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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Phil Brockman Promoted

I believe we will see ever-changing org charts for several months as Banda gets the lay of the land and new hires/shifts are made.  That makes two Ex Directors changed (Aurora Lora, leaving SPS, and Phil Brockman, moving up).

From SPS (via a reader, thanks!)  (Does anyone know what the High School Graduation Grant Initiative is?  Sounds good.)

As we continue to plan for the 2012-13 school year and beyond, we recognize the need for increased collaboration between all departments. Providing all students with an education that will prepare them for college, career and life is our mission, and along with that comes many operational duties.
 
Additionally, coordination between departments is essential as the District begins to discuss system-wide changes that impact schools and families, such as school boundaries, bell times, instructional programming, athletics and transportation.  To ensure this, today I am pleased to appoint Phil Brockman to a new position: Executive Director of School Operations. Phil, who has served as Executive Director of Schools for the Northeast Region since 2010, starts this grant-funded position on July 1.
 
Thanks to a Department of Education grant, called the High School Graduation Grant Initiative, Phil will be able to use his academic expertise to support both instructional programming and the operations team’s system-wide initiatives.   In addition, Phil will provide support to schools in the High School Graduation Initiative, promoting student connectedness, school attendance and graduation.  This new role will also establish a bridge between the regional Executive Directors of Schools and operations to ensure collaboration and provide support to schools during academic and operational system changes. He will report directly to the Superintendent.
 
Phil brings to this new role more than 30 years of experience at Seattle Public Schools. He started his career as a math and physical education teacher at Rainier Beach High School in 1983. He served as an assistant principal at Madison Middle School from 1992-1997, as principal of McClure Middle School from 1997-2000 and as principal of West Seattle High School from 2000-2004 before returning to his alma mater, Ballard High School, as principal for six years. In 2009, Brockman received the Alliance for Education’s Thomas B. Foster Award for Excellence for outstanding leadership.
 
Human Resources will soon post an opening for Phil’s current position, which we hope to fill next month.
Please join me in congratulating Phil on his new appointment.
 
Sincerely,
Bob Boesché
Interim Deputy Superintendent
Seattle Public Schools

51 comments:

Anonymous said...

I had just a couple interactions with Phil Brockman, but I am a big fan of his. I hadn't realized - and am impressed by - his long history with SPS. Glad to hear he's moving up; it makes me optimistic for a good period ahead of us with SPS.

- southpaw

Melissa Westbrook said...

There are varying opinions on Phil's work but I have always found him to be enthused, a good listener (and willing to listen) and dedicated to whatever building he is in.

I think this may be a good move for high school improvement and outcomes.

Steve said...

I think this is the grant program funding Mr. Brockman's position. Per the overview text, it doesn't seem to apply to the work that the District says he will be doing, but it's always hard to tell with grants, and I assume they've received the grant already for this work. Grants appear to be for "up to" 60 months, and hopefully they've secured funding for this position for that long a period.

Maureen said...

The interactions I have had with Mr. Brockman have been positive. I wish him well in this position. This work is really important. Since Brockman and Lora are leaving, I hope Mr. Banda will think about reducing the number of Executive Director positions to cut back on expenditure at that level.

mirmac1 said...

Thanks Steve. From the sounds of the grant description, the money would be better spent on drop out prevention counselors, mental health, drug intervention etc etc, than another big $$$s senior executive.

I've had input from a number of families who have found Brockman to be weak and ineffectual with regards to holding principals to their duty to special education students.

Ditto that Maureen. I'm surprised that Boesche, as his parting act, would fill this position. He could've waited until Banda was fully on board.

Anonymous said...

That sounds like old boy-ism. More old boy-ism. Mirmac is correct: he has not stood out as somebody who will do business differently for students with disabilities. None of the Ed Directors do. I hope Mr. Banda will take this problem on in a sincere manner.

Reader

Lassen said...

I worked with Brockman for six years. No one in the district has a better grasp of the large and complex issues that challenge SPS.
Phil will be a tremendous resource to Mr Banda as he gets familiar with the district. Best of luck to both of them.

Po3 said...

I wonder how much $$$ this grant is worth each year and hope there is enough to actually fund programs and services.The Interagency High School program could use an additional site and I am sure additional funding.

mirmac1 said...

