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Thursday, March 10, 2011

News Roundup

Lots of chatter out there in media-land. Seems everyone has an opinion on what should happen and what has happened.

From the Seattle Weekly an interesting view from Michael DeBell:

School Board vice-president Michael DeBell expressed it when he said of the superintendent: "I believe it's a good thing that she's departing at this time." DeBell, one of the board's more clearheaded members, was not talking about the need to hold Goodloe-Johnson accountable for the blatant financial misdeeds that happened on her watch. Rather he was referencing something arguably more important: the toxic relationship between the former superintendent and her teaching staff.

In a series of no-confidence votes last year, teachers said loud and clear that they didn't like their boss. "I've talked to school-board directors around the country, and they all say that something like that is not sustainable," says DeBell.

From the Times, an op-ed from Times' editorial board writer, Joni Balter. I actually think Joni is good when she talks politics. But sadly, here she's talking education:

For Seattle Public Schools, the change in leadership could be an opportunity to feed off some of the best ideas of the leading education reformer, the Gates Foundation, located in our backyard. Why not use the leadership vacuum to, as many have suggested, make our schools into a laboratory or model system for the country? A focus on what makes a great teacher and what makes a community conducive to learning present a fascinating opportunity.

On the one hand, she's thinking like Rahm Emanuel "You never want a serious crisis to go to waste." Funny but I mentioned this to Susan Enfield yesterday (separate thread to come).
Of course it's easy to believe many people are circling this district like sharks not the least of which is the Gates Foundation.

Note to Bill: keep your paws off our district. Not interested in more churn, more initiatives. Not now.

Now someone who DOES know Seattle education is former Board member Dick Lilly who writes for Crosscut. He wrote a piece, "Expecting too much of a superintendent is part of the problem." He basically says that it is not having a new superintendent every three years that's the problem - it's the churn. And, he says what Charlie has stated - struggling students need the focus if we are going to move forward.

What should change is the outlook that the school board’s job is to hire someone to close the achievement gap — and, unfortunately, revise the strategy — every three years. Instead, we — the school board and the rest of us — could ask, “What is the problem?” Then, we might discover not some administrative remedy or fad of education philosophy but a simple fact: Our kids can’t read. They can’t read by the third grade and most of the ones who can’t are from families in poverty.

19 comments:

Chris S. said...

WA in other news: Your PTA dues at work:

http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/living-in-dialogue/2011/03/should_teachers_trade_seniorit.html

Anonymous said...

The editorial cartoon that accompanies the Seattle Weekly article says it all: a smiling MGJ escaping with her golden parachute while the bus goes over the cliff.

Another parent

someone said...

I heard on King TV last night that Jim Foreman will have first interview w/MGJ tonight, though not sure which newscast it will appear on - that should be "interesting"

Anonymous said...

The Potter financial scandal reminds the public that SPS lacks the financial ability to manage its $1/2 billion annual budget and prioritize where that $500 million+ should go. Our public money should not be looked on at as a bank to finance various district initiatives at the behest of private philanthropy and companies no matter how noble their intent or mission. What grant monies the philanthropists give the district is but a drop in the bucket compare to the taxpayers' burden.

We can argue ad nauseum about the Reformers, new math vs. old math, class size, teacher evaluation, and MAP, but I believe it is how the district manages its budget that determines so much of what we see and do not see in the classroom for our children.

Until the Super, the CFO, and the Board take charge and get SPS' financial house in order by implementing what the Moss-Adams Report recommended, there will be more names to join the list of Silas Potter, Dr. Goodloe-Johnson, and Joseph Olchefske.

As someone who has consistently voted for educational levies and lobbied my legislators to support educational bills for the last 15 years, I am starting to loose confidence that educating our children is truly what any of this all about. It seems to be more about someone's legacy, career, and spreading the wealth among those in the "knows".

--still hopeful, but need proof

another mom said...

@ Still hopeful....you said all that I could have AND more. Here, here! Thank you.

David said...

That editorial cartoon does say it all. Here is a direct link to it:

http://www.seattleweekly.com/photoGallery/index/1253826/0/

This was a crisis of the Board's own making. For too long they overlooked the long and obvious list of problems with the superintendent's performance and timidly refused to carry out their proper oversight role. This is the result.

No more said...

The WA State PTA - at least those in charge - are a bunch of fools. They have their own agenda that does not necessarily match up with the locals or the parents who are members. They are easily swayed by big money and fake research from ideological think-tanks. I no longer contribute to or support the WA State PTA.

stop blasting and start rolling up the sleeves said...

Hm, No More above, not sure where you're coming from. Would a majority agree with you that people are "fools" for saying that seniority shouldn't be the ONLY factor in RIF? I don't think so. I just came from a classroom where I'd apreciate effectiveness as well as seniority being examined, and many, many parents feel the same way.

