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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Board Retreat Review

The Board had a half-day retreat last Saturday with all the directors in attendance.   Others in the room included Noel Treat, head legal counsel, Holly Ferguson, director of policy and governance, Susan Enfield, superintendent, Karen Reed, consultant, Theresa Hale, School Board office administrator.  (There was to be someone from the Alliance but she didn't show.  This was somewhat disturbing to me because even though the Alliance states they now want to guide SPS policy, I have no idea why the Board thinks this should be so.)

Michael DeBell and Sherry Carr have been the lead directors around this work.  This work is slated to be finished and voted on by the Board by May./June 2011.   Karen Reed led and guided the discussion.

This retreat was around revisions/additions to core policies around the Governance and Oversight Policy.  Basically, what is the work that the Board does?  Namely:
  • Board Oversight of Management - purpose, oversight roles and responsibilities, goals, oversight actions, committees, roles and powers, 
  • Responsibilities and Authority of the Superintendent
  • Board-Superintendent Relations
  • Board-Superintendent Communications
So to back up a bit, the Board first gets its authority from the State.  (For some reason this was only vaguely mentioned once and not by its RCW number which I found troubling.)  The pertinent RCW is 28A but to me, this portion, RCW 28A.330.100, of it is the most relevant.   It enumerates a lot more powers than you might think the Board has including:
  • (1) To employ for a term of not exceeding three years a superintendent of schools of the district, and for cause to dismiss him or her, and to fix his or her duties and compensation; 
  • 2) To employ, and for cause dismiss one or more assistant superintendents and to define their duties and fix their compensation;
  • (3) To employ a business manager, attorneys, architects, inspectors of construction, superintendents of buildings and a superintendent of supplies, all of whom shall serve at the board's pleasure, and to prescribe their duties and fix their compensation;
  • (4) To employ, and for cause dismiss, supervisors of instruction and to define their duties and fix their compensation;
That's a lot more people they can hire and fire than I had previously thought.  (The other duty I find charming is that the Board has to prohibit all "secret" fraternities and sororities among the students.  I'd love to know the origin of that item.  Was this about hazing?)

There was some discussion around this as Harium said that the Board's power flows from constituents and state law but that some of the RCW is vague.  Noel said that from a legal perspective where the Board delegates that power/work is most important because the RCW give the Board all the power.  

So the two important documents here are the Governance and Oversight Policy and the Stakeholder Interviews.   Please note that the Governance and Oversight Policy document was the one being reviewed and wordsmithed.  There have been agreed upon changes since that meeting and so this is pre-changes.

Michael opened the meeting saying that "governance has swung from too much from individual (members) to to too little as a body.  We want to land in the middle ground and have a baseline of governance that staff and the public will understand."   Susan said she was "a big fan of policy governance" and that she hoped that around communications there can be clarity on how staff and the superintendent respond to you and the priorities around that response. 

One issue brought up early was who should oversee the work of the newly hired Board analyst, Erinn.  (Her last name has slipped my mind and I can't easily find it at the website.)  Kay asked why Holly Ferguson was supervising her work rather than the Board. Steve pushed back (as he did several times this meeting especially with Michael) saying the Board doesn't have the time.  Michael suggested trying the way it is currently for six months and then revisiting it.  Kay seemed satisfied with this.  

Steve also pushed back on being specific about accountability which is something Michael wants.

Also Harium was absolutely not giving any license to the idea that staff can't get work ready for Work Sessions in enough time for Board members to review it before the Work Sessions.  He said people at Boeing have to do this all the time. 

Karen first went through the Stakeholder Interviews which I found quite telling and interesting.  I was one of the stakeholders and so my thoughts were reflected in this document.  (I will say I was trying to lean towards the positive rather than pointing fingers and calling out anyone.  Not everyone took this path as you will see.)

