, under the heading “Legal Documents (at the Seattle Math Group)....” When we are ready to file our response, I'll post a link to it.

Regarding finances: The meter is on again; as the bills come in, I'll revise the fundraising tally and appeal for more financial help.

Thanks for your interest and thanks to those who have expressed support for this project.


Note the Amicus Brief was filed by the Attorney General.
Curious George said…
This is in two parts.

Before rushing off and hiring lawyers perhaps you should ask, what do you want a judge to do?

Would the lawsuit be seeking some kind of action against the Superintendent? Would you want her fired?

A judge can't fire the Superintendent. A judge could enjoin (prohibit) the Superintendent from continuing her work.

But what legal basis is there for such relief?

The penalty for violating RCW 42.23.050 is $500. (I doubt the school board would seek to void the contracts that were entered into and, even if they did, would most likely seek to void only those portions of the contracts that the Superintendent received some personal financial benefit).

"Remote interests" are not enough to trigger the statute. The municipal agent must have a financial interest in the contract. Maria Goodloe-Johnson is one of over one hundred members of the "board of directors" of an organization. I think that this might qualify as a "remote interest."

Maybe it is your idea is to have a prosecutor or the Attorney General pursue the matter.

Prosecutors are very busy. They have to decide what types of cases to pursue. I doubt that a prosecuting attorney would be interested in pursuing a case where a school superintendent failed to disclose that she was one of over one hundred "directors" of a nonprofit organization.

I don't believe the Attorney General has jurisdiction over this type of matter. If he does, I'm not sure that this would be something he would be interested in pursuing. He might be pro-reform.

From my armchair, this is what I see.

There is promising litigation on the math adoption issue. That case had a nice win at the trial court and the matter is pending before the Court of Appeals. A victory there could result in the math adoption being remanded back to the district and a second vote taken by the School Board.

The other litigation that was fun to watch concerned the citizens' suit over the NWEA contract. I was particularly interested in the potential issues concerning the swapped memos. Unfortunately, that case was dropped by the plaintiffs before the Superintendent's deposition (boy, who wouldn't like to get her under oath for a couple of days of testimony?!) and before a judge had a chance to look at the substance of the claim. With the swapped memos I was thinking that a court could very well have remanded the issue back to the board for a second look.

The recall efforts against the board members have failed twice. If there were a third attempt, and if I were a board member, I'd be asking the court for some CR 11 sanctions against the filers.
Curious George said…
Second Part:

The pending case concerning the TFA contract has several flaws.
First, no TFA teachers have been hired. Is the case ripe for review?

Second, it appears that the suit is against the school board members (individually) that voted to allow the district to sign the contract. Have they sued the right party?

The school district is the party that enters into the contract. The school board votes to grant the authority to the district to enter into the contract.

At paragraph 33 of the complaint the plaintiffs allege that the directors were "acting in their individual capacities."

The plaintiffs cite RCW 28A.645.010 which concerns appeal of board actions. (Did they comply with the statute and provide notice to the secretary of the board that the appeal was being made? If they didn't does the court have jurisdiction?).

If they are suing the wrong parties then they may be in big trouble given that appeals from board decisions must be made within thirty days of the decision. I doubt they'd be able to go back and start over.

It seems to this monkey that the time to litigate the TFA issue would be after a TFA teacher is hired Then you could have standing by finding a plaintiff in the impacted school and you could bring an action in federal court. You know THE NINTH CIRCUIT. Heck, you might even be able to characterize the claim under USCA Sec. 1983 and actually get some fees/damages out of it.

Even if they can get past these jurisdictional issues, if they can't get a pretrial dispositive ruling in their favor, the trial date isn't until June 4, 2012. IF they win there and there is an appeal the case might not be over until 2013 or 2014. About the time the TFA contract ends.

(Hint: if you're serious, you better file a motion for a pretrial injunction. Just be aware, that if you prevail on that but lose at trial you might be on the hook for the opposing sides' legal fees).

Litigation is not a game for the faint of heart. It is never easy. And it is a very very rough sport.

