Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Odds and Ends

Principal movement again:  Looks like TOPS is losing its principal Jo Lutz-Ervin, to Lafayette.  The current principal of Lafayette, Virginia Turner, is going to Coe.  No idea who will lead TOPS.

Congrats to Ballard High for its Fifth Avenue Theater award for Outstanding Orchestra for excellence in High School Musical Theater. 

At the Washington State Dems luncheon today, both Governor Gregoire and Senator Ed Murray said that if they had $1 left in the budget, it would have gone to education.  $2 - it all would have gone to education.  I get that they are sorry but I'm not sure saying that helps. 

One School Board candidate has dropped out.  According to the Stranger Slog, Michael Maddux, in District 3 (Martin-Morris) has stepped off the list.  He has endorsed challenger, Michelle Buetow.  "I think Buetow will consider what's best for the kids instead of just what's best for the administration," says Maddux, citing Buteow's positions on textbooks and Teach for America as strong points.


Anonymous said...

Sad day for Lafayette. I don't know the TOPS principal, and hopefully she's good. But Virginia Turner is awesome. Coe folks: You're getting one of the best kept secrets in SPS.

Anonymous said...

Darn it. Me again. WSEADAWG

Charlie Mas said...

The assignment of a principal to TOPS in this manner is a direct violation of Board Policy C54.00, Alternative Education Policy.

That policy requires the superintendent to get community input before appointing a principal to an alternative school.

The Policy reads:

"School community participates in the selection of instructional, support and administrative staff." The principal is part of the administrative staff of the school.

The Board, charged with the duty to enforce Board Policy, needs to step in now and assure compliance with this policy.

Wondering said...

$2.1M for emotional support to level 1 and 2 schools.

That seems like a lot. .5 FTE for counselors throughout the district was $2.6M.

Anonymous said...

It does sound really bad for Lafayette.

While I'm no great fan of the current principal's rigid approach to nearly everything, this looks like a vast step downward. The district easily could have chosen a much better principal.

There will be mobs of angry parents gathering with pitchforks in the streets of West Seattle over this. Not necessarily to get Turner back, but to see someone who is a decent principal step into that job, and stop Enfield from ruining Lafayette.


Maureen said...

Charlie, TOPS hasn't been assigned a new principal yet. There is still an opportunity for Dr. Enfield to properly apply Policy C54.00.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm, why is a Level (Tier? whatever) 5 School like Lafayette losing its principal and vice-principal? Recipe: how to screw up a good school.

Mr. Ed

Anonymous said...

How can anyone run Lafayette without being rigid? Sheesh! Look at what Turner is dealing with. Unbelievable overcrowding. Pissed off, displaced Cooper folks. And a rapidly growing neighborhood full of kids pushing all resources to the limit. Lafayette is a powder keg that Turner has managed to keep diffused. I fear total calamity as a result of more asinine moves from Central Admin.

They must really believe good schools run themselves. How else could they make so many stupid moves at schools that work fine for most who attend them? Talk about creating problems where they don't exist. Nuts.

And one more huge reason to fire Sundquist! He represents the district, not his constituents.


dan dempsey said...

Ed Murray and Gov. Chris are pathetic.

Forget the $1 and $2 .... these clowns have embraced the adoption of the Common Core State Standards initiative, which will require funding from local school districts ...... to the tune of $165 million over 5 years.

Anonymous said...

Okay, I'm a conspiracy nut. Could the transfer of Turner be intentional to weaken Lafayette while West Seattle Elementary (A TFA Pod) is on the rise, in order to make the TFA academy look good?

Remember, the achievement "gap" can be closed from either end: Raise the bottoms, or cut off the tops. Either way, admins can claim success and fail upward as they do. WSEADAWG

Melissa Westbrook said...

Working on another popular "L" school facing extreme issues.

You do have to wonder sometimes if the district IS trying to run schools into the ground.

Johnny Calcagno said...

Here is the letter that went out to the TOPS community:

Dear TOPS K-8 community,

Today I am announcing a leadership change at TOPS. Your principal, Jo Lute-Ervin, has been appointed as principal of Lafayette Elementary School, effective July 1, 2011. I know Principal Lute-Ervin will be missed at TOPS and I want to thank her for her hard work and dedication to your school.

The TOPS Planned Site Council is holding a meeting at 5 p.m. on Thursday, June 16 in the TOPS library to discuss the next steps in hiring your new principal. This is a great opportunity for you – staff, students and families – to talk about the qualities of your next instructional leader.

