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Monday, November 07, 2011

District Withdraws Proposed Policy on Student Newspapers

From the district:

The district has agreed to withdraw the proposed policy over the student newspapers and will revisit it in 2012. 
The Seattle School District today announced that it will withdraw a policy proposal involving school district-sponsored freedom of expression. Interim Superintendent Dr. Susan Enfield said that school board directors and district administrators jointly agreed to revisit the policy, introduced to the Seattle School Board Nov. 2, to ensure that it better reflects the community’s values.

“As we move forward in updating our policies, as chair of the curriculum and instruction policy committee, I will direct staff to ensure that any policy we develop regarding student expression is reflective of the language and values that we share in Seattle,” said School Board Director Harium Martin-Morris.

Based on a shared concern between district leadership and the Board, this policy will be pulled from the current list of updates, scheduled for Board action Dec. 7, and will be revisited in 2012, Dr. Enfield said.

“As a former journalism teacher, it is important for me -- as I know it is for our Board -- that we uphold our practice of trusting our teachers to educate our students on the rights and responsibilities that come with freedom of expression and a free press,” Dr. Enfield said.  



I knew she taught LA but she was a journalism teacher?  And this was okay with her?  Hmmm.

39 comments:

anonymous said...

What makes you think Dr. Enfield was OK with the proposal Melissa?

marching

Anonymous said...

“Based on the fact that The Stranger just dropped their endorsement of me like a hot rock and called me a frothing idiot I will back off the policy I was totally defending 4 days ago” said School Board Director Harium Martin-Morris.

Not Fooled

Melissa Westbrook said...

Well, the staff developed this proposal, not the Board. I would have thought that she had some idea this was part of that policy.

ArchStanton said...

“Based on the fact that The Stranger just dropped their endorsement of me like a hot rock and called me a frothing idiot I will back off the policy I was totally defending 4 days ago”

Well played ;) Still, I'm surprised that HMM would care, since he seemed to have checked out a long time ago. Must be responding to pressure from his supporters.

ChinChilla said...

Some interesting points in the PI article. Melissa and her petition are credited with forcing the district's hand. It mentioned the Super trusting teachers to help kids understand the "rights and responsibilities of free speech".
This blog sometimes crosses the line between responsible and otherwise. I've never been comfy with unregistered blogs. They are always meaner and sensational and downright nasty at times. If you got a big secret- go to the press. A blog should be somewhat civilized and registering makes that happen.
My2sense

po3 said...

Really, I thought it was the BHS students plastering flyers all over downtown this weekend and the Stranger article along with 100s of emails to the district and directors that got the Supers attention. That petition didn't even register 200 signatures before the pull back. Pretty sure the TV stations were next to pick up the story, if they hadn't already.


Sounds like at Martin Floe Part II; a bad idea stemming from bad information...

Melissa Westbrook said...

What is an "unregistered" blog?

I don't always go to the press because many times they don't listen or aren't interested. Parents ARE interested in what happens in this district and it's mostly for them that we write.

I read the PI article and it only mentions the petition. I'm not sure I "forced" anyone's hand.

Again, community input on important issues is vital to a district that parents and the public can trust.

Anonymous said...

Publicola had a bit on it as well with a link to Melissa's petition. I'd say the media in general jumped on this because it is, in essence, their life's blood. Start by censoring student, move on to censoring blogs, then the press.

SolvayGirl

Anonymous said...

“As a former journalism teacher, it is important for me -- as I know it is for our Board -- that we uphold our practice of trusting our teachers to educate our students on the rights and responsibilities that come with freedom of expression and a free press,” Dr. Enfield said.

Another Martin Floe deja-vu all over again.

This time,however, Enfield used language to separate herself from her initial decision. If you didn't know better (and just depended on this press release)you'd think she had been MIA when the censorship plan was decided upon, and then taken to the board (which, of course, she wasn't).

BTW, I wonder if Enfield has a voodoo doll of Melissa yet.

