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I will be giving this testimony tonight at the Seattle Public Schools’ Board of Directors’ meeting regarding the performance of our school superintendent.
This is regarding the performance evaluation of our superintendent, Dr. Goodloe-Johnson, who is also a board member on the NWEA board of directors as well as the Broad Foundation.
What I have seen over the last two years as a parent in the Seattle school system is a disconnect between the decisions made by the superintendent and what our community needs.
There has been little to no understanding as to how our neighborhoods are growing and how we relate to the communities that we live in. There has been and will continue to be growth in the Central District and the Capitol Hill areas and yet schools were closed last year.
We had a budget deficit of $35 M last year and yet our superintendent hired additional staff while teachers were laid off, most of them Broad residents.
We take pride in our alternative school programs that have no equal in the United States and yet some of those programs have been dismantled rather than supported.
At first glance one would think that the actions of the superintendent don’t make sense, but they actually do. There are two different agendas at play in Seattle. There are the goals of the true stakeholders in our schools, the parents, students, teachers and our neighbors who understand what is needed in terms of education, smaller class sizes, clearly defined and consistent wrap around services, adequate materials and books and a safe and comfortable environment in which to work.
But there is another agenda at work as well.
This is from the Broad Foundation’s annual report for 2009 signed by Eli Broad:
“The election of President Obama and his appointment of Arne Duncan…the U.S. secretary of education, marked the pinnacle of hope for our work in education reform. In many ways, we feel the stars have finally aligned.
With an agenda that echoes our decade of investments—charter schools, performance pay for teachers, accountability, expanded learning time and national standards—the Obama administration is poised to cultivate and bring to fruition the seeds we and other reformers have planted.”
There is a clash of agendas and values between what Eli Broad and Bill Gates think is best for us even though neither has any experience in public school education and what we know will work. Class sizes do matter. No, schools should not be closed, principals fired or half of a teaching staff removed because a school is “Low Performing”. It takes money that can be counted on on a consistent basis, not one time bribes to the top, to ensure that each student receives the education that has been promised. It takes a commitment to those schools, students and families to work through the issues that face some of these children every day. You don’t just close schools. That impacts the lives of everyone in that neighborhood and shows a lack of faith in those families that are impacted the most.
And no, we don’t want our teachers to teach to the test. Performance pay is based on test numbers and if merit pay happens in Seattle, our children will lose out on a well-rounded education and the opportunity to develop their creative and critical thinking skills.
We need someone sitting next to our School Board President who shares our goals and values not someone who was placed in Seattle to carry on the dreams and hopes of a wealthy few. Then the stars will have truly aligned for us in Seattle.