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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Banda Media Interview

Or at least the media interview I was at because there were three.

Ours started late as the first one ran to about 25 minutes and that was good because we could push for a longer interview than 15 minutes.  The tv people went first with KING 5's Robert Mak pushing for all the media to be there together for 45 minutes.  No go.

Besides the TV people I saw The Stranger's David Goldstein and KUOW's Phyllis Fletcher, both sharp and knowledgeable.

As I mentioned previously, there was just Brian Rosenthal and me in our interview session although there was a cameraman from somewhere (likely KING 5) but without a reporter.  Why he got to stay, I don't know.

This was Mr. Banda's third trip to Seattle in the last five weeks and he called it "an interesting process."

Here's the Times' take on the interview; there are differences (including the fact that I didn't mention TFA nor did Banda but Rosenthal at the Times seems to think it was said).  

What was his specific interest in coming to Seattle?
He stated that it was an opportunity to work with a "progressive" large urban school district and there were many favorable opportunities to work with groups because of the location, businesses, educational institutions and engage in partnerships.

I asked about coming to a district more than twice the size of his own and that his district was only K-6.
He stated while he was currently in a K-6 district that many years of his career were in secondary education including being a principal of a high school.  He said his current work afforded him the opportunity to learn to focus on building the foundation to send his students off well to their secondary education.

How do you feel about a more active community and media?
He said, "For me, it's about engagement style which is huge in Seattle."  He said he had to go out into the business community in Anaheim and convince them to be engageed.  He said the variety of stakeholder groups in Seattle was an asset and he hoped to engage them all.

I followed up and asked how him might come to a decision if he was hearing one thing from one set of groups and another from yet another set of groups.
He said he would work with his Board and listen to each group and see how their feedback was aligning with district goals.  He said, "There is nothing more important than feedback."

He also stated that he would start with learning about key communicators as well as getting out into the community and, of course, into the schools.

I asked him about Special Education in his district.
He said that leadership was the key and that he had recruited a Special Ed teacher to be the director of his program.  He said they have a balanced program with more attempts to keep students in the regular classroom with an aide but with some pull-out work still needed.  He said they have a good autistic program and had noted some students from outside their district trying to get in because of the quality of it.

He was asked about teacher assessment and use of performance measures.
Banda said that there had been a bit of discussion in his interviews around this issue.  He said it comes down to compromise and that it was good to have a performance piece but not for the majority of the evaluations.  He said Anaheim did not use it because of the strength of the teachers' union but he believes it should be part of an assessment but not the majority of that assessment.

I asked about a specific time when he had a disagreement with a Board member (or the Board) about an issue and how it was resolved. (thank you to a reader for this question)
He stated that there had been a couple of Board members who had pushed for a project-labor agreement (meaning a certain amount of labor had to come from the community itself) and that he hadn't felt it was needd beause they didn't use it previously and had no issues with strikes from labor.

He was asked about the governance in Anaheim.
He said he was responsible for hiring of principals but via an agreed-to process by the School Board with hiring teams and input from the Board.  He said the Board had never opposed a hire he made for a principal.

I asked him about the Broad Academy interest noted on his resume.
He said they came to him and that he was encouraged to apply because it was very competitive and "cutting edge".  He said he was not selected but he was not heartbroken about it.

He was asked about the first 2-3 things he would do as superintendent.
He said he would get out and build relationships and make connections with staff, parents, groups, media, etc.

He was asked about Central Administration changes.
He stated he wouldn't make any right away and had no set plan for it.  He said it was important to look at systems to see what is and isn't working.

He was asked about a new strategic plan.
Banda said he thought the current plan was well-done and had goals and priorities clearly set out.

I asked about charters and ed reform and specifically his remarks about slowing down his district's efforts for RTTT funding.
He said that he didn't have a lot of experience with charters as he didn't see a need for them in his district and when he was at Oceanside district that had two which was a small number.  He said he felt that his district could do the work they needed to without charters.  As for RTTT, he said a couple of his Board members were enthused and he just wanted to slow it down and reflect on what that money would mean in terms of staff work, requirements and what the true benefits would be to children. 

My impressions:
  • a genuine person, not a lot of jargon or edu-speak
  • he repeatedly talked about engagement, relationships and listening 
  • not a lot of specifics.  It got a little unnerving because I kept waiting for something specific to hang onto and I just didn't hear it from him.  
  • naturally, I like that he is pretty blase about charters and I especially like his wanting to be sure about something like RTTT money before a huge commitment of time, both in getting the money and then having a plan to spend it.  
I will be interested to hear from the other candidates.  I thought Brian and I covered a fair number of subjects.  I have some of the same questions for the other two candidates but I may throw in some new ones as well. 

31 comments:

Jan said...