STAKEHOLDER INTERVIEW document highlights

Directors and Lead Staff:
  • Directors, on average, spend between 20-30 hours a week on school district business.  About 2/3rds of that time is official meetings.  Directors worry about keeping this level of effort up.
  • Directors receive most of their input from constituents via e-mail, one-to-one interaction and community meetings.
  • On the Board's role there were some striking statements.  One was that "being an ambassador to the community on behalf of the district."  On the face of it, sure, they go out and make sure the message from the district on initiatives and work is clear.  But, as Charlie pointed out, they don't work for the district, they work for constituents so it's a little bit of odd phrasing.
  • Both the directors and lead staff had positive feelings about the abilities of the current Board and their effectiveness.
  • There was consensus on the Board and Lead staff working as a single leadership team.  They did point out a "tension" between the Board and the Superintendent (this would be MGJ).  "The Lead Staff were very clear that the Board’s role is to set policy and the Superintendent‘s role is to implement it.  Lead Staff also look to the Board to provide important direction on values, principles and vision."
"In terms of challenges or weaknesses, the item most frequently mentioned by both Board members and Lead Staff can be generalized as the Board’s challenge in finding the right balance between performing oversight versus getting into day-to-day management issues."  This is absolute the number one key issue of governance and this retreat.  Further,

"Most Directors and Lead Staff agreed it is very important that the Board spend more time on policy and governance and less on day-to-day management of District operations: some Board members noted that they need to have more faith in management and oversight systems in order to be able to do this."  

And this is key because under MGJ it was difficult, as time went by, for the Board to have "faith" in what the staff was saying and doing.   I was glad that this was said out loud because it is at the core of the work the Board does.

One issue brought up (and this is good as well) is the briefings that staff bring to the Board, whether in Work Sessions or at Board meetings.  This seems to have been an issue of conflict between the Board and Lead Staff.
  • The quality of staff briefings was noted by both Board and Staff as being variable, in terms of the quality of both written materials and presentations. 
  • Staff noted the lack of systems and processes to support the timely development of information that the Board wants to see. (Note: The new Board briefing templates and internal review protocols are specifically designed to respond to some of these issues around Board briefing materials.)
  • Several Board members noted concerns about the lack of adequate advance review time for meeting material, as well as noting the sheer volume of material they are expected to read through.  
One area of conflict seems to be the Committee Structure. It seems that both the Board and staff have issues about information - both given and received.   Some on the Board feel strongly about oversight and that the Committees are where that takes place.

Highlights from other stakeholders:
  • Auditor - the district is very large and complex for a part-time Board; the Board needs to focus on oversight of management;senior management seems to "turn the corner" in addressing needed changes but that it doesn't seem to have flowed down to lower levels;budget cuts affect operations and there needs to be forecasting;the Board should review administrative procedures established by the Superintendent
  • Me - concern over facilities; getting the district's financial house in order;staff may be bogged down with too much work from initiatives;listen to parents and teachers;confusion over the role of the Board, Superintendent should enforce Board policies,new Board members need more training
  • Patricia Hunter, principal at Maple Elementary/PASS president - principals have no direct communication with Board and is the Board interested in what they have to say; not good structures and feeback between Central and principals on major decisions; information flow from schools to Board is too tightly controlled; transparency is lacking in budget decisions; too many new initiatives.
"As a principal now, our life is like a buffet: we self select what we can do, and everyone chooses slightly different things." 

"Why is the academic scorecard based on “projected” data rather than actual data?"   

