Friday, June 03, 2011

Institutional Memory

I have been active in Seattle Public Schools at the district level for ten years now. When I look at the current District leadership, I see a lot of newbies.

Director DeBell has been on the board for five years, but most of the board directors have only been there for three years. Two of them have only one year of experience.

The interim superintendent is not only new in the job, but still pretty new to Seattle Public Schools. She's been with the District for about two years. The Assistant Superintendents are also either new to the District (interim CFO, Mr. Treat) or new to district-level positions (Ms. McEvoy, Dr. Thompson). Of the Executive Directors of Schools, only Mr. Brockman has been with the District for long. Mr. Tolley has been here for only two years and the other three are brand new to the District. The Communications Director is also brand new to the District.

I'm not questioning any of these people's qualifications or experience in general, but the fact remains that they do not have any first-hand knowledge of the District's history. They have no institutional memory. That has consequences. That's a liability.

The institutional memory of the District isn't in the staff. It is held in the activists: Chris Jackins, Mel Westbrook, Jane Fellner, Roscoe Bass, Joanna Cullen, myself, and folks like us. We have been actively involved across schools and programs for ten years or more. We were there.

When the current district leadership steps forward and talks about earning the public's trust, they don't know the depth of the pool they are swimming in. Earning the public's trust is going to require them to atone for the sins of June Rimmer - and they don't even know who June Rimmer is, let alone what she did.

They come up with goals - and they don't know that their goals were declared achieved. It tickled me to hear Dr. Enfield talk about making Seattle a Standards-based District because I remember when Joseph Olchefske declared that we had acheived that goal ten years ago. That day we all filled in the second eye of our darumas. Her statement appeared foolish in the context of that memory, but she didn't have that memory.

They come up with ideas - and they don't know that their ideas were tried and failed. Remember all of the talk about Madrona when they put elementary APP into Thurgood Marshall? They didn't understand because they didn't know that APP used to be in Madrona and it tore the school apart. Not only did it lead to the creation of Lowell, but it also started Madrona down its path as a school for under-performing minority students living in poverty.

They don't understand the special programs because they weren't here when the programs were created so they don't know why they were created. They don't understand A.L.O.s, they don't understand the alternative schools. Consequently they inadvertently damage them like clumsy teens stumbling through a flower bed.

They don't really understand the history of Rainier Beach High School and the legacy of Marta Cano-Hinz.

They don't know what commitments were made so they don't know when they are breaking them. Did they know that the District had promised Summit a central location? They knew that the District had promised the S.B.O.C. a building, but they broke that promise anyway. They don't know about most of the broken commitments to various advanced learning communities, but they did know about the promise of an APP curriculum. They forgot the commitment to sibling preference written into the New Student Assignment Plan Framework. They forgot the Framework's commitment to equitable access to programs and services. They forgot the accountability elements of the Southeast Education Initiative. They didn't know about the commitment to follow up on Board testimony. They either didn't know or forgot about the commitments to alternative schools. I don't know what they thought about the policy requiring annual reports on schools and programs but they have never produced or demanded any such annual reports.

There is a real consequence to the lack of a institutional memory. The District needs to take some steps to mitigate those consequences. They should talk to the people who know.


TECHNI said...

I think the first thing that they can do that would make the most sense is to promote within for the open Exec Director position. Any good principals out that that can take this on?

dan dempsey said...

The suggestion that these leaders need to talk with those who know, assumes the leadership wants to make broadly informed decisions. I see no reason to believe leadership wants to do anything other than follow a previously existing prescribed plan.

It is not just lack of institutional memory these folks also ignore relevant data to make extremely poor decisions.

Listen to the explanations for their votes coming from those Directors running for reelection. These folks are definitely “The fabricating four”.

basically said...

I said this in another thread, but it is more related to this one. We, the people with institutional memory, should create an SPS-WIKI page. It could be moderated, and people could submit entries. We could have whole histories of schools, what buildings they were in, how many principal changes they have had, etc. Histories of promises made to those schools.....

