New Game: If I Were Superintendent of Seattle Public Schools

Okay, boys and girls! We're going to play a new game. The new game is called "If I Were Superintendent of Seattle Public Schools", and here are the rules. Here in the Comments of this thread tell us what actions you would take if you were the next Superintendent of Seattle Public Schools. That, by itself, is enough fantasy, so please keep the proposed actions in the realm of reality - you may not have any staff keel-hauled, spend more than the budget, or hire Clark Kent (wink*wink*). Nor can you magically wave your wand and have all classes taught to the Standards, make all principals wise and kind, or give all teachers the ability to differentiate instruction. You're going to have to explain how you are going to manage these changes in culture and personnel.

Take your time. There are no bonus points for answering quickly.

Here's the great thing: other than the constraints of the budget and the existing contracts you pretty much have carte blanche. The Board has neither the balls, the interest, nor the authority to interfere with any of your decisions - so long as you keep your decisions outside of the range of policy and under $250,000. The State has never demonstrated any interest or ability to require compliance with any laws or regulations. We have all heard the talk about how Charter Schools have the precious Freedom to Innovate, and we have all known that public schools can have that freedom as well - if the district allows it (or tolerates it, or fails to notice it). We have bemoaned the fact that so few schools (public or charter) exercise that freedom. The truth is that the entire district has that freedom as well, by right in most ways and through lax enforcement by the state in just about every other way. The Superintendent is constrained by the budget and the contracts, but not by much else. So go wild, folks! Exercise that precious Freedom to Innovate.


Anonymous said…
I would create a Montessori school. A wonderful alternative to testing, testing, testing.

S parent
Anonymous said…
Easy. I would create the position of Student legal Advocate.

The position is staffed by one or more educational civil rights lawyers.

They protect and defend students when their rights are violated, IDEA , FAPE or 504 violations are proactively pursued and tried.

No longer will students or parents have to jump thru endless procedural hoops or ferret out evidence for OSPI complaints.

This purely adversarial role will stop the perpetual violations by staff and administrators and give the power back to the students without fear of retaliation.

Christina said…
I'd give a deserving out-of-work content manager doubling as information architect a one-year contract to procure a functional content management system. By functional I mean:

- has a script to use the search keywords input by the user and generate a list of files weighted by relevance and timeliness.

The content manager should also have a metadata system and content retention plans, archival policies, content inventories for each department, so people looking for, as an example, Summer Instrument Camp, can get the 2014 Registration form and not the 2013 Registration form. Bonus points if the keywords in the META tags for such a document include synonyms and related words for Instrument, such as Music.
Anonymous said…
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Anonymous said…
Ooh -- I like this idea (though I know nothing about the Nashville model) and so am reposting it for an anonymous whose post may be deleted. I also like the timing of it.

Anonymous said…
Alas -- forgot to paste in the comment:

I would work with the Seattle Public Library to implement the "Nashville model" that created a partnership between the their school and city library to share collections and databases, thereby saving the schools millions of dollars AND increasing access to materials. Okay, it's a very small goal, but doable. I would do that before lunch on the first day.

Sorry -

Simon said…
I would radically cut administration and work to increase funding for arts, music, and PE at all schools where PTAs don't take in enough donations to offer such programs or not at a level comparable to schools with rich PTAs. I would act as a driver of an initiative to reduce class size to no more than 12 in K-3 and no more than 18 in 4-8. I would totally scrap the existing APP testing model and replace it with a system that increases access to APP and Spectrum for all kids who would benefit from those programs. I would work to expand world language offerings at all schools and offer programs in more major world languages (these languages have more than 100 million speakers: Mandarin, Spanish, Hindi, Arabic, Portuguese, Bengali, Russian, Japanese, Punjabi).

Anonymous said…
Simon is thinking BIG! How fun to dream.

Here is the crap part of it all - my "perfect" for my students and my kids is not yours. My bell time, APP ideas, "good teacher" - all of those are based on my experience and what works for my kids.

I would separate out the districts. West Seattle, North, South - all get their own boards and can make rules for less kids in their community that works for smaller chunks of our populations. Making things work for 60,000 isn't working. Kids are not getting the best. Maybe going smaller from community up would help.

Cut off the top to make more money for the actual teaching (PE, music, arts).
Charlie Mas said…
I would hold off on any reforms in the schools until the contracts come up for renewal.

