Crosscut Article about Seattle School Board (the new one)

I had an article published in today's Crosscut about the elections and what is on the to-do list for our new Board.

In it I mention the issue of deciding about whether there will be a superintendent search or not.  I have learned today that Dr. Enfield will not apply if the Board does decide to conduct a search.  

I don't quite know what to make of that because it is not a ding against Dr. Enfield to have a search.   If she feels that way, then maybe she isn't the person for the job.  The Board's overriding duty is to make sure we have the best person in place for OUR district. 

She was appointed interim superintendent in the midst of a crisis as the best person at the time but there were surely no guarantees made so I don't know why she would feel if they create a search it hurts her.

My belief is that even as she has put on a more accessible and friendly public face for SPS and calmed the waters after the exit of MGJ, she certainly hasn't had time to prove that she (and she alone) is the best person for the job.  Having Dr. Enfield explain that to the Board doesn't seem to be a big ask on their part.

(FYI, the oath of office for the newly elected/returning Board members is Wednesday, November 30th from 4-5p.m.  It is generally a short affair with a small reception afterwards.  The public is welcome.  Immediately following that is their first Work Session on Nutrition and Advertising Policies followed by a second Work Session on Athletics followed by a third Work Session on Nutrition Services.  Yes, this sounds wacky to me but it's what's up on the website.)


Anonymous said…

I'm curious, where did you learn that SE will NOT apply if the search is national? I always appreciate when sources are cited, even if it's "a sounce close to XX who wishes to remain anonymous."


Can't say, sorry. If my source is wrong, I'm sure Dr. Enfield will let us know.
Anonymous said…
Understanding the school calendar and how long it takes to do a national search, I can understand if Dr. Enfield would not apply if there is a national search. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. Why wait until the summer to be announced that you are not the finalist when you can fairly easily get another job else where.

A friend of Seattle
Anonymous said…
I read the article Melissa. Although I agree with you, I think your tone is rather condescending.

The Board is elected by the public and they have the authority to carry out the district's affairs as they best see fit. Your article had the tone that if the Board didn't do it your way, then they have failed. It read like you are positioning yourself to say, "I told you so" and doesn't leave much room for input, creativity and synthisis.

A Friend of Seattle
Steve said…
Good article Melissa, and unlike one of the commenters, I didn't think it was condescending at all.

I do find it strange that Dr. Enfield would say she won't be included in the search if there is one (and I hope there is). If she's doing this to impact the board's decision about the search, it's a very hard-line thing to do.
mirmac1 said…
I'm not sure that another short stint, to add to the other short stints, would be much of a resume-builder for her.
Anonymous said…
Get ready for the outcry from The Alliance, LEV and Downtownies that We Could Not Possibly Ever Ever Ever find an equally good superintendent in a search.

Damn the Torpedos! In the name of "Stability" Full Steam Ahead on the Good Ship Enfield.

"Just Waiting For Lynne Varner's Editorial On This Piece of Executive Powerplay Brinkmanship"
Chris S. said…
Friend, she can apply and decide not to wait around if she wants. It's the Announcing Ahead of Time, if she did say that, that smacks of bluffing and bullying and why would she need to do that if she's the real thing? Plus, it makes it sound like this isn't her dream job, which is, um, not something you'd let slip in an interview situation.

I'll wait and see what comes out. This is pretty puzzling because she does have some community goodwill (although she really needs to get the teachers some workplace massage facilities - that's a joke folks BTW.)

Ironically, whie I had been very disappointed in her TFA actions, I got a tiny tidbit of info which makes me thinks she really is trying to strike a balance.

After the election party, we'll get some popcorn to watch this one play out along with Mr. Potter's trial...
Anonymous said…
If true, maybe she'll backtrack on that decision too...
Anonymous said…
Frankly, why not leave well enough alone and let Enfield have an extension to prove herself.

Don't we have enough change and brouhaha going on already? Being that she is doing a better job than MGJ, in my opinion, and will have a new and different board to acclimate to, I do not understand why we would jam her and the SI search onto an already challenging and ambitious calendar.

I do not see any crisis created by leaving Enfield in place and seeing how things proceed for a little while. The last go-round showed that at best, we'll have a 50-50 chance of doing better.

Solution looking for a problem IMHO. WSDWG
StopTFA said…
Why not? Because she is dishonest.

"But on 9/6 she said the TFA donors are a group of private citizens, then on 9/9 her deputy says there are no donors. Which is it?"
Anonymous said…
Before anyone gets upset just remember that this has not been confirmed. Dr. Enfield has NOT said that she would not apply if there were a search. Melissa has posted information from an "unnamed source" in a public forum. It is pure speculation - so take it FWIW, which at this point is not much.

StopTFA said…
Perhaps Melissa's unnamed source knows the "group of private citizens". Both sides can play cloak and dagger.
Anonymous said…
And I totally agree with WSDWG. Enough churn. Lets let things settle for awhile. We could do a 1 year contract, and take a wait and see approach.

Anonymous said…
@StopTFA: I know she's been misleading and deliberately evasive, if not obstinate at times, for political reasons. But we know the SI slot is inherently political right now. Not to excuse her, but she's had masters to please, right? And they're not going anywhere soon.

Susan has stumbled, said some dumb things, yes, even lied/stalled/evaded, whatever you want to call it pertaining to TFA, but, she also got called on it by DeBell, who then turned right around and voted in favor of TFA anyways, as did other Board members. So when she misbehaves, doesn't the board drop the ball by letting her get away with it? Wasn't the bigger problem this board?

Now, we have a different board, and hopefully a more sincere & caring board, who won't satisfy themselves so easily that their means justify their ends, as the last one did, time and time again. If they're true to what they campaigned on, they can reign in the SI.

A rogue SI is the Board's fault in the end. So, with a new board, hows about we give it a chance. I don't see much more to lose, as there aren't many honest, ethical SI's out there in the unemployment lines or job-seeking at this time. Look what we got last time! WSDWG
Friend, I'm not sure I understand your timeline. If they announced a search in January, took applications thru Feb? and then announced finalists in March, it wouldn't be that long. Why do you suspect it would be longer?

Yes, a one-year contract with Dr. Enfield could work as well. But it would have to be on the understanding that the Board leaves open the option to launch a search if they want to do so.

Speculation? That's one way to look at it and you're right - I didn't hear this directly from Dr. Enfield so I'll ask her. I think I know what her reply will be. (Otherwise she is telling different things to different people.)
Anonymous said…
I mean their ends justify their means.

As Rick Perry would say: "OOPS!"

Future Pres. Perry: "Oh! What button did I just push? OOPS!" WSDWG

WV says I got my "nuetro" on, apparently.
Anonymous said…
By my count, doesn't much matter what this blog or the community thinks. SE already has majority board support. Smith-Blum, Carr, Martin-Morris and DeBell have all said they like her. That's 4 of 7. Patu doesn't seem to like her. The 2 challengers campaigned on wanting a national search but look for 1 or both to flip when the other 4 get their lobbying game on behind closed doors. Not that it matters with 4 votes already.

Anonymous said…
And I highly doubt the board will offer only a 1 year contract. 3 years is standard. So once we say yes, that's it unless we do an MGJ-style buyout. And there would be mass pressure not to do that from the usual suspects.

StopTFA said…
Taking off the TFA hat here, how can we tolerate someone who is not open and transparent, who has demonstrated she will say one thing and do another, as a superintendent?

WSDWG, you are much more tolerant than I am. Yes, I was hoping she was the real deal, but much evidence would indicate otherwise. I truly believe that staff ethics will mirror their leader's. Oh, and I agree about the Board dropping the ball.

As for DeBelle "liking" her, he has shown that he can be a methodical, dispassionate thinker, and will not necessary take a direction because of BFF relationships. If he will be president again (and I think he should and will), does he think he can manage someone who says one thing, does another, then changes her mind?
Anonymous said…

How do you know Director Patu doesn't like her? Also does liking her means the other directors you mentioned want her to be the permanent Super? Is that a sure bet?

skeptical 2 (too)
Anonymous said…
I was just saying that IF there is a national search, the soonest you can probably select someone is April 1 given that the job posting will likely close at the end of Jan or mid Feb, Feb is for interviews, March is for visiting and decision making. MGJ was announced in 4/4/07 (per ST) and they started their search sooner.

