Seattle School Board Launching Search Process

In a story in the Times today,  we learn that the Executive Committee of the School Board met this week to figure out how to proceed with a superintendent search.   The Board is expecting a report from Elway Research on Jan. 4th, tying together the information from phone surveys and the online survey (no mention of where feedback from the public meetings that were held come into this process).  A follow-up meeting is planned for Jan. 11th.

I was quoted in the story as supporting an internal candidate and somewhat to my surprise, so does Seattle Council PTSA President, Lauren McGuire. 

What's interesting is that reporter Brian Rosenthal names names. He points out Bob Boesche as a possible example (except that Mr. Boesche got pulled out of retirement for the CFO job and is unlikely to want the superintendent job).  Noel Treat and Phil Brockman are also mentioned.  Another surprise:

Brockman said in an interview Wednesday he might be willing if the board offered. But he said it is too early for that discussion.

Good to know that Mr. Brockman would at least consider the position.

In the comments section, Charlie also puts forth Mary Jean Ryan and Holly Miller as well as other regional superintendents.  I could support Mary Jean Ryan as superintendent.

Charlie also said this:

What frightens me the most is the possibility that the Board will choose a non-educator and that person will leave the academic decisions to Dr. Thompson the way that Mr. Olchefske left them to Dr. Rimmer. Dr. Thompson's academic perspective is a centrally controlled disaster and cannot be allowed to dominate our schools.


Carol Simmons said…
I know of an outstanding Superintendent candidate who is considering applying. He grew up in Seattle and graduated from Ballard High Schhol. He has had considerable experience with diversity issues and has been a successful superintendent in several Districts in WA and Oregon. He is not Broad trained or a top down manager. I can recommend him without reservation.
Kate Martin said…
Charlie - why would you support Mary Jean Ryan? She currently collects her CCER $100K paycheck from the B&MGF and it certainly feels like more of the same corporate ed reform BS coming from her.
Kate Martin said…
I could also use a few reasons why you would support Holly Miller. I like Holly, but over the last few years whenever I dug deeper with the F&E Levy, I got pushback and even mistreated. Where does your support for Holly come from? How is she qualified for the supe job?
I believe that Mary Jean Ryan is a person dedicated to public education. She has quietly been working on these issues for years. That her CCER check comes from a donor doesn't bother me a lot because, well, I feel she's her own person.

I can't say for sure that I know her stand on all issues but I do know she is a competent, caring and smart person on issues of public education. If I learned she was avidly for TFA, charters, etc, I might reconsider but I am looking at the person I see right now.
Paul said…
Both Holly and Mary Jean are totally with the Ed Reform crowd and would be only too happy to be led around by mentors like Ron English and the rest of the remaining MGJ crowd.

AND if it WAS one of them, then the Mayor WOULD have taken over the District. How would THAT work out, ya think?

Lets look for someone less tainted, like Phil Brockman.
Noam said…
Lest we forget that with Mary Jean we get Tim Ceis as well and his peeps don't like Strategies 360.

The last thing the District needs is a battle between PR firms that might distract frpm the one that is already going on.

The only thing we would not have to worry about is Tim's church getting a sweethart deal on property, if you get my drift.
Anonymous said…
Brockman cannot clean house. Melissa, don't you understand this? He is an insider. Central Admin is a mess. An insider cannot fix it.

Ryan? Miller? Superintendent? Let's get a serious educator. Let's get serious.

mirmac1 said…
Carol, if like this person, he/she MUST be good. I respect your opinion.
mirmac1 said…
Whatever we do, DON'T hire ProAct. On their website, they cite as client Seattle Public Schools; past "successes" - Superintendent; CAO and Asst Supt Business and Finance.

They got a contract in April of 2011 for $40K. This was likely for the B&F position. What did we get for $40K? An interim (who seems to be doing an okay job).
dan dempsey said…
Try watching for two minutes HERE

3:45 to 5:50 on Governance.

So what kind of Board to we have now?

Clearly we had the Board described, which empowered the "Enlightened Despot" and Central Administration to take control and they ... "cast broad approval on what the staff was doing." ... No matter what Staff was doing .... as noted by the State Auditor.