Instead, I would focus on reforming the JSCEE. I would outsource as many of the non-academic functions as I could: facilities operations, nutrition, transportation, HR, athletics, etc.

For the academic functions I would seriously narrow their role to quality assurance and compliance audit. Finance and legal could not be outsourced, of course.

One reform for the schools: I would grant authority to Special Education to order the correction of any violations.

I would begin to institute a culture of compliance by refusing to tolerate non-compliance.

I would also start telling the principals that their job is to be the instructional leader and set the culture for their school communities. Eventually I would take the non-academic work away from them.

I would start telling teachers that they should focus on student motivation.

With the contract negotiations I would revise the performance evaluations around instructional leadership and culture for the principals and around student motivation for the teachers.
Anonymous said…
I would start expecting more from my staff. If they give me a report that looks like past reports, I'd say go back and rewrite it to remove all the vague language and instead give me facts--and back them up. I'd expect high quality products, including timely materials for Biard mtgs. No more ongoing edits and missing attachments up until the last minute.

I'd also institute a culture of learning within JSCEE, with ongoing evaluation and QI work. Do some actual data analysis to figure out what's working and what's not.

I'd temporarily halt all special projects and instead refocus on the basics.

I'd insist on true community engagement and greater transparency.

Oh, and I'd make sure we came up with an actual plan to address the achievement gap.

Anonymous said…
I am a teacher and completely second Charlie's ideas.

In addition, I would centralize translation so teachers can have every communication sent home translated into family languages in my classroom by having full-time paid translators employed centrally. Luckily I speak one language other than English so a handful of my families got materials all year in their own language-- but what about the rest of my families? English is not the first language of most of my families.

Second change I would make: cohort the teachers by grade taught and have regional content-focused meetings for that grade level only. For example, all first grade teachers from area X (SE, SW, NE, NW, Central) meet (PAID and MANDATORY) on the third Monday of every month, with a content topic (teaching place value, informational text minilessons, etc.) Teachers themselves vote on the content topics in August because they know what feels fuzzy or challenging to teach-- and the district actually allots qualified math and literacy coaches to teach/facilitate.

Which brings me to another point-- Highline backs up their Math in Focus by having periodic meetings by grade level for ALL TEACHERS in the district, e.g., all second grade teachers go to such and such a place at time/date. That would not be so hard for SPS, and it's incredible learning, especially crucial with the new approach of MIF.

Third change-- the Supe walks the halls of the schools frequently. As do executive directors. I won't name names but I have not seen our Ex. Dir all year long. True change is not accomplished through emails, but through one-on-one conversations and explorations. Banda has not inspired. I hope the next Supe does.

Can we please hire Phil Brockman? Seattle will love you and you can change so many lifves here!

BTW, when Phil was an exec. dir., he frequently seen in school hallways and knew individual teacher names and was a resource to turn to for teachers and principals alike.

Final change-- replace certain people in facilities, nutrition, legal, with newly minted grads. They are hungry for work, truly bright and engaged, and customer-oriented. Y=These young people are amazing and we should be hiring them in bucket loads in all our central departments.


Stu said…
Phew . . let's see . . . off the top of my head:

1. Guaranteed Spectrum in each "cluster" with defined curriculum and goals.
a. Principals do not have the power to eliminate a program.
b. If necessary, choose a number of schools in each area with an eye on filling Spectrum classes so that the "there weren't enough kids" excuse can't be used.

2. Self-contained APP
a. In addition to the standard testing procedures, enlist teachers in under-represented communities to help identify APP students who might normally not apply or test in.

3. Music, Art, PE for every student K-8. Make it rotate weekly, or divide each week up, but make it mandatory and available.

4. Foreign language is offered and required at all schools with equal access to "immersion" language programs in each cluster.

5. Pre-K would be great but FREE Full-Day-K should be a given.

6. Magnet High Schools. Science, Arts Academy, etc....try to draw students who might have special interests to specific schools. Our neighbor's son, an excellent violinist, was assigned to a high school without an orchestra when another school, physically closer to his home, has a great one.

7. CAPACITY CONTROL. Look at the numbers from the city, and the CURRENT projections, and allocate resources, buildings, and programs, so that there is no overcrowding or long-term "outhouses" for learning. If the building capacity is 1000 students, don't stick 1400 in there.

