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Seattle Public Schools: A teachable moment

November 28, 2010

It’s hard not to reflect carefully upon the Seattle Public School District’s dramatic acknowledgement that a major data point used by parents, educators, school board members and others to highlight the district’s quality is absolutely wrong. I have been thinking long and hard about this issue since it hit the newspaper last week. Without question, I have been one of the elected officials most guilty of perpetuating the (incorrect) data, and it doesn’t feel good.

While there are some who will see a more cynical conspiracy, I see a profoundly troubling mistake that needs to be discussed openly and courageously in all corners of our community.

The real issue is obviously not that a mistake was made. The district’s admission this week that a key piece of data is wildly inaccurate is more than an embarrassing glitch, it’s a symbolic reflection of a more systematic challenge facing many elected boards statewide that have fiduciary obligations to oversee billions in tax dollars and policy but lack access to the professional, independent staff to do the job.

School districts across the state and nation are well versed in the inconsistent arrangement by which part-time, unpaid community leaders (who campaign for the job) are then expected to volunteer thousands of hours without the ability to get the answers to their tough questions that may run counter to professional staff interests. The real issue is that the district’s administration didn’t strive to aggressively correct the inaccuracy from day one. They need to ask themselves why and, hopefully, share the truth with the community.

Perhaps there is not a raging philosophical war between school boards and superintendents, or administrative staff, but we all know there is often a subtle undercurrent of resentment or at least disrespect that runs through the professional ranks about the skillset and abilities of elected school board members. And there is frustration on the part of school board members who feel the professional infrastructure of the district simply waits outs out the board agitators who push and prod for stricter oversight.

I’m exaggerating to make the point. I think.

And yet all of this is not to suggest that the school district disregarded the inquiry that Director Michael DeBell seems to have made, according to the Seattle Times, but that it shows how directors and other board members within education and outside must almost always make substantive tradeoffs in their relationships with the professional staff. Simply, let’s not pretend that it doesn’t take political capital to get staff to do the work you want done because we all know it does.

Why didn’t the district’s administration correct this awful misunderstanding of core data–that is used so frequently by critics and supporters alike–the minute they realized the error?

I’ve written about the broader philosophical issue before here. It is inevitable to a degree but it remains the core of ‘civilian oversight’ that makes democracy tick.

Seattle’s school system, for example, is a 45,000-kid strong, multi-billion enterprise with massive internal politics befitting any large institution. Yet from an objective ‘system’ perspective, the fiduciary, financially independent and technical oversight is conducted by a small board of dedicated community (essentially volunteers) without even so much as an independent staff person to answer their questions free of a superintendent’s oversight.

The larger public policy issue is that we may be setting ourselves up for an unhealthy scenario where the inability of elected officials to provide thorough, truly independent oversight of billions of dollars in our state is virtually inevitable. This is not a blanket condemnation of any one system or structure but merely a recognition that we set ourselves up for unrealistic expectations around oversight that sometimes are difficult to achieve.

Interestingly, in this same category, it’s hard not to think also of the Port of Seattle, another multi-billion entity governed by a handful of elected officials who are paid a small salary (around $8,000 a year but I couldn’t find an exact citation) and yet are charged with oversight of massive sums of public and private dollars, fiduciary contracts and agreements and much more. Again, I’m not suggesting the past, present or future commissioners can’t do the job ably, just that our governance structures are not always conducive to a level of independent auditing and oversight we might hope to see in a multi-billion entity.

Moreover, no one is suggesting that every public board should pay handsomely, work full time and oversee large policy staffs, but there is a legitimate question around the question of whether it makes sense to hold independently elected boards that pay little and provide no independent staff a level of oversight aligned with their fiduciary obligations. Specifically this isn’t a call for a new governance model for the Seattle Public School District or the Port of Seattle. They may work well under the current model. I certainly can’t and won’t judge their internal dynamics.

But I do know that too often government fails to provide a level of independent oversight we need and that is often directly linked to access to independent, professional staff support. And governance models are important.

As a state legislator, I feel I have a public right to independent counsel, advice and policy support to help oversee tens of billions of tax dollars. And in a vast majority of cases I receive that support. The question I’m raising here is whether we are providing sufficient support for smaller, independent agencies to do their job or if we are institutionally and structurally creating models that provide little or no independent staff support–all the while pretending that elected boards automatically provide more aggressive protections for taxpayers and the public.

