Thursday, October 13, 2011

Seattle Superintendent Search: Yes or No?

I didn't print all the questions from Tuesday night's School Board candidate forum but the question of superintendent did come up.

The question had been something about the vision for the district and who creates it and what questions would a Board director ask of a superintendent candidate.  This was directed to Sharon and Peter.

Sharon said that the Board and the Superintendent need to be on the same page.  She said with MGJ, the Board was on the same page but it didn't turn out well and more control was at central and not in the classroom.

Peter said the vision is shared with the Superintendent and the Board but he said they had to agree.  He said he would ask a superintendent candidate what his/her vision was for Special Ed? Advanced Learning? capacity management? achievement gap?

I wasn't entirely satisfied with either answer because Sharon didn't put forth questions and Peter's were way too broad. 

Any candidate could give a broad answer but we need specifics for our district.  That would mean a candidate would need to be pretty well-versed on what we currently have (and only Dr. Enfield would fit that bill right now).  I've seen superintendent interviews and most of these people only have a cursory idea of how a particular district does things.  It would be hard to know the ins and outs of our current capacity management issues if you were an outsider. 

But Peter went on to reiterate that the Board is going to have some community meetings to talk about values the community wants in a superintendent.  That's all well and good but they aren't saying if they WILL indeed have a search.

So here are a couple of questions:

- would you feel it a waste of your time to go to a community meeting about superintendent values if they just ended up picking Dr. Enfield without a search?

- what do you think the Board would need to see between now and January (when the decision has to be made to conduct a search) from Dr. Enfield that would convince the Board they don't need to a search?

- should there be a superintendent search no matter what (and Dr. Enfield is welcome to throw her hat in the ring just like any other candidate)?


mirmac1 said...

Isn't there a SFA, Superintendent for America, program? Isn't one of them better than some know-nothing Ph.d in Education?

Goose said...

No, but remember that (St.)John Sanford came to us without a background in education. First year teachers had more edcuation experience than he did. Of course, that lack of education background didn't work out so well for us with Olchefske.

anonymous said...

I think community meetings are a good idea.

I get the sense from my small circle of parents, friends, teachers involved with SPS that most people are happy with Enfeild and think she is doing a good job.

I know this blog community, for the most part, doesn't agree with that, and that's fine, but I also don't think this community is necessarily representative of the greater community.

If the board heard from a large percent of families and teachers that they felt Enfield was doing a good job then perhaps they could avoid a costly superintendent search.


anonymous said...

Anyone know how much a superintendent search costs? I seem to remember it being ridiculously expensive.


Melissa Westbrook said...

But Momster, please define a good job. I asked the question, what do you think the Board should see to convince them to keep her?

The cost can't be the reason to not do a search. I'd chip in to pay if that was the only reason to not do it.

I like Dr. Enfield, I believe she is sincere but that alone is not a reason to give her the job.

dan dempsey said...

"I get the sense from my small circle of parents, friends, teachers involved with SPS that most people are happy with Enfeild and think she is doing a good job. "

How involved is this circle with the facts?

Opinions are often based on myths and impressions and little else.

We are in a nation of folks that far too often weighs a polished public persona far above results.

This explains the composition of far too many legislative bodies in our sorry current political system.

Is there any chance that voters will become aware of the facts? Likely not, for how many have the time ... instead they have The Times.

anonymous said...
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anonymous said...

It's just my opinion Melissa. I like Dr. Enfield, and as I said most of the circle of parents that I communicate with do to.

It's more of a feeling for me, but if I had to pin some reasons down to defend what I like about her I'd say this:

She backed off on Map testing and is moving toward more autonomy for schools, she reversed the Martin flo decision which to me shows that she is willing to work with the community, she listened to the APP community's request and moved Lowell APP intact to Lincoln. She has open office hours. She did "questionland" an online Q&A for families. She admits she's had lots of sleepless nights.

Seattle teacher's union vice president Jonathan Knapp said it best "his union thinks of Enfield so far, he said, "I feel we've got more done in four months with Enfield than with Goodloe-Johnson in four years. It's just a feeling they want to solve problems and not prolong them," he added. Goodloe-Johnson beat us over the head with the issue. Enfield wants to get stuff done, She is not caught up in ideological lines. She asks you what the problem is and wants to talk about it."

That's my two cents.


Dorothy Neville said...

The board is quickly choosing a firm to oversee survey and community outreach. They would like an on-line survey anyone can take AND a scientific sampling of the city, but that puts the cost over budget. I believe they would like to spend on the order of 20K but with the sampling the proposals are more like 30K+. Last super search was on the order of 56K but further research is being done to determine for sure if that included all the travel expenses. I believe there is about 100K budgeted overall.

The board decided to hire an independent public opinion firm to do the community engagement piece instead of a search firm in order to get a more objective view as to whether to do a search or not -- since it would behoove a search firm to conclude the answer is yes.