8a. The overall things you need to do, to run a school district, don't change minute-by-minute; stop making everything and emergency. The Board and I need to make decisions and the staff has to supply the necessary information in a complete and timely manner. If staff members can't get their work done on time, or can't answer basic questions that should have been researched already, we get new staff members!

8b. More and better interaction between the board and the public. Hey, how 'bout this . . . how 'bout letting the public ask questions once in a while? Maybe you're worried about anarchy? How about, just like signing up to speak, you can sign up to submit a question that will be answered by a board member in public?

8c. While I'm at it . . . I do not need you to read every Powerpoint word by word. You can point out the highlights and move on. It's a waste of time and an insult to the public. Remember, the public isn't allowed to ask questions anyway; make sure the board members have the paperwork on time to review and then hit the highlights.

9. High School start times move later . . perhaps much later. Maybe sports have to practice before school and we figure out adjustments to schedules on game days. Sports are an option, albeit an important one, but the entire school population shouldn't have to adjust to accommodate the teams. Start late enough and orchestra and/or theater groups, or some club activities, can meet before school instead of after school.

10. THINK AHEAD! Don't build a brand new building (Wilson-Pacific) that's hard to navigate -- E-shaped? -- and doesn't have an auditorium. Any large building should be able to support any program that might have to end up there later. That means, and again I'm talking about WP, sports fields, labs (or pre-plumbed/wired for labs), an auditorium (that can also be used for classed if necessary), and a lunch room that can feed the population in less than 5 15-minute shifts. We're trying to make safe, hospitable, learning environments . . . don't stress out the students before they even start.

That's a start . . maybe hire Meg Diaz for charts and graphs.

Miki said…
Daily PE, even if it means cutting instructional time elsewhere. There's plentiful evidence that not only children's bodies but even their learning benefit more from PE than they do from more time on test prep, etc.

Have math at every elementary school (and possibly middle and/or high school as well) be ability grouped rather than grade-level grouped (doable if math is at the same time for all classes). For levels at which there is capacity for more than one classroom, have one classroom that teaches in a more "traditional" style and one that very heavily utilizes manipulatives and tools (from experience teaching with it, both approaches are very feasible using the MiF curriculum). As much as possible, let children self-select which math class to be in -- even young children often have a much better sense of their learning needs than we give them credit for.

Have at least one classroom/teacher in each school set aside for accelerated learners who learn well independently with occasional assistance from the teacher or peers, and some time each week set aside for applied math activities as small groups. Likewise, have another classroom/teacher in each school set aside for learners who have strongly asymmetric skill gaps in math (i.e., advanced in some areas of math, but weak in multiple-digit arithmetic), and need highly focused remediation and practice before being placed in one of the regular math classrooms.

Develop a math track pathway for honors students that does not involve calculus, since even mathematically gifted children are not always developmentally ready for calculus until a year or three later. Pushing calculus as the standard option for all honors math students results in many students (especially girls) incorrectly assuming that they "aren't ever going to be good" at higher math and turning their interests away from STEM fields. There is a lot that could be done with probability, number theory, and applied math topics at this stage that may be not only more developmentally appropriate than calculus, but more likely to be used later in life for a greater proportion of students.
Miki said…

Develop a system that provides better equity for parent-fundraising dollars, such as 50% of funds raised over a set cap are pooled and divided across all schools at that age level.

Change school start times so that high school starts no earlier than 9:30am.

Allow high school students to test out of classes if they can exceed 90% on the EOC exam on the first try -- Texas uses a system like this, and it has been a huge boon to gifted kids without costing the state or districts much money.

Encourage schools to participate in some of the national academic competitions in which Washington State is sorely underrepresented -- not only can these opportunities be motivating for kids, and be great resume boosters for college admissions, they have also been seen to boost neighborhood morale about a school in other areas. Recruit local corporate sponsors to fund activities like this.

Reduce administrative staff, and redirect funds towards having a counselor or psychologist in every school who can work with teachers, students, and families to address bullying, social skills, disruptive classroom behavior, etc.

Either expand NOVA to include middle school, or create a middle school version of NOVA at a different site. Consider expanding the Center school to include middle school as well if space is available.

Expand participation in UW in the High School.

Create teams (including a social worker and an experienced principal) to investigate every suspension and expulsion in the district to see how it could have prevented, and work to immediately implement changes, staff re-education, etc. as indicated. Learn from how hospitals handle mortality and accident review processes -- those have had a huge impact in a very cost-effective way, and many of the same strategies can apply.