==another case of misjudgment by the interim, and a slick (but transparent) attempt to deflect blame

Jan said...

I believe the the ultimate responsibility for policies like this (at the admin level -- before they become the board's responsibility through adoption) is Dr. E's, whether she actually read (and thought about the implications of) it or not. But I would be very curious to know whether she did, indeed, read and approve of this -- for two reasons:
First, it would reveal something about her values, her ability to issue-spot, etc.
Second, it would reveal something about her management style (and the values, judgment, and management abilities of those below her who were involved in devising and approving this policy) and the degree to which she delegates her authority to others (I am not trying to say she never should, I haven't really thought through all the ramifications -- but it would be interesting to know.)

Anonymous said...

This sort of push-me pull-you policymaking and abandoning is symptomatic not only of a lack of community engagement, but of a significant lack of imagination on the part of staff and board, a lack of any ability (or interest) whatsoever to tease out a variety of potential scenarios, impacts and repurcussions prior to just having all of the "smart people" in the room nod in agreement. Blyechh.

Oompah

WV describes the board and staff relationship as ensest.

I never remember what I put the last time, darn it said...

I bet Dr. Enfield and the board didn't appreciate the article titled "Teach for Awhile" in the last Garfield Messenger -- a paper that impresses me greatly as a parent of a freshman there.

dan dempsey said...

Oh yes on Teach for a While ... here is the latest from Heilig -- July 2011:

ALTERNATIVE CERTIFICATION AND TEACH FOR AMERICA: THE SEARCH FOR HIGH QUALITY TEACHERS

Julian Vasquez Heilig*
Heather A. Cole**
Marilyn A. Springel***

To be fair, teachers are one of the most underpaid and undervalued of professions. There is little or no deference paid to teachers by the general public. Everyone has been to school and everyone assumes that they know something about teaching. We have all been a part of the process. However, the same might be said of doctors, dentists, or even police officers, but few people would assume they could do any of these jobs without significant training and experience on the job. In other countries, such as Finland, where students are performing better and there is greater equity in access to quality education, there are more stringent demands on teacher training programs, competition for admission into these programs, and greater pay and prestige for the profession.
===================

dan dempsey said...

The District needs to be withdrawing from the TFA agreement. Heilig's report above shows just how sorry that TFA move was.

The failure to perform the required careful review of all options to close achievement gaps is typical of the respect the laws get from this crew.

===========
WOW so Susan Enfield was a journalism teacher so she reversed the Proposed Newspaper Policy......

Too bad she wasn't a math teacher as there is a whole lot of reversing needed there.

ArchStanton said...

What is an "unregistered" blog?

It's a dangerous weapon.

They want us to register our blogs so that later on they can round us up take our blogs away.

When they outlaw blogs, only outlaws will have blogs.

Anonymous said...

That was a hoot Arch! Thanks for the post-dishes chuckle.

SolvayGirl

CJ said...

Dear readers:

A dose of knowledge on the first amendment and schools.

http://www.firstamendmentschools.org/

CJ

mirmac1 said...

I would like to think this is Holly Ferguson's exit ticket. Just wishful thinking on my part.

WenD said...

Dr. E really does excel at reversing herself. I like it when she does this. With a differently stacked board, we might see even more surprising developments. We're living in the age of It Might Have Been Worse, so I'm not waiting for a miracle, but if she reverses herself on TFA, I might even go back to church.

Charlie Mas said...

I don't mean to look a gift horse in the mouth, but how did the Board make this decision when they had no scheduled meetings?

The Board is not supposed to meet and make decisions outside of the public eye. There's that whole Open Meetings Act thing. It's a state law.

If Dr. Enfield had said that she or she and her staff decided to defer review of this policy, that would be one thing, but she specifically said that school board directors were involved in the decision. How many? How did they express themselves? Which Board directors were involved and which were not?

Anonymous said...

ChinCilla at 4:41

Why don't you start your own blog with your own rules? Since everyone obviously agrees with YOUR definitions of "meaner" and "downright nasty", your blog will be a success! or

YouJustWantToBeTheCensor

anonymous said...

