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Saturday, December 03, 2011

Letter to the Board about a Superintendent Search

Dear Directors,

Not to be premature but it seems the vibe I am getting is that there will not be a superintendent search.

I think Sue Peters did a great job in laying out issues about Superintendent Enfield. I am especially troubled by Dr. Enfield's rapid turnover at jobs as well as the silence from the last district where she was employed . That the staff there was directed not to speak about her is worrisome.

I like Dr. Enfield. I feel she has calmed the waters and done good outreach to the community. But I have not heard, in detail, her vision. I know what AGREE appears to be but what is that vis a vis the Strategic Plan? What is the vision from the Board and how is she carrying it out? We have not heard that.

I will remind all of you what happened the last time we were given an interim superintendent as a permanent. We were promised that even though Joe Olchefske was not an educator, he was a financial "whiz" and that was great. It was so great that he ran this district into the ditch to the tune of $32M.

I don't expect that to happen with Dr. Enfield but without some questions being answered as noted above (and by Sue Peters), I do worry.

What I would hope is that if you do decide to go without a search, that we will have some community meetings where the Superintendent will be given 20-30 minutes to outline her vision (was the State of the District speech that speech?). Then, the public gets to ask her questions and she answers them.

If you are to - de facto - give her the job - with a three-year contract - without a search, without public input (except for a couple of poorly attended community meetings and very odd survey), then you should allow the public to give their comments and ask her questions.

If not, then I have to wonder what the push is to hire her. If she (or you) are unwilling to talk about her values and judgment and past mistakes/accomplishment, then I see future problems.

Melissa Westbrook

68 comments:

Anonymous said...

Seriously....

The board is so bought and sold, if this is the case.

DeBell needs to get a spine or he will be the next one gone.

--I guess Jon Bridge and his minions are still running SPS

Anonymous said...

Do we really not know why her former district was silenced about her leaving? Someone must know someone, it can't be that hard to track down a PTA person or someone from a school's website, right?
--Curious

Anonymous said...

I would simply ask Enfield herself to talk about it, given the serious community concerns about it. If she says "no," (i.e., "none of our business") then that's a pretty significant strike against her in my book. Or, she can explain it herself, and we can then fact check it with Evergreen district folks.

If she wants to enforce that Confidentiality Agreement negotiated by herself or her lawyers, then she should pay the freight for doing so, not us. Public figures and employees can assert their privileged rights all they want. But at their peril.

Ask the question to Enfield directly, and let her decide whether its worth talking about or not.

Any job related issues from her past are fair game, and she only hurts herself by telling us to MYOB. She is our business. WSDWG

Anonymous said...

Seriously? The board members I've spoken to are really focused on a search. Where is your info coming from Melissa?

Eddie

dan dempsey said...

Hummm.... about that vibe, I do not get the same vibe.

Betty Patu .. no vibe there
Peaslee .. I doubt the vibe is there
McLaren .. check Enfield's do nothing plans for math

DeBell .. he has not been a fan of MAP and a lot of other Enfield reform plans of late.

KSB .. dunno about KSB and a search .... she knows the business of making a profit and improvement.

Sherry and Harium are the only left overs from the usual 4-3 decision-making.

My money would be on that....
there is going to be a search.

Check the waiver progress at Curriculum and Instruction .... check the defiance of WAC 181-79A-231 .... check the poorly constructed and inaccurate Action Reports dating back to CAO Enfield's NTN #1 and NTN #2.

Check Enfield's actions on TFA and that the District is funneling more money to Olympia lawyers to defend against appeals of TFA ....

mirmac1 said...

For the new board to start off with such a critical decision along a 4-3 split forbodes a divided, uncollaborative start.

If there is ANY question among the board, then open the position for a qualifications-based selection process. Otherwise the undemocratic, unrepresentative contingent wins.

Anonymous said...

after the debell & ksb performance on TFA,

can you spell 'RUBBER STAMP'

I'll trust them when they VOTE differently - what they say, right now, is garbage.

Show Me The Votes

Anonymous said...

You've given me hope, Dan. I didn't know about the silence dictum surrounding her last position. I'd sure like to know what the Principals' Association thinks of her. From what I heard a while back from one, they are bristling a bit under her harness as well. He said there was some general uease among his colleagues but did not detail any. Only one principal and one comment so take it for what it's worth. But . . . perhaps a little smoke?

Seems like everyone is a little uneasy these days.

northender

Anonymous said...

mirmac1 12/3/11 5:38 PM

Are you aware of the history of "collaboration" during the last 30+ years?

Did you notice all the arm flapping in the last few days about Gingrich saying that us little people should just shut up and be serfs? Frankly, it has been obvious to non casual observers of Gingrich's party, for decades, that what they've been about, for decades, is serfdom for all.

Gingrich didn't just drop out of the sky. In 1994, 17 years ago, he was Speaker of the United States House of Representatives.

All through the 80's and the 90's and the 00's the Democratic Party has been scolded into being collaborative and bipartisan with people who want us all to be doormats - unless you have enough net worth to support a lifestyle free from housing anxiety or health care bankruptcy or income shortfalls for the next 30 years, I really don't see the value of collaborating with the likes of Gingrich

OrTheEdDeformers

Zebra (or Zulu) said...

Enfield is currently playing nice and keeping her head low until she has a three-year contract. Once she has that the gloves will come off. Then, watch the hammer come down on teachers.

A search is essential if we are going to break the cycle of cronyism, nepotism, incompetence, and inefficiency downtown. All she has done is hand out pay raises to those who have not quit, bailed, or been caught with their paws in the till. Name one successful "innovation" that her her brainchild.

If you doubt for a minute her lack of qualifications for this job, take a look at the facilities department and its insane inefficiency, backlog of work, and indifference to the woeful state of schools around the district. She is the Supt. and it's her job to shake that dead tree.

