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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

New Superintendent, New Hagiography from the Times

You knew it was coming, and it arrived today: the Seattle Times hagiography of the new superintendent of Seattle Public Schools:

For interim Seattle school chief, a moment to shine

6 comments:

Cap'n Billy Keg said...

Interesting article... It helps that Ms. Enfield has a personality and is approachable - something lacking in the former superintendent...

The "bad taste" of the last superintendent still lingers and many will not trust whoever is in the position of superintendent, but at least this "interim" superintendent is trying her best to overcome that legacy...

Give her a chance to prove her mettle and who knows, maybe she will be the superintendent everyone has been hoping for... She will please some of the people some of the time, but she won't please all of the people all of the time...

Just some food for thought...

Melissa Westbrook said...

As a long-time district watcher, I think Dr. Enfield is a breath of fresh air. That she is open and friendly is great.

However, she's the new sheriff in town and between her and Mr. Boesche (the interim CFO), they need to clean up Dodge. That cannot be done with a smile. There are serious issues at headquarters. For example, it was just revealed that staff did not implement a raise in athletic fees that the Board passed last year. Staff not only did not implement it, they didn't tell the Board about it until recently.

This kind of hiding of information from the duly-elected School Board has got to stop. That anyone thinks it's a good idea or that they can get away with it is someone who needs to be exited from headquarters.

That this district needs constant overhauls and professional development and retraining indicates a deeply systemic problem. All the great academic initiatives in the world will not do any good for our students if the headquarters is poorly run.

I would agree that this is very much a puff piece and should have been on the editorial page. That there is only one counter-voice points to a lack of balance in the piece. That there was no questioning of her work in Portland with "Hurricane" Vicki Phillips when it's there to see if you Google it, is troubling.

I do have hopes for Dr. Enfield as she continues her work with our district but in Seattle Schools, it's always good to have a healthy dose of skepticism. That's not being negative; that's being realistic.

mirmac1 said...

So far I've observed a distinct change in tone regarding priorities. Far less of the edu-jargon garbage. The re-org structure makes sense but should have resulted in more staff reductions than Chan and Martin. I think the public has made it know we want to spend less money downtown.

I am hopeful for Ms. Enfield. However, her brains and personal skills must be accompanied with backbone to make the necessary sea change.

Jan said...

I agree with mirmac1. I think that so many people are so relieved that MGJ is gone that there is a little euphoria -- but that is probably to be expected. It is true that if she can't make some progress on some of the more intractable issues downtown, we will still be in trouble. But I think "hagiography" is too strong.

To me, the complimentary tone is less a problem than the fact that it casts her predecessor in a decidedly unflattering light, from a paper that did NOTHING but lionize MGJ, despite boatloads of data suggesting what a bad leader she was. And now, not a word to explain how and why they were so offbase.

I think that the Board has the heavy lifting to do here. If they want less administration -- they are going to have to lean really hard. They may even have to draw a line in the sand, and say something like: don't deliver a budget that does not limit central admin (or office, whichever it is supposed to be) expense that is more than 5% of overall district expenditures (6 percent in good times, but these are not good times). And don't ask for approval of any more strategic objective contracts, until we get the deliverables: a complete list of everything that is or has been on the plan, which things have been dropped (and why), which have been added (and why), what the budget is, and which things have been deferred/delayed in an effort to meet the Board's request that the focus be on money IN THE SCHOOLS.

mirmac1 said...

But Jan, I saw the Board bobbleheads saying "yes, we are going to reduce levels of spending on enhanced resources for Tier 1 and 2 schools" as part of the next years Strategic Plan Priorities! Meanwhile, they are still paying for MAP, still paying for coaches, still giving the green light to initiatives that have no proof of effectiveness! That's Bizarro World!

I don't see the backbone coming from there.

Anonymous said...

Yes,the coaches at $100s and even $1000s per day need to go.