A friend of Seattle
someone said…
Melissa - with all due respect, until the person in question comes out and publically says "I won't compete in a national search" then yes, it's speculation - you are the only one who knows if your "source" is a reliable one - others have to take it at face value, for now.

I can't see why someone who clearly wants to be in a power position would choose not to compete for their own job - but I can "speculate" on lots of possible reasons. A bluff begging to be called? Gamesmanship? Arrogance? Fear? Who knows! It's an...interesting tactic. Time will tell, I'm sure.
Jack Whelan said…
I will admit that I am very impressed with SE, and I want to like her--she's very talented, and it would be great to channel her intelligence and energy in the struggle to set things right in this district. But she has to prove that she can work with the new board that is not likely to be a compliant as the last one.

I have big, big, unanswered questions about her agenda, both for the district and for her own career ambitions. And that's why this news about her not applying if there's a search is very disturbing.

Or maybe not. This strikes me as careerist gamesmanship. She knows she has broad popularity in the district and has most of the board in her pocket; the board has been pliable in the past, why not this last maneuver to force its hand. It's as if she's sayin, "Do you really want to risk losing me?"

I was at a point before hearing this where I would have supported offering her a one-year contract with clear stipulations, but now I think she's force the board to show her who's boss. They have to open up a search process.
Jan said…
I like some of Dr. Enfields decisions and dislike others (which is likely to be the case with anyone -- so I don't hold that against her). I am concerned about some incidents where I don't feel she has been forthright and well-grounded, but then have to recall that she was compelled to swim in a veritable cesspool of favoritism, retaliation, and duplicity for at least the time she was working under MGJ (I don't know about her previous workplaces) so it is not necessarily indicative of whether she can be the Superintendent we need. I think Kay likes her, and I assume Harium does. I think DeBell has some real concerns about the whole Strategic Plan and how little has been accomplished during his time on the board -- on some big things that were top priorities (closing the achievement gap, raising percentages on state tests, etc.) and I don't know what his thinking might be on the best way to move forward.

In hindsight, it might have been nice had the District told her -- gee, we are likely to do a Superintendent search, and we would like you to be a candidate. We would also like you to serve as the Interim Superintendent, but perhaps not if that would leave you unwilling to participate as a candidate in the later Superintendent search (i.e. -- the second stage is more important to us than the first, so tell us now if your feelings would be so hurt by a search later that we should find a "true" interim now -- and keep you out of it).

In the end -- Melissa's source is unknown. Dr. Enfield hasn't stated this -- and I think the Board, and the community, need to proceed as if she would be happy, if she really wants to serve here, to be a candidate in the search process. On the whole -- I think her stint as Interim Superintendent has helped her candidacy (very little good academically was happening on her watch as CAO -- but I think a good chunk of that was the fault of MGJ and the staff, and that Dr. Enfield was pretty much required to play the hand she was dealt.)

Jan said…
If a majority of the Board would like to explore a search, I guess they had better sit down and talk to her, and get a clear decision. If she will stay in -- they should go ahead and do the search -- she is already a pretty clear front runner if they do, because we certainly know that we could do a lot worse.

If she says she's out -- then I think they need to have a serious discussion about what they want in a director (in terms of management style, objectives, process issues (community engagement, staff follow through, continued influence of privately financed groups with agendas, like LEV, etc.). If she is on board, then be sure the critical stuff is baked into the contract and go. If it is not -- or if the Board feels they just don't want their hand "played for them" by an ultimatum --- they will have learned a heck of a lot in the process, and should just get on with the search. Presumably, she would be free to change her mind at that point (though a good deal of currently-existing board good-will might have been wasted).
Bird said…
While I agree it would be nice to retain Enfield for continuity and stability, I'm going to have to agree with StopTFA on this one.

I have mixed feelings about the job Enfield's done so far, and certainly a lot of trepidation that a search would land us a worse superintendent.

But in the end, the district staff culture has shown a lot of dissembling and dishonesty recently. It severely interferes with the oversight and efficient management of the district.

I'm sure a lot of that was an outgrowth of the tone Maria Goodloe-Johnson set since she was anything but forthright.

But it is clear that Enfield lied to the board when she said they had donors for TFA. If that was the only lie in her tenure it might not matter much, but at this point we need someone who is a paragon of honesty to head the district in order to set the culture straight. Enfield's not that person.

Also I'd love is to find a superintendent of limited ambition. Someone who put the needs of students before their own career needs. The whole TFA stink around Enfield also says she's not that person.

TFA comes to Seattle Public Schools at a cost, a cost born by students. The benefit accrues to the career climber who lets them in rather than the kids who take them on. Where else will Enfield sell out the interest of kids in favor of pleasing the edu-industry movers and shakers?

I wish integrity were something we could take as a given in anyone serving as superintendent. Maria Goodloe-Johnson showed us that that's not the case. There were plenty of warning signs about her before she was hired.

I don't want to make the same mistake twice.
Jan said…
By the way, Melissa -- I got sidetracked by the debate on the superintendent search -- but good article!
Anonymous said…
I am not a fan of Dr. Enfield. She was the former academic officer in charge of curriculum, which expanded upon the inquiry-based math program. These textbooks are needlessly complex, offer no examples and do not prepare students for college. According to a WSU study, over 30% of our students are testing into remedial math.

I would like a superintendent who does not have to defend her record and would be open to better textbooks. That isn’t going to be Enfield.
Jan said…
Bird says: "But it is clear that Enfield lied to the board when she said they had donors for TFA."

Is it, Bird? I mean, I guess it is, because she said it -- and they didn't (actually have the commitments). But did she honestly think, at that point, that she had lined up commitments from folks who then later just didn't come through? (If so, it isn't great, but it may be more a matter of learning not to "overcommit to your bosses" in public, based on verbal commitments from people who don't follow through" rather than an out-and-out attempt to deceive ("I know full well I have no clue whether I have any commitments, but I am going to say I do anyhow.") To me, those are very different things -- though neither is good. I particularly wonder if here the commitments may have dissolved when the donors found out they couldn't keep their identities secret -- which Dr. Enfield presumably wouldn't have known when she made her statement. Now that I have read that some of the private folks funding the "failing school" district that MGJ is working at in Michigan have been promised that they can fund anonymously, and their identities won't be revealed -- well, it is obvious out there that a lot of Ed Reform really wants to do its work, wield its influence, etc. in the dark. It may be that firm oral commitments "dissolved" when faced with the threat of daylight.

If there was ever a discussion (here or elsewhere) on exactly what DID happen to those donors, and to the necessity of paying the $4000 if no donor stepped up -- I never read it. Did I miss something?
Kathy said…
Truth and transparency is a must. Based on Stop TfA's link- I have serious concerns.
anonymous said…
There was a clause in the TFA contract that said that if SPS did not get donors they could cancel the the contract. The contract clearly stated that SPS would not pay for any part of the TFA fees.

The contract is public, read it.

mommy dearest
StopTFA said…

A full year beforehand, Enfield and TFA's Ortega or trying to figure out to not reveal to the Board and everyone that TFA was essentially planning on waiving the fee (but didnt want FWPS and other partners to know). That would reveal the true worth of the kind of TFA "training" they provide: a big fat zero.

"Janis, how do we talk about the funding stream!?"

No wonder she was hedging...
cascade said…
Enfield's out in the community, truly seems to care about kids, has a positive attitude. All good.

Enfield's curriculum rollouts math, science, language arts, not good at all.

Enfield has rightly backed down on some bad public blunders. The most recent being Harium's proposal to crack down on free speech in high school newspapers. The Floe firing was the big one. But...the blunders happened in the first place on her watch.

She is polite and accommodating to all, but her BFFs are still The Alliance and a whole bunch of the Big Ed Reform crowd.

She wants this job and knows the District after serving a while. But is she also on the hunt for climbing the career ladder?

We could do a lot worse. We could also do better.
anonymous said…
Do you mean the Alliance For Education? Who is hosting the after high school fair at Seattle Center tomorrow? Who Melissa just suggested fund the Super search?

If the Alliance is the devil then why would Melissa want them to fund an SPS super search?

seattle citizen said…
I want the Alliance to do what it set out to do years ago: Support Seattle Public Schools via fundraising for district needs.

It has become a Gates conduit for Gates Reform.

I would be happy if the Alliance raised money to help with a superintendent search. I am not happy that it "raises money" from Gates (who willingly gives it to them believe me) to fund Gates initiatives that are national Reform models and not grown here in Seattle for Seattle's needs.

