Strategic Plan

The Board has directed the Superintendent to draft a Strategic Plan. They have some ideas about what they want in it. A Strategic Plan Stakeholder's Taskforce has been formed and they will express some ideas about what they want in it.

What do YOU want in it?


Charlie Mas said…
The last strategic plan was a management plan, not an academic plan. This time I would like to see an academic plan.

I want the Strategic Plan to lay out a course to define, determine, and implement approaches to:

Special Education
Advanced Learning
International Education
equitable access to programs and services.
Career and Technical Education

I would like to see the strategic plan forthrightly define the opportunity gap and lay out a plan to address it.
Greg Linden said…
Hey, Charlie, could you elaborate on the management versus academic plan?

Not arguing, just want to understand better. The last strategic plan seemed full of threshold-type measurable goals (like % meeting standard in 3rd and 10th grade, % graduating, % going to college, see page 11). That's not ideal, in my opinion, but seems more academically oriented than management oriented, no?

I think I just don't understand. Could you expand on your thoughts a little more?
seattle citizen said…
Who's on the Taskforce? Please tell me that there is not anyone from Gates, aka the Alliance, aka LEV, aka Our Schools....

(Word Verifier says that if any of the above are on it, it'll be a real southern-style ORDAYUL...?)
seattle citizen said…
Greg, I would posit (and I'm not sure about this) that management sets goals, academics get us to them.
Academic planning would look at WHAT is taught, and how, rather than the goal to be reached.

While district has played with some of the curriculum, the Strat Plan itself seems rife with directives on outcomes, rather than the methodologies to get to them.

Just my two cents.

(Word Verifier says that the new Strat Plan is sure to be a real UMNTINGR)
suep. said…
Hi Seattle Citizen. I'm on it, along with other parents, teachers, principals and SPS HQ and city dept. people and community activists.

Some names you might know - Sara Morris, Holly Miller, Michelle Buetow, Mona Bailey, Supt. Banda, Michael Tolley, Duggan Harmon, Nancy Coogan, Lesley Rogers.
mirmac1 said…
Since the Alliance is funding Pivot Group's contract (like the $800K McKinsey contract), I'm not setting my hopes up too high...

Greg Linden said…
On a related note, what's the point of the Strategic Plan? I assume it is to give direction on what is important?

If so, shouldn't it be a lot shorter? Just one page with 2-4 measurable goals?
mirmac1 said…

I see more Ed Reformers than average citizens.

For one thing, I expect it is for those people who aren't out there working to pay their mortgage during the day...
seattle citizen said…
As to what I want in the new Strategic Plan:
I want flexibility to change shape as stakeholder input is given over time.
I want students and educators, and their individual needs, to be front and center - less of the grand plan of top-down metrics, more of the "how can we help in each unique clasroom?
I want it to be homegrown: I want (dreaming here) it to acknowledge the crapitute and external impetus of many current "reform" fads, and find ways to move away from them while still addressing the needs they purport to address. (The last SP was Reform writ large, written largely by reformers outside of the district and not representative of the citizens of this this city - I want US to own this.
I want a plan that includes active recruitment of community members into classrooms. Mentors, eyeglass doctors, nutritionists, tutors, name it, I want the community brought to the schools.
suep. said…
Well that's not a complete list -- just a sample. Like I said, there are parents and teachers included as well. But there are 72 people total.
suep. said…
The Alliance is funding it? Why?
seattle citizen said…
So the Alliance is funding it, has a seat at the table, and Gates/Alliance/Strategies 360's mouthpiece, Lesley Rogers, is also at the table?

Why does the Alliance get a seat at this table? How is that reasonable or fair, somebody please explain.

So: One more item for Strat Plan:
District gives up external funding for strategies and execution. They are making deals with the devil, and it ain't democratic.
seattle citizen said…
Mirmac, the Alliance (Gates) funded the last SP, as well.

And it was a lot more than $800,000. Gates gave millions for it.

Why? To run things. And this is democratic how...?
seattle citizen said…
SueP, when you are at the table, can you ask them why Sara Morris and Lesley Rogers are there?
And also ask if Leslie Rogers is still, in any way, affiliated with Strategies 360...She was given the job at SPS RIGHT after Strategies360 manipulated the public via the Our Schools Coalition, and won certain "reformish" concessions on the 2010 CBA thereby. S360 is Gates; OSC is Gates, Alliance is Gates....what is Ms. Roger's current job description at SPS, and does she report in any way to Sara Morris, S360, or Gates?
Inquiring minds want to know.
Nick Esparza said…
A strategic plan for southend schools
suep. said…
Oh that's right -- the Alliance wrote the grant application for the $6+ million from Gates to help pay for for MGJ's "Excellence for All" plan.

