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Friday, May 13, 2011

The Case of the Missing Principal (No, not Martin Floe)


So what has happened to Principal Tate Loftin at Coe Elementary?  Apparently, staff showed up on May 9th and poof! Her office was cleared out and she was gone with no explanation. 

They have brought in retired principal, Terry Acena, to fill in but for how long is unknown.  

  
Apparently the district is to explain this all on Monday.   But think about it - if this were your school and your principal, wouldn’t it seem odd that neither staff or parents had any explanation of a sudden departure?

My source on this says Loftin had some chronic health problems but thinks if Loftin had been leaving on her own, she would have said goodbye to staff, parents and students. 

What’s going on here in this district with personnel?  We have the top leadership – superintendent, COO and CFO – all in interim positions.  The new head of HR, gone after three months of commuting from Chicago.   Martin Floe gets fired despite support from staff and community (and with principals in many schools with the same kind of stagnant test scores).  Now we have one principal just disappear from the school without warning.

Is this any way to run a district?

46 comments:

Chris S. said...

I heard thru the grapevine last weekend that teachers are no happier with the new supe. Now it's become clear why. Time for another "confidence" check?

creepy... said...

There's a teacher missing at my school. She was seen crying last thursday and said there was a complaint against her. There has been a sub since.

Jan said...

Easy to pile on here, but hard to know what is really going on --. At minimum, I think it is time for a board member or two to drop by Dr. Enfeld's office and have a chat about process, chaos, etc. On the one hand, we WANTED change from the heavy-handed, arrogant, Ed Reform ways of MGJ, but leaders of organizations have to be able to think strategically. They have to be aware two or three steps down the road of the implications of what they do, who is impacted, how it reflects on their judgment and leadership abilities.

For all I know, much of what is happening is stuff that was set in motion under MGJ and is only now bearing rotten fruit -- and I don't know how easy or hard it is to stop EVERY runaway train.

But I do think that the last weeks have made it clear that the Board should follow through on the "interim" concept, and spend some time figuring out what qualities and skills we most want in a superintendent, and whether it might be the right time to open up a search (which Dr. Enfield can certainly be a candidate for).

Actually, maybe not. This board has four directors whose ideas of good governance are pretty tattered. Maybe we want to get through the election, and THEN open up the search.

Anonymous said...

The roadmap couldn't be clearer: Create chaos, call it a crisis, suspend democratic rules, declare an emergency, then slide into place your new control apparatus. Get people to say, "at least with Charters...." and you've won. The skids have been greased. Game over. Welcome to the tax & levy dollar feeding trough, corporate America!

It worked in the state of Michigan and many other states, so a modest urban school district full of green pacifists & idealists (who have long since forgotten where they came from) ought to be easy to take over.

Anyone who speaks German can't be bad! (referring to Sideshow Bob)

People are half-right about unions: We never should have needed unions; but we do, precisely for people like Martin Floe. Why in the hell should he - an honest man, fighting the good fight - be out of a job, while a bunch of worthless, carpet-bagging, brown-nosers clog the administrative toilet that is JSCEE at well over 100k per year?

We pay their salaries. They work for us. Not Gates. Not Walton. Not Broad. Performance Review says: Epic Fail.

WSEADAWG

Anonymous said...

What a shame for Coe - a great school with incredible parental support, happy kids, rising scores- now in turmoil after a poorly chosen Principal abruptly departs.

Things were NOT going well this year- a very unhappy parent and teacher community there after only a few months BUT to just disappear? Not okay.

What a huge change for Coe after 10 years with David Elliott at the helm (not unlike Floe) who took the "second choice" school on Queen Anne and turned it into a success story. Amazing what a true connection to the parent community can mean for students and sad to see what happens when it is not there.

Makes me wonder how things are at Queen Anne Elementary and if Coe parents will move there when it is in the old SBOC building next year.

Signed - Sad for Coe

Anonymous said...

As a Coe parent, I expect that we'll find out at some point why Tate Loftin left abruptly, and whether it was instigated by her, the district, a mutual agreement, or forces outside either one's control. Given the sudden nature and timing (so close to end of year) I'm guessing this was totally unplanned. While the district probably has legal reasons not to disclose the cause, the fact that they did not even mention the issue to the community as soon as the interim principal, Terry Acena, was named is mind boggling and a great way to get the parental rumor mill going....

Coedad

RHS friend of Loftin said...

I went to high-school with Stacy Loftin (Tate Loftin)and we were friends. She is a wonderful person. I'm saddened to hear she wasn't doing well as principal--surprised, really, she was easy to get along with.