The Alliance used to be an honorable organization, helping out SPS. It has become an organ of the national Reform agents (Gates, Broad, Walton, et al) that funds national reform (and creates bogus astroturf "coalitions" as spin-offs of itself, i.e. the "Our Schools Coalition," in order to further Reform agenda points.

Superintendent searches: Yes.
National Reform agent: No.
StopTFA said…
Yes, Alliance for Education. Jon Bridge, of Ben Bridge silver spoon fame, is on the Board of Directors. He had this direction to hand down to his lackey Susan Enfield:

"Teachers don't matter at all with the vast majority of voters."

Obviously, HIS vote matters more than the rest of us.
anonymous said…
That's not the way the real world works SC. Organizations do not fork over dollars and expect nothing in return. You can either take their dollars with their strings attached, or you can refuse their dollars. But you can't take their money and then tell them to go f*** themselves. That's just nasty.

seattle citizen said…
my2cents, it WOULD be nasty to tell anyone to do the thing you suggested.

I wouldn't do that. I was merely saying that my preference in organizations is those that help the district and the community, not those that are funded and manipulated by national reformers who are damaging education.

I don't get your point: Did I tell the Aliance to what you said? No, you merely commented that I had, somehow, just another case of making a commenter look bad in order to avoid having to deal with actually responding with a cogent rebuttal.

Sort of what Varner tried to do with Ravitch today. Didn't you learn a lesson from that?

The Alliance has become the organ of Gates. Simple as that. I wish they hadn't gone to the dark side, but there you have it.

As a voter, who elects my board, I voted for board directors who would be much more reticent to suck from the corporate teat. Perhaps, via my board members, I WILL get to tell the Alliance to take its Gates money elsewhere.
Juana said…
If it is true that Enfield would not apply if the Board decides on a superintendent search, then it seems to be a subtle sort of ultimatum from unproven employee. As academent chief officer, I waited for her to make significant marks in that position. As acting superintendent, I'm troubled by her position using TFA as a rule rather than an extraordinary option and by her backpedaling in the face of public outcry.
Jan said…
mommie dearest: thanks for your advice. I DID go back and reread the TfA contract -- and the language was stronger than I had recalled (don't know if I only read the earlier version, or just forgot it), but the draft version I read today (unsigned, so I don't know for sure if this is final) reads: Sec III A.i: . . . .All fee payments called for in this Agreement are contingent upon Seattle Public Schools receiving private donations to make such payments. Seattle Public Schools shall have no obligation to make any payments to Teach for America for fees except to the extent of private funds received specifically for such purpose. .

The other thing I had forgotten was Melissa's earlier post on the source of funding. From the district press release:. . . . The Seattle Foundation will cover the $4,000 fee per teacher paid to TFA– an estimated $20,000 total.
My2cents, who said the Alliance is the devil? Not me.

And what is this "take their money and..."? Who said that? The Alliance WAS set-up to directly support SPS and not to be an organization to try to direct the district. That it has morphed into something else than what it originally was doesn't mean it is a bad group. It's just different.

Yes, SPS has quite the specific contract with TFA (and I'd bet TFA does NOT want other districts to know this).

The fact remains that we only got money for a year (and you'd think if donors thought this such a great thing they would have ponied up for the full two). It is interesting that the Bezos Foundation had questioned whether SPS had "skin in the game" because SPS wasn't paying part of the fees.

I guess we could keep the TFA teachers for year two without paying the fees but I have no idea if TFA would want them to stay.

I'm sure they are busily rewriting the contract but I can't see the district changing it much. I think with the newly constituted Board, it is even less likely.
Jan said…
My2cents says: That's not the way the real world works SC. Organizations do not fork over dollars and expect nothing in return. You can either take their dollars with their strings attached, or you can refuse their dollars.

Well, yes and no. Foundations and wealthy benefactors give money all the time -- some with strings attached, and some not. And you are correct that the recipient has the obligation to honor the donor's intent. If I give SAM money to buy a Renoir, they can't use it for a giant two-week employee party on the Norwegian Princess. On the other hand, if they don't WANT a Renoir, they decline the donation, or come talk to me and see if they can convince me to maybe switch to the acquisition of art generally, or their capital campaign, or whatever. And certainly, if my donation requires that they provide matching funds for Renoir purchases, or that they host a huge Renoir retrospective (featuring the painting I fund, plus 30 others that they arrange to borrow at their expense), they darn well better turn me down, unless a giant Renoir exhibit was already in their long term plans and budget.

Where public education has gone astray is by allowing donors to "give" them money for things -- but the "strings" are always the provision of lots of public money (and District time) for stuff we really don't want -- or have not properly evaluated. They try to convince us of their generosity --or that we are getting "free" stuff (whee, who doesn't like "free stuff") when we are not -- we are spending ourselves into penury chasing all their faux ed tennis balls. Just ask all the annoyed schools that spent thousands and thousands of dollars transforming themselves into "small academies" for Bill Gates, before he lost interest and dropped that "toy" and moved on to the next shiny bauble.

We have flipped around who should be in charge. The District should figure out what it wants (not what others want to bankroll) and then go looking for donor organizations that want to support what the District wants to do.

The big Ed Reform donors know that -- until they can engineer private take overs of Districts (like the new one in Detroit that Broad and others 'bought," and can do whatever they now want with --including hiring MGJ to help run it), they have to "get the elected officials to decide to buy what they are selling" -- so they are out there with a truly incredible PR machine, attempting to convince us that we want/need TfA, MAP and other high frequency, expensive, high stakes tests, for-profit or other Big Ed reform charters run by expensive charter management organizations, lots of Bid Ed consultants, on-line education farmed out to for-profit or Big Ed on-line ed companies, etc. etc. etc. If they can't convince the local school boards, they look/hope for a "take over" by mayors or governors (the higher you go up the election ladder, the more expensive the elections are, and the easier it is to "buy" the actions of the elected officials by bankrolling them).

It's like accepting down payment money from your parents and then finding out they want to pick out the house, and the wall color and the furniture. Hmm. Shouda asked first, I guess, what the "price" of the money was.
Jan said…
And RttT is EXACTLY the same thing -- except with a Federal "mommy" calling the shots. There are states that have figured this out -- and said -- no thanks. I wish we would as well.

And Melissa is right. When it was founded, the point of the Alliance was to serve the District. They were supposed to be a great way to aggregate giving to the District, fund raising, etc. -- But the purposes to which money was put was to have been set by the District.

I suspect they got out there in "fund raising" land, and were simply co-opted by the big Ed Reform money sources. "Psst! Over here! We have LOTS of money to give you. All you need to do is go back and convince your District that what they really want to do is .... etc. etc. etc."
Anonymous said…

Looked at Stop TFA's link and (s)he has come up with the biggest doozy yet from Jon Bridge, paragon of the downtown Ed Reform crowd and Alliance stalwart, in the name of plowing forward with TFA (and apparently still plotting how to hide the donors. Read the post!):

Intones John:

"Melissa and the teachers don't matter at all with the vast majority of voters."

Let's start with Melissa and Charlie, featured in last month's Seattle Mag as city movers and shakers. True, most voters don't know who they are. But if Jon Bridge thinks this blog isn't driving public opinion about SPS via 3rd and 4th-hand discussions, then he can go on living in his priveliged white tower and wonder why SPS always has a bad reputation. John, dude, shed the paternalism and try talking to community members outside your cocktail groups. We get it that you've donated early and often to education. Great and good. But leave the patrician attitude at the door of your nearest public school.

As for his attitude to our teachers, which are a whole lot more dear to most voters than the (@#&@*&# Alliance's opinion: Let's assume that his quote will be in the hands of the SEA yet tonight, and widely distributed to area teachers shortly thereafter.

The man has just done himself, and Enfield, an amazing disservice. Amazing. Amazing. Amazing.

AND...LMFAO: WV says "pricksy"
Anonymous said…
For many of you in the bottom 99%, who've had normal life experiences of lots of jobs - not the relatively few of you who have had a few jobs over decades - you tell your boss something like this, and they throw you out.

This just proves the ridiculous out of touch air some live in.

I know it is Seattle and the most ridiculous staffing positions take months - unlike the Northeast or Southern California, where this kind of putzing around would mean you never hire anyone good because they don't wait for putzes - there is 9 to 20% unemployment, depending on which set of statistical lies you believe -

any group who can't do this search in 3 months should themselves be fired.

