Race to Nowhere

The education documentary, Race to Nowhere, will have a screening at Roosevelt High, sponsored by Bryant Elementary PTSA, Roosevelt High School and Assumption-St. Bridget School tomorrow night, Monday the 31st at 7 p.m.

Online tickets are available here; $10 for adults and $5 for students. General admission tickets will be sold at the door for $15. Student tickets will be $5 at the door.

In the same vein, I note that Roger Ebert, the film critic of the Chicago Sun-Times, softened his thumbs up review of Waiting for Superman. He tweeted, “Why maybe ‘Waiting for Superman’ wasn’t all that it seemed. If I’d known, my review would have been different.” He then put a link to the Valerie Strauss article about the film in the Washington Post.

On a different note, I was checking for information at the Bryant website and noticed that they have two principals. Anyone know why that is?


lendlees said…
Looks like one is a K-2 principal and the other is a 3-5 principal. Maybe they split the job rather than having an assistant principal?
It is a big elementary but I can't see having two principals. Weird.
Lori said…
Bryant used to have one principal and head teacher. The head teacher retired last year, and originally the school expected that a vice principal would be hired. Instead, the district assigned the principal from West Seattle Elementary over to Bryant and made them "co-principals." I believe it was necessary to move the principal from WS because of NCLB requirements.
It's a lot more expensive to have a principal than a head teacher. I just got this line from Kay about RBHS so I'm surprised that an elementary has two principals. Not the most cost-effective thing to do.
Anonymous said…
Bryant expected to replace the long time head teacher with a vice principal or head teacher. They were informed by the district that they would get this specific second principal instead. No interviews, no choice. No reasons given. It is not working very well. No one expects that it is a long term configuration, but who knows.

Maybe they are thinking of splitting Bryant into 2 schools, since the program at Sand point did not attract families from Bryant attendance area and Bryant continues to grow beyond its capacity.

Bryant neighbor
Anonymous said…
Bryant neighbor,

Can you be more specific about why you say that the co-principal system at Bryant is "not working very well"? I know Bryant is way too full and I know there are problems that come with that, so I'm curious to know what think about the principal situation.

-Curious parent
Anonymous said…
The problem is that I am not at Bryant, so what I hear is from afew teachers & parents. Not representative.

I believe that the problems stem from the new principals making changes and being more controlling of teachers, classrooms & programs and not supporting the culture & programs built up in previous years. Bryant has had a long time philosophy of "keep our head down & maybe the district will leave us alone". I think that era is over.
And the leadership may be more divided than shared. So that adds to culture difficulties.

One caveat is that a couple of staff changes have evidently led to tremendous improvement in special ed at Bryant. Though I do not know how ICS is going in the classrooms.

If I were touring Bryant this year I would ask the parent tour guide what has changed & how the 2 principals are working together.

Bryant neighbor
Charlie Mas said…
Gayle Everly, the new co-principal at Bryant had to leave West Seattle Elementary as part of the deal to get the SIG grant from the federal government to improve the persistantly underperforming school.

How and why the superintendent decided to make Ms Everly a co-prinicpal at Bryant is a pure mystery.

The only other school with two principals is Rainier Beach High School, and the reduction to one principal at that school is on the list for budget reductions at $150K.

I don't know why reducing Bryant to one principal isn't also on the list. I will suggest it to the Board.
I asked about the principal because Kay made a big deal about the savings from reducing RBHS down to one principal. It seems like a good idea (or at least downsize to a head teacher) for Bryant.
old salt said…
Bryant qualifies for a vice principal under WSS. They kept the head teacher, instead of hiring a vice principal, because she was so good. She survived several principal changes over a decade at Bryant and kept continuity at the school, picking up programs that were dropped because of staff changes.

The co-principal model is not paid for under WSS. Neither principal seemed willing to pick up the things done by the head teacher. Both principals need to go to all the meetings downtown which take principals out of their buildings often. Imagine the redundancy in staff meetings & communications. It is a much less effective and more expensive leadership model. And was created with no input from Bryant.

