Friday, October 28, 2011

A Concise Post about Why You Should Vote for the Challengers


First and foremost, every candidate should be considered on his or her own merits.  Don't vote for the incumbents because they are the incumbents or challengers just because they are stepping up to challenge them.  In short, don't vote on a slate. 

However, because of several votes that most of these incumbents made and lack of oversight on their part, they are all culpable for many of the embarrassments and financial losses this district has faced over these four year.  Moreover, in their basic jobs as Directors, they have repeatedly not upheld or enforced their own Board policies.  That they could not even do that is deeply troubling. 

All the incumbents had the opportunity to see red flags for months and even years before Pottergate exploded.  Steve Sundquist and Harium Martin-Morris were warned by union officials two years ago that Potter was hiring unbonded and poorly-trained contractors.  Potter did not even do background checks on some workers in schools during school hours.

For at least 2 years prior to the exposure of Pottergate, Potter's budget for his programs had rising from $100k to $1M.  One of the Board's primary duties is to review and approve the budget.  Every single incumbent missed this or saw it and didn't ask the basic question why?

All the incumbents had an opportunity to read a report, that the district had commissioned without telling the Board, about issues surrounding one of the programs that Silas Potter was overseeing. It was called the Sutor Report. 

Peter Maier, alone, was given a copy of it.  He read the report, found it "deeply concerning" but took the head of Facilities' word that these issues in the report were being taken care of.   He did not follow-up to see what was done but most of all, he NEVER told another Board member about the report.  Not when it showed up in a newspaper article, not when the State Auditor's report in June 2010 called out Silas Potter's programs and said the Board was not doing its oversight.  He had information that other Board members should have known and did nothing.  This is a gross lack of good judgment and for this alone, I believe, he should be exited from office.

All of the rest of the Board members were told about the Sutor Report and the news article in the Superintendent's Friday update and yet missed both of those items.

In June 2010, the State Auditor issued an audit calling out the Potter programs for misuse of capital money (the Auditor still did not know at this time that there were any other illegalities).  This was a huge red flag and yet the Board did nothing.  Additionally, the Auditor's office called out the entire Board for lack of oversight which was highly unusual for the Auditor.   As well, under this Board, State Audit findings grew from year to year.  This is also not the case for most districts in this state. 

The Board waited until December 2010 to launch their own investigation.  They are being given credit for springing into action - firing the Superintendent and COO, reforming the Audit & Finance Committee, etc. - but this was AFTER the exposure and public outcry.

And that's just Pottergate.  Then there's the sale of the MLK, Jr. building process whose eventually outcome was that the district sold the property for 3 times less than what another group was offering and sold it to a church that had to get the funds from public dollars to pay for the building AND has been slow to provide the youth education activities that predicated the sale to them. 

To be clear, on balance, the good versus the bad, the positive versus the negative,  the incumbents should not be supported.  They did not bring all their experience and good judgment and plain intellectual curiosity to bear in their oversight and accountability to parents, students, staff and taxpayers during this term.  That they learned lessons and have tried to right the ship is NOT enough to offset what appears to be a lack of common sense and good judgment.
Longer Race by Race View

(I am not including endorsements because the Voter's Guide is not up-to-date but generally nearly all the Dems precincts have endorsed the challengers.  The Times is endorsing all the incumbents while The Stranger endorsed all the challengers but Michelle Buetow.  This blog endorses all the challengers.)

Steve Sundquist versus Marty McLaren

Before he was first elected, Steve Sundquist has been a businessman and active in his children's PTAs.   He has had two children in SPS.  He is running now for his second 4-year term.   he is currently the School Board President.  Steve is bright and personable and calm.  He holds regular community meetings (probably more than any other Board member).   As a business person, he has sat on other boards and read budgets.  

Marty McLaren is a parent and grandparent of students who attended SPS.   She is friendly and easy to talk to and asks questions.  Marty has taught pre-school, worked with homeless children and has been active in PTA.  Marty received her teaching credential and taught in SPS schools, teaching math.  She currently works part time in South Seattle Community College's Student Assessment Office.  This is her first run at public office.  After her experiences teaching math and learning that the State Board of Education had declared the Discovering Math series "unsound", she began working with UW professor, Cliff Mass and filed a lawsuit to remove the Discovering Math series from SPS. 