Does anyone know what illness she has?

When will the district return to Sanity? said...

I just read on the "Friends of Fl." Facebook page that the district came into Loftin's office, took away her key, and told her to leave. Is this really how we want to treat people?

Anonymous said...

I've heard the exact opposite. That Loftin came in on her own, packed up and left. The district only found out after she bailed. She walked away without a word to her students or staff.

Anonymous said...

Re-posting Anon @ 5:08 AM since it will be deleted b/c it is not signed: "I've heard the exact opposite. That Loftin came in on her own, packed up and left. The district only found out after she bailed. She walked away without a word to her students or staff."


I am a Coe parent and I've heard as professed fact some crazy stuff -- that she was fired, that she fled town, that she is in the hospital. This is what happens when the District, her employer, allows a communication vacuum for days. In fact, Coe families weren't even told that there would be more information coming on Monday; I only learned that when I read it here.

--Still waiting for information

Anonymous said...

I am a Coe parent and am actively involved in the school on many levels. I am wondering how involved some of the above commenters are, whether or not they are even Coe parents, or if they went to the PTA meeting this past Thursday. I find it interesting how many refer to the "rumor mill" yet that is exactly what you are all perpetuating here. The only reason I am even posting is because this whole thing makes me feel icky inside.

Here are some actual facts for you:
Ms. Loftin cleared out her office on her own with no word or warning to either her staff, parents, or the district.
Ms. Loftin has yet to contact or reach out to her staff, parents, or students. Sad because there are genuine concerns and worry for her.
The district informs the staff as it knows anything, then goes to the parents
There has been no "letter writing campaign" to oust Ms. Loftin as some individuals have claimed.
If you are a Coe parent and have any comments that you would like to express about Ms. Loftin or this situation, you are invited and welcome to email both Nancy Coogan and our new Superintendant.

Here is a sample of what MY experience at Coe has been this year under the helm of Ms. Loftin:
Along with the positive interactions with her, I have experienced an unsettling amount of very unprofessional experiences from her.
The head secretary of our school that she hired has been the most unpleasant and unprofessional being that I have worked with in my adult life. She has single handedly driven many of our parents and teachers out of the office.
The level of morale at our school among parents, teachers, and students hit a low this year that I did not think was possible.
That morale has jumped increasingly since Mr. Acena has joined our school. Again, among parents, staff, and students.

I know that I do not represent everyone's opinions of those who ACTUALLY go to our school, but I do represent a large number.

In closing, I have two comments.
ONE - and this is directed to the male parent who was so rude at our PTA meeting (It is possible to express your opinion without being rude to others I might add). Our community does NOT target and try to get rid of those we don't think belong. What I learned this year is that our community actually goes above and beyond, trying to welcome new members. Ms. Loftin and our new secretary were shown an incredible amount of kindness, support, and help during this year. No one wanted Ms. Loftin to leave and disappear as she seems to have chosen to do. Many of us, myself included, have offered her help on various occasions.
TWO - If you do not go to our school, or have not attended any meetings, or have any sort of connection to Coe, find someone who does before you keep the "rumor mill" going.

Thank you,
Long Time and "over involved" Coe Mom

Melissa Westbrook said...

Coe Mom, thanks for that insider's view. I'm sorry to hear that it's been a hard year.

Just the Facts, mam said...

Over involved,
Thanks for the facts. I was starting to believe this was an alien/charter school conspiracy.

Truth is not as intersting as fiction

Anonymous said...

As a parent whose kids' school has gone through several principals in the past 2 years and now have a brand new, deer in the headlights one who is very stuck on pacing, test scores, CSIP report, I just have to ask where does SPS find these people? And who is montioring their work? Isn't this the reason why we have all these regional heads under the Super or Assistant Super? (I don't know how many supervisory layers SPS have, but they function more like protective armour.)

Next year, my school is getting another brand new, assistant principal . Why 2 principals? Who knows? The 2nd principal has a fast trajectory resume from teaching stint to principalship. So the 2nd one does not bring much administrative experience over the 1st one. For the money, our school could use an instructional assistant/counselor and another teacher instead. Is it something our 1st Principal not doing? Needing help? Our school is a high performing school, though, with all the monkeying around and churn, who can tell if we can continue to be. Morale is low.

It is just stuff like this where school communities get blindsided and the lack of info, the rumour mill, the lack of leadership that leaves involved parents befuddled and looking for a way out as we get little answers and our kids are not getting what they need in the classrooms.

-worried parent

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

Interesting stuff, Anonymous, but I need to to repost with a moniker. We don't accept anonymous posts.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Ms. Westbrook for being calm and respectful in your response.

