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Friday, January 06, 2012

Drawing Lines in the Sand

As I mentioned previously, I attended the Coe Elementary event last night.  It was fairly full but I wish I had publicized it more as it was worthwhile being there.   But it deserves a separate thread.

But a couple things happened and as I pondered them in bed last night (while nursing a cold) as well as thinking about all that has been written in the media lately, I came to some conclusions.

The first thing that happened is that one parent got up and said that it seemed like with the survey results and parents and teachers speaking out, that the majority of people want Dr. Enfield to stay.  That got some decent applause.   Not from me, though.

And it's not because I don't want Dr. Enfield to reconsider.  I wish she would and I wish she would apply for the permanent job.

No, it's because that parent completely misread the survey results.  As Charlie pointed out, so did Publicola and Crosscut.  The parent also took it upon herself to say that the majority of parents and teachers wanted her to stay without a shred of evidence except her own experience in her own community.

I have no problem with anyone's opinion or perception within their community.  Coe was going to write a letter to the Board and endorse her hiring but that was in December and, of course, things changed.

But she put it out in the either that this is what "most" people wanted. 

Then, I had a woman approach me as I was walking to my car.  She did not ID herself but told me that I was a negative person who wrote negative things.  The first thing out of my mouth (as it generally is with matters about the blog) is "Thank you for the input."  But she continued on to say that she isn't having a negative experience at her school.

I told her I rarely talk about "experiences" at specific schools precisely because I don't have first-hand knowledge.  I told her I write more at a district level.

She then asked whether I had students in the system and I said no, I graduated both of them.  She said, well then I didn't know what I was talking about.  I had to smile because she should be a brave person and go tell that to the multitudes of Seattlites who DON'T have children in the system.  Taxpayers are not allowed to say anything about the state of our school district?  That's a big opinion to have.

She said she was very worried about the two new Board members.  I gently pointed out there were still five incumbents and she said well, thank goodness for that. She said we needed continuity and stability.  I told her the two new people had been duly elected as had all the Board members.  I told her that the incumbent candidates had not done well in their four years.  I pointed out Pottergate which she said was not a crisis and it wasn't that much money in the scope of the overall budget.

That's when something clicked.  Here, standing before me, was a person for whom that professional veneer and stability at any cost, was more important than a person's job performance.  She seemed not get that it wasn't just the money.  It was the lack of oversight, the fear that Potter had engendered in many people at headquarters, it was Maier hiding an important document about the issue, Fred Stephens and others looking the other way - all of that either didn't exist in her mind or didn't matter.

(As an aside, about the money, DeBell had just announced at the meeting that they were lowering the reserve amount the district holds in anticipation of more cuts from the Legislature.  It was about $2M which is about how much we lost with Potter.  Also, it would be interesting to cut, say, $250,000 from her school's budget and see if she noticed.   Even Carlyle said a million here and a million there still matters.)

My point is that I believe there really is something going on out there.  Some is being directed and some is pure stubborn behavior.

We all know that the Times is tone-deaf editorially.  They, along with Crosscut, seem to believe that somehow voters got hoodwinked and that Marty and Sharon are the early signs of the apocalypse for this district.  No one seems to want to do the civil thing and accept the election outcome, be welcoming and give them a chance.

On the other hand, we have massive hand-wringing over Susan Enfield with words like "beloved" and the feeling we let someone good get away.  No one let her get away; she is leaving on her own.  No one pushed her out.  No one was unkind to her.  Apparently, she didn't get want she wanted early enough and made the personal/professional decision to leave.

Again, I was quite surprised by her decision.  The Alliance was lining up with her, LEV, a couple of the unions in the district, many parents and the majority of the Board.  That's a lot of support and yet, not enough for her to stay and see what happened.

I'm thinking that there are some out there who are going to take every chance they have to bad-mouth Marty and Sharon and really, to what end?  Is it worth demoralizing them early on to make a point? 

It's interesting because a big vibe from Michael and Susan last night was kindness.  I get the feeling that they feel that people are being too rough, too inquisitive and too insensitive to staff.

Susan asked that people say thank you - to a teacher, to a cafeteria worker, to a staffer.  She's right, of course.  She said people are working hard and with good intent.  (This echoes what Bob Vaughn told the AL Taskforce Committee - to assume good intent.)