I fully appreciate that it may be logistically impossible or unwise to create independent staff systems at smaller or local agencies across the state, and I’m not pretending the model of accountability that works for Olympia would work for anyone else.

But I do feel that the public must elevate the level of dialogue about how to ensure independent oversight of billions of dollars–as evidenced in the past few years by disappointing audits of both Seattle Public Schools and the Port of Seattle–when governed by small, part-time, volunteer boards who must conduct their own investigations and research.

As for the topic that generated this issue: I have used the statistic from Seattle schools many, many times that only 17% of Seattle graduates are truly prepared for college. It made my gut wrench in frustration and disappointment when I learned of the lack of immediate efforts to correct this mistake.

Of course, we’re all more than pleased by the good news associated with the real data–the most important teachable moment from this experience.

Still, as a legislator who sits on the Education Appropriation Committee, I do feel a strong sense of personal embarrassment on behalf of our district. This is more than a small omission of data–it goes to the core of the district’s credibility. Personally, I feel uncomfortable guilt around my frequent use of the crushingly inaccurate data with my legislative colleagues in hearing rooms, conferences and other venues including the floor of the House of Representatives.

Finally, I also feel a moral obligation to personally apologize to the teachers, parents, administrators and others whom I may have inadvertently offended in my aggressive criticism of our district’s performance based in large part upon this vital statistic. We must, of course, continue to strive for radical improvements in the quality of our education system. But the first place to start is with the right data and on this one the grownups made a big mistake.

I offer special thanks to Mary Lindquist, president of the Washington Education Association, who playfully prodded me on Facebook to help reach out to parents and help correct this misconception built around this key data point.

Your partner in service,

Reuven.

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55 Comments leave one →
  1. November 28, 2010 4:18 pm

    I’ve spent almost four years now tracking and finding too much SPS deception.

    The District often fails to make decisions based on evidence. The Superintendent and the Board often do the opposite of what the evidence indicates should be done.

    The appeal of the Judge Spector’s High School Math Adoption decision was absurd.

    The Board ignored all evidence submitted by the public in making the decision. The Judge ordered the Board to remake the decision using all the evidence including that provided by the public …….. and the Superintendent refused. The Case is headed to Washington Appeals Court Division I spring 2011.

    Here is my take on recent happenings:

    Teach for America
    0) .. http://mathunderground.blogspot.com/2010/11/teach-for-america-testimony-11-17-2010.html

    Building a Pyramid of lies
    1) .. http://mathunderground.blogspot.com/2010/11/district-is-building-pyramid-of-lies.html

    Reasons public action is needed
    2) .. http://mathunderground.blogspot.com/2010/11/more-reasons-to-fire-mgj-and-recall.html

    Waiting for the Board to act
    3) .. http://mathunderground.blogspot.com/2010/11/i-naively-waited-for-directors-to-act.html

  2. Charlie Mas permalink
    November 28, 2010 5:39 pm

    The Seattle School Board has been encouraged – several times over the course of the past ten years – to seek data from sources independent of the District staff. They have refused every opportunity. The Board has completely discounted the credibility of data set to them – unsoliticed – from sources other than staff. The Board has, time and time again, preferred to believe the incredible and the illogical from the staff instead of the proven and the true from other sources. The Board continues to accept all staff statements without question – even after previous statements have been proven false.

    The problem is not that the Board doesn’t have data from independent sources. The problem is that the Board just won’t believe anything that comes from anyone but the staff and, a bigger problem, they believe everything that the staff tells them.

    This bizarre refusal to accept the truth reached a new high point at the last Board meeting when Director Martin-Morris indignantly refused to take any steps to confirm the truth of statements by Dr. Enfield, the Chief Academic Officer. He clearly did not regard that as part of his duty of oversight. Instead, he declared that he will presume all of her statements to be true without any effort to confirm them and even if others claim they are false. This tantrum of his came immediately after it was proven beyond a doubt that Dr. Enfield had made false statements to the Board and two other Board members who tried to confirm the statements found them to be false.

    Watch him on this video, starting at 15:50.

    http://www.seattlechannel.org/videos/video.asp?ID=4715

    The Board isn’t struggling with poor support. The Board chooses to be poorly supported.