"In terms of education policy issues, a major continuing concern is the elementary school report card: it does not communicate effectively to parents."
  • Lauren McGuire, Seattle Council PTSA president - concerns over financial transparency, more input from parents on budget development;concern over communications protocol between staff and Board; good community outreach on NSAP;briefings to Board seem late;weak communication across the board; varying facilities information especially around functional capacity;feedback from parents is ignored (Everday Math); Board needs own analyst; program evaluations such as ICS program;
  • Dave Westberg and Mike McBee, leadership for Local 609 - the Board needs to ask more questions; how to get employee concerns to the Board if other channels are exhausted; late action on agreements made in committee meetings; members treated badly by principals and supervisors/internal complaint processes don't work;want more involvement in budget development and problem solving; issues around participation in complaints of harassment/discrimination.   "We would like to see unions again participating in a meaningful District-wide budget development team, similar to what used to be in place.  Then, we were on the inside, helping to find answers, bringing our perspective to the challenges. Now, we have no input on the budget."
  •  Olga Addae/Jonathan Knapp, SEA leadership - want to go back to when unions were invited to table at work sessions and participated in discussions; their input gets to the Board too late; issues around CBA and current performance management policy;legality of governance team concept ("the superintendent is not an equal; she is an employee"; no confidence vote was around the Superintendent's "controlling" management style; Alliance has a conflict of interest and is not a primary stakeholder; big corporate interests are pushing their own agendas; Board should do its own state lobbying
I found all the comments to be helpful, some more than others.  It is a good overview of different perspectives throughout the district.  I almost think this should be done twice a year as a pulse check for the Board.  (Please note, I did not include all that was said from key stakeholders. ) That some echoed the same theme should be a big red flag to the Board.   I left Sara Morris' comments for the last as I want to make some comments.
  • Sara Morris- head of Alliance for Education - 
In recent months there appears to have been a trend towards greater (micro) management, presumably because of diminishing trust in senior management to provide accurate, thorough and timely information.  Hopefully the new management team that is put in place will earn and sustain the trust of the Board so the Board can once again focus on its governance responsibilities.  

Yes, "hopefully."  Sorry but the Board HAD to step up when issues were getting to be of more and more concern.  They actually did ignore/put blinders on the Small Business Works issue and look how that turned out.  I want my Board to step in forcefully when there are signals of trouble.  That some may think it micromanagement is their problem.

Consider expanding the role of the Board staff in constituent services: couldn’t Erinn or Therese answer most emails for the Board so the Board doesn’t have to do this?  

I suppose Erinn or Theresa could answer factual e-mails but I suspect very few e-mails to the Board are factual.  I think most of them are about concerns around policies and programs.  This could be done but it adds a layer between the Board and their constituents and what gets said.  
 
Re-concept public testimony. It lasts too long and the lack of interaction between Board and
speakers and harsh tone of the testimony is destructive on all sides.  Surely there are ways to invite
more authentic and productive interactions with community members. 


Oh gee, too long and not very pleasant?  This is the ONLY time and place where the public can make statements that both the Board and the entire city can hear.  I think we can give that right to the public for two hours a month.  Don't like it - come late or don't watch on tv.   That it is sometimes unpleasant well, I have been to many Board meetings.  Most of them are fairly boring affairs with nary a raised voice or tears or shouts.  That is certainly the rule and not the exception.  But politics is a messy business and sometimes the gloves have to come off.

You'll note that Ms. Morris doesn't offer any solutions.  So I put that out to you: what would you suggest for more "authentic and productive interactions" between the Board and community?

Consider re-assigning the new Board office director to report to the Board president.   S/he needs to
be independent of the rest of staff in analyzing issues and getting help for the Board.   


Agreed.

Stop reading the blogosphere, or at least recognize that those few bloggers do not represent
majority public opinion.  The bloggers are never going to be happy no matter what the District does.
The Alliance is eager to find ways to better support the district in conducting legitimate public
opinion research that can inform district decision making.  


First, I seriously doubt that even half the Board reads any blog including this one.  Two, I love that "bloggers are never going to be happy" because that is not true in two ways.

One, I always marvel at the inability for anyone in government or the powers that be to see that if you (a) clearly state what you are going to do and do it that it undercuts a LOT of arguing from the public.  If you are large and in charge and state your policies and follow them, there's not much the public can say to that.  And (b) throw people a bone.  Make them feel heard.

Here's an example of (a) and (b) together.  I recently told Dr. Enfield that if she wanted to show parents she's listening she would create a policy that CLEARLY explains principal selection and then stick to it.  It would show that she's listening and that the district does indeed have a policy that anyone can look up and understand.

Two, I recently told a writer from a local magazine that if I felt like the district was in good hands, I'd probably go away.  Having a well-run district would undercut many of my arguments. I may not like the direction or the policies but if the district was operationally sound and students were achieving, well, there's not much left to argue with is there?  That we continue to flail around as a district means no, I won't go away.