I never assume bad intent because I know that the SPS staff genuinely care about the students in their care.  There are a few very bad apples like Silas Potter and a few like MGJ and Don Kennedy who just can't be bothered to care.  They are very few.

But I don't assume that all is well because I was told that.  Why?  Because each and every time we get promised that a mistake that was made won't happen again, it does.  So skepticism, at least until this tanker gets turned around, is healthy.

What I thought was just an election hangover, though, is more than that.  I think we should all be aware and be willing to correct impressions that are not valid or proven.  Because once an idea gets out into the public, it tends to stick.  It will not help the work of the district to have mistruths out there.  It will not help the work of the Board of two members are not treated with the same respect as others.

We all need to behave civilly and work together to make this district great.   If it is fair in one direction, it should be the same in the other direction.

51 comments:

Jon said...

Let me get this straight. This woman says others are being negative, then prejudges the two new Board members negatively? Pot, meet kettle.

There are going to be a lot of people who will argue nonsense like this, a lot of people who have a personal vested interest in the status quo. Jobs are at stake, both in the administration offices and in some of the educational lobbying organizations. As Upton Sinclair famously said, "It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it," and you might as well give up on trying to convince them.

I hope you don't worry about criticism from these kinds of people, Melissa, and keep fighting the good fight.

Anonymous said...

"We all need to behave civilly and work together to make this district great. If it is fair in one direction, it should be the same in the other direction."

Sounds hypocritcal. Perhaps you laying in bed thinking about this tells much.

A friend

Melissa Westbrook said...

Okay, how am I being hypocritical? Don't just fire off without explanation.

I voted for both Sherry and Harium in their first election. Every single Board member who comes on the Board, I welcome and ask how I can help. I do not get personal about Board members. I make it my task to know the people running for office BEFORE I cast my vote.

So how am I hypocritical?

Patrick said...

Melissa, I'd be more worried if everybody loved you, really.

zella917 said...

Melissa,
I don't think you're hypocritical at all. You don't let the district get away with nonsense, which I appreciate very much. I'm a lurker mostly not a poster, but definitely a supporter of this blog. (And a parent of two SPS students who, like many others, loves the teachers and staff at our own schools, but is dismayed at the direction of the administration.) Keep doing what you're doing -- you and Charlie both!
Zella917

Anonymous said...

"friend", huh!?

For those so quick to attack the insurgent board members who had the audacity to get elected, look at the careful scrutiny given the short-term capacity mgmt proposed changes. Marty McLaren has reached out and HEARD her constituents. She is actively engaged in proof-testing staff's ideas. Yes, let's go back to the rubberstamp days that left us in this mess in the first place.

kettle

Anonymous said...

Matt Damon & his mom reject TFA tainted award:

http://www.truth-out.org/matt-damon-and-mother-reject-unions-award/1325876690

-JC.

suep. said...

Melissa, clearly there are people in the community who have a problem with democracy and free speech. Please don't take it to heart.

Marty and Sharon were democratically elected (and without the help of Eastside dollars). They've been in office for only a month. Apparently some people are not big enough to even give them a chance.

Also, whether some people like it or not, the internet liberates information from the confines of newspapers and allows citizen journalists and regular stakeholders like parents to have a public say.

This anti-'negativity' trope is one we've heard before on this blog. It seems to flare up every time the discussion here gets close to some truth, or results in some kind of change to the business-as-usual status quo of the district.

The fact is, this past year, the corporate ed reformers and local business interests who supported a particular agenda lost a superintendent and two board members who were aligned with their views. Now Susan Enfield has decided to leave -- of her own volition -- they apparently are having trouble with that reality.

There is a 'kill the messenger' mentality at play here. Don't let it get you down. Maybe it's time to put on some 'big girl pants' (!), don your "Usual Suspects" T-shirt and prepare for more arbitrary and capricious behavior from those who want to maintain the SPS status quo of MGJ and the former Gang of Four...!

Happy New Year!

CrownHill said...

I suspect "a friend" is expressing a case of "perception is reality" - there's definitely a perception among some that this blog has a overall negative tone - the whole "deformer" thing bugs the heck out of me personally, even though I tend to agree with the views expressed on that front.

I can on occassion see why that perception might be out there - though the "evidence" is mostly in the tone of commenters, not so much the blog authors.

