Moving On After Enfield's Announcement

I saw an interview that Dr. Enfield did with KING-5 news yesterday.  She was quite cheerful and said:

- Might she leave the door open, if the board were to make her a good offer?  “This work is too important and I have too much respect for this community to play games like that, this was a genuine and as I said, much deliberated decision on my part that I made for reasons that are right for me and the time is right for me to move on,” Enfield says.
- She "will be a superintendent " at another district.  
- She also said the Board elections had nothing to do with her decision.
- She declined to give her reasoning, either from the professional side or personal side.

So we move on.  Speculation is moot at this point.  What's next?

The Board will have to decide - in the next couple of weeks - what kind of search to launch.  Given that so many people are concerned, I wouldn't be surprised if some entity (the Alliance, donors, etc), gave them money for the search.  (Then again, maybe those people blame the Board for her loss and will live it all for the Board to pay for doing.)

I don't see hiring a headhunter service.  I can see hiring a consultant or two to cull through and vet applicants with Paul Apostle in HR.  I honestly think we will get a flood of applicants - the quality remains to be seen.  (Although if you come through the Broad Academy or TFA, good luck with that.)

I am also hoping that some local and internal people apply.  Naturally, this might mean people who haven't been superintendent before (but neither was Enfield).   It's might be a situation of "and now for something completely different." 

I'll say upfront here that I know that many of us will vet them ourselves and that means Google, calls to previous cities of employment, etc.  I won't apologize for wanting to make sure we know everything there is to know and look at it all on balance.

I hope the Board now looks at what they were told at the community meetings and via their survey about what is important to parents and community in a superintendent.  The most important things I would look for (in no particular order):
  • knows district and/or region
  • does not come in with own agenda but will listen to the Board and follow thru with their vision and agenda
  • no "drive-by" superintendents
  • a solid communicator
  • a solid collaborator with teachers, principals, staff and Board
  • no past anti-union stances
  • no sweeping changes but a continuation of the work started and immediate problems to be solved
I wish Dr. Enfield well and am grateful for her work and know she and staff will continue to do good work for our district in the coming months, keeping adult issues, egos and distractions out of it. 

How does anyone feel about another interim versus saying "now we hire someone permanently"?


Anonymous said…
It would be nice to see another bullet point in your wish list of listening to the teachers in an authentic manner. This is still an untapped and rich resource.

A teacher
anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
anonymous said…
What "reason" does Enfield need to give? SPS sat on it's hands, waffled about a search, put of the decision, and meanwhile another district that had it's act together, and that acted in a timely fashion, made her a solid offer. Who wouldn't take a solid offer over the complete unknown. Especially when the unknown is SPS.

Losing Enfield is a huge loss for Seattle. It's hard to put into words how frustrated I am with this district.

Anonymous said…
I agree with "A teacher." It is one of the things that makes this political climate so onerous. Last night I watched Robert Mak with Chris Vance, Joni Balter, Ron Sims, and Joel Connelly on King 5. Naturally they discussed education and the Enfield decision. With the possible exception of Sims, the panelists spoke as if they'd never talked to a classroom teacher in their lives.

Indeed, I can't remember a single productive conversation with a legislator on large education issues. And I have tried. On smaller issues, yes--I've found common ground with particular legislators. But on large issues, the discussions seem to go nowhere.

Wanted: a superintendent who will ask us what her administration can do to help us be more productive teachers.

Anonymous said…
My letter to the School Board:

I hope you will consider the possibility of forgoing a national search and consider looking here in our own community for our next Superintendent. Our city has many bright and talented educator-administrators. Having someone in the role who understands the unique aspects of our district and our history would be extremely beneficial to our district. National searches tend to identify career climbers with ideologically charged agendas. Let's ratchet it down a bit and find someone local who already has personal connections with folks here, whose agenda is transparent, and who plans to stay a while to get the job done.

Thanks for considering this-- and best of luck in helping us find a great new Superintendent for our schools!

-- Pro Local
Jon said…
Melissa wrote, "another interim versus saying 'now we hire someone permanently'?"

I think it makes sense that, if we hire someone local who hasn't been superintendent before, they are interim to start or one year contract to start, which one depending on their qualifications and seniority.

The three year contract is intended for poaching non-local experienced superintendents who would be leaving their current superintendent position. It is compensation for the cost and risk of such a big move. There is no reason to give that to a candidate who is neither experienced nor has a major move.

Personally, I'd love to see the position given to an executive already in Seattle who has not been superintendent but has managed large organizations, perhaps someone currently retired, or perhaps someone currently in the district. I don't think we need another Broad-trained "professional" superintendent. I would much prefer someone who has experience running large bureaucracies efficiently and effectively.
Disgusted said…
“This work is too important and I have too much respect for this community to play games like that"

It appears Enfield has another job' "I will be superintendent."

SPS is already behind the superintendent hiring cycle. For someone who cares about this community and Seattle's 47,000 students, she sure didn't care about leaving the board/ district 60 days behind hiring cycles. Sure wish she would have said something sooner.
Anonymous said…
In response to 'Mother',
Enfield seemingly 'floated' the idea of a multi-year contract or nothing. In these difficult economic times, that move didn't set well with me. If she wanted to remain Super at SPS sooooo much as she has said, had I been in her position I would have been doing everything I could to 'continue to prove that I was the one for the job'. She had an INTERIM position. That was very clear. Before that was over, she could get in line like everyone else. She's done some great things and I wish her well; but I don't appreciate the way in which she went about business the last few weeks---in light of all that has happened in our district that she is aware of.

Two and a half years to go

P.S. Making over $200,000 a year and you can't wait a bit? Sorry. Occupy SPS
someone said…
Well however it is, I hope they come with a tough hide - there will surely be slings and arrows from one party or another if things don't happen a particular wanted way. I don't envy that person, but remain hopeful there is someone willing to take on the myriad of challenges ahead. Dr. E clearly isn't the right person, as she's made clear in a self-selecting way.
Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jack Whelan said…
Harrium in today's ST article about SE: "I'm very saddened and, quite frankly, very worried about what this means for the children in our city," board member Harium Martin-Morris said. "I'm really concerned about losing the momentum that we have started to achieve under Susan's guidance."

Sharon in the same article said: "We need to find a superintendent who will be here for the long haul. And we need to find a superintendent who wants to work with this board and who wants to collaborate with us on envisioning where we're headed," Peaslee said.

What's the difference? Harrium's statement epitomizes what was wrong with the old board's ethos: it's passivity vis a vis JSCEE leadership. It is NOT the board's job to "follow".

Sharon gets it right--it's about getting a super who will collaborate with and follow the board's lead. If that was a problem for SE, then it's better she be gone.
Jack Whelan said…
We don't need big daddy or big mommy in the supe's job. We need a competent manager who understands how large bureaucracies and budgets work, who is savvy about the political landscape in which she's working and whose only agenda is to follow policy as it is developed by the board.
peonypower said…
you said it all. Ask the schools, teachers, principals and parents what is needed. Don't pontificate from on high.
Anonymous said…
@save seattle schools = save the status quo. You have got to be kidding. Where has SSS ever promoted the agenda of keeping things that do not work the same? So often this blog has pointed out specific problems with the status quo such as the recommendation to house clean ineffective adminsitrators at JSCC, involve the community in engagement over important issues, and demading follow through from the board and administration on policy and oversight. How can any of this be perceived as maintain the status quo? If anything SSS has championed the day lighting of long standing problems at SPS (remember Silas Potter?). Our current Sup. did some housecleaning but there is still much at JSCC that is not managed properly. The fact that it took so many years to get to the bottom of the cost of the new central office and how it will paid for should tell you that there is still work to be done. I just don't get where SSS= SSQ.

