Wednesday, April 04, 2018

Seattle School Board Picks Denise Juneau for Superintendent

The Seattle School Board voted tonight 7-0 to offer a contract for superintendent to Denise Juneau.

I believe this to be a great choice and hope she will accept.

Harris and Burke will be the directors on the negotiating team to meet with her.

Justice Philip Talmadge was present and Harris asked him to come forward.

Burke thanked all three candidates and noted great things for each one and said for each he had thought, "This could work."  He said the work being done in the district is based on trust and that she comes from a place where people trust her.  He was also happy about her knowledge about CTE.

DeWolf said she would be the community's superintendent and to communicate that to her.  He mentioned that queer kids would see themselves represented.

Geary says SPS is in the forefront of equity work and she hears this at national conferences that she attends.

Pinkham said he got to know his fellow board members better from the experience and was glad for it.  Not an easy decision but he said he was happy they had such great choices.  He said he was the  first Native American on the Board and then DeWolf came and now Juneau (which I have learned is pronounced "June-no" with emphasis on "no."

Patu noted she had been thru four searches and she felt like this group was the most personable.

Mack called the candidates "amazing" and said she was "excited for the future."

Harris said the whole Board did a heavy lift and worked very hard.  She said they "pencil-whipped" the questions they chose to use for the candidates.  She said they hoped for a leader for the next 10 years to lead the district.  "This Board is going to hold hands and so will staff to work hard."  She thanked Nyland for his "professionalism to the district and you gave us a platform to achieve greatness."

More about the meeting soon but I'm off to hear noted educator Diane Ravitch speak at UW.


Jeff Gaynor said...

Thank you, Linda. We in Ann Arbor have been following your blog recently, and appreciate your up close perspective on the Superintendent search. Best wishes to the SPS.

Anonymous said...

Best wishes to Swift. She seemed wonderful and we were lucky to have such a great selection of candidates to review and select from. Hopefully SPS will make some course corrections and come together as a stronger community. Now on to solving the funding problems!

Fix AL

Anonymous said...

Director Mack seems thrilled. So effusive.

Acceptance required?

Happy trails said...

They all did.

Robert Cruickshank said...

This is some of the best news SPS has had in a long, long time. Kudos to the board for making this decision - and making it unanimously!

Anonymous said...

Yes, this is exciting. I remain cautious in my optimism, however, with an interest in knowing more about Juneau's approach to equity.

In her statement on being selected as top choice she said "I am ready to work with the school board to help them achieve their goals of educational equity in outcomes, closing the opportunity gaps, robust engagement with community and parents, and providing a quality education for all students."

I hope that, in starting this work, she works with the district to identify, and be transparent about, what they mean by "equity in outcomes." Does this mean equal outcomes by race, irrespective of the numerous other factors that influence outcomes? Will they finally start breaking down outcomes reporting by combinations of factors, such as how FRL kids of each race do? Will they try to identify the root cause(s) of current disparities in outcomes, so they can design strategies likely to have an impact? Does the focus on equity of outcomes mean continued reductions in access to advanced work for high-performing students, or will they commit to serving all students well?

Juneau may not have a firm grasp of how "equity" has been bandied about in SPS, with little clarity as to what it means and even less about how to achieve it. Reaching consensus on what we're really trying to accomplish in this area should be a priority.

Cautiously Optimistic

Anonymous said...

I agree this is a good choice. While I share a bit of trepidation over what solutions to equity problems will look like under Juneau, I take Director Mack's and Patu's enthusiasm for this selection as a sign they believe things will be moving in the right direction now (without the hostility to AL). I don't know that for sure, but that's my sense: I place great stock in Mack's and Patu's competence and commitment to students on these issues. But it's also a good sign that the selection was unanimous.

None of my kids' six teachers has children, and only one principal does, but they are excellent educators to a one. It's not a prerequisite.


Anonymous said...

I exactly share cautiously optimistic's viewpoints. But I am hoping that the board members were better able to dig deeper with her on these issues.

Outsider said...

Actually, "equity in educational outcomes" strikes me as a significant advance in rhetoric. Before, there always seemed to be a fiction carefully maintained that equity meant equal opportunity, since equal outcomes could only be achieved in any short period of time by holding some students back quite severely. But now it sounds like they are dispensing with the fiction.

The way Juneau worded her statement, she promises to help the board achieve its goal of "equity in educational outcomes." Does the board have such a goal? I don't follow their every pronouncement, but hadn't noticed that language before. If Juneau is putting words in their mouths, it's a bold move to show who's boss before the contract is even signed. You won't have to worry about the board micromanaging the superintendent.

