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Saturday, May 18, 2013

The District's Commitment to Stated Values

Seattle Public Schools has a set of stated values. Among these are transparency and engagement. To what extent, however, has the District leadership adhered to those stated values? Not so well.

Think about the various initiatives underway. Are any of them being conducted in a transparent and engaged manner? I don't think so,.



Strategic Plan - The District got some vague input from an advisory committee of about 60 people - you can only get vague direction from a committee of that size - and now they are moving forward with the work in private. We have no idea how the work is being done, what the stated goals may be, or how they will choose a path.

Advanced Learning - The District is setting a Vision for Advanced Learning, but they are doing it in private and without any engagement at all.

Equitable Access Framework - The District has caught this like a virus, nearly every other sentence includes a reference to it somehow, yet no one knows what they mean by it, they are working on it in private, and they refused to engage any part of the community. This is going to be huge. It's going to impact school attendance area boundaries, access to Special Education, ELL, Advanced Learning, International schools, Option Schools, AP, IB, everything. And the District is doing the work in secret and without any input from stakeholders.

Special Education - We don't know what the District is doing here, but we know that they are doing something and we know that they are not including the community.

Assessment - Again, as with the Strategic Plan and Assessments, an advisory committee was appointed, but the committee was dismissed before any decisions were made.

Transportation - The committee, made up exclusively from hand-picked experts, met and ended before any decisions were made.

Are you seeing the trend, folks?

So who has the job of defending the District's stated values. Of course everyone in the District has that responsibility, but the ultimate responsibility for it falls on the Board. The Board, however, doesn't do anything that the staff doesn't bring to them. And, frankly, they don't do much of that either.

We need Board Directors who will stand up for the District's stated values and will take action when they are not followed. Something to think about as we begin to elect two new ones.

4 comments:

Melissa Westbrook said...

Absolutely. The Alliance is trying to push this "hands off" style of management that is NOT governance.

We elect people to watch out and make sure that there is coherency to the system and input from the community.

Otherwise, I'm unclear what the point of the Board is.

As Charlie spells this out in black and white, it doesn't look good.

Patrick said...

Yes. Some seem to think the school board is like the board of a charity or arts organization, that they should be boosters and fundraisers and hire the professional head and otherwise keep their hands off. Those people are wrong, the schools are a vital public good and the board is the people's control over how their children are educated and how their money is spent.

Charlie Mas said...

Here's the funny thing, for me. I think that the Board should actually focus more on the culture of the institution - enforcing these stated values, for example - than on reviewing the superintendent's decisions.

Or, I guess, to put more clearly, they should review the superintendent's decisions, but more to confirm that the work was done in accordance with policy and our values than to confirm that the decisions were the right ones.

mirmac1 said...

Actually, the district has opened its kimono somewhat with special ed and families.

I know. What an expression. They use it at my work all the time. : )