Again we see Enfield listen to the public and reverse a proposal based on that feedback.

MGJ wouldn't have pulled this proposal.

Another Kudo to Enfield, IMO.

horizon

Garfield Mama said...

http://www.garfieldmessenger.com/opinion/2011/10/21/teach-for-awhile/

TEACH FOR AWHILE - the Garfield Messenger article discussing TFA.

Bird said...

Thanks, Garfield Mama.

I love this line from the TFA article...

If five weeks is sufficient schooling to enter the classroom, shouldn’t you be teaching your AP classes by now?

mirmac1 said...

Occupy the NY DOE

SP said...

Charlie said
"The Board is not supposed to meet and make decisions outside of the public eye. There's that whole Open Meetings Act thing. It's a state law."

The district should provide all the emails between board members and/or the district which led to this decision. This was a policy which was already recommended by the C&I Committee and placed on the official Board Introduction items at the last board meeting, so any changes & reasons to suddenly pull it off the table need to be open to the public to explain how/why they are bypassing the board process on an "emergency type" basis.

Maybe the end result of delaying is the right thing, but management by crisis is not proper leadership by any stretch.

Maureen said...

Charlie, would the proper procedure have been to allow the Committee's recommendation to come to a vote of the full Board (and presumably be voted down)? Is there someone in charge of making sure proper Board procedure is followed? (Would that be the Board Manager, Erinn Bennett?)

Brian M. Rosenthal said...

Charlie/SP - I asked about how the decision came to be when I talked to the district spokeswoman, Teresa Wippel. She said it was a direct phone conversation between Susan Enfield and Harium Martin-Morris. She declined to say who picked up the phone to call the other.

More information here.

- Brian M. Rosenthal
Seattle Times education reporter
http://www.twitter.com/brianmrosenthal

dan dempsey said...

"I will direct staff to ensure that any policy we develop regarding student expression is reflective of the language and values that we share in Seattle,” said School Board Director Harium Martin-Morris.

Hey some of us are all for the following of State Laws .... like RCW 28A 645.020 .... that requires you, within 20 days of appeal, to .... file a "Certified Correct" transcript of evidence when a legal appeal is filed.
.... like WAC 181-79A-231 ... a careful review????

Enough of your BS about reflective of "values we share"... How about YOU following laws Before you get all philosophical on us?

SP said...

Brian, Its interesting what you were told that a decision was made by phone between Enfield & Martin-Morris when the SPS News release seems to provide a different explanation, making it sound as if board members (plural) and administrators (plural) were included in the decision:

"Interim Superintendent Dr. Susan Enfield said that school board directors and district administrators jointly agreed to revisit the policy, introduced to the Seattle School Board Nov. 2, to ensure that it better reflects the community’s values."

...and also:

"Based on a shared concern between district leadership and the Board, this policy will be pulled from the current list of updates, scheduled for Board action Dec. 7, and will be revisited in 2012, Dr. Enfield said."

I still think any & all emails to/from the board/administration/public about this would shed some more light on the decision process that the public deserves.

Is this the type of knee-jerk leadership we can expect every time in the future when something controversial comes up, instead of taking in meaningful input in advance of a decision coming to a final vote?

Bird said...

I'm no laywer, but the weirdest thing about the withdrawn proposal is that it seems like it would drastically increase the chances that the school district would be held liable for what's printed in the school paper.

There was a ruling this summer that held that the district wasn't liable for what was written about the Sisley published in the Roosevelt student newspaper..

Make the principal in charge of reviewing and approving all content that appears in the paper and then you make the school district a party to what's printed.

It's a freakin' bizarre proposal no matter which way you take it.

It sounds like they not only didn't pass it by the general public, but they didn't even get adequate input from a few knowldegeable folks.

dan dempsey said...

Hey Bird,

Isn't this about par for the course:

"It's a freakin' bizarre proposal no matter which way you take it.