Either way, I don't see any basis for optimism if you are one of "those" parents who cares about advanced learning. It looks more like grim times for the remaining scraps of AL in SPS.

Anonymous said...

I dont see a problem if teachers dont have children if teachers stick to teaching facts and fostering a robust learning environment. I do have problem with the Seattle neo liberals who are fresh out of school and focusing on liberal social engineering. Parents understand how they influence thier student's character where I doubt childless neo liberal teachers would concider the students personal beliefs before their own ideology or political alignments.


Anonymous said...

@ Outsider, no, it's not an advance in rhetoric; SPS has used that terminology before. I don't think it reflects any change in thinking, a demonstration of boldness, or any shared understanding of what it even means. The Racial Equity Analysis Tool, for instance, includes this: "What does your department/division/school define as racially equitable outcomes related to this issue?"

As to your comment that you "don't see any basis for optimism if you are one of 'those' parents who cares about advanced learning," yes, I do care about advanced learning, and yes, I'm still cautiously--very cautiously--optimistic. I'm holding out hope that Juneau's commitment to diversity will translate into a commitment to meet the needs of all types of students, even those who are high performers and/or identified as Highly Capable.

Cautiously Optimistic

Anonymous said...

I I'm not all conservative or liberal or or bent in one direction like some of the earlier posters. I do agree with cautiously optimistic and Simone. I wonder what they would say however to honors for all at Garfield High School.

As a reminder two years before honors for all in history students coming from Washington Middle School or anticipated to take AP World History then it went to honors history and now it rest at honors history with perhaps the most broadest grouping of high school students a teacher might face. Some reading well below ninth grade level and some reading into the college level. Is that equity? Many of the students coming from Washington Middle School app/HCC are also now repeating material that they had just two years before. How is that fair for those students who have never had the material and are reading below grade level to be anticipated to keep up?

As an aside to this discussion, there were many concerns expressed that were ameliorated by claims of study and review of this experimental offering. Where are those reports? Who is keeping track of this weather it's working or not? Too many false promises from Seattle Public Schools to assume that this is working and it's been reviewed and proven to be effective. Oh well I guess my kid can learn to hate school either because they are repeating information they just learnt or because they're having to compete in a class with kids who have higher academic skills who just studied the materials.

Shesh -67

Anonymous said...

@cautiously optimisitic
One thing to keep in mind, Denise has been a state superintendent in a largely rural, overwhelmingly majority white state and also with a near 45% F&R lunch population. Regarding understanding the nuances of "'equity" and intersection with other factors such as poverty, there are alot of poor white children in Montana.

Anonymous said...


No, the situation you described re: historic changed in advanced classes (a lowering of the ceiling) is not equitable. You do not achieve equity by forcing equality--that's equality, not equity. The whole point of equity is that it treats people differently based on their different needs. Equity is sensitive to differences, even if they are differences we should WORK to erase.

Equal outcomes would be great, provided those equal outcomes represent great outcomes for all students. For example, if ALL students were ready for truly advanced classes in 9th grade (e.g., AP World, or a serious honors-level course) and all were capable of doing well in such rigorous classes, that would be awesome. Then I'd be all for a one-size-fits-all approach...because one size very well might fit all, and that one size would be a very high bar. But until we get to the point where everyone enters high school with that level of readiness, the Garfield approach is doomed to underserve many students (likely both those at the higher and lower ends).

The way you GET TO equal outcomes is by providing targeted supports to help address INEQUITIES early on. Equity in services means providing additional and/or alternate resources and/or supports to those who need it.

As I see it, you PROVIDE EQUITABLE SERVICES in order to get to your goal of EQUAL (NOT EQUITABLE) OUTCOMES. However, since that's an elusive goal, "equitable outcomes" might be more appropriate terminology--but that's only because it recognizes that there are multiple factors that impact outcomes, and we need to consider them together. In other words, "racially equitable outcomes" might not mean "equal" outcomes for different races, if there are other factors (e.g., poverty, parent education level, single parent households, etc.) that also impact those outcomes. We can and should work to address those other factors, but it takes time and resources before we would expect big changes in outcomes.

Another poster commented earlier that maybe we should (also?) be looking at growth. I agree. That would be one way to address equity, and we could set more aggressive growth targets for those who need to make up more ground. Looking at growth would also ensure that we're still looking for growth in those who are already performing above expected levels. SPS has a tendency to take high performing students and make them more average, so a focus on growth might help with those at the upper end, too. It would be equitable.

Cautiously Optimistic

Anonymous said...