SSS= Be responsible and responsive
dan dempsey said…
DWE's thoughts on ....

Robert Mak with Chris Vance, Joni Balter, Ron Sims, and Joel Connelly on King 5.

Explain why Muni League endorsements for Seattle school board candidates are worthless.

Steve Sundquist = Outstanding

Peter Maier = Very Good
Sharon Peaslee = Good
Marty McLaren = Adequate
No, Mother, they did not waffle. The Board clearly said - before the election - that the decision to have a search would be made in January. That's not waffling.

Could they have moved sooner? Not really because they said they wanted to wait until after the election.
anonymous said…
Melissa, the fact is that we are obviously behind other districts in the search process. While we take plenty of time to let "the new board" get all comfy and cozy, and wait for them to debate (process) whether to do a national search or not, other districts, that are on the ball, have already completed the search process and are apparently making offers. By the time we finally get around to our search process we'll likely have slim pickings. Nothing new. Same old Seattle process that gets us every time.

And to anonymous who wrote this " She had an INTERIM position. That was very clear. Before that was over, she could get in line like everyone else"

And just why would Enfield want to get in line with everyone else for the Seattle position when another school district made her a firm offer to be their super? She'd be stupid to pass up a firm offer to stand in line for a chance at a job in SPS.

dan dempsey said…
To review and support Melissa's statement above.

On October 19, 2011 Susan Enfield submitted a list of 20 goals which was accepted by the Board as a superintendent evaluation instrument.

Of these 20, three had an " * " as they were to be used in January for a mid year evaluation.

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

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

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


As to number 11 ... where is it?

All we know so far is that there is some kind of off the books "waivering" happening, as reported by SAE about Mercer Middle School improvement.

I do not think that was what the board expected for a "waiver" policy ... but that is all that Dr. Enfield has produced so far.

So how goes the fulfillment of #10, #11, #12?
Po3 said…
First, I do not believe that there is some yearly timeline that needs to be followed for the hiring of a super so that is not an issue. It is not like needing to hire a principal in time for the first day of school and if you miss the boat you end up with fewer qualified applicants.

Second, nobody really knows for sure that SE has an offer to be a super. And so what if she does; that in no way impacts the search to hire somebody in Seattle.

SE announcement simply means that we need to replace her. After looking at the long list of applicatants for the FL job MGJ applied for several months ago I am not worried.
Jon said…
Mother, your argument depends on Enfield being significantly better than anyone else the Board could recruit, that people as qualified as Enfield are "slim pickings". That Enfield is that good is unproven; most view Enfield's recent performance as adequate but not distinguished. The idea that there is no one else who could do the job as well or better would be viewed with skepticism by most, I would think.

If Susan Enfield found a job elsewhere at another major US city, that's great, and I hope her career goes well. But, there is little reason to think she was the best Seattle possibly could do.
Guichon said…
"no past anti-union stances"

I agreed wtih you up until you said that (not that it matters or will make a difference to you. I'm just sayin'..........).

We need more diversity in this district....and I'm not talking about race (which is what most people here believe diversity is all about). I'm talking about diversity of thought. I'm fine with someone who doesn't believe in unions or doesn't like them very much. Maybe they will bring some common-sense to negotiations in the future.
Michael H said…
@Jack Whelan: "Harrium's statement epitomizes what was wrong with the old board's ethos: it's passivity vis a vis JSCEE leadership. It is NOT the board's job to 'follow'."

EXACTLY!!! That is why Harium is the Moron Almighty!
dan dempsey said…
The problem will not be the number of superintendent applicants or their quality ... the big challenge will be intelligently selecting the best one for Seattle.

Hopefully the result will be better than most baseball drafts.
Catherine said…
@-- Pro Local

I think I'll take your letter one step sideways - along the lines of "how we've hired in the past hasn't worked, so how about we try really hard to do something different?"

-Look at large districts who have long term supers... where some factors are trending in a positive direction, how did they find those people? How about we try that?
seattle citizen said…
LEV's Chris Korsmo completely disrespected everyone on the Seattle School Board today. Korsmo thinks things are "Not so super" As usual, if you aren't one of Korsmo's brand of ed-reformer, you're against children....and puppies.

Unfortunately, the first victim of the school board election merry-go round in our region appears to be Dr. Susan Enfield...While she demurred on the politics of the situation, let’s just be clear: This is about the board’s view of the role it should take in governing, the vision it has for the children of the district, and the latitude the district administration has in executing on a shared vision (assuming there is one). School boards that believe they should have a role in hiring and firing principals, or who don’t believe that all children can learn and be prepared for college success can expect to lose strong visionary district leadership."
seattle citizen said…
oops, insert quotation mark in front of "unfortunately"

"Unfortunately, the first victim of the school board election merry-go round [is Enfield]...School boards that...don’t believe that all children can learn and be prepared for college success can expect to lose strong visionary district leadership."

Word Verifier says, "way to diformit, Korsmo!"
Anonymous said…
korsmo and college 'success' -

would that college success be the engineers who went to the moon with slide rules and a few computers that filled small buildings? would that be the people who built the rail systems, airline systems, road systems, water systems and sewage systems 50 and 80 years ago -

so that in the last 30 years we could have economy run by the 'successful' of college, an economy "founded" upon shuffling Collatarized Debt Obligations, upon Mortgage Backed Securities, upon trillions in dark market derivatives, upon outsourcing, upon robber baron executive pay, upon health care access for the 1% and insurance roulette for the rest, upon retirement to pyramid glory for the top and pyramid schemes and ponzi schemes for the bottom 99%?

A society of management crooks and their power point pushing toadies?

Everyday Math and Connected Math and Discovery Math which promotes numerical illiteracy - which is fine if you're a defender of the status quo of serfs and lords.

Guess what Rueven, Chris & Harrium - I do NOT wake up every morning looking at pictures of rich people, humming "How Great Thou Art" !!

I'm stuck adjusting to, adapting to, and cleaning up after their messes!

Maybe S.E. will have a job for you out there where the adults aren't involved in politics and the adults know their places, where the rich are ALWAYS on top and the rest are

dan dempsey said…
A big guess what for Chris Korsmo ...

My wife teaches multiply handicapped special education students ... many of these will never read or write beyond a third grade level (at best)... ever.

My son teaches children that are sometimes severely effected by fetal alcohol syndrome.

CK tells us: all children can learn and be prepared for college success

Get in touch with the Broader "All Children" or redefine "College".

This is again "Typical LEV" promotional BS.
dan dempsey said…
Catherine put forth an amazing idea:

Look at large districts who have long term supers... where some factors are trending in a positive direction, how did they find those people? How about we try that?

Looking at what has proven to be effective ... rather than just doing it in a prescribed way that has not worked.