On all of these education issues, this monkey would choose to educate and lobby rather than litigate.
StopTFA said…
Given Congress' gift to TFA in the year ed appropriations bill, the arguments we presented have now changed. This TFA suit in KC district court has been withdrawn. The federal suit is being re-appraised, given the active appeal from USDOE that somehow having to inform parents their students teachers do meet qualification. We find the disparate distribution of novice teachers to be so aggregious that we may like file suit in federal Court.
Curious George said…
Would your suit go beyond TFA to include the practice that allows experienced teachers to transfer out of and/or stay out of "poor" schools?

This issue transcends TFA and would seem to implicate teacher placement throughout the district. Older (more experienced) transfer out of the "poor" schools and move to higher performing schools.

The higher performing schools get the more experienced teacher and the "poor" school fills the job opening with a new or novice teacher.

Would that be part of your suit?
dan dempsey said…
(Hint: if you're serious, you better file a motion for a pretrial injunction. Just be aware, that if you prevail on that but lose at trial you might be on the hook for the opposing sides' legal fees).

Not just legal fees but damages incurred by the district because of the delay caused by the injunction.

That is exactly why Scully discouraged seeking an injunction in the Math appeal filed over the May 6, 2009 School Board decision. (A Million plus in possible damages).

If you look at the OSPI math scores from grade 10 in 2009 and the changes in 2010, the district has lots of damage from their refusal to use evidence in decision making. (a $1.2 million adoption to make things a lot worse)
dan dempsey said…
Directors failing to intelligently apply relevant data in decision making for the $1.2 million dollar "Discovering" expenditure {books $800,000 and Professional Development $400,00} were Chow, Sundquist, Maier, and Carr.

Wow, SPS bought the same as Bethel did three years earlier and got the same results for the same groups of students based on student demographics.

Clearly there is no warrantee.

The amazing thing is four directors, Carr, Martin-Morris, Sundquist, and Maier, thought that MGJ's appeal made sense. Now WASDA is also coming out in favor of failure to use evidence in decision-making. This must be a common trait among school directors.

Nicole said on 12/23:
So wouldn't (shouldn't) the Board already know?

So when has the Board been successful in using knowledge?
Mr. Edelman said…
Some general thoughts:

* The only time that I've seen public testimony serve as laying the groundwork for litigation was when we had our lawyer testify before the county commissioners at a public hearing on the Growth Management Act. He didn't have to say much. They listened.

* Otherwise, I see three main purposes of testimony before the Board: to communicate with the Board and superintendent; to rally supporters; and persuade fence-sitters (if any) in the audience.

* Speeches don't have to be brilliantly delivered. Mostly the point is to be heard. Otherwise, why do it? (Yes, I know for legal purposes; but in that case, I'd have my attorney speak for me.)

* When you deliver a speech, most of what you say isn't remembered. Mostly people get an impression of how the speaker is emoting, and they may remember a line or two at most. Otherwise, all is quickly forgotten.
Mr. Edelman said…
I have first-hand knowledge of three successful citizen-led suits. In the first case, the county was sued for violating the Growth Management Act. That suit had a political effect.

In the second case, the county was sued for failing to enforce a sub-area plan. The plaintiffs won.

The third case arose out of a PDC complaint. That case eventually went to the State Supreme Court, and the plaintiffs won.

In the first two cases, community support was key, especially in the first.

In the third case, the support of a political organization was key.

In the first two cases, attorneys were contacted early. In the third case, an attorney was contacted once the case went beyond the PDC.

One of the reasons for retaining an attorney is to get advice on legal strategy. Expensive advice, I know.

I agree with Dora about multiple strategies. I'm not trying to discourage anyone from taking the legal route. Just learn from others who have been successful in similar efforts.

Defeating Board candidates will take a lot of focus. It's easy to get scattered, especially when you have a job to do and a life to live.
Mr. Edelman said…
"On all of these education issues, this monkey would choose to educate and lobby rather than litigate."

As I've said, I've been the legal route before. I commend others who want to try it, but I prefer the political route this time.

With regard to lobbying, I have some experience with that. It helps to have some organizational backing if you lobby an office holder, especially if you're a citizen lobbyist. Better yet is to have the backing of a coalition of organizations.