We, the people/parents/students/employees of SPS, have the best institutional memory of this institution....I wish the people in the institution gave us credit for it!

dan dempsey said...

basically said.... has an excellent idea.

If there is an easy to use tool that provides institutional memory ... it will hopefully be a lot more difficult to make lousy decisions and try to justify those lousy decisions.

RosieReader said...

Institutional memory is very important, I agree, and its absence does cause problems. I would caution, however, that the activists who keep rehashing old fights, dressed up in new guises, create problems too. First, crying "gotcha" all the time gets old, especially when you base it on "I know something you don't 'cause you weren't around way-back-when that proves I'm right and you're wrong." Second, the perception of outsiders is, by definition, different than the perception of insiders, and both are full of various biases and distortions. Any historian would caution against relying on the version of events that one side of the debate pulls out of its history, and which is unbalanced by another perspective. Finally, the fact that you've all been long time activists is wonderful, and in many ways it benefits the District. Sometimes it proves distracting an unhelpful. Don't forget that there are also long-time PTSA activists, long time LEV activists, and long-time AFE activists. Their POVs are just as valuable as yours, and often in conflict. And they have had just as much influence, for good and bad, as this blog's cohort.

Anonymous said...

Rosie - good point on why outsiders bring fresh perspective...but so many all at once is dangerous.

Also, wrt to your last list... don't forget that many readers on this blog who have the institutional memory are also PTSA activists, LEV activists, etc. You can be more than one at a time!


Melissa Westbrook said...

"Sometimes it proves distracting an unhelpful. Don't forget that there are also long-time PTSA activists, long time LEV activists, and long-time AFE activists. Their POVs are just as valuable as yours, and often in conflict. And they have had just as much influence, for good and bad, as this blog's cohort."

First to address the above. Okay, how are we distracting and unhelpful? Honestly, I'd like to know because then I could try not to do those things (if that's the case).

Second, no one is forgetting other people. Chris Jackins and Roscoe Bass and Don Alexander are NOT part of this blog's cohort and certainly have their own POV.

Third, I,too, am also a long-time PTSA activist. (I love that because it so confuses people. A PTA mom and a rabble-rouser? How do we marginalize that one?)

Alliance for Education activists? Hmmm, I'd have to ponder that one. I would say the people who sit on the Alliance Board are somewhat activists. The people who work there, well, that's their job.

Charlie and I don't sit around playing gotcha. But it is folly to believe that the district invents new things which much of the time are just rehashs of old things.

The district starts up, with great fanfare, the next big thing and then it slowly putters out. Those big things cost resources and time so it DOES make sense to ask "so what happened there?" It makes sense because we don't want to keep making the same mistakes AND we want the district to learn from its mistakes.

If I had to point out one of the biggest issues, that would be it. The district does not learn from its mistakes, does not remember its own history and goes on making the same mistakes (albeit, in a different form).

I like the Wiki idea. Now, where's the time? I do have a few documents that I wrote up so maybe there's a start.

dj said...

Melissa, FWIW, I often disagree with you about things, but really appreciate the institutional memory and detailed information you provide. If it were not for this blog, I would be getting my information about SPS from the Seattle Times and the neighborhood park, and that -- that, my friends, is no way to get information, as it turns out. Thank you.

mirmac1 said...


I agree that we should not invest energy in old hurts. If I kept reliving the MGJ horrors, I'd gouge my eyes out.

One thing I do, that I suppose some could call districting, is dig for and request information. However, please think of it as some of us helping with the whole "transparency" thing. Because the district's not there yet.

RosieReader said...

