Friday, February 25, 2011

How About Those Ballard Students?

Some good news; a great story about space shuttle Discovery and astronomy students at Ballard High School. This from KING-5 tv. They have an experiment with gorwing e-coli cells in space. Congrats to teacher Eric Muhs.

I have tried to say this over and over the last couple of days. We have good things happening in our schools. Please Seattle, don't give up on our schools and our students because of the selfish, unprofessional actions of some of those in leadership.


peonypower said...

as Phil Brockman said "it's always great to be a beaver!"

Jan said...

Yes, Melissa -- we DO have some great teachers doing great things. So -- here are MY questions:

In a time of NO MONEY, why is it that we squander money and other district resources trying to tell our great science teachers how to do their jobs, what classes to teach, how to teach them, etc. Truly, the ones I know from Garfield (Stevers, Spang, Rubstello, the great 9th grade biology teacher my son had (sorry -- name escapes me)) -- they all KNOW how to teach classes. They KNOW what they need taught in lower grades before they get kids. They are perfectly capable of coordinating with science heads at other schools to make sure that sequences work, while still preserving educational excellence. They are writing the recommendations for Amherst, Pomona, MIT, Berkeley, UW, WAZZU, etc. They KNOW whether their great students are getting in or not, and whether they are prepared when they get there. And, of course, the same can be said of language arts. So why is it that seemingly ALL of MGJ's and her staff's time (and much of the district's money) seems to be squandered on stupid ideas about how to take away educational leadership and responsibility from teachers, and give it to consultants or companies that provided expensive, unneeded, useless stuff? (MAP tests that do NOT align to distict learning objectives, software for project based instruction when NOVA already does it just fine, LA alignment booklists, etc.)

You know what the teachers CAN'T do? They CANNOT figure out when an ex-employee mishandles district resources. Teachers CANNOT figure out that the District has missed deadlines for Native American funding that then has to be made up from district assets (so something else goes begging). Teachers CANNOT fix it when the District miscounts Native American students. Teachers CANNOT fix the audit problems, give the District genuine oversight, weed out corruption and incompetence in central administration programs.
Teachers CANNOT implement a true whistleblower program that weeds out mismanagement, misuse, and abuse of District assets.
Teachers CANNOT address the $500 million dollar maintenance backlog. We need the Superintendent to do this stuff. THIS. IS. HER. JOB!

So -- why is it that the Superintendent continues to, at great expense, undo/redo/meddle with the jobs that teachers are eminently capable and willing to do, and do well, while in the meantime -- the jobs which ONLY she is capable of doing (running central administration) are done so badly?

ma'am said...

well said, Jan.

Melissa Westbrook said...

There was a comment at the Seattle Times editorial about the Superintendent stepping down.

He/She suggested a "provost" who deals with curriculum, principals and teachers and a "manager" to handle district operations.

I think that's what we need. Not one person at the top but two people at the top handling the two most important jobs.

It's kind of like the Law and Order opening:

In the educational system, the people are represented by two separate yet equally important groups; the people who lead our teachers and principals and the manager and his/her staff who run district operations. These are their stories."

Dunh Dunh.

Jan said...

I don't know, Melissa. It seems to me that you have to have someONE at the top. (All that accountability stuff). It seems to me that you can either have a Superintendent who is a great academic leader (haven't had one of those for a long time -- but oh well) -- who then hires a GREAT CFO/COO for managerial stuff. OR you have a GREAT administrator at the top -- who then hires and delegates the academic leadership to a GREAT educator. The Board is smart enough to figure out that whichever skill set the TOP person lacks is the one that will need the most support and oversight from them (so top person doesn't get bad performance from second person) -- but they should be able to figure this out. In either case -- you have both skill sets, but you still have one person who is responsible at the top.

I am not sure I have any huge basis for this opinion. It just seems to me that great management requires a structure that doesn't split operations between co-leaders.

But at this point, they can hire a seven-headed hydra, if they just make the current administration go away (and don't break the bank doing it).

Jan said...

By the way Eric (hope you are reading) -- here Melissa tried to go and start a blog topic that was positive, complementary, and uplifting -- and I immediately groused all over it. That was bad, Melissa. Hijack-ish. Let me know if you want me to take down my comment and repost on any of the MANY prior blog posts that deal with the many faults of MGJ and her administration.

Many congratulations. I have wished and wished that I could have gotten my child into Ballard. Your students (and the Ballard community) are lucky to have you there. Ballard science rocks!

Lori said...

My husband took our 2nd grade daughter to the Science Center on Thursday, where they watched Discovery's last launch (among other things!). He said that some students from Ballard were at the Science Center doing some sort of volunteer work, answering questions, etc.

One student was telling my daughter about how their bacteria were on board the shuttle and the astronauts would be doing experiments with them. How exciting! And I think just maybe it gave my budding astronomer some ideas about the cool stuff she might get to do one day too in a Seattle Public High school. So, yeah, there is cool stuff going on in our schools, and whatever this program was (sorry I'm so short on details) isn't just helping the high school kids but also inspiring our younger students. I hope my daughter can take astronomy or whatever other high school science class interests her when the time comes.

Josh Hayes said...

I think I'm with Jan on this one: there needs to be a chief. I don't care if the chief is the de facto CAO, or COO, but the chief (argh! I keep typing "cheif"!) needs to spearhead ONE of those things and delegate the other to a trusted, competent lieutenant (and THAT I type right the first time?).

For instance, if, say, Phil B were elevated to the Supe position, wouldn't we regard him as more in the CAO vein than an operations guy?