Jack Whelan said...

We don't just need a smiley face and a dollop of competency from the superintendent; we need a mentality change, and that isn't something that SE has demonstrated, to my satisfaction at least, that she can effect.

I hope we'll have a board that will insist on a search, and I hope we can find someone, preferably with local knowledge, who can effect such a mentality change or at least can start us down that road. It's a tall order, but it's what's needed. I'd be interested to know what people here think the criteria the board should use to hire a new supe.

Melissa Westbrook said...

"...she listened to the APP community's request and moved Lowell APP intact to Lincoln"

They didn't want to be moved; they had to be. Their wish was to be moved together. I think that's more in the category of throwing them a bone after pulling the rug out from under them.

She admits she's had lots of sleepless nights.

That's kind of in the category of Peter saying, "I work hard." Gold star but it doesn't mean you are doing a good job. It means you worry about your job.

And I think it is great that SEA is so enthused. I look forward to asking their opinion on a search because I would give that weight.

Curious said...

Can the board hire whoever it wants (Enfield, for example) without opening the Superintendent position for applications?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Curious, yes they can.

On the upside (and to give credit), the Board decided to wait until AFTER the elections to allow whoever was on the Board to make the decision. (The previous Board picked MGJ and then new Board members came in.)

But they don't have to have any search.

My feeling is that if parents and community want a search, then e-mail, call or go to these Superintendent values meetings and tell the Board. Before the election.

RosieReader said...

Melissa, I'm curious whether you're interested in hearing and understanding viewpoints on this topic that are different than your own, or whether you just want a chance to tell people why their viewpoints are wrong and yours is correct. Based on your answer at 12:57, it appears to be the latter. In my experience, that approach is simply going to cause most people to choose not to engage with you.

Anonymous said...

I think that the Board should lead by example by doing a national search. Lower level positions are required to be advertised and go through a competitive process via interviews. Why should the Superintendent position be treated differently?

If the Board does not do a search, I think it sends a really loud message that Policy is trumped by who you know. I realize that there is not a specific policy addressing this matter; however, I would think that the competitive process would yield the best Superintendet for Seattle whether it be Susan Enfield or someone else.

A friend of Seattle

Anonymous said...

I remember community meetings re:what we wanted in a superintendent. We ended up with Olchefske anyway- although he at least attempted to listen to parents in a situation involving overcrowding at Eckstein and the district eyeing space at Jane Addams. MGJ didn't even pretend to listen and we paid big bucks for a search. I would be up for another search but wouldnt use the same Ohio firm

Emerald kity

Jan said...

RosieReader -- I thought Melissa's points were pretty laid back. And although she is the blogposter, I don't think any regular, or even occasional, readers understand that to mean that she is neutral background.

And the points she is raising/debating are really good ones. We do seem to have, in Dr. E., a clear improvement over MGJ (every spidey sense I have went into overdrive when I spoke with, or watched, MGJ. In my opinion, she was alarming in a way, and to a degree, that no superintendent we have EVER had (and I go all the way back to Kendrick) even remotely approached.

But -- an intriguing point with both the Martin Floe issue and the Lowell at Lincoln issue is -- she (or her administration) showed up with the firetrucks AFTER the community called 911. How do we deal with the fact that there was a fire in the first place? I am inclined to absolve her completely for Lowell -- that fire was started by MGJ, and while she maybe could have started on it BEFORE July, there are lots of plates spinning. Lowell is just one.
Martin Floe is more complicated to me, maybe because I know less. I think the "proof" in that pudding is another year away. Does he ultimately stay? Are/were the criteria for removing him valid and if so, do they get addressed this year? Was that even her fault -- or was she pushed into it by a process that started under MGJ and possibly board members who wanted to see "principal firings" as a sign of accountability?

To me, the most alarming things have been the lack of transparency and honesty around TfA -- because it hints of the kind of cronyism, clique-behavior and "cabals" that have plagued downtown for far too long, and were the hallmark of her predecessor, and building leadership issues that have not been addressed. It bothers me that while a "ritual sacrifice" seemed to have been attempted with Martin Floe, there appear to have been far worse leadership problems last year with King (at Lowell) and someone somewhere else -- is it McClure? And yet there is silence. If information is not reaching her, then there are serious problems at the Executive Director level and she does not have sufficient control over her managers to ensure that she is getting good intel. If she IS getting it, it is either taking awhile (and maybe I am too impatient) or she is insufficiently disturbed about serious problems in building leadership -- in which case, she is not the right superintendent for the District.

Jury is out, I guess. But it feels like I have been pacing the courthouse corridors for way too long.

RosieReader said...