I can't imagine why. Would love to hear the explanation on this one.
Maureen said…
Getting rid of the co principal positions at RBHS and Bryant would save basically the same amount of money as cancelling summer school as staff has proposed (about $300,000). New principals were brought in from outside the District last year (like at Madrona for instance), so it can't simply be a matter of having a principal in the system they need to find a spot for. If the principal is not performing as they should (and I know absolutely nothing about that in this case) then it is the Superintendent's job to go through the process of improving their performance or firing them.
Lori said…
How much does a vice principal make though? So you wouldn't be saving $300K. You'd be saving whatever the salary difference is between a principal and a vice principal at both schools.
Maureen said…
Lori, you're probably right. Staff listed the savings from eliminating the RBHS co principal as $150,0000 so I doubled that to account for Bryant. Personally, I think all big K-5s and K-8s should have head teachers and not APs. Especially if the school has a fulltime counselor.
anonymous said…
Maybe eliminating the co-principal at RBHS would result in $150000 savings because RBHS is so small due to their under enrollment that the district would not replace the co-principal with an AP, Dean of Students, or Head Teacher. Maybe one principal is enough to run the school since they only have a little over 300 students in the building.

Bryant on the other hand has almost 600 students. It is almost double the size of RBHS and will need a co-principal, Dean or head teacher. The saving at Bryant would only be the difference between the Co-principal and AP/Dean/Head Teacher salary.
Anonymous said…
Co-principals is a ridiculous idea. Everyone is in charge. No one is in charge. Slap in the face to existing principal, demoralizing to new principal.

The Bryant co-principal was reassigned from a "failing" school. Looks to me like a political answer from MGJ to a political situation. Anyone remember McGilvra? There may be a pattern here. A thinking person might guess that there is some behind the scenes hr maneuvering happening with parents expected to be the trigger. If that is the case, and I don't know that it is, it is a cruddy way to handle it. The New! Ed Directors should handle it.

Chris S. said…
Related to RTN: in NYT last week
suep. said…
Regarding principal shuffles in general and McGilvra and Brighton/Lawton principals in 2009-10 as examples, Michael DeBell basically said last year that the supt. was indeed placing problematic principals in strong school communities with the express purpose of instigating a parent revolt and thus having the parents force the principal out -- probably by filing many complaints and creating the paper trail the district needs to let someone go.

DeBell tut-tutted about this practice and furrowed his brow a little, but I'm not sure he did anything about it.

Why the supt doesn't have the temerity and integrity to follow the process and do the job herself is the real question here.

I see this as passive-aggressive buck-passing. It also comes at a cost to the school communities who have these situations foisted upon them and who end up doing the district's dirty work.

All of which is why I am highly suspicious of principal placements by this superintendent. There seems to be a political agenda behind them that has nothing to do with what's best for the school communities -- or even the principals. Who's to say what makes a principal 'problematic' in this supt's eyes.

Why, for example, did MGJ send Center School's Escobar down to RBHS in the first place? I heard she didn't want to go. Clearly she was not welcome or happy there, and it didn't last (both RBHS principals are being transferred according to the Rainier Valley paper).

Makes one wonder, doesn't it.

--sue p.
And who will she send to RBHS (or will she actually allow staff and parents some input)? That placement could be crucial to the life of RBHS.
Charlie Mas said…

The School Board President, Michael DeBell, acknowledged that the Superintendent intentionally sent bad principals to schools with strong communities with the expressed purpose of using the communities' strength as leverage to fire the principal?!?!!

And he was OKAY with that?!?!!!

Not only is that a COMPLETELY inappropriate way for her to handle her staff, it is abusive to communities.

So that's now the reward for having a strong community? A string of ineffective principals for you to complain out of the district? Even if it is just one principal and that principal is there for just one year, that means three principals in three years for that school, which is an intolerable instability of leadership. Even the strongest schools will be seriously harmed by that kind of turnover.

She really needs to find so other way to confront these principals herself.

No. She needs to go. That is COMPLETELY unacceptable. If Director DeBell knew that she was doing this and he didn't immediately direct her to undo it, then he needs to go also. This isn't a governance/management question. Governance demands that she not abuse communities like that.

Let's presume the process works the same for her. If there are enough complaints, then shouldn't she also be fired?
Maureen said…
What is the process for firing a principal? Do a certain number of letters of complaint have to be received? Could misassigning principals be a way of getting rid of even good ones (from what I hear, Center School loved Escobar, but I bet she has negative letters in her file now from RBHS parents)?

If MG-J is counting on strong schools to get rid of bad principals then she should put together a template to describe the process and distribute it to all PTSAs. Has she done this? I have no idea.

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