Alliance for Education
Date: November 2008
Purpose: to support the college-ready curriculum, assessments, data and advocacy elements of Seattle Public Schools' strategic plan
Amount: $6,929,430

mirmac1 said…
seattle citizen,

Here's the breakdown of what Alliance (and their Daddy Warbucks) paid:

PPPE Hall of Shame

Admittedly, after the ALEC-inspired SP was rubberstamped, then Gates could step in with their pocket change to take over the strategic direction of our district.
Nick Esparza said…
seattle citizen is the Gates Foundation all Bad ?
Does it do any good?
suep. said…
That could be a long discussion, Nick, beginning with the question: In what realm?

In the area of education, the track record of the Gates Foundation is deservedly controversial.

I think the main problem many of us have with the Gates Foundation is the huge amount of power and influence it has on public education, on what and how our children are taught, on how their teachers are treated, and with zero accountability because no one elected Bill Gates or his various offshoot organizations to run (or ruin) our nation's schools.

The whole approach of the corporate venture philanthropists (Gates, Broad, Walton, et al) towards education is highly undemocratic, and that is very disturbing.

The fact that they push and bankroll education "reforms" that have proven to be destructive or ineffective (merit pay, charter schools, demonizing teachers, high stakes testing, curricular uniformity) is another cause for alarm.

And the fact that that they admit they have no expertise in education should also disqualify them from having such influence.

Overall, taxpayers pay far more into public education than all these venture philanthropists do, so we should have the greater say in the direction of our own kids' public education.

As I've said before, Why should Bill Gates and Eli Broad have more say as to what goes on in my child's classroom than I do?
Have Sara Morris keep her hands off my kids. said…

Thanks for the PPPE Hall of Shame document. The PPPE is offering $100K=$125K. Those dollars won't go far.

It is also worth noting that MGJ'S Strategic Plan was reliant upon $12.5M grant from the feds to carry out functions related to data, merit pay etc. is running out.

We can always expect to see Sara Morris and the reform crowd, but seems like we're having more community involvement too. Love having Sue Peters and Michelle Buetow on the committee.

I'm not certain 72 people will reach consensus. I guess that is for Banda and the board to figure out, but we are in a much better position than the last go around.

Watching said…
Middle school science needs to be strengthened.
mirmac1 said…
Hands off,

Where the TIF was pissed down the reform drain, now we have the RoadMap Project. I urge you to read the grant proposal on their website. There is a little of there for everyone, including data analysis consultants. There's Pre-K readiness, there's college preparedness. But there's alot of opening the kimono with regards to your child's personal info. Gee, did you learn that through community engagement. I'm sure it was through phony feel good meetings like the SP Taskforce.

I refuse to lend my name to that kind of window dressing...
mirmac1 said…
I want to add that I don't mean to cast aspersions on my acquaintances on the TF. I am just tired of seeing Lesley Rogers, A4E/OSC and friends turn these into a validation for their own agenda.
Po3 said…
I really dont care how it is stated in a strategic plan as long as it is clear that the following issues are fixed:

*Math - new K-12 curriculum
*Science - replace those old kits in grades K-8. Expand science offering in highschool.
*Language arts - get rid of writers workshop or at the very least bring back some grammar, add some research writing, even science and technical writing would be helpful!
*Capacity - get all the school open that need to be reopened and deal with the overcrowding.
APP - find them a home and quit spliting them up.
Spec Ed - fix it.
Assessments - toss MAPS and consider bringing back the ITBS.

TechyMom said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
mirmac1 said…
repost of a great point(pick a pseudonym or risk deletion:

Anonymous said...

I hope the strategic plan focuses on bottom-up accountability. Specifically, that means measuring parent and teacher satisfaction with district services, then acting on substantive concerns. In other words, I want to see the district focus on improving what they already do, not look to do new things. After all the churn of the last few years, there's a lot of messes that need to be cleaned up before anything new is taken on.
Anonymous said…
If I were King of The District I would divide up into 4 districts. I believe this district is too big. It is more concerned about processes, adult employment, and what it looks like politically than educating children. Smaller districts would be more cohesive, agile, and have a grater ability to focus on the kids.