On a person-to-person basis, I believe Marty is the better choice because she has a personal and inside knowledge of SPS from teaching.  Working largely in the southend, she has seen issues around inequity up-close.  She knows what the challenges will be in closing the achievement gap.  She knows what good teaching and good curriculum look like.   She saw the effects of the ill-timed school closures in West Seattle and understands how the choices made in the future will affect capacity management.   Steve has shown that he is more of a Board member to have complete faith in what district staff tells him and rarely challenges their assumptions or data.  He voted 100% with Dr. Goodloe-Johnson's wishes.   Under his leadership, the Board has weakened Board policies with more autonomy given to the Superintendent.

Sharon Peaslee vs Peter Maier

Sharon Peaslee has lived in Seattle only a couple of years after having lived in Bellevue and Lake Washington  (this is something of a plus and minus as it is a short time but she also brings in the experience of knowing what is going on and works in other local districts).   Sharon has an MA in English education and works as a producer/director/writer for her own production company.  She has two teenagers in two different SPS high schools.  Sharon has worked at the state level to improve WA math standards as well as working with parent groups on this issue.  She also worked with the Bellevue School district on improving home-schooling policies.  She co-founded Fast Track Math, a non-profit after-school program.   She worked with other Ingraham parents and students and staff to retain Principal Martin Floe at Ingraham High School.  Sharon is a soft-spoken but straight-talking person.

Peter Maier is running for his second 4-year term on the Board.  Peter is a product of SPS schools and his children attended them as well.  He was active in his schools' PTAs.  He has a law degree from Harvard and practices personal injury law and also is a CASA volunteer.  He was the head of the Schools First levy campaigns in 2004 and 2007.  Because of that work, he knew the district fairly well coming in.  He is active in the 36th Dems precinct.  He is the chair of the Board's Operations committee.  Peter is a quiet and soft-spoken person.

On a person-to-person basis, I believe Sharon is the better choice because of the experience she would bring to the Board.  It's clear from her advocacy work that she cares deeply about education and has shown the willingness to step up and do the hard work.  Because she has a special needs child, she would also bring that understanding and knowledge to the Board.    Peter, while a Board director and a head of a Board committee, has never really been a leader on the Board.   He has community meetings but seems uncomfortable if anyone challenges him on any of his votes/stands.   Peter, like Steve, voted lock-step for the Superintendent's wishes.    As I mentioned in the Mega-Concise, he had early and actionable knowledge about Silas Potter and yet did nothing with that information including even telling other Board members.

Kate Martin vs Sherry Carr

Kate Martin has two children that went through SPS.   She is married to a Mexican immigrant.  She is a professional planner in design and construction-related services.  She has been a long-time activist in her neighborhood and worked with the City to provide safe skate parks in all areas of the city.  She would bring a knowledge of the Latino community to the Board and the issues around their challenges in public education.  Kate is a strong and out-spoken person.   She has not been shy in her criticism of the Board and the district.   Her strong style has both supporters and detractors but she would bring a sharp eye to the Board and be willing to challenge staff to make sure the best data is there to shape her votes.

Sherry Carr is running for her second 4-year term on the Board.  Sherry is currently the chair of the Audit & Finance Committee.  She has graduated one child from SPS and another is currently in high school.  She has been active in  PTSA  for a very long time and was past President of the Seattle Council of PTSAs.   She was part of the CACIEE group that wrote recommendations for sweeping reform in SPS (that sadly, went almost nowhere).    She is a senior manager at Boeing (and frequently says, "At Boeing we do XYZ.")  Sherry is quiet but a smart person and a quiet leader.  She listens carefully.

On a person-to-person basis, I have my hardest time in this race.  I would like someone more outspoken on the Board so it isn't business as usual.  Business as usual has not served this district well even with a host of "professionals" on the Board.  Kate Martin has done her homework and knows this district.  She would devote her considerable energies to the betterment of this district.  Sherry has also shown herself to be a hard worker with a deep concern for public education.   However, I go with Kate because of my frustration and sadness over Sherry's inability to see the many red flags that could have prevented several issues that have boiled over and caused mistrust and resentment towards our district by the general public.