  3. DanaherM. Dempsey, Jr. permalink
    November 29, 2010 6:14 am

    Mr. Mas makes an excellent point. In fact the Directors sometimes cherry-pick the research studies from which they quote to create the exact opposite impression among the audience from what the research study found to justify their bogus vote on a proposal. It is possible that those working for the Board do the cherry-picking and provide the director a script to read.

    The laws are entirely inadequate in regard to holding superintendents and other central office administrators responsible for misdemeanors and felonies, when the school directors refuse to do so.

  4. Charlie Mas permalink
    November 29, 2010 6:38 am

    So, just to be clear.

    The problem isn’t the structure. The structure provides plenty of opportunity for the Board to perform their oversight role. The problem is the people – the specific individuals who are serving on the Board right now – particularly the four elected in 2007 with terms expiring next year. They don’t think that they SHOULD perform any oversight. They don’t think it is part of their job. In fact, they think that performing oversight would overstep their role and trespass on the management duties of the superintendent.

    I know that sounds incredible, but listen to what Director Martin-Morris said. Then listen for his colleagues to correct him – they don’t.

    Perhaps there is some way that the law could be more clear about the Board’s duties to perform oversight, but legislation can’t be a fix if it cannot be enforced – and laws like that would be un-enforcable. We have laws like that and they cannot be used to recall the Board members. It was tried and it failed. The Court held that ignorance of the law provided the Board members with protection from recall. The Court held that so long as they did not KNOWINGLY violate the law they could not be held to the standard of the law. Wow! Try that the next time you get arrested: “I didn’t know you couldn’t do that.”

  5. Charlie Mas permalink
    November 29, 2010 6:45 am

    Ah! One more clarification.

    Despite all of the revisionist history and backpedalling that the District is doing now, they lied.

    They reported the 17% figure as the portion of Seattle Public School graduates who had the course credits necessary for eligibility to college.

    They didn’t say those were the students who could be expected to do well or finish. They said that was the number who could get in. The lie wasn’t in the number, it was in the words.

    No amount of “more aggressive standard” talk can undo that. They can go on and on about what they meant, but their words remain. They wrote and claimed that only 17% of Seattle graduates had the credits to even get IN to college. This statement was obviously false since nearly half of Seattle Public School graduates go to college.

  6. DanaherM. Dempsey, Jr. permalink
    November 29, 2010 7:24 am

    If Bernie Madoff had been in central school administration in Seattle, they never could have laid a glove on him.

  7. Dorothy Neville permalink
    November 29, 2010 7:37 am

    Apologizing to those you “may have inadvertently” offended! What a cop-out line. Can’t you man up and admit that blindly believing and politicking that number without any critical thinking has been immensely offensive? And damaging, as I will explain below.

    I do not understand how anyone could have parroted that statistic without question. Have you never attended a graduation at one of the large high schools? Never seen the list of National Merit Scholars in the newspaper, the photos of 15 or 20 Garfield magna cum laude graduates? You have no neighbors or coworkers whose kids have gone to Whitman or Brown or UW who would be puzzled at that figure not matching their experience with their kids and their kid’s friends?

    You want independent corroboration. Do you have any high school teachers as constituents? Have you ever asked them what could possibly be so dreadfully wrong with the system to lead to the 17% figure? What was your high school experience like? Did you informally poll your friends and colleagues, ask them what percent of their high school class (in whatever place or time) went to college? Ever look up schools on the Seattle Times School database? Ever wonder why most of the large comprehensive high schools report more than fifty percent of their graduates are college bound? Ever read about the national awards our kids get for Jazz and Orchestra? Wonder why so few of those nationally recognized talented and hardworking kids are ready for college?

    It’s one thing to read a number in a paper, believe it without question and go tsk tsk. It’s another to believe an inflammatory number and use it aggressively in politicking. Here are two things you should be deeply embarrassed by, if not ashamed of.

    First. This number and other such lies and mistruths were used to aggressively change policies. Money was redistributed without being fully accounted for. (Yes, the school board keeps trying to get clear financial data from the district. Why not attend tomorrow’s budget workshop (4PM to 8PM) and see for yourself how reluctant staff is to provide anything meaningful.) Yet these policies which you supported, this “reform” agenda has done more harm than good. You contributed to that. Now do you have a different perspective on the no-confidence vote?