-King for The Day
Anonymous said…
I want them to look at math. They need to fix the curriculum and stop the failed discovery math approach. Our students need to become proficient so they are not placed into remedial math in college.

S parent
dw said…

I wrote a somewhat long post here last night, and I saw it posted, but now it's gone. Can you please check to see if it's just been marked as spam or something by blogger? I really hate this captcha stuff, it seems to interfere in weird ways. Thanks.
Eric B said…
I want it to be a plan. The last SP was "We will do X in Y years," where X was anything from increasing numbers of kids reading at grade level to reducing dropout rates. Those are all great things, but they're not a plan. A plan has actions attached, for example, "We will increase the number of children reading at grade level in 4th grade by replacing the K-3 reading curriculum and ensuring that all teaching is done to current best practices backed by research."
dan dempsey said…

If the Strat Plan uses the term Best Practices, then I want the SPS to show that any practices deemed Best Practices actually are worthwhile. .... Best because the SPS says so just does not cut it.
Eric B said…
Well, that is why I said "best practices backed by research"... I'll grant that you can find research that backs just about anything (eg Discovery Math), but maybe we can go with "backed by academic consensus and proven in practice."
n said…
Another question for Sue P: How do teachers get selected for these committees? I've been in the district over twenty years and I've never known a teacher who was asked to participate and one who did participate in any venture like this. Who do you have to know?

I'm not interested but curious. Who makes these selections and how is it that diverse teachers are included?
n said…
Also, Sue P., what is the make up of the teacher representation? Elementary, middle, high school? Regional diversity? SES school diversity? Right brain vs. left brain thinkers? (The last one was sort of a "ha ha" but truthfully, in my experience, we end up with an awful lot of listmakers and few creative thinkers!)
Jan said…
Charlie -- I am like Greg. I am not sure I know what an ideal strategic plan should look like, and what levels of detail it should include (good thing I am not on this committee, interesting though it is).

Could you give me an example of what strategic plan elements (of an academic plan) might look like with respect to one of your listed items? I like a lot of the ideas that people have thrown out; I just have no idea how those do or don't fit into a strategic plan -- and if they are in there, what they look like (in terms of goals, action items, measurables, etc.)

Hate to be so dense here. I think this is one of those times where it is a lot easier to identify what I DON'T like in the existing than it is to describe what I think should replace it.
Catherine said…
"Best Practices" smells like the down town business boys speak.

In my book, any strategic plan over a page is worthless because isn't never referred to, contains contradictory directives, and has plenty of hidey holes in which people justify all manner of decisions.
suep. said…
Hi n,

I don't know the profiles of all the teachers. I'll have a look. In the meantime, I would expect the district would post the list of the task force members on its site, like it did last year for the supt. search community task force. (Quite a few of us were on that committee too.)

Here's some info (from the district) on how the task force was formed:

January 10, 2013

News Release

Seattle Public Schools to update Strategic Plan, seeking community volunteers for task force

Seattle Public Schools is starting the process of revising the current Strategic Plan, Excellence for All. The updated plan will guide academic and operational priorities for the next three to five years and include ongoing benchmarking to measure the District’s performance.
In 2008, the Seattle School Board unanimously approved Excellence for All, aimed at ensuring all students graduate from high school ready for college, careers and life. The plan is based on best practices nationally and input from more than 3,000 staff and community members. The plan includes clear and measurable goals - with strategies to achieve them – for students, schools, staff and district.
“The current Strategic Plan was very ambitious and put the District on the right path,” said Superintendent José Banda. “Although we have seen increases in student academic success, we must do more to ensure each student receives a high quality education. An updated Strategic Plan can set us on that course.”
An important part of the review is to engage with the community and seek as much feedback as possible to help shape the goals of the District over the next three to five years. Pivot Learning Partners has been hired to consult with the District, gather feedback from the community, and assist in the development of an updated plan.
A key element to gathering feedback is the formation of a Stakeholder Taskforce. The taskforce, made up of approximately 60-80 people, will be a diverse group that includes parents/guardians, teachers, principals, district staff, and community and business leaders. Members will include the organizations/individuals selected by School Board members who served on the Community Focus Group during the Superintendent search last April. Members are also being selected by the Seattle Council PTSA, the Special Education PTSA, higher education community, labor partners, district staff, and community organizations. School Board Directors will appoint two members each.