That being said, Jon is absolutely spot on with his Upton Sinclair quote - just keep reporting the realities and those who are willing to learn will get it.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
mirmac1 said...

reposting anonymous' post. Pick a name or it will get deleted under blog rules. thx

"I completely agree with Zella917! I am also a "lurker" and not generally a "poster," but I love this blog and learn a lot. I do have kids in the school district - two different schools - and I have not at all felt wide-spread support for either Susan Enfield or the previous board. I voted for the new board members and was thrilled when they won. And I do not find you and Charlie at all negative, Melissa - this woman's opinions are not the majority opinion, it seems to me. Please keep up the good work!!"

Anonymous said...

I echo the 11:42 anonymous. I've rarely posted but am an avid reader. I have a child in SPS and am grateful for Melissa and Charlie and others who take the time to post here. Thank you for being supportive and critical of what you're all seeing.
--Appreciative

FedMomof2 said...

I think it's interesting that they held this event where they did. And I wonder how representative of the district the crowd was? Folks up on the hill there really like their schools, as they should. Move the event to West Seattle, or another neighborhood, and you have a different crowd, a different tone, different board alignments, and voila, the lady who followed you out to share a piece of her mind with you might have bent your ear another way.

Thank you for reporting the content and tone of the meeting. It's good to know what others are thinking. Please keep up the good work reporting on the district. It is very much needed and it is very much appreciated.

FedMomof2

Anonymous said...

I live in the neighborhood where the event was held last night. I attended the event and am not surprised at all by the "love" for Enfield and the discussion that ensued.

We are fortunate here to have excellent neighborhood and option elementary schools for our children.

But when talking to the parents in this neighborhood, you'd think the sky was falling. The Stand, LEV, Alliance message has infiltrated heavily here and parents are convinced that ed reform is the way to go to fix all of the "problems". Even though there really aren't any problems (relative to elsewhere in SPS).

Even though their own kids are getting a great education. (most are level 5 or 4 schools)

Even though the vast majority of teachers, principals, and staff at these schools are doing a great job. (with insane amounts of crazy helicopter parents).

Even though most haven't spent any meaningful time in a classroom beyond the holiday party to know what is really going on and what it is really like to be a teacher.

Yet- they line up with the ed reform crowd to bash teachers, call for reform, charters, whatnot.

The number of neighborhood people I heard prior to the event that were "assuming" that Enfield left because of Marty and Sharon were elected was astonishing. They loved Enfield before the survey data came out - because she looks, walks, and talks like someone from this neighborhood.

When I point parents to this blog for a different perspective, they scoff and say that it is biased. They aren't willing to even consider a different point of view.

I've explored both sides of the ed reform movement and know where I fall. But I continually run up against parents who only want to hear one side, are taking their stand based on "what they heard".

Melissa, I'm not sure anything can be done about the type of person you ran into last night.

I have these conversations 1:1 with my neighbors, challenge their assumptions on "bad teachers" when they've never really met one, and have some success in at least creating open minds. I will continue to do so...

signed
One of the Neighbors

Po3 said...

You have to consider the area where this meeting/encounter took place. QA schools have faired VERY well under MGJ and Enfield. New school, led by beloved ex-Coe princpal; the replacement principal at Coe did not work out and was gone quickly. Hay princpal was transferred and replaced by a popular head teacher. No young inexperienced principal to have to contend with.

No Spectrum issues, they just quietly offer advanced learning opportunities for their students and are very successful schools.

Their boundries will probably remain pretty stable thanks to QA Elementary.

Families seem happy with MClure, but I do have to wonder how many QA families are actually enrolled at the school?

All in all things have been just
dandy in QA the last few years.

Anonymous said...

"I can on occassion see why that perception [of negativity] might be out there - though the "evidence" is mostly in the tone of commenters, not so much the blog authors. "

I agree. I value this blog, but take everything with a grain of salt, as I do the with all other sources. Certain commenters seem more thoughtful than others, and I pay more attention to what they say.

I think Melissa is very balanced in her thinking, and justifiably skeptical of the district. Someone needs to be.

I'm really glad we have the two new board members, for the record.

Just a regular mom

Anonymous said...