Look into the feasibility of year-round school with 3 one-month breaks instead of one three-month summer break. Research to date suggests that it may be helpful in addressing achievement gaps.

Every time a new curriculum needs to be decided on / acquired, formally prioritize the degree to which it helps create equitable access to learning. Whether curriculum materials successfully remove barriers that keep all students from learning their best should be prioritized over what fancy extras a curriculum comes with. Our current move towards a math curriculum that is less literacy-dependent is a great example of forward progress in this domain.
Anonymous said…
If I ...

1. Stop the WP project for solid, serious reanalysis and a new plan. Do the analysis recommended in the FAcMAc memo suggesting WP become a high school instead of Lincoln, and Lincoln become the middle school. It matches the spaces to the needs of the kids. So at least give it a try. (Banda did nothing to respond to one of the best documents ever to come out of a citizen committee - that's Meg Diaz, Kelli LaRue and the rest of the group).

2. Set up meetings with the mayor, city council and city bureaucrats. SPS needs to find property - perhaps from the city at Discovery Park/old Fort Lawton - that has to be worked at the mayor/Supe level. They need to synchronize Metro and high school schedules, coordinate crosswalks and light installation/upgrades and sidewalk construction (WHY can't they get sidewalks on that small stretch of road by North Beach, just one side at least, for instance? I know it's expensive, but PLEASE! And that's replicated all over the city - let's get SPS and city DOT and sidewalks coordinating at the mid-level, where the work gets done.) SPS needs to learn about housing starts and large developments, and just in general build much stronger ties w/city. This is perhaps the weakest city/school district tie in the country, I bet. And that's the Supe's job to strengthen it, and to hook SPS leaders at all levels up with the correct people in the city.

And don't get me started on the rest. But those two things -- reconsidering and fixing Wilson Pacific and trying to get access to the large parcel of city land at Fort Lawton - don't even involve tilting at the massively entrenched bureaucracy at JScEE.

Too Central said…
I'd just to see a better central administration.

I think this starts with a cultural change. Every hire in central administration should be judged by whether it is better than hiring another teacher. Every project in central administration should be judged on whether it obviously improves student education and obviously is better done in central than down in each school. Central administration should be judged on whether it is helping students, teachers, and the schools and, if it is not clearly obvious that it is, it should stop doing what it is doing.

I'd work from the budget using this new culture as a guide. Eliminate projects and positions that do not obviously improve student education or are not obviously better done in central than in the schools. Free up dollars and then push budget and authority down to the principals and the schools. Prioritize around capacity, student achievement, revenue, and costs.

Too often right now, schools succeed in spite of central administration not because of them. Principals and teachers at successful schools try to keep their heads down so central administrators don't come in and mess things up. It should be the opposite. Central admin should serve the schools. It should be a service organization, only acting to help students, teachers, and schools.
I do want to play along but don't have time. I do want one thing to be said and I'm going to put it in two places.

The pre-K agreement with the City has GOT to be shelved. I suspect if there isn't a lot of push for a hold on this, we will see Banda's last act to include signing off.

This needs a long, hard look before anyone signs.
Jessica said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said…
I would cap pay for ALL employees at 4x least paid employee and set a firm $15h minimum. All central pay schedules would readjusted based on a distribution scale district wide with these parameters. I think those not committed to kids at central would leave voluntarily with the pay cuts. Then we could hire teachers and open classrooms.

Vague projects would be cut at central and emergency curriculum review begun for all subjects.

-fair pay
Anonymous said…

As much as I'd love to see K kids come in knowing the alphabet and counting to 10, you're right. We have to fund the k-12 first.

-fair pay
Anonymous said…
Total overhaul of T&L.

Anonymous said…
Forgot the other thing I'd do immediately - drop MAP test. Use the money and time to do in-depth reading assessments.

And order that every child reading below 70%ile was given a screening test for vision convergence problems. A kid can have 20/20 vision, and seem normal, but have really bad neurological problems with double vision and right/left convergence that make it nearly impossible to learn to read and do math. can you imagine trying to borrow and carry with the little ones in the right column if you have double vision? Some estimates I've heard are that 10% of kids in SpEd have undiagnosed vision convergence problems. I've heard too many stories from parents whose kids made two or three grade level leaps as soon as they had vision therapy. It's not all reading therapy. If you treat the underlying problem in vision, a lot of times the learning challenges become easier to fix. Ad I nrepeat: a kid can have 20/20 or better vision in a traditional eye exam and still have serious neurological or developmental vision problems. One third of kids with convergence problems actually have 20/20 vision).

