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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Seattle School Board Case Study

Thanks to Miramac for this heads up on the report from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, National Chamber Foundation and Institute for a Competitive Workforce about the Seattle School Board.

I'm reading it now and so far I have found a couple of errors:

Because there is no campaign contribution limit, they can exercise significant power.  (They being WEA and private donors.)

Luckily, this issue got rectified during the last session of the Legislature and the campaign limits are the same as for other candidates. 

They also have an error in their graphic which states that the seven Board members represent 5 districts and 2 at-large.   Not true. 

In the "hmm" department:

Most board members strongly backed Enfield and wanted her to stay in the position. But they were also determined not to end up in another situation where they didn’t know the answers. Several board members started “down a path of encroachment,” according to one observer, moving away from policy governance and getting their hands into management issues.

That's quite a bit of inneundo with no names.  Say who you mean and who this "observer" is (and what does that mean to use the word "observer"?

Also,

As the November 2011 elections approached, members who had supported Goodloe-Johnson’s more controversial reforms felt vulnerable.

I'm not sure I agree with that statement.  I never got a public vibe from Sundquist, Maier, Carr or Martin-Morris that they felt that.  Privately, probably.

What?

When Enfield fired a principal at Ingraham High School, a racially and economically diverse
school where only 5% of African-American students were proficient in math but an Advanced Placement program is popular with more affluent families, she faced public outcry.
Several days later, she reversed her position, a move that shocked many and hinted at board involvement.


First,  this happened in May of 2011 and this report makes it sound like it happened just before the elections.  Also, the APP program was just barely there so I don't know why putting that in mattered.  Also, I find that last statement - about Board involvement - to be untrue.  Again, I never felt any hint of the Board trying to act on what was happening - Peter Maier ran away from the issue entirely and it was his district.

And it gets worse:

Two new board members formed a coalition with the two previously independent board members and
began what one observer called “micromanagement on steroids,” calling for increased participation in management decisions, including direct board control of administration and personnel decisions, such as hiring and firing principals.


Absolutely no proof of this, nor who they are talking about.  This is very serious to write this up as if it were true.  Again, who is the observer?  Is it DeBell?

This report is weird.  It is dated May 2012 but yet they speak of starting the superintendent search.  I'm guessing this was written in April and just now published.  

I have a call in to ask them some questions.

24 comments:

mirmac1 said...

I can't take the credit. It was Brian Rosenthal's twitterfeed... : )

Maureen said...

Do we know who actually wrote this? I thought it was a fairly good summary until the last three paragraphs. I also object to the repeated quotes from "one observer."

Melissa Westbrook said...

Trying to find out, Maureen.

Anonymous said...

It looks like the Seattle case study was one of about 13.

13 Case Studies in U.S. Cities Reveal That Business Leaders Need to Hold School Board and Education Leaders Accountable to Ensure a High Quality Workforce.

From the 13 case studies, including the Seattle one, they conclude: "that business leaders should play a role in holding school board and education leaders accountable."

“This report demonstrates that political interests and widespread complacency can trump student interests at the school board level,” said President of the Chamber's Forum for Policy Innovation and former Education Secretary Margaret Spellings.

“Schools succeed when they are accountable to the community, and we believe the business community can help provide that accountability.”

“In this era of renewed local control, the report examines a critical but often overlooked player in education reform,” added Spellings. “It makes the case for better engagement by all stakeholders, especially the business community, to ensure local school boards are a key part of advancing student interests above all.”

The Seattle report uses the word micromanagement so many times; yet there is not one specific example of it all in the Seattle report.

This threesome is a nice cover for the US Chamber of Commerce (the National Chamber Foundation and Institute for a Competitive Workforce are both affiliates of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce).

Frankly, anything coming out of the NATIONAL US Chamber of Commerce is highly questionnable for me given their focus.

Here is the link: http://icw.uschamber.com/press-release/us-chamber-report-illustrates-need-voice-business-school-governance

Not one mention of greater, better parent involvement! The private sector can solve it all! Really?