Anonymous said…
For many of you in the bottom 99%, who've had normal life experiences of lots of jobs - not the relatively few of you who have had a few jobs over decades - you tell your boss something like this, and they throw you out.

This just proves the ridiculous out of touch air some live in.

I know it is Seattle and the most ridiculous staffing positions take months - unlike the Northeast or Southern California, where this kind of putzing around would mean you never hire anyone good because they don't wait for putzes - there is 9 to 20% unemployment, depending on which set of statistical lies you believe -

any group who can't do this search in 3 months should themselves be fired.

seattle citizen said…
Jan, the fact that my house is painted puce with heliotrope trim has NOTHING to do with those being the school colors of my mom's school.

On a more serious note, I'm afraid that it's worse than Gates whsipering in the ear of the Alliance to get Gates stuff done at district. There is collusion on all levels: Our Broadie ex-superintendent, certain city council members, deep pockets besides Gates here in the city, co-opted minority groups, and yes, the Feds, who aren't the Feds anymore, they're also agents of reform. Arne Duncan's experience as an "educator" was when he worked for Ariel Investment Corp. in Chicago, which spun off a tax write-off called Ariel Charter, which was/is a K-8 charter themed around, wait for it, investment.

Obama liked what Arne was doing "for the kids" and brought him along to DC.

The Feds are run by the Reformers, that's why Ravitch bailed.

So it's not just Gates telling the Alliance to tell the district what Gates wants them to do: It's a mess o' players, some good-intentioned and naive, others merely bucking for the big bucks, all fropping down from above to tell us "ordinary people" (to quote Varner, another Reform mouthpiece) what we will do.

It's a sort of soft conspiracy, developed over time, using standardized test scores to leverage power and money. Some of the fears are real (minorities and poor people DON'T do as well on the tests) but the use to which the information is put is far from benign, and is orchestrated at such places as the Aspen Institute and in other Olympian hang-outs of our gods mammon and hubris.
Dorothy Neville said…
The Alliance does not hide that it considers itself a force for setting policy and influencing the district. See their 2010 Fast Facts

And check their list of proud results.
StopTFA said…
What is truly ludicrous is that SPS actually PAYS the Alliance, for "“sponsorship”, “project oversight”, “fiscal agency”, “cost recovery”, “indirect costs”, “administrative costs”, etc. So these philanthropists charge SPS a fee for their generosity. The non-profit "industry" has become a lucrative enterprise for a lot of people who have no knowledge or experience in education best practices. But, hey, their vote counts more.
Anonymous said…
Jon Bridge's post proves

1) Seattle HQ fears this blog. Hates it too, probably. Good.

2) Jon Bridge will never, ever have credibility with frontline teachers in this town again. What he said is akin to a battle cry, if the SEA is smart enough to rally around it. (Current leadership is not all that smart IMHO. But don't let that detract from Jon Bridge showing his true colors - disdain for teachers.)

3) Anyone know Diane Ravitch? Sure she'd love this quote for her blog.

Educator's Offspring
Dorothy Neville said…
Not five minutes after I posted that last comment, I got a call from the Alliance! They are asking for money. I asked the nice young lady on the phone if she had heard about Jon Bridge's email stating that voters don't care about teachers. She was taken aback and said no.

I suggest that any of you who get a call (and if you have ever given to your school using Alliance as depositor, you will be called) to ask the nice voice on the phone why we should fund an organization that declares its mission is to set policy for the district? Isn't that what the elected board is for?
anonymous said…
Well why in the world would Melissa want the Alliance to fund the super search if they are up to such not good?

Jan said…
Well, Dorothy -- I'll be damned. On the page you linked to, they close with this (just in case folks hadn't figured it out):

"How is the Alliance different from other Local Education Funds?. . . .
Many other cities have school foundations or Local Education Funds. These organizations typically raise money and transfer it directly to the school district they assist. The Alliance takes a more active role – bringing both
dollars and a point of view – to Seattle Public Schools."

So! Their gig is: you hire us to fund-raise and collect the money for you -- AND we will hand it to you -- and tell you how to spend it!

Not sure I know of ANY other "fund raising" arm of an entity, public or private, that tries to usurp the authority of the beneficiary's board to tell it what to do. Pretty nice work, if you can get it.

Should the District continue to pay these guys for this?
Jan said…
my2cents: I totally agree. Melissa is wrong on this. The District should not hire the Alliance to do anything for it. The District should sever all ties to the Alliance -- and District families and donors should be steered to alternate, more appropriate ways to funnel their money to the District.
seattle citizen said…
my2cents, the last time you asked this, I tried to reply that the Alliance COULD do good work: Like it used to, it could solicit funds to help with DISTRICT initiated needs. So it would be great if the Alliance helped with a superintendent search.

There are district-initiated, community-desired activities the Alliance could help with - That's how I read Melissa's comment. But she will have to speak for herself. Pretty straight forward to me, tho':
District-initiated: Good.
National Reformers-initiated: Bad.

The Alliance was a local organization, supporting district efforts. Now it's a national reformer organization supporting Gates (and others) efforts. One would hope they could return to their roots by again supporting district efforts.

But then, if Jon Bridges, of the Alliance, tells Superintendent Enfield that "Melissa and the teachers don't matter at all with the vast majority of voters" I guess we won't be seeing that support of the district anytime soon - The district IS citizens like Melissa and its staff, not the plaything of the Gares-Alliance-Coalition. Jon evidently disagrees.
cascade said…
Hadn't looked at The Alliance site in a while. It has posted a Hire Enfield Now memo.

I have no problem with The Alliance taking this stand. It is their right as their self-defined advocacy organization.

I also disagree with their Ed Reform agenda and will urge my friends to never donate a dime while Jon "Teachers don't matter at all with Seattle voters" Bridge is signing the letters. Along with someone else from "Bridge LLC". A twofer from the Bridges? Makes me appreciate the Alliance that much less.
Jan said…
cascade -- you are nicer than I am. I DO have a problem with it, and if I were the Board President (or even just a run of the mill board member), I would go down there tomorrow and sit on someone's head.

It is, and ought to be, the prerogative of the Board, acting on behalf of the District, to decide whether they want to do a Board search. If the District is going to pay all this money to the Alliance to do things (raise money, collect donations, etc.) on its behalf, then the District -- as the source of those funds, ought to have the right to ask the Alliance to remain neutral until the Board has made a decision (right, my2cents? If the District is paying the money, they ought to be able to call the shots?)

And if I were Susan Enfield -- I would insist that they remove the memo. It makes her look terrible. Because if they are using, in any way, shape, or form, District money to lobby on behalf of Dr. Enfield, in contravention of what her boss, the Board, wants to do, doesn't that put her in a hugely awkward position? (It makes it look as though she somehow is asking for a "company" her boss has hired, and pays, to come in and lobby for her personally. Now, I suspect -- knowing the Alliance -- that they are doing this all on their own, with no help from Dr. Enfield. But it sure looks icky. And if I were her, I sure wouldn't like it.
dan dempsey said…
OH the Joys of having a high scoring white student population ...
From the Hire Enfield Now memo:

First twist of the truth......
According to the Office of Public Instruction, during the 2010‐2011 academic year, students in SPS met or exceeded standard on state exams at a higher rate than the statewide average in every tested subject in grades 3‐8;

In grade 4 math this applies to the group "ALL" but hardly to most ethnic subgroups and certainly NOT Low Income students.

Let us consider the change in pass rate in math for grade 3 and grade 4 from 2010 to 2011.

While it is true that Seattle math scores exceeded the state in 2011 that is because of previous scores not good performance in 2010-2011 school year..

SPS Grade 3 score went down by 1.6% while the state went down by 0.2% .... Seattle fell more but started higher. {{High scoring "White students" in Seattle are a big help.}}

SPS Grade 4 math score went up by 2.6% differential while State went up by 5.6%. Seattle went up by 3.0% less than State but started higher.

The fact that the SPS "ALL" score exceeds the state "ALL" is largely due to the performance of White Students.