One reason to lobby is to keep from getting out-lobbied. As I said, Stand-on-Children types are infiltrating the Democratic Party. They will use those organizations, too, to lobby for their cause, unless we are smarter than they are. And when it comes to bang for your buck, it's about the best deal around. It costs about $35 for a family membership in my LD organization. The only other cost is time and the occasional bottle of Tums to deal with the heartburn. The great secret of local politics is that a relatively few number of people can have a large effect by working within their local Democratic organizations.

The cost, by the way, of not working the political angle is huge. Right now, we have important allies in the Democratic Party. This is something we should build on, not let slip away from us.

Finally, I have a message for any teachers reading this: we have to be more involved in local and state politics. If you don't have a political caucus in your building, organize one. And then coordinate with people in other buildings who have done the same. It's time: stop whining, start organizing.
MAPsucks said…
George, you silly little monkey! Where did you hear that NWEA MAP suit was dropped? That's news to me. There may be a continuance however because SPS has dragged its feet and failed to meet every deadline to turnover transcripts and public record requests. After reading some of the emails, I can see why they are trying to cover their *sses
StopTFA said…
Curious George, there seems to be this urban legend that experienced teachers can call their own shots (those that do need principals with balls, so to speak). My neighbor (a Golden Apple winner) is an experienced teacher who loves teaching at Maple Elementary. WS Elementary had 800 applicants for four open positions last summer. What are the chances that all 800 were novices (and had little more than five weeks training)? Not much chance of that.

For as long the Ninth Circuit Court ruling was the law of the land (that is until Congress puckered up and laid a wet one on TFA), OSPI, SPS and the Board were in position of violating that law. The Board has to approve every application for conditional certificates, which would have them violate state law (you know, the one that says limited certs are for shortages or truly exceptional people). They were aware of Mr. Treat's dissembling (painful to watch, he needs his *ss canned). The majority approved an agreement that would have SPS break state and federal laws. Those board members failed to abide by the oath they swore.

We agree on one thing. Federal's the way to go. I see it as the wooden stake into the heart of the beast. Board appeals only remand the decisions back to the board for reconsideration. If they chose to ignore facts and pucker up the first time, there's little doubt they could do it again.
Lots of good thinking here.

First, Charlie, thank you for the Christmas gift. I consider this information to be quite useful as we need everything we can use to get the Board to exit the Superintendent.

Yes, I've said it out loud. I have said in the past that I believe it has gone beyond disagreeing with her platform for action and that she is seriously hurting this district.

I want the Superintendent gone.

Next, I testify at Board meetings for two reasons. One, to say things out loud that need to be said. No, "thank you for letting me speaking before you. It's things like "the audit was terrible; what are you doing about it" or "the district is nearly $500M in backlogged maintenance; what are you doing about it?" I don't expect them to do anything but I want it said out loud. I can't tell you how many people say to me "I wouldn't have known Fact A if you hadn't said it." Naturally, I usually have evidence to back up what I say.

Two, I want it on public record. I want it there so that if I ever need to prove that they had knowledge of an action/event/issue, I can go to the videotape. I do NOT want any of them to ever say "I had no idea". I'm usually thinking of things like if there's a serious incident at Roosevelt and the police have to go in there cold because of lack of cameras and it goes bad - that kind of thing. I don't want any of them to ever go into a courtroom and say, "I didn't know." Yes, you did know and I can prove it. You CHOSE to do nothing.

I'm not so concerned about what the Board does or doesn't do at this point. They aren't listening and she'd have to do some real malfeasance for them to muster the courage to exit her.

Nope, I'm moving up the food chain. Sometimes pressure from other directions works wonders. And whether she has done enough for the Board to exit her from SPS, her record is not great with other public officials.

As for charter legislation, I'm sure someone is DYING to put it forth but really, in this poor economic atmosphere? Nah, I don't think so. The Legislature cut the levy equalization funds and now would take money away from existing schools by allowing in charters? We are not the only district in the state; don't forget that. The Legislature has to think about how this would play out state-wide.
uxolo said…
The Council of Great City Schools may do great work and eventually may help somebody somewhere - but our supt and her team have no time (or knowledge) to share. You'll find references to the evils of DECENTRALIZATION despite many studies that prove that decentralization can be quite a successful way to run a district. CGCS conference comes to Seattle in June 2011.