Jan, I agree, no one should normally expect Melissa to be "neutral background." But in this case Melissa appeared to be seeking to understand a differing point of view, or at least get an understanding of the perspective held by commenters on this blog. Specifically, the post is titled "Seattle Superintendent Search: Yes or No?" which, to me, sounds like Melissa is curious about our thinking on this topic. Seemingly in keeping with a desire to understand our thinking, Melissa asked "But Momster, please define a good job. I asked the question, what do you think the Board should see to convince them to keep her?" Momster replied, stating clearly that she had an opinion and giving her rationales supporting her opinion.

Then Melissa changed from appearing to want to understand perspective, to attempting to change Momster's perspective by dismissing one of Momster's arguments.

Which leads to my issue -- if you want to understand someone else's POV, then you shouldn't be attacking what they say. You can do either, both are fine. It's the changing in mid stream that bugs me.

anonymous said...
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anonymous said...
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anonymous said...

I have to agree with Rosie Reader Melissa. You asked for input. I gave you input. You asked for my reasoning and I gave you my reasoning - only to have it shot down. It does make me wonder why I contribute, and if you really want the feedback, or if you just want a stage to defend your own positions?

I tried to relay that most of the people I talk to (friends, SPS parents, teachers) think Enfield is doing a good job. I admit I chat with them on a very informal basis and I don't pressure them for data and backup when they share their opinions, so take it FWIW.

I truly don't think many of the opinions of the folks who post on this blog are representative of the majority of families in SPS. And that is not an insult, it is just something that I have come to the conclusion of after chatting with parents and teachers at my kids schools for years.

And yes I know the APP community didn't want to move out of the Lowell building. But when it was evident that all of the children would not fit at Lowell something had to give, and the APP families asked to at least be moved together, intact, instead of just certain grades, as was originally proposed. What you see as Enfield throwing APP a bone, I see as her listening to the community and following through on what they asked for. Further, the Lowell overcrowding was not Enfield's doing. She inherited that mess from MGJ and was stuck holding the bag, cleaning up. And I think she did a pretty good job considering the situation.


Anonymous said...

Didn't I see a news interview of Melissa where she stated, when asked what she thinks of Dr. Enfield, "Dr Enfield is defintely a fresh breath of air".

Hmmm....here it is: http://www.king5.com/news/education/Education-Nation-Melissa-Westbrook-130718773.html

A friend of Seattle

Melissa Westbrook said...

First,of all, I asked questions. Momster made a early comment that didn't answer any of the questions. So I asked her to clarify.

She did and I commented on one thing(sleepless nights), agreed with another (SEA) and said nothing about the rest.

Rosie, I'm just answering back on what I think from what someone else said. It's not arguing; it's discussing.

If someone presents a reasoning and can't take a challenge or questioning of that reasoning, there's not much I can do.

I go far and wide in this district and I think far more people are unhappy than happy with the district management if you want the least extreme view.

If you choose to ignore the fact that Dr. Enfield and the staff KNEW Lowell would be overcrowded and something needed to be done BEFORE the end of school but chose to NOT tell parents until the summer, sure, then Susan did great.

I prefer parents be told important information like moving their children to another building or changing their program in a timely manner.

That's just me.

People come and go on a blog; it's just the way of the world. I don't lose sleep over it.

Anonymous said...

Momster wrote "I truly don't think many of the opinions of the folks who post on this blog are representative of the majority of families in SPS. And that is not an insult, it is just something that I have come to the conclusion of after chatting with parents and teachers at my kids schools for years."

That might be true. Many on this blog posted their displeasure of MGJ, their concerns of Pottergate (before it became Pottergate), capacity issue, and over recent school closures before these issues became Seattle Time's "controversies". It may be true the majority of parents completely disagree with these posters and their views. It doesn't mean that the minority views are wrong or should not be heeded.

Seattle mom

Anonymous said...

I wonder if Cyber Bullying would apply to blogs? I think it is an interesting question and makes me think twice since I take it seriously for the kids. Are adults different?

A friend of Seattle

Anonymous said...

This blog is about discussion and debate and I love it.
It's not so Seattle though.
When I moved here from NY I was stunned that friends would start crying when I took a different position and debated with them. They thought I was mad at them. No, just passionate. People seemed to get that in NYC. Debate is an art form. Take a position and stay with it and in the end perhaps together we will uncover some truths. Be the devils advocate even, who cares?!
Debate away Melissa! It helps me to feel at home.


ArchStanton said...

I wonder if Cyber Bullying would apply to blogs?

What?! I suppose if everyone on the blog also texted you and everyone else you knew, made remarks about you in your workplace, posted stuff about you on facebook, sent you and everyone you knew emails - yeah, I guess it might be comparable.

The thing about cyber-bullying is that it takes normal school bullying and carries it into the 24/7 digital world where it's hard to escape from. I think most people here are not bullying other posters at work/school or calling/emailing/texting others in a harassing manner.

The possible exception are those posters who are not hiding behind an alias, but some of those arguably cross over into the public realm.