Legitimate public opinion? You mean like that push poll the Alliance conducted with parent phone numbers that were likely illegally obtained?  No, I don't think so.  I would go along with the Alliance and their polling IF there were outside observers like SEA or PTSA who gave direct input that was used.

Lastly, Charlie and I have NEVER purported, anytime or anyplace, to say we represent majority opinion.  You will not find it in any statement we have ever written or said.  I am always careful to state that our blog does have a wide readership but that I can't say for sure where everyone lives or what schools they are affiliated with.   That our readership is only increasing is helpful to disseminating information but I would never say that we represent a majority opinion for the community or parents.

I had to smile at that "few bloggers" statement.  Feeling a little worried about your power base, Sara?  You shouldn't because you represent business interests and other foundations.  Your organization, of all people, shouldn't throw rocks because you surely don't represent majority public opinion either.

29 comments:

Maureen said...

It's interesting to me that Holly Ferguson and Theresa Hale were there but Erinn Bennett wasn't. I would have thought that she could bridge those two positions and would be the one in charge of rationalizing Board Policy.

Chris S. said...

Who IS Sara Morris? And more to the point, who died and made her queen of anything?

Simply amazing comments.

Jan said...

Chris S -- I am confused. Was Sara at the Board Retreat? If so, where did you find her comments posted (or is there a video of it)?

Dorothy Neville said...

Jan, follow the link above. Sara was one of the stakeholder interviews and the report was shared at the meeting. Melissa was also a stakeholder who was interviewed. I do have to say that Sara's suggestion that the board ignore bloggers, but should instead rely on the Alliance to perform statistically valid public opinion surveys was a bit rich.

Maureen said...

Jan, click on "read more" at the bottom of Mel's post--it goes on quite a bit farther -- I missed that the first time too even though I think she was following my suggestion in adding that feature!

I wonder if Sara Morris includes all of us in the term 'blogger' or just Mel and Charlie?

Is Karen Reed a facilitator? Google doesn't say much of anything about her, but I see the Board has her budgeted at $45,000.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Sara Morris, as I stated, is the head of the Alliance for education and her remarks, along with the others are part of the Stakeholder Interview Document. I'll go back and make that clearer.

Karen Reed is a consultant hired to help with this work. She has done the interviews, written up the Board's suggestions for the Governance and Policy document (along with new items) and was the facilitator for the meeting. I have found her a refreshing difference from the usual people who facilitate.

cascade said...

re: Sara Morris and The Alliance

To suggest that board members not answer constituent email is frightening in its anti-democratic implication.

To suggest limiting public testimony, the only chance many people have of interacting with the board, is anti-democratic.

To suggest that board members not pay attention to public sentiment via this blog, the single best source of public dialogue about SPS is also antidemocratic. And stupid.

To suggest that the board's job is not to inspect Central Administration to be sure their governance wishes are being carried out and are effective is stupid.

To sidestep the fact that the Alliance and Sara Morris in specific were HUGE backers of Maria Goodloe-Johnson is of no use. Anyone smart watching the district knows it and will remember it.

To summarize, the credibility of the Alliance and the qualifications of Sara Morris as its executive director are what appears to be at stake here - not the question of how the board could do a better job.

cascade said...

And if anyone out there knows an Alliance member, think about forwarding Sara's recommendations and my, and other public, critiques to them. So that they can understand what has become of their organization.

Dorothy Neville said...

Please remember that the Alliance is explicit in its mission to influence policy of the district. They are upfront about that and are proud of it.

From their Fast Facts Information Sheet they are an "external catalyst for change" and unlike other organizations that raise local education dollars, they also bring a "point of view."

cascade said...

re: Dorothy. I just read that handout. And I visited their site.

One of their 3 core missions is "Community Engagement: We facilitate community conversations to seek common ground on challenging education issues."

I call *(@&# on that mission, given Sara's comments to the board as referenced in Melissa's thread.