Here are the the 2011 SPS math scores in relation to state scores for grade 4:

2011 .....2011
Seattle .. State . GROUP ... differential

40.7 ::44.9 : Low Income .. -4.2
30.6 ::34.9 :Amer. Indian . -4.3
31.8 ::37.2 : Black .... -5.4
43.8 ::40.9 :Hispanic .. 2.9
68.7 ::73.3 : Asian/Pacific -4.6
81.4 ::65.9 : White .... 15.5
64.6 ::59.3 : ALL ...... 5.3

The success of one demographic group enables the district to claim that 4th grade math scores exceed the state average.... note: other than White at +15.5 and Hispanic at +2.9 all other ethnic groups and low income are below the state averages for their counterparts.

Math at grade 3 is much the same:
2011 .....2011
Seattle .. State . GROUP ... differential

44.3 ::47.8 : Low Income .. -3.5
42.1 ::38.3 :Amer. Indian . 3.8
35.5 ::42.3 : Black .... -6.8
49.7 ::44.2 :Hispanic .. 5.5
70.4 ::73.4 : Asian/Pacific -3.0
83.8 ::68.0 : White .... 15.8
67.1 ::61.6 : ALL ...... 5.5
dan dempsey said…
To really determine what took place during the last school year in math at grades 3 and 4 the place to look is at change in scores from the previous year for each demographic group. Changes below are from MSP 2010 to MSP 2011

change change
Seattle. State.. Differential

-3.8 : -0.6 : -3.2 : Low Income
6.4 :: -2.6 ::: 9.0 : American Indian
-6.2 : -2.2:: -4.0 : Black
-2.5 :: 2.2 :: -4.7 : Hispanic
-5.4 :: -0.6: -4.8 : Asian/Pacific
2.0 :: 0.0 ::: 2.0 : White
-3.7 : -0.5 : -3.2 : ELL
-4.1 : -2.5 : -1.6 : Special Ed
-1.6 : -0.2 : -1.4 : ALL

change change
Seattle State ... Differential

0.8 : 6.1 : -5.3 : Low Income
-10.2 : 0.4 :-10.6 : American Indian
3.6 : 4.7 : -1.1 : Black
-1.2 : 7.9 : -9.1 : Hispanic
-2.5 : 6.5 : -9.0 : Asian/Pacific
3.7 : 5.7 : -2.0 : White
3.6 : 5.7 : -2.1 : ELL
-2.7 : -0.9 : -1.8 : Special Ed
2.6 : 5.6 : -3.0 : ALL

In grade four Math the SPS change in scores from 2010 to 2011 is worse than the state change for every demographic group. This is NOT much of an argument for keeping the interim Supt. who was the Chief Academic Officer and an ardent supporter of Everyday Math.

The High School scores on the End of Course testing are poor ... "Discovering math" is also strongly supported by Dr. Enfield..... start searching.

Any claim to being concerned about closing achievement gaps in math is "hard to believe".
Jack Whelan said…
The new board members will be under enormous pressure to hire SE without a search. If they insist on a search, who else on the board will support them, especially now after SE's ultimatum? Maybe Patu, but I don't think the other three will.

Maybe I'm wrong; maybe Debell or Smith- Blumwill see SE as overplaying her hand and get angry about it. Not sure.

But assuming the political realities make a search unlikely, the next best option is a compromise in the way of a one-year deal with an option for a multi-year deal if Enfield proves that she can work well with the new board. That's reasonable, and it's more likely to get four votes. It buys time and gives everybody a chance to get acclimated.

If those assumptions are wrong, and there are in fact four votes in favor of a search, the board needs to develop a more proactive search process than it has used in the past. Otherwise it will more than likely just turn up the usual suspects.

Surely there is a grapevine out there to identify who would be the best fit for SPS without going the headhunter route. I'd like to hear some names of excellent candidates, and then go after them. What about non Americans? Is there any essential reason that this new super has to be American? What about a star from Finland or Canada who would be up for an American challenge? Just throwing that out there?
Anonymous said…
Wow, what a spirited discussion tonight!

Jan @ 7:52 p.m. Awesome. Simply awesome. And why don't we call what most of these donor shenanigans and RTTT competitions what they are: Blackmail! Our way or else!

SC didn't say it, but I would be the first to tell them to go F*^K themselves. Better them than my kids. Yeah, sure, I'd get fired, etc. But once you cower to threats like RTTT and donor pullbacks, you're screwed anyways. Better to avoid the strings altogether, with a "thanks, but no thanks."

Regarding SE & her TFA nonsense, I rather figured I'd be unpopular with my usual like-minded folks, but I've simply grown weary of too many moving parts at once in this district. I feel we should offer SE a one year deal, not three, and I don't give a crap what the typical deals are. This is not a typical situation; it's Seattle. You want Vancouver, Buffalo, or Timbuktu? Fine, Adios! You want Seattle? Earn it. Given the MGJ debacle, what more should SE expect? All she has to do is work with the new board in a collaborative manner and she could be a very good SI.

Yes, I'm offended, and I've expressed my outrage at her TFA shell games, deception and lies. But in today's climate, with Ed Reform all the rage throughout the country, I think good SI candidates are slim pickings.

Stop TFA: Yes, I guess I'm willing to take the "fool me twice" chance, because the devil I know doesn't scare the hell out of me like the one I don't know.

Regarding Enfield: I can't say it any better than Hal Holbrook did in Wall Street:

"Man looks in the abyss, there's nothing staring back at him. At that moment, man finds his character. And that is what keeps him out of the abyss."

Charlie Mas said…
Walter Alston managed the Dodgers for decades with a series of one-year contracts.
Anonymous said…
SE should play hardball - it is Seattle!

Silly Stupid Me, I actually HOPE she'd look at the self serving accomplishments of her social class over the last 3 decades - the incessant sell outs of HOPE - and realize that there is a real opportunity for leadership that benefits most of the 99%.

Of course, it is a better bet that we'll just get more in-charge-ship that is just a bunch of lies benefiting the few near the top and really really benefiting the tippity top.

If she stays, 3 strikes you're out don't work for me. Especially after being a key player in the trash math adoptions, in the Stritkus - Kopp Mutual Admiration Society, and in the local Toadies of BillGates Astro Turfs.

Remember Tues. the 8th, when we started to

Anonymous said…
I don't know how Jon Bridge would know that the vast majority of teachers don't matter to voters if he doesn't have empirical evidence to support his claim. If he does have that evidence, I wish he or the Alliance would make it public.

In my anecdotal experience, when I've gone doorbelling for a candidate and I've said that I'm a teacher, I normally find that voters listen to what I have to say. My status as a teacher seems to matter to them.

However, in my experience, the vast majority of teachers are not politically active. As such, the teachers are a weak political force in this city, even when they attempt to act through the SEA, which is itself a weak political force. That is one reason why I believe that the Seattle Times' self-serving view that the union made the difference in the McLaren race is exaggerated. The money helped; the organizational support was minimal.

And so, in a way, I'm not sure I disagree with Jon Bridge's political calculation. If teachers don't like that, then they can do something about it.

StopTFA said…
I am STRONGLY opposed to retaining SE for one year. As we have seen, she has continued the MGJ practice of throwing out smokescreens (Remember "My membership on the NWEA board has been on my online resume for months"). These Supt and staff smokescreens (think Ferguson and Teoh) have effectively blinded the Board yet again this year. This same staff has demonstrated that they bring LITTLE to the table that benefits our kids.

Retain Enfield and there goes the effectiveness of a new Board. Will they have to defer, defer, defer action to squeeze the truth outa SE, or to suss out the important details of a Scorecard (thanks Dan for doing Teoh's job)? Will they have to set up community engagement meetings on proposed initiatives because staff can't be bothered to plan and arrange for it? Wouldn't it be better if they had an employee who worked for them and the families in our district? Not for the Alliance.
Anonymous said…
Charlie or Melissa, will you start a full thread on Jon Bridge's "teachers don't matter?"

Bridge's blunt assessment, in a behind-the-scenes chat with Enfield, needs wider daylighting than at the end of this thread. It goes to the question of who Enfield listens to and how she prioritizes. And it goes to the underlying philosophy of one of the biggest education donors in town.

Personally, I found Jon's assessment chilling. Teachers should be aware that the Alliance, and therefore SPS, is being driven by citizens who think very little of teachers, no matter what they say publicly. Candid memos don't lie. I am also remembering now the NCTQ (dump on teachers) effort spearheaded by Alliance head Sara Morris 2 years ago. The Alliance brought it in to get the new teacher's contract in place.

I am very troubled by John Bridge and his cronies. Very. Troubled.