To Worried Mom - I agree it is a shame to have so many changes in leadership. It is stressful to all involved. I have been told that the pool for hiring principals is slim. That is unfortunate. As for the current situation at Coe, I feel the district set it in motion as soon as they told Mr. Elliot that he would be taking over a new school. He was not given enough support while trying to run 2 schools at a time, and the hiring process took way too long. I certainly hope that they do a better job of finding candidates who are a good match to the schools that are now hiring. Why should others suffer for their incompetence?

I still stand by what I know to be true. I also know that Nancy Coogan never said that Ms. Loftin was on medical leave. She said that Ms. Loftin told the district that she is taking a personal leave. This was after calling in sick for over a week. She repeated this during the meeting more than once. I met with Mr. Acena on the Friday before last and he did not refer to himself as our interim principal. He said he was glad to be there, loved being around the kids, and didn't know how long he'd be there. I also still believe that opinions and hard questions can be asked or made without being rude or condescending. Another parent was able to do that and she made her point quite clear.

My family is actually making the switch to QAE but it has nothing to do with Ms. Loftin. Our focus is what is best for our child. Not hurt feelings. I'm sure that QAE does not wish to gain enrollment because of this drama either. Their focus is academics, not hostility or immaturity.

I sincerely hope that the District will be moving forward in a more thoughtful direction from now on. I also hope that the anger subsides and that the community can come together and focus on making the rest of the year a great one for the kids.

Long Time and "over involved" Coe Mom
(who also works alongside some over involved dads)

LXN said...

Even though I don't know what really happened with the Coe principal, I have seen PTA Boards naively believing lies fed to them from central office. And instead of advocating for parents and students are unintentionally protecting those they shouldn't.

Stacy said...

The Coe situation from my POV is actually not as grim as it may look from the surface. I've been on the Coe board for 3 of my children's 5 years at the school. Tate Loftin received warm welcome from teachers, parents, and staff. It was the desire of the entire community that she be successful. To that end, people came fourth and offered professional and personal assistance. She came in on Day 1 and instituted a lot of changes without taking the communities temperature and without figuring what the community needed and how best to motivate all of the different parties. Coe is and was a high functioning school and was not in need of drastic changes. It was not broken. Parents were the first ones to raise issues. From September to December, the word that I kept hearing from teachers and board members was to give Ms Loftin room a chance to get her feet on the ground–. I spoke these words often myself even when I privately had doubts which I expressed to Ms Loftin. By mid-January, many teachers had joined the many parents who had concerns. Parents and teachers had gone to Ms Loftin many many times. We wrote her emails, we stopped by her office, we called her on the phone, and we brought up issues at meetings with her. Even fifth graders submitted a petition arguing against the policy that students had to sit by classroom in the lunchroom. (As far as I know, the petition went unanswered and the policy did not change until last week after she was gone.) Exasperated, we took our concerns to the district in many different forms: we wrote letters, we made phone calls, we asked to meet with Nancy Coogan, the Director who oversees Coe. As far as I can tell anyone who wanted to talk with Ms Coogan could get her ear. This is in sharp contrast to a few years ago when I was concerned about a teaching issue, and I could barely get an email response, no phone calls, and no meetings. Whatever happened between Ms Coogan and Ms Loftin is between them. But, I do know one thing, the district was as surprised as we were to find that Ms Loftin had abandoned her post without notifying the kids, the teachers, the parents, and the district. She has still communicated nothing with the school despite having been asked to send a letter.

Even if (AND, WE DON’T KNOW) Ms Loftin has been told that she would not be returning to Coe next year, the district would not have dismissed her posthaste without a very serious reason. (We can look to the situation at Ingram where Mr. Floe has been told that he will not continue as the Principal of Ingram next year. It was announced that he would finish out the year. He did not pack his bags and flee in the middle of the weekend. In fact, for good or bad as I don’t know the issues, he is fighting for his job.)

Mr. Acena, the Principal who has come to Coe to finish the year, is the districts response to a very frustrating year– many-many (NOT ALL) teachers, many staff, a good group of parents, and (yes) even a good number of kids felt that the school was not being lead skillfully. Hurray for hands-on administrators at the District who don’t turn their backs when help is needed. I have not always been a fan of the district. But, I’m willing to give Dr. Ensfield a chance. I am a pragmatist, and I know that things won’t get better if we don’t give our leaders a chance. And, a chance is exactly what Ms Loftin had a Coe. I wish her well and fervently hope that she gets the support she needs to get back on track.

Surprised at the prior comment said...