The question now is ..... have we still got that same Board philosophy of governance?

Or have we got "a Strong School Board that will be setting policy" and actually directing the Superintendent.

If the SPS directors are just looking for a different "Enlightened Despot" ... there will be deep problems no matter who they pick...... BUT they will certainly be more catastrophic with certain picks for superintendent.

I notice no one is suggesting we steal Carla Santorno away from Tacoma. (Thanks be to God).
Anonymous said…
Kate Martin asks some pointed, legitimate questions.

Reform is what reform does, to paraphrase Gump. Mary Jean Ryan has clearly established her allegiance--and it comes with her 100K paycheck.

A nice person who is committed does not cut it for qualifications. In Holly's case, that even seems to be lacking.

There is always the danger of getting too close to people and losing perspective on their motives. I am sure they are both fine people but...

--enough already
Anonymous said…
Elway? Why a Republican pollster? Or is he the only pollster in Seattle?

Seems like the corporate mindset has taken over. A really good principal could be a superintendent. Just learning a different set of protocols. I'm a believer that anyone can do any job if they have the chops (brains and effort) to want it and learn it.

An awful lot of CEO's were given big bonuses because they're the best and we need incentives to keep the best have proven not to be over the last decade. Did you know you don't have to have a law degree to occupy a seat on the Supreme Court. I'd take a great philosopher anytime over some of our current Justices. And I'd take a good principal who runs a good school over another "corporate" trained-to-be-a-superintendent candidate.

Now that's out of the box.

But what do I know? I'm just a teacher. :)

"Both Holly and Mary Jean are totally with the Ed Reform crowd and would be only too happy to be led around by mentors like Ron English and the rest of the remaining MGJ crowd."

May I ask how you know this for certain?

Parent, yes, Phil is an insider and that's why I would consider him. I think a lot of Central adm has been cleaned up. What is it you think Phil would do or not do?

"And I'd take a good principal who runs a good school over another "corporate" trained-to-be-a-superintendent candidate."

This from a teacher so maybe Phil might engender the trust that is so sadly lacking from the troops.

I'm not saying I'm right. And I'm not saying that adults of a certain age don't have baggage. But there is NO perfect candidate. I'm looking for what this district needs now.
SeattleSped said…
Word is Brockman has been little to NO help with Special Ed issues in his area. Ineffectual is the word I'm looking for.

Treat HAS made significant strides in this area, including making the SpEd central admin (gak!) take dispute resolution training. Can't credit Enfield for any of this.
dan dempsey said…
In regard to MJR:

May I ask how you know this for certain?

I find much of what the SBE has pushed for under MJR has simply been whatever is floating by nationally.

The CCSS and RttR have been particularly flawed. Yet WA state has gone for them lock stock and barrel.

45 states agreed to be collectively bribed into a National Reform movement, which violated several laws against Federal involvement in Education at that level.

Take a look at where WA state has gone in the last decade in Education. WA has a favorable demographic in terms of many factors and yet it would be hard to notice from results.

I would like a superintendent that is for assisting the children to learn .... imposing dictates for mandatory performance just does not cut it.

No more flim-flam please.

Check these math results

and then wonder what in the world the SBE was thinking with its orginal position of Algebra II competency for all as a graduation requirement.

Also notice that with the coming CCSS the Algebra EoC will likely disappear so no annual measure of proficiency of skills for a course recently taken will be available. --- {and the EoC's for Math need to be improved ... but the coming expensive CCSS dictate is an expensive absurdity}

SBE was hardly a big opponent of the Academic Chaos produced during the reign of SPI Bergeson.

I would look for a record of positive accomplishment in superintendent candidates, rather than just a resume filled with various experiences.

I do not want another "Club - Ed elite", backed by glowing statements from "Club - Ed elite" peers.

A substantial improvement in the district is needed. To bring that about will require the intelligent application of relevant data. It seems Ms. Ryan's record has no indication of having intelligently applied data to produce improvement.
dan dempsey said…
Above - The CCSS and RttR

should have been Common Core State Standards and the Race to the Top.

Both of which are in violation of several federal laws that govern what the federal Government can and cannot do in Education.

In 1979 Jimmy Carter established the Department of Education. It must follow particular guidelines and laws .... but it does not.

