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Saturday, March 17, 2012

Updates on Superintendent Search and Charter Legislation

I was notified by Lesley Rodgers, head of SPS Communications, that there was an error in the figure being circulated on the number of applications SPS received for superintendent.  While there were over 100 inquires, there are 36 applications.  I appreciate the update as I had received the figure from the Board office and the Crosscut article also reflected the same high figure.

On the subject of the Focus Group Committee, I have to point out that BOTH the ed reformers and the progressives (not "traditionalists") are seemingly unhappy.  Hey, will you take a look at that? We all have something in common.

Even as yet another school district hones in on its choice for a new Superintendent, Seattle is sorting through its search “process.” Originally limiting “stakeholders” to the PTSA and school district employees, the School Board has decided that they will allow for broader community perspective after all. But only at the last minute.  To meet with the three finalists. And, they can’t vote.  There isn’t anything pithy enough to say about this that doesn’t offend the process-minded sensibilities of most Seattleites. Except. Governance Reform, anyone?

Let's walk thru this one, shall we?

I agree with her - what a process.  That the entire Board was not clear on what they were doing and how they were doing it is a rap against President DeBell.

But Korsmo is wrong about limiting the perspective to just PTSA and union/professional school groups.  And, what's weird is that she knows that.

Again, three committees.  

The first one is made up of the Board, PTSA, SEA, Local 609, PASS and a central office staff person. 
They will take the recommendations of the Focus Group committee and discuss them and send a final recommendation to the Board.

However, the Board was going to have that first committee interviewed by the consultants on what questions to ask the finalists.  The Board added on three people/groups at the last minute to the committee that included LEV (who sent multiple people).  Guess, that slipped Kormo's memory.  That interview work has been done.

The second committee is the Focus group committee (not yet announced but finalists picked at the Executive Committee meeting last week).   That LEV is unhappy with not having someone from LEV on this committee and/or the make-up of the committee is not something the Board should be concerned with. 

Frankly, I have done my own count and I think it's about one-third ed reformers, one-third progressives and one-third are likely in the middle or I don't really know their leaning.  So really, it's a pretty balanced committee (so naturally the ed reformers don't like it).

Korsmo says, "And they can't vote."   Again, the Focus committee will send its recommendations to the first committee.  That's probably going to be the result of the focus group committee's vote on the finalists.  If she means, they can't pick the superintendent, well, yes that's true.

Because that would be the Board's duly-elected duty and no one else's.   Anyone who thinks otherwise needs to go visit the RCW on the duties of a School Board.  Like it or not, the Board decides the process. 

From her wrap-up piece of the week:

Those include charter schools – tucked nicely into the Republican Senate budget – which the Governor is threatening to veto and a few other not-so-small items.

"Tucked nicely into the Republican Senate budget"? I guess that's one way of looking at it. 

Another way is seeing a legislator who could not persuade their education committees to vote their bill out of committee, could not get it to the floor for a vote, in either the House or the Senate.  He then voted against the party he belongs to and he then resorted attaching it to a budget that was not sent to either the House or the Governor to preview before it was released publicly.

Also, the Governor "threatened to veto" the charter bill?

"I have told them I will veto it. I will veto it," said Gregoire. "Get over it. Stop wasting time. Let's get to work. Let's get a budget."

I would not call that a threat - I'd call it a promise. 

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

Regarding Charter Schools...

The Seattle Business Journal has a front page article out today titled, “Schooled. Democrats see defections on education reform,” by staff writer Valerie Bauman.

It talks about how 2012 could be the year that public opinion has shifted enough to change course on schools. The writer attempts to present both sides, but the ed reform position wins out. A statewide poll is cited by the Washington Policy Center that says 60 percent of Washington folks would support changing laws to allow charters. Knowing how biased the Policy Center is, I doubt this poll was neutral.

There is quite a vocal group of people out there who think charters are the answer to all of the problems in education. My personal view is that the actual results of charters are quite mixed and that better curricula (especially in math) would do more good.

S Parent

Sahila said...

NY Times: How Charter Schools Can Hurt

Melissa Westbrook said...

SParent, I couldn't read that whole article as I don't have a subscription.

Knowing how biased the Policy Center is, I doubt this poll was neutral.

Absolutely right. Charters were not explained to those polled and the question was phrased as helping high-need students.

The "vocal" group, I believe is a smaller but more wealthy and powerful group. Hence the attention that is paid.

Anonymous said...

We all know that public favor follows messaging. The reformers have the message machine. Likely, they will win. Isn't that what has happened in all our politics. Until the average family experiences the failure of charter schools, they will believe the magic. And an awful lot of the wealthy will be even wealthier.

n...

Anonymous said...

One thing: the District needs to do a better job of educating. Am I being contradictory here? I don't think so. We need an informed, experienced, ethical and articulate educator for superintendant. God help us in finding one.

Please, no Ivy League Arne Duncans.

n...

Anonymous said...

Another point from the SBJ article was that Democrats for Education Reform leader Lisa MacFarlane is now questioning the unions on ed reform after visiting a charter that she found transformative for Hispanic and African American kids.

It also quoted Nick Hanauer, the multimillionaire who is not sure Jay Inslee will be strong enough on ed reform. He thinks McKenna has a better position on charters, although he is concerned about how the Republican would fund reforms.

Are these people all speaking for the Gates Foundation? It also seems like an indirect endorsement for McKenna for governor. I guess that is what you would expect from the SBJ.

S Parent

Anonymous said...

Luckily about 5 people read the Seattle Business Journal.