I also am struck by how many staff they are showing at their website. Anyone know the total of people or of overhead? Looks at first glance like a bevvy of salaries on the Foundation Gravy Train.

I am unimpressed by this organization. I remember when it was a collaborative fundraiser. Now it just seems to be a big smokescreen for Big Ed Reform. I would love for someone to counter my perception, because it would be better for the city if my perception is not correct.

Dorothy Neville said...

Back to the retreat, here are some of my notes: (my paraphrasing unless in quotes)

Sherry: when we looked around for other Washington districts with good governance, what we found was that no one seemed stellar in governance -- the lauded districts all had strong financial controls. She said that other WA school districts didn't really understand our issues, but the Port does. They've BTDT and sympathize and have offered good advice. Michael made a point of adding well regarded districts have not just good financial controls but a strong CFO who communicates well with the board.

Michael: This is the third board he has be part of. In the past, there has been too little oversight and too much micromanagement. Shift has been away from micromanagement, but that's been superseded by too much interest in initiatives. We still need oversight of core district function. This is the most balanced board of the three.

Susan: big fan of policy governance. Said biggest issue is breakdown of communication. How can board govern without information? This has been the biggest district failing of late.

Michael: Poor board briefing lines up with community concerns. If board had higher quality communication from staff would automatically lead to more public confidence.

On Alliance's whinging about public testimony. Someone suggested a staff person tasked to follow up with public who spoke. Michael pointed out that this was one of Maria's early and very public promises -- to follow up with public testimony. However it didn't happen. Holly countered with, well testimony is free-form, amorphous so there's no mechanism for follow-up. Asked how you answer someone who is simply angry? (um, this was one of my speechless moments. I have never heard someone simply angry. Everyone is angry about something. Address the something. Some people need help, some need clarification, some have valuable information, some just need to be acknowledged.)

On staff reporting directly to board or all reports through channels leading to the superintendent. Steve pointed out that there are pitfalls either way. It's not just that the board doesn't have the time or resources. It is helpful for the board staff to be integrated with the rest of the staff. If the board staff is too isolated that doesn't help the board. However, Steve acknowledged that during the investigation, they had to be very careful what they said around Erinn since she reported to staff. They decided to keep things they way they are for now and revisit in 6 months.

More later.

seattle citizen said...

Maureen posted a link to the CURRENT YEAR GENERAL FUND, NON-GRANT PERSONAL SERVICE CONTRACTS
(Data as of 2-4-11)

I'd been to this before, and was interested to see some of the contracts...why are we giving these people all this money? Why is the Superintendent giving the Alliance 86k? Why was the CAO giving CEL 75K? Why are the Ed Directors giving the Urban League 80k and Melissa Heaton, of the Partnership for Learning nee Gates "coalition", 13K?
From the doc, below, there's more if you link to it:
School Board contracts:
MARJORIE SKOTHEIM 15,300.00
KAREN REED CONSULTING 45,000.00
Superintendent [MGJ] contracts:
ALLIANCE FOR EDUCATION 86,000.00
COO contracts:
FOUR, at 102,520.00
General Counsel contracts:
TWENTY-SEVEN, at 1,369,308.36
CAO [Enfield]contracts:
CENTER FOR EDUCATIONAL LEADERSHIP 74,592.00
LORI LYNASS Ed.D 10,000.00
SEATTLE UNIVERSITY 18,040.00
SOPRIS WEST EDUCATIONAL SVCS, INC 32,000.00
Education Directors contracts:
URBAN LEAGUE OF METROPOLITAN SEATTLE 80,000.00
School Improvement Title One contracts:
UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON 50,000.00
READING & WRITING PROJECT NETWORK 14,100.00
MELISSA HEATON 13,200.00 (Partnership for Learning Exec Director? I did some research, and Ms Heaton worked with P4L with Anne Luce, who spent four years working for Gates Foundation ed division. Check out P4L - It's more of the same "coalition" crap)

seattle citizen said...