But I'd drop the MAP test first.

Signed: Draft Gregoire
Carol Simmons said…
1. Implement the Disproportionality Task Forces Recommendations.
2. Restore Elementary School Music Programs.
3. Set Bell Times later for Secondary Schools
4. Review and revise all policies that exclude students from participation in any school activity or extra curricular activity.
5. Revitalize Indian Heritage School and name the Building after Robert Eaglestaff
6. Hire a civil rights attorney who is constantly on call to advocate for students and their families.
7. Make certain that all student assessment programs have both formative and summative evaluation components AND minimize all school district assessment programs.
8. Expand Advanced Learning outreach and curricula to avoid racial segregation in schools and classrooms.
9. Revisit the Special Education recommendations.
10. Develop approaches to combat present and increasing re segregation in schools and classrooms.
11. Review the educational research on the subjectivity of grades.
Anonymous said…
I would:

-Drop Writers/Readers Workshop and bring back grammar and real books instead of "texts". Ditto for social studies and DBQ.

-Cut all admin pay including principals to the same level as all incoming teachers - who is more important anyway? And if y'all are so dedicated to education than show it in your voluntary vow of poverty just like teachers.

-Mandatory outdoor recess time. We know it's way more important for kids than computer testing time.


n said…
I would lower principal pay because it is out of line with teacher salaries. I would try to add more primary-experienced principals to our system. There is an abundance of sp. ed. and intermediate-oriented principals and a dearth of primary-oriented people. We need better principals!

I would eliminate all student councils at elementary and institute a peer advocacy program instead.

I would lower class size to max 18 in K and max 20 in first and max 22 on up.

In at-risk schools, I would make class sizes even smaller. Our needs are not all equal.

Return Jon Greenberg to his position and support him in expanding his program to other schools.
n said…
And everything Carol Simmons listed! Esp. the notion of "grade levels."
Jessica said…
Yes. Phonics and grammar training! Readers and writers after grammar is complete.
syd said…
Lowering the ceiling (principal pay) does nothing to raise the floor, which is the real problem. We need to have a teacher salary that is appealing to the top 10% of the graduating college students.

I would also stop working on the assumption that having two or more programs in one school works. It pits parents and children against each other. Graham Hill should be all Montessori. Stop moving the APP students around so that it can appear that a majority of students are being served, when what is really happening is the APP kids came in scoring 99% and continue to do so no matter what happens to them while at the same time the needs of kids who need more help to succeed are hidden in the statistics. It just does not work.

Test all the kids for APP. Make that the test everyone takes. This would mean the whip smart kid in my son's class whose parents do not speak English would be identified as APP. His family had no idea there is a testing program.

Overhaul the school lunch program. SPS keeps touting how great the new programs are, and each time I go in to see the new menu items it looks exactly the same - cardboard food! Plus - I would like to see healthy snacks offered throughout the day. A table with fresh veg and fruit available all the time in every K-5 classroom.

Lower class sizes. Period.

More computers. Sorry. I know lots of people do not agree with me here. Basic coding skills are just that - basic. They will all need them.

No football.

Full-time librarians.

Coaching for college entrance - how-to, essay help, grants for applying, statistics on what it takes to get kids into the school of their dreams - all the stuff the private schools have for this. In other words, more counselors.

A private/public partnerships for programs serving kids after school until 5:00. I would prioritize middle school, but I think all kids would benefit.

Seek private funding for new buildings. I don't like industrial education that seeks to find lower costs through economies f scale. I hate warehousing 600 to 1000 kids in a building. We need, more smaller buildings. And they need to be beautiful. The way we tell children that education is important is to focus on environment in the same way we do when we build a beautiful office or public building or a lovely home. Make it pleasant to be there. We are never going to get this kind of funding from the state, or are we???
Charlie Mas said…
Wow! Some really neat ideas!

You folks are great!
mirmac1 said…
Carole Simmons. New SPS Superintendent. Period.
KG said…
End the Central Administration catastrophe that it has been for a quarter of a century or more.
Spending way more per pupil on Central Admin. than any other District in the state and raises for this lousy group this summer.
I would put more money into the schools themselves and close the Glass Palace that is a Shrine to the one whom said principals were CEO'S.
Patrick said…
Lots of people have put up wish lists, but the rules of the game were we had to run the schools with the budget we've got. No assuming we'd get more money from Olympia or Washington or Gates funding something useful for a change or additional levies.