The SPS has not done this for math ... maybe doing it to find a superintendent might catch on and even go BIG.

Studying what has been proven to work and then doing it..... How revolutionary and innovative.

.... just may be it might happen.
Anonymous said…
I applaud her for her prgamatism. What drove her to this decision? Was it the Ick Factor of another year (or 3!) of coaching from slimers like A4E's Jon "Teachers don't matter" Bridge? (A fly on the wall of that household. What drove wife Bobbe Bridge, a state Supreme Court justice, to get nailed for a DUI at 3x the legal limit? Do as we say, not as we do is always the rule with these folks.)

SDS has baggage. Yes, Enfield is comfortable treating teachers like they're a problem rather than the solution, but she must know there's an easier way to advance her career and easier places to do it. She's smart. Could it be that she sees Team Reform as less than a sure thing? AE4 doesn't care about kids. Do as we say, not as we do. If they cared, they'd send money straight into the classroom.

Good for Enfield for her decision. She opens a clear path. That or she has a better offer elsewhere and the Alliance or Gates is bringing in a bigger gun to take her place. Don't discount this scenario.

Jobs like school superintendent are political. Politicking has taken it's toll. It's time for a change. Melissa, I like your list.

Mr. White
Anonymous said…
To Guichon: I'd argue that it's the lousy SEA leadership that takes away the reasons we have unions. Until teachers are consistently treated and compensated as professionals, they will need bargaining power. They need better than what they have in Seattle. They need more power instead of less power.

Better union leadership is critical to make this equation work to the benefit of the customer, the student.

Mr. White
Anonymous said…
For once - right on Dan. Disability is also a continuum. Lots of people arn't going to college. Lots aren't going for lots of reasons. And that's simply a fact. Much better to accept a true diversity of outcomes - and plan for that. And plan for success in that. If we think everyone's going to college, and rate students according to that preordained script - then teachers will also be rated by their success at that. The trick here is to accept a diversity of outcomes - but not to give up on students as well. We don't know who is going to do what with their lives.

Mother, I invite you to Google the words

"timeline for hiring school superintendents"

First, you'll find many timelines but most start in November/December, start interviews in Feb/March and decide in May. We are not behind.

Maybe we're behind because Dr. Enfield started looking early. I'm assuming the Board thought that might be a possibility (as did the Alliance). I'm sure they have been considering this all along.

No one is asking for the new Board members to get "cozy" (and what an odd term to use) - but they are following what the PREVIOUS Board set up.
seattle citizen said…
@Mr. White - "[maybe]the Alliance or Gates is bringing in a bigger gun to take her place. Don't discount this scenario."

I don't discount this scenario for one millisecond. I think it's entirely possible. That's why we here (and elsewhere, such as Seattle Education, the West Seattle Blog and others) need to do lots of research as names are put forth. We also need to be ready to organize opposition if another Broadie or similar such Big-Ed lackey pops up.

You also write, Mr. White, that "Better union leadership is critical to make this equation work to the benefit of the customer, the student." I couldn't agree more. Students are well-served by a union that represents the will of its teachers and educators. Lately, this doesn't seem to be happening. The union rank and file are responsible for this, of course, but I hope other citizens can uses their voices to push things back towards true representation of educators' desires. I'm sure most know it's not usually the money, or the benefits, or any of that: With most union educators, it IS about the students. They want good policy.

@reader - well put: "Much better to accept a true diversity of outcomes - and plan for that. And plan for success in that."
Anonymous said…
To Jon: "I'd love to see the position given to an executive already in Seattle who has not been superintendent but has managed large organizations...I would much prefer someone who has experience running large bureaucracies efficiently and effectively."

We've had this kind of superintendent. His name was John Stanford. The Glass Palace? That was his doing. Districts all across the country have these kinds of superintendents. Their collective records are poor. I agree with you, no more Broad Academy superintendents. Their records are even more dismal. Finding someone inside SDS is a challenge because their political history shows their worst favored over their best.

We've had managers. Raj Manhas was a manager. He was left with the mess The General and his Junior (Olchefske) made. All this time, the people in the background who think they know it all have been calling the shots. (See DWE's post.) Not singling you out, but your suggestion is one that many people will make after a mess is made. It starts with the conclusion that a manager is the best choice to clean up a mess, even when the evidence shows that it's the managers who are blowing up the toilets and hiring other managers who are also their friends, to replace them.

Mr. White
Michael H said…
@Melissa: "I'll say upfront here that I know that many of us will vet them ourselves and that means Google, calls to previous cities of employment, etc."

Really? Previous employers actually volunteer information to random callers about former employees? Google is one thing, but calling the previous employer? Have you had success with this? I know that my employer, and my past employers, limits the type of information that can be divulged to those confirming employment references. I would be surprised if previous "cities of employment" actually gave you information over the phone. It would be interesting to know if they did.
Anonymous said…
It never ceases to amaze me that the legend of John Stanford has grown to such mythic proportions. To listen to some, he was nearly superhuman.

Why is John Stanford so loved? The reality is that he was a charismatic figure that died in office untainted by scandal.

That's pretty much it...He's beloved because his tenure ended without him screwing anything up too badly.

When you compare that to the other superintendents in recent memory, that simple fact makes him look like a god.

Stanford was an "idea guy". He'd pop out twenty ideas a day and most day twenty of them were totally impractical. Every few days, he'd come up with one that was actionable and he had a slightly better than 50% success rate with those. Luckily for him, the ones that were successful were very good, and the ones that flopped did not do significant damage.

Had John Stanford lived a few years longer, he may well have turned out to be a perfectly average superintendent.

Now some people are foaming at the mouth because Susan Enfield is leaving. Why? Because much like Stanford, she's leaving without having screwed anything up too horribly to have deserved being fired or forced out.

--Long Time Observer
Jon said…
Mr. White, I think you are reading too much of your own issues into what I said. I said we want an effective and efficient manager with experience with large bureaucracies. That's not saying we need an iron-fist leader or any of the other things you implied. We need someone focused on efficient operations, that's what I said.

So, yes, I also agree with Melissa's list in the original post. Like you and Melissa, I also think we need someone who knows the district, does not come in an agenda, will listen to the Board and follow through with their vision, is seeking to help Seattle and not driving by as a career stepping stone, is a solid collaborator with teachers, principals, staff and the Board, and seeks no sweeping changes but a continuation of the work started and fixing the many immediate problems to be solved.
Patrick said…
That's pretty much it...He's beloved because his tenure ended without him screwing anything up too badly.

Well, yes, but what other superintendents have managed to clear even that low bar?

Enfield has only been super for nine months, and she's had to backpeddle on the principal firing, minced words about the funding for TFA, the use of nonapproved math textbooks either begs the question of why she didn't allow other schools to do so as well or else she lied about knowing about it all along. I guess none of these will have consequences that last as long as the headquarters funding problem, but that's a pretty discouraging record for only nine months.
Jan said…
mother -- enough, I think. It is not clear to me that "this district" had much of anything to do with her leaving. She has as much as said so. Who knows what other offer is out there. She doesn't have to tell us, and she has chosen not to. But I for one am getting weary of the idea that electing two new directors (out of 7) and having the temerity to suggest that we continue with THE EXACT PLAN we had when we hired her as "interim director" has somehow driven her off and deprived Seattle of God's Gift to the Universe of School Superintendents. She did some really good work as interimg -- she did some stuff that was not so good. She has decided to move on -- and I think we should too.
Anonymous said…
@LongTime Observer:
he'd come up with one that was actionable and he had a slightly better than 50% success rate with those. Luckily for him, the ones that were successful were very good, and the ones that flopped did not do significant damage.