Okay I'm game. I'll explain myself some more. it strikes me as distracting and unhelpful to constantly refer to "unmet commitments" from the original NSAP or even the now-several-years-old strategic plan. Neither document created a binding contract that obligated the District to do everything, and in a specific way. Need I remind anyone that in the interim the District has faced years of steep budget cuts and an unexpected large increase in enrollment? Yet the writers and commenters on this blog regularly point to something said or done years ago from those plans/processes that hasn't been accomplished to their satisfaction. As Mirmac1 says (and I paraphrase) stop wasting time on old hurts. Start where we are today. Informed, certainly, by the past, but not ruled by it.

one final example, which I ignored at the time, but you did ask. How in the world could anyone begin to respond to Charlie's #9 in his post "Gentle Pressure, Relentlessly Applied." To remind you, here it is: "The District needs to fulfill their hundreds of unmet commitments to students and families." How is it helping anything that someone in SPS is receiving a daily or weekly email from Charlie reminding them to do -- well, do what?

Charlie Mas said...

Reminding them that they made obligations and they need to keep them - or explain why they cannot.

The District says that they want trust, but I don't see the District being trustworthy. Trust is earned, and it is earned by telling the truth and fulfilling your commitments. If the District wants trust then the District needs to keep their commitments.

The District has a pattern that has been repeated so many times that it must be their Standard Operating Procedure.

1. Propose the unacceptable.

2. Gain public acceptance (or, at least end public opposition) by making promises to take a variety of actions to mitigate the most unacceptable elements of the proposal.

3. Move forward with the unacceptable action.

4. Make no effort whatsoever to fulfill the promises.

5. For the first year, when people ask about the promise, say that you need time to implement it.

6. After the first year, when people ask about the promise, suggest that the promise is old and obsolete.

7. When a new person assumes authority, and that will be soon, given the rapid turnover, the new person evades responsibility by saying "I didn't make that promise."

Charlie Mas said...

How does it help anything if the community never holds the district leadership accountable for their commitments?

Jan said...

Charlie: great post. And wonderful points.

And Rosie -- good points as well. I had planned on responding to Charlie's post, but maybe a response to yours will say what I had meant to say to Charlie, only better.

Rosie's first point: First, crying "gotcha" all the time gets old, especially when you base it on "I know something you don't 'cause you weren't around way-back-when that proves I'm right and you're wrong."

It depends on the objective (and there are many valid objectives here, but they need to be kept separate. IF your objective is to point out a number of important, trust-building unfilled commitments that need to be attended to, and now, then you are correct that going back too far, and dinging people for what they never knew they were committed to can be unhelpful. But I thought that Charlie's point in this post was more educational. As I read it, what he is saying is: the District NEEDS to develop its memory. It is a breach of trust for the District to assume (as they evidently do) that everytime someone new arrives, any commitment made by his/her predecessor is void. That doesn't work in real contract law, and while these are certainly not "contracts" in a legal sense -- they are breaches of public trust -- which I thought was Charlie's whole point. If you just want to "get on with the task list" -- which is what I assume Pegi McElvoy might be in a position to do, a short list of missing reports, stalled initiatives, incomplete follow through, all on current issues, is enough. If you are trying to respond to the District's statement that "gee, they need to restore public trust," then a clear explanation of why so many parents and "activists" are as suspicious as they are -- and why the breach is so darn huge, seems valid to me -- and the old stuff is highly relevant for that. It is also highly relevant if the District cared to do any sort of meaningful self assessment of its use of assets (money and people) over time. Because Melissa is right -- it is incredibly expensive to start new things over and over again, only to drop them and go on to the next new and shiny baubly thing when someone leaves or the board turns over. They would save money (by getting value from money spent) AND rebuild public trust if they would take their own institutional memory (or lack of it) into account.

basically said...

I agree, I am not interested in 'gotcha' and I don't think Charlie is, either. Though one can see the appeal....

I just think that it is interesting to note that school X has had 4 principals in 5 years.....That is something that gets forgotten, and may, in fact, be relevant in decision making. Like deciding to change the principal again....