Anonymous said…
And, good lord, I just read the Alliance memo (dictate) around You Must Hire Enfield. What a bunch of pompous windbags. Who died and made them the ruler of how the district operates? I say this looking not at their words on Enfield but on a whole paragraph outlining How The School Board Must Function. I have copied the paragraph below and boldfaced the line where they clearly attempt to take out this blog and its readers. The funny thing is, they are the ultimate self-selected players in the district. Pot, meet Very Very Black Kettle.

School Board directors consistently face a demanding and complex set of issues that must be
resolved in a public and often politically charged environment. We appreciate your dedication,
especially as volunteers, to effectively govern a system that serves over 48,000 Seattle children.
Our expectations around educational leadership in Seattle extend beyond the Superintendent; our
school system simply cannot function well without a stable, focused, high caliber board.
Specifically, we expect School Board members to:
 Exhibit true leadership in defining for the community what excellence in public education
looks like;
 Work together as a team;
 Be financially literate or become so within a reasonable period of time after election to the
 Execute the responsibilities of governing, rather than managing, the school district;
 Effectively balance the responsibilities of constituent services and system oversight;
Establish mechanisms to solicit input from representative samples of the public, not only
self‐selected individuals or subgroups;

 Demand the best from the Superintendent and his/her leadership team and then actively
support and champion him or her – publicly and privately – when warranted.
someone said…
We were talking about what SPS need in a Supe last night and came to a conclusion, given all the audit related debacles of late, that a strong "business" type - someone savvy in managing fiscal responsibilities would be great. Someone with that kind of mgmt background would likely not have a dog in the Ed Reform fight, and in theory could better judge ideas/grants/programming from a different perspective. I realize it somewhat heretical to go out of the "traditional" Supe pool - but maybe that's what we need? Just a thought. As for Mr. Bridges and the - think I'm going with that old adage - if you can't say something nice....
Anonymous said…

I agree that the statement is troubling, but if we step back for a second and analyze the truth-value of what he said, is he wrong?

In the context of the email, he isn't saying that teachers don't matter. He's saying that teachers don't matter to the voters politically. I realize that there is a wide variety of political views among teachers, and it's certainly possible that teachers are far more politically active than I realize. But I ask again: is he wrong?

anonymous said…
Seriously Skeptical? You think this statement singles out this blog???

"Establish mechanisms to solicit input from representative samples of the public, not only
self‐selected individuals or subgroups;"

This statement says that they should solicit input from a broad, representative group, not just the squeakiest, loudest, most active groups. Are you opposed to that?

scratching my head
Anonymous said…
So how can we get some of the money that is going to the coffer of "ed-reform" groups back into school districts directly? Can the teacher unions (SEA, WEA, NEA) come up with solutions? Develop plans that include better teacher training, a version of NHS, a more useful teacher assessment for example? What about school district leadership, OSPI, the governor's office? Did you know we have 295 school districts? Isn't that crazy? Just think how much money we can save on admin alone if we can consolidate the operations of these small districts?

Where are our ideas? If you want to get rid of these "edu-reformers", you better start by offering some serious plans to the movers and shakers? Why not win them over with our plans and ideas instead? I rather end this war by working on the solutions. How about you?

Seattle mom
mirmac1 said…
DWE, we could read all sorts of things into Bridge's (in my view, supremely arrogant) statement. Some people might actually think HE should be Supe (which in a manner of speaking, he is).

To me it sounds like he says the vast majority of voters don't give a rat's *ss about what teachers think. So to hel* with them, bring in TFA even through its not the answer to improved educational opportunities. We want options, baby, and the "general populace" will support it (and actually, have no choice because they're 99%-ers anyway.)
Anonymous said…
Seattle mom,

Here's where I agree with you:

The WEA should be writing legislative proposals and lobbying legislators to introduce them. Or they should be doing it more widely.

Alas, the WEA leadership would have to be persuaded to give more focus to crafting legislation.

mirmac1 said…
Fun fact. Did you know the city of Pheonix has 30 school districts? That's the joy of charter schools.

Oh, and scratchin', I think skeptical's point is "who's calling who self-selected?!" And you might get that itch checked out.
Sahila said…
for seattle mom who thinks we can win over the powers that be by presenting them with plans, ideas, "solutions"...

Haven't you noticed that if the plans, ideas and solutions are not the creation of the movers and shakers themselves, they dont fly...?

and why would that be, do you think?

Could it possibly be because their agenda is different to ours?

Because they care about money, power and control and we care about our kids?

Because they are the 1% and we are the 99%?

you Do Realise...

Really - what does it take to wake people up?
anonymous said…
Damn the Alliance, throwing a huge, free, see-it-be-it beyond high school fair at Seattle Center today, complete with free yellow bus transportation from all over Seattle. Best throw those bums out.

Sahila said…

your words re what we need in a superintendent in this district play right into the hands of the BROAD Foundation... which is ed deformist at its core...

seriously... go look up their website(s) and their Superintendent training programme...
Sahila said…
so, the school board DEFINES FOR THE COMMUNITY what "excellence in public education looks like"

Funny that, I thought the Board was the SERVANT of the community... not the master...
Michael H said…
@sahila: "so, the school board DEFINES FOR THE COMMUNITY what "excellence in public education looks like"

Funny that, I thought the Board was the SERVANT of the community... not the master..."

Funny, isn't it, that we vote to put people in positions of authority to make the kinds of decisions that determine how things look or are defined (i.e. legislative bodies like the school board), yet when they don't define it the way you want, you compare them to the role of Master. Its usually because the people that make those decisions are not the ones you voted for so, of course, they must be wrong and its a conspiracy. As with any elected body, they do not have to do anything the loudest activists call for - there is no legal requirement to do exactly what your constituents tell you to do. For example, did you know there is no legal requirement for an elected body to have time in their meeting agenda for public comment? If they do make time, it is at least painting the picture of thoughtful folks listening to "the community". But the price is paid at the ballot box if they don't listen - see Sundquist, Steve.
Michael H said…
@Melissa: "(Otherwise she is telling different things to different people.)"

Yes, and telling different things to different people is a way of finding leaks.

You might see that as a conspiracy theory, but it has been known to work.
I wasn't really going to note Mr. Bridge singling me out. He's right; I'm sure most voters don't know me or would care what I think politically. Those who do know my work at least realize that I do know this district much better than the average person and can take my views as they please.

But to say that teachers' views (political or otherwise) on education don't matter? I'd say that's disrespectful and, of course, arrogant.

Because, of course, only the "smart" people with money know anything. C'mon, how long is that going to take the rest of us to get?

One view I have heard lately (over at Crosscut in the comments section of various education articles) is that some feel the ed reformers are pushing so hard that (1) it looks suspicious and (2) they look like know-it-alls and NO ONE like someone who tries to tell them what to think. "Just let us handle it;we know what's best."

I will write a thread because yes, people should know who Enfield hears from and what they say (however she takes it which is something we don't know). But also, there's quite an interesting e-mail from Sherry Carr about TFA.
Anonymous said…
"But also, there's quite an interesting e-mail from Sherry Carr about TFA."

Oh, do tell.

StopTFA said…
Michael H.

Dunno why you vote but I don't "vote to put people in positions of authority to make the kinds of decisions that determine how things look or are defined." I vote to put people in to represent me, my child, and the community's interests, not some dude who's kid surely goes to private school. I expect those people to do some independent verification and research into what "excellence in public education looks like" (and it ain't TFA and their "internal metrics"), sound out the community, and demand that their employee follow their direction, not self-selected missionaries like Jon Bridge's.
StopTFA said…
Wait, is this the same Sherry Carr who said Peter Maier aptly described the Board's intense deliberative effort on TFA? If I'm not mistaken (and I have a public record to support it, of course), the board's "research" consisted of Janis Ortega dropping in on a friendly social call with crap research. Then probably followed up by a scolding email from Jon Bridge incorporated.
dan dempsey said…
The WEA should be writing legislative proposals and lobbying legislators to introduce them. Or they should be doing it more widely.

Alas, the WEA leadership would have to be persuaded to give more focus to crafting legislation.

That would be a huge transition and certainly needed by membership.

Since the WEA was a huge supporter of CCSS ... and much of the other Ed Reform nonsense being pushed by Obama/Duncan.... don't look for too much rational thought too soon from WEA.
dan dempsey said…
Remember it was Carol Simmons, Joy Anderson, and several others that called the District on not following the law. Then they did something about TFA with a legal appeal.