Clinton and GW bush put a greater emphasis on Fed involvement ... but had the state's at least believing they were in control.

Duncan/Obama are in clear violation of several laws.

My objection to Ms. Ryan is substantial.

Ms. Ryan is well educated, polite, and a very nice person. She is well meaning.

Career Bureaucrat should not be considered a qualification, that is likely to produce improvement.

Perhaps someone from an Eastern State will apply from a school district that has shown marked improvement brought about through the intelligent application of relevant data. Most districts in WA have been too busy following the OSPI plan or the Ed reform plan to produce much in the way of improvement.

A marked shift in Instructional materials and practices is needed ... especially for schools with high proportions of educationally disadvantaged learners.
StopTFA said…
Brian Rosenthal just tweeted that Norm Rice told him he wasn't interested in the SPS Supt position. Cue, wails, lamentation, and rending of clothes...
mitt said…
No to Mary Jean Ryan. Far too cozy with the Gates Foundation and with the Seattle Foundation i.e. TFA promoters.

And didn't she hire Brad Bernatek to do data for her organization right after he left SPS? It looks like he's working for another think tank now (FSG), and I can't find proof of the Mary Jean Ryan/Bernatek connection on my google search, but I seem to recall he left SPS to work for Mary Jean Ryan. If this is true, it shows MJR (sounds too much like MGJ!) is too susceptible to the Broad Foundation allure. ...

I do not trust people who leave public work to become directors of their own ed reform organizations, particularly ones that are cozy with The Gates Foundation and with Norm-- Mr. TFA/Mr. 17%/Mr. anti union editorial -- Rice.
mitt said…
And Melissa, you're really worrying me by saying about Mary Jean Ryan: "If I learned she was avidly for TFA, charters, etc, I might reconsider but I am looking at the person I see right now."

MIGHT reconsider? MIGHT? If she is AVIDLY for TFA and charter, this earns just a "might" reconsiderfrom you?? ? Please reconsider that stance. Any potential candidate who is "avidly for TFA and charter" should be an absolute non-starter.

I would not be surprised, Melissa, if you were chosen to be a community voice on the hiring committee, and this statement of yours is very, very worrisome to me. Did I mis-read what you wrote?
StopTFA said…
I concur with mitt. MJR is tainted before she's even out of the gate. Would her one woman "group" even exist with $$$ of Gates bucks from website to chatty "blog".

Hell no. She was Norm's Small Business bureaucrat in the 90's and is used to the rarefied world of politico self-congratulatory banquets and make-it-up-as-you-go regulation.

We can do MUCH better than that.
Charlie Mas said…
Here's what I like about Mary Jean Ryan's current effort, CCER.

She is addressing the opportunity gap directly. She isn't trying to solve for it in the schools very much and she sure as heck isn't blaming teachers. Instead, she's working to get wrap-around services to students.

Is it funded by Gates? Who cares. The Gates Foundation isn't the debbil. They do a lot of things wrong, but that doesn't mean that they can't ever be right.
Charlie Mas said…
Both Mary Jean Ryan and Holly Miller fit my criteria.

They are both familiar with Seattle Public Schools. They both have demonstrated some executive skills. They have both demonstrated some political skills, and I don't think that either of them are entirely in the tank for Education Reform.

I could be wrong. Upon deeper review either or both of them could prove to fail to meet any of those criteria. It's hard to have worked in education this century without having some interaction with the Gates Foundation. CPPS got some funding from them, but I don't think that CPPS is their puppet.

I will tell you right now that if the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation wanted to support this blog financially I would be delighted - and I would take the money. I wouldn't change what I wrote to suit them, but I would take their money.

By the way, if anyone from the Foundation is reading this, call me. I would TOTALLY take your money.
StopTFA said…
yeah but Susan Enfield met your criteria too Charlie. Even Enfield knew she didn't fit Seattle's criteria.

Money. The great aphrodisiac. Brewster thinks that's the only thing that was missing last election. That and a police baton across the patella. Perhaps he's right, but fortunately we have two "insurgents" who would disprove this theory.