Or when schools change buildings....in a couple of years, people new to the district will not remember all those building changes 2 years ago. I've been in it, and I still can't keep track of all those changes in West Seattle...

omg, WV is 'haterse', no lie. hahaha!

Chris S. said...

I don't know if I really wish for this, but they could stop making commitments they can't keep. Then they would have to sell their plans based on the merits of the plan. Or we could just stop being satisfied with empty promises. Both seem pretty unlikely.

Jan said...

Rosie's second point was: "[T]he perception of outsiders is, by definition, different than the perception of insiders, and both are full of various biases and distortions."

Objectively, this is true, but I don't see the relevance here. In virtually all of the cases Charlie cites, the District is on record as saying X or Y. There are tapes. There are transcripts. Yes, intervening things can happen that can force politicians and public servants to not be able to meet promises. Some of these intervening things are valid "excuses," -- and some are not, and reveal pandering, dishonesty (in making promises they perhaps never intended to keep), and failure to present nuances and conditions that might have made a difference to the board and/or the public had they bothered. Careless shallow analysis is no excuse for a broken promise. Promises based on funding assumptions back in 2007 -- before the great recession -- well, there is a much better case.

We have known ever since late 2008 that state revenues would take a huge hit, and that schools would likely absorb a withering blast. Despite this, MGJ went blithely on with a number of highly costly elements of the strategic initiative, committing the District in ways that drew funds out of classrooms. I for one will not give them a "pass" for that sort of thing. Whether or not they had exact numbers, they could see huge cuts coming. They could have gone to the board 2 years ago and asked to put all non-essential elements of the Strategic Plan on hold in order to fulfill some of their commitments. They did not. We now get to decide whether those decisions were appropriate or not.

Frankly, it would be fine with me if they simply acknowledged that many of the commitments over many years have been trashed -- but agreed to start with the ones that are still legitimately in play and came up with a concerted effort to develop a memory (and a sense of responsibility to the parents and other taxpayers in the District). But I (who have been around less time than many) can also recall too many instances where the promisees were told they just needed to forget all the bad stuff from before, zero out all the accounts, and move on. That is not how trust is built.

Jan said...

Chris is right -- they could stop making commitments they can't keep. They could give us the conditions (at least the foreseeable ones). They could say things like -- we would like to make all schools strong and attractive before we do a neighboorhood assignment plan, but frankly, if it is too much trouble, we will just go ahead and do the assignment plan first, and hope that by forcing families into schools, that will help the process along. If they had said that (which is what I think MGJ intended all along), maybe there would have been a different decision on the NSAP, or its timing, or the critical importance of option schools and other "outs" for families, or of transportation. Who knows. Because they DID make the commitment; the Board swallowed it, and now thousands of SE kids are stuck in level 1 and 2 schools, thousands of NE and West Seattle schools are stuck in overcrowded schools, etc.

Either they need to do the hard work of trying to keep the commitments they make, or they need to stop taking the easy way out (making whatever commitments seem needed to grease the skids and get the vote they want) and do the hard work of getting the votes in light of their true intentions.

Jan said...

And one more point. Rosie said: "Don't forget that there are also long-time PTSA activists, long time LEV activists, and long-time AFE activists. Their POVs are just as valuable as yours, and often in conflict."

First, I agree with Mel -- not all the folks Charlie listed are SaveSeattleSchools folks. And some wear more than one hat. But I will not concede that all points of view are just as valuable as Charlie's. Everyone has the right to his/her say. But points of view based on objective reality and a genuince concern for children are more valid than points of view based on demagoguery, or political ideology -- from either side of the spectrum, and points of view that are "spin" -- that purport to advance legitimate goals while intentionally hiding other, more reprehensible goals that the holder knows would be objectionable if disclosed -- are also less valid. Are there some, in the arena of public education policy debate, who fall into these latter categories? I think there are -- and I will not concede the legitimacy of their viewpoints.

Anonymous said...

Ya, sure, you betcha! Let's all wipe the slate clean and start fresh and new! Pffffffftt!

Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it.

The issue is whether it is relevant or not; not when it happened.

Gotcha? Give me a break. Somebody's watching too much Palin.

Why am I so cynical? Because I'm alive and paying attention to the agenda-driven career non-teachers who can't keep their hands off programs and teachers that work well, and as for struggling kids? Forget it. Outsource those problems as much as possible, for those in JSCEE haven't a clue where to begin.

Folks: The administration of this district is terrible. Absolutely terrible, considering the amount of money, the overwhelming community support for two decades at least, and the extremely high level of parental involvement overall compared to neighboring districts.

Have your happy talk, folks, I'll stick with the facts, distant or recent, so long as they matter.

And the facts are in. SPS management stinks. They have no "service" quality to their management at all. None. It's all about cramming their top-down ideas into the classroom, whether by shoe-horns or battering rams.

Until they begin to listen and respond to the community they serve, they will remain irrelevant, destructive nuisances undermining the success of thousands of children on a daily basis.


Anonymous said...

yes! i often think about institutional memory (or lack thereof) regarding capacity mgmt - of course there's not enough room here in the NE cluster, as we're down a few schools from previous boom years. does anyone else at HQ recall the existence of U Heights, Decatur, or Jane Addams Junior High? At least someone was able to finally find Hamilton and Sand Point again. Schools should be able to close then open again as capacity needs change. All it takes is some demographers that actually know what they are doing.

-Child of SPS

mirmac1 said...

Okay Rosie, you're losing me now. In fact I heard of (purported) massive budget cuts before MGJ and her canned Strategic Plan. Unfortunately, every single !$&%#&^ thing is framed in this worthless Strategic Plan. When people realize it wasn't worth the paper it was written on, then maybe we can actually do something worthwhile, instead of dancing to the tune of FEL or Gates or Stuart or whoever.

I agree with looking forward. That's where I was three months ago. Unfortunately, I am disheartened by recent events. Secret arrangements for 25 TFA (some in SpecEd, PLZ!?); Breezy in SE Seattle (for what?! next PR disaster?); ed reform Phase II?. It would be nice to let go of the bludgeon. But I...can't...let...go...of...my...grip...

dan dempsey said...

The District has failed to intelligently apply the relevant data. The avoidance of data is the SPS Modus Operendi.

The School Board Action reports are notorious in this regard. Much of the current mess is a direct result of data ignorance or administrative "Fakery".

Many of Superintendent Enfield's SB Action Reports when she was CAO ... should be on the "Fakery" high light film. ... The SBAC from Ferguson and Enfield on D43.00 is another example of stating things that just were not true.

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

Anon 6:59 (use a name, even just at bottom of post, or you'll be deleted)

YOu write that "CACIEE and the teachers union agreed to school closures in 2005. No schools should have been closed. CACIEE and the union struck a bargain with the devil, and both should remember that now."

I don't recall it that way. I agree no schools should have been closed, but what "deals" with union and CACIEE are you referring to? Wasn't CACIEE the group that evaluated which schools to close? How would they make a "deal" with district when they were charged to decide which schools to close?

And the union? Which deal are you referring to that the union made with district to close buildings? I might be wrong, but I don't think the union has much of a say in building closure (except in that closed building staff would need to be relocated...)
Can you tell us more about these two "deals" you recall?

seattle citizen said...

RosieReader, you wrote that "there are also long-time PTSA activists, long time LEV activists, and long-time AFE activists. Their POVs are just as valuable as yours"

Others have touched on this, but a big difference, an obvious difference, is that this blog, at least, is not funded by Gates, Broad or Walton. The League of Education Voters and the Alliance for Education have millions of dollars from these "philanthropies," Gates/Broad/Walton all have strict Reform agendas, hence LEV and A4E are mere puppets, mere spinners, for their keepers.

Their POVs are considerably devalued by their associations with these manipulative reform organizations.