@ PG, I'm not sure what you're getting at. Yes, I think she understands the impact of poverty, and her emphasis on Native Americans seems to suggest an understanding of the importance of culture as well. Whether she also understands, and/or cares much about, the unique needs of highly capable students is an unknown to me.

Equity isn't a thing in and of itself--it's in relation to other things. So equity doesn't really intersect with factors like poverty and race--it's more that those things are considerations in equity-related conversations. Equity, at it's heart, is really about fairness.


Melissa Westbrook said...

"For example, if ALL students were ready for truly advanced classes in 9th grade (e.g., AP World, or a serious honors-level course) and all were capable of doing well in such rigorous classes, that would be awesome."

Well, it could work IF those students who hadn't worked at a higher level were given supports to do the work. I had suggested to one Garfield teacher that he ask Latino or black students that he believed could use more rigor to enroll in an AP or Honors course with the caveat that they would get supports to get thru the work. I asked him if that had been tried. He brushed it off and never gave me a direct answer. So I sometimes wonder if it is about getting more rigor into the classroom.

CO, interesting that you would say equity is fairness. There's a sign at the school I tutor at that says, "Equity is not about being fair; it's about everyone getting what they need."

Anonymous said...

Ms. Juneau’s statement is exactly in line with what the board identified in its job posting. She was definitely not putting words in the Board’s mouth.

Anonymous said...

Also, Policy 0030:

“We believe that it is the right of every student to have an equitable educational experience within the Seattle Public School District.”


Anonymous said...

"I asked him if that had been tried. He brushed it off and never gave me a direct answer."

Maybe the teacher didn't feel the need to answer the query of an armchair quarterback who was making "suggestions" on how to do their job.

The entire premise of Honors for All was based on built-in supports according to their initial proposal. The goal was for this to be carried on to AP coursework.

Maybe your interpretation of "brushing it off" was just a polite way to express exasperation at such an obvious suggestion that is already in the groundwork at Garfield.


Tambor said...

That Juneau knows what CTE course in high school can do to help students' lives AFTER high school is wonderful.

Equitable outcomes means that kids leave SPS ready for what they want to do next, with a plan of attack for the future. For some students, that means CTE. Why is Seattle's high school CTE enrollment (11%) so much lower than the state as a whole (18%)? Where's our outreach and partnership with families? I hope Juneau will improve on.

It's NOT ok to pretend that all kids want honors coursework in high school and then college and graduate school or professional degree. And it's also NOT ok to ignore that some of them do. We need the district to make it possible for all students to work toward their own goals. This has to include everything from CTE to grad school. Honors for all is an idiotic thing to force the 22% of kids who are going to end up not graduating from high school to take. Much better to offer it to them as one of a variety of options. Provide students with a counselor to help decide which option to pick and academic supports to succeed with the option they choose.

I'm hopeful that Juneau will end the sham of this bizarre forced college prep for all approach. Rigorous college prep needs to be available to all who WANT it, no matter what assignment zone they live in. But so does CTE and a pathway to apprenticeships and Job Corps and all the other options that we so rarely hear about.

Equity is students being able to take the classes they need in high school to pursue their dreams for life after high school. And extra help for the 22% who don't graduate. I'm hopeful Juneau will help more of them finish or get their GED.

Anonymous said...

@ Melissa, that sign that says "Equity is not about being fair; it's about everyone getting what they need" is...interesting. Isn't fairness everyone getting what they need? I think they have "fair" and "equal" confused. That's the whole point of "equity"--it's fair, not equal. It's FAIR for those who need more to get more.

THIS is exactly why I say we need to have a frank and clear conversation about what equity means in SPS--how we define it, how we implement it, how we measure it, etc. There is way too much murkiness and difference of interpretation.


Anonymous said...

Wow. Incredible entitlement.

“Honors for all is an idiotic thing to force the 22% of kids who are going to end up not graduating to take.”

Now, is this coming from a parent or kid ... who is this from one of those destined “not to graduate “? Doesn’t seem like it. The only people complaining, complaining endlessly, for literally years now, about honors for all, are HCCers who, in fact, are going to graduate. Do those preordained drop-outs complain about “honors for all?” Nope, they don’t. HCCers have it all figured out. Who belongs. Who will fail. Who deserves honors, who deserves dishonors. And, evidently, sitting next to someone of another race, or less fortunate than themselves, or less motivated... somehow robs them of the opportunity to perform at their best. If these best and brightest were actually motivated and flexible, they’d take that challenge instead of sinking to a lower level. These parents complain and complain about the “lowering of the conversation”. Such entitlement. Diversity is actually a gift.


Melissa Westbrook said...

No, Maybe, I was asking him for the blog in order to ascertain what the program was about. It was not a suggestion, it was a question.

