Monday, March 26, 2012

Don Kennedy makes a soft landing

Don Kennedy, the former CFOO of Seattle Public Schools was kicked out on his ass a year ago. The School Board softened his landing with six months' severance, but now we know (from this Seattle Times article) that he has landed in clover as the interim operations chief in Bridgeport, Connecticut. At $900 a day, and assuming a 260 day contract, that's $234,000 a year. Any questions? He'll have to get back to you on that.

Dr. Goodloe-Johnson, as we know, has been made the superintendent of the state-run district in Michigan which is made up of all of the "failing" schools taken over by the state. I have no doubt that she got that position based on her analogous success with the Southeast Education Initiative here in Seattle. In case you're wondering, Dr. Goodloe-Johnson really did declare that effort a success.

Dr. Goodloe-Johnson rather famously (or infamously) denied any responsibility for the scandal in the RSBDP saying that she couldn't be expected to know what was happening three levels below her. Let's remember that principals were also three levels below her (MGJ -> CAO -> Exec Dir -> Principal).

For Mr. Kennedy, not only was Mr. Potter just two levels below him, but the scandal revealed the truth about how the budget was written - a truth that was completely different from the story he told the Board and the public. He spoke of reviewing it carefully for savings; he spoke of a top-down process driven by district-wide priorities. The truth was a bottom-up process in which program managers submitted budget requests and got them approved. Silas Potter asked for and received $800,000 from the capital budget and got it just two years after his budget was $100,000, when his work didn't qualify for the capital budget, and while the District had a dreadful maintenance backlog.


Anonymous said...

"Any questions? He'll have to get back to you on that."

Great inside joke, Charlie


Melissa Westbrook said...

Don Kennedy never said anything substantial.

Dr. Goodloe-Johnson? She is not the fabulous administrator that she (and others) think she is. She proved that here and I have no doubt she'll do it again in the future.

dan dempsey said...

My Oh My .... what we can learn by examining events.

From the Lowell case we know that "Retribution" is still a definite hallmark of the SPS and that the most those in administrative power can receive for multiple screw-ups in a letter of reprimand.

On the other hand if a principal does not play ball the "District" way then from the "Floe" case => Get Fired.

Now in the above light it is time to re-examine TFA - the principals and KSB's statement.

KSB finds that TFA is a desired option by some principals. Yup some principals are incompetent and others are definitely looking to keep downtown happy. (This is to be expected in the retaliatory SPS.)

Lets examine the school that has the most TFA CMs in it. Aki Kurose has 3 out of 6. So why would the principal select that many or any at all? Likely because Aki Kurose has had low scores and in the Politically Driven SPS the mode is to do what your superiors want ... which often have ZERO to do with improving student learning. {{THUS TFA}}

AKI's spring 2011 SCORES ARE HERE. Note the large decline in 7th grade reading and math scores. 6th grade was up a lot and 8th grade were flat.

Selecting 3 TFA candidates looks like a move for principal job security.

Now lets take a look at GRADE INFLATION in the SPS.
HERE. Note that the release of SPS School Report Cards gave me some needed data so that in January 2011, I calculated grade inflation at various schools in math.

Result from the above link=> See the discrepancy between prepared for HS math according to the SPS report card at that school and the MSP math pass rate for 8th grade.

..(continued) ..

dan dempsey said...


Note in 2010:
The three most financially advantaged schools shown in Blue give shocking evidence to separate and unequal schools when compared to the three financially least advantaged schools shown in Green.

The Blue OSPI pass rates in 2010 for Hamilton, Whitman, and Eckstein:
H: 62.1 W: 74.8 E: 84.1 … avg = 73.7%

Prepared for HS math in “10: H: 77% W: 83% E: 92% … avg = 84%
Reliability factors: H: 0.81 W: 0.90 E: 0.92 average = 87.3%

note these are in the same order as expected from Low-Income %:
H: 35.2% W: 24.7% E: 15.2%; avg = 25.0%

The Green pass rates in 2010 for Aki, Mercer, Denny:
A: 34.8 M: 57.0 D: 51.9 … avg = 47.9%
Prepared for HS math in “10: A: 73% M: 86% D: 76% … avg = 78.3%
Reliability factors: A: 0.48 M: 0.66 D: 0.68 average = 60.3%

note these Reliability numbers are in the same order as expected from Low-Income %:
A: 82.3% M: 75.4% D: 65.4%; avg = 74.4%

When I say “expected”; in the SPS the lower the income level of the school the more likely the grades are inflated.
Clearly, no one wants to tell the truth about how bad math is in the Seattle Public Schools, especially in Southeast Seattle and West Seattle.

The school report cards were to some extent another propaganda instrument. Lets make believe that for fall 2010 entering 9th graders from AKI 73% are ready for High School math while only 34.8% of those students passed the spring 2010 8th grade math MSP.

A plan for more learning at AKI would include:
(1) better prepared students coming from elementary schools. (Forget that with EDM and a high poverty population.)

(2) better student discipline in the classroom. (Forget that as use of RCW 28A 600.020 to exclude very disruptive students will:
(a) if you are new get you your walking papers and maybe replaced by a TFA CM
(b) retaliation.)

What would help bring AKI improvements about:
Increased community pressure on SPS and AKI to fix things; but neither the Board, nor the Central Administration care about revealing the facts at AKI or so much of the retaliatory business and lack of accomplishment that happens in the SPS....