Anonymous said...

yes, cyberbullying applies to blogs. It is bullying that occurs through electronic media of any form.
Disagreeing with someone is not bullying though.
There is a big difference between conflict and bullying.
By definition bullying includes an intent to harm, is repetitive, and generally involves a power imbalance.

and yes I think we need a superintendent search but I think Enfield will be chosen with or without a search if we dont get a new board.


Jack Whelan said...

I'm still interested in what folks here think should be the criteria for hiring the next superintendent. What are the red flags and green flags we should be looking for in prospective candidates?

Anonymous said...

I think a new superintendent should be judged on track record and not what they say (hey, same for school board!). There are too many polished politician types out there who know what to say. They should be a grassroots type of person, focused on community with a record that shows that. They should have a track record that shows true commitment to eliminating the achievement gap, a true respect for educators (so that among other things they can allow educators to flourish, give their all and express the expertise that is an underutilized asset in sps), a love of children and a whole child view, an understanding of the importance of wraparound services, personable, record of transparency,honest, smart, straight-forward.
red flags: broad academy, questionable corporate connections, charter background, slick, smug, arrogant, power tripper vibe, PhD in acronym-changing,TfA supporter.

Pegi McEvoy should be considered over Enfield.


dan dempsey said...

OK Jack W. ..

I would prefer a Superintendent that will follow the WACs and RCWs ... that is a pretty minimal standard, yet it is a standard that Enfield fails to meet.

A number of the current directors also fail to meet that standard. Without an election of a number of new school directors ... look for a continuation of the Goodloe-Johnson/Enfield regime.

Also a Board that evaluates the Superintendent in regard to carrying out policy would be nice.

Recently Enfield and Holly Ferguson had the Board adopt a new policy (promotion/non-promotion interventions etc.) because the old policy was never followed. Tail wags Dog.

Superintendent that is interested in improving student learning rather than implementing Ed Reform.

Superintendent that realizes the Centralized Control Five year plans are pointless. (( Soviet Union fell - get a clue. ))

More of what a Supe should realize....

Schools need greater school autonomy ... the Standards can be the same but the instructional materials and practices need not be.

To improve a system requires the intelligent application of relevant data. The intelligent application should drive the plans .... fishing for data to support pre-determined actions does NOT work... same for copying Bellevue.

Providing an appropriate educational opportunity for each child to maximize their potential is not the same as striving for equal outcomes. GoLOJo was clueless and same for her 4 person nod-along board majority that now seeks reelection.

dan dempsey said...

Hey .. OneOfThem,

Phil Brockman?

Anonymous said...

I would prefer a Superintendent who has 5+ years teaching, 5+ years as a principal, and worked her/his way up the managerial ladder. While you can find "leaders" in other fields, you better be careful (see Ms. Black, former NYC school Chancellor). Google any leadeship or great superintendent qualifications and you get the usual list: great communicator, great manager (knows how to delegate effectively... and not add layers for insulation), be an instructional and visionary leader, and a risk taker (innovator).

Red Flags: Priorities. With Dr. Enfield. Why TFA now? Honestly, talk about stirring up a hornest's nest and for what? I consider TFA small potatoes not worthy of a new Super's attention much less Board's time at this moment. I would have preferred more attention to our curriculum, to capacity planning, to our budget and where it is going and not going, our growing class size and how can we offset that with support and resource. Do we need coaches headquartered downtown while we are loosing classroom assistants (IAs, counselors)? Why so many EDs? Too many layers for what or from what. Can we also hire principals who have at least 7+ years experience teaching kids in the US.

How about attention to the Moss Adams Audit? Are we implementing it? How about the new SSD's website? It is not the most user friendly, so how much did we spend on this? If we are to pay for MAP testing, use it in the ways it is supposed to be used, not just teacher's assessment. After contractual obligation ends, can we find a cheaper way to assess kids (MSP, DRAs, etc.?)

Green Flags: Franklin, math numbers, let's keep that up and replicate it elsewhere (Hale, Ingraham, Garfield, and RBHS). But is this Dr. Enfield's doing and even if not, can she support it and bring it to other schools?

Overall, I have to ask right now do I think we are moving in the right direction so that my children will have access to quality education without all the navigating I must do to insure that it happens? The answer is no on bad days, and maybe on better days. Capacity and seats in coveted programs are our bugaboos. If I ask the same questions to friends and families who live in elsewhere. Oh boy, they want access to the 10% set aside at Garfield, Roosevelt and Ballard. They want access to Whitman and Eckstein. They want it because they don't have the 4 years for their schools to turn into an Eckstein or Ballard. (they know it is an impossible wish given capacity problem.)

So I am watching what Dr. Enfield is doing downtown, who she keeps close to her, and who are her assistants. Do these people inspire you to trust, are they there to manage our resources with fidellity and competence, are they there to benefit our children's education first and their ambitions second.

Seattle mom

Anonymous said...

A group I know pushed hard for P. Brockman as sup- but he "didn't have superintendent credentials like SE does."

