District Focus for Remaining School Year

From Superintendent Banda's Office:

As we head into the winter break, I want to take a moment to thank you all for your hard work and dedication. In the six months since I’ve been here, I’ve been proud to work alongside you. We have much to be thankful for at Seattle Public Schools – our enrollment is growing, our graduation rate has increased and our students are showing improved academic achievement.

I’m grateful for the time staff has spent helping me get to know this wonderful community, including the many evening meetings with our families, community members, staff and students.

In the New Year, I look forward to meeting with more of you. Our principals, teachers and staff are the heart of Seattle Public Schools, and I am eager to hear your ideas for ensuring that we are meeting the needs of every student.

In light of the tragedy in Connecticut last week, we are strengthening our focus on school safety. Our security team will be meeting with principals in the New Year to review safety plans and ensure each building is equipped to handle potential incidents. As more information is available from Connecticut in the weeks to come, we will review recommendations from the Department of Education and law enforcement. We will work together and follow best practices to improve the safety in our schools
Earlier this month I held an all-day retreat with the members of the Superintendent’s Cabinet, which includes the Assistant Superintendents of Teaching and Learning, Business and Finance, Operations and Human Resources, and the leadership in communications, policy and facilities operations. Setting aside time to step back, plan and think about the big picture is so important for all of us. We used this valuable day to outline our work for the next six months.

We highlighted 12 key items to focus on for the remainder of the 2012-13 school year.

These include:

·         Closing the achievement gap (including a focus on Multi-Tiered Systems of Support and English Language Learners)
·         Employee evaluations and professional growth,
·         Implementation of the Common Core standards
·         Implementation of the race and equity policy
·         Capital facilities
·         Budget development
·         Program placement
·         Filling key leadership positions
·         Labor relations
·         A refresh of our Strategic Plan
·         A professional development plan
·         Building relationships with the School Board, families, staff and community.

We have a lot of work to do. But with a dedicated staff, engaged families and a community that cares, I am confident we can continue to move our District forward.  I want to wish you all a wonderful New Year. I hope you enjoy some time off with loved ones during the next two weeks, and I look forward to seeing everyone back at school on Jan. 7.


José Banda

Note:  (And I missed this first read-thru - this is for the remainder of THIS school year.)

Note nothing about Advanced Learning or Special Ed.  Disappointing.  I note two places for labor (evaluations and relations).   

Also, in reading an account of the shootings in Conn., two teachers reported they could not lock their doors.  There's a good first start - make sure every teacher knows how and can lock their classroom door.


Anonymous said…
Yes, it is a disappointing list. Putting special education on the right foot should have been on this list. For that matter, given the fact that some of the people in the Legal Department are way more interested in fighting with parents than in being problem solvers a change up of the culture and practices in the Legal Department should have been on that list, too. Mr. Banda probably should have spent that day's time talking to people who have some objectivity on things. It is very disappointing.

Anonymous said…
I hope closing the gap includes looking at the terrible math program. Of course Sylvan and Kumon make a ton of money of the current math program.

Anonymous said…
This list has more missing pieces (AL, SPED, math, science curriculum) and is too generalized. And it reminds me an earlier list, wasn't there something similar in the beginning of this year?
It would have been good to see some results of this past 6 month as a starting point to talk about more of the following steps.
It is bothering me that there is NO fact in this letter. But anyway, I wish a Happy New Year also to Mr Banda and I hope he can sleep well every night knowing the existing safety standards in our schools.
- LL
Anonymous said…
Reader, who was left in the legal office to shake up? Last count they were on their fourth attorney handling special education in less than two years. Those four attorneys have been supervised by three different general counsels. If Bandwanted to make a change to legal, he would need to decide whether to keep English as the acting General Counsel or go out and hire someone. Clearly looks like that's not a priority.

Louise M said…
It seems odd that Capacity Management didn't make the list.
Charlie Mas said…
Here are the four priorities the Board set for the superintendent for this year:

1. Bringing Teacher & Principal Profession Growth & Evaluations (PG&E) to scale
2. Development of Equitable Access Framework: Phase I
3. Development & Implementation of Student Support Strategies/MTSS
4. Replacement Strategic Plan

So it's good that he got all four of the Board's priorities among his twelve. It would be a shame if he had missed any of them.

You'll notice the Board didn't think that Special Education was a priority for this year. Nor did they include Advanced Learning, math curriculum, science curriculum, or even capacity management.

Let's remember that Mr. Banda said that he was only going to continue existing initiatives this year. All twelve of his priorities are consistent with that message. There is nothing new here.

And that's a bit of a disappointment. We're going to see anything new; we're just going to see more of the same. More of the same inaction. More of the same delay. More of the same talk without implementation. More of the same.

Review this list of twelve things and you will see that they have all been talked to death without anyone actually ever doing anything about them.
mirmac1 said…
That the fist three items on Banda's list came right off the Alliance's top ten list is very disappointing!
Jon said…
It's a vacuous statement, could mean anything. It's a political document. We'll have to wait and see what kind of actions he takes.

As your earlier post on a Crosscut article said, the honeymoon is over. If we don't see action soon, Banda will start losing support.

But I don't think what is mentioned in this statement, or what is not mentioned, means much. This is typical PR blather, trying to be as uncontroversial as possible, and means little in terms of what actions we might or might not see.
Anonymous said…
IMHO re SPS Legal:

The culture and practice of fighting with parents and the "let it go to a hearing just try it mentality" (v earnest problem solving let alone courtesy) is perpetuated by the senior legal assistants as much as by the lawyers. One is so unpleasant that an administrator in a public agency says she has to walk on eggshells to avoid this person's rude and mean behavior.

We hear constant commonly experienced upsetting stories about this particular legal assistant and she is not alone. This is the legal department. A shift change of lawyers is not enough to bring down the district's legal bills. It is not evident that Mr. Banda understand this situation.

Anonymous said…
Legal assistant work under the supervision of attorneys. Period. Anyone who pretends differently is asking for a bar complaint (lawyers are responsible for those who work under them and any ethic transgression by the assistant is imputed to the lawyer). If a legal assistant is acting inappropriately, it falls on his or her boss and ultimately English.

Anonymous said…
"If a legal assistant is acting inappropriately, it falls on his or her boss and ultimately English."

Yes. He's been there a long time and so it is disturbing that he has not acted to change these behaviors. Word is, he applauds them.

mirmac1 said…
Banda has made reference to the legal mindset, and not in a positive sense. What he's going do about it is another thing entirely.
Anonymous said…
Has anyone filed a bar complaint against English? Has anyone complained to him about his legal assistant, putting him on official, recorded, documented notice, with CC's to SI Banda and the Board? If not, why not?

If someone is walking on eggshells to avoid another's rudeness, that person is enabling the rudeness. Screw eggshells and rudeness. Is the L.A. doing her job or not? If not, write letters and get the remedial processes started. Verbal complaints will go nowhere. Written complaints create a record for all to see and review. They can't ignore them and blow them off. Make the record. WSDWG
mirmac1 said…
Looking at this list...I remember hearing, but a few (six months) ago, a number of board members say Special Education was one of three TOP priorities for our district. Geez, now we don't even break the top ten...

This must be a key metric on the performance measurement of educational leadership in each building (read, principals), who are incentivized to ditch our childrens' outcomes for the health of their bank accounts. Don't believe me? Read the PASS contract. Wonder why suspensions and transfers seem to keep our kids out of school...?
Unknown said…
I found your post is more informative.It's an ultimate way to celebrate New Year's Seattle 2013.

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