Guess the SEA would rather watch WACs ignored and do nothing ... better not disturb the rule of Fat Cats.

Guess $70+ per month is not enough to effectively represent SEA members' interests.
Anonymous said…
Scratching my Head: I do very much read that line as a dig on this blog. But even if it isn't, the incredible irony is what I already pointed out. The Alliance does not like it...does not like it AT ALL...when citizens weigh in with opinions contrary to its own on how this district should be run and who should have a say. They are their own ultimate special interest group against which they are rallying. They have the money. They have the connections. They are the K Street of Seattle Public Schools.

Who does the Alliance like? LEV do-gooders (Scarola, Cooley-Stroum, McFarlane etc.) and the PTSA leadership (Rodgers, Baumgarten, McGuire)and Schools First (see Rodgers, Cooley-Stroum)and the Gates Foundation. Nice people committed to public education, I'm sure. And as my philosophical friend notes, why wouldn't you like white upper middle class folks who think Just Like You. Especially when the whole social education whirl is all the same people and groups mentioned above.

But it's one thing to support a district Just Like You and Your Values and quite another to support a district, in the name of public education, that is Not Just Like You and Your Values. Of all the organizations above, The Alliance fails miserably, absolutely miserably, at being anything other than patrician, paternalistic and blatantly disresepctful to SPS's current teaching staff and to community members who differ from their ideas. The whole organization has become more noticeably intolerant of diversity of viewpoints under Sara Morris as Exec. Dir. In the days of Patrick, it was marginally more welcoming.

The ideas on this blog threaten The Monied and In Control. Because the insiders can't control the owners and authors on this blog, and they can't minimize the impact of the blog, and the many citizens who read, think and contribute, despite their best efforts. And that's why I love this blog. Truth to Power, Alliance. Truth to Power.


And no, I didn't see anyone from The Alliance in Seattle Magazine's movers and shakers article last month. To see Melissa and Charlie there must have caused heartburn all over North Capitol Hill and Northeast Seattle. Good.
mirmac1 said…
"The Alliance fails miserably, absolutely miserably, at being anything other than patrician, paternalistic and blatantly disresepctful to SPS's current teaching staff and to community members who differ from their ideas."

To illustrate this point in spades is the results at the Board Superintendent Search feedback session, held at SouthShore Thurs. Attendees didn't look at all like those people you mentioned. The results were 97% for a national search. Results diametrically opposed to the session at Roosevelt. One of the qualities desired in a permanent superintendent - someone without the "missionary" mentality of let's go save those poor folk.
"They are the K Street of Seattle Public Schools."

Very funny and very true.

Skeptical, I may borrow some of your words for my thread because I just couldn't say it better.

Yes, it's true. No one can shut us up. Without bosses and funders, we are free to say whatever we want and mostly, we tell the truth.

See, reading the Alliance's absolutely out of line document (and I'll address that in my thread), it's quite clear that they want to control everything. They have a vision and it's the right one.

But sadly for them, they are, themselves, only one sub-section, of this community. And with all their money, they still can't control or buy School Board elections.
Anonymous said…
OK, maybe I am idealistic or I have this crazy faith, but yes, I do think if we can support and propel the organizations that are there to represent us, the teachers' unions, the SCPTSA, the school board, our elected representatives and give them concrete plans and ideas, then yeah, we will get a seat at the table. But we need to be a part of the solution not just mere gadflies.

It is still our governor, our legislators, our district admin that control much of the taxpayers' purse strings. Wouldn't you want some say at where the $ and resources are going? Why would you want to cede control to people outside our district, our city, and our state?

I hope we can take back from the 1% and rebalance some of the checks and balances in our system. We still need to fix our school, our economy, bring jobs, fix our roads, our health care mess. And to do that you still need those 1% rascals for all their wealth and power.

If your union don't represent you well, then elect new reps that do. C'mon folks. We do have a chance with this new board. Can we try to move toward the middle, toward some kind of reconciliation? I don't say this lightly having worked in various civil wars overseas. I have seen fragile truce brokered and failed because of the tinders and smoldering hatred and tit for tat dealings. So as long as you keep replaying the distrusts and the fear mongering, you will remain lock in that cycle of righteousness. And you will remain far apart. And where does leave our kids and classrooms?

Seattle mom
anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
anonymous said…
skeptical said: "The Alliance does not like it...does not like it AT ALL...when citizens weigh in with opinions contrary to its own on how this district should be run "

Same could be said about many of the people who comment on this blog as well.

Everyone thinks their view is the right view. Including the people that post here.

It's funny to me that bloggers who refuse to consider the views of the Alliance expect the Alliance to consider their views.

scratching my head
Anonymous said…

How many of the Ed Reformers have their kids in our schools, right now, affected by the policies they advocate for?

I think it's less about who thinks who is right, and more about the paternalism and offense at having people with no skin in the game experiment on our kids with "reforms" that don't touch their own.

Sahila said…
Michael is funny.... makes a lot of assumptions about what my point of view is based on..

I cant vote here in the US...
seattle citizen said…
@scratching my head:
The opinions (and news and data) posted on this blog represent a variety of perspectives from a diverse bunch of citizens, parent/guardians, educators...The people of this city, the taxpayers who pay for the schools.

The agenda pushed by the Alliance (THEIR blog has been inactive for a long, long time...) is the agenda of some wealthy people who think they know what's best for our children, and spend their money to influence people (see the astro-turf "Our Schools Coalition" spun off by the Alliance to distance themselves from the teacher-slamming faux-report on teacher quality.)

"Them": Agents of the Reformistas from "Foundations" and other self-identified know-it-alls;
"Us": Diverse people with disverse ideas engaged in true discussion.
seattle citizen said…
@WSDAWG - You said it:
"How many of the Ed Reformers have their kids in our schools, right now, affected by the policies they advocate for?
I think it's less about who thinks who is right, and more about the paternalism and offense at having people with no skin in the game experiment on our kids with "reforms" that don't touch their own."
anonymous said…
Ed reformers is such a vaguely convenient term. Saying how many Ed Reformers have their kids in our schools is an unanswerable question. Why not be specific. Do you mean how many board members of the Alliance have or have had kids in SPS? If so, why not look it up? I believe many of them do.

Does Diane Ratvich have kids in the system? She seems to have a lot of influence in the anti-reform circles, and with folks on this blog. Ya'll love to hear what she has to say. Where are her kids? Does she even have any?

But I digress. You believe that only people with kids in the system should have a say, right?

Does that mean board directors should be required to have a kid in SPS? Because many don't. How about the new super? Should he/she have to have a kid in the system? Central staff? All of these folks are heavily involved with policy making. Should they not be?

These questions are rhetorical of course, because they are ridiculous. Like it or not, community members, including the Alliance, get just as much say as you do WSDWG. Sorry.

scratching my head
mirmac1 said…
Saying the Alliance is a community member is like saying corporations are people too. Equally absurd.
I have considered the Alliance's views. I have had meetings with Patrick and Sara and other Alliance folks. I sat at LEV's table with Alliance folks. Just because you weren't there, don't assume. You'd be surprised how many people Charlie and I talk to but it gets old when you realize they aren't really listening nor telling you exactly what it is they are doing.
Anonymous said…
Headscratcher: Does anyone on this blog get on speed dial or private memo with the superintendent when (s)he wants to? No.

Does the Alliance as a group and as individual board members Sara, Jon, etc. have that access and take full advantage of it? Yes.

Does this blog have money? No.
Does the Alliance? Yes.

And does the Alliance dangle money to get its way? Yes.

The only places The Alliance does not have an advantage in its lobbying is in its highly amusing ability to be thin skinned to criticism and in the fact that its apparent viewpoint (damn the teachers, damn the little people, white folks with money know best)is rooted in a deep falsehood.

I'm Glad I'm On the Other Side of Let Them Eat Cake
Michael H said…
@StopTFA: " I vote to put people in to represent me, my child, and the community's interests, not some dude who's kid surely goes to private school. I expect those people to do some independent verification and research into what "excellence in public education looks like" (and it ain't TFA and their "internal metrics"), sound out the community, and demand that their employee follow their direction, not self-selected missionaries like Jon Bridge's."

Then you are naive.
Michael H said…
@Sahila:"I cant vote here in the US..."

Sahila said…
@Michael H.... figures??? so, I cant have an opinion about what is and is not good for my child, when he participates in the public education system, just because I cant vote here?