--FedMomof2

Disgusted said...

Feels like the Alliance For Education has been involved.

Jan said...

“It makes the case for better engagement by all stakeholders, especially the business community, to ensure local school boards are a key part of advancing student interests above all.”

But wait. Why would the "business community" be involved in advancing "student interests" above all. The business community, and businesses in general, are responsible for advancing their own interests -- which means the interests of their owners/shareholders. They may decide that they need to project a concern about advancing their customers' interests -- but really, that is just an indirect way (by driving sales and loyalty) of advancing their own, business interests. It is both foolish and irrational to think that they are advancing any cause BUT that (except that when corporations get large enough, they also bag the shareholder interests in favor of the interests of senior management -- and shareholders who don't think that this provides enough convergence with their OWN interests can just sell.)

It is foolish at best, and knowingly duplicitous at worst, for an article to suggest that when the "business community" jumps in -- it is for any purpose other than to bend public edcuation to suit their own narrow interests. Not all of those interests are bad. To the extent that businesses want, need, and value highly educated, autonomous, creative individuals who will create wealth for shareholders (and senior management in big companies) -- then it's not so bad. But it IS potentially bad, to the extent that what businesses want is:
1. students educated to a lesser standard and who will grow into adults willingly work for minimum wages and without asking questions,
2. the cheapest possible education system (so they don't have to pay taxes to support it) -- including lower teacher salaries, bigger schools and classrooms, fewer arts and athletics (replacing them with college prep or vocational ed) -- and/or
3. a system that is designed and/or staffed to be as compliant as possible to business interests (which also means one that can be bought for not a lot of money).

In these instances,businesses may want to be involved, but they are NOT working in the best interests of kids - and we shouldn't deceive ourselves that they are.

Businesses don't care if your child's education gives him a broad, flexible base for further retraining/education if a first career dies due to industry or sociological changes -- they will just fire your kid and hire a newer younger one with the new skills.

Businesses have no use for kids who grow up with the independence and intellect to challenge rampant consumerism, industry-protection laws, tax give-aways, etc.

And frankly, if running education institutions (like nursing programs) is too expensive (in terms of taxes), they are happy to just kill them and import nurses from the Phillipines, Malaysia, etc. Let somebody ELSE's taxes pay to teach them, and just bring 'em in ready to go!

Business has made it very clear that they have no responsibility for job creation -- their allegiance is to the bottom line, and that means hiring as cheaply as possible, or moving overseas for cheaper labor. They have no responsibility for the trade deficit (if it is cheaper to buy from China or Viet Nam, that is what they do, and American companies that can't meet those prices can go suck lemons). They have no responsibility for their effect on the environment (except to the extent the law imposes it and they can't buy legislators to kill those laws).

Obviously, since businesses do need to hire a few people, they DO have an opinion. And like everyone else, they deserve to have a voice. But why someone should write an article suggesting that they should have influence anywhere even CLOSE to the voices of kids and their parents (the REAL advocates for kids' educations) is totally beyond me.

mirmac1 said...

Who wrote it? One of the "usual suspects".

mirmac1 said...

Actually, this smacks of Frank Greer. He holds to his threat to certain board members who dare to displease the great and powerful Oz. "He" talks to the media under deep cover. Remember those slimy Crosscut articles about poor Debell and micromanagement.

Someone said...

There was a conference yesterday in conjunction with this set of case studies - the program from that appears to state that Andrew J. Rotherham, Co-Founder and Partner, Bellwether Education was the author. (program says: "A look at the report through the eyes of the author and a discussion of the role school boards play in the United States.")

Someone said...

Gee and here's a surprise - Mr. Rotherham's group, Bellweather Education Partners got a 255,000 grant from the Gates F. in 2011 to: "to support policy and communications work designed to shape the public and policy debate on public education reform in the United States"

Anonymous said...

Sounds like the Alliance, which is backed by the Seattle Chamber of Commerce, worked on this little discredit-the-board newcomers campaign. The National Chamber of Commerce says to put business interests in schools? Of course they do.