It sounds like they not only didn't pass it by the general public, but they didn't even get adequate input from a few knowldegeable folks."


Yup Bizarre, but just business as usual for this crew.

Charlie Mas said...

So now we have the story. Dr. Enfield spoke on the phone with Director Martin-Morris and the two of them decided to remove the item from the Board agenda.

Director Martin-Morris is quoted as saying "That's the way the process is supposed to work."

No. It isn't the way the process is supposed to work.

One Board member is not authorized to make unilateral changes to proposals before the Board after they have been introduced. He has FAR overstepped his authority.

Can you imagine where this could lead? Director Smith-Blum wanted some changes to the list of Series 2000 and 3000 policies that would be subjected to Phase II review, and she was not granted that authority. That change would have required a vote of the Board as an amendment to the motion. But Director Martin-Morris makes this change with a phone call to the superintendent.

And he says that this is how the process is supposed to work.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I was told that at the break at the last Board meeting, that DeBell took Smith-Blum aside and gently told her that discussions belong in committees. I asked the person if he/she had heard correctly and the answer was yes.

I don't know if this tamping down of discussion at Board meetings is to save time or to keep it to a minimum but given that this is the most likely time that the public would listen to issues brought before the Board, I find this astonishing.

Anonymous said...

HMM "that's how the process is supposed to work"... Is that in writing somewhere Harium? Otherwise it doesn't exist, right?

All those Board retreats on "governance" and we get this freak show.

Mr Ed

Dorothy Neville said...

Perhaps Michael did say that to Kay, but to be clear, at the last board meeting there was no break. Steve moved through the agenda. Must have been after the meeting or another time?

Anonymous said...

The 20 minute Board discussion from the 11/02 meeting is well worth watching (streaming video online at the Board's page, @ 141 minutes). With the exception of Smith-Bloom's attempt (to move 4 specific policies to phase 2), there was no discussion about the content of any of the policies, but rather total confusion & constant district reassurances that this whole Phase 1 vote is really all about "renumbering the policies" into a new streamlined system, and NOT about content (and that any of the policies bundled together in the board motion for approval could be put back into phase 2 for review if requested).

But, this is NOT what the Action Report states- It is a full scale approval of all of the 2000 and 3000 policies, and "will go into effect immediately upon approval by the School Board."

If my count is correct, all together in the 2000 & 3000 series, there are 147 policies (and an additional 42 superintendent procedures which apparently are not even required to be approved by the board), with 29 of those being totally new policies (such as the infamous "Freedom of Expression" policy). Subtract out 8 marked "no change", and 28 marked "phase 2", and that leaves a grand total of 111 new and/or revised policies being voted on and approved, effective immediately, without proper discussion or review!

Despite three C&I meetings, 1 board work session and the 11/02 board meeting there has not been a full review of each and every one of the policies being approved. This is inexcusable! The work session ran out of time and did not even get to any of the 3000 series policies (a whopping 83 policies with 17 brand new ones). In each of the C&I meetings the board members only discussed the policies they thought needed review or clarification, and did not even glance at the majority of the policies (the minutes for 9/26 show that they discussed 5 specific policies).

The district keeps saying that the process and the vote is to facilitate the renumbering system- fine, vote on that but don't approve 111 new and or revised policies with no thorough review.

Too many/too fast!

Charlie Mas said...

And the direct consequence of the sloppy process described by Too many/too fast is the inadvertent adoption of wrong-headed policies, such as the student newspaper censorship one, and the inadvertant repeal of good policies, such as the one that required introduction of motions at one board meeting and a vote on those motions at a subsequent board meeeting.

I suppose that work of this scale could be undertaken by a board who paid better attention to detail, but not by this board.

dan dempsey said...

but given that this is the most likely time that the public would listen to issues brought before the Board, I find this astonishing.

Not me.... after watching this crew ignore policies and laws for several years .... It is quite obvious that transparency is only an illusion that the District tries to sell.