As we move forward to fill this position we will keep you informed of the process. If you are unable to make the meeting, please contact Janis White, Site Council Chair, at xxxx@xxxx.xxx with your feedback.

Thank you for all you do for our students.


Susan Enfield, Ed.D.
Interim Superintendent
Seattle Public Schools

Anonymous said...


Your comment is very intriguing to me. My kids go to an "L" school that is having some serious issues. I wonder if it's the same one? I am very curious to hear your info.


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

Will Enfield or anyone ever explain WHY they are changing principals? Of course not. They don't have to. They are accountable to nobody.

Nice communication...NOT. How is this any different than a bully knocking your books out from under your arm, just because he can? I'm switching your principals, and there's nothing you can do about it! Ha, ha!

Note to Suzy: This is not community engagement. This is token, cynical, minimally compliant "community engagement" that makes a mockery of what parents want and need. (With a healthy dose of "Kiss my A$$ if you don't like it" tossed in. When is enough disrespect and bullshit enough?

Good grief. Boy-o-Boy, can I not wait for the upcoming elections.


Anonymous said...

The parents at TOPS forced the principal out - she requested a reassignment in response. They treated her horribly. NO ONE could work in those conditions. The district didn't have a choice.

Their frustration at the problems in the school is completely misdirected.

Annoyed Middle School Parent

Jan said...

The whole principal things always makes me wonder. It seems to me that private schools seek (and usually end up with) Directors or Headmasters, or Principals, -- whatever -- who are there for years and years (I think Brigitte Bertschi has been directing the Bertschi school since -- maybe the creation of the Denny regrade!? Any school whose leadership changed at whim every 2 to 4 years would have trouble attracting a staff who aligned well with the Director/principal's vision of the school, and families who were confident about going there.

Now, I know that the SSD has a monopoly on "free" schools, so they can ignore the "customers" (the parents) -- but wouldn't it make more sense to have a policy/expectation/whatever -- of many fewer principal changes?

Or is it the case that we want to use "high performing schools" (ah, those smart bricks) as training grounds for new but promising principals, who then can maybe move on to more complicated schools, with stupider bricks and mortar? Is that what we are doing? I can't say I would like it, but I have never been able to ferret out any overarching theme to principal selection and movement in Seattle's schools. I do know that in the much smaller town where I grew up -- principals were in place for decades at all levels. Love em or hate em, families (and teachers) knew JUST what to expect from each school in terms of leadership quality and style.

Anonymous said...

Before you blame the TOPS families, look at her record. She was "moved" from Leschi. The TOPS folks were much more reasonable the McGilvra when they got handed a problem principal at the same time as this assignment.

central parent

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Anon, I attribute the horrible worksheet mania more to heavy district pressure oozing from its deathly obsession with redirecting time, teaching and principal evaluations more and more toward the results of standardized testing.

I think that if Goodloe-Johnson, Enfield and their scaly winged minions hadn't come along, it wouldn't be nearly so much that way. Yes, the principal was predisposed toward that, but previous administrations' fear-inducing minions weren't quite as craven, and I think it wouldn't have gotten to nearly that point if Goodloe-Johnson hadn't taken control. It makes me all misty-eyed for the good old bad old days.


Anonymous said...

TOPS was not in a good place LONG BEFORE J.L-E. arrived, but she has been an easy scapegoat for sure. She's not perfect at all, but she is way better than what people say.

Annoyed Middle School Parent

Anonymous said...

Moved from Leschi? Where the Central Area Spectrum program languished because she didn't support it and didn't believe in separating kids according to their abilities? OMG! Say it isn't so! Please, please tell me I've got the wrong person.

If this is the same principal that was the reason Spectrum moved from Leschi to Muir, parents at Lafayette better grab your marching boots, or its bye-bye Spectrum as you know it.

Charlie! Somebody! Tell me I've got the wrong person. Please! WSEADAWG

Anonymous said...

Anon, I'd second Steveroo. The Turner I knew was fantastic with kids and had no worksheet mania I knew of. It's been a few years, and things have changed drastically for the worse at Lafayette due to overcrowding and administrative pressures from downtown. Turner was as good as I've seen when we were there a few years ago. I think she's stuck between a rock and a hard place. WSEADAWG

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

Virginia Turner behaved like a psychopath the only time I met her. I could not believe she was being paid as an adult.

Anonymous said...

