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Thursday, August 09, 2012

London Resigns; New Interim Appointed

From Bob Boesche (himself an interim) Deputy Superintendent:

I am writing today to tell you that Wendy London, who was serving as Interim Assistant Superintendent for Teaching and Learning, made the difficult decision to resign from her position. I want to thank her for her leadership and for balancing both the interim role and her duties as Executive Director of Curriculum and Instruction – two very demanding positions. We all wish her well.

For the next two weeks, Kimberly Kinzer, our Manager of Early Learning, will serve as Interim Assistant Superintendent for Teaching and Learning. I want to thank Kimberly for stepping into this position until Aug. 24 while we prepare for a national search to fill this leadership role in Teaching and Learning.

Also during the next two weeks we will create a more sustainable interim leadership plan. It’s our goal to have a smooth start to the 2012-13 school year, while also spending time recruiting top talent for this position. We will give you an update in two weeks on our longer term plan. We hope to permanently fill this position in the fall.

30 comments:

Anonymous said...

OMG.

-skeptical-

Anonymous said...

Is she leaving SPS, or just the interim post?

Wondering

Anonymous said...

How many "interims" can one district have?

-Curious.

Anonymous said...

There appears to be almost no one left under Banda at the executive level. The Lawyer Who Will Not Leave (English),the numbers guy Harmon and that's about it.

It's bad, but promotion from within might just be worse. It's a sorry state of affairs, but Here's to National Searches.

SavvyVoter

Anonymous said...

And here's to hoping that The Alliance for Ed borg keeps its nose out of Requirements for New Executives. Their record the last time around was sad. Hmmm, maybe time for top leadership there to also move along.

SavvyVoter

Anonymous said...

Okay. So who's in charge of adopting a decent math curriculum...?

wonderingly

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

Peggy McEvoy is staying. I'm sorry to see Ms. London go, but am hopeful. There has been a culture of non-compliance and mismanagement in central office for years. This is an opportunity for Banda to bring in people with integrity.

dw said...

wonderingly said: Okay. So who's in charge of adopting a decent math curriculum...?

Yes, this is a big worry. Ms. London is a smart cookie, and I too am very disappointed to hear that she is leaving. I can only hope that the reason for her departure is not related to disagreements with the new superintendent and/or other execs because that would smell like trouble to me.

From my understanding, she was in favor of "real" math instructional materials, and would have been able to exert some influence on that topic as head of C&I. Now we're left with a big question mark.

Anonymous said...

Ron English is still just be acting General Counsel. That's another position needs to be filled. Hopefully not by the person in it.

IMHO

Anonymous said...

Wendy London probably came to realize that she had no authority, but a lot of responsibility.

District observer

Anonymous said...

Yes, I believe Ms. London quickly saw that as Asst. Supt. for T&L she had alot of responsiblity for teaching and learning, but absolutely no authority.

The Exec Dir of Schools structure has to change, and/or the people in the positions (except the two new ones). They just herd the cats (principals) and practice maximum CYA so principals have license to do whatever whenever they want.

wonderingly

Charlie Mas said...

This turnover makes all efforts at sustained reform impossible.

This turnover prevents any sense of the District as an institution.

This turnover erodes the possibility for buy-in by the community in any initiative promoted by staff.

Anonymous said...

Charlie - I have an email account which gets email from all these people! As 1 of the school bound serfs, I doubt that 99% of us could pick any of these people out of a crowd, unless the name was preceded by a gender qualifier such as Ms., Mr. or Mrs., and the crowd was boy and girl.
While I'm in awe of the awesome work you and Melissa and Dorothy and Suep and Dora and and and do for the community, and there is no doubt you all know the downtown players, for us school serfs, other than the payroll people and the light bulb changers, after the last 4 years - good riddance?

Chin up baby,

HappyDaysAreHereAgain

Charlie Mas said...

Here we go again. Starting over from the ground floor.

Given the direction of the past four years that may be a good thing, but the fact remains that we are, once again, starting all over from scratch. Starting, once again, from a dead stop. I have a hard time seeing that as a positive.