Not everyone can look beyond their own experience. It is about developing perspectives. It is a hard thing and will get harder for our society to achieve that and to accept/tolerate different viewpoints and listen. With Facebook and kids growing up with parents controlling more who their kids play with via playdates to institutional policy like NSAP, we have become more tribal, surrounded with like minded folks who talk the same social patois with similar veneer of income level, education, and background. Of course, there are some differences, but overall a homogeneity that bears out in QA and Magonolia stats.

Many folks like this world. Michael DeBell, HMM, Reuben Carlyle, and Dr. Enfield fit in well. We get them and they get us. Life is good here for the most part. So if you are happy and that feeling is confirmed by your peers and community, then that is your reality. To upset the apple cart and throw in complications, grey stuff, dark stuff, illegal stuff, well you are a gadfly in my perfectly good soup.

Good thing I love gadflies. Just keep doing what you do best Melissa.

square peg

suep. said...

I agree with a number of the comments here about why the woman said what she did to Melissa, but wouldn't assume everything is perfect in Queen Anne.

Yes there are strong schools and strong community involvement on the hill. But Coe and Hay had their principals yanked from them by MGJ to start new schools. It was especially hard for Coe to lose longtime, well-like Principal David Elliott. Coe was then given an inexperienced replacement which resulted in a very rough year for the whole school, before an apparently strong principal took over this year (from Lafayette Elem).

Queen Anne Elem. does appear to be doing well but John Hay is the school that was pictured in the Times recently with kids being taught in the hallways because the school is so over capacity.

I've heard mixed things about McClure, including problems with leadership.

One thing I've learned from reading this blog these past few years is to never assume any one school or community in SPS has it made, with no problems. It seems there are good and not so good elements of most all of our schools and communities in SPS.

What I think is the bigger issue here is the question of why would some (not all, btw) QA/Magnolia parents buy into corporate ed reform? What's in it for them?

As has been pointed out earlier in this thread, their schools are considered strong, so are not the likely targets of corporate ed reform elements like Teach for America trainees or charters.

Is it then possible that LEV/Alliance/Stand et al are instead appealing to a sense of 'liberal guilt' and leading some parents to believe that such ed reforms may indeed not be desirable for their own kids, but would be good for "those other kids" -- you know, the ones who live in the south end of town?

I have already encountered this attitude at least once from a parent in the QA community -- a well-meaning, involved person, but someone who had apparently bought into the notion of corporate ed reform as the salvation for "those other kids." Consequently, those of us who question this agenda are accused of not caring about those kids. (This appears to be LEV's Korsmo's view.)

I suspect this is one of the tactics the charter proponents will be/are using to elicit support from communities that wouldn't otherwise be affected by charters.

dan dempsey said...

I think Square Peg has nailed it.

Tribalism

Politicians love it. It removes much of the need to perform.

Check those extremely poor Action Reports in which CAO Enfield and later Interim-Super Enfield had a hand in writing. The proposals were always approved with four yes votes from the $500,000 four.

When the gang of four was elected in 2007, I had high hopes for them although I did not vote for many of them.

Checking the data confirms what a poor job these folks did. The evidence shows the Board regularly made decisions most reasonable "not tribally aligned" persons would find "Arbitrary and Capricious" and likely to be damaging.

It is only about being with the "Tribe" that counts. ... This is the same measuring stick used for Education Elites who provide the scripts and the "bogus research" for this unproductive show of "Leadership's" innovations for school improvement. The AstroTurf clubs love consensus ... it eliminates any need for thought ... just follow the leader of the Tribe.

Dorothy Neville said...

As for the reason this event happened where it did, it seems to be simply attributable to a strong PTA who asked. The Coe PTA jointly sponsored this with at least one other PTA in QA (I forget which).

Michael suggested to me that the level of advocacy that led to the groups asking is a direct consequence of SSIA, Successful Schools In Action. I once heard a parent at a coffee hour also speak highly of this organization, as it helped him learn how to advocate for his kids and how to tutor them/help with homework appropriately. Alas, the funding dried up and SSIA is no longer.

(BTW. my husband came with me to the event and found it Very Interesting. He's glad he came.)

Anonymous said...

Lurkers unite...
I went to the meeting but had to leave before it was over. If I could have stayed for the rest of the meeting, I would have introduced myself Melissa and said the exact opposite. So thanks for the reporting. I don't always agree with the analysis (and def. not w/ all the comments), but very much appreciate the breaking news, history, perspective etc... We're not all drinking the ed reform-everything is dandy at HQ kool aid in QA/Mag.

