The Seattle Public School District announced today that it has hired Lesley Rogers from Strategies 360 political marketing firm to oversee its communications.

Chief Communications Officer appointed

Seattle Public Schools on Friday announced the appointment of Lesley Rogers as the district’s Chief Communications Officer, following a national search.

Rogers, who starts April 4, will oversee internal and external communications for the District.

(…)  Rogers is leaving her job as Vice President of Communications for Strategies 360, where she directed communications efforts for a wide spectrum of clients in fields including education, environmental protection, renewable energy, public policy and transportation. (…)

This is not a good development for SPS and does not represent a step in the right direction toward regaining public trust.

As we have reported on this blog in the past, Strategies 360 was the firm that was hired by Seattle’s pro-corporate-reform Alliance for Education to conduct a politically motivated push poll last year, using illegally obtained private phone numbers of Seattle Public School children and teachers (in violation of FERPA).

See:  Should the School District Be Allowed to Give Our Kids’ Phone numbers, Addresses and Photos to Every Tom, Dick and Pollster?

And: Loose Ends – Strategies 360, Susan Enfield, Crazy Talk & Quakes

(To recap: The Alliance for Education and levy-boosters Schools First both requested the private information of 10,000 students and 1,000 teachers from the school district at the end of 2009 and obtained it legally, signing the required Declaration for Noncommercial Use document. The Alliance then hired Strategies 360 to run a poll using this information, but was not legally at liberty to share this information with a third party. Yet somehow this information made its way into the hands of Strategies 360/DMA Marketing. How did that happen? Some of us parents investigated, and this breach was traced back to Schools First which claimed one of its staffers had passed the private contact information onto the political marketing firm. At the same time, Schools First member and lawyer Bill Sherman rewrote the Declaration of Non Commercial Use agreement with SPS in which he deleted the statement about not sharing the private data with third parties. The wording and safeguard has since been restored to the document thanks to some follow-up on the matter by School Board Director Sherry Carr, after some of us brought it to her attention.)

This non-scientific, biased poll was used to pressure teachers and push for an agenda that supported merit pay and bringing “alternately credentialed” “teachers ” (read: Teach for America, Inc.) to Seattle.

Strategies 360 and its partner branch DMA Marketing then created a false “grassroots” organization which it dubbed the “Our Schools Coalition” to push for this ed reform agenda in an effort to influence last year’s teacher’s contract negotiations.

Everything about the poll and the coalition was contrived and dishonest.

Whether Rogers had anything to do with this, her association with Strategies 360 in light of these facts makes her a questionable choice to represent the new voice of SPS and lead it out of it current cloudy reputation for dishonest dealings.

This smells like business as usual for SPS — not a break from the behind the scenes manipulations and obfuscations that characterized the tenure of the recently ousted Supt. Goodloe-Johnson.

The announcement emphasizes that Rogers’ parents are teachers. That’s great, but it’s difficult to understand what difference that makes when the organization she has worked for has been no friend to teachers. Or parents, for that matter.

Also, ex-Superintendent Goodloe-Johnson’s mother was a teacher too, but that didn’t stop her from terrorizing teachers during her brief tenure at SPS.

Apparently Rogers has already worked for SPS in the past.

The school district’s recent agreement with the city to oversee its ethics issues was a step forward. This appears to be a step backward.

— Sue p.