Perhaps if Gates gave Melissa and Charlie millions, opnions on this blog would be commensurately devalued, who's to say. But I know Melissa and Charlie wouldn't sell our students out like LEV and A4E have...Right guys? Right?

Chris S. said...

There are two kinds of activists - activists that drink free drinks at their parties, activists that buy your own coffee when they meet. Guess who has the bigger voice downtown?

Charlie Mas said...

seattle citizen asks:

"Perhaps if Gates gave Melissa and Charlie millions, opnions on this blog would be commensurately devalued, who's to say. But I know Melissa and Charlie wouldn't sell our students out like LEV and A4E have...Right guys? Right?"

Dude, we haven't even monetized the blog.

seattle citizen said...

Not that we know of, no...Unless...Unless...No, it couldn't be, none of the blog admins are getting envelopes left folded in newspapers on park benches. Or millions poured into their bank accounts for "research" and "strategic planning"...

Anonymous said...

Hey! If there are millions of dollars on this blog for strategic planning, I want some of it. I have a lot of great strategic plans and I am smart enough to put a clause into the various plans that they will either be implemented or abandoned depending on the political agendas and/or the amount of money available at any given time.

Melissa! Charlie! You never told me you were taking money under the table. Which table do you use? I want a seat at that table. (Wakka wakka wakka!) I used to be a paralegal and I never had to do as much research as you guys do on a daily basis.

Techno Mom

Catherine said...

Institutional Memory is a concept with which organizations of all types struggle. Three major technology firms for which I worked a combined 15 years, had the same trouble. As one example, I had a senior manager present at his first major staff meeting that "this new never tried before organizational structure would solve all of our problems." I took him aside after the meeting and explained to, as well as showed, him that this wasn't new, anywhere, including this particular organization, and that the system would have problems at points a, b, and c first. "But this time it'll be different." And within a few months, it wasn't.

No panaceas exist: not in tech, not at home, not in education. Each structure, style, responsibility matrix, and philosophy MUST be managed based on its known strengths and weaknesses.

We fail, because we keep running towards what we think is greener grass, that isn't really. We fail, because we're too impatient for incremental changes that actually can have lasting benefits, because we have the "not built here" mentality, and a NOW! mentality.

If this was easy, we'd have solved it by now, and been able to maintain that solution.

Anonymous said...

We fail, because we keep running towards what we think is greener grass, that isn't really. We fail, because we're too impatient for incremental changes that actually can have lasting benefits, because we have the "not built here" mentality, and a NOW! mentality.

If this was easy, we'd have solved it by now, and been able to maintain that solution.

Catherine: Truer words may never have been written more eloquently than that.

In today's public sphere, legislation and policy is pre-written and loaded into the barrels, searching for opportunities to declare crises that can then be exploited. This "Shock Doctrine"/every crisis is an opportunity" thinking plagues the common good at so many levels, and unfortunately has a death grip on public education today.

Many times the best reaction to a crisis is patience, thought and care, not the "bold action" so many favor. But this is America, where the good guy shoots the bad guy and everyone lives happily ever after, isn't it? Quick, simple solutions, like Dirty Harry's 44 Magnum or Rocky Balboa's miraculous knockouts drive the emotional manias that lead the sheep toward that greener grass that isn't. Sadly, like ignoring history, blind faith in greener grass is the American zeitgeist. Madison Avenue figured this out decades ago. Politicians cash in on that belief every day.


Anonymous said...

"We fail, because we're too impatient for incremental changes that actually can have lasting benefits, ..."

Results show a continuing failure ... getting incrementally worse. It is hard to get worse when results are pathetic ... but the SPS seems to manage that difficult feat.

-- Dan Dempsey

Eric M said...

Dr. Enfield's email to staff about the anointment of Ms. Dusseault followed by only an hour another allstaff email explaining how teachers were going to have to take a pay cut next year.

Cut the trench workers, hire more bosses. This new position equals about 2 teachers laid off.

