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Friday, March 16, 2012

The Need To Read Carefully - It's All Ed Reform, All the Time

In my rush to put up the Crosscut article about the superintendent search, I had only skimmed the article.

My mistake as I found what is likely to be a key issue (especially, it seems, to Crosscut); ed reform.

From the article:

The meeting, whose agenda included many other items, ran nearly two hours overtime. By the end the board members were either punch-drunk or giddy. But they’d squared the circle: Save for that Muslim/African omission, they had assembled a broadly balanced and representative roster seeded with institutional memory, heavy-hitters, and critics rather than pushovers.

The question remains: How much can a late-inning focus group guided by search doctors do to temper the influence of the staff and unions, keep reform in sight, and, just maybe, build support for whoever gets the job? But regardless of that outcome, this coalition of coalitions has won something just by coalescing in an orderly, unified intervention. They’ve built a base for pressing the reform cause. Will the school board build upon it or bash against it?

Oh, I get it.  This is about ed reform.  It's not about a leader or someone who genuinely wants to know and care about OUR district - it's about ed reform.

I have no idea who the "pushovers" would be.  I fear the usual suspects much more than any pushovers.
So there are 2 union reps on the 12-member search committee plus a principal group rep. Three whole people versus the 25-member focus committee?  And that's a problem?

Then, after describing the messy way the committee performed its duty, he says it coalesced "in an orderly, unified intervention". 

"built a base"

"keep reform in sight"

"build or bash"

Why is this discussion either/or?   Why is there no room for compromised, nuanced discussions?  

I think Mr. Scigliano is wrong about the make-up of the committee.  I suspect that is because, like so many other members of the media, they do not know this district and the people in this city that are constellations to the district and how they all intersect.

I think some might be quite surprised by what the committee says.  Oh wait, I forgot.

We will never know what questions the focus group commitee asks.

We will never know what any finalist says about their vision, their focus, their background.

We will never know their final recommendations to the 12-person committee.

We will never know what the final recommendation the 12-person committee makes to the Board is.

That divide just keeps getting bigger.

13 comments:

Disgusted said...

"But regardless of that outcome, this coalition of coalitions has won something just by coalescing in an orderly, unified intervention. They’ve built a base for pressing the reform cause. Will the school board build upon it or bash against it?"

You bet. The team looks heavy on reformists i.e Straticus, Norm Rice, possibly Carlyle etc.

Bird said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bird said...

Oh, I get it. This is about ed reform. It's not about a leader or someone who genuinely wants to know and care about OUR district - it's about ed reform.

Isn't this how we got such a crappy supe in the last search process?

MGJ was divorced from the realities of the district from the get go. She had a recipe she was working from and the particulars of the district didn't figure into it.

I'll never get over how she kept coming out with one expensive initiative after another in the midst of a state-wide financial crisis.

There's no better way to prevent improvement than to totally ignore the particulars of the locality and organization, its current successes and failures.

I want the least reformy supe possible. Not because I'm against reform, but because it's essential that we have a supe that can see the actual problems before them, not the imagined problems that fit a predefined agenda.

Maureen said...

Yes! What Bird said!

Melissa Westbrook said...

" Not because I'm against reform, but because it's essential that we have a supe that can see the actual problems before them, not the imagined problems that fit a predefined agenda."

That is the WHOLE issue summed up in a nutshell. (I will be using this now but making sure Bird gets the credit.)

dan dempsey said...

"I want the least reformy supe possible. Not because I'm against reform, but because it's essential that we have a supe that can see the actual problems before them, not the imagined problems that fit a predefined agenda."

AMEN to that.

Unfortunately most Reform advocates are not looking at the actual problems or the results and lack of results produced by Reform actions.

To improve a system requires the intelligent application of relevant data. The School Reform handbook just won't cut it ..... except for the Reform pushers at Crosscuts and a variety of other places.

==========
A nice starting place would be a Board and a Superintendent that followed state laws.

Just ask Stritikus ... reform wants trump state law.

Watching said...

It appears the media circus has already begun. Bought and paid for by Alliance for Education and other reformists.

Anonymous said...

I believe it is a serious error to not allow a public meeting with the final 3 candidates. It will come back to haunt the district.

The public in Seattle is very involved with the running of Seattle Public Schools and shutting out both parents -- because the PTSA does not speak for the majority of us -- and the general public is wrongheaded.

EdVoter

Anonymous said...

For what it's worth, I don't think you can accurately include "ex" in your descriptions of Chris Eide anymore. He subbed in an SPS school yesterday and I can assure you he understands the amount of skill it takes to be a quality teacher.

KG

Anonymous said...

Chris Eide is an ex-teacher.

He "misrepresented" himself in his recent Seattle Times editorial as a teacher. Doing some subbing doesn't give him the legitimacy to start calling himself a teacher anymore than simply holding a teaching certificate makes one a teacher.

I would characterize his title as a union busting Gates-funded astroturfer who occasionally subs, in an attempt to try to legitimize his misrepresention of himself.

The rest of the time, I try to ignore him.

--enough already

Anonymous said...

misrepresentation

==enuf allreddy (very far sited)

Josh Hayes said...

I agree with "enough already"'s sentiment - I tutor for two hours, twice a week, and just that amount of work makes me amazed at how hard a real teacher must have to work. I get good results, and all, but man, it's hard. The challenges facing someone who teaches full-time are beyond me.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Maureen. What Bird said, except with one caveat.

Bird says he/she is not "against reform." Well, I AM against reform -- at least SOME reform.

I am FOR any reform that actually increases student learning (and I mean it -- ANY reform -- and I am confident I can say that because I KNOW good teaching and good teachers enhance learning -- and so do committed communities, and good books, and stellar student counselors, and good speech therapists, and well-run music and sports programs, and bully-free environments, and a whole bunch of other things.

I am AGAINST any reform that has any other goal in mind as its primary objective -- this includes: improving schools (whatever that means), improving test scores, reducing costs, fishing for grant funding that distracts from the primary goal of student learning, reducing union influence, increasing union influence, making schools run like private businesses, making schools run less like private businesses, keeping contracts because "people's feelings might be hurt" if you canceled them, keeping contracts going so you don't lose face by exposing what a twit you were to have entered into them in the first place, etc. Not every reform advances the goal. Some "merely" waste money and time. Some actually degrade or destroy student learning. We (alarmningly) have embarked on some of both.

In the SSD, during any given year, we have X brains (attached to hearts, and souls, and personalities) between the ages of 5 and 18. If Y of them are home schooled, and Z of them are in private school, it means we need to maximize the learning opportunities -- and the actual learning that goes on -- for all the others (X - (Y + Z)).

Now, I am not adverse to Bird here -- this may be what he/she has in mind as reform. But a "whole lotta other" agendas sail under the reform flag these days, and I am in no mood today to accidently "placate" the reform crowd by pretending to be for their learning-destroying agenda by pretending it is legitimate reform. (Hm. I shouldn't post after I have been reading Sahila's links, maybe).

We need the least reformy Supe possible for exactly the reasons Bird says -- so we get one who will look at THIS District, THESE kid brains, -- and then commit to spending every available dollar, and every available person-hour, on getting (or helping, or facilitating) every one of those brains to learn, and know, and explore as much as they possibly can.

Jan