There is a ton of stuff on the internet that signals how much time they spend together "talking and meeting" when they (supt and team) need to be here working. Here's there effort that culminated in June 2010 in a press release called,
"Nation's Urban School Leaders Endorse Common Core Standards"

"The Common Core State Standards will allow us to determine more effectively who is making the most progress and how they are doing it, something that is nearly impossible to do under the fractured system now in place. These standards would give curriculum and test developers, publishers, and education schools a way to align their work. (In an attempt to include every state’s standards, textbooks now cover more material than can be mastered in a school year, resulting in more remedial work in subsequent grades.)"

Has there ever been any mention of the MAP aligning to Seattle or WA state standards?
Uxolo, I seem to remember Brad B. saying MAP doesn't align because it's a different kind of test. I'd have to go back and read my notes but I remember being startled that we aren't just aligning everything if that is such a big deal to figuring out what kids need to learn.
Anonymous said…
This is how I read "alignment" with State standards from NWEA's point of view:

According to their website, they "link the RIT scale to proficiency levels from state assesments." They do "proficiency cut score estimations" that give RIT scores corresponding to the different NCLB proficiency levels (below proficient, proficient, advanced). So if a student gets ### on the fall MAP test, and it corresponds to below proficient, they may be identified as needing support in order to pass the state test in the Spring.

As far as alignment with the specific content of WA State's reading and math standards, well who knows? To begin with, Seattle's curriculum doesn't fully align with the WA State reading and math standards. If they aren't being taught to the standards, then what is the test measuring?

Google it
MAPsucks said…
But the NWEA salesman said it aligns so it MUST be true!
SeattleSped said…
If you go to their website, it appears CGCS specializes in mucking up ELL and Special Education everywhere. They certainly did a hatchet job here.

CGCS publications

What I found particularly ludicrous is how their "experts" said Seattle needed to eliminate SpecEd programs (like inclusion), and a different set of "experts" said other districts needed to create or expand inclusion programs. I'm sure it just depended on what the superintendent in that district wanted to hear. One hand washes the other...
uxolo said…
This guy at UW (Director of Center for Leadership), Steve Fink, main presenter at CGCS conference, is a big giant fan of the supt and what a condescending letter posted on his blog:

"In some cases the discontent may be rooted in individuals being unhappy over a single event or issue. These issues can include anything from the closing of schools to textbook adoptions to student and teacher assignment plans. This can create a dynamic of single agenda politics and as more people become disenfranchised due to their single agenda not being honored or promoted, this just adds fuel to a growing fire. The fact is that single agenda politics is just that – single – with little to no acknowledgement of the collective good. And when the collective good is subjugated to single agenda politics, the historically underserved and marginalized students and families among us suffer the greatest consequences. "
PLEASE add the BS LABEL to this thread
uxolo said…
SeattleSped, how do you see us making special ed work once RTI is put in place here? Is there something you'd suggest we might advocate?

I think these administrators need to get out of their meetings and get into the classrooms. Same for the UW College of Ed profs.
SeattleSped said…
uxolo, you won't get an argument outa me! Get rid of consulting teachers and place special educators in the classroom supporting students (not other teachers).

Once upon a time SEAAC (a parent advisory group to SpecEd that SPS tries to ignore) got the dog & pony show re: RTI. Sounded nifty to us! We wanted our inclusion program kids to get that, not the ICS BS! But then I read bigger BS like this!

Farming out RTI
Anonymous said…
Steve Fink, what a horse's *ss.

Mister Ed
cascade said…
That Steve Fink link doesn't work but if there happens to be a way to get word to him to "stuff it", then good.

Look, far too much is swept under the rug in this and other districts by bureaucrats whining about single issue politics. Frankly, in Seattle, the number of single issue politics points to a systemic problem at the District administration level of poor customer service, lack of attention to our most struggling and our best and brightest students, a complete inability to handle marketing and communications and a dismissive attitude toward public participation in matters large and small.