I see in the FY13 budget data the grant is listed at $2M. I don't see where it has been apportioned by the school level.

Anonymous said...

mirmac -

I have found that the special ed issue are deeply entrenched and dysfunction and beyond the scope of just one person. I have worked with Phil Brockman on several of these issues. We were not nearly as effective as I would have liked to have been. However, we were more effective than I have been with any other administrator.

I spoke to him multiple times about how IEP are delivered in minutes but staffing is delivered by the number of bodies with an IEP and about how that creates wildly uneven case loads.

My bar might be low but he actually understood the problem and tried to make changes. He did not succeed. However, I have spoken about this same issue for years and he was the first administrator that both understood the problem and even attempted to see if there was help.

- north seattle mom

Charlie Mas said...

I've read that job description three times and I have no idea what he will be doing.

I do know that Middle College needs to rent some space. That would be operational support for a school, it would also promote student connectedness, school attendance, and graduation.

Eileen said...

Special education issues will definitely need to be addressed by Mr. Banda. Ineffective directors (both regular and special ed), and even more ineffective and uninformed principals are perpetuating a "special ed vs. general ed" mentality. Special ed students always get the short end of the stick and their families are expected to be grateful.

And BTW, kudos to the interagency program staff.

mirmac1 said...

North seattle mom, tomorrow there WILL be an State Auditors finding related to use of restricted SPED funds to pay Basic Ed teaching staff at Ballard, a practice started under Brockman's watch as principal. This phony approach to offering "inclusion" by simply throwing SpEd kids in GenEd classrooms without support, is morally bankrupt, and does not demonstrate Brockman's understanding of our concerns.

D wade said...

Mirmac
Where will I be able to see this Auditors report regarding the questionable use of SPED funding. Can you send a link ?

Anonymous said...

All these ed directors are dead weight for special education students and families. If you approach them with a problem they refer you to Special Education. You go to Special Education they refer you back to the Ed Directors. That's the way it is in Seattle.

Special Education wants Ed Directors to own how principals manage special education. Special Education says principals are in charge of special education in the buildings. Ed Directors are having none of this. No way. You go to them, they say you have to go back to Special Education and good luck with THAT.

What we do know is that principals have to do pretty much nothing to pass whatever bar there is for how they manage special education. Their performance criteria must be something like getting points for not putting the kid into the broom closet, if that.

Signed, also hoping Banda will see through this current crop of Ed Directors

mirmac1 said...

The audit will be released at tomorrow's exit conference. The district will minimize their misuse of restricted funds, saying it was just a misunderstanding, that Ballard's style of "inclusion" (NOT!) was really special ed. This has been a blatant practice for years, and Brockman probably thought he was thinking outside the box. Too bad all those students did not get the specially-designed instruction they were due.

Horton said...

Bree Dusseault in particular needs
to go. As a charter school zealot with a phony admin degree and inane ed reform credentials she is pushing an agenda that will hurt SPS.

D wade said...

Gracias Mirmac
How do you know what the report will say and how BHS will respond ?
Vey interesting... if it is illeglal why wont they be punished more severely and forced to stop ?
Please post a link to the report.

Anonymous said...

Mirmac1, hope your anger doesn't blind you. Brockman is an excellent man, honest and with the interest of students at heart. I wish him good in his next endeavor.

-- Reality is never simple

mirmac1 said...

There will be a link tomorrow. They will be forced to stop, and it'll cost the district to provide compensatory services to these young people.

I find Mr Brockman to be affable and approachable. I wish he had the chops to do the right thing.

Anonymous said...

My interactions with Phil were always pleasant and I definitely felt like he really cared. He was always willing to listen and take a phone call if necessary. Unfortunately though, at the end of the year he had done little to actually improve my struggling neighborhood school or help our poor performing principal.