Riffling through the first info out about the candidates, I had some misgivings about Dr. Husk, (given what seems to be her acceptance of things like fuzzy math, NTN contracts, etc.) -- but liked both Mr. Enoch and Mr. Banda. I had an initial slight preference for Enoch, based solely on some of the differences between their past experiences, etc. But despite the description of some of his answers as "vage," I continue to like Mr. Banda. I like the fact that he is genuine; that he seems to come from a fairly untroubled District; that he doesn't have ready solutions to problems he doesn't understand (or problems we don't have -- but nevermind, have to put those solutions to good use somehow!) For me, this last point satisfies something that bothered me from the start about MGJ (and I mean -- from the first time I heard her talk -- long before the bad effects started to manifest themselves). Whether it was Broad training, her history at her prior District, or just her own personality -- she came in with a mission, and an agenda. She expected to get (and to dismiss and ignore) pushback. She expected to not be liked (but wrote it off in advance as whiny parents and teachers, so no need for self reflection). She was a political animal from the core. What she never seemed to be, to me at least, was a caring, competent individual with leadership abilities and analytical skills and a willingness to use them to discern this District's problems, prioritize them, and then find ways to use this District's unique set of resources to solve them.

I can't quite imagine how Mr. Banda will react to the first hot waves of heat and pressure from Dean Stritikus, LEV, A4E, the Gateses, the downtown money folks, etc., but he shows every indication of not having been presold on their solutions (or their descriptions of the issues) and of instead being willing to push back, analyze, think critically -- and THEN act to resolve the issues as he sees them. I liked him before; I think I like him better now. And I could fall at his feet and weep for his answers on Special Ed (which -- since they were really pretty tame and normal -- just shows how bad it has gotten in this School District).

Jan said...

Sorry -- spelling should be "vague." -- and I hope that is not mischaracterizing Melissa's report.

mirmac1 said...

Of course I like Banda because he's an immigrant like me. And he's fluent in Spanish, unlike me. I love the "hard work ethic" because, contrary to Limbaugh "ditto-heads" that was absolutely true for us, boot-straps and all.

Re: SpEd. I'm with you there Jan. We are the stepchild. Tomorrow I will post what I found out about Enoch's district. Still waiting to hear from a parent in Banda's. Husk? Can't find any kind of SpEd parent group. That tells you something right there.

Anonymous said...

Rosenthal says Banda appeared a bit uncomfortable with the media interview and that's with the media divided into 3 sessions?! Doesn't bode well for what he'd be dealing with here.

What REALLY doesn't bode well is the district's divide and conquer strategy with first the public (no general questions, and focus group under non-disclosure agreement) and now the press.

Melissa, please let us know whether it is the board or the current administration behind the divide and conquer media strategy today. It is a paranoid and ridiculous approach so I want to know who the brains behind it is.

DistrictWatcher

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

Goldstein at the Stranger and Robert Mak have pretty different takes on Banda's position on teacher assessments, and it sounds like he gave a nuanced answer in Melissa's session. I like nuance, but it's ridiculous that there were three different Q&As to confound things.
--A

Anonymous said...

Robert Mak just about always frames issues from the right - he's a hack. I'd bet a month of paychecks that whatever the smarter people than me and you people think - smarter like Burgess, DeBell, AFE, LEV, SFC ... -

that is what Mak will be 'reporting' as The Truth.

MakAHack

Anonymous said...

"...because of the strength of the teachers' union..." (in Anaheim)

Well, he won't have that problem in Seattle. SEA is the worst
"union" you could find anywhere--a huge part of what makes Seattle education so "progressive"...for the powerbrokers.

--enough already

KG said...

Yes SEA is lazy as witnessed in their lack of work in getting the two Boeing Adminocrats off of the Board.

To Summarize the Leadership likes furloughs.

The membership also put the Knapp into the Presidents position.

Way to kick youself in the face SEA
members.

Glad I am not a member of that weak kneed operation.

Linh-Co said...

I don't remember exactly, but thought I heard only 12% of teachers voted in the SEA election. It doesn't show much confidence in SEA or Knapp.

Jet City mom said...

Banda sounds even better after reading the Times take on Enoch.

Anonymous said...

Wow, just 12% voted. Lack of confidence or more like teachers are contented with status quo, hence low voter turnout?

reader

Anonymous said...

I think you are all forgetting some well paid administrator worked very hard to come up with this byzantine interview/vetting process. This is SSD at its finest and the PROCESS takes priority. With 3 sessions, there will be a lot of this is what I asked and heard vs. what you asked and heard. Nothing like many truths to report and muddy the water.

ostrich

KG said...

Yes, I guess teachers like taking furloughs to pay for more administration than any other district per pupil in the state.

Jet City mom said...

I agree with ostrich. Better that they took Maks suggestion to have everyone present.

SeattleSped said...

Emeraldkitty

The Times obviously didn't talk to the San Ramon parents that I did. They describe Enoch in glowing terms, and were VERY happy with the SRVUSD special ed program and customer service.

Melissa Westbrook said...

"The other two will have the benefit of a cool down period as well as a sense of what questions will be asked. Do you think there are any advantages regarding the timing of the candidates' visits? Just wondering."

That is true so we media have to ask them different questions (which I plan to do anyway).