You Coe parents really sound spoiled. Students should sit in the lunchroom by grade-level--what schools allows students to sit whereever they want? That just leads to chaos and children left out. And, parents in the office? What school allows parents to be in the office? That's just wrong. A lot of confidential conversations occur in the office that parents should not be party to. What kind of chaotic school was Coe anyway? Give Enfield a chance? Where does that come from? How can you say that after what she has just done firing Floe?

suep. said...

I came across this article about Coe's (ex? missing?) principal.

Meet the new principal of Coe Elementary, Tate Loftin

Some curious highlights:


•Why did you become a principal in the first place?
•To reach more kids. When I was a teacher there would be kids and families in the school who were upset that they weren’t in my class. It would kill me to see kids outside my classroom, looking in, crying, because they were assigned to a different class for the year.


(Really? Kids sobbing outside her classroom because she wasn't their teacher? Hmm... Sounds a bit like TFA hyperbole to me. - sp.)

•David Elliott was Coe’s principal for over ten years and as such, there are some big shoes to fill. With all due respect, what are you bringing to Coe? Tell us who you are and how you make decisions as a leader.
•I like to think that I am bringing new ideas and a new perspective to build upon the wonderful things we already have here at Coe. Like Mr. Elliott, I have a strong sense of social justice. I am keenly aware of my responsibility to meet each child academically, socially and behaviorally where they are right now, and push them to the next level. I also think it is important that we take a good hard look at ourselves as a school and ask if kids are learning because of us, or in spite of us? Test scores at Coe have been status quo for the past few years. Learning is not just about test scores of course, but there is no reason that we can’t look to where we can be doing better.


Coe has some of the highest test scores in the district among elementary schools, so if that's the only measure Loftin was taking, Coe's "status quo" was actually pretty good -- although I think she meant to say "stagnant," which is still a weird thing to say about a strong, well-supported, successful and popular school.

If she used that 'learning in spite of us' line on Coe's teachers, I can imagine this was not received as an endearing comment.

I hope her assignment to Coe was not another case of the district tampering with something that was not broken.

Having seen the district interfere with and weaken other strong, successful schools and programs, this story sets off some alarm bells.

--sp.

Anonymous said...

Wow.

I wrote the article referenced above by Seattle-Ed 2010. It's so weird to see your words lifted out and then twisted thinly-veiled nastiness about TFA and district tampering. (Yes, I read this blog enough to know the disdain with which TFA is held among most regulars here. It is a cheap shot to tar her with that brush.)


I have no idea what to think about Tate Loftin, her abrupt departure and the concern it has caused. And I am a long-time parent at this school. You are doing us no favors, Seattle-Ed 2010, by speculating about Tate or implying that the district was somehow actively tampering with Coe’s success by placing her there.


What I do know is that Coe is a warm and welcoming learning community with a dedicated staff and supportive parental group. We are going to be fine.

Mary

Stacy said...

Kids wanted to sit by grade level and not only w/their own class. I don't know the story about Floe, so I won't get involved. My last words

suep. said...

Mary,

I'm not twisting anything. I am merely remarking that I found Loftin's comments a bit odd.

She uses some common ed reform jargon ("status quo," a focus on test scores) and tells a story about her apparently brilliant teaching that I've heard before, mostly from TFA-ers (including former DC Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee -- who was forced to back down from her statements about her own teaching brilliance when evidence proved that false). That's why that reference came to mind.

One might also ask why Loftin didn't remain a teacher if that was story true? Honestly, maybe teaching, rather than management, is her strong suit.

I certainly hope Coe will be fine. But I happen to know that last year, when the district announced it was moving longtime, beloved principal Elliott to open and head Queen Anne Elementary, though Elliott agreed to the transfer and told parents not to protest it, the district then reneged on its promise to him that it would give him an assistant to help him essentially run/launch two schools simultaneously.

So it was an unfairly demanding year for him.

Now I am chagrined to hear that this entire year under Loftin has been problematic for Coe.

So that adds up to two years of disruption by the district of a strong successful school.

I'm asking why. And as a Coe parent, you should too.

--sp.

Anonymous said...