I agree with J. Whelan- a superintendent should be judged on what they have actually accomplished, and frankly I don't think that anyone that stays in a district for less than 3 years should be considered. Far too many educrats spend a couple of years in a district, leave, and then tout their "great progress" when in reality there is no significant data to show whether they made any progress or not.

As to whether or not Dr. E. is a good fit, from the blog post on the board retreat Dr. E. does not support the waiver process, and that position alone speaks mountains about her. Dr. E. still wants the map, she does not want deviations from proscribed curriculum. Remember the high school science fiasco last year? Dr. E. was in charge of that and it was only when enough high powered parents raised a stink did it get tabled. After that I thought that C.Thompson would be demoted but she was promoted by her boss.

Dr. E. sounds nice, and is far more approachable than MGJ ever was. I think many folks are just relieved to have someone in that position who doesn't seem like a robot. However, looking at Dr. E's background and what she worked on before coming to Seattle and while she was CAO for Seattle do not fill me with confidence. Way too much edutalk, not in any one place for long, and totally illusive and unresponsive as CAO to questions about what was happening on any curricular topic. We need a leader who actually listens to and and follows through on community engagement before a crisis by changing the power structure downtown, and I don't see that happening with our current leadership.
sign me
been there done that

Anonymous said...

I like Phil Brockman.
I like Phil Brockman and Pegi McEvoy over SE. Less credentials might be a refreshing change.


Charlie Mas said...

I think that Dr. Enfield has done an absolutely wonderful job of removing the "cronyism, clique-behavior and cabals" (love that!) in every department of the district headquarters... except her own.

She has been a sweeping reformer (in the good way) in every department of the district headquarters... except her own.

She has taken bold steps to fix the District's broken and dysfunctional culture in every department of the district headquarters... except her own.

So I give her a lot of credit for all of the work that she has done in every department of the district... except her own.

RosieReader said...

Searches are very time consuming. There's also a tendency to prefer a shiny, unknown,k who you fantasize will somehow be perfect and solve all (or at least most) problems, and to assume that the "interview personality', with all its carefully chosen answers and deportment, is the real thing.

So for me, given those factors, if the Board is satisfied with Susan Enfield's performance, I'd say avoid the search and keep her. Remember, we'll burn through her anyway in another 2 or 3 years, that's just what we do in this town to school superintendents.

Anonymous said...

I have a great deal of respect for the unpredictability of human beings. I'm not saying that we shouldn't discuss whether there should be a superintendent search. People can discuss what they want. However, in my view, to decide now is premature. My attitude toward the interim superintendent is "wait and see." We don't know what will transpire in the next couple months. And we don't know who will be on Board come January.

Finally, I want to see how my school is treated over the next couple months and I would love to see how Dr. Enfield answers this question: "The IBX program is in full gear, and next year we'll have almost double the number of students taking first year IB classes. (Juniors and IBX sophomores). What's the District's plan for making sure Ingraham has the resources (financial and staff) to do this well?"


Anonymous said...

On the upside (and to give credit), the Board decided to wait until AFTER the elections to allow whoever was on the Board to make the decision. (The previous Board picked MGJ and then new Board members came in.)

Melissa, my read of this is that the current Board would prefer NOT to make a decision prior to the election. If they were to hire Enfield, that decision would be something concrete that might get them voted out of office. If they decided prior to the election to do a search, this decision might also get them voted out of office. My opinion is that in this case the current board is doing more of the same, more for their benefit than their constituents.

Three years to go.

Melissa Westbrook said...

"Overall, I have to ask right now do I think we are moving in the right direction so that my children will have access to quality education without all the navigating I must do to insure that it happens?"

I honestly believe this is the overwhelming sentiment of SPS parents. They just want to send their child to their (quality) neighborhood school and have options for other choices available (foreign language immersion, alts).

It should not be hard to find info at the website.

It should not be hard to understand programs like Advanced Learning.

FYI, the current length of tenure for superintendents in the entire country is between 3-5 years. SPS isn't really that different. And it tends to be that half leave on their own (as MGJ would have anyway - this was just a pitstop for her career) or are exited.

We probably wouldn't exit as many superintendents if they actually managed the district well. You can't exactly keep people who have financial scandals at their feet.

anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
anonymous said...

Since my kids have been in SPS, we've never even had a superintendent last for the average 5 years. We're lucky to keep em around for 2 years. I find it interesting that we'd even consider using valuable time and effort, and spending 54K on a search for a SI when that SI will probably only be around for a couple of years. Enfield is doing fine (IMO), and won't last long anyway......she's probably got another year, year and a half at best. Lets save $54K and put it into our classrooms.


Chris S. said...

Thanks Rosiereader, you made my day. Apparently I'm only the second-most cynical person on earth.

My $0.02 is that Dr. E's primary asset is that she is oh-so-much-better than the worst superintendent on earth (and perhaps the second- and third- worst too!)