Feh...

mirmac1 said...

OrtheEdDeformers,

uh, okay, so instead of eliminating the tyranny of the majority are you saying let's go with the tyranny of the minority?

I'm saying they need to ensure everyone on the board is ONBOARD or (more likely) if they're not, take the road that brings about the more democratic (small d), transparent, deliberative process.

Anonymous said...

mirmac1

in today's world of political doublespeak, getting the government off the backs of the people means allowing AIG, Goldman Sacks, Chase & BOA to turn your mortgage into a piece of junk investment which is then used to wipe out people's retirement security - oh, and wreck the economy and your income security also!

I honestly don't know what majority or what minority you're speaking of, unless you're referring to the tyranny of the minority 1% who've been doing great en-serfing us for decades. If you believe the wonderfully sincere sounding lies coming from the Great Gates, oh well.

I would point out that if you ask a truly random sample of Americans who favors killing babies, over 95% will wonder why you're not in jail. If you ask those same Americans how many want someone else's priest, guru, rabbi, swami, reverend, pastor, preacher, ... in their doctor's office dictating their medical care, a large % of that over 90% saying 'NO WAY' will be loading a gun.

I think there is a lot of reasonable disagreement about possible best practices, and finding common ground to benefit the kids will take work and collaboration.

I think the desires and the motives and the lies of the 1% are only worth fighting.

OrTheEdDeformers

Anonymous said...

KSB is on record for saying that Susan Enfield is the best superintendent candidate SPS has had in 20 years....scary level of poor judgment.

KSB is a shoe-in on voting for Enfield. There's no secret there. The fact that KSB voted for TFA cemented it. Her reason for approval was that some principals wanted that flexibility. She did not vote in the interest of children, as she clearly stated, but on behalf of a few administrators and her starlet, Susan (watch them interact like BFFs). KSB really needs to go.

DeBell, on the other hand, knew the depth of the TFA corruption and how beholden Enfield is to her rich and powerful sponsors,and voted for it anyway. That, folks, is a coward. Can't count on him to vote his conscience this time, either.

I'm with Show Me the Votes...

The Alliance PR Campaign showed this was a done deal. They aren't going to go public with a campaign they know they haven't already won. The fact that Susan timed her ultimatum with theirs was no coincidence, either. Susan will have her coronation.

--MGJ lives on!

suep. said...

Here's some of my letter to the school board about this. It's too long to post in the comments. (Melissa, you can post the whole text if you like.)

Superintendent Search -- Please do your job with due diligence and conduct a search

Dear Directors and Directors-Elect,

I am writing to urge you to conduct a thorough search for a permanent school superintendent for the Seattle Public School District. Susan Enfield may be among the candidates under consideration, but she should not be the only one. We need to give our district the opportunity to select the best, and not settle for the most convenient choice.

There is arguably no more important job you must do as board members than to carefully hire the district superintendent. I trust you will take this role very seriously and conscientiously search for the most qualified and well-suited candidate for our district.

Below are my reasons, outlined and then explained. I hope you will take them into consideration.

I agree that Susan Enfield has better communication skills than Maria Goodloe-Johnson, but that should not be the only consideration. She has taken some positive actions during the last eight months on the job, letting go of some central administration staff, pulling back on one MAP test. But her record is mixed. There have been some troubling actions by her, and elements from her past, which leave uncertain what her leadership would be like if she were granted the job permanently and no longer felt the need to secure the position.

The community needs to know, does she have the judgment, skills and loyalties to the right priorities? As I’m sure you can understand, parents like myself are very nervous about the district making a mistake. Here are some more questions and issues that need to be considered and answered.

(continued)

suep. said...

(continued)

Why Seattle Public Schools should conduct a thorough superintendent search (and why it can’t afford not to):

1. Seattle should not choose a school superintendent by default -- again.

2. There are financial and political risks to foregoing a search

3. The state auditor has already cited the school board for failing to exercise oversight. The superintendent search is no time to shirk responsibilities again.

4. Susan Enfield has not been thoroughly vetted by SPS as a superintendent candidate.

5. Why was Susan Enfield laid off by her previous employer, Evergreen School District (in Vancouver, WA)?
(“(…) By trimming some central positions and support, such as not retaining Susan Enfield, former deputy superintendent, Evergreen sliced administrative spending by more than $1.5 million this year.” See: School administrative costs not out of line - That’s what documents at OSPI reveal about Evergreen, Vancouver, By Howard Buck, Columbian staff writer, Wednesday, January 27, 2010: http://www.columbian.com/news/2010/jan/27/school-administrative-costs-not-out-of-line/)

6. Why did Enfield’s previous employer (Evergreen) refuse to talk about her with Seattle when she was named interim superintendent here?
(See: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2014381857enfield03m.html “…Enfield's tenure in Vancouver ended before key leaders got a chance to develop strong opinions about her style and potential as a leader. Evergreen Public Schools Superintendent John Deeder on Wednesday instructed his staff not to comment about Enfield, who worked as deputy director for the district from August 2006 to June 2009. (…)

7. Enfield has never been selected as a superintendent before in a competitive field.

8. Her peripatetic career: Why so much movement, and is she committed to Seattle?
As the Seattle Times pointed out, according to her resume, Enfield has held 8 jobs in the last 10 years in six different towns (some appear to be promotions).

9. Does she have divided loyalties? Her behind-the-scenes preoccupation with Teach for America, Inc. (on SPS’s dime?) and the message this sends to Seattle’s fully credentialed teachers raises a number of questions – and shades of Goodloe-Johnson. (See: (http://www.scribd.com/doc/63080274/Enfield-Apologizes-to-Janis-for-Public-Comments Also see: http://www.scribd.com/doc/63003421/TFA-3; http://www.scribd.com/doc/63003744/TFA-5 also: http://www.seattlechannel.org/videos/video.asp?ID=5964 Start at minute 118.)

suep. said...