Anon said:
I and I'm sure many other Lafayette parents look forward to new leadership and a fresh approach.

Yes, but do you think this particular new principal is someone with the verve and diplomacy to buck the rising tide of centralization, alignment, standardization and testing, and bring freedom and joy to teachers, parents and bored little children everywhere? I would say not.

Maybe Turner bowed too eagerly to the advancing waters. But you might end up with someone who's determined to save herself by mightily heaving buckets of the stuff at you.

That this is someone who has already seen one Spectrum program into the ground is something that Enfield seems to consider trivial or perhaps a plus.


Anonymous said...

"Worksheet mania" at Lafayette existed when we did the K-tour 15 years ago (my kid is in college now). The worksheets were a big negative to us as most of the kids looked very bored.

I remember many parents being impressed with how quiet the clasrooms were...maybe the positive benefits of boredom and worksheets are impressive to some but it was not for us. With our 2nd kid (touring 10 years ago) I hoped to see a change, only to hear the mantra that "we teach to the tests"---

allergic to "worksheet mania"

Just saying said...

Wow, Ed Doc, aren't you against personal attacks. POT KETTLE BLACK. Nice to see hypocracy in action.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Gotta say, I agree with Ed Doc. That's a pretty strong accusation about a person's behavior.

Josh Hayes said...

Mel sez:

That's a pretty strong accusation about a person's behavior.

Worth pointing out that, to my knowledge, "Ed Doc" and "Doc Ed" are two different people. In fact, I don't recall seeing "Doc Ed" on here before, and I wonder if this is simply an attempt to be inflammatory and strew confusion. Pay attention, y'all.

SeattleSped said...

We just finished our Lafayette experience and I have been pleased with the outcome. Although Virginia and I have had our differences, frankly I'm old school and valued Virginia and Lisa Clayton's firm oversight. In discussion with teachers, I cannot say that they're morale has suffered like at other schools, although the MAP drivel and PGE garbage is insidious. Lafayette walked the talk regarding inclusion, anti-bullying, empathy and compassion. It was a little lily-white for my taste but parents were generous and friendly. I would hate to see that change under new leadership.

Maureen said...

Annoyed Middle School Parent, have you shared your perspective with your Site Council reps?

Anonymous said...

I can't comment on the worksheet mania stuff. I frankly don't recall it being an issue. What I do remember was a thriving school with a solid, active PTA, in a great location, with popular, thriving Spectrum and Gen-Ed programs that all felt like one big happy family despite separate Spectrum classes. Sure, there were a few cliquish parents, but what neighborhood school doesn't have them? Despite worksheet mania, that school satisfies many families who value strong academics. I know the long-term principal before Turner was not a people person, and seemed quite test-score oriented when we toured the school. In fact, she got busted for creating phony evaluations of some type, and got shown the door. Had she remained, we might have chosen Schmitz Park, another great WSN elementary. But we were very happy with Turner, as were many of the families we went to school with. At that time, I was happy to find a solid program in an urban public school, so I wasn't too picky. Maybe I overlooked worksheets and such. But my kid had a great time and got a great education at Lafayette. Hearing VT's voice over the intercom each morning was inspiring and motivating. In my experience, she was better with kids than any principal we've had since. That's all I can say. I'm sorry others had negative experiences. I found VT to be a real treasure.

Anonymous said...

Darnit! Me again. WSEADAWG

Anonymous said...

And FYI: Turner was only at Lafayette since '04 if I recall correctly. WSEADAWG

Maureen said...

How long has Assistant Principal Clayton been at Lafayette?

Lafayette Alum's Mom said...

WSEADAWG: Our son entered Lafayette as a 3rd-grade Spectrum student the same fall Ms. Turner started, so, since he started 9th grade last fall, that indeed makes it 2004 by my count - seven school years. The three years he spent there remain in our view, and I'm fairly sure his too, his best school experience (he has been in other SPS and non-SPS schools) because of excellent teachers (2 of whom are still there) as well as administrators. However, during his three years there, the population was closer to 400 than, what, 550 now? That certainly must have changed the way things work and feel.

Anonymous said...

As a current Lafayette parent, I sincerely hope my peers can welcome Lute-Ervin with open arms. Change can be a good thing. It seems as though most comments in support of VT are from those who no longer have kids at the school, and the possibility exists that things have changed since then. VT became more of a CEO than a role model for kids and teachers (and likely she was forced into this role due to the increased student population).