I don't see why a search has to be "national" and expensive.

Charlie Mas said...

I think we could skip the superintendent search and offer the position to Dr. Enfield if a few conditions are met.

1) The Board has to start doing their job. I wouldn't want any superintendent to work without proper supervision.

2) A really competent CFO needs to be hired. We need someone who will manage and control the money better than we have seen it done to date. We need someone who will clearly and honestly report.

3) Dr. Enfield needs to show some interest in cleaning out some of the "bad culture" folks in Teaching and Learning.

Dr. Enfield has done a lot of things that I really, really like... except in her own department.

Anonymous said...

Chris S, you made me laugh getting a mental image of SE as Boris S. Wart, only the 2nd meanest man in the world.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Actually, I think Susan Enfield WOULD stay. I think she wants to be a superintendent with roots. Sure, she may be ambitious and want a bigger playing field someday but I get the feeling she would be here at least 5 years.

If you think that by not doing a national search, money is going back into our classrooms, I have a bridge in Brooklyn for you. I think if the January Board decides on a search, the Alliance or someone else will kick in the money because of course they will want to "guide" the process.

Anonymous said...

Add to Charlie's list: Susan Enfield needs to clean out the "bad culture" people in special education. Hit-and-run special education directors have left the department with a bunch of do-nothing, know-nothing, care-nothing managers and cronies in the central office. Clear the deck.

-sped parent

Baron parker said...

Good step to manage of School.School management involves the need to manage the above, including the acquisition, control, accountability, responsibility, maintenance.

Association Management

Jack Whelan said...

I'm closer to "Been there done that' then I am to Charlie in my assessment of Enfield's performance.

I think at the very least a search should be undertaken in the hopes that we can find somebody who doesn't raise so many doubts, but it It could be that person doesn't exist.

Here's what that person would look like to me:

I think someone with local roots would be good, but a more important criteria for me is someone is who is not on this careerist trajectory. I'd like to find someone who would like to finish out his or her career here. I'd like someone older and wiser, someone with solid managerial experience, someone who understands how bureaucracies and budgets work, someone who has spent solid time in the classroom and as a principal. Someone who has good judgment about people and who can identify and promote leadership in the schools and competence in the JSCEE. And someone who gets that all this ed reform nonsense is just that--nonsense, something that has to be managed around until people come to their senses.

The reality is that the working on the board is part time and working as superintendent is full time, and that puts the board in a reactive posture. Better we get somebody in this critical position that the board doesn't have to fight on stupid things like TFA and critical things curriculum waivers. Somebody, in other words, who "gets" it. Right now, neither the board nor the superintendent get it, which doesn't mean they don't do some good things now and then.

I can live with Enfield, but I haven't given up hope that we can find somebody who does in fact "get it".

Anonymous said...

Some school districts find their Superintendent from within. An example is Sue Walker, Shoreline school Super. She started off teaching in Shoreline District in the mid 1970's, became a principal, and eventually moved over to management. She has been in that district for 30+ years, and is now in her 5th year as a Super. Perhaps our search could start with local candidates who have established ties to the community as they may stick around longer than 3 years.

Seattle mom

kala said...

I have had several conversations with Susan Enfield after different community meetings. Here are my impressions, which form the basis for my belief that we should keep her and skip the (expensive) national search. Warning: these are not sscientific reasons, but they may be reasons lots of people can relate to:

1. To one issue I brought up, she agreed, without censoring herself: "Oh, that is crap." I LOVE a person who isn't politicking every word, but is REAL. Oh, and then she acted on the concern, following up later, demonstrating she really sticks to her beliefs.

2. She really, really cares about kids. I have seen her talk about teaching and about kids and she becomes impassioned. There is a lot of love there. LOVE for me is the single highest indicator of passion, which is way more important to me than credentials, or X number yrs. sup. in Y type of city. Notable: the week after MGJ left and SE was put in place, she released some report or document or other thing and she emblazoned it with her own new tagline. In place of MGJ's tagline "every student achieving, everyone accountable" (I think that's what it was), SE had replaced it with something like "every student known, challenged, cared for." What a breath of fresh air!! I think we might all look back on our years in school and realize that we succeeded when we felt cared for by our teachers (even if that care looked like strictness/high standards/however).

3. This woman is sharp as SH*t. I think she's paring away bit by bit on the staff that are not contributing, or are blocks. Yes, she has a few more lemons to go, but I think she knows who they are and is biding her time.

4. At a meeting last spring SE said, when asked about a certain district budget cut, that it might turn out to be a mistake, although she believed it wouldn't and that there was good reason to do it. She said of the whole budget cutting process "We're going to make mistakes. If we do I will be back to acknowledge that to you." I found this refreshing-- here was a person who was willing to agree that she does NOT know everything. I DO wast a SI that can stand to be corrected.