Harium Martin-Morris vs Michelle Buetow

Harium is an SPS parent with two children in SPS (I think one may have graduated).  He is currently a software development manager at Boeing. He is seeking his second 4-year term in office.  Harium is the only African-American member of the Board and brings that diversity to it.   Harium taught school for 4 years.  He is the chair of the Curriculum and Instruction Policy committee.    Harium is quite soft-spoken.

Michelle Buetow is the mother of two children attending TOPS K-8 school.  If elected, she would be the only Board member with children in the primary grades.  She has been active in her Eastlake neighborhood's community council.  She is a former high-tech marketing executive with 15 years experience in online marketing and communications.  Michelle would bring some sorely-needed experience in presenting a better public face to SPS and communications with the general public and parents.  Michelle is an open and friendly person.

On a person-to-person basis, this is a fairly easy call for me.  Director Martin-Morris is the director in my district and I have found him to be increasingly distant.  He travels frequently around the country to talk about education issues but I haven't seen him offer one new idea from all that traveling.  He does have in his favor that he did vote against the school closures and the high school math adoption.  He has also chided his fellow Board members - at a Board meeting - for asking challenging or even asking questions of staff on data presented.   Michelle would be a refreshing presence on the Board and would raise the level of the public face that the district presents to the world.


Anonymous said...

Thanks Melissa...I just posted this on my FB page with a note to my Seattle friends — especially those w/o kids — to pay attention.


suep. said...

Here's my take on the School Board race, from earlier this year:

Do Seattle’s School Board directors deserve to be reelected?

And here's some reminders of Goodloe-Johnson's legacy, with a major assist from the incumbents:

Ten + Reasons Why the Seattle Public Schools Superintendent, Dr. Marie Goodloe-Johnson, Should Be Fired With Cause

Here's a condensed version of what I've been sending out to friends and others:

Why I am voting for new leadership on Seattle’s School Board

In brief, after four years of churn, controversy, scandal and mismanagement, culminating in a scandal that led to the firing of the superintendent and CFO, I believe our district desperately needs new, more responsible and responsive leadership.

So I urge you to consider voting for the four challengers for school board: Sharon Peaslee, Marty McLaren, Michelle Buetow and Kate Martin.

The four incumbents running for reelection (Peter Maier, Steve Sundquist, Harium Martin-Morris and Sherry Carr) have presided over an era of unprecedented mismanagement, scandal, waste and divisiveness for Seattle’s schools. Three of the four voted essentially in lockstep with everything former Supt. Goodloe-Johnson proposed, no matter how much we parents objected (one veered from her agenda on maybe 3 votes), earning them a reputation as rubber-stampers.

All four voted to give the superintendent raises, a bonus (for only meeting 4 out of 17 performance goals) and contract extensions at the same time they voted to evict our kids, close their schools and layoff their teachers (claiming budget crisis), and even after a damning state audit that cited the superintendent for mismanagement and an ethics violation. On their watch our district has experienced costly school closures followed by costly reopenings, lawsuits, a fired superintendent, a ballooning bureaucracy, ignored warning signs that led to the $1.8 million “Pottergate” scandal, sold MLK school to the lowest bidder, ignored signs and parent testimony that enrollment was growing in our district, resulting in dangerously overcrowded schools, a top-down management style that has quashed independence, creativity and autonomy of schools. Thanks to these board members, we have the wasteful and unnecessary multimillion-dollar MAP test, underqualified, 5-week trainees teaching in our classrooms at more than full price (Teach for America, Inc.), and weak math textbooks. And this is just a partial list!

(continued below)

suep. said...

(continued from above)


I believe that four years is enough. It’s time for new leadership, new vision, new direction. Firing the superintendent was a necessary first step, but the change in leadership is incomplete until we change the School Board that supported and enabled these bad policies.

I am happy to say that I am not merely voting against the disappointing and negligent incumbents, but I am enthusiastically voting for the challengers. And I am not alone.


Please note that the Dept. of Elections did not update the voter’s pamphlet after the primary election in August. This gives a clear advantage to incumbents who may have locked in early endorsements, a disadvantage to challengers who earned many more endorsements since then. I urge you to take a close look at this because the challengers have won an amazing number of significant endorsements including the King County Council and many -- in some one case, ALL -- local District Democratic organizations.

Clearly, many sound minds in Seattle want to see our district head in a new direction, under new leadership.