Things I've read about Lute-Ervin that seem like strengths include her support of music and enrichment programs and alternative education. As the parent of a Spectrum student, I like the fact that one of her kids went through the APP program; it likely means she understands the challenges involved in meeting the needs of so-called highly capable kids. I also like the fact that she supports differentiation in the classroom (which is not, in my experience, incorporated into many teacher's classrooms at Lafayette).

To the point of her working to eliminate the Spectrum program at Leschi...if teachers are differentiating in the classroom, there is no need for a separate, tracked program for so-called highly-capable kids. But that's another philosophical argument altogether.

I hope others can join me in embracing our highly-coveted school's new leadership. It would be a shame not to.


SeattleSped said...


Until Tuesday, I am an active Lafayette parent. The issue remains, how the heck much change can a system handle before it collapses into chaos. methinks Enfield and crew are juggling too many balls and should leave well enough alone (actually Lafayette is better than well enough). We've seen where the constant tinkering is costing $$$ and uncertainty among the consumers, namely us.

Shoot, SPS has got bigger problems than leadership at Lafayette (and that wasn't even a problem)! They're looking at pissing away $4.5-$6M to reopen Fairmount Park, closed barely 3 yrs ago. The number of crises would be funny if it wasn't so tragic.

Anonymous said...

I take offense with the comment "The parents at TOPS forced the principal out."

That makes it sound like the TOPS parents are at fault. I can say with all certainty that is not the case. It was very apparent from day one that Ms. Jo Lute-Ervin was not the right person for the job.

If Board policy on assigning a principal to this alternative school had been followed last year TOPS would have had a much better chance of having a successful principal in place.

Anonymous said...

Seattle Sped,
Most folks I've talked to w kids at WS elementary schools are in favor of re-opening Fairmount Park. Schmitz Park and Lafayette are way over capacity and re-opening FP appears to be a good solution (frankly, they shouldn't have closed it in the first place). I wonder why you think doing so is "pissing away" money.

SeattleSped said...

I agree SME! But, it kills me to close a school to save a few bucks (nobody knows how much even) to then just have to spend over ten times more to reopen it. That's just piss poor management, in my book. No kidding, capacity is a bigger problem than tinkering with principals and adding to the chaos.

WV: putze

dan dempsey said...

"pissing away" money seems to be the plan.

As long as the Board fails to make evidence based decisions the net result will likely be "pissing away" money.

A.. The school closures are but one huge example.

B.. k-12 math program

C.. bonus for Superintendent

D.. Teach for America ... total BS.... as 99.5% of classes taught in Seattle Schools are taught by Highly Qualified teachers .... and the UW application states that TfA is needed because of a chronic teacher shortage.

E.. Facilities planning, remodels, maintenance etc. --- the NSAP mess

Fairmount Park needs to be reopened because Steve "the tool" ....gave Cooper to Pathfinder. .... ya there is a lot of "pissing away" money .... reelect no one.

Floor Pie said...

One of my son's teachers at TOPS was speculating that maybe we'll have an interim next year before a full time principal is hired.

Jo Lute-Ervin was extremely unpopular at TOPS, especially among families who'd been there for a long time. I don't necessarily share that view, but I haven't been particularly impressed, either. Hopefully Lafayette will be a better fit for her.

Chris S. said...

I'll stick up for the TOPS folks too. They have been very consistently describing the difficulty as a mismatch (which is exactly why there is a policy around alt principals.) They have also made a good faith effort (more than a year - two or three?) to make it work anyway. They give no reason to think JLE won't be a fine match in a more traditional school. Disclaimer: I'm not at the school, so I guess I'm talking about the parent leadership visible from the outside.

Jan said...

Anonymous (who didn't sign a name, tsk-tsk) said:

"That makes it sound like the TOPS parents are at fault. I can say with all certainty that is not the case. It was very apparent from day one that Ms. Jo Lute-Ervin was not the right person for the job.

If Board policy on assigning a principal to this alternative school had been followed last year TOPS would have had a much better chance of having a successful principal in place."

I totally concur, and I think it would be wise at this point for Alt school supporters (TOPS, and non-TOPS) to email both the Superintendent AND the Board members to point out that the failure to follow Alt policies last time was NOT ONLY a breach of a Board policy (and a breach of faith with Seattle school parents, who rely on the Board to follow and enforce those policies), it was ALSO a failure -- for PRECISELY the reasons that the policy exists.