To improve a system requires the intelligent application of relevant data ..... but to keep your job in the SPS may require something entirely different ... Power Politics rules and kids lose. Try KSB's TFA vote for an example. Floe's firing. King's retention. etc. etc.

Disgusted said...

Let's do some math.

MGJ severance package about $300K + Detroit salary $200K= $0.5M in one year. Not bad.

Anonymous said...

It is called "failing forward"


suep. said...

@ Disgusted re: 'guns for hire' superintendent salaries and severance packages.

I believe this is exactly why these supt-factory supts like Goodloe-Johnson (and Ackerman in Philadelphia) are quick to negotiate contract extensions when they arrive in new cities.

I believe MGJ got hers extended after just one year here, and again right after the damning state audit (well done, SPS School Board, Class of 2010!) and not long before the Silas Potter scandal hit the fan.

I believe that supts like Goodloe-Johnson have no intention of sticking around, and know that if they have long or extended contracts, it doesn't matter how well or poorly they perform, they will be bought out and assured of a nice parachute on the way out.

I'm afraid that school boards are suckers in this scheme.

David said...

I hope the Board has learned their lesson and will pick someone local. Foolish to expect a professional exec like MGJ to see Seattle as anything other than a stepping stone for her career. The Board should have known better and, I hope, will do better this time.

Disgusted said...

Sue P.,

I'm trying to locate an article related to retirement benefits for superintends. I understand superintendents get retirement packages after a few years of service. So, what would prevent a superintendent from working in multiple districts to obtain multiple retirement packages? Furthermore, there is no incentive for a superintendent to stay in a district to obtain retirement benefits. Looks like reform is needed in this area- for sure.

Scrawny Kayaker said...

Unfortunately, even if the "run government like a business" idea was valid, the way too many business are run is distorted. The interests of a small business OWNER are very different from the corporate MANAGERS that are the image of a "businessman" you'd generally get from the media culture.

If a private business owner who wasn't looking to bail out of the business next year was hiring a manager, they'd be way more concerned with getting a good value for the salary and long-term returns and stability in the business.

For the corporate execs who generally sit on each others BODs, compensation is awarded on an upward ratchet of "we need to pay more than average to get more than average leadership" and bonuses for short-term stock blips.

Which of these models do the Ed. Reform DINOs and Rs most closely align with?

Anonymous said...

The math scores are probably higher at the more well off schools because the parents can afford to pay for Kumon or Sylvan. Everybody I know in Northeast Seattle who has their kid in a public middle school, sends their kid somewhere for math tutoring. The math program is awful.


Charlie Mas said...

Dr. Goodloe-Johnson had her own retirement plan here in Seattle. Part of her compensation package was a contribution to that plan equal to 10% of her salary. I believe it was a non-qualified, deferred compensation plan, the sort of thing that you typically only see as part of executive compensation plans.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of math, I wish parents would lobby their school board directors to overturn the Everyday Math/Discovering curriculum. These textbooks do not give students enough practice and too many students test into remedial math in college. Parents should not have to pay for outside tutoring, since it is not as good as a sound, full time curriculum.

The board does not want to admit they made a mistake by selecting these textbooks. Yet they are seeing improvements in schools like Mercer Middle School on Beacon Hill, which uses Saxon math instead.

Let your School Board directors know you want something better for your schools. You have new directors with math backgrounds but they could use some help to convince the other directors.
S parent

dan dempsey said...


Here are those math stats from six middle schools that show in each of the last two school years the differences in MSP 8th Grade pass rates and Supposed ready for high school math .... sorted by Low Income percent.

Lower income = lower pass rates.

Very easy to read =>
Aki Kurose's weak reliability from Grade inflation I suspect.

dan dempsey said...


I just added pass rates for Low income students.... You are right. The perfromance of low income students at the North End (in 2011) are not much better than south end schools ... except Aki Kurose is always near the bottom.

No Slam on Aki's math teachers... CMP does not work and the lack of an effective discipline plan that complies with state law is a big problem.

What is the turn over like among math staff at Aki?

How many new math teachers this year?

And how much did the SPS spend on math coaching over the last four years?

Scrawny Kayaker said...

S parent,

That has been tried:
So far, the district is resistant to pulling back from discovery math, other than buying a few Singapore books then hiding them.

There was a lawsuit to prevent adoption of Discovery in the high schools, but that was not a success.

Sorry if this is preaching to the choir, but it's not clear from your post if you're a veteran of this fight or a new recruit.

Agreed, we should keep the pressure on the school board to adopt math books written by mathematicians, not English majors.

Anonymous said...

Scrawny Kayaker,

I am a veteran in the math wars. I have spoken out at school board meetings, contributed to the lawsuit and volunteered for Marty McLaren in her successful bid for the school board. It is frustrating, but I think a tide may be turning.

Enfield was the most recent defender of the math. With a new superintendent and board members, we have a chance to improve academics. But parents need to speak up and demand it. Go straight to the decision makers.

P.S. A good book on math was written by Laurie Rogers, “Betrayed, How the Education Establishment Has Betrayed America and What You Can Do About It.” The title sounds angry but she actually lays out a good case against the harmful math fads that have dominated for the past few decades.

Good luck.
S Parent