I am convinced that each of the challengers will bring an intelligence, fiscal responsibility and community responsiveness to the school board that has been lacking from the incumbents.









Anonymous said...

While I agree with your points Melissa about how the incumbents should have held to a higher standard, known more, and acted, by and large I am completely unimpressed by the challengers with the exception of Michelle Buetow. At this point I'd rather have an incumbent who's experienced a wake-up call (and in conversations with each after forums, I think they have) than a challenger with lots of fire and lots of opinions but little else. Just saying my 2 cents, now will put on the flame-repellent helmet...

Voting for Tried and True if Imperfect

Melissa Westbrook said...

Voted for Tried, that's fine. You have to have your own take on whether you think the challengers are up for the job. I can only say that putting all the scandals, etc. aside, this Board has weakened the Board's position and not adhered to their own policies. Charlie and I both see no change in their views on that. It's troubling.

Charlie Mas said...

@Voting for tried,

You're certainly entitled to your view of the situation. My observation has been that the incumbents SAY that they have experienced a wake-up call but don't ACT like they have.

I don't see any change in their practice.

James said...

I feel like you are holding the incumbents to an unrealistically high standard when you expect them to have seen Potter's funding increase and ask questions. $1 million is still a tiny, tiny portion of the SPS budget, and let's not forget the Board members are basically volunteers doing this in their time outside of their day jobs. I think it is unrealistic to see one program out of many that is getting less than 1/500th of the total budget and pick that one funding increase out to ask questions. This is Monday morning quarterbacking with the benefit of hindsight and I don't think it is fair to the Board. Now, I think Peter Maier had more info than the rest of the Board, and it's fair to hold him more accountable, and I plan to vote against him, but I don't think it's fair to tar the entire board with this. They are not supermen, nor are the challengers, nor should we expect our School Board to be. Maybe if we paid them a part-time salary or something so they could spend more time on it, we can hold them to a higher standard, but as is, I think 3 of the 4 incumbents reacted about as well as I could realistically expect to Pottergate.

For what it's worth, I am planning on voting Peaslee-Carr-Buetow-undecided.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Melissa. I appreciate your knowledge and judgment. I want like to respond in two parts. In the first part, I will repost something that I wrote a while ago, which I think was left behind in an old thread.

I want to address the question of the Board functioning as a political and governance entity. I have experience on Boards for three organizations, though nothing as impressive as the Seattle School board. Still, some of my experience might be relevant.

First, I'm skeptical of the view that the Board, in its current configuration, is a perfectly functioning team. I doubt that any Board can ever be perfectly functioning. There are often tensions and personality conflicts, and sometimes there are factions.

For instance, Betty Patu has been effectively marginalized. According to what I've heard, there are tensions between a majority faction (Maier, Carr, Martin-Morris, and Sundquist) and a minority faction (Smith-Blum and Patu). I've heard that Peter Maier can be difficult to work with. I've also inferred the same about Martin-Morris.

My conversations with Michael DeBell have led me to believe that he seeks to be a consensus-builder. I don't think he will change if the constitution of the Board changes. However, the balance of power will certainly change if only one challenger wins.

For example, if Buetow wins, she will instantly form an alliance with Smith-Blum, with whom she has an acquaintance. If only Buetow wins, then Michael DeBell's role will become more important. He'll serve as the Anthony Kennedy between the two factions. However, I believe that the Board will function more smoothly if at least a second challenger wins.

I've spent enough time with Sharon Peaslee in planning meetings to believe that she works well with others. She has social skills that her opponent lacks. In addition, I've seen her interact with Marty McLaren, and I would guess that they would be a good match. Marty McLaren, whose quiet personality reminds me, too, of Michael DeBell (I think Melissa has made the same observation), would work well with a newly constituted Board.

I can see a new Board with Kay Smith-Blum, Betty Patu and Michelle Buetow working well with either Sharon Peaslee or Marty McLaren or both. I would be happy with either Sunquist or Maier losing, though I think the latter has the least to offer in terms of social skills.

Michael DeBell, in whatever configuration, will continue to seek to be a consensus builder.

Right now I see the race as unpredictable. I would be surprised and disappointed to see all the incumbents win. I'm a little skeptical that all the challengers will win. Any combination of two among Peaslee, McLaren, and Buetow would improve the Board considerably.


Anonymous said...