Unfortunately, some who collect their paycheck from taxpayers figure rich dudes' money and power is worth selling themselves and us down the river. I'm not going to let them off the hook that easy. They'll have to tear those dimes out of my bleedin' hands.
mitt said…
Quoting Melissa Westbrook, January 11, 2011:

"Noel Treat is the fairly new General Counsel for the district. He is also the new Ethics officer.

Why didn't he think it necessary to disclose that:

(1) his wife's job is at a foundation that was co-founded by the Gates Foundation and is run on money from the Gates Foundation (partial) and
(2) that his brother-in-law is married to Sara Morris who heads the Alliance for Education?

While it might be that these two items don't come directly under the letter of the law/policy for public disclosure, the district has a close working relationship with both the Alliance and the Gates Foundation. That he has two close personal connections to these groups might have pointed to the public disclosure (rather than recusing himself any time he does work with either group).

I might have thought after the Dr. Goodloe-Johnson/NWEA issue that the administration and School Board might be extra careful to avoid the appearance of hiding information of this type but apparently not. "
mitt said…
Quoting Charlie Mas, this blog, Sept 14, 2010:

"There is yet another Education Reform Organization forming. Aren't there enough already? Apparently not. And what do you think this one is doing? There are putting together a coalition. Aren't there enough already? Apparently not.

"The new group is called Community Center for Education Results (CCER), and is led by Mary Jean Ryan.

"The coalition they are building is called the Education Results Network and you'll never guess who is in the network... all the usual suspects. Don't these people network together enough already?

"I'm already bored with it. Their web site has a blog, but it's strictly one-way communication. All this group appears to do is allow the Gates Foundation to have another seat at the table, to have another puppet voice in their chorus, to create the illusion of more consensus.

"Blah, blah, blah. "

Hmmm... she used to be seen as a "puppet, giving Gates another seat at the table." From puppet to superintendent. Haven't we learned our lessons?
StopTFA said…

That connection troubles me. However, after 13 months of closely watching his words and actions, I am not convinced that he is willing to sell his reputation down the river for unproven, unjustified reformist dogma.

I could be wrong. My partner moves in different circles than I do and has a different take on things (yeah, I'm scratching my head over that one myself.)
mitt said…
Stop TFA:
Yeah, I watched Noel Treat closely, too, particularly as he justified the legalities of TFA, using a tenuous argument at best. I saw a guy telling his boss what she wanted to hear, subjugating the law to political pressure. Dan Dempsey's legal arguments against the legalities of TFA seem far better reasoned.
Rooster said…
So Charlie , imagine this ... Mary Jean Ryan as new SSD Superintendent, Noel Treat and his wife plus the in laws Sarah Morris and her husband, all sit down with Mr Gates for dinner. So what that Billionaire Bill contributes to their salaries and has a seat at the table. Heck, he owns the table ! But hey , they're just talking....
StopTFA said…
Treat got and deserved a smackdown on the 9th Circuit Ct ruling. He had been on the job just over a month. His buddy Pamela Eakes absolved him. Frankly, I seriously considered reporting him to the Bar for that "tour de farce". But I haven't seem him pull that shit again. Good.

In the meantime he's brought in Will Barnett, he's begun the professionalization of SpEd admin, he's behind the initiative to form and abide by advisory committee findings etc etc. This is all behind the scenes, no accolades, no self-aggrandizement.

Go to the Times website and search for Mary Jean Ryan. She goes WAY back, including forming a PAC with Gates, Hanuar etc to elect our very own DeBelle. She's NOT the real deal.
dan dempsey said…
Thanks Mitt =>

Dan Dempsey's legal arguments against the legalities of TFA seem far better reasoned.

Open letter to the School Board coming on Tuesday 12-27-2011 at 10 AM.

I will expand those legal arguments.
Anonymous said…
Charlie and Melissa (and Stop TFA),

Sounds like your getting to know these fine people has trumped their credentials and backgrounds.

The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior.

There is noooo way these sycophants should be leading SPS.

--enough already
StopTFA said…
Excuse me, Wayne Barnett, Exc Dir. Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission
Anonymous said…
Mary Jean Ryan's post on the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation "Impatient Optimist" blog (also linked on Stragies 360, Dec 15, 2011):
StopTFA said…
Nobody gets crowned without a thorough vetting. But I can have my preference.