I will be writing about equity soon.

Anonymous said...

Yawn, Lack of motivation is like a yawn - it is contagious. So, in fact, being around students who are unmotivated actually does have a stifling effect on the rest of the students/team. Any experienced educator and anyone who works in the real world knows that - and has seen it. Conversely, you cannot perform your best when you are in over your head. In school I was placed in a lower class than the rest of my cohort and it was hugely revitalizing. It was great to be the top performer in the class for once and I ended up achieving even greater potential than I thought possible. And I didn't act like a big baby about it, complaining about the kids in the higher classes. Eventually, I entered the advanced classes when I was ready. Fortunately, those advanced classes existed. "Honors for All" isn't anything at all. It is an embarrassing label (couldn't they think of another meaningless label that was not so obviously specious?). It doesn't mean anything except that the "Honors" classes have been eliminated. If the school or district wants to do this then tell it like it is.


Anonymous said...

Melissa -
CO, interesting that you would say equity is fairness. There's a sign at the school I tutor at that says, "Equity is not about being fair; it's about everyone getting what they need."

This actually seems really wrong to me. I believe everyone getting what they need IS fair. Not even or equal, but fair. Our kids are very different and need different things and we say this to them all the time. We strive to be fair and give them what they need, but that being fair doesn't mean being the same.

NE Parent

Anonymous said...

This discussion is a great example of why SPS is so messed up. "Equity" is the district's highest priority, yet, after years of work on it, we still don't agree on what the word means. How can you run an organization without clearly understood goals?

Fed up

Anonymous said...

Equity should absolutely mean fairness - it just means that to provide fairness for everyone, different things may need to be provided to different kids.

County Fair

Melissa Westbrook said...

I agree - if the district is going to use the word equity as their guiding principle, then they should define it.

Anonymous said...

Cynic,honors for was honors for none and then they realized with the new State law they need to have something so it is now honors for all. Recent example would be no pathways, then pathways for all AND THEN THANKFYTHA real patways again.


Anonymous said...

@C.O I was responding to these statement you made " Does this mean equal outcomes by race, irrespective of the numerous other factors that influence outcomes? Will they finally start breaking down outcomes reporting by combinations of factors, such as how FRL kids of each race do?" My point being that she may better understands factors that affect achievement such as poverty, as independent from race. IMO many in the SPS area (perhaps unfamiliar with white poverty for example) often lump race & socio together making assumptions.

Grouchy Parent said...

8.4% of men and 4.2% of women age 18 and up in the U.S. have alcoholism. More than 10 percent of U.S. children live with a parent with alcohol problems, according to a 2012 study.

So, until the school equity conversation includes the fact that some kids parents are alcoholics and some kids parents aren't and that this is completely inequitable, I don't really get how the schools think they're going to make everything equitable for kids. Although, for sure, making sure they all have access to a full time librarian and a counselor and maybe a family support worker if necessary would be a great start. But the child of an alcoholic parent, even with all the other school perks you can imagine, is still not having anywhere near an "equitable" experience with other kids who don't have that burden.


Outsider said...

It would be a mistake to assume that politicians and bureaucrats have any desire to be clear. Orwell wrote that famous essay "Politics and the English Language," which he probably intended as a cautionary note but which has actually become an instructional manual. Politicians and bureaucrats spend their days devising deceptive language carefully crafted to deceive different factions in different ways. That's 60% of what governing is these days. The virtue of words like "equity" is that different people hear them differently. Some hear equal, while others cautiously but optimistically hear unequal in some subjectively fair way. It's how they solve unsolvable conflicts, at least temporarily, which is all they aspire to.

If you ask them to define equity, you will probably get an eye roll -- silly citizen, don't you understand? Then they would spin a deeper web of weasel words posing as a definition but isn't really. Plain talk would make some people happy and others unhappy. No politician would do that. (Anyone who ever tried it is no longer a politician.) No one in the system will be motivated to give you an honest definition or plain account of what their intended policy really is.

Anonymous said...

"So, in fact, being around students who are unmotivated actually does have a stifling effect on the rest of the students/team."

Always talking about other peoples' kids with these comments, usually in code, which everyone "gets".

Never talking about your own kid who has to sit with those other more "motivated" (aka demographically similar) kids.

If you want that experience, pay the money and go to a private school.

Oh, yeah, that would eliminate the ability to brag about attending the "diverse high school" on the college application, which is basically diverse on only some hallways.


Anonymous said...

Right on Joke!

Only the entitled are complaining about equity vs equal. Why? Because ...

We’re all equal, except some of us are more equal than others.