    Second. Using the shallow and wrong statistic hid the true issues. Not every student ought to go to a four year college and not everyone should go right away. Some really want or need a trade. Some really want or need some time to mature. Two year or technical institutes are perfectly appropriate and wonderful options. So actually SPS is doing a decent job for those bound for a four year college (with some exceptions) but is doing a terrible job with those heading off to a two year college. And the too-high drop-out rate needs targeted action. But the help these students need is not to be found in the Strategic Plan. Not. At. All. Mandating Core24 with single emphasis on university requirements is, in fact, damaging to these students.

  8. Melissa Westbrook permalink
    November 29, 2010 7:39 am

    First of all, thank you Reuven for stepping up and openly saying how this all made you feel as an elected official. I know this is something that has probably made many elected officials and community leaders feeling upset but you seem to be the only one to say it outloud.

    Second, please note the spin on this thing. It seemed in the Times’ article that the Superintendent was actually admitting she was wrong. The obviously PR-written “letter to the community” that came afterwards was nonsense.

    We are in a dangerous place and time now with our district. Why? Plain and simple because a fish smells from the head.

    Dr. Goodloe-Johnson cannot admit she is wrong or mistaken. Read the new Seattle Metropolitan magazine interview with her. You can hear and feel her dismissive attitude. She blames the 98% vote of no confidence against her by the teachers on her sitting on the Board of the company that makes it. If only it were that simple but it’s not. (But again, look at how long it took her to admit how it looked. She only stepped down because she was getting flack, not because she ever thought it was wrong or looked wrong.)

    Dr. Goodloe-Johnson and her head of research lied. Not misspoke or didn’t clarify. They lied about a crucial data point – in public, in documents and online – for months.

    Many people including Michael DeBell (president of the Board), Ramona Hattendorf (Seattle Council PTSA president) and myself all thought the figure was wrong but got waved off by her famous “I’ll check with staff and get back to you” line.

    The Board has done NOTHING to correct her action.

    As Charlie Mas has noted in the past, her hubris is hurting this district. Her lack of credibility is further going to hurt this district. Who can believe any data that comes from her or her head of research?

    Reuven, we may need help outside the Board soon and I hope you and the other Seattle legislators as well as the City Council and the Mayor will put some pressure on the leadership of Seattle Public Schools.

  9. patrick manley permalink
    November 29, 2010 7:41 am

    Reuven: It’s nice to see a politician admit a mistake and apologize. So thanks for that. But I see no change of course in your blind faith and propagandizing for the national billionaire-funded Education Reform movement, pushing for things we don’t need like TFA, while spitting in the face of our union teachers who do an excellent job, by and large, every day. You have been no “partner in service” to those of us on the front lines, supporting our teachers and producing outstanding results in our neighborhood schools and alternative programs, while fighting to hold back the onslaught of destructive reforms by people who don’t know squat about education, but have fat checkbooks.

    The TRUTH is that Seattle’s Schools are doing quite well, but for those in the most historically challenging parts of the city. Your principal folly is your buddying up (along with several members of our School Board) to out-of-state groups like Stand for Children, who act as the tip of the spear for privatization groups and data/testing obsessives who seek primarily to profit from our schools.

    Do you know that Joel Klein, ex-chancellor of NY city schools resigned to go and work for Fox News? And that within 2 weeks, Rupert Murdoch purchased an Education Technology Company for over 300 million dollars that just happened to have multiple rich contracts with New York Public Schools? Murdoch couldn’t contain his excitement at the opportunity to get his hands on the millions and billions to be made in what he termed a “500 Billion Dollar per year INDUSTRY.” Let me repeat that INDUSTRY (=$$$$$). Nice “Hook-Up” Klein. Well played. Nicely done. Any wonder why we had such low turnout in the last election? Can you detect my cynicism? Do you think others share it?

    WAKE UP REUVEN! The district knowingly lied and admitted it. Why you and DeBell are in any way trying to cloud the issue and make it appear to be some sort of “systematic glitch” or oversight due to lack of resources for the Board, is inexplicable and smacks of an effort to divert attention by changing the conversation or attempting to insert it into a “context” where it makes sense. It doesn’t. It won’t. So stop it. Stop it right now.

    Again, I thank you for admitting your error and apologizing. It’s now time to atone and set about undoing some of the damage you and your fellow “Reformers” have already done by using that 17% statistic as flak against our teachers, schools, and families.

    We don’t need TFA and we don’t need Charter Schools, Merit Pay, or the other junk promoted by the super wealthy and propagandized by one-sided films like Waiting for Superman.