Incredibly tone deaf to send both on the same afternoon.

Incredibly tone deaf to make this district even more top heavy, after all the criticism.

Never mind the lack of institutional memory: the top heaviness of this district has been roundly and thoroughly analyzed and criticized over the years.

Never mind the failure of Ms. Dusseault to accomplish anything positive at Ingraham or anywhere else. I teach in one of her schools in the north end: She never ONCE appeared and introduced herself to the entire staff.

Sh'e being moved to the SE to make a warm and comfortable nest there for TfA interns.

Charlie Mas said...

Here's another consequence of the lack of institutional memory.

Eight years ago, when the Waldman Board fell apart in the wake of the Olchefske financial fiasco, that Board acted contrite and claimed that they wanted to restore the public trust.

Seriously, this is like deja vu to me.

Eight years ago all four of the incumbents were replaced - three by election and one who had the good taste not to run for re-election.

They said that they were innocent, that they had been deceived. But they weren't credible because they were told the truth at public testimony - they just chose not to believe it.

Seriously, you should go back and read some of the things they said. They sound just like this board.

Dave said...

Eric M:


Just learned that despite cutting workers at every juncture in the Food Service Department for years, the District just gave all the supervisors in that Department raises of 4.5%+.

Nice huh?

My bet is that some teacher will (or already has)also make a "shared sacrifice" to pay for that bill.

Then theres still those severence costs to pay.

Catherine said...

Dan D "Results show a continuing failure ... getting incrementally worse. It is hard to get worse when results are pathetic ... but the SPS seems to manage that difficult feat."

In many spots you are right, but there are bright spots, and those are systematically threatened every time there is a wholesale change. Ballard's biotech program being a poster child for that situation, but far from isolated.

I have watched for over 12 years at how sps spins the latest failure and blames it on ________ and how this new program or standard will make it all better. Never is there proof. Rarely is there a track record. Never is there meaningful post implementation followup or adjustment. This all adds up to a glaring lack of management, oversight and accountability. More managers isn't the solution. New programs are the solution. We already have so many there is no accountability or ownership or transparency.

I would start with a brutally honest full scale 360 style evaluation of every program and initiative in the district. Cost benefit analysis, core competency evaluation, mission alignment, and a clean sweep to transparency internally and externally.

Parallel, I would identify no more than 10 measures that we should manage to. Things like graduation rates, achievement metrics, 360-gap analysis, etc

Then, the real work could begin. Sigh.

dan dempsey said...


You are absolutely correct that more "New" from Top_Down has not worked and will likely not work in the future.

Incremental Improvement based on what works is a much better course of action than "Disruption of programs that currently exist".

One of the biggest problems is the SPS Centralized leadership wants to stick with what does not work. The data shows a preference for continuing ineffective programs and practices, while disrupting what is working.

There are certain catch phrases like "Curriculum Alignment" that are meant to produce a great improvement when fully implemented... yet when examining what SPS "Curriculum Alignment" means it is naive to believe this will improve anything.

It seems that "Discontinuing" excessive downtown funding would be a giant move forward to allowing classroom professionals to make the incremental changes they see as appropriate without interference from Downtown.

The Board is just non-functional when it comes to academic leadership. Failing to intervene when students struggle has been an unsuccessful practice and a violation of existing SPS Board policies..... so the Board changes the policy.

This article contains the very accurate observation:

Most notably, the Board’s work had little to do with kids. Budget battles, adult personnel issues, and the paralyzing labor contracts ate up most of our attention. The only students we discussed were those being considered for expulsion. Kids were just the excuse for grown-ups to collect tax revenue and pass it around to each other.

KG said...

Institutional memory?

They do not ask anyone with institutional memory.This school board defines insanity.

Most adminocrats are here for a short time and then the Board brings in another reject to fill the shoes of the previous reject.
An then the students suffer.

More Directors in the S.E. region and less counselors.

This school Board needs to go see the employee assistance program.

Shame on them.