I’m trying to be objective in this trying time. My family and I are involved members of the Coe family. While I’ve read many people say they want to leave, we are dedicated to continuing at Coe. We’ve had many wonderful teachers and positive experiences.
Ms. Loftin’s predecessor, Mr. Elliott, set the precedence of how Coe’s climate should be. It spiraled out of control to the point he chose to take charge of a new school. The amazing personality some saw from Mr. Elliott was adored by many, others saw through the smoke.
Ms. Loftin did have big shoes to fill. She came into the school with many folks not happy that Mr. Elliott left. Was that her fault? No, put yourself in that situation. However, there were many people who try to reach out to her to no avail. Stringent rules were set into place and while some were reasonable, the presentation of said rules was questionable. However, the connection made between Ms. Loftin, the students, some staff, and families was hard to see. We may never understand the whole story as we are not privy to “in house” knowledge of how things really went, but it would be good to have closer. Was this a personality conflict, a lack of the district’s mentorship, or just not the right fit? As of now, no one knows.

Anonymous said...

Take two...let's try it again.

I’m trying to be objective in this trying time. My family and I are involved members of the Coe family. While I’ve read many people say they want to leave, we are dedicated to continuing at Coe. We’ve had many wonderful teachers and positive experiences.
Ms. Loftin’s predecessor, Mr. Elliott, set the precedence of how Coe’s climate should be. It spiraled out of control to the point he chose to take charge of a new school. The amazing personality some saw from Mr. Elliott was adored by many, others saw through the smoke.
Ms. Loftin did have big shoes to fill. She came into the school with many folks not happy that Mr. Elliott left. Was that her fault? No, put yourself in that situation. However, there were many people who try to reach out to her to no avail. Stringent rules were set into place and while some were reasonable, the presentation of said rules was questionable. However, the connection made between Ms. Loftin, the students, some staff, and families was hard to see. We may never understand the whole story as we are not privy to “in house” knowledge of how things really went, but it would be good to have closer. Was this a personality conflict, a lack of the district’s mentorship, or just not the right fit? As of now, no one knows.
~Trying to understand...

Anonymous said...

Again SP (Seattle-Ed2010) nasty speculation without any basis in fact. Did you know for a fact that Loftin is a TFA-er or ed reformer? If so, then provide the proof. If not, then keep your speculation to yourself, please.


Mary

Anonymous said...

Oh, and I couldn't agree more with Trying to Understand that it would be good to have some closure on this.

Mary

Kevin said...

A POV from the .5 head teacher at Coe.

This blog seems an opportune way to communicate to parents. I have done my duty by e-mailing Nancy to give my historical perspective on Coe and this particular school year. Being .5, I’ve missed recent meetings and have yet to meet Nancy in person.

Coe has an overall above average teaching staff with great parents and wondering kids. My greatest tests as a 4/5 teacher was to sufficiently challenge our strongest students, of which we have many.

Before Tate left, she came to me to talk about many things and to try to get a perspective on events the previous few weeks. I can’t say what she said as it was in confidence.

But the following speculation might be accurate, or might not. The end truth does not always emanate out from the people involved. We may never publicly know the truth.

My speculation:
Tate’s authority was probably greatly undermined by a recent staff meeting that was intended for staff feedback but was reported to include some personal assaults all done in a group setting with Nancy.

Tate’s teacher observations and evaluation meetings were not yet done and the ability to finish that task after such feedback let alone the legitimacy of her giving a negative evaluation would now be in question.

Tate might have reached a breaking point with the continuous (mostly) well-intentioned advice from staff and parents. While all wounds are mostly self-inflicted, the final/fatal wounds might have come from inappropriate due process and/or inappropriate undermining by individuals. The delayed and insufficient communication from the district seems to support this “conspiracy” theory.

Overall, from my few meetings this year with Tate, I don’t believe she would have left without good personal or legal reasons. We might someday know the true story, or we might not.

Anti-Ed Reformist said...

Did she come in with an agenda and the teachers at the school pushed back? It sounds like the school allowed a lot of freedom to studenst (sit whereever in the lunch-room) and parents (hang out in the office) that Stacy Loftin tried to change but ultimately it sounds like it was the harsh words of teachers that drove Tate out. I wonder how she tried to change teachers? Maybe Coe is an example of teachers pushing back against the Ed. Reformers, maybe? If it is, I salute the teachers of Coe.

Anonymous said...