(continued)

10. The summary firing of Principal Martin Floe - questionable judgment

11. Pay raises for central administration staff during recession – questionable judgment

12. Her education consulting firm - potential conflict of interest?

13. On her watch, two questionable hires: Teach for America, Inc. recruitment director as SPS recruitment manager, and staffer from controversial political marketing firm Strategies 360

14. Why the need for a deputy superintendent? Could a more experienced candidate eliminate the need for this second position (saving money)?

15. She was hired by Goodloe-Johnson and was part of that controversial administration, so she does not represent new, independent leadership.

16. Her close association with controversial education reformist Vicki Phillips of the Gates Foundation. (See: http://www.portlandtribune.com/news/story.php?story_id=117339349292820000)

17. If the school district can conduct a national search for its director of communications, surely it can conduct one for the far more important position of superintendent.

(See: Chief Communications Officer appointed

March 25, 2011

Seattle Public Schools on Friday announced the appointment of Lesley Rogers as the district’s Chief Communications Officer, following a national search.

Rogers, who starts April 4, will oversee internal and external communications for the District. She replaces Bridgett Chandler, who resigned on Jan. 3. The appointment follows a national search and interview process that included a team of more than 30 people – District staff, school staff, community members, a union representative and parents. Candidates in the final interview had to present a professional development workshop, a strategic communications plan, a mock media roundtable and take a writing test. (...)


18. Other districts consider many candidates for superintendent.

19. Why not conduct a local search?

mirmac1 said...

ortheEdDeformers

in today's world of political doublespeak, getting the government off the backs of the people means allowing AIG, Goldman Sacks, Chase & BOA to turn your mortgage into a piece of junk investment"

Hello?! That's us. Thanks to my immigrant background, I can agitate with the best of 'em.

I want the new Board to seriously consider if it wishes to cram down the throat of its new membership, a continued association with an executive that has shown herself to be untrustworthy.

To arms!

Anonymous said...

What can an average SPS parent do to try to encourage a search? Letters? As a parent of an Ingraham student, I have definitely not been impressed by Susan Enfield - but am not really sure what to do....

- parent of 3 SPS students

Eric B said...

Parent of three: I think there are three ways to be effective:
1. Write letters/emails. Being respectful makes it easier for your views to be heard. Respectful doesn't mean that you have to moderate your views, just don't tell them that they'll be the first up against the wall when the revolution comes. Having facts (eg Enfield tried to fire a well-respected principal against the community's wishes) also makes it easier to be heard.

2. Go to Board meetings and/or community meetings and take time to discuss the issue with Board directors.

3. Testify at Board meetings.

I won't say these always work, but your voice will be heard.

WV: disingua

Jack Whelan said...

I think that SueP's list makes a compelling case for a search, and I think that one should be pushed for, but if the votes for a search aren't there (and I don't think they are), I think it's critical that only a one-year deal be offered.

I think that with Sundquist and Maier gone, there's an opportunity now for a new consensus about values and direction to develop within the board, but that it's going to take some time to develop, at least a year.

I'm speaking for myself here, but if I were in Sharon's or Marty's positions, I would prefer to have the time to build trust, credibility, and to have the opportunity to win over the other board members rather than be forced into an immediate, divisive confrontation about an issue that is so important and that will have such a long-term impact on the district.

A severely divided board does not serve the district's interests, and I think that the board as it is currently composed has the potential to develop a healthy (5-2) majority with Martin-Morris and Carr most frequently in the minority. And Martin Morris is, let us say, unpredictable. Some of his votes were much better than those of his colleagues.

I may be all wet on this, but I see Smith-Blum and DeBell as the swing votes, i.e., as votes that could possibly have been persuaded to change, for instance, on TFA if there had been stronger, more articulate opposition to it from other directors. There were no such directors on the board last year; there are now, but they must be given time to do the work necessary to build consensus.

That's why I think that a three-year contract could very well lead to disaster, but a one-year deal would not. It would give the new board time to gel before making a critical decision about the district's future, and we'll have an extra year to see if Enfield is someone whose commitments lie with the ed reform camp or is someone who can adapt to a new direction (we hope) developed by a new board. If the former, she probably wouldn't want to stay anyway. That's why a one-year deal works in everyone's best interests.

But a multi-year deal must be resisted. If a one-year deal isn't good enough for Enfield, then the decision becomes too much about her and not about what's good for the district, and I think that 5 of the 7 could be persuaded to see it that way.

mirmac1 said...

DeBelle needs to demonstrate why he deserves to be President again by adhering to sound principles and soliciting qualifications from the best candidates. How many more times does he want to be hoodwinked by Enfield, TFA and Jon Bridge? Does he really want to sit there and watch Holly Ferguson giggle and adjust her story as parents point out the (many) things she neglects to mention? How many times does he have to ask Teoh "so why do you think the numbers are what they are?"

WV: I hear nintings, I see nintings, I know nintings! Channeling Colonel Schultz.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Write to the Board at
schoolboard@seattleschools.org

Eddie, as I said, it's a vibe but I don't think the votes are there. I do not want a 4-3 vote on this.

I note that I completely forgot to tell them - no 3-year contract. It is wrong to install a superintendent for 3-years when no search took place. I would find it deeply troubling and I think that those on the Board who want a search might be willing to abandon a search for a shorter contract.

"I'm speaking for myself here, but if I were in Sharon's or Marty's positions, I would prefer to have the time to build trust, credibility, and to have the opportunity to win over the other board members rather than be forced into an immediate, divisive confrontation about an issue that is so important and that will have such a long-term impact on the district.

A severely divided board does not serve the district's interests, and I think that the board as it is currently composed has the potential to develop a healthy (5-2) majority with Martin-Morris and Carr most frequently in the minority."