The Alliance looks more borg-like and Machiavellian than ever with this one.

The last thing this city needs is more 'business interest' involvement in SPS. Take a look at the $80 million school closure debacle, pushed by their own wunder-manager Goodloe-Johnson, as proof.

They and ther PowerPoint presentation kin - yes, I'm including Gates Foundation high tech refugees, as well as the icky make-a-buck edupreneurs, can go start their own model schools if they have all the answers. Oh wait...of course, they're trying to do just that (insert charter, charter, charter chant.)

'Educator not Middle Manager'

Anonymous said...

So here's what bugs me with the micromanagement argument. The board is legally responsible for ensuring policies and staffing support student learning. They are accountable whether or not they act through administrators. They are also the "community" representation in this form of government.

I work for a board, and I totally get the concept of establishing boundaries (I have a boss, the board directs him and he directs me. If they all each directed me, life would not be so swell) ... But still, in the end it is the board's legal responsibility -- not the superintendent's -- to make sure students are learning. So somewhere there has to be some flex.

The commmunity hires professionals to run the schools, but they are still the communitity's, and still public entities.
- Ramona H

Anonymous said...

And you want taxpayers to handover $1 Billion worth of levies under this mantle where "the business community can help provide that accountability"? Let's google the Chamber's heroes: what Jamie Daimon and Joel Klein have been up to these days because somehow this study isn't going to reassure the voters out there.

I don't know maybe a good start is to have business leaders hold themselves accountable FIRST. When I see that happening and business don't need all the tax breaks and welfare we provide for them to stay in business or bail them out when they act stupid and sloppy (Jamie Daimon's words), then I might be more incline to believe they really have student's best interest in mind.

Research US Chamber of Commerce PAC and their plan to spend $50-75 millions to oust vulnerable Dems. Yeah, it's a non-profit with pure political agenda.

-hanging on to my cents





-

Who is behind the curtain? said...

The author of this article seems to know a lot about the workings of the board i.e. board members were surprised at community meetings, board members supporting MGJ felt vulnerable, the observer etc.

I also noticed the article failed to mention- The State Auditor Charged the board with failure to oversee district operations. But, you probably won't see such a thing when someone is trying to foise a "micro-management" theme on the new board.

I'm getting a familiar feeling. Looking forward to the author of this article being revealed.

Anonymous said...

Another reminder of the enduring wisdom of Deep Throat--follow the money (and the names will follow):

Andrew Rotherham (whose research was credited as the primary source material in this report) is a
Senior Fellow at the Center for Reinventing Public Education. Robin Lake, Paul Hill and Dan Goldhaber are "Nonresident Senior Fellows" for Rotherham's organization, Education Sector. Rotherham is also on the Broad board (which may have something to do with the overall glowing assessment of MGJ in the report).

The Broad Foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation are among Education Sector's funders.

Educationhttp://www.educationsector.org/person/andrew-j-rotherham

(Look under Our People & Our Funders)

"He is a senior fellow at the Center for Reinventing Public Education and also at the PostPartisan Foundation. He serves on advisory boards and committees for a variety of organizations including The Broad Foundation, Education Pioneers, and the National Governors Association. He is on the board of directors for the Indianapolis Mind Trust and the Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia and serves on the Visiting Committee for the Harvard Graduate School of Education."

From the bio on Thomas Toch, Rotherham's Education Sector co-founder:

"Previously, Toch spent three years as a guest scholar at the Brookings Institution. He taught at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, served as a consultant to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and authored two books on American education, In the Name of Excellence (Oxford University Press) and High Schools on a Human Scale (Beacon Press)...At Independent Education, Toch rebranded the organization, introduced a partnership with Teach for America, launched a series of new professional-development institutes, and revamped the organization’s business model."

Anonymous said...