I think that's a pretty good record. I remember Stanford very well. He visited my classroom and I talked to him at a parent meeting. He listened. Unfortunately, lots of people were talking. But he did listen. He listened to me and questioned. I didn't have the experience then to take the opportunity to follow up. But he listened. He was always trying to learn and his resources were teachers.

His flaw? Hiring Olchefske. I believe they lived in the same apartment building? That's what I heard anyway. When we had Stanford, administration answered the phone. Do you know how much a teacher appreciates actually having someone in admin answer the phone? Teachers have very limited time to contact admin about their own business. Answering the phone was a big deal for me!

I want a super who does listen to teachers and who puts them first. I want a super who has come up through the ranks of educators because only then will he/she know what we face every single day. I want a super who has been in the ranks for several years. My worst fear is getting a principal with one-to-six years of teaching experience. Not enough. Good teaching takes time to learn and no principal who hasn't earned the stripes attained via good teaching won't be worth a damn. They are your reformers. Mostly because they didn't love what they did and probably weren't very good at it.

Teachers are not the problem. But they are very good resources if you really wantto solve the problem.

Anonymous said…
To Jon: You misunderstood what I wrote then. Seattle has had a succession of superintendents who were hired to meet performance metrics and deliver efficiencies. They failed, curiously denying their own metrics in at least two cases. Goodloe Johnson and Olchefske have continued in education policy and management. The same groups who support them and deny their failure are pressuring schools for access to decision making, A4E, Broad, LEV, and Gates Foundation.

This conflict that must end. Facing the reasons for this continued pattern of failure must be part of the superintendent selection process. If your suggestion translates to selecting a manager unaffiliated with pressure groups then we agree on that goal.

Mr. White
dan dempsey said…
Michael H is absolutely correct about what kind of information someone in the general public is likely to get from a previous employer. That is lawsuit territory.

However finding out about MGJ was easy as Charleston SC has a good education blog put out by Babbie .... called "The Newsless Courier".

Take a look HERE.

I'd be looking for bloggers to ask about prospective candidates for superintendent.

The word from most on the Newsless Courier was that they were sorry to see Micahael Tolley leave but rejoiced that MGJ and others were gone.
dan dempsey said…

We can extend that acceptance of reality a bit further ... the idea from the SBE that students should have a year of Advanced Algebra and three years of math to graduate is nonsense. This was then modified to Advance Algebra or equivalent. (Not sure where they are on this now..... the SBE Math advisory panel no longer meets due to budget restrictions ... we were a volunteer panel and most of said we would skip the transportation compensation and brown bag it..... In the end it appears they just did not want input.)

Fact is that state wide the 9th graders that took algebra I last year had a pass rate of 53.7% on the End of Course assessment.

17,462 9th graders that took algebra could not pass the algebra EoC.

It is time to have the SBE stop mandating nonsense. It is time to start teaching students using effective practices .... which does not include most of the total BS that LEV, SfC, and all the other AstroTurf clubs think are needed.

Note: When I last checked Mary Jean Ryan the head honcho on the SBE was also pulling down around $100,000 .... heading one of the AstroTurf clubs.

Check it out:
The Community Center for Education Results. I believe the CCER gets funding from the Gates Foundation.
Anonymous said…

I totally agree. John Stanford came to my classroom several times, too. He asked me questions and was genuinely interested in what I had to say. He also genuinely expressed gratitude for the job I was doing.

Let's contrast this to Susan Enfield. She visited once as CAO.
I asked her if she was open to comments/suggestions. She actually laughed (in an exasperated sort of sarcastic way) and said, "Well, I guess." I proceeded to tell her that I thought Writer's Workshop should be combined with Science Writing (a more direct-instruction expository writing). She curtly smiled and walked away.

I left the district because of this kind of behavior--teacher trashing coming from MGJ and her minions (including the principals who were emulating headquarters to get ahead). I took my national board certification and high test scores elsewhere.

By the way, how many "Soups with the Supe" did Enfield wind up hosting?

--Dan Dempsey rocks
CT said…
That superiority complex is what drives me crazy with some of the supes. (word correction keeps wanting to make that word dupes - perhaps it knows something)
Their total disdain for teachers makes me wonder what the hell they are even doing in education. I already get the poor treatment from some parents, and its clear that the LEV and A4E and Stand4Children people think teachers are lowlife peons, but to have your own boss treat you like you are an idiot and not worth their time when their tenure basically depends on your success as a teacher in the classroom just floors me. So having a supe who understands that, and who respects and listens to teachers would be a huge thing.
Charlie Mas said…
I used to be a proponent of hiring an effective manager who had experience managing teams of professionals. I don't feel that way anymore.

If we hire a new superintendent who does not have education experience, that person will rely on their Assistant Superintendent for Teaching and Learning to direct academics: Dr. Cathy Thompson.

This is totally unacceptable. I absolutely do no want Dr. Thompson directing academics. She is the District's primary proponent of standardization. She is strenuously opposed to any kind of waivers. She wants the central administration to select the materials, set the pace, and script the lessons for every classroom in the district. That's the direction she wants us to take.

At a time when all thinking people are seeking to break the industrial model for education, she wants to double down on it.

We need an educator. More than that, we need a visionary educator who is willing to think outside the conventional constraints - to bust the conventional constraints.

We need a leader who sees each student as an individual and believes in getting each student the support that student needs. This could mean some students get a part of their math instruction through Khan Academy or some other self-paced instruction. This could mean that some students are in classes of 15 while others are in classes of 35. This could mean that students are brought together in a variety of groups for a variety of periods.

Dr. Thompson is never going to take us there given her focus on fidelity of implementation.

We cannot afford to hire a superintendent who will delegate the academic vision and path to Dr. Thompson.
CT said…
"Fidelity to the program" is the buzz phrase coming down from many of the curriculum companies like Pearson. If you adopt their curriculum and your test scores go down, well it must be because you are not doing exactly what the curriculum says for you to do and say. This scripted, teacher-proof curriculum is the wave of the future. It's actually worse in other districts - pacing guides, scripting, being called into the principal for daring to deviate fom the script in order to meet student needs.....
Jack Whelan said…
Publicola's Friday Jolt says: "Interim Seattle Schools Superintendent Susan Enfield announced today that she wouldn’t accept a permanent position after her contract runs out in June. Sensing a lack of support after a couple of ed reform backlash candidates knocked out two of the four incumbent school board members in November, it’s likely Enfield didn’t see the point."

That seems to be the "establishment" view on this: The crazy neighborhood "backlash" activists are driving sanity and goodness from our midst. What's the world coming to? Heaven help us. I fear for our children. Please.

Bottom line here is that if Susan Enfield doesn't care enough about this job and Seattle Public Schools to compete for it as the presumed front runner with all the "establishment" support she has, then doesn't that tell us everything we need to know about her? I was on the fence about her, but her decision on Friday answered all my questions about her.