I didn't think Banda was uncomfortable; it was a lot of talking and he may have not expected such comings and goings.

I believe that members of the Board (perhaps in consultation with others) set up this process. I don't believe that the entire process was vetted in the Ex Ctm but I don't know.

Jet City mom said...

I don't think someone who is in retirement, & had to be talked into applying to the Seattle position is going to be what we need, add in the budget issues & a focus on technological tools that seems to be more about the tools than the education and I see a warm relationship like MGJ had with the Seattle community, all over again.

Reading articles from the San Ramon papers where parents are exclaiming good riddance!, is like déjà vu all over again.

Watching said...

To me, Banda is looking stronger and stronger. Integrity and character is high on my list and Banda seems to have it. He seems to have common sense and is able to work well with others. Considering Seattle's diverse student population, I think Bandas proven record to increase ELL scores is a real advantage. If Anaheim's operations and finances are in order..he might be the guy. Banda's style is of common sense and doesn't support the reform "hit them over the head" and push through initiatives that haven't proven to be effective.

The Seattle Times article on Enoch is concerning:

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2018062055_enoch25m.html

I'm primarily concerned with Enoch's autocratic, overbearing and over simplification. His fiscal mismanagement of San Juan School District is also very concerning. Enoch doesn't seem to remember the details.??? I wouldn't put much weight in his ability to raise test scores as San Ramon is an affluent community. I'm not certain Enoch will even want the job. His strength is around building green and computers. SPS needs someone to get administrative operations and finances in order.

There already seems to be too much of a swirl of controversy around Husk. We don't need any more drama.

Watching said...

Husk's policies are aligned to increase superintendent authority and decrease board authority. I'm glad we have a democratic process to put board members in office..I don't want to see their power taken away.

SeattleSped said...

emeraldkitty,

Enoch's district has in place an award-winning collaboration with their equivalent of our SpEd PTSA. If he were autocratic or a tightwad mgr, that would have been the first thing to go, I'm sure.

BTW, this technology (which would've been a MUCH better investment than our academic data warehouse and $7.8M MAP rollout - data coaches, network upgrades, and software licenses and all), is 100% accessible for their special education students. Can we say that about our district? No.

Anonymous said...

Could this be a smear campaign on Enoch because the "powers that be" already has a certain person in mind?

-Aarghh!

dw said...

Could this be a smear campaign on Enoch because the "powers that be" already has a certain person in mind?

I was wondering the same thing.

Anonymous said...

After having read the previous article I would vote no on anyone who eliminated librarians. No Dr. Husk for me.

Everything I have heard and seen of Mr. Banda makes me like him more and more.

Future Hale Parent

Watching said...

I've decided to reserve my opinion about Enoch. There might be some type of smear campaign being conducted by the powers that be.

I'm hoping someone uncovers what-ever is going on.

Jet City mom said...

I like some of Enoch thinking- re solar investment, but do we really want to go through this again in three years? I don't see any indication he would stay longer than that.

Anonymous said...

Linh-Co etc --

Knapp won with 62% of the 1169 votes cast for President - which was 728/4914 voting for him.

While he does a great job name dropping as a power player with our state's Arne lovers - many others may wonder why 3745 teachers didn't bother even voting ?? If you were in fact happy and satisfied, wouldn't you be motivated to defend and keep happy and satisfied?

Maybe everyone is just so

BeatenDownThat...

Jan said...

emeraldkity: given both average longevity and our own District's track record -- I am not sure I would base a decision on theories of how long someone might stay. Too many things can happen in 3 years, one way or another.

I was encouraged by what the President of the SR school board said: If Enoch is chosen as Seattle's schools superintendent, "that board is not going to get somebody who tests the political wind among board members and then tells them what he thinks they want to hear," Marvel said. Enoch will tell them "what they need to hear."

While I don't necessarily think our Board has this issue with boundaries -- there are several astroturf and other ed advocacy organizations here who have serious boundary problems, and whose meddling in the District has cost lots of time and money to date. MGJ and Dr. Enfield were both darlings of these entities -- and both were unwilling or unable to distance themselves from the ed reform policies being pushed on the District through them (and the board members who support them). I have a feeling that Mr. Enoch would have no difficulty finding, and maintaining, the boundary between the District and the ed reform pushers. Unfortunately, that probably already has them alarmed, which could conceivably account for what seems to me to be unfairly biased ST reporting by Ms. Long (I really don't know her take on ed reform issues, but given the additional positive points brought up by burb in the ST comments, it sure seems that the article was pretty selectively negative. I don't mind hearing the negative, but also want the positive, when so much of it seems to have been left out.

SPSLeaks said...

Watching,

Oh, I will. But maybe not before some in this town try to anoint their choice...

Julian

mirmac1 said...

I give Banda credit for his personality and honesty

WSBlog video

Jet City mom said...

My main contention with cycling new superintendents through every couple years is that it is hella spendy!
The board says we have to keep reupping salary to attract anyone & that is on top of the finders fees.
Couldn't we just use LinkedIn?