Fey

Jan said...

mirmac1: I don't know Mr. Brockman, and my kids never had him as a principal (Derse and Howard) or an Ed Director. Here is what I flat cannot figure out -- in a system riddled with dysfunction (pre-MGJ, but WAY more once she arrived and brought her chaos with her), and massively distracted at all times by the crisis du jour (school closures, NSAP, falling enrollment, swelling enrollment, fraud downtown, fraud in schools, massive principal shuffles, etc.) -- how do you fairly evaluate someone whose job is one tier down -- in the MOST disfunctional area (instruction and learning, unfortunately). Working under MGJ and then Enfield, what specifically did we want Mr. Brockman to do? At THAT point, what effect could he have had on special ed? IF he failed to supervise bad principals -- I can hold that against him, because he should have at least been able to affect that -- but even then, ONLY if the "badness" inhered in the principal, and NOT in one of the new systems that have been rolled out for teacher evaluation, etc. And -- I cannot defend the treatment of special ed kids, and their funding, that you describe at Ballard (though when MY child was entering HS, Ballard was specifically recommended to us by a private psychologist as being successful with kids like mine -- but we didn't get in).

I felt the same way about a lot of the downtown folks under MGJ. It was hard to tell who was incompetent and who was an actual gem struggling to survive in a cesspool of a system.

Am I just being hopelessly optimistic here, or is there any credible basis to believe that, under a better Superintendent, Mr. Brockman may be a success in his new position?

Charlie Mas said...

It happens that sometimes the ball drops between the shortstop and the left fielder. Everyone knows this, so there has to be a rule. Usually the rule is that it is the shortstop's ball until he says otherwise.

When I encounter situations like this, and I did recently over program placement, I like to bring both people into the same room. I turn to one and say "You said that this is his job, but he says it is your job. Who's job is it? We're not leaving until I know who has responsibility for this."

The problem in this case, of course, is that there is no Special Education Director. The second problem is trying to get these people into a room together.

Two suggestions:

1. Use email routed to each of them. That brings them into the same virtual room. You can even include Mr. Banda and a Board Director in the room this way.

2. When the Education Director says it is the Special Education Director's job, ask them for that person's name. Ask them how an empty office is supposed to effect change.

mirmac1 said...

"It was hard to tell who was incompetent and who was an actual gem struggling to survive in a cesspool of a system."

Jan, that is it. In a dysfunctional, slimy environment of fear and intimidation, WHO gets promoted, WHO seems to float to the top. I say it is those who are willing to go with the flow and are unwilling to take a strong stand. This would seem to explain the complaints I have heard about Brockman.

I see that the FY13 proposed budget has monies for a deputy superintendent (along with our cluster of asst. supts). Frankly, Mr Banda is very experienced and does not need a deputy. Is Brockman being positioned for that role (with minimal say from Banda)? Perhaps he would serve well and protect the civil rights of students, but that would suggest that he is as changeable as the tides.

Charlie, you make it sound so simple but many very smart parents have been jerked around by these &*$%@!

Eileen said...

Charlie said, "Use email routed to each of them. That brings them into the same virtual room. You can even include Mr. Banda and a Board Director in the room this way."

What happens when they don't open the door? Or even acknowledge that you knocked? Yeah, you have a paper trail but there are already plenty of those.

Charlie Mas said...

Ah! Sorry. It is simple, but it isn't easy. As in, "Than all you have to do is sink the three from the top of the key."

It requires a lot of grit, patience, and dogged determination. It can take months to drag these people into the same room and even then they may conspire to confound you.

You can request meetings. You can threaten litigation. You can go to the press. Try everything. There's still no promise that any of it will work.

You may have to ambush them - that's what I did to Pegi McEvoy and Cathy Thompson over Program Placement when they each denied any involvement in any of the decisions. I caught them at a District public meeting on BEX IV. Even then, they each managed to point at the other.

mirmac1 said...

Charlie. And that got you...where?

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

I don't think we can underestimate the value of someone who wants to do the right thing - lord knows, the district has had (and still has?) plenty of people who seemed grimly determined to plod along in the completely wrong direction. I've had limited interaction with Mr. Brockman over planning the future of Pinehurst/AS1, and he's been attentive, constructive, and while he's made few promises, he's followed through on the ones he's made. I am a fan, and I hope he can do some good in this position.

suep. said...

Isn't it a bit odd that Brockman is being promoted to this (new?) position, shortly before Mr. Banda takes over? Mightn't Banda bring some of his own people and have his own ideas of who should be in charge of what?

I am hoping Mr. Brockman's years of experience with SPS will bring an insight and wisdom to JSIS HQ and all his positives that have been mentioned here will shine through.