    I haven’t seen an effort to fool the American people on this level since the run up to the Iraq war.

    The 17% figure is your WMD Reuven. Time to make things right. pjm

  10. Charlie Mas permalink
    November 29, 2010 8:20 am

    There are two issues here, Representative Carlyle.

    1) The board’s refusal – not failure, not inability, but refusal – to perform their oversight function. You introduced discussion of this issue very nicely. Thank you for that.

    2) The superintendent’s lie – not mistake, not misstatement, but conscious and intentional effort to deceive. You remain in denial about this. While you acknowledge that the number was absolutely wrong, you later write about it as “a mistake was made” and “an embarrassing glitch”. This was no mistake. This was no glitch. This was an intentional misrepresentation.

    You put all of this onus on the Board to check the number, but you seem to absolve the superintendent of any responsibility for her deception.

    Here’s what District-watchers already know that you need to learn: the District lies ALL THE TIME. The District has a whole catalog of lies, starting with the misstatement of statistics, such as this. They use a number of other techniques as well.

    They are expert at the selective use of statistics – they cherry-pick data.

    They misrepresent the significance of data – small increases are characterized as “significant growth” while larger declines are brushed off as “essentially flat”.

    They select advantageous start and end dates and discover trends.

    The first year of a multi-year program can transform – after the fact – into a “planning” year.

    They break nearly all of their promises, from the small (“I’ll get back to you with that data”), to the mid-sized (“There will be a written curriculum for APP implemented concurrent with the split”), to the large (“We will make the Meany building high-school-ready before NOVA moves in”), to the apparently unbreakable (a written promise to the S.B.O.C. moved and passed by the Board). The strongest indication that the District will not do something is their promise to do it.

    The District likes to promise a future review and promise to take action if a decision doesn’t pan out. It makes them sound so reasonable. They will say that they will review the results in three to five years and put things back the way they were if the change doesn’t produce improvements. Only they never do. They don’t do the review and they won’t entertain the notion of reversing their changes.

    The District has not kept any promise having to do with community engagement. They promise the world but don’t deliver dirt. Check the Community Engagement Protocols for the Strategic Plan. Then I defy you to find any sign that they are being followed.

    A closer review of the District scorecard would reveal a number of other false reports little different from the 17% lie. How about the number of capital projects that are on time and on budget? How about the number of strategic plan initiatives that are on schedule?

    So, good job putting some focus on the Board’s failure to oversee, but let’s not let the superintendent off the hook for her constant stream of lies.

  11. Mary Lindquist permalink
    November 29, 2010 9:14 am

    Rueven, thanks for the thoughtful reaction to this case of “misinformation.” And while the real graduation numbers are significantly better, as a system, we need to do better. That’s going to be hard in the face of the huge budget cuts ahead. Our students and our schools are going to need strong advocates to protect them in the coming weeks, months and years.

  12. DanaherM. Dempsey, Jr. permalink
    November 29, 2010 9:44 am

    Dear Mary Lindquist,

    You said: “thoughtful reaction to this case of “misinformation.”

    Did you fail to notice the continuing ongoing lying of central administration and the Board’s complicity in misleading the public?

    Your “this case of “misinformation.” makes you appear to be a “Spin Doctor”.

    Please clarify your current position after reading the comments by Charlie Mas above.

    Thanks,

    Dan

  13. Chris permalink
    November 29, 2010 9:54 am

    Reuven, you neglect to mention the one stick the board has for balancing power with the superintendent: they have hiring and firing power. Unfortunately, this board (or 5 of the 7 that were present when she arrived) rolled over and let her rub their bellies. Actually, perhaps you’ve heard about the record-breaking 2007 campaign contributions that elected Carr, Maier, Martin-Morris, and Sundquist. Maybe they had their bellies painted green. Anyway, something that would help, and something you could help with, is limits on school board campaign contributions, like there are for most other public offices. Thanks for a thoughtful analysis, take it a little further.

  14. Ivan Weiss permalink
    November 29, 2010 2:09 pm

    I’ll try not to add to your discomfort here, Reuven, but I must call attention to one thing you said above:

    “just that our governance structures are not always conducive to a level of independent auditing and oversight we might hope to see in a multi-billion entity. ”

    But in fact, we do have a State Auditor, who performs his public function quite ably, without fear or favor. And moreover, he just happens to have published an audit of Seattle Public Schools. I have read it, I’m sure that you have read it, and I’m sure that every member of the Seattle School Board has read it.