One of the deleterious effects of this kind of turnover and the resulting start and stop, start and stop, start and stop reform is that it gets progressively harder to win buy-in from the staff and no reform is going anywhere without buy-in.

No reasonable teacher, principal or staff person would change their practice in response to a reform campaign by an administrator if that worker believed that the administrator will be gone within a couple years and replaced by another administrator who will have their own ideas for change, end their predecessor's campaign and renege on all of the commitments. No way. It would be madness.

Instead they are going to nod their head at all of the rallies and meetings, then go back to their room, shut the door, and continue their current practice and their own developmental arc completely un-influenced by the reform du jour. It's the only reasonable response.

Jan said...

Charlie: your comment has a great deal of truth in it -- but it feels to me like complaining (3 or 4 years after the great recession) that unemployment is still high, and the economy is growing at a slower rate than we wished. These results were absolutely, categorically, unequvically "baked in" to the future (now today) when Congress (and some of the voters) made decisions, back in 08, 09, and 10 to do virtually nothing to stimulate the economy, as all of the options had the likelihood (or at least the potential) of temporarily worsening the deficit. Once you KNOW what you have done, and what it will mean -- it seems counterproductive to be reactive when, in fact, those exact things then occur.

When MGJ came, she brought turmoil, dysfunction, and bad management with her. She took a struggling school district bureaucracy and made it significantly worse. She ignored the existing problems, and created new ones. The few she took at stab at solving, she either did poorly on (the attendance plan) or did more expensively and less effectively than she could have (STEM at Cleveland).

We knew then, and during her departure, and soon after her interim replacement was appointed, that there was going to be a long, difficult dig out and that certain of the bad eggs had yet to hatch. We also knew that although MGJ had left, many of those who shared some elements of her flawed thinking were still here causing pain and mischief (DfER, Stand for Children, the A4E, etc.). We are exactly where we thought we would be at this point in the process. Mr. Banda has been here one month and 10 days (all during the summer break) -- and frankly, the man will not walk on water. I have no doubt he cannot be all things to all of us.

What the staff believes, they believe. We simply have to work this problem as hard as we can. It has been years in the making -- and will take years to fix.

dw said...

Spot on Jan, like usual.

What worries me is stuff like what District Observer said: Wendy London probably came to realize that she had no authority, but a lot of responsibility.

I don't claim to have any inside knowledge, but if anything like this is true, then it points to a serious problem at the highest levels with the new administration. Cathy Thompson's departure gave me hope for some positive changes in that area, including the possibility of Ms. London getting more authority, not less. Her leaving so soon after Banda arrives is extremely disappointing.

Anonymous said...

Ms. London had been quickly promoted above her skill set. The doom of many promising SPS administrators. This has all the marks of giving someone the opportunity to resign instead of being fired or demoted.

IMHO

Charlie Mas said...

What is the skill set for an Assistant Superintendent of Teaching and Learning? I don't think I know.

I don't think I could describe the duties of that position. The ASTL has seven direct reports, the Managers in charge of Curriculum, Special Ed, ELL and international programs, Advanced Learning, TIF, Partnerships, and Research and Evaluation. It appears to be more of an administrative and executive job so all of those managers have someone purportedly overseeing them. It's not an actual work-producing job. The ASTL is gatekeeper who keeps these managers away from the superintendent except when they really need a superintendent's decision.

Anonymous said...

And if just out the gate the first thing you do is botch the hiring for one of those positions so badly that a retired principal who has no knowledge in the content area needs to be brought in as an interim, you're above your skill set.

IMHO

Anonymous said...

IMHO,

The person who is responsible for the botched special education search was not London. Marni Campbell had a heavy hand in the search. Lets see where she is promoted next.


District observer

Anonymous said...

Yes, not ddisputing that Ms. Campbell was pushing a particular person. But it was Ms London who got the district in a position where they had no viable options. If Ms. Campbell had the power you think she does, her guy would be in the job now.

IMHO

Jack Whelan said...

Want to echo Jan's points. Sure, in theory, having more continuity and low turnover is important for the health of any organization. But when you have a deeply embedded culture of dysfunction, do you want low turnover or high turnover of the people who have been acculturated to the dysfunction?