So the Alliance was paid 80K by the district. The Alliance's Ms Morris was "interviewed" as a stakeholder and said bloggers should be ignored? How special. Nice work if you can get it.

That's not counting the money the Alliance gets for "managing" the Gates/Broad grant to the district.

What a scam this all is. Meanwhile, schools make more cuts.

seattle citizen said...

Maureen's link:CURRENT YEAR GENERAL FUND, NON-GRANT PERSONAL SERVICE CONTRACTS
(Data as of 2-4-11)


I'd seen this before. Why did the superintendent pay the Alliance 86K? Why did the CAO pay CEL 75K? Why did the Ed Directors pay the Urban League 80K and Melissa Heaton, of Partnership for Learning (with Anne Luce of Gates fame) 15K?

Here's some of the contracts, non-grant.

School Board contracts:
MARJORIE SKOTHEIM 15,300.00
KAREN REED CONSULTING 45,000.00
Superintendent contracts:
ALLIANCE FOR EDUCATION 86,000.00
COO contracts:
FOUR, at 102,520.00
General Counsel contracts:
TWENTY-SEVEN, at 1,369,308.36
CAO contracts:
CENTER FOR EDUCATIONAL LEADERSHIP 74,592.00
LORI LYNASS Ed.D 10,000.00
SEATTLE UNIVERSITY 18,040.00
SOPRIS WEST EDUCATIONAL SVCS, INC 32,000.00
Education Directors contracts:
URBAN LEAGUE OF METROPOLITAN SEATTLE 80,000.00
School Improvement Title One contracts:
UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON 50,000.00
READING & WRITING PROJECT NETWORK 14,100.00
MELISSA HEATON 13,200.00 (Partnership for Learning Exec Director, working with Anne Luce, who spent four years at Gates Foundation Ed division)

Maureen said...

Quote from Sara Morris: Re-concept public testimony. It lasts too long and the lack of interaction between Board and speakers and harsh tone of the testimony is destructive on all sides. Surely there are ways to invite more authentic and productive interactions with community members.

If this had just read:

Re-concept public testimony. The lack of interaction between Board and speakers is (counterproductive). Surely there are ways to invite more authentic and productive interactions with community members.

I might have agreed.

Public testimony is necessary if only because that is the only public record of the public's opinion of District activities (think of Mel testifying about the small business program, or Dorothy or Meg on budget topics, or Dan on Math, or Chris Jackins on tons of stuff.....)

It should be 'reconcepted' (is that a word now?), just not the way Sara Morris envisions.

mirmac1 said...

"Holly countered with, well testimony is free-form, amorphous so there's no mechanism for follow-up. Asked how you answer someone who is simply angry?"

Okay, yeah NOW I'm angry. Holly F. was marginally effective in the "before" time. She's totally superfluous now. I say bah bye!

Maureen said...

Steve acknowledged that during the investigation, they had to be very careful what they said around Erinn since she reported to staff.

So what is the point of having her at all?

Who did the internal auditor report to?

Anonymous said...

Of course Sara doesn't want the board to read our blogs!

We continually bust the Alliance and their backers on what they're doing.

Corporate reform is about not having a democratic process. That is what Sara and her cohorts are preaching. Control by a few.

Chris S. said...

Sara Morris is a former Marketing Executive. Her education experience seems limited to having kids at West Woodland. This is who the Times chooses to interview for education pieces.

Kathy said...

Seattle Citizen and Maureen,

During FY 2010, the district paid the Alliance $130K. So, in 14 months, the district paid the Alliance over $200K.

I want to see an auditor's report on this.

Dorothy Neville said...

See the Alliance Fast Facts I linked to above. See the revenue and expense charts. Annual Revenue was about 9 million dollars, expenses for management and fundraising were about a million dollars. And as we see from the contracts, money flows from the district back to the Alliance for their community engagement work.

The Alliance has been around about 15 years and claims to have provided about $115 Million to the district. This averages out to $7.7 Million per year. This is just a small fraction of the overall SPS budget. Yet they feel justified to influence policy.

Anonymous said...