Personally, I felt Coe’s principal Tate was an unusually hard-working, engaged and supportive leader that I enjoyed working for. Needless to say, being in the position of a principle is a pretty thankless job, as they have the task of trying to please not only the district administrators, but the staff and the parents also. These 3 different elements in our district are often at odds with each other…and it’s virtually impossible to satisfy all 3! For example, I do know that many parents were unhappy at the start of the year when it was announced that students could no longer roam the halls and classrooms before school started while teachers were busy trying to plan for the day. This was a policy that the staff had desired for years, and Ms Loftin went to bat for them by implementing it. Needless to say, this did not make her popular with many parents.
The ‘emergency’ meeting conducted last Tues with Ms. Coogan and staff revealed nothing about Tate’s sudden departure. The staff was told that the administration knew nothing.At the same time, the one thing we WERE told was that administration was going to wait until this Mon (May 16) to ‘make a statement’. It was never revealed to us as to what that ‘statement’ might be. When asked why they were waiting so long to make that statement, Ms Coogan was evasive… and no explanation was forthcoming. It was obvious that the puzzle pieces were not fitting together. Reading between the lines, I feel that the only logical reason for them to wait until May 16 to ‘make a statement’…is that the 16th is the first day after the May 15 deadline to give out termination notices… and until then, they are not supposed to ‘talk about it’. So the teachers, staff and community have been left in the dark until after the May 15 deadline….after which date we will all be enlightened as to what the administration has known all along. Meanwhile, because the district remains mute, the rumors and the blame have all fallen on the shoulders of Ms Loftin. (A case in point of the blame falling on Tate's shoulders comes from one previous email ...” the district was as surprised as we were to find that Ms Loftin had abandoned her post without notifying the kids, the teachers, the parents, and the district. She has still communicated nothing with the school despite having been asked to send a letter.”)
My take... indeed, the district was NOT surprised…they knew all along. And it could also be said that Ms Loftin did not abandon her post, but that the district abandoned her. Please…doesn’t a person that is not only new to the very difficult position of principal, but also new to the district, deserve a little longer ‘break in’ period than 6 months?

Annie

Anonymous said...

Coe's situation is not so different from some of the "successful" schools with very involved parents and strong fund-raising PTSA. There is a trade off when schools rely so much on parent volunteers for office help, tutoring, classroom assistants, and fundraising (in some schools for FTE positions). You do loose some of the professionalism and confidentiality that exist if a school had adequate funding for paid staff.

It is difficult to control the loose lips of well meaning volunteers. It is not unusual to hear random discussions among parents about certain students or speculation about teaching staff and building issues.

We have staff with children attending the same school they work in. As a result, there are friendships among staff, parents and their children. Generally, this should not pose a problem in good times. But when there are building issues, these relationships become part of the problem where certain groups of parents appear privvy to info or have access to stafff's ears while other parents do not.

So what appears to be a strong school may in fact have a weak foundation of community building. You need a smart, mature, and experienced principal who can lead, unite, and maintain a balance of professionalism and a welcome atmoshphere in a school.

-worried parent

Anonymous said...

Adding on to Worried Parent post, "successful schools" like these act more like private schools especially when big donors from the auction sit on the PTA/ BLT boards.

SSD parent

Anonymous said...

Just another day of staff changes. To share another example of staff changes that have happened as a result of the Interim Sup's pet projects -- the EARLY LEARNING Director's position was eliminated in order to keep Enfield's friend and crony on board -- Cathy Feldman (they have a long, long history together). Cathy's consultant contracts (and income from products she has sold the district) continue to flourish under Enfield. With Early Learning alone, she's already made over $120,000 this year alone, and has cost the district upwards from $225,000 for costs incurred as a result of her professional development work. This year Feldman is serving as a literacy expert, and her next contract is already being planned so next year she'll serve as a math expert. (Have literacy scores increased -- no) Was her contract award an act of cronyism or was there an actual competitive bidding process before this contract was awarded? Will this come up when the auditors begin looking through the books? (Imagine what could've been done with the hundreds of thousands spent on training. What if we'd served the students directly instead? Would that have been a better use of these funds?) All of the major staff changes going on are disconcerting for many reasons. Especially coming from someone with no real track record of successful leadership.

TeamR said...

Does that mean Kimberly Kinzer is back in the principal mix? Betcha Bagley would love to have her back

suep. said...

Mary -- Where did I say Loftin was a TFA-er? I didn't. But her story about being such an amazing teacher that kids who didn't get assigned to her class stood crying outside her door (and implying that the other teachers in the school were not as good as she) demonstrated an unappealing bit of hubris that is common among the current ed reform crowd, with TFA-ers the most common culprits of this.

But if the story is true, then it's a shame she didn't remain a teacher, because inspired and inspriring teachers are hugely valuable.

As for the ed reform part, Loftin was hired by Goodloe-Johnson, who was very much a corporate ed reformer. It's no secret she hired people to implement her vision/agenda for the district. I think we're seeing that play out over at Ingraham in the Enfield/Dusseault/Floe debacle.

Loftin said some things in that interview that indicated she may have shared that mindset.

But what it really sounds like is that Loftin was probably not the right fit for the job at Coe.