I was going to do a Sarah Palin analogy, but that's probably going too far. Instead, I'd say Susan Enfield is to Seattle Schools what Rick Neuheisal was to UW sports--slick, but in the end not much there. I'm hoping we can find a Lorenzo Romar: Solid, not particularly flashy. Local roots. Head screwed on right. Someone who cares about his people. Understands the team concept. Someone who might not be a hall of famer, but who you feel confident wants the challenge of working with the board to take a dysfunctional, mediocre organization to new levels of success.

The idea that keeping SE was going to give us stability and momentum is absurd. There is nothing in her resume that says stability. We need to find someone who *wants* to be here for the long haul.
Dorothy Neville said…
I had an idea based on all my frustration with the lack of critical thinking and deep statistical knowledge from folks who are making decisions. What about getting someone with a deep understanding of science, someone who is curious to learn a new field and will read, discuss, research the field with a practiced mind. What about someone who has effective management and people skills but comes, not from education, but from science or medicine? Seattle is a hub for medicine as well as for software (and do not get anyone from software!) so there might very well be someone local who cares about the city and would be interested in the challenge.

I am not sure we need a visionary, because I am not sure I want someone who already has a vision or agenda. But someone who has the ability to work with the board and teachers to create a vision, a vision appropriate to our lean times and challenging resource issues, I would embrace that. Someone for whom data driven decision making isn't simply a buzzword for fighting teachers but is considered so fundamental to their whole life that they can't imagine an alternative.

While discussing the national rhetoric about teachers and the causes -- how k12 education is the confluence of all of societies problems with poverty, health care, etc -- the parallel with Nursing came up. Recall how not long ago Nurses were considered overpaid, union too strong and by golly with all the advances in technology, couldn't we cut half them from staff? We don't hear that anymore, do we? So the issues are not that different.
Anonymous said…
I will say the same thing I said four years ago: we need to build on what is working. It's the promise that Peter Maier came into office with and immediately abandoned.

There is a lot of very promising work that is getting done in our schools. I feel that way about my own school. At the same, because our demographics are shifting, our needs changing, and our programs expanding, we require support from the district.

What isn't required is the attitude that I somehow work for the people downtown. I have a supervisor, and they aren't him. I have students and parents and a community-at-large whom I serve. The folks downtown should understand that their job is to support me in supporting my students. We need their help, not their arrogance.

Beyond that, I have real challenges that I am facing in trying to help my students to learn. At the state and local level, all the energy and money and commitment that is going into charters, TFA, and the like are not helping me to do my job of serving students.

And beyond the beyond, the recertification process that the state has imposed on us is insane. I thought the portfolio-based pro-cert program was going to improve the process. It made it worse. How did that happen? Is it the legislature's fault for passing the legislation in the first place? Or is it the fault of OSPI for the way they implemented the bill? I don't know, but it's a mess, and instead of the legislature trying to fix it, they will run around in circles during this session, floating one idiotic ed reform bill after another.

In the meantime, in order to do my job and find the time to recertify either through the pro-cert program or the National Board, I will have to go down to part-time and take a pay cut. But the only cost isn't financial; there is also a cost to my school community, which will have to find someone to fill in for the classes I don't teach next year.

So this is why, some days, I feel like chucking the whole thing and applying for jobs overseas. Or quitting the profession altogether. I feel like I'm working myself into an early grave, and all the policymakers can do is figure out new ways to mess up the system.

So: I want a superintendent who has a lick of sense and can understand the difficulties we are facing.

someone said…
I keep coming back to the quotes from the LEV person - about how this is all about the new board's "vision they have for the students" (or words to that effect) and the implication that somehow having a different "vision" than LEV et al promotes is a bad thing, essentially, a political slap in the face to Enfield and others. Hmmm...well maybe so - but guess what LEV - your political views matter no more than mine - and maybe just maybe its time to wake up and realize money CAN'T buy everything.
I don't know what the right answer for SPS is - except someone willing to listen to opposing viewpoints, weigh options on their true merits (does this help the classroom or hurt it) and respect for the frontline workers - teachers, staffers, paraprofessionals who do the hard work of day-to-day education. I have family and friends who work for this district and others and I know what it takes to get the job done, even when all the powers-that-be are undermining you daily. That's what I want from a Supe - someone who gets it and takes away roadblocks instead of helping to create them. That's my "vision".
dan dempsey said…
Hey Dorothy,

Above I think your thoughts on a candidate for Superintendent is a great description of Mercer Island school board director David Myerson of Fred Hutch.....

or perhaps Lake Washington school director Christopher Carlson of Fred Hutch

However both of the above have careers in which they are making impacts doing what they are highly trained to do ..... I do not see them applying. Good Luck to any headhunters on either of the above.

I like the idea that you suggest above ... but maybe not for Superintendent but for an instructional leadership position replacing Cathy Thompson .... also for a much better Math and Science program manager (if we can afford one of those).

Here is a guy that really fits your description above ..... David Orbits.

Dave is a retired Engineer who wrote specifications for 15 years ... he actually knows what real standards are..... and what passes for standards in education are no where near a high quality useful product.

Dave in retirement has spent the last four years as a volunteer tutor in 3rd and 4th grade classrooms for half days almost everyday at a high poverty elementary school in the Redmond area. Dave reads a large amount of ed research and has four years of real experience .... daily experience in the classrooms of other teachers, Dave gets it. I don't think the last four SPS superintendents "Got It". As for past and current Math program managers ... just check the results and current direction.

Here is an email conversation between Dave and Sudhakar on what is going on in Education back in June 2008. These are reactions to Bob Compton's film "2 millon minutes" about education in technical subjects in Carmel, Indiana ... Bangalore, India ... and China.

Note: the Board could suggest to the superintendent but to do more than that would be the dreaded "micro-management". A new Superintendent might be very open to suggestions from the board as to employees worth keeping in central Administration and why. Also the Board needs to set direction, Michael DeBell has made that much clearer in recent years... specifying direction a clear direction did not happen in math and DeBell regrets that failure. KSB said in her campaign that she was going to Direct the Superintendent because that is the job of a director.

Also I think that Michael DeBell would be an excellent candidate for Superintendent of Public Instruction ... but that is a different topic.
dan dempsey said…

Excellent comment above. The experts cannot hear what you say .... but they will have a fix for your problems and the problems with the system .... Insanity ... and Rodney Tom, Eric Pettigrew, Sharon Tamiko Santos will push every solution that the AstroTurf clubs suggest.

Remember all those incumbents like R. Carlyle who endorsed Peter Maier .... this Ed "improvement" game is apparently a club sport ... and teachers do not get to play.

The SPS has an administrative structure occupied by many of those who firmly believe in Nonsense.... yet expect to get significantly better results ..... with just a lot more time added to reach the strategic plan's original goals. .... Who could make this stuff up?

DWE just ditch that pro-cert and National Board stuff .... go for 5-weeks of TfA training and become Superman over the next two years with Dean Stritikus's assistance.
Anonymous said…
"...local roots..."

No! Local roots = more cronyism and no housecleaning. No to local roots. These things are killing Seattle Public Schools.