Part II

I have some familiarity with all the incumbents, though not as much as many people. As part of a Board, I was involved in interviewing them four years ago when they first ran. I've had private and public conversations with three of the four, especially Peter Maier.

I've interviewed, chatted up, supported, advised, lobbied for and spoken for all four challengers. I've watched them interact with each other, and I've seen the rapport they've built with each other. I believe that those who are elected to the Board will work well together. I know Sharon Peaslee best, and I think she is especially good at coordinating with other people. She has that all-important ability to give and take. She is very much at ease with the other challengers. She is, as Melissa says, soft-spoken and firm; I would add that she is steady, another all-important quality for a Board director.

Finally, all four challengers have a good sense of humor, which is more than I can say for the incumbents. Indeed, all four have a sense of humor about themselves, which is a sign they don't take themselves too seriously. That, in and of itself, would be an immense improvement over the current Board.


Disgusted said...

Voting for Tried and True,

What do you want the next four years to looks like? If you would like to see dollars sucked out of our classrooms to fund data, research and admninstration-by all means, vote incumbents.

If you prefer direct student support- vote challengers.

If you prefer a group that has shown themselves to be fiscally irresponsible- vote the incumbents.

If you prefer a group that feels the need to micro-manage teachers- and cirriculum -vote the incumbents.

If you prefer a group that will allow the district to align cirriculum and destroy successful pathways- such as Ballard High School's Bio-medical program- vote the incumbents.

If you ever want to eliminate any chance for career and technical pathways- by all means- vote the incumbents.

If you want to see the district sabatoge student success by only offering algebra to 9th grade students (working below grade level)- by all means- vote the incumbents.

To me, the choice is clear.

Anonymous said...

I agree with so many of the points that have been made here. The one thing I don't see though is what the challengers support. Some of them are backed and support some very specific academic issues that are not backed up by best practices. I am talking specifically about three of them promoting "Where's the Math." This to me is worse than the lack of oversight by the incumbents.

- Care about curriculum and instruction practices

dan dempsey said...

Dear Care about C&I practices,

Please define best practices.

Last time I checked it was the incumbents that regularly disregarded evidence ... please read Visible Learning by John Hattie and the NMAP final report Foundations for Success

... Then check the SPS math results that have been produced by the supposed SPS best practices.

Auburn v. SPS at grades 3, 4, 5

Clover Park SD v. Seattle at grades 3.4.5

High School EoC Algebra .pdf

Note District results for grade 9 low-income students on Algebra EoC
Pass Rates=>
56.35% - Clover Park SD- HOLT
53.00% - Spokane SD- HOLT
37.83% - Seattle SD - Discovering
35.28% - Bethel SD - Discovering

Students scoring Well Below Basic = level 1
19.65% - Clover park SD
25.52% - Spokane
32.83% - Bethel
36.53% - Seattle

Just because the SPS Central Admin calls something a Best Practice does not make it so.

Do you really want to stick with these math results because you fear "Where's the Math?"

What do you think "Where's the Math?" advocates?

Also you might try reading the 8 page "What is Important in School Mathematics?"

Melissa Westbrook said...

DWE, what a good analysis. I particularly agree with this:

"He'll serve as the Anthony Kennedy between the two factions."

about Michael DeBell.

What I would hope for in a new Board is more balance and nuance. This lockstep voting is troubling. Harium telling Board members not to question data is troubling. It is a good idea to have a balanced discussion on issues. Not fighting, not arguing but "if this, what about that?" thinking.

Care about curriculum, I think the challengers have put out ideas. Contact any of them if you have doubts and I'm sure they will gladly answer you. Marty and Sharon have specific interests in math because Marty taught math and Sharon worked at the state level on the math standards. We all have our areas of expertise but I think it shows interest in what is being taught.

Charlie Mas said...

@ James,

The RSBDP was not in the $556 million operating budget. It was in the much smaller capital budget. There aren't a lot of items in that budget, so the program was - or should have been - plenty visible.

Also, the budget development process, which they should have closely overseen - or at least asked about, was later revealed to be much different from how they described it. They described a process in which every expenditure was reviewed for potential savings and "hard decisions" were made.

In the state auditor's review of the RSBDP, however, we learned the actual budget development process. Mr. Kennedy asked Mr. Potter how much money he needed for the year. Mr. Potter named a number and Mr. Kennedy wrote it into the budget.