One question.... when Enfield said they'd probably need to look to support from community funding partners (or a similar term) to ease our budget woes (namely making good on the new evaluation system for principals and teachers) -- who are these partners? I imagine she means Alliance, LEV, Gates, Stand 4 children etc, but didn't want to assume. I don't see masses of people lining up to give SPS money...

-another lurker

Anonymous said...

Maybe the support for the so call "ed reform" agenda is because some people want their own community schools and the freedom from things that bogged down SPS schools. With charters, comes the freedom to choose their own principal and staff, curriculum, mission values, and possibly some control over student body make up. Charters in QA/Magnolia may be the solution for those folks (in some ways I can understand that and if a charter needs a grassroot start, this community has the money, the time, and the volunteering spirit to get it).

We have seen on other threads, issues that have flared up like spectrum @ Lawton, bullying at McClure, and principal shuffles in this cluster. Of course this cluster has issues. You can bet other schools weathered principal changes, overstuffed classrooms, gang fights, high truancy and dropout rates, poor building conditions, violence in schools and outside schools in scale you won't see in QA/Magnolia.

That is why perspective counts. The Lawton spectrum fight garnered many heated comments and outrage on this blog. But in many other schools, there is no viable spectrum or ALO even to be outraged about even when the district designated the schools as such. That lack is so very sad. For me, that was the bigger outrage. And no, I don't think Lawton, Coe, McClure, or Blaine wanted to air any of their battles publicly as that hurt their community image.

square peg

Anonymous said...

Yeah, yanking our strong Lafayette principal, and assigning the wash-out TOPS principal to our overcrowded school added insult to injury.

WS mom

Anonymous said...

"You have to consider the area where this meeting/encounter took place. QA schools have faired VERY well under MGJ and Enfield."

Um, no. QA schools have fared well because of the relative stability of the teaching staff, the lack of turnover in the student population, the socioeconomic status of the majority of the families, and constant and nearly unilateral support of the parents and community. I have yet to meet a QA parent who attributes the success of their local elementary to the administration of this district.

Also, as "dandy" as things may be up here, plenty of QA parents still choose private schools for their kids. This decision completely baffles me, but there you have it.

Another one of the neighbors, and a loyal reader/supporter of this blog

Lori said...

We are all subject to a cognitive fallacy known as confirmation bias, whether we know it or not.

We think we are rational and data-driven in forming our opinions, but instead, we fall victim to seeking out information that supports our preconceived notions and find ways to criticize or ignore information that runs counter to our beliefs. It's a well-documented phenomenon in social psychology that I've been trying to learn more about and guard against for a few years.

Anyway, that's probably why the woman who confronted Melissa doesn't "like" this blog and can so easily dismiss it, and it explains the group-think that One of the Neighbors describes. But it's also why sometimes the comments on this blog turn into an echo chamber and people with other points of view are dismissed or even derided.

We all do it, and simply asking people to behave civilly won't overcome the roadblocks to progress when we are divided into opposing factions for reasons we don't fully understand. I wish I had a grand pronouncement for what would work to bring people together.

For me, I'm just working on being less "knee-jerk" in my reactions and opinions and trying not to categorize people or organizations into boxes labelled "good" and "bad" based on what they believe. I want to do a better job seeing the shades of gray even when things look very black and white.

Go Coe Cougars said...

Add another lurker to the list.

Local QA SPS parent, non-ed reformer here.

That woman at Coe does not speak for all parents.

I appreciate this blog and know others on the hill who do as well. We are out there trying to support the teachers and school administrators and this blog helps to keep us informed and presents thoughts out of the "QA Bubble."

Please keep on keeping on.

Melissa Westbrook said...

FedMom, the event was put on by the PTAs in the area (and I suspect put together long ago). So it's just a case of some hard work getting some top education leaders together in the same room.

And folks, thanks for the kind words but I have come a long way in getting a thicker skin. We all want people to like us and hope we can share views and maybe some will agree.

But I've had my share of people who just don't agree (starting with people who followed me to my car during school closures - that was unnerving). It's fine and she certainly was entitled to her opinion.

"I wish I had a grand pronouncement for what would work to bring people together."