No to local roots
Anonymous said…
My vision for a new superintendent is someone who is focused on academics that really help students learn. Just look at the success of Mercer middle school when they adopted a good math curriculum. This type of change is long overdue and could be happening in many schools. SPS fought these changes in curricula for years, Enfield included. Allow some freedom for local initiatives and study what is working.

My second wish is for more stability with principals. Too many school leaders are moved around for no purpose, creating unnecessary turmoil for parents and teachers. A good school culture is a fragile thing and can be lost easily.

S parent
NEB said…
Charlie had a good point that its important for the next superintendent to have education experience as I think teachers have been constrained by Big Ideas that are Dumb Ideas; I think with strong leadership and support for teaching professionals SPS will do the best for all kids. I also like Melissa's list including the point about not being against unions (which could be different than being "pro") is very important - think Wisconsin. An anti-union superintendent would cause all manner of chaos besides probably being the kind of ed-reformer that we do not need. Reading through most of the comments, I’m struck by with the common hope for a superintendent with vision plus common sense and who gives responsibility to the professionals on the front line - teachers and principals. I don’t want a superintendent that thinks of Seattle as a rung on the ladder although that’s probably impossible to find.
Po3 said…
Didn't both MJG and SE come from an education background?
Anonymous said…
Dan, my sense of DeBell is that he would try to please too many people. A leader listens and then decides. He can't really be a pleaser. Attempting to please everyone results in pleasing no one.

Also, I guess the Board directs the super since they are now called "directors." But, how many of them understand education? I can see why successful superintendents are so few: "too many chiefs and not enough ..." I think the Board should give oversight and monitor ethics and transparency; I don't agree they should be "directing." Helping set policy and oversight. Let the leader lead.

Teaching is an art and not a science. Out-of-the-box thinking starts in our creative brains. Give me a good old abstract or concrete random any day over your sequential dot-every-i and cross-every-t list-making typical administrator. I've always believed schools should look more like art institutions than office buildings. We need more messy schools housing energized and engaged students.

BTW, my school is relatively new. Yet, intermediate classrooms are much too small for large bodies in elementary. If you can't build or remodel a school that works for twenty-first century exploratory learning, don't build it.

Sorry. Can't help myself. So many things have been done wrong over the last decade.

dan dempsey said…
Right on S Parent,

How can a school become a quality school without an effective principal who is in place for the long term?

Oh I forgot .. by following the dictates of central admin ... principals are all interchangeable just like the spark-plugs in my car.

Teachers are also all interchangeable ... In a two year period displacing 60 to 80 fully certificated veteran teachers with TfA newbies will close achievement gaps. ... I know this because Gates Foundation money, Dean Stritikus and Norm Rice say so ... and that's good enough evidence for me..... Those peer-review research documents clearly have it all wrong.

Making every school a quality school .... through complete nonsense plans.

Good thing I watched enough Marx Brothers and Three Stooges to understand the true quality underlying Club Ed reform plans.
dan dempsey said…
Northender said:

Give me a good old abstract or concrete random any day over your sequential dot-every-i and cross-every-t list-making typical administrator. I've always believed schools should look more like art institutions than office buildings. We need more messy schools housing energized and engaged students.

Amen Amen Amen

-- said the concrete random guy with the messy room that produced results like these with a program implement and developed in house by two teachers.

10th grade WASL math results at Fife high school in one year showed
a pass rate increase from 47.9 to 56.8% ;
a decline in the percentage of students at the math clueless level 1 from 29.8 to 16.2% ;
an increase in level 4 scores from 17.0% to 26.6% ....

Of course school administration decided to ditch the teacher developed in house program for OSPI's math modules the following year .... these were supposedly going to improve WASL scores ....

Pass rates fell from 56.8% to 44.7%
Level 1 scores increased from 16.2% to 25.4%
NO scores increased from 1.2% to 6.5%
Level 4 scores fell from 26.6% to 11.8%

Of course I wasn't there for year two because the program I led the development of ... just did not change test scores enough.

Another move by quality administration to get cleaner classrooms and get the concrete random guy out. .... Results Results .... what results ... does anyone even notice the available results ... apparently it is all about the spinning of the results.
Kathy said…
I was on the fence about Enfield. Offering Enfield a 3 year contract without a vetting process was not a good idea.

Too much of Enfield's decision to leave is being blamed on new board members. Remember, we still have 5other board members..most of which realized the Strategic Plan could not be sustained- and needed to be modified. We won't hear LEV etc. talking about this. They will continue to mourn the loss of 2 board members.

The individuals responsible for planning and spending millions on a non-sustainable Strategic Plan will be gone. The question would have become..Do we take more dollars out of our already underfunded classrooms to support top- down administration, testing and data etc? I suspect Enfield would have said- yes...and would not want a board "micro-managing".

From my perspective, the biggest challenge will be finding someone to manage district operations and finances. I agree with Charlie, leaving Cathy Thompson in charge of academics would be a disaster.

I'm ready to move on.
Anonymous said…
to Po3: I wasn't sure and thought it a good question so went looking. You can see Goodloe-Johnson's resume pdf of her resume

She was a spec ed teacher for eight and then became a high school principal.

I find that interesting. Of all the principals I've had, the majority came from spec ed. Spec Ed teachers are more like administrators in my experience. Tons of paperwork. I feel sorry for them. Work with small groups. Responsible for small gains in specific areas. Absolutely necessary. Their skills probably correlate better to current administrative traits than to teachers. They are specialists. Those that I work with get frazzled rather easily when confronted with my group of energetic primary kids.

The best principal I've worked under came from primary. Most principals I've worked under have come from either special ed or high school teaching.

I draw the conclusion that principals and superintendents tend to be left-brain list-makers who leave teaching early because that really isn't their passion. Teaching, I mean. Great get-your-hands-dirty teaching. Which is what I love.

BTW, I've had two principals who spent time rearranging hallway furniture so that it was just right.

A great superintendent/principal must have loved teaching (general ed) and stuck with it long enough to have gained a reputation for knowing how to teach. Is that asking for too much? :)

Anonymous said…
Dan, I'm a concrete-random, too! At a workshop several years ago, the presenter talking about Gregorich said you can always tell a concrete-random because they are the ones who get the hugs! That made me giggle. I love my primary kids.


I don't want to take up a third spot so I'm going to suggest one more thing: children's educational foundation happens in primary. Couldn't we -shouldn't we - be looking for superintendents and principals with more sustained primary experience? Not dissing middle or high school experience at all. Just sayin...

northender twice
Anonymous said…
SE's resume

Six years high school teaching. Maybe there is no formula. You just have to find that superior leader that you all want so much in all of your teachers. It seems to me it should be easier to find in a super because there are so few positions that the crème de la crème should rise to the top. Maybe it is our search criteria that should change and so, back to Melissa's list and others.

dan dempsey said…
Northender twice,

You just slammed another nail bang on.

The NY Times had an article that said the skills and attitudes with which kids exited grade one were of huge importance.
.. So how about a Superintendent that finds that of huge importance?

I keep making a big deal of Project Follow Through because k-3 education is of gigantic importance.

So if the MSP is a better test and tests content and skills more accurately than WASL (being a better tool than WASL ain't sayin' much) lets see what MSP tells us.