So how about a couple of items that shouldn't cost anything:

Fire the Alliance for Education. Hire an accounting firm to account for the donations, a firm that doesn't think they have a license to be the board behind the board. No hosting retreats, no coaches, no meetings with their staff at all. If they want input, let them talk and be ignored at board meetings for 2 minutes just like anybody else.

Cut down on standardized testing. Do what the state requires, but is there some reason that isn't enough to place students in appropriate level classes? The MAP is supposed to be rapid feedback, but it's a month before we see results on the Source. Student placement for the year is done in August based on results of the May-June tests, so even the MSPs should be ready by then. We lose so much instruction time to them; I don't know if it's just the way it's done at my child's school but it seems like a 2-week holiday three times each school year during which no other work can take place.
Anonymous said…
Patrick: There are a lot of suggestions that are cost-neutral or would save money on this thread. Someone needs to sort them and prioritize and what a contribution that would be if anybody at the District level cared.

Also, tech is important but also a black bottomless hole that simply eats up money and time. Until government appreciates the need for good tech and supports it with tax dollars, schools will be forever at the mercy of ever-changing profiteering tech companies. I know tech is always evolving. But sometimes changes are made for nothing more than profit - to keep customers coming back for the next new thing because what they have is no longer supported. Europe operates on a much-less monopolized system and from what I read they are doing it much better.

We really need more government support rather than more charters and privatization.

A techie
Anonymous said…
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Anonymous said…
And his current teaching partner following him there.

open ears
Anonymous said…
Kelly Aramaki for Superintendent: highly skilled, knowledgeable, multiculturalism, capable, efficient, fair, compassionate, brave, greatly respected, work and play well with others, an Educator & NOT a POLITICIAN DRONE.

Anonymous said…
"Also, tech is important but also a black bottomless hole that simply eats up money and time. Until government appreciates the need for good tech and supports it with tax dollars, schools will be forever at the mercy of ever-changing profiteering tech companies."

@Patrick: Truer words have rarely been spoken and it's true world wide in many different sectors. But we in the land of MS and Amazon have a serious blind-spot and shortage of critical thinking in assessing our actual tech needs that deliver efficiency and savings of time and money.

Take a look at the IT department's organizational chart sometime. You'll fall out of your chair.

Anonymous said…
That was for @A Techie, acutally. WSDWG
Anonymous said…
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#lawsuitinthemaking said…
Have the city manage their own Universal Pre K program. SPS will consult and charge accordingly.

We don't need over-lapping bureaucracies that use federal, state and local dollars.
Anonymous said…
Agree to let the city manage Pre K ... or we'll do it for money AND land. Give us Ft. Lawton for a HS, we'll do a Pre K at the tiny empty Magnolia school, whatever its name is.

Give SPS space in the NE - maybe the Parks maintenance bldg. at 82d near I-5 ... and we'll do some pre-K over there too.

Give SPS a football field on top of a reservoir, so we can put portables on the football field next to Roosevelt HS, and we'll do some preK at Roosevelt - heck, it can even be a training class like they used to have in Ballard until they ran out of space (or did MGJ close that preschool that was in Ballard HS?).

But do preschool when we don't have seats for all the K-12? NO. I want a super who understands this and knows we can't do everything - we have to do our core mission well first.

Signed: k-12
#Getoffyourhands! said…
Signed: K-12 is absolutely correct. The city needs to promote Pre K, not with SPS's limited space, but with city property, AND fund SPS as consultants.

Where is Banda, Charles Wright and Stephan Blanford on this issue, besides sitting on their hands at press conferences?

The city will vote on this issue on Monday. It is time for Banda, Wright and Blanford to get off of their collective hands and start advocating for the needs of SPS.

In the meantime, city e-mails (thanks mirimac) indicate that there is an attempt to dislocate special ed. kids from developed programs, continued space availability is a problem etc.
Anonymous said…
FYI re dropping principal's salaries:

The good ones will go to other districts.

Lower principal salaries -= far worse set of principals and more churn. We do have a lot of good principals, and keeping them is important.