Me, too. It's funny because I know people at Stand and LEV and the Alliance. I could reach out to them and say, "hey, let's sit down and talk." We could but it would just be a coffee hour. No one is going to change their mind.

However, going forward, if we all felt somewhat united on a superintendent choice, that would be a great place to start coming together as one community. I hope for that to happen. It could be a game changer.

Anonymous said...

I have a different take. I think its Mean Girls syndrome, pure and simple. Ever notice that some of the worst interactions happen between women? Just like high school. A real shame. The Mean Girls> the popular clique< in this case are largely white, no-lower-than-middle-class women. Again, just like high school>mine at least. The Mean Girls have a plan to rule the school. (Fix Washington and Seattle Education.) They don't want interlopers, and why should they? They have all the answers. People like them always do.

You Melissa are an interloper. You represent the Freaks and Geeks who ask questions and don't want to go along for the ride. You have a different perspective, even if ultimately it is the same goal. But it is not OK to think independently. Your existence threatens the group Melissa...the popular group...the Girls and their Boy Hanger-Ons. In this case the Boy Hanger-Ons are a couple of well-known politicians and a not-for-profit business funders. The names for anyone reading this blog regularly will easily spring to mind.

You may ultimately earn grudging respect from a few of the Mean Girls. But most likely the group will work very hard to marginalize you and drive you out of the high school -er education- conversation closing ranks as much as possible with the hiring of a new superintendent and access to him or her, not to mention with state legislators. It's the Lord of the Flies way. You are not a Lordette. You are a Fly. But somehow I don't think you care.

Charlie is not a Fly but only because he is not a woman. Back to the point about Mean Girls.

High School Wallflower, Blog Lurker

Anonymous said...

How pathetic is it that a lying phony has gotten this much attention during her last six months in Seattle (before she moves on to her next acting job)? Can you say Sarah Palin for liberal arts majors three times before lisping?

My guess is that Betty Patu isn't losing any sleep over Susan Enfield's departure. My other guess is that Sharon Peasley is Susan Enfield's worst nightmare
(and we are all better off for it).

--enough already

Anonymous said...

You need to understand THOSE people Melissa, and Jon at 10:11 nails it.

Interestingly, there are a lot of relatively successful people living in neighborhoods like Queen Anne who are defined as leaders, but, who are just the cutting edge of the herd.

Logically, they should defend their privilege. If we were in a Sunni or Shite or Buddhist or Mormon or Persian or Ukranian or Swedish or French or Korean or ... region, the "leaders" all sing from the same songbook, to make sure they fit in.

In our culture, on the Democratic Party side of things, you can't be a bigot or a rascist or against the religion of others or against their skin color or against their solstice food - BUT - you DO attack them for being negative when they point out that you're living in a glass house, a bubble, or some of each.

The question I have about the individual don't rock the boaters from the Queen Annes - is this a choice you've made because a view house on Q.A. is better than a shanty covered with moss and blue tarps out in the sticks, OR, did circumstance plop you onto Queen Anne and you REALLY think your crap doesn't stink?

It is sad how many on the hill believe that their head of the herd conventional wisdom is actually smart.

To the selfish grabbers and wreckers - PLEASE - be honest, don't try to tell me you care more than I do, when the evidence is that your $ocial cla$$ take$ care of itself first.

MaybeWeJustNeedWarlordsAgain

Anonymous said...

As I sat in the audience last night I could feel myself feeling more and more frustrated. The chant of " oh Susan is so wonderful" we are so sorry to lose her" etc. had me feeling ill by about 8:15.

I have been teaching for 6 years. Last year and this year have been the toughest years of my short career by far. I have bigger classes, less support, and more district bull to deal with. I spent countless hours last year battling badly designed alignment plans. This year I have been told to raise my expectations to close the achievement gap as if I have not had high expectations for my students to begin with. As if raising my expectations more will make my students magically rise to that expectation. A mentality that conveniently disregards the need for boots on the ground support in schools.

I can raise my expectations as high as the moon, but without resources for students with learning, language, home, and personal challenges my high expectations will not be enough. I need resources to close the gap. I need instructional IA's in the classroom, counselors who are not managing 500 students, and a career center than can help them find a career path after they graduate. I need a truancy specialist who can track down students who don't come to school. I need a library that can stay open past 4pm so students can study after school. If the district was serious about the gap they would put their money where their mouths are.