For those that don't know, the WA state PTA legislative platform is arrived at by soliciting ideas from local units and then democratically voting at the state convention, which hundreds of people attend. Some other organizations may work with "big money and fake research" to establish their priorities, but state PTA gets attendance and votes from lots of moms and dads who may not have the best hair-do's or the biggest bank accounts but do know they have a voice and come to convention and use it. It's a democratic approach and no one person or philanthropist can steer it. In fact I have been thinking myself about something I want to see as a PTA legislative priority next year and have looked in to what I do to get it heard. Not a big deal: suggest it, and then members vote. Please do your research, No More, before you blast right and left. Those criticisms might be true for some other organizations, but not for PTA, which counts every voice that wants to take the energy to speak up. In a PTA but want to see it head a different direction? Speak up! It's about you and the effort you are willing to put into it.

dan dempsey said...

About that Cartoon ... four things could have been included:

1.. Don Kennedy with smaller parachute

2.. Don's $ payoff for incompetence

3.. MGJ's $$$ money to keep her sorry record of deceit on many issues from being investigated.

4.. Board President Sundquist with a 22 hour clock counting down and going "Quiet Please - this will all be over in an instant". Steve is holding a Sign -- vote for STEVE SUNDQUIST this year.

Chris S. said...

stop blasting: I've crashed a SCPTSA meeting and it was NOT democratic. I've heard the state level ones aren't either.

The number of Moms & Dads favoring axing seniority would be different if both sides were presented and the alternatives to seniority were really examined (hint: the alternatives - as of now - are standardized test scores, evaluated on a sample size that renders those statistics meaningless.) So your choice is 1)seniority and 2)randomness. YOu can choose randomness but don't complain to me when your favorite teacher is STILL getting the axe.

Chris S. said...

ps: I am harboring some openness to the possibility that the new "historic" teacher contract will create a non-random way to evaluate teachers. When that happens, I'll be happy to give up pure seniority.

WenD said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Stop Blasting,

I am a due paying member of the PTA for 4 years. I've was given a chance to vote once because I didn't have to work late and was able to attend an evening PTA meeting. We voted to approve candidates for my school PTA board. There was only about 25 or so adults there and many were not PTA members. The members voted and the winners were announced for next year's board. I don't know how representative the votes were because the majority of the PTA members were not in attendance and did not have a chance to vote.

I don't know why our school PTA didn't try to solicit more votes on-line. I did asked, but was told the PTA didn't need to do that according to the way things are set up and I never did get a copy of the by-laws I asked for. I also didn't make it through the nomination committee when a friend submitted my name(and didn't even asked me 1st if it was ok) for a PTA board position.

So when you say many PTA parents support reform re: teacher evaluation, I have to ask how did the WS PTA come to this conlcusion?

PTA member with bad hair-do

WenD said...

On DeBell's sustainability remark. Does he think this gives him deniability of what MGJ's firewall between board and staff was all about? He's already on record approving her conflicts of interest.
His credibility is zero.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
mirmac1 said...

Anonymous,

Before your impression of MGJ's interview disappears off this blog, I gotta say, "what are you smokin'"? It was just more of her evasive, non-answers, "bottom of the food chain", 'splaining. She pats herself on the back for "putting systems in place" where none were before. She was changing the culture, sorry she contributed to the unethical culture. It thrived under her. She bears some kind obtuse responsibility for the thousands of employees and transactions. She respects the board giving her $264K severance.

Gawd I feel sick just listening to barely seven minutes...

peonypower said...

I have been to both PTA meetings and PTA board meetings- dissenting voices are NOT encouraged. In fact any difficult issue was swept under the rug at every meeting I have been to. The state PTA is being run by a few voices who are pushing an agenda that few of the PTA parents I know support.

Kate Martin said...

Be careful assuming that not knowing how to read is a problem connected to poverty. The middle class is definitely impacted.

http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2011/03/09/23kirp.h30.html?tkn=WOZFEvAi8CH3uEHbC%2B67wM4vmxSEhacJ%2B8vS&cmp=clp-edweek

From that article:
"What’s happening in school illustrates why middle-class parents should be worried. In tests of reading and math readiness administered to kids when they arrive at school, the gap between middle-income kids and those born to wealth is just as big as the gap that separates the poor from the middle class. More than 10 percent of middle-class children repeat a grade or drop out. And irrespective of the amount of their parents’ paycheck, about one youngster in five reportedly has suffered from a mental disorder such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety, or depression, in their lifetime. These disorders often go undiagnosed and untreated, and any of these problems can potentially derail a child."

-Kate Martin

Kate Martin said...

The middle class is very much involved in the achievement gap and a lack of reading skills / literacy skills.

http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2011/03/09/23kirp.h30.html?tkn=WOZFEvAi8CH3uEHbC%2B67wM4vmxSEhacJ%2B8vS&cmp=clp-edweek

From that article:
"What’s happening in school illustrates why middle-class parents should be worried. In tests of reading and math readiness administered to kids when they arrive at school, the gap between middle-income kids and those born to wealth is just as big as the gap that separates the poor from the middle class. More than 10 percent of middle-class children repeat a grade or drop out. And irrespective of the amount of their parents’ paycheck, about one youngster in five reportedly has suffered from a mental disorder such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety, or depression, in their lifetime. These disorders often go undiagnosed and untreated, and any of these problems can potentially derail a child."

Kate Martin