I absolutely agree with Jack on this. While this is an extremely important issue, coming out with a confrontation early on will not help the new Board or the district. I think that a careful getting the lay of the land by Marty and Sharon and building key relationships will serve this Board better in the end and find more votes towards the progressive side.

Putting it bluntly, I don't want the Times or any other powers that be to try to marginalize Marty or Sharon from the get go. Sure they might try but don't give them ammo. This is going to the be the smart Board and if there are just a few on the sidelines doing the ed reform chant, that would be swell.

Anonymous said...

For what it's worth, I'm with Sue Peters. Tell Enfield there will be a search, and if she doesn't like it, then by all means she should take a hike.

-- Ivan Weiss

KG said...

She continues to approve the ridiculous amount overspent on the Central Admin. monster.

Rid of her, she is a large part of the problem.

Let the employees and parents vote wether to keep her or not.

Michelle said...

Hey Zulu

Really? You must be kidding about Facilities. THEY are FINALLY getting stuff done.

You must have never waited for months to get a heater turned OFF in your classroom while kids fall asleep during instruction time.

That department is so much better now than it was in the past it is amazing,

I'm not taking a side about Enfield or TFA and I have never before thought about defending them but I have to note the improvement there.

You must be looking at bad data.

Backlog down.....way down.

Anonymous said...

I second Jack W, and I'll point to comments like Michelle's above, as evidence that things may still not be good, but they are better than with MGJ.

It could simply be that Enfield is picking low hanging fruit, like small maintenance requests, but regardless, some steps are not just things I can live with, but actual, verifiable improvements.

At the same time, I agree with the warnings of the poster commenting that Enfield is just biding her her time until she has a 3 year contract in hand.

If Enfield is a reasonable person, she can live with a 1 year contract. If not, then a nice warm "SeeYa" is probably in order.

CCOE=ComeCleanOnEvergreen

(WSDWG)

dan dempsey said...

Jack W.... wrote:

I think that one should be pushed for, but if the votes for a search aren't there (and I don't think they are), I think it's critical that only a one-year deal be offered.

Given the number of extremely poor action reports that have had Susan Enfield's name on them .... to believe that a search will not be conducted .... really makes me realize how poor leadership has been from the Board and might continue to be.

Time to send the Board members that authorized the TFA conditional certs in violation of WAC 181-79A-231 to a recall sufficiency hearing. .... how many free passes does Enfield get? Teflon Susan.... because the Board keeps spraying Teflon on her.

Accountability??? apparently none.

Po3 said...

What are the reasons not do a national search?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Reasons not to:

- cost (but this is the most important job in our district. There are clearly - at least by the number of people who applied for jobs that MGJ applied for - many people who would apply)

- frustration over the process/hard to vet.

- Dr. Enfield has calmed the waters and shown leadership (could be debated on the leadership level). We have "vetted" her abilities already and some of the Board feel she came through well.

- less churn and we move on.

- she has replaced some problematic personnel (but not in her area of expertise - academics) and therefore, is willing to bring in change

- the powers that be in Seattle want her - she has clearly shown she supported ed reform and the business types/power players want Washington to be like the other states and have charters, TFA, etc. You need a cooperative superintendent for that to happen.

Anonymous said...

Check this out at ST. Maybe there's hope for DeBell.

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2016936142_mercer05m.html

Fingers Crossed

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

@ Po3-

The primary reasons not to do a search, for me, are:

1) The belief that Dr. Enfield is good enough

2) The belief that anyone we got to replace her would not be much better

3) The time and progress lost in a change of leadership - at least a year while the new superintendent learned the district and personnel

4) The wear and tear on personnel and morale as district direction is switched back and forth - at some point a lot of people just start ignoring central office mandates that they expect to outlast

5) Dr. Enfield's excellent and decisive work improving the personnel and, more importantly, the culture of the District's central office (in every department but her own)

6) The risk that the search might fail, we lose Dr. Enfield, and we end up with either the nightmarish Cathy Thompson or the completely inexperienced (though admirable) Noel Treat as our next interim superintendent

In short, there isn't much upside from a search - we aren't going to do much better - and there is some real downside - we could end up much worse.

For those who believe that there is someone much, much better than Dr. Enfield out there, I have ask: Who?

someone said...

I don't know that there necessarily "IS" someone better out there - my concerns are twofold -
1. the "good enough" theory - is that adequate for this important position, for ultimately the success of our students? Don't we expect more than "good enough" from them and therefore, shouldn't we expect more from the administration (and not just the Supt)?

2. I have been troubled about the enforced silence of her last district since the very beginning - it may all be nothing, but the appearance of an issue there is problematic. Especially when coupled by her high turnover rate. There's usually a reason behind that kind of employment history and if I was the hiring agency, I'd be asking why.

Does that mean she's not the right person for right now? I don't really know - but those are the questions that keep running around in my own mind.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand how Charlie could possibly know whether or not there are better qualified candidates out there? That's why the search.

Superintendent receives enormous compensation and has a great deal of power, so let's search for the best person we can find, to fill this important job.

It's hard for me to believe that Enfield, who was hand-picked by MGJ, is by default the best we can do? I'm opposed to Enfield for that reason alone, unless the hiring team chooses her from among the group of applicants.

IVoteSearch!

anonymous said...

Since my kids have been in SPS the district superintendents have been Olshefski, Manhas, MGJ, and Enfield. Enfield is in my opinion far superior to all three of them -combined. I think Charlie is right in his thinking that if we search we might find someone better. But I doubt they'd be much better. And on the flip side we could wind up with someone worse. Far worse.

Knowing that no super is going to be all things to all people, I'd ask readers who advocate for a search, what does better look like to you? What qualities, experience, beliefs, that Dr. Enfield does not possess, are you hoping to find in a new super? And what, if any, would be the trade offs/downside to losing Dr. Enfield (for instance if we hired an outsider it could take a year plus for him/her to just begin to figure out the complexities of our district)?

go green

Jan said...