5. Be careful what we wish for: this uber-political city has a high set of standards. If we do this expensive "search," we will no doubt come up with someone "perfect" on paper, someone perfectly against TFA, perfectly polished in the right political sense, perfectly credentialed. But will they lean down and hug the kindergartner? Will they call the family at home to express sympathy about something (I have heard where SE did)? Will they acknowledge the nuances of different viewpoints? Will they say, yes, parent, that was BS what your kid went through, and I'll help fix it?

We have a gem and no-one can be perfect and please everyone. I hope we can just keep Susan.

anonymous said...

Totally agree with Kala. I think Dr. E is doing a great job. She's not perfect, but then again no super would be. Plus has there ever been a superintendent that even came close to the approval of the chronic complainers on this blog? Um, no.

Plus if we take a minute to review our last national search, it is pretty dismal. It brought us, drum roll please..... MGJ. And it brought us two other finalists, one of whom dropped out of the game at the very last minute, and the other who received a very generous offer from SPS and turned it down. National searches are not the be all end all.

I'd skip it this time.

Concerned mom

seattle citizen said...

Kala wrote (quite passionately: My jury is still out about SE)
"If we do this expensive 'search,' we will no doubt come up with someone 'perfect' on paper, someone perfectly against TFA..."

I like THAT part; SE was in league with TFA and Stritikus, those emails are highly damning...

"...perfectly polished in the right political sense, perfectly credentialed. But will they lean down and hug the kindergartner?"


"...Will they call the family at home to express sympathy about something (I have heard where SE did)? Will they acknowledge the nuances of different viewpoints? Will they say, yes, parent, that was BS what your kid went through, and I'll help fix it?"

Why wouldn't they? The first part of your comment was quite persuasive, but the parts above...well, lots of people love kids, hug them, call parents...

There is much that SE has done well. The TFA charade is a big problem for me. As I said, my jury is still out...

Kate Martin said...

Susan Enfield is a soldier for the failed ed reform agenda that robs high achievers down to lowest alike with the bubble test prep script.

For goodness sakes, many classrooms don't even have books and teachers and parent volunteers have to break copyright to xerox pages by chapter which cost about 4x what actual books would cost. Meanwhile we're spending millions on bubble test prep and testing.

We are adding 1000 students a year. We can't staff with 3 year formulas.

She has surrounded herself with mediocre to inadequate talent in the way of regional executive directors, refuses to do a fact check of resumes of those folks she has hired and only holds principals "accountable" to bubble test bumping.

She fails to correct the curriculum inadequacies in any perceivable way and will never close the achievement gap, but will actually make it worse, because she buys the drill 'em for bubble test agenda.

We don't need bubble test bumpers.

We have money for real teaching, real learning and real conversations with families about how to supplement and navigate public education.

APP and Spectrum are not even the beginning of challenging students.

We must stop punishing families who prepare their students for school and who cultivate them each and every day of each and every year.

Remedial is one type of classroom. We don't need to dumb down every classroom with remedial. We can't shove all of our "average students" into that milieu.

Susan Enfield does not have a vision for the best schools in the nation - which is what Seattle should be shooting for - but instead she has another tired story about the achievement gap. Yuk.

I'm tired of students being held back by such programs that only deal with one segment of the student population. All students need attention and challenges. All student deserve inspiration. Many are bored out of their minds in these classrooms.

I would like a superintendent who is willing to recognize the individual needs of students and who understand the difference between standards and standardization.

Dorothy Neville said...

FWIW, it is the state that pays the district based on three year rolling average enrollment. Some are trying to change that, but it is a double edged sword, since it protects districts when enrollment declines.

anonymous said...

Here we go again, Kate firing off at the mouth, impulsively lashing out.....in print. Sticking her owm foot in her mouth, unable to put her agenda aside for even a moment to consider the many diverse opinions expressed in this thread (opinions of the very constituents she would be representing). There is no way she should have a seat on any board, much less the SPS board.. She needs to stick to her activism.


WenD said...
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WenD said...
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WenD said...

anonymous: Diverse opinions are diverse opinions. If you disagree with Kate Martin, or anyone else, isn't that diversity of opinion? She gave her reasons, backed up her opinion, while you have done nothing but attack. You're veering into troll country so please, start framing your argument.

RE: the question, I'm with Citizen. Jury is out, primarily due to Enfield's collusion in supporting TFA even though there isn't a valid reason to support them. She might have other remarkable qualities but what do teachers think of her? I agree with the sentiment that SE presents a healthier persona than MGJ, but she's continuing the work MGJ started, and all the while this board, just like the last board, and the one before that one, go merrily along. Where did that money go? We don't know, but we'll give you a vote of confidence.