But I can't help but wonder if he wasn't put in place by Enfield & co. as a parting act for some other purpose -- perhaps to influence (help control?) Mr. Banda, perhaps as the representative of the ed reform business clique who are trying to run this district behind the scenes and need point-people to help them do that (after all, Banda was not their choice for supt. and hopefully will not want to be their puppet), & as SPS Leaks has revealed. Having been sucked into central admin. the last few years, I worry that P.B. may have come under some influences whose interests are not those of the greater SPS community.

I would love to be wrong about this.

Dorothy Neville said...

SueP, it is possible that the district needed to move quickly to create this position for the specific grant. That's what I would like to believe. And on the plus side, this makes three openings at the Ed Director level, which will allow Banda room to restructure and house clean. That's a good thing.

As for money in the budget for a deputy superintendent, I am sympathetic. I have been told (but haven't verified) that many districts our size and larger have a chief of staff. Certainly Treat had a busy job in his role and Banda might see having that position filled will give him more time to deal with the bigger picture. We will see.

mirmac1 said...

Well, Dorothy, with our arsenal of (how many) assistant superintendents, is that really called for. I, myself, questioned what specifically was Treat's area of responsibility? Besides, covering for Enfield?

Jan said...

Sue p: it is also entirely possible (though I have no way to know) that Banda is involved with this decision. We know he is already here (assuming he plans to make an appearance at his welcoming party) and even if he were not, he is only a phone call, email, or text message away. I guess we will see. But now that we don't have Noel Treat to be a reasonable human being downtown, I hope that Phil Brockman will step into (his version of) those shoes. C'mon Phil, baby. You can do this!!! Don't let us down! This District so badly needs integrity and responsibility in high management. Be a mensch! Be the guy!

mitt said...

to mirmac ---

. . .waiting for that link to the auditor's ruling . . .

mirmac1 said...

Romney,

The SAO audit was presented today with the expected finding re: misuse of restricted funds. They announced the report would be on their website Monday. Can you google? If not, sorry to hear that.

mitt said...

Geez --

From mirmac 6/26 10:39:
"mirmac1 said...
There will be a link tomorrow"

Just taking you at your word. My deepest apologies for such an egregious mistake.

Anonymous said...

I just want to know why it doesn't matter that Phil has never rocked the Special Ed boat, for all the knowledge and pragmatism as a District heavy hitter that's being described here to support this promotion.

Why does he, and why do all the Ed Directors, get a free pass when it comes to Special Ed? They like to throw up their hands as if they and their principals have nothing to do with the low expectations but they are all about "we like you if you don't ask for anything" treatment of families.

Of course Banda was integral to this hiring/promotion decision. But what does it say that he didn't ask for somebody who shows that business as usual for the District's most vulnerable students is not OK?

Baffled taxpayer

Anonymous said...

Can anyone name a Special Ed rockstar that would be the person for the job?

As far as I know, Phil Brockman is a man of integrity. The challenges with special ed are serious and real and there are many people to hold accountable for that.

As far as I know, I have never heard anyone speak highly of anyone with regard to special ed leadership. Is there some unknown superhero out there. If there is, now would be the time to shine a light in their direction.

- north seattle mom

D wade said...

Why so prickly mirmac? Folks were simply asking for the link you told them would be there ! One assumes the purpose of this blog is to inform people on pertinent issues. So..you knew the results of the audit before it happened, how the offending schools would respond, and exactly what the remedy would be. Good for you. Why not share the details ? Perhaps the previous writers assessment of you is correct ..."your anger blinds you" ! We , the uninformed will wait until monday to find out the results. When Ms Westbrook attends a meeting , she shares the appropriate details to inform the public. Get a grip and do the same.

mirmac1 said...

mitt,

Sorry, I was overcome by a case of the snarkies.

D wade, you can do your own homework.

Jan said...

Baffled taxpayer, I agree with north seattle mom. Who, in District management, has NOT whiffed on special ed issues the past several years? If there is someone out there, I don't know who they are. I think that the District has been so horribly managed that between management failures and errors on the one side, and "the stuff life throws us" (like increases in school populations and state/federal budget reductions) on the other, we have simply failed SPED wholesale, across the board, as a district. I know of one person -- one -- who rose to meet my child's needs in the manner I think the IDEA proposed (and her return after a leave was so mishandled by Mr. Howard that we lost her after two years) - and she is a "front line" person; not management.