The curriculum/instruction -- and school leadership stuff -- is so troubling to me. Dr. E has had many months now to fix things. Why are waivers still so impossible to get (and why should there be such a rigid approach that such a ridiculous policy is needed in the first place)?

Why have building leadership problems at schools like Lowell, McClure, and others been allowed to fester? We had some terrible results in terms of staff unhappiness in the school reports. Has there been any action by Dr. E or the Ed Directors to identify and resolve the issues? i realize that some of this stuff gets a bit close to being "personnel issues" -- which are often handled without a great deal of publicity. But before we go with even a ONE year contract -- I would love to know -- Does Dr. E notice this stuff? Does she even think there is a problem? Does she care? Does she have the will, and the skills, to solve these problems?

Anonymous said...

A search would also present the opportunity to discuss the HUGE salary and compensation package of the super.

Instead of giving it away how about some "performance" incentives.

dw said...

I don't understand how Charlie could possibly know whether or not there are better qualified candidates out there?

Experience. Living and breathing educational advocacy for the past 10 years. But read his post carefully, point by point. The odds of finding a significantly better supe aren't that great, but we've seen much worse, right here in our own city, multiple cycles. And that's not the main or only point, the other points are all stuff to chew on.

My take is still this: the new Board has a few weeks to try to understand what Dr. Enfield is really about. Not a single person posting here, not even Charlie, Melissa or SueP has any deep insights into how Dr. Enfield will be able to work with a Board that's not completely and utterly run by the ed reform crowd. No superintendent working for the previous Board could have stood up to TfA, period. The fact that we have as few TfA teachers as we do might possibly even be a feather in SE's cap (yes, this is probably a stretch, but possible). Now, however, with a new Board there is hope for change. I really wish the Board had 3-4 months to make a decision, because it's going to be rushed.

I think they need to pick one hot button issue, push hard on it (TfA stands out), and see if it's a nasty battle, or if SE is willing to work with the Board on pulling back on it. A litmus test.

If she's flexible enough to work with the Board on a highly visible issue like this, then I think the Board should consider a offering her a new contract. (If they find out she was bullshitting, they can always do a search later! yes, at a cost, but let's keep the termination payout clause to a bare minimum)

If there's just not enough time to make a meaningful determination (time is really, really short right now, with the holidays), then definitely not more than a 1-year contract offer. Perhaps a search is in order, but would depend a lot on how things were going behind the scenes.

If she's unwilling to bend, then a search is absolutely in order. Heck, if the new Board says "No to TfA" and she's not willing to bend on that issue, then I wouldn't necessarily even add her name to the search list.

But in the meantime, all of you who are calling for Enfield's hide are doing so without any understanding of what she's really about. None of us know, myself included. She was working for the previous Board, implementing their strategies. She has done a bunch of good housecleaning downtown in the meantime, and needs to have a chance to show what she's made of. But it needs to happen very quickly.

Jan said...

Good points, dw. But to me -- TfA is, or should be, toast anyway. The issue I would pick (and one that I think would better showcase her analytical, problemsolving, and leadership skills) would either be waivers (a redoing of the waiver policy so that schools have a reasonable course for using alternate materials) or currently existing and unresolved leadership (i.e. -- principal problems) existing in schools, as daylighted by the school reports.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Well, I'm still waiting. What's her plan? I'm not taking the past 8 months of basically calming the waters as part and parcel that she's better than what's out there.

I have deep concern over what superintendent she would be once she is the permanent one.

I wonder why, if no search, we can't have some community meetings where the community can ask her questions about directions for the district.

If she's it, why the silence? Why not a discussion?

dj said...

I don't think it is "calling for Enfield's hide" to suggest that when you have a superintendent who got into the position by accident, searching to see if there is a better candidate out there is sensible. I teach at a university, and it is really common in the dean/presidential search context that an administrator steps down or is removed, that an internal interim is appointed, and that you then have a national search for the position, inviting the interim into the pool. Often, the interim, who has specific institutional familiarity, beats out the national competitors. Often they don't, because great general candidates get into the pool. But it is standard and assures everyone that the best person for the position who is available to fill it is in it. You don't have to hate the accidental administrator to understand that they may or may not be the best available person.

Anonymous said...

@dw: "No superintendent working for the previous Board could have stood up to TfA, period."

dw, Enfield wasn't trying to "stand up" to TfA; she was the key player who was pushing TfA into Seattle. Did you read the emails? It was clear...Enfield was on a mission to bring TfA here. She was in no way trying to be a single woman army standing up to the power of Kopp. To the contrary, she was having wine parties with them and putting down concerned citizens in a prolonged and deliberate attempt, fully realized, to put this unnecessary experiment into our the education of our most vulnerable students.

By the way, Charlie, integrity matters, particularly when children are impacted. Enfield has shown an obvious deficit in this area. I am very surprised (and disturbed) that you manage to rationalize this away.

--just the facts

Charlie Mas said...

@just the facts, I agree that integrity matters. What makes you think that any superintendent the Board hires won't have WORSE integrity problems - ones that we won't know about until it is too late.

There are very few saints who rise to assume leadership roles of large institutions.

Charlie Mas said...

Look, I'm not saying that there isn't anyone better. It's very likely that there are a couple dozen people who are ready and able to do the job and do it better than Dr. Enfield.

But how many of those folks would apply for the job? Meanwhile, I'm pretty sure that there are several dozen folks who would do it a whole lot worse than Dr. Enfield who would also apply for the position. Who's to say that the Board would choose one of the good ones?

Let's say we got one of the good ones. How much better than Dr. Enfield would that person be? I suggest that the new, better superintendent would be only incrementally better than Dr. Enfield. The improvement would be nominal.