    If, for the sake of discussion, we accept this as a starting point, then how is it that the Board has neglected utterly its responsibility to enforce the District’s compliance with the state audit? Is this something that you take lightly, or that you regard as unimportant? I am guessing that the answer is no, because although we have disagreed considerably on several policy issues, I would not ever think to describe you as an irresponsible public official.

    I don’t think we CAN excuse the District’s noncompliance with the Auditor’s prescriptions, and I don’t think we CAN condone the Board’s utter abdication of its oversight responsibilities in enforcing audit compliance — that is, if we believe in good governance, and don’t just pay lip service to the concept.

    This Board is running out of excuses — on this and many other fronts. If they can’t or won’t do their jobs, we’ll toss the lot of them out and start over. That is, after all, what we have done twice before with these particular four seats.

    Please do not waste any more time and bandwidth twisting yourself into knots trying to defend this lot. They might all be good, well-intentioned people. They also might be just so many paving blocks on the highway to hell.

  15. Cecilia McCormick permalink
    November 29, 2010 3:49 pm

    As an unpaid member of an agency advisory board, I never surrendered my authority or duty to question the data provided by agency staff. Nor should you. Nor should Seattle School Board members. Excuses are cheap. I’m certain they’re cheap compared to campaign contributions. Whomever swallowed that obviously wrong statistic and used it to push his own agenda should immediately offer his resignation.

  16. Mary permalink
    November 29, 2010 8:43 pm

    Reuven -I appreciate your willingness to discuss the inaccurate claim that only 17% of SPS students graduate from high school ready for college.

    There is no question that the manipulation of college readiness statistics was deliberate. Remember that the current district leadership touts itself as wholly data driven and accountable. It is the district mantra, but only now the public learns that the data was wrong. There was no mistake here, and calls into question the current administration’s lack of transparency, lack of accuracy, and quite frankly lack of integrity. That Dr. Goodleo-Johnson and her subordinates held onto this information until after her contract renewal/extension, after completing negotiations with the SEA (a CBA which depends on reliable data,) after the supplemental levy, and after a freshly signed contract with TFA is appalling. This is about as deceptive and arrogant as it gets. Dr. Goodloe-Johnson and her administration have been caught in a lie and can no longer be trusted.

    The Superintendent is employed by the School Board.The Board is required to provide oversight. However, as evidenced by the recent state audit they have abdicated their responsibility.

  17. November 30, 2010 6:36 am

    Reuven –

    That 17% of kids are prepared to succeed in a 4 year college is a national statistic and it’s accurate.

    Remedial education at the college level is a $3B problem annually.

    Last year half of the kids in SPS failed to meet state standards in math, yet only 10% failed on their report cards.

    So when will the failed reform methods stop the insanity?

    -Kate

  18. Involved Parent permalink
    November 30, 2010 7:34 am

    Finally, I also feel a moral obligation to personally apologize to the teachers, parents, administrators and others whom I may have inadvertently offended in my aggressive criticism of our district’s performance based in large part upon this vital statistic.

    I am one of those parents. I have been frustrated, to the point of rage, in trying to get District administrators to listen to data points other than their own staff-generated ones, or — extremely tellingly — those of its favored not-for-profit funders. Those funders are the Alliance 4 Ed and The Gates Foundation, both full of well-meaning folks willing to write checks, but also both full of people with a very definite Ed Reform agenda to push, not all of which works for OUR district.

    The bottom line is that parents and teachers are key to the success of this district. Yet, under this administration I have seen parents and teachers reduced to tears by top down management that is underfunding our classrooms in favor of holding back dollars for “strategic” projects backed by Gates and The Alliance.

    Reuven, go out into some classrooms beyond your own kids’ schools and ask hard questions. What looks good in powerpoint for civic organizations is actually failing to advance our most vulnerable kids. There is NO funding and NO plan for direct, 1:1 student interventions. Yet, ask any teacher or parent on the front lines. Far more effective than the hundreds of “teacher coaches”, which HQ insists on funding, are educators who will directly tutor and address the socio-economic issues of kid who need help. Teacher coaches are a nice-to-have effort, but not at the cost of very basic instruction.

