Thursday, March 13, 2014

Fireworks Coming as Parents/School Staffs Clamor for Attention

Tonight is the second of the Superintendent's regional meetings about the Strategic Plan at 6:30 p.m. at Hale High School.

I suspect that this particular meeting - coming on the heels of pushback from staff on later start times AND the brewing rebellion by schools over cuts to their budgets - might prove to be larger and more contentious than the one earlier this week.  And Hale - having had a later start time for 10 years - is perfect backdrop for this discussion.

That said, the district loves its Powerpoint presentations and I suspect they will make whoever shows up wait for any questioning beyond issues around the Strategic Plan.  But the district press release does say attendees can question district leadership so it will be interesting to see how this plays out.

Also to note, next week's School Board meeting should be a barnburner as several groups - Start School Later-Seattle, school staffs and NW Center parents - could show up to "express" their opinions of how SPS is doing.

From Start School Later - Seattle:

Thank you for your outreach to get more petition signers!  Our numbers are growing, keep it up!

RALLY at the March 19 school board meeting from 4-6pm at the John Stanford Center (2445 3rd Ave, S.) to protest delays and urge passage of a resolution to work on later starts for fall 2015, not 2016.  Dr. Maida Chen of Children's Hospital will speak.  We hope to pack the meeting room with signs and supporters for later starts. Wear blue to show we are sick of the delays.

Teachers will be holding a rally to protest budget cuts and will wear black.

To support later starts and oppose budget cuts, wear black and blue to show we're tired of mistreatment and are fighting for change.

SSL will not disrupt the meeting but will show our resolve to align school start times with the learning, health, and safety needs of students


Anonymous said...

In today's New York Times "To Keep Teenagers Alert, Schools Let Them Sleep In". They point to this report on the effect of start times on high school academic performance:


Anonymous said...

And according to the article,

“Even schools with limited resources can make this one policy change with what appears to be benefits for their students,” Dr. Miller said.


Charlie Mas said...

I'm not exactly why it is that Mr. Banda is having so much trouble gaining any traction with the community. Part of it, of course, is the fact that he's making almost no effort. Part of it is that he has flip-flopped like crazy on a large number of issues. Part of it is that he has often taken the wrong side of a number of issues.

Wait. Nevermind. It turns out that I do know why he hasn't made any real connections with the community.

Anonymous said...

Bingo Charlie. And the Northwest Kids - Cascade debacle is looking like Enfield's Floe moment. Too much dependence on underlings to handle and communicate, too much weakness exposed in flipflops of plan, when the Super should have stepped up and been a leader from the outset.

It's pretty hard to find a Banda supporter these days. The board majority votes will no doubt keep him employed near term, but beyond a year or two, given that parents are getting restless again, there's no money from the state, JSCEE seems as bad as ever and area politicians and business people don't like the guy, it's hard to see a longterm progress or a steady hand at the helm of Superintendent or board for that matter. This district never ceases to disappoint. It doesn't have to be this way either. But I've been saying that for 10 years and nothing changes.


Anonymous said...

Some might like to make the Cascade/NW thing Mr. Banda's Waterloo. I don't. It was never a win-win situation. People are making hay out of this, but they didn't come up with a better solution for either group. What does that tell you?

Get Jessee

mirmac1 said...

Next time you're at a board meeting, look left. Lined up against the wall is the "Executive Leadership" team. A gaggle of $130K+/year suits who totally insulate Banda from the real world (like nonpotable water at W-P).

He has no one but himself to blame. I've told him heads ought to have rolled after the last sh*tstorm. But he places loyalty over competence. At the expense of kids and families.

We have a board that is loyal to a superintendent who is loyal to lieutenants who are not accountable. Is it a wonder the storms keep coming?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Good call, District Watcher.

Well, Get Jessee,we don't really know what all the efforts were. I think there were solutions out there but they would have come at a cost.

Anonymous said...

Did the water at W-P just turned bad now? Is W-P the only school that has this problem? We also had pest problems including the rodent type and got maintenance to deal with it. It meant an end to classroom parties with food for a while. How many kids were at Arbor Heights and other poster child schools in need of serious maintenance when we were all campaigning for the levy. Is this the new campaign for a new Superintendent?

Sure, replace people, cut positions, trim it all. I'm all for scaling down the behemoth, but I like to know who do you want left? And who do we replace with? Do you have names?

get jessee

Melissa Westbrook said...

Get Jessee, is there a real question in there?

Yes, the water at W-P has been bad for years. Either you have never been to Wilson-Pacific to see how truly bad it is (in comparison to most buildings) or you're making light of it.

Anonymous said...

Yes I've been to W-P. Lived next to it. Used it to register my oldest kid in SPS. My point is it's an old building that needed serious reno a long time ago. Why this is now used to slam Supt. Banda is what I can't figure out. And no I am not part of Mr. Banda's fan club. My experience with SPS churn started 14 years ago. Cascade has been operating under these conditions for many years and it wasn't right under all the past superintendents then or now. So what has changed? Why the outrage now? I sincerely want to know.

get jessee

Anonymous said...

The meeting at Hale was definitely lacking in fireworks. No Cascade/Northwest questions.


mirmac1 said...

get jessee,

I merely used W-P as Banda's latest bimbo eruption. As his "cabinet" grows, the messes seem to only get worse.

Look, I don't want to have to go searching for yet another Supt. Not at all. It just seems that the means to control this stuff is within his grasp.

Melissa Westbrook said...

HP, I was actually surprised no one from either group was there/said anything. It was a great oppportunity, missed.

Anonymous said...