And that’s the definition of equality!


Anonymous said...

well there you go again equity warrior. shooting your false claims and disparaging remarks. what no appartheid stickers to put up tonight? here is the argument:

parent/ our kid can read and do math much better than your class allows.
teacher/ go to hcc we have nothing for them here then.
district /your kid is indeed hc and has an iq level above 98/100 of their peers. we have a program for that!

school board member/ but it is inherently racist as it is 90 % white!
school board member/ don't you dare put them in self contained classes like my kid as that is inherently racist.
equity warriors in mass/ state erroneous facts at board meetings even though they know it is against the rules for them to even sign up (taking up to a third of the slots).

poster/ can we just understand what equity is before we try to kill this program.
equity warrior/ no and you are just proven your privilege by asking.

creating: honors for all/social experiment social studies/pathways for none

repeat as needed to dismantle app/hcc

here is to hoping Sup Juneau will end this cycle, nock a few heads together and get rid of the staff that has funded the equity warrior devin bruckner and her ilk. i believe that was michael tolley based on where the grant came from. he has certainly done nothing to calm the fire or even just support the app/hcc program since he came here with mgj.

no caps

Anonymous said...

oh and for brevity i skipped the: you cost more - you get better teachers - you should go to private if you want your kid taught appropriately - why should only your kid get a cohort. disregarding that the truth is exact the opposite. but what do i know, as i don't even understand equity and can't see that there are only 10/100 kids of color in my kids highly heterogeneous class. guess i am color blind. than you dr. dewolf for the diagnosis.

no caps

Anonymous said...

Don’t worry nocaps. You and your pals will be hating on Juneau within a few months. Happens every time. Do you ever wonder why? Does the victimization of privilege ever really work all that well? Lucky for you, the others are so much more articulate than you.


Anonymous said...

If anyone cares, which I know you don't (yawn/joke) *I* was unmotivated in a class with other highly motivated kids until they were removed and I got to work at a level appropriate to me. I was able to learn and focus once those kids were gone and I thrived. And, once again, I didn't cry about it and make up conspiracy theories about why I was being oppressed.

This idea that AL opportunities should be eliminated for all kids except those rich enough to go to private school comes right out of the playbook of Donald Trump and his buddies. It is amazing that the likes of yawn/joke would want to bend over for the white nationalists. But there you have it.


Anonymous said...

Cute twist, Cynic. Making links to Trump and whatnot.

The point is still that calling other peoples' kids "unmotivated" (as though it's a fixed condition/but we all know it's really code), you are denying them potential AL opportunities. Got it?

You were calling other about other peoples' kids, not yours. Yours aren't "unmotivated" now, are they?

It's the "other" kids, right?

Nice Try

Anonymous said...

Good job King P. But Cynic said highly motivated kids removed. You missed the point except that yeah you are pushing forward a pro Trump / DeVos agenda.

Not white

Melissa Westbrook said...

"Only the entitled are complaining about equity vs equal."

You can hear what you choose to hear. When a district puts all its eggs in one (equity) basket, it's fair to ask for them to define that. Otherwise, how can they (and the taxpayers) know they have achieved it?

No Caps, did I miss something? DeWolf has a PhD?

Nice try, no child is being denied AL opportunities. How so? And, to note, every single school's CSIP has some plan for AL opps in every school. If it's not happening in your school, ask your principal. But blaming parents for a district-created and run program is looking the problem in the wrong way.

Anonymous said...

@ Nice Try, it was your buddy Yawn or Joke who first called these kids unmotivated, so nice try blaming HCC parents for that. It was in that same earlier post where Yawny Joke also implied that kids who take GE classes are in the dis-honors program.

I find it bizarre that those complaining about HCCcand honors classes don't have any interest in understanding the difference between equity and equality.

Yawn said "diversity is a gift." Overall, yes. But only if we value all facets of that diversity, and take advantage of the opportunities diversity offers. However, if you're one of "those HCC kids" that many are fine openly admitting they don't want at their own school, or if people think it's totally fine for you to sit in classes below your level year after year because you can always learn on your own in your free time after your homework busyvwork is done, then being an outlier might feel like more of a curse. Pretty ironic that the "diversity is a blesing" statement is presented in the context of a push for one-size-fits-all approaches.


Anonymous said...

Reader nailed it: "Does the victimization of privilege ever work all that well?"


Anonymous said...

That was not reader. Or reader if it is they are a lot more hypocritical than one could imagine... Considering the privileged School on Queen Anne that they have defended.

I would say that that is King P. pretending to be reader.

And again there is no privilege in having the needs of your kids not met.

Happy contrails