My main point is, with various other schools in the district that do need attention, that are chronically under-enrolled, have students that are perhaps struggling more than others, why doesn't the district focus on helping them, instead of meddling with -- and arguably weakening -- schools that are functioning well?

Now Coe has a leadership vacuum and families losing confidence in the school.

It's sad, really.

--sp.

suep. said...

The Susan Enfield - Cathy Feldman connection.

In response to this post from Anonymous (which will get deleted w/o a name attached), posted below, have a look at this possibly relevant article from the Portland Tribune in 2009.

It's about some questionable practices in Portland involving a consultant named Cathy Feldman, and her connection to then-School Superintendent Vicki Phillips and Phillips' underling, Susan Enfield.

It sounds like Phillips channeled school district money to Feldman both in Portland and their previous location in Pennsylvania. (Enfield was hired by Phillips in Penn. and followed her to Portland. Both now work in Seattle, Phillips for the Gates Foundation as their main education person.)


Schools hire raises questions
Calls of cronyism add to concerns over core curriculum


http://www.portlandtribune.com/news/story.php?story_id=117339349292820000
By Jennifer Anderson
The Portland Tribune, Mar 9, 2007, Updated Oct 30, 2009

JIM CLARK / P0RTLAND TRIBUNE
Amid continued pushback over her core curriculum plan and other recent proposals, Superintendent Vicki Phillips now is facing questions of cronyism surrounding one of her latest hires.
District watchdogs have been sending e-mails to the administration and school board with questions about Lee Kappes, a New Jersey-based literacy consultant who was hired Jan. 3 as the district’s director of early and elementary education, earning a salary of $100,000.
Just a week before, Kappes and Cathy Feldman, managing partners of the two-woman operation called Reach Associates, had a $145,200 contract with the district to provide teacher training and literacy materials that now are in all of Portland’s kindergarten and first-grade classrooms.
The district ended the consulting contract before her hire, and Phillips said there was nothing improper about it – that Kappes was hired based on her qualifications and experience with the district, and that it is good practice to hire people who’ve been proven assets.
But observers say they can’t help but notice that Phillips often brings people from her past and puts them in high places.
Before Reach Associates came to Portland, it did consulting for Phillips at the Pennsylvania Department of Education, where Phillips was education secretary, and in the Lancaster, Penn., school district, where Phillips was superintendent. (...)


Consultants were a past issue
Phillips isn’t a stranger to questions about her use of consultants. During her tenure in Lancaster, the Pennsylvania Auditor General issued a report that found the district spent $3.2 million on educational consultants during that time, a 1,000-percent increase over the prior six years.
A yearlong investigation revealed that about 70 percent of the funds were for consultant services that had no written agreements between the district and individual consultants.
According to a report summary, “Investigators also found that the district had no written policy for selecting consultants; rather, during most of the six-year period, consultants were selected personally by Phillips, or by members of her staff.”
(...)

continued......

suep. said...

continued from previous post....

(from the Portland Tribune)
Yet one of Phillips’ biggest critics in Lancaster, a parent named MaryAnne Motter Cullen, remains convinced that Phillips’ use of consultants in Lancaster was a waste of money.
“It’s just a pattern of reusing the same consultants who have had no objective evidence of success in our district,” Cullen said by phone. “Our schools are still struggling.”
Of Phillips’ trusted consultants, Cullen said, “She continues to bring them along because, I think, deep down, they’re probably her friends and this is kind of a symbiotic relationship – I’ll scratch your back, you scratch mine.” (...)


Susan Enfield is baffled by the thought that it’s wrong to bring good people along. She should know – she directed Portland’s Office of Teaching and Learning until she resigned last year, previously working for Phillips in Lancaster and at the Pennsylvania Department of Education.
“That has nothing to do with Vicki showing them favoritism; it has everything to do with Vicki knowing quality work when she sees it,” said Enfield, who now is superintendent of the Evergreen school district in Vancouver, Wash.
Enfield added that she’s confident in Kappes’ ability to bring excellence to the job; she said kindergarten teachers have raved about the program.(...)


(follow link to the rest of the story.)



5/15/11 1:41 PM
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just another day of staff changes. To share another example of staff changes that have happened as a result of the Interim Sup's pet projects -- the EARLY LEARNING Director's position was eliminated in order to keep Enfield's friend and crony on board -- Cathy Feldman (they have a long, long history together). Cathy's consultant contracts (and income from products she has sold the district) continue to flourish under Enfield. With Early Learning alone, she's already made over $120,000 this year alone, and has cost the district upwards from $225,000 for costs incurred as a result of her professional development work. This year Feldman is serving as a literacy expert, and her next contract is already being planned so next year she'll serve as a math expert. (Have literacy scores increased -- no) Was her contract award an act of cronyism or was there an actual competitive bidding process before this contract was awarded? Will this come up when the auditors begin looking through the books? (Imagine what could've been done with the hundreds of thousands spent on training. What if we'd served the students directly instead? Would that have been a better use of these funds?) All of the major staff changes going on are disconcerting for many reasons. Especially coming from someone with no real track record of successful leadership.