Beyond the detailed items, the simple facts remain: the Board didn't do its job. They were supposed to request an annual report from each department - they never did. They were supposed to enforce policy - they never did. They were supposed to represent the public - they never did. They never did their job. And not because they couldn't, but because they didn't think they should.

That's unacceptable.

Jack Whelan said...

Thanks, DWE, for bringing up this theme about the composition of the board after the election. I agree with every thing you've said, except to emphasize that I think Kate Martin will also bring something important to the mix. While I don't think a board with seven Kates on it would be desirable (or even two), I think you need at least one. If she has people to work with, and the other challengers are people she can work with, I think she'll be very effective and a good team player.

I think that it's most important to remove Sundquist and Maier because while, IMO, they are all are bad, those two are aggressively bad. They are the alpha dogs of bad. My sense is that Martin Morris and Carr will go along with whatever the new consensus emerges, but Sundquist and Maier will be most resistant to changing direction.

Patrick said...

I feel like you are holding the incumbents to an unrealistically high standard when you expect them to have seen Potter's funding increase and ask questions.

It is a small fraction of the budget, but I would expect them to get budget reports that show budget lines by percentage increase as well as absolute numbers. A program that grows by 100% a year for several years with no explanation should raise red flags.

MathTeacher42 said...

Here's a math problem for next Tues or Wed!

How many ways can a subset of the Challengers or Incumbents win on Tues. 8 Nov?

0 win plus 1 of the 4 win plus 2 of the 4 win plus 3 of the 4 win plus 4 of the 4 win = 5 ways ??

(hint - back of the envelope = 16 different outcomes!)

Figuring who will play well with who (whom?) seems like the early part of the year seating charts in class - a toss of the dice.


Jack Whelan said...

I'd like to add another thought about this election. While oversight, planning competency, budgetary transparency, and all the nuts and bolts of running a district should be essential criteria for evaluating the records of the incumbents and the capabilities of the challengers, we cannot look at the individual races in a political vacuum. To affect a non-partisan, may the most competent candidate win attitude is in my view misguided.

There is a nation-wide assault on public school education that involves neoliberal democrats as well as Republicans that seeks to privatize public education. This is a very powerful, well-funded, well-organized and relentless movement, and it works behind the scenes, and it isn't interested in open debate, as we saw with the way it rammed through its charter schools plank with the state PTSA.

All of the challengers understand this threat and will do what they can to push back against it. Do you think any of the incumbents do or that they will push back?

Well the whole TfA business, if nothing else, shows where they lean. Their giving MGJ, a blatant corporate reformer, a contract extension shows that they just don't have much of a problem with this agenda. The board's support for standardized testing and linking teacher accountability to the test, the need for rigid curriculum alignment, etc. etc. etc. shows that they are very much in tune with this top-down ed reform agenda. And don't forget the money from outsiders that has come into the incumbents' campaign from people who support this national agenda.

So you have to ask yourself: is it just about the individual candidates, or is it about these larger political forces that bear down on them? There's a big battle over the future of public education taking shape, and you have to ask yourself which side you are going to be on and which of these candidates is going to fight on your side. The Seattle Times, LEV, Stand, Alliance, and now, alas, the state PTSA know which side they are on--do you?

Kathy said...

For anyone that thinks Sundquist is a wonderful business man, remember this:

Sundquist lectured his colleagues to "accept" the district's proposed budget, while there was an on-going criminal investigation going on within the walls of the John Stanford Center. There was $577M on the table.

So much for oversight.

Melissa Westbrook said...

BM, very funny thought on the seating chart. Hard to know what to do if you don't know the players and how if they play well with each other.

One other funny thing - if all the challengers win, Michael DeBell will be up there by himself as the only guy. It's not a problem but a great visual.

dan dempsey said...

On November 28, 2007 The Four newly elected directors were among the seven that signed the 14 point
Right HERE

Read the 14 points .... in regard to Supervising the Superintendent ... it resembles a plan not to Supervise the Superintendent.

Lots of talk about policies ... but nothing about enforcing policies ... and ZERO about Superintendent's responsibility to enforce Board policy.

The Board did an excellent job on part of #14

by respecting the leadership role of the Superintendent so much ... they repeatedly failed to supervise her.