MSP results at various grade levels show at level one or no score in the SPS.... in 2011

READING - # of SPS students (percent)

Grade 3- 298 - (7.9%)
Grade 4- 359 - (9.8%)
Grade 5- 380 - (10.5%)
Grade 6- 246 - (7.6%)
Grade 7- 391 - (12.6%)
Grade 8- 354 - (11.8%)

MATH - # of SPS students (percent)

Grade 3- 627 - (16.6%)
Grade 4- 948 - (25.9%)
Grade 5- 702 - (19.2%)
Grade 6- 663 - (20.4%)
Grade 7- 660 - (21.3%)
Grade 8- 646 - (21.5%)

So if 10+% enter HS reading clueless and 20+% enter HS math clueless .... what has been done to change that? => NOT MUCH

Perhaps a much better result in Grade three is needed? (Duh)

The old policy that required effective interventions or likely non-promotion when skills were not attained ... was never followed ... and then amazingly Holly Ferguson wrote an action report that recommended that the policy be discarded as the policy was NOT being followed and it was NOT producing the needed results. (Huh?? ... what kind of logic is that?) ... Holly ever consider that if the policy had been followed and effective interventions had been provided that it would have worked?

Anyway let us take those above numbers and look at just the Low Income kids performed (SPS has 43.3% of students classified as low income)


READING - {# of SPS students} {percent}

Grade 3- 298 {226} - 7.9% {14.0%}
Grade 4- 359 {268} - 9.8% {17.6%}
Grade 5- 380 {288} - 10.5% {18.2%}
Grade 6- 246 {199} - 7.6% {13.1%}
Grade 7- 391 {296} - 12.6% {21.1%}
Grade 8- 354 {265} - 11.8% {18.8%}

MATH - {# of SPS students} {percent}

Grade 3- 627 {495} - 16.6% {30.7%}
Grade 4- 948 {695) - 25.9% {45.7%}
Grade 5- 702 {535} - 19.2% {33.7%}
Grade 6- 663 {506} - 20.4% {33.3%}
Grade 7- 660 {509} - 21.3% {36.2%}
Grade 8- 646 {475} - 21.5% {33.6%}

THESE are NOT pass rates but level 1 + no score

Apparently to close the achievement gaps for low income students might require closer attention to Project Follow Through practices that produced great results. The peer-reviewed studies indicate that the strategy of replacing fully credentialed veteran teachers with TfA corps members will increase achievement gaps.

Arne Duncan is a buffoon who has turnaround policies designed to destabilize existing schools, in which steady gains might be possible but instead expensive disruption is the plan.

Need proof .. look no further than results at SIG grant winner and turnaround example Totem middle school .... all that money and worse scores for American Indian and Low Income students after three years of spending and turning around.

Hopefully Seattle schools are using SIG grant money more wisely.
dan dempsey said…
Uh maybe not ..

it should be easier to find in a super because there are so few positions that the crème de la crème should rise to the top.

Given the recent structure of education .... It is not the cream that has been rising to the Top .. at least in Math education it has been the purveyors of nonsense that have risen to the top.

Looking at what has gone on in the SPS and WA state .... we might have been better of with non-fat milk than what rose to the top.

I am a total fan of decentralization ... except that would be fewer jobs for central administrators and the superintendent might get a smaller salary ... as a Monarch would not need to be employed as Superintendent.
dan dempsey said…
As we look to moving on ... I sure wish the Times would look to moving Lynne Varner on ...

because the effort she puts forth to report the facts correctly is woefully lacking.

Consider this work product from Lynne V

Susan Enfield leaving Seattle Public Schools

About Dr. Susan Enfield:

Her resume was thinner than most big-city superintendents. She had never held the top job before and never worked in a large urban setting - the largest district was Vancouver, Wa. But Enfield had strong potential and was certainly competitive enough to be considered among candidates for the job.

The facts are rarely of much concern to LV..

#1 Enfield never worked in the Vancouver School District

#2 She worked in the Evergreen School District. Enrollment 26,000

#3 She worked in the Portland School District before going to Evergreen.

#4 The Portland School District and Seattle Public Schools are each with an enrollment of around 47,000 to 48,000 students.

So much for her command of the facts ... don't get me started on her baseless opinions.

Does anyone supervise Lynne Varner?
dj said…
I want someone unambitious.

What do I mean by that? I am pretty tired of administrators (in every field, not just educational administration) who are really ambitious. I wish what "ambition" meant would be "I will do everything the best way possible, and when people see what great work I have done, I will surely advance.". Instead, the job becomes about building lines on a resume and having talking points about the advances you made in this job. Understandable? Sure. But from what I have seen, "making myself look good in the three-year range" and "doing the best things for my organization for the long term" are not the same thing.

My childhood school district had the same superintendent the entire time I was growing up (it was a mid-sized district). Does that even happen anymore?
Jan said…
I agree with almost everything northender and DWE have said. I also think that we should look for someone with significant education experience -- but we need to be wary about credentials. MGJ and Dr. E both have pretty good paper credentials, in terms of teaching -- but I get the feeling that both of them went into education knowing from the beginning that they wanted to move "into" and "up through" the administration ranks to positions that paid well and carried a lot of influence (Dr. E seems more like a teacher than MGJ -- but neither of them rank high).

I think that if you had a teacher who had taught for a number of years, you wouldn't have as much trouble as we have with things like waiver policies and giving teachers enough responsibility to fulfill the obligations we are placing them (including the new one -- where if test scores don't rise, they can get fired). Most teachers (the good ones, at least) I know who have taught long enough KNOW that not all kids learn the same -- that instructional materials are to serve the needs of teachers and kids -- rather than kids having to fit their learning styles (and teachers their common sense) into the constraints of materials. I also think that someone who has taught for awhile will be able to "parse" the teacher retention issues better. Most teachers who work long enough have worked with someone who was just sort of treading water -- whose passion and enthusiasm was waning, or had never really existed. They know what it is like for other teachers to have to carry that load (getting a whole class of kids who didn't learn what they were supposed to the year before), and the know the difference for kids.

On the other hand, I think that most teachers who have taught for long enough have the sense to value the incredible teaching resource the District has in some of its most senior teachers -- the ones who STILL love teaching 150 15-year-olds European History, or Marine Science EVERY year, who are incredible resources and mentors for younger teachers and parents.

MY big concern is that teaching is SO SO SO different from managing that I don't know if we will EVER get someone who is tremendous at the first (and stayed with it long enough to really KNOW what great school-based learning looks like) AND who will be good at -- or will even want to DO the second job (the management one). DWE and northender -- would YOU ever want the top job -- with responsibilities for capital campaigns, school capacity management, assignment policies, governing HR, dealing with budgets and labor issues?
Anonymous said…
I think, Jan, you give too much credit to "management" as a skill. Teachers "manage" every day. Leadership isn't a skill set exactly. Several of your criteria would be delegated but a good super synthesizes and directs. A good super also sets the mission and inspires.

Do you know who Sheila Bair is? Read this about her management style. Her area of expertise is economics. Not management. She got to her level in management because she knew her subject: economics.

Check out these columns and you'll see what a good leader can bring to an institution: Bair
and here Bair again

And a third if you find her interesting.

We need a Sheila Bair in Seattle. Someone who started at the bottom; who loves education and kids; who is courageous enough to be independent of the herd; and who listens to the ranks she leads.