If I'm coming into the district as Banda is doing and I aspire to change the culture, I see my biggest problem as getting buy in from people who are used to doing it another way. If Ms. London was frustrated with the old regime, elated when MGJ and SE left, and excited about the possibility of moving in a new direction with JB, then for sure, you want that her to stay. But if she's leaving, it means she probably was not that person.

You know, it's like the Agincourt, band of brothers speech in Shakespeare's Henry V: If you don't want to be here to fight the fight we have before us, here's the money for the ticket back home. Good luck to you--and good riddance.

If I'm JB, I want competent people and I want to rely on some key people who understand the district and its history, but more than anything I want people whom I don't have to fight because of fundamental values differences or from whom I only get weak compliance with a passive-aggressive edge.

And to the point about 'responsibility without authority': sounds like a convenient (passive aggressive?) excuse, and it's really reflective of the top-down management style of the old regime. Perhaps that will be a problem in the new regime, but we don't know that yet, and my guess is neither does Ms.London. If she deserves more authority, she should make her case that she deserves it, and if she does, any boss who knows what he's doing will be glad to give it to her. My assumption until proved otherwise is that Banda is that type of boss.

Jack Whelan said...

One last thought: It's one thing to have a smoothly running, compliant, well-oiled machine, but what is the machine is designed to do? If I'm a teacher, I'd rather have chaos at the top if it will allow me to do my job without wrong-headed interference by administrators who think they know better than I what my kids need, than to have a well-oiled bureaucratic machine that ruthlessly imposes its stupidity in my classroom.

If I'm a teacher, I don't need to be persuaded to buy in to downtown's agenda, I want downtown to buy in to my agenda and to help me to do my job more effectively. Downtown needs to listen to the good teachers, not the other way around.

Charlie Mas said...

I will spend a long time pondering what Jack Whelan wrote:

"If I'm a teacher, I don't need to be persuaded to buy in to downtown's agenda, I want downtown to buy in to my agenda and to help me to do my job more effectively. Downtown needs to listen to the good teachers, not the other way around."

Anonymous said...

Gee. Does somebody really think that Ms. London "botched" the special ed ED search? They've been looking for about 2 years now, and that's if you count Marni's hire as a "success" rather than a leapfrog to the only "director" position she could get this decade. If not, then they've been looking for somebody for about 5 years. Ms. London has had the interim assistant supe job for what... 2 months? Sorry, but the "search" was "botched" long before Ms. London was born.

The "assistant supe/director of C&I" job is just another name for "Yet another sped director, this time even more important". Because the title has "Assistant Superintendent" attached to it as resume fodder, my money's on Marni Campbell for that one too. And she now has years of SPED experience as an ED, making her exceptionally well qualified candidate. And families love her.

-Observer #2

Anonymous said...

Observer #2,

Yer kidding me, right? Marni should go to Highline where honestly is undervalued and mismanagement is key. She tried to foist her boy toy in the SpEd Exec Dir spot, demonstrating once again her cluelessness.

blech

Jan said...

I am on the "pondering Jack Whelan's comments" bench with you, Charlie. But I will likely be there after you leave, because I am also pondering this: " If I'm a teacher, I'd rather have chaos at the top if it will allow me to do my job without wrong-headed interference by administrators who think they know better than I what my kids need, than to have a well-oiled bureaucratic machine that ruthlessly imposes its stupidity in my classroom."

If I am not mistaken -- "chaos at the top" is largely what we had at the end of the Olshefske/Manhas eras -- and "well-oiled. . .ruthless. . .studpidity" is what we tragically got when MGJ arrived. So, I am pondering how it was that he nailed it so exquisitely -- and how I so misunderstood Sherry Carr's "greenlake walk comment" -- to the effect that MGJ had been such a great manager. I had thought Sherry was just wrong. She was right -- but only when one understands that MGJ's objective (couched in different words) was the imposition of "ruthless stupidity" on classrooms.

Ah. Light dawns.

Jan said...

And Jack is right. The system as a whole foundered under chaos -- but the average teacher (say, at RHS, teaching well-honed, English electives that kids adored) did MUCH better flying low under the chaos than they did when MGJ descended with her well-oiled bureaucracy.

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