suep. said…
(cont'd from above)

In addition, five slots will be available via random selection. To be eligible to serve on the taskforce in one of the open seats, you must be a Seattle resident and contact Anita DeMahy at 206-252-0040 or by Jan. 17, 2013 to nominate yourself. Please include your name, phone number, email address, and if you are affiliated with a school or community organization. Each person will be assigned a number and a random drawing will take place to fill those slots.
Taskforce members must be able to commit to at least four of the five meetings listed below. Substitutes or proxies may not be sent in your place. This is to guarantee consistency and reflective discussion throughout the process.
o Wednesday, Feb. 6, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
o Tuesday, Feb. 19, 4-8 p.m.
o Wednesday, March 6, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
o Thursday, March 14, 5-9 p.m.
o Wednesday, May 1, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
All meetings will take place in the John Stanford Center’s auditorium, 2445 3rd Ave. S. Please note that taskforce membership is on a voluntary, unpaid basis.
Task force members will offer feedback on the strengths and weaknesses of the District’s current strategic plan, develop student and District profiles, give feedback on the vision, mission and core beliefs of the District, and make recommendations on strategic goals and initiatives. Those selected for the open seats will be notified by Jan. 25.
The updated Strategic Plan is expected to be presented to the School Board for introduction at the June 19 Board meeting and for action at the July 3 Board meeting. Five regional meetings will be held in April to gather additional feedback from the community on a draft of the Strategic Plan. In addition, the process will include a way to provide feedback online before a School Board vote, expected in July.

The current Strategic Plan can be found online at

### Media contact: Lesley Rogers (206) 255-2811 or

dan dempsey said…
Speaking of absurd =>

"In 2008, the Seattle School Board unanimously approved Excellence for All, aimed at ensuring all students graduate from high school ready for college, careers and life. (fine example of an aspirational BS goal that is impossible to reach)

The plan is based on best practices nationally (
no research would show that "Discovery Math" and a variety of language arts practices pushed were very effective... hardly best .. but Nationally pushed by the Ed Elites) and input from more than 3,000 staff and community members. The plan includes clear and measurable goals (many of which no sane person would have believed were attainable... and yet school report cards were based on student grades rather than measurable test competency -- huge mismatch for Aki Kurose)- with strategies to achieve them – for students, schools, staff and district. --- (except very few if any of those strategies produced the results needed to attain the original clear and measurable goals ... the absurd goals)
Anonymous said…
I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that I smell a rat. A 72 person committee? Sounds like something intentionally created to ensure little consensus on anything. Then will come the declarations of "failed bureaucracies" and "too much process - 72 people?" along with the ever-present "Seattle can't get anything done" theme as a predicate to a push for Mayoral Control over the schools.

I feared this with the 30+ person FacMac committee, and I fear it even more now. That's just way, way too many people for any committee, IMHO.

SueP and MichelleB have their work cut out for them, that's for sure.
dan dempsey said…
WSDWG wrote:

"I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that I smell a rat. A 72 person committee? Sounds like something intentionally created to ensure little consensus on anything."

Nobel Prize winner in Physics Richard P. Feynman served on the California Math Textbook adoption committee in 1964.... He said if you want a quality result get 5 very knowledgeable experts together ... if you want a mess put 20 to 100 :"wanna be experts" together.

Annals of Corruption "Judging Books by Their Covers".

"State adoption proceedings still are pervaded by sham, malfeasance and ludicrous incompetence, and they still reflect cozy connections between state agencies and schoolbook companies."

Seattle School District proceedings are apparently modeled on the "State adoption proceedings" from California of 50 years ago.... some things never change.... the monied elites are still controlling these games.

OMG- A 72 person committee?

If one expects a change, a constitutional amendment limiting campaign contributions to public officials' campaigns will be a necessary start. Sen. Bill Bradley believes this could be enacted in 10 years if the public would demonstrate adequate concern.

SuperPACs are killing Democracy
"If so, shouldn't it be a lot shorter? Just one page with 2-4 measurable goals?"

You'd hope but with this huge a committee.

For the record, I didn't apply and wouldn't have. I think the size is too big, I think there are those who will attempt to dominate the discussion and the district has already hired a consulting firm.