Another reminder of the enduring wisdom of Deep Throat--follow the money (and the names will follow):

Andrew Rotherham (whose research was credited as the primary source material in this report) is a
Senior Fellow at the Center for Reinventing Public Education. Robin Lake, Paul Hill and Dan Goldhaber are "Nonresident Senior Fellows" for Rotherham's organization, Education Sector. Rotherham is also on the Broad board (which may have something to do with the overall glowing assessment of MGJ in the report).

The Broad Foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation are among Education Sector's funders.

Educationhttp://www.educationsector.org/person/andrew-j-rotherham

(Look under Our People & Our Funders)

"He is a senior fellow at the Center for Reinventing Public Education and also at the PostPartisan Foundation. He serves on advisory boards and committees for a variety of organizations including The Broad Foundation, Education Pioneers, and the National Governors Association. He is on the board of directors for the Indianapolis Mind Trust and the Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia and serves on the Visiting Committee for the Harvard Graduate School of Education."

From the bio on Thomas Toch, Rotherham's Education Sector co-founder:

"Previously, Toch spent three years as a guest scholar at the Brookings Institution. He taught at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, served as a consultant to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and authored two books on American education, In the Name of Excellence (Oxford University Press) and High Schools on a Human Scale (Beacon Press)...At Independent Education, Toch rebranded the organization, introduced a partnership with Teach for America, launched a series of new professional-development institutes, and revamped the organization’s business model."

--enough already (oops)

Anonymous said...

Charlie,

Has DeBell ever joined you during your "chats" with Paul Hill and/or Robin Lake (I am not just asking this rhetorically)?

Pretty clear that DeBell, Lake and Hill are the inside track for this so-called report.

--enough already

dan dempsey said...

About the 5% of Ingraham "African American" students proficient in math....

For the SPS District the pass rate for Algebra I End of Course assessment for 2010-2011 Black Algebra students was = 29.5% ... and for Black Ingraham students= 10.9%

The grade 10 HSPE Math results for Spring 2010=>
SPS District Black students pass rate = 12.5%
Ingraham Black students = 5.4%

-----
There is a much bigger problem here than Ingraham HS Math ....... How about District math k-12? and the decisions made k-12 over the last decade?

Also the WASL and the HSPE were hardly a definitive measure of student math skill.

The EoC in Algebra is somewhat better.

-----

It ticks me off that these reports resemble "Ed Reform" propaganda rather than being tools for formulating solutions.

Anonymous said...

Between the inspired study suggesting innovation by bringing "business leaders" to lead schools and Joni Balter's flirty article on charters and Democrats, the pressure is on to scare Dems to get behind charters. Good scary distraction. Even better keep the "news" about Romney polling ahead. The discussion about education has been reduced to politics where we bring in party affiliation (as if that matters anymore), business interest, and MONEY. The new pedogogy.

voter

Melissa Westbrook said...

The discussion about education has been reduced to politics where we bring in party affiliation (as if that matters anymore), business interest, and MONEY. The new pedogogy.

Yes, and this needs to be outed.

Anonymous said...

Joni Balter and Seattle Times are too late for the national campaign. The Super PACs are already there. News media franchise are going to reap big $$$ when this media blitz hit the airwaves.

NY TIMES:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/17/us/politics/
gop-super-pac-weighs-hard-line-attack-on-obama.html#commentsContainer

Still that leaves them the governorship, local and state seats to play kingmakers. What power!

media watch

mirmac1 said...

Was it my imagination but did I detect a milder, hesitant tone when DeBell made "suggestions" to the staff last night? Perhaps he realized he got outed for being a heavy-handed micro-manager when it came to SpEd and transportation and...?

Anonymous said...

Mirmac,

Remember when I posted a few weeks ago that DeBell would be losing his "alpha male" position and to expect a change of tone from him?

I also stated that I see this behavior on a daily basis in insecure boys who are seven years old.

The hiring a male superintendent, rather than shame and humble-pie, would be my bet for DeBell's change in demeanor.

--enough already

mirmac1 said...

Tee Hee! I'll bet the PM posse is okay with Mr. Banda! (sorry folks, inside joke!)