    Another great example of refusal to listen are parents in the NE and around Garfield who took their very own door to door census in order to update the lack of data around possible student enrollment under the new assignment plan. The District largely refused to hear us and what have we gotten? Panic as great programs like Garfield and NE elementaries are spending the year grasping at solutions to fit kids into buildings, instead of focusing
    on academics. This is but one of many, many examples.

    In summary, I beg you to learn from this incident and give citizens of parent and teacher constituencies more than a cursory brush off when they send concerns your way and when they present data that contradicts the downtown perspective.

    And PS: Until our administration changes its Weighted Student Staffing formulas and reinstates positions such as librarians, math and reading specialists/tutors, ELL and Special Ed assistants as *standard* for our classrooms, don’t bother advocating for more dollars from the state for our district. I say that as a parent with kids in SPS. Do. Not. Bother. It’s a waste of dollars, as they won’t be headed to direct academic intervention in our classrooms. Don’t be fooled. When Downtown is talking about funding intervention efforts, they are funding teacher coaches, not the aforementioned positions. Ask the superintendent or CAO directly and they will have to confirm it is the case, because it is the truth. And it is PARENTS AND TEACHERS who have figured this obscure funding fact, buried under layers of Excel spreadsheet budget outlines.

  19. Rosemary permalink
    November 30, 2010 8:24 am

    Wow Dan @ 9:44 yesterday. Someone posts a thoughtful, innocuous comment that, apparently, does not completely align with your own point of view and you feel the need to attack and call names. Way to win friends and influence people.

  20. Danaher M. Dempsey, Jr. permalink
    November 30, 2010 10:40 am

    Rosemary,

    I would be happy to apologize to you and Ms. Lundquist once I see my error. I fail at this time to see what you found objectionable in my 9:44 comment. I am glad you raised the issue. Perhaps you could clarify my shortcomings in that regard.

    I am interested disclosures of the truth as found in facts.

    Your comment about “Way to win friends and influence people”.
    A significant problem is decision making is decisions made by influenced people rather than by those who make decisions using the intelligent application of relevant data.

    Did you fail to see my request for clarification from Ms. Lundquist?

    This is not a simple case of “misinformation”. To present this as “misinformation” is not an innocuous act.

    This has zero to with aligning to my point of view. Check alignment with the facts please.

    Check either the “Save Seattle Schools Community blog” or the “Math Underground blog” if you need to review the facts.

    I guess I am just not PC Seattle enough for some in asking for facts and expecting the presentation of the truth via the facts.

    Please review for me how I attacked and called names. I am so obtuse I fail to find the names I called anyone.

    “Spin Doctor” is not a name but rather an accurate description for one who down plays intentional fabrications of the truth as “misrepresentations”. I said that Ms. Lundquist by presenting this situation as “A case of “misinformation” appears to be a Spin Doctor. No name calling there as that is exactly how this downplaying appears to many of us. How does it appear to you?

    If we can get past the name calling hurdle, then perhaps you would care to investigate the misdemeanors and the felony forgery committed by the Superintendent and the CAO in the New Tech Network debacle. This extends far beyond “misrepresentations”.

    You could start here:

    http://mathunderground.blogspot.com/2010/11/summary-of-possible-forgery-in-seattle.html

    Respectfully,

    Dan

  21. Charlie Mas permalink
    November 30, 2010 9:53 pm

    Ha ha!

    Hey, Representative Carlyle, if you think the 17% statistic is deceptive, check out how the District calculates “Students making gains on the state reading and math tests”. The way the do it, there will always be 66% of students in the District making gains on the state test every year on every test in every grade. This statistic is a total hoax.

    I’m not sure what it means, but it sure doesn’t mean what it pretends to mean.

  22. December 1, 2010 7:31 am

    Hey Reuven,

    Give me a shout out and explain why I get the slam at #18 by Rosemary
    and my thoughtful response at #19 is still awaiting moderation and yet comment #20 by C.Mas has been approved.

    Please explain.

    Thanks, Dan

    dempsey_dan@yahoo.com

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Trackbacks

  1. Seattle Public Schools community blog: Rueven Carlyle on 17% « Parents 4 democratic Schools
  2. Seattle Schools data guy Brad Bernatek has resigned – a casualty of 17 Percent-Gate? | Seattle Education 2010
  3. Seattle Schools data guy Brad Bernatek has resigned – a casualty of 17 Percent-Gate? | Seattle Education 2010

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