This is the same Sara Morris who started an online petition to protest the later elementary school start times in 2009. She got her petition presented and addressed by MGJ at the Seattle PTSA meeting. She then had a private meeting with MGJ about the issue. That's pretty amazing engagement if you can get it.

Parent

someone said...

According to the Alliance's blog announcing Ms. Morris's appt as their CEO in March of 2010:
"In her previous work at Seattle Public Schools, Sara served as a strategic advisor to then Superintendant Raj Manhas, and Staff Director to a 14-member commission. Her work led to sweeping reform recommendations aimed at improving academic achievement and reaching fiscal sustainability throughout the system."
hmmmm.....guess that "fiscal sustainability" part has worked out for the Alliance...

seattle citizen said...

"The Alliance...claims to have provided about $115 Million to the district. This averages out to $7.7 Million per year. This is just a small fraction of the overall SPS budget. Yet they feel justified to influence policy."

Much of that money, recently, has been Broad/Gates foundation money. They must feel they are justified in allowing the Alliance to hire Ms. Morris. Just as Broad/Gates feels justified in convincing the (last) superintendent to give the Urban League $80,000. Just as Broad/Gates feel justified in convincing the (last) CAO (current superintendent) to pay the Center for Education Leadership (CEL) $75,000. Just as Broad/Gates feels justified in convincing the district School Improvement/Title one section to give Melissa Heaton (ex-Partnership for Learning, along with the Gates Foundation's Anne Luce) $15,000.

My question: Lots and lots of money flowing to district from Broad/Gates "coalitions," lots of taxpayer money flowing to these "coalitions" and "leagues," lots of influence on policy and spending...What is behind it all? There must be some organizing principal or people that can wield the power to make the district allow such blatant manipulation of policy by Gates/Broad.

Who is the wizard behind the curtain? Who are the politicos who are organizing such influence? Or is it just that the ex-Superintendent was a Broadie, and procured the funneling of funds for these "reforms"?

Why, someone might ask tonight, is the District contracting with these organizations? Why are they contracting with Strategies 360, a Gates shill?

Charlie Mas said...

From the Board Retreat documents, I would like to call everyone's attention to the Governance Oversight Policy document. This is a draft version of what will become our District Policy. This is important.

On page 11 of this 21 page document it describes the duties of the Board.

"It is the duty and responsibility of the Board to set policy for, and provide governance and oversight of, the Seattle School District. Acting on behalf of the people of Seattle, the Board will fulfill the following functions:"

Note that in this section, the Board acts on behalf of the people of Seattle.

Further down it says:

"The Board shall serve as an advocate on behalf of the District, its students and schools"

Where is the Board's duty to serve as the elected representatives of the public and to advocate for the public's perspective within Seattle Public Schools? I'm not seeing it.

This is followed by a page of Roles and Powers of the Board. This whole page is unnecessary. It should just say that the Board is entirely responsible for everything in the District and that the Board has all of the authority except those which they have specifically delegated to the superintendent. It should also say that the Board retains the right to reclaim any powers they delegate to the superintendent. It should say this because this is the truth.

There is a BIG problem in that this policy delegates the duty to enforce policy to the superintendent. The Board needs to retain the responsibility of enforcing policy. That is a governance role.

Anonymous said...

Charlie, whadya expect from Holly Ferguson?

grumpy

another mom said...

"Where is the Board's duty to serve as the elected representatives of the public and to advocate for the public's perspective within Seattle Public Schools?"

B50.00 speaks to this and will not change will it? It's B60.00 and 60.01 is that really need to be altered. I read the 21 pages of proposed changes and came away wondering why the heck it required 21 pages to address governance?arth is it so long?

another mom said...

Sorry folks, but I need to do a better job of proofing, what I meant to say is:

"Where is the Board's duty to serve as the elected representatives of the public and to advocate for the public's perspective within Seattle Public Schools?"

B50.00 speaks to this and will not change will it? It's B60.00 and 60.01 that really need to be altered. I read the proposed changes and came away wondering why the heck it required 21 pages to address governance?

another mom said...
This comment has been removed by the author.