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Wednesday, June 12, 2013

New Procedure for Advisory Committees

The superintendent has issued new procedures for advisory committees. This new procedure distinguishes between "Advisory and Oversight Committees", "Task Forces and Focus Groups", and "Working Groups, Teams, and Planning Committees". The new procedure offers significantly less transparency than the previous procedure.

12 comments:

mirmac1 said...

A number of these staff-led committees and task forces are induced to set a charter. I would urge the members to set a high bar for transparency and openness to the public. Make it a part of your charter.

I understand that recent high-profile task forces were encouraged to use the Delphi method to manufacture consent, stifle dissent, and discourage open discussion of the workings of the task force.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Okay but the info on taskforces is certainly not what happened on the Advanced Learning Taskforce. In fact, I would say how that was handled would be a model as how not to lead the work.

I did get an e-mail with a terse "thank you for your service" from Shauna Heath. I did appreciate that but I didn't see that it went to other Taskforce members so I have no idea if they were thanked. Actually, it would be nice if there were some public recognition for a year's worth of time and effort for such a large group.

She did say that "a task force is a group that is short lived and focuses on one issue." The policy syas "time-limited and often formed for a short-term assignment" and "are formed to address a clearly defined topic."

Kind of nebulous wording but I suspect that's for a reason.

We did get our charge directly from Superintendent Enfield and it was pretty clear but somehow it got waylaid by concerns over APP location.

Ms. Heath says another task force is to be formed that will focus on:
- highly capable identification
- highly capable service model
- academically gifted service model

The members of the AL taskforce were asked to continue on AND most of us wanted to because we did not have the opportunity to address Spectrum and ALOs at all. The new policy seems to be saying the members should change after some period of time but I certainly would welcome the opportunity to finish the work that was asked of us (and that is included in the current wording by Ms. Heath).

Anonymous said...

Melissa, I never got any thank you for the alo task force and suspect your note of appreciation was a on-off.
These new definitions seem like a cya by the Distrct to limit community involvement. Is that your take?

Heidi b said...

Previous comment by heidi b

Heidi b said...

Melissa, I never got any thank you for the alo task force and suspect your note of appreciation was a on-off.
These new definitions seem like a cya by the Distrct to limit community involvement. Is that your take?

Eric B said...

@Charlie: Could you elaborate on what the changes are that make for less transparency? My only experience is with FACMAC, which mostly has closed meetings. If it continues as an advisory committee, this procedure encourages us to have mostly open meetings. Some aspects of the job would be easier with open meetings (probably fewer people accusing us of eating babies), but some may be harder.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Yes, Heidi, I think my thank you was a one-off because I made a point of asking. I've been on other committees and at least on those committees, the work was publicly acknowledged and thanked.

These definitions are vague and I suspect the district wants to control the committees' actions at all times.

mirmac1 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mirmac1 said...

Eric B,

All SEAAC meetings have been open. I haven't been a member, yet all volunteers are welcomed to participate fully. So this policy is a step back.

Interestingly, we could never really claim staff "support" (though we've certainly had staff attendance). It took considerable agitation to get a webpage like FACMAC, that we have to maintain ourselves. I don't mind that last point because we like to control the content as much as possible.

My concern is that staff-led translates into staff-controlled. And I've noticed how, many times, members of various task forces/committees are discouraged from discussing what transpires at meetings and offering dissenting opinions in a public forum. Can you shed some light on whether this has happened w/ FACMAC?

As for public acknowledgement, I have yet to see any district PR announcement related to SEAAC that wasn't initiated by parents. In fact, new appointments were made recently. Here is some information about it, found on our (self-maintained) district website (thanks to a great parent!)

Eric B said...

Mirmac,

FACMAC has generally been discouraged from talking about specifics and encouraged to offer support for what the committee consensus. I think that the co-chairs do a good job of finding and reporting when there is consensus and when there isn't. I have been frustrated by the lack of open meetings at times, but it has made it easier at times to have (as the diplomats say) frank and open discussions. It has always been civil, but I think there were some things that needed to be said that might not have been if there was general public in the room.

One thing that was suggested for FACMAC is to have every other to every third meeting public. The public meetings would be where recommendations were made, based on lists of pros and cons developed in earlier brainstorming meetings that might not be open. That might work for some committees, and not for others.

Anonymous said...

I am completely disappointed by Jose Banda. He's been totally ineffectual so far, and keeps hiding behind the excuse of "I'm just learning about the district", etc., etc.... Honestly, by now we need some actual leadership.

He seems content to let power-hungry and mediocre administrators like Shawna Heath lead the show. He never acknowledges or apologizes for missteps, and it's hard to tell that he's even there.

From what I can tell, it's the Shawna Heath and Carmela Dellino show bullying principals and teachers without restraint, especially in West Seattle.

If he's not going to help the district, the money could go to better use. Sorry to be harsh, but I'm fed up.

-Disgusted

Charlie Mas said...

The new procedure provides less transparency because it exempts a large number of committees from the transparency rules.