And the District would pause while that new person gained traction.

And the District would pause while that new person determined a new direction.

And there would be wear and tear on the personnel as the new person started to implement changes.

And, let's face it, in about four years that new person would be gone. One year, 25% of their time, wasted while they figured out Seattle when starting and another 25% of their time wasted in their last year after giving the long notice required by the contract.

A strong board might be able to work the needed reforms in teaching and learning - even with Dr. Enfield in place.

It was the Board, not the staff, that called for the reduction in the central office and made it happen.

It is the Board, not the staff, who are forcing things forward on waivers.

It is the Board, not the staff, who are demanding the audit corrections.

It is the Board, not the staff, who are demanding some oversight and performance measures.

They are late to it, but they are the people behind it: Michael DeBell, Kay Smith-Blum, and Sherry Carr are pushing the superintendent and the staff. They can continue to push and they will force ahead on reforms in Teaching and Learning even if Dr. Enfield tries to impede it.

More likely, she will get with the program and go along.

There is no brilliant, bold, and progressive superintendent candidate out there. They have all come up through the culture of public K-12 education.

Want to know what REALLY scares me? If there is a new superintendent, then Cathy Thompson will really begin to take on the duties and authority of the CAO, which, I suspect, are now retained by Dr. Enfield.

Anonymous said...

Conducting a search does not disqualify Susan Enfield from being selected. It merely broadens the pool of candidates, and that's a good thing.

I trust our elected board to choose a better superintendent than the default Susan Enfield, who was chosen for us by MGJ.

-Eyes Wide Open

dw said...

Jan said: Good points, dw. But to me -- TfA is, or should be, toast anyway. The issue I would pick (and one that I think would better showcase her analytical, problem solving, and leadership skills) would either be waivers (a redoing of the waiver policy so that schools have a reasonable course for using alternate materials) or currently existing and unresolved leadership (i.e. -- principal problems) existing in schools, as daylighted by the school reports.

Very interesting contrast. To me, I feel like the waiver issue is foregone, but TfA will be a battle. I really do think we will see some waivers granted, starting this academic year (for next year). The new Board may have their collective eye on a new math textbook adoption ( bye-bye CMP! ), but given the budget woes right now, I think the only realistic choice they have is to push hard for waivers.

TfA, on the other hand, has a lot of very wealthy, very influential people involved. Both locally, and nationally. I think if Enfield drops support for TfA she runs the risk of losing a lot of clout in those circles, far more than if she allows a few schools to "experiment" with other textbooks.

In either case, I don't think the Board is going to relax and ignore these issues. Waivers are very likely to be supported by Marty, Sharon, Betty, Michael and probably Kay as well. If Harium gets back onboard that train maybe it could even go unanimous. I think it's a done deal. TfA, I'm not so sure about. I feel pretty confident that Betty, Sharon and Marty are non-supporters, and that Michael and Sherry are fence-sitters, but I have no idea about Kay (someone here said she supports TfA), and Harium appears to be an unapologetic supporter. This is an important issue that I think Enfield could try to push back hard on, bringing in some heavyweights to influence individual Board members.

I'm still trying to wrap my head around how the Board would deal with the leadership/principals issue. I definitely agree there are problems, and that the school reports highlight specific problems. But the reports (just like student assessments) should be red flags to be investigated more thoroughly, rather than a cause for dismissal or reshuffling. I guess that hasn't even been happening much (at least publicly) -- is that what you're thinking?

Honestly, if they attack any of these issues with some vigor I'll be pleased. I think it will give them a flavor of what kind of working relationship they can expect with Enfield moving forward, and that's the big mystery right now.

dw said...

Oh, and Jan, the contrast in our thinking on this one was quite interesting to me because of how often I agree (in surprising detail) with your comments here on this blog. I can't begin to count how many times I've thought about responding to a post or comment, but I continue reading and you've already said almost exactly what I was thinking, so I don't bother!

I have no expectation that it's happening the other direction, (and I've changed my handle a couple times over the years) so no worries on that. ;-)

dw said...

JTF said: Enfield wasn't trying to "stand up" to TfA; she was the key player who was pushing TfA into Seattle. Did you read the emails? It was clear...Enfield was on a mission to bring TfA here.

I didn't read every last email, but I did read a lot of them. Enough to get a good feel for the tenor, and I can totally understand why people are upset. I am as well. But if you think you can reach into Enfield's mind and understand what her motivations are based on those emails, you're thinking is clouded by anger.

My gut says that Enfield is just doing what many of us are required to do in our professional lives, and that's to try to figure out who she needs to impress (or merely satisfy) to keep her job and have a chance of moving up the career ladder.

As of six short days ago she has a new boss, and only time will tell if she can play nicely in this new setting. If she can, she is BY FAR the best choice because of continuity, her tenure here and the new hires she has made. But if she continues to push hard for TfA (and/or other big issues the district is facing right now) against the wishes of the Board, then she should be replaced ASAP. I'm not saying you're wrong to be suspicious, but I am saying that you (like the rest of us) absolutely do not know, and it will take at least a few weeks for this to play out.

Think about it this way: if the new Board asks her to do something, she should comply, right? Even if she doesn't like it, right? And she should she put on a good face while doing so, right? I would hope we all agree. Now back up a year or two and ask yourself the same questions, but with the previous Board in place. Not to mention the undoubtedly huge pressure that the big local players have been providing, and will continue to provide(!), much of which we will probably never know about (the smartest folks understand FOIA, and are unlikely to communicate anything remotely sensitive via SPS email).

I'll be the first in line to say "bye-bye" to Enfield if she can't work with the new Board, but those of you who think you have some crystal ball into her inner psyche just because you've read a bunch of email threads need to get out a bit more and interact with some executives or politicians. Time will tell, and nothing else will substitute.

Anonymous said...

