For the news and views you might have missed
The Seattle School Board will be meeting in an Executive Session on Tuesday, March 1st, to deliberate on how to move forward after news broke about the scandal involving Silas Potter and the superintendent’s decision to keep the information from the school board.
The information that was brought forward about Mr. Potter having an office inside the Stanford Center and doling out favors and money to minority businesses as well as providing assistance to minority businesses to obtain contracts for government projects that were not related to the Seattle Public School system is egregious enough. That Dr. Goodloe-Johnson chose to keep this information secret and not provide the evidence of this illegal activity to the school board is an ethics violation and could go beyond that with further investigation.
But, knowing the school board members and how most of them have done nothing but nod in agreement with the superintendent during her entire tenure, Sue and I decided that our school board needs to be reminded of many other reasons why the superintendent can and should be fired with cause.
This is the short list:
1. The false 17 percent college readiness “data” scandal produced by “Broad Resident” Brad Bernatek. This 17% number was used by the superintendent to further her agenda of corporate reform. It was a false percentage in terms of students prepared for college but was used widely. With that number she was able to bring people and organizations, including the school board, on board with the evaluation of teachers based on test scores, using the MAP® test to evaluate students excessively and using that test as an evaluation tool for a teacher’s performance. Which leads us to #2.
2. The superintendent was on the board of directors of the Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA), the company that designed and sells the Measures of Academic Progress® (MAP®) test which the Seattle Public School District now administers to nearly all its students three times a year. She was on this board before the MAP® test was used in Seattle and it was due to her efforts that our school system now pays for that test to the tune of over $10 million to date. The conflict of interest/ethics violation, cited in the state audit of the school district released last year, was that Goodloe-Johnson was on the NWEA board of directors when the school board was deliberating on whether to buy the MAP® test or not and that she did not disclose to the school board her affiliation with NWEA during these deliberations. Which brings us to #3.
3. According to e-mail exchanges between NWEA members, Dr. Goodloe-Johnson and Michael Casserly of the Council of the Great City Schools (CGCS), there was a sizable grant of $3.7 million from the Gates Foundation that NWEA wanted to get their hands on. It apparently was awarded to the CGCS to “study student achievement gaps.” The Great City Schools board would determine whose data would be used in the study. Judging by the e-mail exchanges, NWEA likely knew that Dr. Goodloe-Johnson was also on the board of the Great Cities’ Schools’ Council, and asked her to use her influence to have NWEA’s MAP® product considered rather than the NAEP for providing the assessments. This is another ethical if not illegal violation. Seattle’s school superintendent was effectively shilling for NWEA for millions of dollars in potential grant money, during SPS work hours, using her SPS e-mail, when she was supposed to be taking care of our students, and not some executives at a profit-making organization.
4. Regarding the contract that was developed and signed by Teach for America, Inc. and Seattle Public Schools, it is one of the worst and most one-sided contacts that we have ever seen. It favors TFA, to put it lightly. There are no guarantees or warranties. TFA is held blameless for the performance of their teachers and if things don’t work out, too bad, we don’t get our money back. The original version of the contract also violates the FERPA privacy protection rights of the district’s school children. It would have allowed TFA, Inc. not only access to the private information of Seattle’s school children, but the right to share that information with undisclosed third parties. Sue goes into the details of this contract in her post “Controversial Teach For America Back on the Agenda for Seattle Schools”.
It was due to the efforts of the supe and her appointed CAO, Susan Enfield, that we now have to hire these recruits with five weeks of training to teach our children with no guarantees.
Need I go on? Well, for the school board’s sake I believe that I do.
5. The 2010 Accountability Audit as determined by the State Board of Auditors. The entire document is damning of the school district, citing mismanagement of district resources and calls out the school board for failing to oversee the superintendent. One of the less egregious but interesting exceptions discovered was the $7,000* retirement party for a staffer featuring a carving station, which the superintendent inappropriately charged to her district credit card. (Oops!) This was at the same time that she and district leadership were cutting back on counselors, librarians and transportation for Seattle school children while citing a “budget crisis.” (*The audit cites a $3,800 price tag, but further digging by parent activist and blogger Melissa Westbrook uncovered further expenditures for the party which brought the total up to $7,000.)
6. The Seattle Education Association gave the superintendent a near-unanimous vote of “No Confidence” after teaching staff at several Seattle schools gave her a vote of “No Confidence”.
7. The superintendent closed schools over community protest at a time when enrollment was increasing. Her action also raised the threshold for Title I funding eligibility, causing some schools (such as Thurgood Marshall Elementary) to lose vital funding for underprivileged students.
8. The superintendent rif’ed teachers when her own people were telling her that enrollment would be increasing that fall. The majority of teachers were hired back for the fall semester.