I'm hoping for a superintendent who walks the talk. Someone who has a plan that actually is a plan and not an acronym.

no more acronyms please

Anonymous said...

I hope the woman who spoke to you last night is reading these comments today. You and Charlie provide a wonderful service to Seattle parents and teachers and we thank you.

northender

Michael H said...

"I pointed out Pottergate which she said was not a crisis and it wasn't that much money in the scope of the overall budget."

Really?? When will people realize that it is never the amount of money that matters. It si the fact that he (allegedly)STOLE MONEY from the public. And more importantly, he stole money from kids!

Oh, and Peter did not have any report on the Small Business Development Program. The report he had was on the small works contracting roster which, despite what you have continually said Melissa, is NOT THE SAME as the small business development program even though Potter ran them both. The report he had should certainly have been shared with all the Board because it would have raised the red flags about Potter and his behavior.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone find it bitter+amusing that when Harium actually gets off his butt and heads outside his neighborhood he heads to 1- Queen Anne yuppidom for 2- An appearance with Reuven anti-union pro-charter Carlyle and 3- the school board president? I know this is snarky, but the director deserves some snark at this point IMHO.

District Watcher

Anonymous said...

I also dislike the latest ed reform tactic of claiming that the election of Marty and Sharon hurt the Superintendent's feelings, therefore it's their fault that she's leaving.

Neither candidate elected themselves. I think that tens of thousands of Seattle voters must also bear responsibility for S.E.'s bruised ego.

--J.R.

Catherine said...

I've been surfing some of the "education reformer" web sites in the philosophy of Sun Tzu philosophy of know thine enemy.

May I suggest we start referring to ourselves as something akin to the education revolution? We need something that counters their constant assertion that if we're against them, we are for status quo. I think most of us are NOT for the status quo. We just don't happen to think that the Walmart/McDonald's version of education is an improvement for us.

dan dempsey said...

Dear Square Peg,

You wrote:
some people want their own community schools and the freedom from things that bogged down SPS schools. With charters, comes the freedom to choose their own principal and staff, curriculum, mission values, and possibly some control over student body make up.

Yes perspective counts for a lot.

My thoughts were that once the district went to the New Student Assignment Plan the only way that every school was going to become a quality school was by decentralization.

Scott Oki in his book outrageous learning has an excellent model for neighborhood control of schools. -- There is a lot I find just plan wrong about many of Oki's ideas ... but his model for neighborhood schools is worth examining.

Essentially it is clear out downtown and have neighborhoods and their schools making decisions and being accountable and responsible.

Rob Stein spoke in Feb 2010 at a WA Policy Center luncheon (Betty Patu, Marty McLaren and I were there) about the transformation of Manual High School in Denver under his leadership ... He pointed out how useless the "services" offered by downtown really are. ... Stein had great charts with hundreds of arrows that largely took a whole lotta steps to go nowhere .... showing the Denver Public Schools processes.

Paul said...

As I read these posts, I thought about adding my perspective. However, when I got to "Lori", she already had. I simply say"ditto" and I bet I know what book you got for Christmas Lori: I await my copy.

Michael H.: Lets not forget Ron English's involvement in the whole scandal. And he skated through the whole thing! Who calls that justice besides Ron and Silas?

Anonymous said...

I rarely comment, but I read the blog entries a few times a week. I have 3 children in SPS and don't have time to go to all the meetings and educate myself as well as I'd like. This blog is a great way to help me feel more informed about what's going on at the top. We love our neighborhood school and love our teachers. I think the survey pointed that out, but as a regular citizen it's hard to get to know board members and certainly not the super. Once you get to know someone it gets harder to criticize them.

SPS mom3

Anonymous said...

Dan: "He pointed out how useless the "services" offered by downtown really are. ... "

I watched Susan on TVW last night speaking at an Associated Press forum. She said something I didn't know: she has pared admin down from 9% of the budget to 6%. Is that true?

She was appearing with a police chief, a lobbyist for social services, Elson Floyd from WSU, and all were talking to the press about their various budgets. Floyd was excellent!

Anyway, to the question regarding paring central admin, Susan really didn't have an answer short of "if we weren't doing it, each of the schools would be. Can you imagine"(little paraphrasing here). Too bad Susan Enfield didn't attend with you, Betty and Marty to hear Mr. Stein.