I've been in schools where a great and inspired principal changed the entire place, and I've been in schools where the principal was sort of a mannequin but the parents ran it, and ones with a so-so principal (thankfully, not with a bad principal). It is abundantly clear that a good principal, even just a competent principal, is vital. So we do have to pay to keep them IN SchOOLS. I think they should take a 10% or more pay cut to go to central (obviously it's less work ...!). Bonus pay for being in a school.

Signed: K-12
If I were superintendent:

- I would tell the Board that I need their guidance with good policies about all the needs of the district. The Board, via Erin Bennett, has been systematically overhauling policies and yet Advanced Learning and others languish.

I would cut a staff person at Central and then hire someone to work full-time FOR the Board (not for the district as Ms. Bennett does) to help the Board with this work.

As superintendent, the procedures that staff and I create are ONLY as good as the policies we are given by the Board.

- I would ask for a very detailed and clear accounting of ALL capital dollars.

- I would ask Facilities and enrollment to give me a detailed and clear assessment of our capacity issues today and project out five years. I might ask the City about management of facilities if it looked like it would save dollars.

- I concur with those who said it is the City's job to create Pre-K with SPS as consultants. SPS cannot in any specific way commit to space for Pre-K. As others have said, the core mission (and the state funding) is for K-12. Period.

- My top priority would be to streamline and scale back the Strategic Plan and its initiatives.

There are several reasons for this.

1) it is bloated and unwieldy.
2) too much work for an over-worked staff
3) not enough of these initiatives directly impact the classroom and we have neither the time nor the resources to wait for some trickle-down effect

- I would meet with Randy Dorn at OSPI to discuss Common Core options.

- I would talk to teachers and principals about what kinds of assessments they already do - via the district and their own in-class work - and tell me what they need to track the progress of students. Then do that.

- I would ask principals two questions and give one directive. The questions would be:
- what do you need more help with?
- what does Central do to hinder your work?

My directive would be that we will try an old Olchefske idea; loose, tight.

Use your dollars wisely, have fewer suspensions/discipline issues, serve all the students in your building, be partners with parents and work on measurable outcomes and Central will give you the latitude to do what you want without looking over your shoulder.

If we see that your school continues to struggle, then we tighten up on our oversight of your school.

Additionally, I would ask principals with the highest F/RL populations what IS working for their students (and that they need more of) and what they don't need.

- Other top projects would include Native American program, advanced learning, and Special Education. I would not take on anything else until those items have a clear path.

- I would move on items like later start times for secondary in order to maximize known research on better academic outcomes.

- I would meet with the Alliance and ask them if their core mission is to aid the district and its students following the direction of the Board and myself. If not, then we would have to redo the MOU.

- I would meet with arts groups, tell them we already have a well-thought out arts program but no dollars to enact it and how could they help us to do so.

- I would meet with technology experts - both companies and at UW - about what we could do better for the running of our district and academics for our students.

- I would cut two more Central staff in order to hire two people to find grant dollars to support our work.

That's to start.
n said…
@signed K=12:

re: principal salaries:

The absorption rate of other districts is limited. That would require moving for many people

Are other districts paying more than Seattle?

In so many words you said it: we have the great, the good, the bad and the ugly. So, are you for merit pay with principals? With teachers?

Pay in administration is out of control and pay for principals is also out of control. Esp. when a reasonably sized school (450? 460?) earns an asst principal. My school just reached that point and our principal who can't understand why teachers are at school so late just can't do without her AP because the job is too big and she'd have to spend some building time after school too.

Sorry. I don't buy it.

BTW, which super raised principal salaries? Wasn't it part of the early 2000s when the polarity between workers and managers widened? I'd like to know what the gap was in the sixties, seventies, eighties and nineties. Where would I look that up?
n said…
Just remembering back . . . was it John Stanford?
Josh Hayes said…
One thing I would do is focus on IT-related district-level issues.

First, get the waitlist software to work properly, which it does not do -- all waitlisted kids should be thrown into a pool and efficient swaps made. Right now, if 40 kids in the Roosevelt catchment want to go to Nathan Hale, and 40 kids from Hale want to go to Roosevelt, NONE OF THEM GET TO GO WHERE THEY WANT, when it is idiotically easy to make that swap. Instead, they gaze longingly at the school where they wish they were. Geesh.

I also would implement an actual search function on the district web site. What we have now is pathetic.
Anonymous said…
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TechyMom said…
New mission statement: To help each child discover and develop to full potential his or her unique talents, abilities and interests.
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