9. Dr. Goodloe-Johnson imposed a new student assignment plan that has resulted in overcrowding in some parts of the district (West Seattle), severe under-enrollment in other parts (McDonald, Sand Point, Queen Anne Elementary), and without ensuring that all schools are equally “quality” schools, as promised, and has re-segregated our schools. Compounded with that is the transportation plan that does not provide bus service from the south end to several of the option schools on the north end and therefore eliminates options for the majority of low-income/minority students.
10. Our superintendent met only 4 out of 17 performance goals that were set by her and the school board at the beginning of her tenure. That’s an “F” grade in my book. [This paragraph has been updated to correct the number of goals, from 20 to 17. -- s.p.]
OK, so those are the top ten reasons why the superintendent should be fired with cause. For the rest of the list, and I am sure that others can add to this, we have, in no particular order:
11. The Native American grant program scandal including the time that a grant proposal did not get submitted on time by SPS and the program was not awarded necessary dollars. It would have been a slam dunk to receive the funds but the supe’s own appointee who was to be in charge of grants, missed the deadline. I guess she was too busy trying to keep up with all the money that Gates and Broad were funneling into SPS by way of the Alliance for Education.
12. The unwillingness of the superintendent to cut the bloated central administrative staff at at time of severe budget crisis. See: “Budget Workshop Recap, Shorter and Possibly More Coherent” by Meg Diaz.
13. The superintendent sent an illegal letter to the district’s 3,000 teachers unilaterally canceling their contract, bypassing regular negotiation rules and practices. This was sent via Certified Mail at an estimated cost of $15,000 to the district.
14. Dr. Goodloe-Johnson proposed lowering the high school graduation grade average from a C average to a D average, over wide community opposition. Was this proposal made so that the superintendent could say that the graduation rate had increased during her watch?
15. The superintendent punished two SPS Special Education teachers for following the wishes of parents for their children not be evaluated by the standardized state WAAS test. Once publicized, she and the district rescinded the punishment.
16. Dr. Goodloe-Johnson recommended a flawed and controversial math textbook (Discovering series), ignoring hundreds of community letters and testimony opposing it.
This decision was appealed by a group of parents, teachers and UW Professor Cliff Mass. The school district lost in Supreme Court and was directed by the judge to reconsider the decision after finding the district had excluded evidence submitted by the public and deemed its selection of the math textbook “arbitrary and capricious.”
The superintendent refused to comply with the judge and instead appealed the judge’s order, which will incur more costs for the district.
17. According to a parent of a special education student, “She oversaw the botched rollout of special education overhaul (Integrated Comprehensive Services delivery model) that: 1) ignores the recommendations in the external peer review audit; 2) fails to provide training and resources to buildings to support special needs children in the general education setting; 3) has demoralized highly qualified special educators who work with children in inclusive settings and 4) fails to provide a true continuum of placements as required by federal law. The district’s actions have created an environment where children that need extra support are now destined to fail, experience misdirected discipline, and potentially regress or suffer emotional damage.”
18. Dr. Goodloe-Johnson presides over a central office that is significantly larger than any similar district in the state. A state audit found the central office to be significantly bloated. Yet, our superintendent has requested even more central staff, including more “Broad Residents” from the Broad Foundation, who cost $90,000 per year to employ.
19. She moved or replaced nearly a third of the district’s principals in less than year, in an unprecedented amount of upheaval, most often without allowing any community input. This has further disenfranchised parents and school communities.
Here’s the list:
Principal shuffles on Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson’s watch 2009-10:
May 2009: Roy Merca from Summit (closed) to AS1, Ernie Severs from AS1 to Sanislo, Debbie Nelson from Sanislo to Jane Addams, Chris Carter from African American Academy (closed) to Jane Addams to Hamilton Middle School, Dewanda Cook-Weaver from Lowell to McGilvra Elementary, Jo Shapiro from McGilvra Elem. to assistant principal at Hamilton Middle School, Wayne Floyd from John Stanford Center central office to Loyal Heights, Cashel Toner from Loyal Heights to Leschi Elem., Jo Lute-Ervin from Leschi to TOPS, Linda Robinson from Bryant to Whittier, Cothron McMillian from Whittier to Brighton, Ed Noh from Lawton to Hawaii?; Beverly Raines from Brighton Elem. to Lawton Elem. to retirement?, Gregory King from TT Minor (closed) to Lowell, Julie Briedenbach from Lowell Elem. to Thurgood Marshall Elem., Winifred Todd from Thurgood Marshall to Dunlap, Greg Imel from Dunlap to Bailey Gatzert, Norma Zavala from Bailey Gatzert to Concord, Sandra Scott from Concord to Hawthorne, Stacey McCrath-Smith was moved from Meany.
July 2009: Jill Hudson to Nathan Hale High School , Henterson Carlisle assigned interim principal of Madison Middle School .
Jan 2010: Kaaren Andrews from Madrona K-8 to the Interagency School, Cheryl Grinager from Green Lake Elementary to McDonald Elem. (to be reopened), David Elliott from Coe Elem to Old Hay (to be reopened)
Dan Warren from John Hay to Sand Point (to be reopened).