Single issue politics my *ss. Let's see Mr. Fink, from academia, out in the trenches with parent volunteers and public advocates. When he's spent a couple hundred hours or so, THEN he can go do a powerpoint for his Next Big Lecture.

Anonymous said…
Here's the live link. Don't say I didn't warn you...

Right from the horse's a...mouth

Mister Ed
Charlie Mas said…
I left a comment. Let's see if it gets through moderation.
mirmac1 said…
Interestingly, five of the nine "peer reviews" or audits done under MGJ's watch (most ordered immediately after her hire) were performed by CGCS and, apparently, funded by Broad. As an auditor myself, I find their work to be fluffy and lacking substance. Here's how one of them starts:

"The new leadership of the Seattle Public schools is acutely aware of this challenge and is well equipped to move the school district forward...It is not easy to ask for a review such as this. It takes courage, openness and a strong determination to improve the lives of children. Accordingly, the city owes the school board and superintendent its thanks...." HooBoy.

Here's a "peer review" by some flak at Boston Public Schools (whose superintendent was on the CGCS executive committee):

"The school district is well positioned to strengthen communication with and among key stakeholders, including families, staff and the community. Many of the essential conditions are in place to accelerate efforts to inform and engage the public, and with the proper support and investment, SPS could move quickly to the next level of strategic communications in order to accelerate your ambitious academic agenda....Your arrival as the Superintendent of SPS marks the beginning of a new era for the district. In your first weeks on the job, you seem to have been met with optimism and enthusiasm among staff, the media and the community at large... These early votes of confidence position you well to introduce and execute your district improvement agenda."

Bust out the hip waders. It's gettin' deep in here.
Joan NE said…
I wholeheartedly disagree with Mr. Fink.

But until parents start working together strategically and cooperatively to effect positive change, Mr. Fink's assessment is not easily dismissed.

Parents Across America-Seattle and Seattle Shadow School Board are possible places where parents can work cooperatively and strategically to effect constructive systemic change.

Parents need a coherent constructive platform that all or most of us can support, before we can hope to have much influence on what is being done by various Ed Deform agents locally and at the level of the state legislature to ruin public education.
Charlie Mas said…
I think Mr. Fink's dismissive attitude is easy to discredit.

Let's note that he rejects criticism of the superintendent by presuming that it is all "single issue" while he bases his support for her on a single issue.

Let's note that much of the opposition to the superintendnet is not "single issue" at all, but is, in fact, based on sober evaluation of her indisputably poor job performance. She has botched the implementation of every initiative.

Mr. Fink is easy to refute. His vision is clouded by his own narrow focus. Ironic that he accuses others of the same fault.
Paul said…
Anyone who beieves MGJ is a point person in any way, for charter schools in Washington is sorely misinformed.

Legislators have seen a lot of hotshots like her come and go and are'nt enamored with "all sizzle/no steak" track records like hers. She has absolutely no "juice" in the capital. Especially with DeBell (Frank Chopp) losing faith in her.

More to the point, what SSD might be leaders in, is the state stepping in to take control of districts which foolishly give control to corporate shills like her and her cohorts.

Again, Frank Chopp (DeBell) won't let that happen.
Anonymous said…
are Frank Chopp(DeBelle) parasitic twins? Did you not witness two stadiums rammed down our throats mainly because certain billionaires with deep pockets wanted them? Were you aware that Congress bent over and let TFA have their "highly qualified" status?


MAPsucks said…
Interestingly, I don't see where the Board approved any of the audit contracts. It would be good to know: 1) the original criteria for selection in the RFPs; 2) the value of the contracts; and 3) the qualifications CGCS brought that no one else had to offer, beyond being buds with MGJ.
Paul said…
Hey, sky down scoffer. Well aware of both as well as Chopp's bending to the will of the wealthy.

Just know the Senate (with their education committee chair) won't be bending to him.

His new caucus is not about to disregard the (thrice) initiative will of voters. Nor, do I believe is Michael.

Can we just express here without going "lowball"?
Anonymous said…
Paul, I'm just an effusive kinda guy.


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