Mirmac1, I get what you are saying. But here's my concern. I don't want death by a thousand paper cuts. If John Stanford could be our present superintendent now under these conditions, how would he fare? I think no better. I have to hit a pause button. I look at the 50,000+ students, the issues SPS face, and the public's ability to clamor, vent, find data and info, pass on rumors, all of which make SPS' work that much more more complicated and easy to lose focus.There's a lot of people to please.

My family have had ups and downs dealing with SPS, certainly with spec ed issues. At one point, I didn't work as much in order to volunteer more time in the resource room, working with the spec ed team. People used to complain about the old sped teacher as being old school, slow to new techniques. That was true, but she was empathetic and cared a great deal about her students and she really advocated. We had a succession of new principals and each had ideas of doing things a certain way along with more testing requirements, new teacher eval threats which combined with personal reason, she decided to leave SPS entirely. Since then, the school has had several replacements. One was younger, with fresh ideas, tech savvy, said all the right stuff, but interestingly didn't make the connection with the students, probably still hasn't achieve that comfort teaching zone. The ideal teacher would have been the combination of the two. But even with the ideal teacher, that person had to work within the confine of that building, its politics, the parents - with all facets of human nature on display. Add district policy and admin personnel into the mix, and I don 't think doing right by all would have been possible.

That's just an illustration. The majority of SPS families are far more quiet. Even within AL, a vocal group, there are many students who did get tested and notified. At some point, we all hit bumps. I think it's great to discuss flaws and failures, but I also want to weigh that against the big picture. I want to be careful of echo chambers. Careful of distractions and swirling agendas. Careful where I need to focus my energy, even if it's anger, careful to hit a pause button so I don't get carry away.

get jessee
(I use this sign off because He's a quick fix it guy in a world where the solution is anything, but a quick fix.)

Anonymous said...

I was disappointed with the response about later start times last night. I think it absolutely should not be pushed all the way back to 2016. If it can't be done in 2014, it should absolutely be done in 2015. I was glad Banda heard a parent advocating for it, though.

Speaking of perspective, though, I did get a chance to talk to the new head of technology, and he seem fantastic. Very energized, excited about the role technology can play in educating our students, and how to reach our diverse population and how to better engage with communities through technology. I'm looking forward to seeing the results of his leadership.


Charlie Mas said...

Mr. Banda has failed to demonstrate decisive leadership at every opportunity.
MAP Boycott, start times, Equitable Access Framework, Growth Boundaries, NWC/CPPP, the Mann Building, Special Education, McLeary, teacher evaluations, Advanced Learning, Downtown school, transportation, Center School race curriculum, halal breakfasts, etc. The list of his failure to lead on issues is exactly the same as the list of issues.

Can anyone - anyone - name a single instance in which Mr. Banda provided clear direction and leadership on any issue? Help me out here.

Seriously, whether he was right or wrong, has he ever taken a position, stuck to it, argued for it passionately, and pushed it forward? No. Not ever. Not once.

Every single time he has straddled the fence by either saying all of the right things but doing none of them or saying all of the wrong things and doing none of them. He has been blown around and bent in every direction. That may be a lot of things, but it isn't leadership. It isn't even consensus building because he is never the person who brings people together.

He jerks people around by promising them action but refusing to deliver - take a look at how he handled the Mann Building.

He never pushes anything forward. Everything just stalls and then drops.

He never states a position and sticks to it. He hops back and forth from one position to another. He doesn't so much settle on a final position as get caught in one when time runs out.

I wouldn't mind so much, but isn't leadership his job?

Anonymous said...

You are right Charlie. Even on the Seahawks parade issue he said one thing, flip flopped and then put it on the principals. He seems unable to lead on issues large or small.

Gen Ed Mom

Anonymous said...

How was Mann building a flip flop? It's in SPS hands with ongoing renovation. SPS was never going to give up that building. Maybe it wasn't handled in the way you wished it was, but this situation was a sticky wicket by adding race, an angry, poorly seved community, and competing interests. It became a PR issue which made things much more difficult to handle. Cascade will go to the old QA building. Similar PR issue with this building. Just look at the numbers of stories in the media. Seahawks parade? Even parents and teachers couldn't concur on that one. Again another PR issue. And ask yourself how important was this issue, really? I take student data privacy issue any day.

When I was part of a negotiating team at my work, we placed many ideas on the table. There were moves and countermoves, they said, we said stuff going back and forth. You can report all of that as being washy washy. It sure sounds like the ground was shifting. Thing was as a negotiating team we had clear boundaries of no-nos, objectives, and softer goals. We also had to be ready to discuss and hear things from the other side, including surprises. Thank goodness, no one was reporting all of this stuff during negotiation to the public in bits and pieces and with different POV slants. You would think we were all wet noodles.

The main challenges for this district admin wil be managing capacity, managing budget to meet the needs of transportation, programs, personnel turnover, federal and state mandates all the while under intensive public scrutiny highlighting all its steps and missteps.

Other districts face similar challenges. But what other districts don't have to face is the level of public scrutiny and interference SPS must operate under. Just do a quick search on SLOG, crosscut, ST, local ed blogs, ed think tanks, non profits, billionaire backed initiatives, UW research as starters, it's as if SPS is the favorite well trodden play field for every wanna be educational rock star.

Criticism just to make a satisfactory hit may be great for one's ego. But it's not necessary an effective strategy. You lose your bite and people will turn deaf.

get jessee

Joe Wolf said...

Get Jessee -

At last Friday's BEX Oversight Committee meeting I called this Seattle's "Everybody's the Smartest Person in the Room" Syndrome.

It's a real thing, and it can hinder the public process.