Or I cant advocate for other children in the public education system, just because I cant vote here?

I pay taxes and those taxes are used for education, amongst other things...

that gives me the right to have an opinion...
Anonymous said…
Sahila, of course you can have an opinion and I, for one, learn a lot from your posts - whether or not I agree. That is the beauty of this blog - it is a forum for many opinions.
StopTFA said…
Michael H, who says people who don't agree with him are naive, paranoid (conspiracy theorists) or don't care enough to vote. Somehow I don't see how your arguments are more persuasive than mine.

WV: swing away, I have an ionjaw.
Jan said…
Seattle Mom: I agree with you. I think we need to start advocating for solutions we think will work. Of course, "we" can't do that as a blog, necessarily -- because there are lots of folks here with lots of different ideas about stuff. But I think many of us have good ideas, ideas that keep money, assets, and focus IN the classroom and ON KIDS (not on expensive, top down contracts with entities that promise to measure, sort, and aggregate data, for the purpose of firing teachers or closing/reconstituting schools) -- I think there are lots of ideas that District staff and the Board should hear about and consider (actually, many posters and commenters here HAVE good ideas -- but no one historically has been willing to listen to them (see Charlie's posts on the difference between complaining and whining, etc.) -- and like you -- I think a lot of folks on this blog would love to go on the offensive -- start talking about what we DO want to see, and how it might best be accomplished.

During the MGJ years, the biggest problem was not only did she come loaded with toxic ideas, she had them preloaded into a sort of "ball machine" and she just fired them at us nonstop. When all you can do on YOUR side of the court is frantically chase down and kill the worst of the bad ideas (and they kept coming) -- it is hard to stop, take a breath, and serve up your own.

From the private businesses I know, this alone should have gotten her fired (and the board replaced). No company worth its salt allows its chief executive to just run amok with change and disruption to the organization. Good organizations have some sense of how much they can accomplish well -- and it is bad management to try to do more -- because you end up doing everything badly. Thus -- relatively good ideas -- like starting a STEM school got the same half-baked, overpriced (sorry, too busy to watch those pennies!) treatment that the bad ideas (standardizing curriculum) got.

The last 3 members of the old guard (DeBell, Carr and Martin-Morris) should be ashamed of themselves for allowing MGJ to run so amok.

And -- it was not by accident. I firmly believe that it was MGJ's intent to do sort of a "blitzkrieg" -- firing out so many ed reform ideas, all to be done at once, at great cost, that she would drain any resources away from non-ed reform ideas AND get most of what she wanted in place before people had a chance to sort it all out.

So -- I think it is time for folks who have good ideas to start getting them in front of the Board and anyone in District management who will listen. There ARE good people downtown. And I think you are right. We CAN make a difference. We won't influence LEV, the Alliance, etc. But we can influence anyone (on the Board or at the District) who is not totally sold out to the Ed Reform crowd.
Jan said…
I disagree that having one's kid in a Seattle public school is a litmus test for participation in school debates. There are LOTS of good reasons why people make other choices for their kids. And there are LOTS of people who have had valuable comments on this board (including but not limited to EmeraldKity) who have elected school solutions other than public. I think it is a complete red herring.

Moreover -- if all those LEV folks, and Alliance folks, etc. had their kids ensconsed at Roosevelt or Hale -- I would dislike their ideas just as much as I do now (not knowing WHERE their kids are). It is not the identity of the your child's school that matters, it is the legitimacy (logical and moral) of the positions you champion.

The goal of school -- ANY school -- ought to be student learning. The primary positions staked out by the movement we call ed reform are, in my opinion, antithetical to learning. They destroy it by bleeding funds from students (and those who work directly with them) to big corporate enterprises involved in data collection, aggregation and manipulation, testing (just another form of data) and "management" at levels far removed from teacher and student. They devalue the personal relationships that are at the heart of learning. They dismiss individual learning styles, interests, and needs. They have no use for good teaching -- substituting instead "good test taking," and "good abilities to maintain 'fidelity of implementation' to the latest curricular fad.

Frankly, I don't care where Bill Gates's kids go to school, and have a hard time imagining that many public schools could handle the security requirements associated with having them there. If Bill and Melinda Gates were to arrive on the scene championing an approach that focused on maximum use of scarce resources, emphasis on student learning, targeting resources to each child (whether ahead of the average, or behind) and focusing on advancing each kid as far along his/her personal trajectory as possible, I wouldn't care if they sent their kids to Lakeside, or Mars, or had no kids at all.

I think we open ourselves up to those who come in saying -- well, MY kid is at ____ [public] school, and I LOVE all these Ed Reform ideas -- so there! What then? We now have to give credence to their ideas? Just because they have a child in public school, so they are now a "legitimate" part of the debate? No thanks. Bad ideas are bad ideas, no matter who espouses them. By the same token, good ideas and logical thinking have merit -- no matter who espouses them. People who now have kids in private school may have been public school kids themselves, or they may just be smart, intelligent folks who care passionately about public education, and/or have thought about the negative ramifications of attempting to apply certain corporate principles (that don't always work so well in those corporations either, by the way) to the education of children, and seen how bad the fit is.
seattle citizen said…
Jan, you write that "I disagree that having one's kid in a Seattle public school is a litmus test for participation in school debates. There are LOTS of good reasons why people make other choices for their kids. And there are LOTS of people who have had valuable comments on this board (including but not limited to EmeraldKity) who have elected school solutions other than public. I think it is a complete red herring."

Some people have no children at all, but are taxpayers and have relatives or friends with children. Don't forget them, those that foot the bill for the whole shebang and those citizens who are interested even if not directly impacted.
Linh-Co said…
"Establish mechanisms to solicit input from representative samples of the public, not only
self‐selected individuals or subgroups;"

I love this directive. Isn't the Alliance group a self-selected subgroup? The Board members should use this line of defense when they choose to go against the "powers that be".
Jan said…
Seattle Citizen -- I completely concur. And -- I may have been mistaken about EmeraldKity -- I am thinking it is maybe SolvayGir's child, or children, who are in private school at great personal cost to them, due to the misfortune of a south seattle address. I probably shouldn't have named ANY names if I wasn't sure. So my apologies to all for any errors.
EmeraldStater said…
I think many of you are delusional. What do you think success looks like? It is positive trending and significant, though incremental success. It is NOT seeing everything match your personal vision as to how SPS should be managed.

When the Board handed over the troubled position of Superintendent to Susan Enfield on an interim basis, with a decision on whether or not to initiate a nationwide search by January next, implicit in that appointment was the commitment of the Board to render an up or down vote on Enfield's performance, and if the vote was negative, then and only then to initiate a search. To have intended otherwise would have been craven and dishonest. Why would ANYONE take the job any other way? Does anyone seriously think that it would make sense for the Board to have, in effect, said to Enfield: "Here, take this lousy position, put your own life on hold, and see if you can save the situation. And eight months from now, we will go out and look for someone to replace you regardless of how well you do the job"?

If the Board now chooses, as rumors suggest one or both of the new members may be leaning, to initiate a search, it can only be taken by Enfield as one of two things: a negative vote on her performance, or a cynical ploy for political cover. If Enfield agreed to be party to a search under either scenario, she is not smart enough for the job. This is typical self-destructive behavior in the educational space of Seattle. Throw the Superintendent in the water, and if she drowns, then she was the right person for the job.

She is damned right to decline to participate in any search.

So what does success look like? If one can't see the outlines of success in the marked improvement at SPS in the time Enfield has held the two top jobs, then I think intellectual honesty needs to be questioned. Does she deserve credit for the progress, or is it dumb luck, inevitability, or equivocation of results? The public, outside this space, has been enthusiastic about Enfield's performance. Is that because they are just so much dumber than the bloggers here?

Fools deny the evidence before them, because it does not fit their parochial perception of what should be done. The wise accept success and build on it. We shall see which group the Board now belongs to.
Charlie Mas said…
Oh thank you Emeraldstater for sharing your wisdom with us.

Let me return the favor and share some wisdom with you:

People don't generally respond well to abuse. Calling folks "fools" or "delusional" is not generally an effective means of persuasion.

I presume that you know this. Consequently, I conclude that you were not writing to persuade, but to berate. It is, of course, possible that you're just a troll, the online equivalent of a flasher who derives pleasure from upsetting people and reading their angry responses.

Either way you've proven yourself foolish and therefore incapable of offering wisdom.

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