Frankly, it sounds to me like delivery of special ed services is in complete tatters in the SSD (which is such a shame -- 10 or 15 years ago, we had programs that were so widely admired, nationwide, that people were moving here from out of state to get access to some of them). That's the bad news. The good news (for Mr. Banda) is that he gets to pretty much start from scratch. So much has been dismantled or watered down, there is not much left to preserve or even sort through. At least that is my impression. As long as people are willing to concede that he cannot rebuild this Rome in a day, it seems to me that he has nowhere to go but up.

I have to say -- this entire thing makes me want to go iron my ears like Dobby, in shame and penance. Yes, I know there were fires to put out everywhere, but how I could have done so little (except try to float my own SPED kid through the shoals) while the District ignored and dismissed its most vulnerable kids, and dismantled their programs -- well, I have no defense.

Anonymous said...

North end mom

Why ask about Special Ed leadership? The problems in Special Ed START and FINISH in General Ed.

It is a nonstarter that this is just a mattere of better Special Ed leadership. The superhero idea is also a distraction. We just need a Superintendent who is going to lead for change and business as unusual for Special Ed in this District.

Baffled tax payer

Anonymous said...

Mr. Brockman will be able to resume his union-busting role in this position that gives him powers across the entire District. He was the lead District negotiator for the last two teacher contracts. It was this process that drew him so close to MGJ.

He is also a lead ed reformer in the District and will now be well positioned to carry on the work of MGJ, Susan Enfield, and all of their corporate supporters.

Parents, beware; he is an effective politician and knows exactly what to say face-to-face. His words and actions are hard to link, however, and most often are not the same.

~A fly on the SPS wall

mirmac1 said...

That would feed into the whole new "deputy superintendent" scenario.

Any one know him well enough to actually glean: the truth of his expectations for the role?; the degree of authority Banda has assigned to this new $145K+ position?

Anonymous said...

baffled tax payer -

I am not asking about special ed leadership. I am am asking if ANYONE does a good job leading special ed.

I am the parent of two special ed students myself so I actually speak from some experience on this topic. If folks are going to try stones at someone because "he failed" at special ed, all I am asking is for anyone to provide an existence proof of someone who "did not fail" at special ed.

If there is no existence proof of "not failure," then the entire conversation is about who has failed the least. And that has been my experience in special ed.

- north seattle mom

Anonymous said...

baffled tax payer -

I am not asking about special ed leadership. I am am asking if ANYONE does a good job leading special ed.

I am the parent of two special ed students myself so I actually speak from some experience on this topic. If folks are going to try stones at someone because "he failed" at special ed, all I am asking is for anyone to provide an existence proof of someone who "did not fail" at special ed.

If there is no existence proof of "not failure," then the entire conversation is about who has failed the least. And that has been my experience in special ed.

- north seattle mom

Anonymous said...

I know Mr. Brockman well and Fly on The Fall's comments are so ridiculous I laughed out loud. Lead negotiator? Try again. Last contract that was Liasanne and Cordell, before that it was the never ending cycle of HR Heads and Labor Negociators. So close with MGJ? He refused several of her efforts to move him and stayed at Ballard much to her displeasure. Union buster? Life-long teacher from a family of teachers who two years ago was the head of the state-wide principals union. Lead SPS Ed Reformer? Really? Please point to which of his schools had TFA. Or which principal he tried to boot. Oh wait, that would be Bree Deussualt. If you are looking for SPS's Ed Reformer champion, she's your girl. Thanks for the fiction.

IMHO

Anonymous said...

IMHO, you have selective awareness. I know Phil well too. He's a nice guy with a political agenda. He is sophisticated enough to present himself outwardly as the one protecting our schools while privately fully participating in CRPE, Gates, Broad, et al ed reforms. He was a better man when he was "just" a principal.

~A fly on the SPS wall

Anonymous said...

Fly on the Wall, it seems that you too have "selective awareness."

ITK

mirmac1 said...

Yes, but are we aware of our selectivity? ; }

Jan said...

who has failed the least. . . .

That has been my experience too, North end mom.