It is really sort of demeaning to think that "managers" have some skill set that teachers don't have or can't attain. We're pretty smart you know.

Did Olchefske have the skill set? Did Manhas? Not even sure about Goodloe-Johnson although I was respectful of her for long time.

You never know from whence will come great leaders.

Anonymous said…
One more from NYTimes Magazine

You can tell I admire her. I wish we could find her equivalent in education.

Charlie Mas said…
northender asks: "It is really sort of demeaning to think that 'managers' have some skill set that teachers don't have or can't attain. We're pretty smart you know.

"Did Olchefske have the skill set? Did Manhas? Not even sure about Goodloe-Johnson although I was respectful of her for long time.

Actually, there is a set of requirements that I think we should be looking for.

I suppose that management skill is one of them, although I'm not sure how to define that. For me, management skill begins with the perspective that the management doesn't do anything to directly advance the mission or create value. Management helps by supporting the front line staff - the school staff - in their work of achieving the district's mission. Once you have that perspective, coupled with respect for the professionals who are doing the work, you do what you can to provide them with the tools and resources they need to do their best work and to take away from them any tasks that are not central to their effort. We should have a central administration to take care of all of the non-academic functions of the District so the school staff are free to focus exclusively on the academic and child development tasks.

Think of it this way: the materials, the pacing guide, the scripted lessons, and the coaches should all be resources for the teachers. They should be available like dishes at a cafeteria - teachers can take what they want and need and leave the rest. It should not be like at home where your mother puts food on your plate and insists that you eat it.

But the superintendent doesn't actually do that much managing. There are a few direct reports, but the teachers are managed by their principals, who are managed by the executive directors. The superintendent job is primarily an executive job. The best description of the executive's work can be found in the first half of the CACIEE report. In it, the Blue-Ribbon committee essentially lists all of the duties of the executive. Duties which they report Mr. Manhas had completely abdicated. Perhaps Mr. Manhas was a good manager, but he was a dreadful executive.

The superintendent of an urban school district needs some political skill as well. These skills include communication, leadership, persuasion, and more. Our superintendent needs to win the support of the staff, the community, and the local elected officials. It's not enough to do an excellent job of running the district. People need to feel and believe that the district is well-run.

I suspect that there are other skills required, but I would put the need for executive skills and political skills above the need for management skills.
Anonymous said…
While a supe should listen to teachers - there is an itty bitty problem with that - we teachers rarely speak with 1 voice!

Having a diversity of opinion is fine, when you have adults who can manage diversity of opinion. In Seattle we have adults who impose the Seattle Tyranny Of Fake Consensus, the diversity is usually buried or banished, and the ability is handle diversity is non-existent.

About having supe's who've taught. Yes, but.

At the high school level, I can smell little kid nonsense in policy. What works for 5, 6, and 7 year old kids is not what is needed for adolescents who are 3 or 2 or 1 years or months or days away from ... working in a strip club if they want to!

Teachers as policy makers ... THE great pushers of reform garbage math have taught in affluent schools for long periods of time, or, are people lacking any real connection to the real brutal job market for us real nobody nothing people, or are just flat out out of touch edu-babble-ians --- if they were better at selling snake oil, they'd be in an economics department explaining how Goldman, AIG, KBR, Exxon & Gates aren't criminal enterprises run by criminals.

Noam said…
Charlie's last post reminded me about Don Kennedy "going to school" during his time here. He was apparently seeking a higher degree (MBA) and made all his "peeps" pretend to "read" a book by Eric Verzuh on Project Management.

I kept mine from the garbage because I like coming upon such things years later and laughing about district follies.

One can only speculate about what "management" "learned" from Don's frequent lesson's.

Except for that disciple in the jail/court photo last week and the MGJ hiring in Detroit (oh, and with the exception of Tolley), I wonder what all those folks are doing now?

Yet another "project" to "manage" elsewhere I guess.
mirmac1 said…
Yes, Noam, I remember that nonsense. They hired a PM consulting firm who gave trainings, and wrote meaningless weekly reports and created charts that nobody seemed to care about. Spending nearly $1M on consultants in FY09 on: Leadership Development Support, Performance Mgmt System Coordination/Launch Services, Leadership for Professional Development, Consulting Svcs for PreK-3rd Early Learning Strategic Plan, and Language Arts Curriculum Adoption; most under the aegis of the Superintendent's Initiative for Leadership Development or SILD. It was more of the lip service paid "data-driven" decision-making when it really was all about dancing to the music of their taskmasters in Olympia, and at Alliance and LEV.
Anonymous said…
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Anonymous said…
(please delete previous unsigned and unedited post. Thanks.)

I agree with everything you said,Charlie. You say it better than I. We have a hierarchical society. What people fail to realize is that those skills - all of them - are required to various degrees in every job we do. Those who rise to the top are those who do them well on the job and make it their goal to expand via education or training and set their sights higher.

AllIwantforxmas: If you can find me a group of people in any industry that agrees all the time, I'll give you what you want for Christmas. That's why we need a leader with hands-on experience and who will listen to teachers. I would guess your average really good teacher wants to keep teaching. That's our passion. Perhaps the best we can expect would be someone who cares less about his own advancement than he does about children and education.

Also, while I think the difference between elementary, middle and high school is huge in terms of social development and distractors, I don't think it is huge in terms of providing an environment that is stimulating and challenging and engaging. And that's where I think schools have lost their way. I may be wrong but I actually think class size matters more at middle and high school than it does at elementary. I'm in elementary and it isn't that hard to keep my kids engaged. They are very social without all the hang-ups about who they will socialize with . . . I don't have class clowns or show-offs or popularity issues. My kids work together well and want to move and move and move. We can all benefit from smaller class size but middle school and high school most of all. What do you think?

dan dempsey said…
About what teachers want in a Superintendent ... and what they will settle for .....

My first two years were spent in a small school in a rural small town. I sometimes wondered about what it would be like to teach in a district large enough to have a really imaginative and creative support system for teachers ... Well I am still wondering.

What I found rather than support in many larger places ... were counterproductive "suggested" practices and direction..... or here you need to use this "it's great stuff".

The great stuff comes from teachers working together to make it happen in so many ways. ... It does not come down from on high.

Most teachers will settle for good support from the principal, which includes protection from the academic follies pushed by downtown.

How about a Superintendent that can read research, and intelligently apply relevant data ... rather than mindlessly obeying Arne Duncan's mandates and implementing all of OSPI's "suggestions"?

The Board for the first time in my memory is on the brink of heading "away from nonsense" and may be on the path to sane decision-making.

Who knows the Board might even restore trust through action.

Trust was not restored by the Sunquist spin plan.
dan dempsey said…
Northender =>

We can all benefit from smaller class size but middle school and high school most of all. What do you think?

.... If Teachers are actually to read what students write ... and mentor students ... the number of students per class and per day and per semester is a huge concern ....... especially as students get older and are more prolific writers.

WSHS had four 85-minute periods for this reason. A bigger class but only three of them and an 85 minute plan ... worked better for many than 5 smaller classes of 55 minutes and a 55 minute plan.

WSHS Hispanic students language arts skills greatly improved with the guidance of Mariam Lemcio and others.

RIP WSHS four-period day .... killed by MGJ
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