"My gut says that Enfield is just doing what many of us are required to do in our professional lives, and that's to try to figure out who she needs to impress (or merely satisfy) to keep her job and have a chance of moving up the career ladder."

Unfortunately, she made this choice at the expense of the children who deserve a qualified teacher and the teachers (including the newly certificated graduates) who, justifiably, feel slapped in the face. So, it was not a benign ego/career move but behavior that continues to have a significant impact on the lives of the students and teachers in this district.

DW, you'd be surprised to know some of the folks I know and spend quality time with. Susan Enfield is a political amateur or she would not have made such horrendous (traceable) miscalculations in such a short time. So, she's not only ethically challenged, but doesn't have the know-how to hide it... By the way, Sarah Palin found out the hard way that using personal email and cellphones do not circumvent FOIA when conducting one's duty of office--there's a good chance these amateurs will be getting personal record subpoenas at some point.

--just the facts

Anonymous said...

I think Dr Enfield is on the right track. Let's not waste time with a search. Let's keep this district moving forward. Give her a contract and let everyone stay focused on making Seattle schools great.

-Ben Lowell, parent

dan dempsey said...

Dear Ben Lowell,

What you think about Dr. Enfield does not align with the facts.

I (think) know Dr Enfield is on the (right) wrong track.

She is truth challenged and does not make decisions that impact academics based on evidence.

Check out her pathetically constructed New Tech Network action reports. There are two of them.

Check out her bogus claim submitted to OSPI that a careful review of all options for closing achievement gaps had been performed.... See the need for Mercer to have an undercover academic program ... because Enfield rarely is interested in what actually works .... She is too busy talking about what she wants to work to investigate what actually works.

If you wish to have a focus on making Seattle Schools great ... as in every school having a chance at becoming a quality school .... then Susan Enfield needs to go away.

Learn a lesson from ASA MERCER Middle School. Under Enfield's top down administration successful strategies needed to be hidden from the Central Office. .... She might talk about replicating success but its just words .... witness Singapore Math at Schmitz Park. She is too busy promoting an ed Reform agenda.

Look at actual results from the k-12 math program she continues to push.... As Asa Mercer results show to succeed often requires going undercover to produce good results.

======
Please provide some evidence to backup what you think about Dr Enfield ..... This is NOT a vote for homecoming queen popularity contest .
======

mirmac1 said...

DW, I agree. Sometimes I feel Jan is my doppelganger, just smarter. So you must be too. (tripleganger?)

mirmac1 said...

"If she's it, why the silence? Why not a discussion?"

Melissa, I'm sure there is a discussion, it just doesn't include us because we don't matter. I'm sure Matt Griffin's on hold on line two, as we speak.

Melissa Westbrook said...

"I think Dr Enfield is on the right track."

Ben, can you explain that? Because I don't much about her vision or her plans to carry out the Board's vision. Are we still on the Strategic Plan? Is AGREE the vision?

mirmac1 said...

And don't forget the Four Pillars! Lesley Rogers is sure churning out the pap.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Dan Dempsey. Enfield was head of academics and that included discovery math. Getting waivers for other math materials is difficult. Schools should not have to go rogue in order to teach math.

Her judgment on principals is also troubling. Removing the Ingraham principal was along the lines of MG-J, who moved too far many principals around. It is hard to be a leader at any school if you are only there a short time.

Finally, I have a good friend who has been a public school teacher for years at a Seattle high school. She says Enfield is not liked by many teachers. I think a superintendent should be respected by parents and teachers. I do not know if the board has surveyed teachers. I only saw a general survey that looked like you could read it any way you wanted.

They should conduct a search.

S parent

mirmac1 said...

S Parent,

Glad to hear that about how teachers feel about Enfield. I was concerned the "Soup with the Supe" pap actually fooled anyone.

Enfield fobbed off a crappy principal on Lafayette. What's the theory? Keep moving bad principals from school to school until every single one is run into the ground? Why is the teacher CBA considered landmark, while the principal CBA is business as usual?

Anonymous said...

"...She says Enfield is not liked by many teachers. I think a superintendent should be respected by parents and teachers."

"Like" and "Respect" being two entirely different things, I am not a bit bothered that teachers don't "like" Enfield. I experience quite a few teachers who make it clear to me that they "like" some students over others. If Enfield is willing to take on this mentality (and it is entrenched in some of our more popular schools especially), more power to her. And I see nothing wrong with shuffling around of principals or of MGJ's. Some of those resulted in some of these elitest teachers not being able to get away with the "I like Johnny but I won't have Mary in my classroom" routine.

A reader

Anonymous said...

@a reader

"Like", in this case means lack of mutual respect, which was made eloquently and painfully apparent during many comments by teachers on a thread last week regarding Enfield.

You can spin it how you like but the fact is that many teachers are truly fed up with Enfield and her priorites, which include--giving raises to central administrators while cutting counselors and teachers, bringing in TfA while qualified teachers are unemployed, and having little to no regard for teacher input.

--Just the facts

dw said...

Dan said: Look at actual results from the k-12 math program she continues to push.... As Asa Mercer results show to succeed often requires going undercover to produce good results.

Is she really still pushing inquiry-based math? I honestly don't know, I haven't heard her say much on the topic directly, and not at all recently. In fact, her hire of Wendy London leads me to believe that she's going to be flexible on this issue. So I'm going to play a little devil's advocate, just for the mental exercise. Play along!

What would it take to change your mind? This is a question for many readers (although it seems there are a bunch of people that seem to love Susan just the way she is).

If, tomorrow, Dr. Enfield said: "Wow, the results from Mercer are a stunning and wonderful surprise - how can we replicate that? Oh, they're used different textbooks and a different pedagogy? Great, let's try it at 3 more schools next year and if it's a success let's roll it out to the entire district!"

Would that change your mind?