Scott Oki: I'm no fan. Perhaps I'll read his book if you think he's right about something. I've heard him several times and been unimpressed.

WE are divided by two points of view: strong leader at the top or strong leadership at each school. Each principal knows his school and can make decisions that fit her community. Principal-teacher-parent colaboration yields results for that community.

When you get down to it, do you want to spend your money on hierarchy or results. To me it is pretty simple.

northender

Anonymous said...

Here's the link to the legislative forum with Enfield, Floyd et al. Assoc. Press Legislative Forum January 5

northender

Anonymous said...

northender -
I don't believe that Enfield pared down the admin from 9% to 6% of the overall budget. My understanding is that items previously attributed to administration were shifted to other areas (like "coaches"), along with an overall bigger budget, and all of a sudden "voila", we're at 6%! (cough, cough).

Oompah

WV thinks that it's all a schel game.

CT said...

Too bad this woman doesn't like having her fantasy bubble popped by reality.
This blog provides a lot of valuable information - both in the posts and in the comments. There are those in administration and certain parent factions who like to control the message and keep certain facts from getting out. This blog prevents that from happening, which some people see as threatening.
I appreciate all of the work that goes into the posts (meeting attendance, research, etc) as well as the comments.

Lori said...

Paul, glad my post resonated with you. I'm curious what book you're waiting to receive. The only book that I got for Christmas is Dorie Greenspan's "Around My French Table" and while she makes a great beef daube, I have no idea what her views are on cognitive biases. :)

But I do read a lot of critical/skeptical thinking blogs with folks like Michael Sherman, Steven Novella, and Phil Plait on the roster. I have Sherman's "The Believing Brain" and "Why People Believe Weird Things" on my to-read list for some future time when I have lots of leisure hours to fill. So am I right? Is it one of those you were thinking of?

And Michael H helped me see the original woman's cognitive dissonance in action. Of course she doesn't view Pottergate as a problem. She already believes that all is well, and when confronted with information that challenges that view, she resolves the cognitive dissonance with a rationalization ("oh, it wasn't much money, so it's irrelevant"). She dismisses information that conflicts with her preconceived notion.

So how to "educate" people when emotions and beliefs take precedence over facts? Until people start thinking more consciously about their thinking, I don't know how you can.

Anonymous said...

northender- follow up on the supposed cut that Enfield touted.

http://dolcenutella.blogspot.com/2011/10/crappy-chart-thursday-saddles-back-up.html

Meg Diaz did the hard work which allowed me to simply have a "belief" that admin didn't get cut from 9% to 6%.

Thanks Meg.

Oompah

Lori said...

Oops, that's what I get for writing as I'm running out the door. The author is Shermer, not Sherman, that talks about the cognitive biases in his various books and blogs. Nothing like seeing your own typos in your RSS feed. Grrr.

Anonymous said...

broad brushes . . . Thanks, Oompah. I wondered because Enfield did kind of mumble it and I wasn't even sure sge said "six" so I think she's aware there has been some discussion about it.

It irks me that the press allows such shenanigans.

northender

CT said...

The "press" these days is a joke. I'm going to go watch "Good night, and good luck" and wish we still had journalists who did the job they were paid to do.
Good thing we now have unpaid bloggers who do the job the paid journalists are supposed to do. Like ask questions and follow up.....

Anonymous said...

MW: I couldn't be more proud of the fact that somebody is scolding you for being too harsh. Congratulations for the confirmation that your efforts culminated in making far more than a token difference in your community. God forbid!

How lame, pathetic, and embarrassing is the anemic narrative on its face that S.E. is bailing out because of the uncooperative meanies Peaslee & McLaren who comprise exactly 28.57% of the power on the School Board. Really? Anything less than absolute power and control and they take their ball and go home? What does this say about their character? Their guts? Their integrity? If they possess any of the above, they'd be ashamed of themselves for making it all about themselves instead of "the kids." But I won't hold my breath. WSDWG

mirmac1 said...

wsdwg

Can I say an "AMEN".

Anonymous said...

How many jobs has Susan Enfield held in the last ten years? Eight?
And people are blaming two newly elected board members for her departure?

The best behavior predictor is past behavior. Commitment and sticking around for the long haul are not part of Enfield's resume. Can't blame anyone but Enfield for that.

--enough already