Feb/March 2010: DeWanda Cook-Weaver from McGilvra, Beverly Raines from Lawton . May 2010: Oksana Britsova to the Center School, Karen Hanson to John Hay Elem., Farah Thaxton to Madrona K-8, Mary Lane to McGilvra Elem. Joanne Bowers from North Beach Elementary to Green Lake Elementary and Lisa Escobar from Center High School to Rainier Beach High School. As noted in a comment below, the Center School had at least three interim principals from January to June in 2010.
There’s more but we will leave #20 to someone who would like to add to this list.
Dora Taylor and Sue Peters
Overall, these past three years have been the most chaotic and disruptive in recent SPS memory. Many feel this chaos was unnecessary and destructive. There have also been a number of appeals and lawsuits filed in response to district actions, irrational layoffs and then rehires of teachers, a constant churn of principal assignments, and a new student assignment plan that is overfilling some schools and leaving others half-empty, and sending some public school families to seek a more predictable and positive environment for their schoolchildren in private schools.
A BIT OF HISTORY:
Superintendent Goodloe-Johnson came to us from the school district of Charleston , South Carolina, in 2007, where she had been superintendent. Before that, she spent time in various education administration positions in Colorado and Texas, and her home state of Nebraska, where she also once taught.
After just one year in Seattle (2007-08), the Seattle School Board awarded the superintendent a 10 percent pay raise. This brought her $240,000 salary up to $264,000. The superintendent makes more than the mayor of Seattle ($150,000), the state superintendent of public instruction, or even the governor of Washington ($163,618). (See: “School chief gets big 10% raise – Her $264,000 salary is more than even the governor’s” and “Seattle schools chief awarded 10% pay raise”)
The district also gives her a $20,000 annual retirement contribution and a $700/month car allowance. Some of us wondered if it was prudent to increase an already generous salary before any measurable work had actually been done. She had presented her “Strategic Plan for Excellence,” but nothing had been implemented yet. Apparently the board also failed to follow its own rules that allow public input into such decisions, as longtime public school activists and watchdogs Chris Jackins and Charlie Mas have pointed out. So there were no voices of the public or dissent permitted at this meeting where the school board voted 7-0 to raise the superintendent’s salary and extend her contract a year (to 2011). This seemed a premature and expensive vote of blind confidence to many of us.
The superintendent’s second year in Seattle was marked by the contentious turmoil of her “Capacity Management Plan,” which resulted in controversial school closures, co-housing of potentially incompatible schools, the splitting apart of the district’s highly gifted program, questionable cost savings, the laying off of 172 teachers and educators, a protest rally of parents, teachers and students, a petition opposing the closures that garnered over 1,700 signatures across the district, and growing dissent against the superintendent’s plans and methods. As many as 3,500 children were disrupted by the Capacity Management Plan.
Her evaluation was overseen by Tom Payzant, who is affiliated with the Broad Foundation, the venture philanthropy enterprise of L.A. billionaire Eli Broad which strongly supports the privatization of public schools via charters and has been quietly involving itself in the operation of Seattle Public School District, unbeknownst to most parents. As has been mentioned many times here and elsewhere, Supt. Goodloe- Johnson is a graduate of the Broad Foundation’s “Superintendent’s Academy” and remained on Broad’s board of directors until fall of 2010, an affiliation which many of us still consider a conflict of interest. [UPDATED from original to reflect Goodloe-Johnson's current status with the Broad Foundation board. 3/1/11)
For the Seattle School District to allow someone not from our district and who is also affiliated with the Broad Foundation to be involved in this Broad-graduate superintendent’s evaluation struck many of us as highly questionable and not likely to be objective. Many also felt it would be inappropriate for the board to award the superintendent yet another pay raise in less than two years when the district claimed to be in severe budget crisis and had laid off teachers, closed schools and asked our children to make do with less. The superintendent was not awarded a raise, and her review criticized her lack of communication and interpersonal skills and failure to engage with the parents and community of SPS. (See: “School Board to Give Mixed Review to Supe”) However, later in the year, she was awarded a controversial “merit” based bonus of $5,280 for meeting only 4 out of 20 performance goals (see below).
A major focus of this year were the results of the closures and splits, and the development of the new student assignment plan (NSAP). There was also a focus on the teachers’ contract which was renegotiated. Some time in the last year, the board extended Goodloe-Johnson’s contract again, to 2012. It is not clear that any community input was sought in this decision.
The district slogan under this superintendent has been “Excellence for All. Every student achieving, everyone accountable.”
Has this superintendent lived up to her own motto?
Can Seattle’s Schools Afford Many More Years of Supt. Goodloe-Johnson?
Seattle Times, Seattle Public Schools, and Seattle Public Schools Community Blog.