I merely offer info so that others may reach their own conclusion.
I actually think that Noel's ties to the Alliance work in our favor. If he looked like he was listening to them, favoring their views, he could really get called on it.

If he were superintendent, he would have to be VERY careful of his actions vis a vis the Alliance because it could look like a conflict of interest.
Anonymous said…
That is some twisted logic, Melissa. The conflict of interest should, if anything, preclude him from being considered in the first place--especially after what this district has already suffered at the hands of ed reform.

--enough already
StopTFA said…
All I know is I don't want anyone Lynne Varner endorses. Is that a fair statement, -enough already?
Carol Simmons said…
Thank you Mirmac. I hope the person I mentioned applies for the Superintendent's position. He has no ties to LEV, the Broad Foundation, the Alliance, and does not support Charter Schools or Tfa hires. (Nor is he a central office administrator who would find it difficult to clean house).
I cannot support anyone as our Superintendent who has ties to LEV or the Alliance or nods in the direction of Charter Schools, or the Broad Foundation or Tfa.
About 4 years ago, a friend of mine and I recommended a person to serve on the Board of the Alliance for Education in hopes, that as a Board member, she could influence them in the right direction. She was accepted on the Board. She tried, gave up and left. And please believe me, she did try and she is a strong and dedicated person who does not give up easily. I totally believe that even if you align yourself with the "enemy" it is extremely difficult to influence them and as Pogo would say "we have met the enemy and the enemy is us."
mitt said…
"Anonymous said...
That is some twisted logic, Melissa. "

Twisted logic indeed. By that logic, we should have beeen absolutely thrilled that MGJ was on the board of NWEA/MAP because then she would have to pretend to listen to them and be very careful not to show that conflict of interest.

Same thing with Broad: in fact, let's go out and actively recruit Broad folks because they'd have to be extra careful. Their association with Broad actually helps us, right?

Melissa and Charlie: I just don't get why you seem so eager to excuse, and in fact embrace, Gates and Alliance associations of Treat's and Ryan's when you have nailed others for these same associations in the past. It just seems so inconsistent. What am I missing?
You are missing reality and balance.

The reality is there is NO perfect candidate. I continue to be suspicious of LEV/Alliance/Stand but they are not my enemy. They are just wrong-headed people.

Balance - I take some good with the bad. I feel in my dealings with Noel that he knows and believes that yes, communities must be part of the district process. And, to ignore that fact would not be helpful to anyone.

I am not stuck on any one person so I am open to all thoughts.

I continue to stand by my feeling that local is better and these are some of the candidates. I have to talk with Carol about who her candidate is.
Linh-Co said…
Ditto on what Dan says about Mary Jean Ryan. She was more concerned about process and less about looking at research and results. I hope we don't have to cross that road.
Jan said…
Stop TFA: on the theory that even a blindfolded man can hit a dartboard with enough tries -- I would not rule out Lynne completely. There is a possibility, I guess, that she could inadvertently support someone good (though anyone good will not talk in simplistic Ed Reform sound bites -- and the complexity of reasoning neede to attack many district problems may be offputting to Lynne). So I won't exclude whoever she supports -- I just won't give her evaluation any credence whatsoever -- and if her support is based on that person's adherence to silly Ed Reform nonsense, that will be a strike out, obviously.
Anonymous said…
I have not seen anything substantial that would indicate that district headquarters administration has been cleaned up; any credit for what improvements may have been realized certainly would not be earned by Phil Brockman. In reality, he could serve as the poster boy for the 'go-along to get along' mentality that is rampant in the district; at no time in his career have I seen Brockman demonstrate real leadership or even make a stand based upon principle.

Many people in the know have recognized that as an administrator, Mr. Brockman often demonstrates a lack of ability in making tough decisions or opposing any of the wild initiatives and policies at headquarters. Selecting him to serve as superintendent simply due to his 'knowledge' or 'experience' in the district would be an unmitigated disaster.

We really need to be certain our next superintendent has a demonstrated record of serving as a true leader of a large school district. This is not an impossible task and begins with selecting the appropriate search group that is provided a clear and detailed set of criteria for our next leader.


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