Melissa and others have pointed out that it's impossible to address the biggest problems in a district when you're blundering from crisis to crisis, repeating the same mistakes over and over again. For those who say they're happy and describe critics as a minority, like there's something wrong with them, the rest of us are fine, I think it's fair to be asked define what "happy" means to you in the face of the crisis that never goes away.

seattle citizen said...

anon Mom, I'm with WenD - Kate speaks (writes) passionately - A good thing. Others on this thread have said that SE is passionate about kids - It's okay for her but not Kate?

I think it's a GOOD thing that Ms. Martin is willing to write passionately...in print...and put her honest beliefs out there, unlike some who merely say/write what they think people want to hear and then do something completely different, which seems to be a pattern with the incumbents....

Additionally, Kate, like all of us, doesn't know it all, but is willing to voice what she believes and throw the ideas out there for discussion. She learns new things when she might not have all the information this way. Also a good thing.

anonymous said...
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anonymous said...

"Others on this thread have said that SE is passionate about kids - It's okay for her but not Kate?"

Yes, of course it is OK for the public to speak their opinion.
A board director on the other hand does not have the same freedom. Directors are elected not to forward their own agendas, but to represent their constituents. Their job is to be the eyes and ears of their community. Their job is to hear and consider what their constituents bring forward, no matter how diverse, and with an open mind. Clearly Kate doesn't do that. She has her own opinion, and she's sticking with it. She didn't even address the many posts in this thread that supported Dr. Enfield and didn't think a SI search was in our best interest. When you like her opinion, SC and WenD, that's great. But how will you like it when you are on an opposite side of an issue with Kate, and she doesn't want to hear what you, or others have to say. Think about that for a few minutes before you reply. Really, think about it. It is a directors job to put their own agendas aside and represent the people that elected them. If Kate wants to fulfill her your own agenda, she should go for it, but as an activist, not a board director.


anonymous said...

Kate isn't even on the board yet and she's attacking Dr. Enfield. Calling her an ed reformer, accusing her of surrounding herself with inadequate talent, making the achievement gap worse....

She will not be able to get anything done with that type of attitude. Nobody will want to work with her and she will alienate herself and become ineffective.

Not my cup of tea.


Lori said...

Well said, Mom. I share your concerns.

SeattleCitizen, you wrote, "[Kate] learns new things when she might not have all the information this way. Also a good thing."

Can you or anyone give some specific examples of a time that Kate was swayed from her original position after learning new information? I just haven't seen evidence of this yet. She comes across as having very rigid opinions and not being concerned if she alienates people with those opinions. Someone wrote on another thread that she listens to people she respects, which I'm not entirely sure what that means, but I worry that she only respects people who agree with her. Not good when you need to represent a diverse constituency.

Best I can tell, her main issue is the plight of the average student in SPS today, and perhaps we do need to have a conversation about this issue. I never got the sense at our neighborhood school that the majority of parents felt that their children weren't being educated or that outlier kids were dragging down the learning opportunities as Kate has asserted numerous times.

Do most parents want ELL and SpEd kids removed from their "average" kids' classes? Is that who Kate suggests be put into the "remedial classes" she mentions in this thread? If not, what exactly is her solution? How does she propose raising the bar for "average" kids? Surely with such strong opinions, she should have some equally strong solutions to offer. What are they?

Anonymous said...

Here's the rub mom and Lori. If you believe Board members should represent the constituents of their community, then have our incumbents done a worthy job of that? It is a question that has bogged me down in this race between Ms. Martin and Ms. Carr. Ms. Carr has voted to support the district in almost all their endeavours. If you believe the district has done all the right thing, then yes, you should vote for Ms. Carr. If you have concerns about the district and its future and where it has been in the past 4 years, then the decision is not an easy one.

Another mom

Melissa Westbrook said...

"Their job is to be the eyes and ears of their community."

True and Charlie consistently points this out. Sadly, the incumbents running don't seem to do that. I'm with Charlie; when was the last time you hear a Board member (outside of Kay) say, "My constituents tell me..."

They listen but I have never received a firm answer about how they use input they receive. It's enough to sit at a table and listen and nod.

Lori, the example I can think of when Kate changed her opinion (or said she was not fully informed and was wrong in her opinion) is her letter to the Times some years back about advanced learning. She admits now that she didn't have enough information and has gone out and sought to be better informed.

dan dempsey said...

On Friday Oct 14 .... an official answer was delivered in regard to this question:

- What do you think the Board would need to see between now and January (when the decision has to be made to conduct a search) from Dr. Enfield that would convince the Board they don't need to a search?

The proposed School Board Action report, which claims to be delivering an evaluation instrument lists only three items:

10. (*) Convene a district/community task force to review discipline practices and reduce rates of long-term, out-of-school suspensions.

11. (*) Develop an instructional materials waiver policy.

12. (*) Develop and implement an intermediate capacity management plan and proposed long-term planning to manage increasing enrollment.

..... It seems that this goals document was found to be an evaluation instrument by the Executive committee.

Tune in on Wednesday October 19 to see if the Board approves this one meeting (intro/action) item.