Unfortunately the Board according to the SAO never really figured out what its job was.

mom of 4 in sps said...

Charlie, you rarely say something for which you don't have facts and references, so I'm surprised that you said it's the board's job to enforce policy, when it isn't - they define policy and it's the sup't's job to enforce as well as supervise staff. The board evaluates the sup't's performance - and they did.

And "they never did" represent the public? "They never did their job?"

dan dempsey said...

Mom of four in the SPS said:

"The board evaluates the sup't's performance - and they did."

The Superintendent's job includes enforcing policy. When did the Board ever evaluate the Superintendent on that?

Let us take a look at the "2011-12 Superintendent Evaluation Instrument" approved last board meeting October 19.

This list of 20 goals that purports to be an Evaluation Instrument fails to:

Reference any responsibility for the Superintendent to enforce Board Policies.

The Board through the approval of the above inadequate evaluation instrument makes it clear to all ... that enforcing policy is NOT something the Board expects of the Superintendent during 2011-2012.

As close as the 20 goals comes is #20:

20. Accountability: Holds self and others accountable for measurable high-quality, timely and cost-effective results; determines objectives, sets priorities and delegates work; accepts responsibility for mistakes; complies with established control systems and rules.

If the Board wants School Board policies enforced by the Superintendent, it needs to make it part of the "Superintendent's Evaluation Instrument" and the Board did not do that. ... Hey there is always school year 2012-2013 ... hope springs eternal for some ... but these incumbent directors seeking reelection need to leave because they do not do the Job. --> Vote all four out of Office ...

The Superintendent's Evaluation Instrument
Action Report states =>

DATE: October 14, 2011

FROM: Executive Committee
LEAD STAFF: Dr. Susan Enfield, Interim Superintendent

The Superintendent is the employee of the Board. Therefore, Board action is required to approve her evaluation instrument.

.... and the Board approved it. So much for the Board actually Supervising the Supt.

Charlie Mas said...

At times the Board tries to deny that they have a duty to enforce policy and at times they admit it.

Here's how I reckon it:

Ultimately all of the duties and responsibilities of the District are the Board's and the Board delegates some of these duties to the superintendent. She, in turn, delegates some to her staff. While they can delegate duties, they cannot delegate responsibility. The responsibility for enforcing policy remains with the Board.

Board Policy 1005 says "It is the duty and responsibility of the Board to set policy for, and provide governance and oversight of, the Seattle School District. The Board shall exercise those powers that are expressly provided by law, and those essential to the declared purposes and goals of the district. All powers not expressly delegated are reserved to the Board."

I regard policy enforcement as the essential work of providing "governance". Otherwise what does "governance" mean?

Also, the one person most regulated by policy is the superintendent. It would be foolish in the extreme to place the responsibility for enforcing policy with the same person who is most regulated by it. It would just be silly to expect that kind of self-policing.

In addition, every supervisor in the District has a responsibility to confirm that their direct reports are following policy. The Board is the superintendent's supervisor and so has that duty with regard to her.

We also have this from the Washington State Auditor's Report of June 21, 2010.

"It is the responsibility of the Board to hold executive management
accountable for adherence to District policies.

So even if the Board isn't directly responsible for enforcing policy on teachers and staff, they are directly responsible for enforcing the superintendent's compliance with policy.

Arguing for the other side, the Board, in their recent policy revision, delegated this duty to the superintendent: "Carry out and ensure compliance with all policies of the Board of Directors through administrative procedures."

I suggest asking the Board members if they think have a duty to enforce policy. I certainly think they do. So does the State Auditor's office.

Charlie Mas said...

It is worth noting that the recently adopted Superintendent Evaluation Instrument makes no reference to either the superintendent's duty to enforce policy nor the superintendent's duty to follow policy.

dan dempsey said...

But but but Charlie ...

Rep. Reuven Carlyle and the Times endorse all four incumbents. The incumbents are professionals at professing ... clearly that is just not good enough for you. Hopefully the voters will be equally hard to please.

Anonymous said...

36th LD says

Dan you are incorrect. Reuven Carlyle did not endorse Harium Martin-Morris.

dan dempsey said...

36th LD thanks for the correction.

Charlie Mas said...

For my concise case for the challengers, see my comment on Rueven Carlyle's blog thread about paying the School Board Directors.