If that's not enough, what about if the following day she announces that regardless of her personal support for TfA as an organization, she has come to the conclusion that it's not a great fit for Seattle. Too much time and effort has been wasted without a great deal of benefit, so let's just drop it. The few teachers that are here can stay, but no more.

Would that change your mind?

Is there anything (within reason!) that would change your mind to the point that you would support her appointment as our next Superintendent?

The above is a highly unlikely scenario, of course, but my fear, as is Charlie's, is that we could easily do a search and be misled into hiring someone far worse, such as our last Supe. I'm not a kool-aid drinker by any means, I just want the new Board to be able to spend some quality time with her and make a reasoned decision based on their own personal understanding of how that relationship will work out.

Anonymous said...

"You can spin it how you like but the fact is that many teachers are truly fed up with Enfield and her priorites.."

...including teacher evaluation! (Not that that is going to amount to much...). Seriously, the way some of these teachers talk and act -so entitled-- I wouldn't want their input either.

A reader

mirmac1 said...

dw,

If you're saying Enfield comes out tomorrow and does everything the opposite of what she has been pushing, in other words was an entirely different person; I'd say sure thing consider hiring that strange new person among a field of candidates.

But I would figure if she said those things is was purely political. Get politics out of our schools.

Anonymous said...

DW, many posters who are on the fence have indicated the same thoughts , a desire for more insights on Dr. E. I'm no different. I sit on the fence waiting, but is beginning to lean toward the doubters.

TFA doesn't bother me as much just because it's small and not going to last. My concern is why even focus on TFA when there are so many urgent issues. Press relases about Mercer and the proposal for "Innovative School" are not coincidences. So yeah, there is some deliberate planning and staff work going on, but again why so much effort here? There are plenty of questions and no details. It is obvious when the district wants to, it can work double time to put a deal or plan together.

SO here is my concern: what are her priorites? There is a backlog of serious stuff that needs doing. Fixing these things will do more to improve the overall health of this district, not just 1 school or 3 schools. So where's the attention, the urgency, the press releases, the concern?

If offering supplemental helps in classroom instruction, why restrict that? Use the quick response team (Mercer/innovative school) to come up with parameters and suggested material list teachers can work with. Why all the foot dragging? Are we going to harm kids if techers use Singapore math or Saxon?

That's what bothers me. The leadership of this district is all over the place and that includes the old board. Really who keeps track of all the committees and the number of folks on these committees. And what do you do with all the info, proposals, etc.? Use that to generate more surveys, more committees?

The silence isn't good enough, because after a while, it starts to look coy or worse, a survival strategy to mask_____ (insert your best guess). Dr. E. has a hugh advantage. She has been in this district long enough to knows its problems, budget, machinery, politics, and culture. So time to speak. She can do it with the board or better yet to the public. Be clear, be detailed.

If we don't get answers and end up with the 5th pillar of silence, then don't offer the 3 years, offer the 1 year or do a search.

Seattle mom

dw said...

If you're saying Enfield comes out tomorrow and does everything the opposite of what she has been pushing, in other words was an entirely different person;

I wasn't reaching quite that far, because even just playing games I think it's beyond any possible reality. But with the new Board in place I do think Enfield will be making some changes, and I think they'll be for the better.

I'm a little curious as to how much change it would require for some of her most adamant detractors to feel putting her under contract would be reasonable.

Jan said...

dw posited two great changes -- and great rationales for them. And my immediate thought was -- YES! That would change my mind. Those two things -- right there -- would be enough for me to say -- added with what I think has been decent management in other (non curriculum/learning) areas -- let's extend this contract and see if this is a good long term fit -- without going through a search.

But then, dw's next sentence: "The above is a highly unlikely scenario, of course,. . . ."

And I thought -- aahh! No. Wait! Why should dw's two proposals be, under any normal circumstances, a "highly unlikely scenario?"

What other reasonable response could the Superintendent have to the Mercer math results? How could ANY other response be deemed reasonable?

And given how much sturm und drang there was last spring for 5 or 6 TfA teachers -- and how much the UW is spending (both in dollars and in erosion of support by their "regular" students) supporting them -- and how much political capital is being spent with teachers (and, by the way, do we still have 2 TfA teachers whose certification paperwork remains uncompleted? -- so that they are not authorized to be the teachers of record in their classrooms?) -- at any rate, in what reasonable universe do we need to conclude that it would be highly unlikely for the Superintendent to come to exactly the conclusion that dw suggests?

And if it is "highly unlikely" that she would do so -- what does that really say about Dr. Enfield's analytical and leadership skills? If those two scenarios are, with Dr. Enfield, "highly unlikely," do we in fact have superintendent we want to continue with?

dw said...

And I thought -- aahh! No. Wait! Why should dw's two proposals be, under any normal circumstances, a "highly unlikely scenario?"

The funny thing is, I had different intents as I started writing that comment, i.e. suggesting some outlandish reversals. But as I wrote them, they came out more like rational changes that I do think could actually happen. Both could be managed in a face-saving-ish way, both would be positive for the district, and doing both would probably greatly increase her chances of getting the contract here in Seattle.

Mostly I was hoping to hear from folks like Dan, StopTFA and a few others, who appear so adamant in their beliefs that I'm not sure anything would change their mind.

StopTFA said...

Well, after Floe, TFA BFFs with rockin' hair!, ever-shifting PR initiatives, the RBHS Principal hire kerfuffle, Jon "Superintendent whisperer" Bridge, hiring unpermitted, uncertificated TFAers in classrooms before they got their permits and background check OK from OSPI, the ever-shifting sands of donor-gate, etc. the short answer is "no".

WV: sorry to be a spudge

Kate Martin said...

Let the best candidate shine in an open selection process.

http://www.change.org/petitions/seattle-school-board-directors-we-urge-you-to-conduct-a-search-for-a-permanent-superintendent