Nevertheless, send in those letters to the editor.

SavvyVoter

Sahila said...

Diane Ravitch on Education, Privatisation, De-professionalisation

Ryan said...

The Washington Policy Center poll was one of the dumber push polls you're ever going to see and transparent in how hard it worked to get the result they wanted. The recent poll from the Freedom Foundation, I'd take a little more seriously.

Anonymous said...

If people pay attention to what happened in Seattle less than a year ago they'll see that charters aren't a magical cure. Funding schools instead of gutting them seems to work well. Hiring people to properly manage those funds is key. This is the part where Seattle keeps shooting itself in the foot. Why?

The so-called "crisis" is a creation of the forces who 1) don't want to pay taxes. Taxes are for the little people, and 2) want to privatize and make money on schools. Charters. Rodney Tom has someone whispering in his ear that coffee isn't for closers.

Gates Foundation doesn't make gifts to schools. They expect results that create a return on their investment. This is only a variation on philanthropy.

To see what the Rodney Tom's of the world want for Seattle, follow Maria Goodloe-Johnson to Michigan. She took a modest pay cut to become Deputy Chancellor of the Education Achievement Authority, a statewide system that will take over the lowest 5 % of schools starting with Detroit. This system was ushered in by a Broad grad who failed at the financial turnaround the former Michigan governor hired him for. The current governor is extreme GOP and on board with this plan. Maria was hired by another Broad Academy who broke his superintendent's contract with Kansas City, MO, leading them to lose accreditation! This is the turnaround team that will introduce more charters to Michigan, where only the state grants charters. Last I checked the state paid $8K per student. There's money in charters.

When Maria was hired, Chancellor John Covington claimed she raised test scores in Seattle.

You think Michigan is an extreme case. Some of the highest unemployment in the U.S. Detroit is one of the most troubled school systems in the U.S. Extreme conditions calling for extreme measures? Think again. This is a movement to dismantle public education. The turnaround wizards who form this club are looking at Seattle and you know they're saying, "They have one more chance before they're taken over by ...."

Look carefully at what the board and their parasites (LEV, A4E) are doing right now. Look at what LEV's Korsmo is complaining about.

Charters have their place but do we need them here when we're already underfunding schools? No.

Mr White

Anonymous said...

Correction and apology to David Mamet: Coffee IS for closers.

Mr White

Anonymous said...

To n: "One thing: the District needs to do a better job of educating. Am I being contradictory here? I don't think so. We need an informed, experienced, ethical and articulate educator for superintendant. God help us in finding one."

I agree with you. Our selection process even with the changes Melissa posted about will not attract the candidate you describe.

When people complain about Seattle process with too many meddling parents asking questions and too many groups seeking answers, oh my, who wants to come here? they're serving as a distraction from the facts. This is an opportunity for the squeaky wheels who hate kids and don't want to raise revenue for schools to be outed for who they are and what they stand for.

Take heart in knowing it isn't just happening here. It's a national trend and it will take work and the determination not to be nice to stop it from ruining what we have and don't want to lose. Of course we can do better for our students, but before you give away something you'll never get back, watch the actions of those who claim they do it "for the kids" but do the opposite instead.

Mr White

Kathy said...

Melissa,

Do you know if the interview will be televised?

dan dempsey said...

About the Wa Policy Center .... sometimes they are far off base in regard to Education.

At the Last School Board meeting.... Liv Finne presented the "Mathematica Study" as proof that FTA works.

That study has ZERO relevance for Seattle. It looks at TFA corps members and compares them with a group of other largely underprepared or unqualified teachers.

YUP that was the same study that Holly F and Dr. Enfield used to "reason" that TFA was effective.

Repeat the lie long enough and maybe someone will believe it.

I prefer Dr. Julian V. Heilig's description of TFA as the teacher Temp Agency. Wa Policy Center does not like Dr. Heilig's research.

Here is what Heilig told KIRO about TFA.

TFA does not out perform traditionally prepared teachers. TFA is largely a temporary gig for folks on their way to something else. TFA contributes to teacher churn in low performing schools ... the revolving door.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Well, I visited a charter school doing good things for low-income kids. But they are not doing particularly innovative things (except for being attached to a university campus, something you could do virtually anyway) and they are experiencing severe money woes. So what is being a charter school doing for them? I don't know.

Kathy, I have asked repeatedly that the focus committee interviews be like a work session where the public can listen but not speak or televised. The answer is no. All the protection in this process is towards the candidates and not the public.

dan dempsey said...

There are 36 applications

In Highline the headhunters did not do any fact checking or do any vetting of the candidates. The Board did nothing either until after Enfield was selected and very little at that point.

That plan if used in Seattle could easily produce another MGJ.

The inadequate actions of headhunters and boards are why previous Results often do not matter in getting the position of School Superintendent.

Remember George O'Leary as Notre Dame football head coach for a few weeks. At least ND eventually acted on the facts.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone sent a link of the KIRO interview to Kay Smith Blum?

As usual, many thanks to Dan Dempsey.

--enough already

Anonymous said...

I would like to recommend Charles Mitchell who used to Head Seattle Community Colleges Adult Education for Superintendent for Seattle Public Schools.This could save the school district some money since he is home grown.

Anne Taylor

Anonymous said...

I would like to recommend Charles Mitchell who was the Head of Seattle Community Colleges as Superintendent for Seattle Public Schools.Since he is a Seattle Native and a product of Seattle education this could save the Seattle School District money in their search.He is local.-Anne Taylor