I wish they had just asked for imput instead of this overwhelming committee. I am going to try to make some of their meetings.
Charlie Mas said…
I absolutely agree that a 72-person committee is a recipe for futility.

When I write that the previous strategic plan was a management plan, I mean that it was focused on creating structures to allow managers to their jobs.

Take a look at the summary of the plan.

Yes, it included curricular alignment, but that was to better define the teachers' job duties and thereby facilitate their performance reviews.

The development of assessment tools was, again, a management tool more than a teaching tool.

The school segmentation was all about management, not teaching.

They were supposed to fix the many dysfunctions of HR - that's management.

They wanted to implement performance reviews. That's management.

They wanted to improve their central admin technology. That's management.

They introduced Project Management. That's management.

The current strategic plan, Excellence for All, was and is a management plan, not an academic one.

I think that the Strategic Plan should be focused on moving the institution towards fulfilling its mission. The Mission of the school district is to educate students.

I would like to see the plan more focused on what happens for students in the classroom than what data is available to central administration.
Anonymous said…
1. Ideas MUST be paid for.
2. Therefore, the steps necessary to implement the ideas must be figured out.
3. Ideas (aka "Best Practices") should be prioritized.
4. People who can't do #1-3 within 2 weeks should be fired and put on a do not rehire list.

dw said…
@mirmac1: now we have the RoadMap Project. I urge you to read the grant proposal on their website. There is a little of there for everyone, including data analysis consultants.

For others who aren't aware of this, here's a link to the Road Map Project web site. I've been poking around their site, but haven't run into a grant proposal yet, do you have a direct link?

There's Pre-K readiness, there's college preparedness. But there's alot of opening the kimono with regards to your child's personal info. Gee, did you learn that through community engagement. I'm sure it was through phony feel good meetings like the SP Taskforce.

You're absolutely right about the kimono opening. All this P20 stuff is intended to track each individual kid from preschool through college (and beyond, to their first jobs as well, if they can get that data). It's tied to edu-reform throughout the country. Look up SLDS (Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems) to find tons of information about these kinds of projects.

The NCES Grant FAQ states:

These data systems securely follow students from early education through the workforce and facilitate the disaggregation, reporting, and analyses of longitudinal data.

and: In addition, states have developed Memoranda of Understanding for data sharing, access and reporting when working with other agencies, universities or outsides researchers.

So we can see that they are collecting data, disaggregating it and providing it to 3rd parties (like these guys: ?), none of which we have any control over. Or do we?

Mirmac1, there was a recent question about public directory information, and the right to opt out. Are you aware of any way to opt out of this type of data collection and dissemination? I want to opt out right now.
n said…
Thanks, Sue P. I still don't see how teachers are selected unless via the organizations and district staff members listed. I wonder how many teachers are included?

Perhaps I'm off base, but isn't Charlie's question one of academics over management? And who better to provide academic input that a wide diversity of teachers themselves?
Anonymous said…
n at 2/16/13, 12:50 AM

in a nutshell, teachers are selected by SEA leaership, IMNHO the main criteria for selection being how aligned the teachers are with SEA-WEA political cowardice and sell out-ism.

I'm told that at the Monday 11 Feb RA a young woman teacher asked very pointed questions about the selection process to Jonathan - Bafia at some point went on defense with some clique-ish insider excuse that if there were elections, then the selection would just be a popularity contest. Given that 75% of the SEA members didn't vote in the year ago SEA Presidential election, given that SEA's facebook has about 950 likes and the Support Garfield facebook has over 6000 likes, maybe something popular would, maybe something NOT be insider clique-ish b.s. - maybe that would be a good idea?

Cliques and 'democracy' and

n said…
Big Lie: Thanks. I am disappointed that more teachers do not take their union solidarity seriously. I did my level best to get the teachers at my school to vote for Muhs but most of them simply did not vote.

At the same time, we are so inundated with work and paperwork and meetings that even I have quit going to meetings since January. I would have heard that had I attended. I'm simply overwhelmed. The teachers in my school are the walking dead.

I've given up trying to understand it. And even less do I understand how to solve it. At some point, shouldn't the superintendent have a clue about the workload on his own teaching staff?

Good teaching cannot come from a sleep-deprived and depressed workforce. But of course here I'm speaking to the choir.

So long as education is the new political football, I doubt much will change for the better. But thank you President Obama for realizing that we do need earlier intervention with pre-K. Now let's hope he is successful.
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