Many schools have strong parent groups -- but Alt schools in particular are likely to have, and foster, strong vocal parent groups in support of their alt missions and styles. That was why the policy existed in the first place -- to make sure that those schools got administrators who fit.

That MGJ was a fool (and worse) is ground we don't need to cover again. SE needs to reset this one to zero -- and do it right, according to the policy -- this time around. I am heartened by the fact that her press announcement indicated that she would be meeting with the school. I am also heartened by the Floe reversal, as it gives some hope that she has the maturity, self-confidence, and wisdom to realize that following well-thought-out policies, ones that exist to make students successful, and their parents happy, does not weaken her or threaten her "authority" -- which always seemed to be one of the many problems with her predecessor.

Anonymous said...

The vote on the new attendance policy was delayed until the July 6 Board meeting. Peter Maier put forth the motion to delay the vote and it passed unanimously.

The posting of the new/revised policy should be made the Friday before the vote.

SPS parent

Melissa Westbrook said...

SPS parent, could you expand on this? Was it delayed because the Board felt it wasn't right or delayed to get more input from the public? (I had written them asking how one parent committee who reported out to almost no one was good enough public engagement for the Board on an issue that affects every single student.)

Anonymous said...

For those of you who say "if a teacher is differentiating properly, we don't need to track/segregate/separate kids," please explain to me how a group of kids getting 60 minutes per hour from one teacher at the same grade level will do just as well splitting that time with one or two different grade levels in the same class, let alone how the teacher can "effectively" teach 3 different grade levels at once.

While anything is possible, I do not understand how one teacher could teach 3 different levels at once, or teach effectively to three different levels devoting 20 minutes to each, per hour.

If there's a practicing teacher doing this right now, I want to hear from you, rather than PhD's and former educators. I want to hear it from somebody in the trenches.

So please, somebody, explain to me how this is all possible "if teachers are doing their jobs, correctly and 'differentiating' properly."

How do you get around the problem of "less time and attention for all" when you mix groups working at different grade levels? How does it help a struggling kid below grade level when teach can only spend 15 minutes of an hour with them, instead of 60?

Seems to me its alwasy easier to work with cohesive groups with less differences in abilities between them, versus more. Easier to do lesson plans and targeted interventions for too.

Somebody educate me on this, because it makes no sense to me at all. WSEADAWG


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

Re: Attendance policy

The reason given was that staff's going to take another look at the policy and submit a possible revised version for the next meeting.

SPS parent

Anonymous said...

FYI Spring Map Scores are up in the Source.


Anonymous said...

JLE is a very warm and kind woman who, through no fault of her own, was assigned to TOPS, a school that has been a bad fit for her. Some parents have not been patient or respectful, but I believe most have. Annoyed Middle School Parent said about the TOPS parents that "Their frustration with the problems at the school is completely misdirected" - I believe it is completely inaccurate to say that the parents at the school blame JLE for the school's problems. There may be a few who do, but nearly all parents I know simply believe she wasn't going to be the one who could help to solve the problems.
Elementary Mom

Anonymous said...

Has it ever occured to ANY of you that Turner and Clayton (principal and vice principal) at LaFayette ASKED to be transferred. Maybe they grew tired of the overly demanding parents at LaFayette. You all talk about Sunquist/Enfield running the school...not true..its the sense of entitlement parents who are looking for a "private" school education in a "public" school making ALL of the decisions. Best wishes to Turner and Clayton in their new positions...hopefully, they will have sensible parents who work with them.

Anonymous said...

It seems like it is more than a sad day at Lafayette, more like a sad year. There are many angry parents with Jo Lute Ervin. Virginia Turner had very strong leadership skills which seem to be lacking in Jo Lute Ervin. Not sure how or why we got stuck with her, but I hoping it will be short term. Jo and Karmen Nordhougen, the new VP, don't seem to fit in with the community of parents and teachers that we have at Lafayette. It doesn't feel like any effort is being made there to understand our culture. We are a thriving school and I hope they don't manage to destroy it.

Anonymous said...

Sorry Lafayette,

It is not likely to improve. Jo Lute was sent to TOPS at the same time MGJ sent three other "challenging principals" to other schools. The folks at McGilvra organized quickly, played hard ball, enforced rules and their do-nothing principal was replaced in 4 months.

However, TOPS played nice, since their people are so nice and they had Jo Lute for two years.

I would not bet on anything changing without lots of parent organization and as you know, that is exhausting.

- been there, done that.