5/15/11 2:25 PM

Get the story out! said...

Can this story about money given to Enfield's cronies be reported to the Times? Can this get out to the paper?

Anonymous said...

I am saddened to read some of these posts about Coe. It seems everyone in this story suffers one way or another. What everyone on this comment list has in common, I hope, is to do what is best for the children, no matter what school or neighborhood they represent. Snarky comments don’t help anyone.
I’m sure the teachers at Coe were motivated by what they believed would be the best school environment for their students. I’m sure Ms. Loftin made her decisions based on what she believed to be best for the kids. And as a parent who works on PTA fundraising, I can guarantee that every single parent I have worked with is motivated solely by what is best for all of the kids in our school, not just our own.
So maybe we can keep the accusations and anger to a minimum, remembering that everyone loses out when things don’t go well in our schools. But it’s the kids who suffer most. Hopefully we can sort this out in a kind, patient and respectful manner. Ultimately, we all want the same thing – good schools.
~Sad mom

Hello said...

As a teacher and mom, in the end, it all comes down to the teacher. Your child's education rests solely in the teachers hands. Whether Coe has a principal or not, really, it is your child's teacher that determines your child's day. And it sounds like Coe has excellent teachers. In fact, in England, they don't even have principals nor do they have this top-heavy administration. They have a travelling sup.t who visits the schools and determines budgets. I love the principal I work with but could I do my job witout him, without the district, absolutely. IN fact, that is exactly what I do. The district math curriculum is poor, I have bought my own to supplement, the art materials are not there, I have bought my own, the science kits are nice but only last 3 months, I have bought and made my own. I have a sense of what the principal does, but I have no idea what the other 8 percent of administration making the 6 figure salaries do.

Caring Educator said...

To: "Hello"

Well said. I agree that the highly paid Admin folks don't account for what really happens in the classroom. I am saddened to hear how much of your own money you have to spend to supplement your classroom materials. Imagine if just a fraction of what is wasted on consultants, administrators, and even coaches could be funneled directly into the classroom for student support. The learning relationship you create with our students is what really matters.

QA/Mag Cluster blues said...

First Lawton has a partial meltdown over Spectrum which has left some very bad feelings and a no better understanding of why SPS has the program. And now Coe is having trouble? What did Trying to understand say about Elliot? Seeing through the smoke? I thought he was gold. So now only Blaine annd Haye are still standing tall in the McClure cluster. I feel like we're in our own little Fukushima of education. I agree with the posters who want to know where are the supervisors? Lawton has a new principal and is getting a new assistant principal and they are both industry to education people with limited teaching experience. Why can't we get better candidates? I think the job is too demanding for experienced teachers to want it. It's a shame.

Higher pay for principals?

1Doc1000 said...

Good candidates for principal positions in the Seattle Public Schools are screened out by the opportunistic educators at headquarters. The interim superintendent and other turf protecting bureaucrats continue to maintain the status quo and further their agendas.

Mr. Terry Acena was one of the old retire/rehire principals that has benefitted quite well financially from the district mismanagement and old boy network; producing nothing of substance while collecting retirement and a full pay check for years....true waste of taxpayer money if ever there was one. Evidence continues to mount that demonstrates the status quo reigns at headquarters and business as usual is maintained.

Anonymous said...

Correction--Ms. Loftin was not appointed by MGJ. She was recommended by a hiring committee that was made up of four staff members and two parents. She was then hired by MGJ.

I think that several posters here are making some very sweeping generalizations. My experience of what happened at Coe this year (as a parent who is pretty involved) is that this was a complicated and very painful situation. To try to make it into "privileged parents" who took down a principal is really facile.

I very much hope that Ms. Loftin is spending time with her family and is getting their support while she decides what to do in the coming year. I hope that the Coe staff can move forward under a new leader.

As for Coe parents, I don't know what I hope. It has been a difficult year. I'd like to see a focus on moving forward and rebuilding the community spirit that seems to have gotten lost.

Lastly, I hope that the district can give us more information to help us understand what happened. If nothing else, I wish that they would say that they can't say anything for legal reasons.

Coe Mom and PTA board member

ijaaz said...


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