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The superintendent candidates for Seattle Public Schools: The good, the bad and the ugly

I will focus on two of the candidates, Enoch and Husk. They are, in a sense, polar opposites. Banda seems “nice enough” but we need more than that in Seattle, particularly now after having to live through Broad and Goodloe-Johnson forcing their will on Seattle Public Schools with the stealth help of Gates funded organizations.

Because I want to end this post on a positive note, I’ll start with who we don’t want as superintendent. That would be Dr. Sandra Husk.

Dr. Husk didn’t get off on the right foot when the district that had just hired her discovered that she had lied during the interview process. According to The Statesman Journal:

But what should be community joy is tempered by the realization that the next school superintendent already has misled the public. She said she wasn’t a candidate for school executive jobs elsewhere when she was. This matters. Salem-Keizer needs a clean break from the disinformation and untruths that emanated from the current administration.

Then the first thing that she demanded was total control of the school district with no interference from the publicly elected school board. Unfortunately, the school board relinquished control and therefore the public, the voting citizens, parents and teachers, could no longer have a say through the democratic process. This is similar to how charter schools are run, there is no oversight by the publicly elected school board and that can lead to disastrous results.

According to The Statesman Journal:

“Policy governance,” pushed by new Superintendent Sandy Husk, will transfer most school board powers to the superintendent. Decisions such as hiring a principal or raising administrator salaries would be made by Husk instead of going before the board for approval.

That means decisions such as contracting out transportation services, hiring a new principal or adopting new curriculum no longer would go before the board for approval.

In the article, one of the board members stated that:

…board leaders are pushing to adopt the system without open discussion and are glossing over provisions that would set specific goals for student achievement and hold the superintendent accountable for meeting those goals.

The article continues:

Day also objected to using such a general goal to measure Husk’s performance during her annual job review. Husk said the board does not need to set specific, measurable goals to evaluate her job performance

“It’s a relationship,” Husk told the board Monday. “If you’re not happy with me, it won’t make any difference” what goals are being measured. Husk said that if the board does not think she has increased student achievement enough, she will voluntarily resign

Right. I don’t think that’s what it said in her contract. All professionals agree to performance goals upon which they are measured. It is the only legal protection that all parties have.

What she was saying is that it was going to be her way or the highway. Sound familiar Seattle?

By the way, as she was superintendent in the Salem-Keizer school district, she already had one foot out the door by working for a superintendent search firm checking out greener pastures and getting paid for it at the same time. Sweet deal.

And transparency didn’t seem to be her middle name either. Again, according to the  Statesman:

Husk has directed board members to channel all requests for information through her, rather than ask staff or Cabinet members directly. A community member with a complaint or request for help also should be steered to Husk, the board agreed. For privacy reasons, the board member generally will not be told how the matter was resolved.

Total control and no board oversight. MG-J II.

According to the Statesman Journal:

…the new superintendent’s policy designates the superintendent as the board’s sole connection to the district. It also designates the board chairman as the sole spokesman for the group and encourages the board to speak with one voice and to become advocates for the district.

The board spent last fall holding public forums and drafting the strategic directions, which set out specific, measurable achievement goals and was to be used to set budget priorities. Beginning in fall 2007, the strategic directions would be replaced with a more general statement that all students will meet or exceed district, state and federal standards and benchmarks.

The new superintendent completely ignored all of the work of the board and the community in establishing goals and instead decided her own path which was assessments of the students based on test scores, leaving the school board members to sit in a circle and listen to community groups.

Then Husk decided that the students should take a test before taking a test and have the district pay for it by cutting other jobs and services, and yes, bring in an assistant for herself:

Salem-Keizer is implementing a formative assessment system in which students take a district test before state tests, allowing schools to better focus on what each student needs to learn and to track individual progress.”Right now, (teachers and principals) are using the data, but schools have to figure it out on their own,” Husk said. “…We need somebody with the expertise and assignment to get the positive results.

The reorganization comes as the state reduced $5.1 million in funding this year, which will be absorbed by reserves in the district’s general fund, and diminishing state revenue is expected next year…Some district positions will be eliminated to fund the new assistant-superintendent position, which will cost nearly$88,000, and the cuts will reduce costs overall, Husk said. It will cost $93,900 to implement organizational changes, including a job reclassification.

Later she thought that it would also be a good idea to fire all of the librarians.

Déjà vu all over again? Let’s not go there Seattle.

And finally this from a parent in Husk’s district:

After almost 12 years in the Salem-Keizer School District, I’m really glad the ordeal is almost over. My youngest daughter is now a senior in high school. It hasn’t always been this bad, but since Sandy Husk and her cronies arrived, our schools have gotten increasingly worse. Communications between teachers and parents has become almost nonexistent because of Husk’s “divide and conquer” methods. When I visit my daughter’s high school, I feel the fear and anxiety. The truth is, people are worried about losing their jobs. The solution is simple. We hired Sandy Husk to work for us and our kids. It’s time to demand her resignation and, if she refuses, fire her. I know there may be backlash from this letter, but I will not live in fear or intimidation. That’s not how I raise my children.

And now for the good part, Steven Enoch.

Word has it from Friday Harbor in the San Juan Islands, where Enoch was superintendent for seven years, that he was well-liked even by parents who were active in the school district. Now that’s an accomplishment.

Also, he is older and is not likely to use Seattle as just another step up the career ladder. He will stay here and make a commitment to our students and our communities.

Mr. Enoch has experience with a school district that is about the same size as Seattle’s during his time as superintendent of the San Juan Unified School District. As one person stated on the Save Seattle Schools blog, “This is a 45,000 student district that encompassed a wide range of social-economic levels and minorities.”

During his tenure as Superintendent of the San Juan School District, he wrote a letter to the parents of that school district that reflects his understanding of the broader picture, his concerns and his willingness to do whatever it takes for his school community.

He understands the direct correlation between funding and “quality” in education:

As I listened to the Governor’s budget proposal, I must tell you that I found it to be of great irony, as the day before the Governor presented his budget, a major national report placed California 46th in the nation regarding funding for public education! Based on this report (“Quality Counts”), the average spending per student in the nation is $1,892 more than in California. New York State provides $5,137 more per student than California. Do the math—-for every 500 students that equates to an additional $2,568,500! We need to get the word out that this huge gap in funding matters if this state is even halfway serious about accountability and quality in our schools.

He continues:

As your superintendent, please know that I am not being quiet about the impact on our school district. I have been busy contacting legislators, and I would ask that you join me in raising this issue publicly, speaking with one voice about a need to fund schools properly, and to protect our improvement efforts, which are underway. We have posted information on our website (www.sanjuan.edu) on how to contact the legislators whose districts include some or all of the San Juan Unified School District.

So instead of just publicly wringing his hands in despair or sitting in silence, Mr. Enoch was actively involved in doing everything that he could to save his school district and asking parents and the community to do the same.

And here’s the kicker, he asked for input. He even provided his e-mail address:

Please feel free to send your ideas and suggestions to me and I will share them with the FT&F Committee. My email address is senoch@sanjuan.edu. I appreciate your serious consideration of these concerns, and I ask that we funnel our collective energy and frustration toward the state and the threat that this proposed budget presents to our school district.

Others outside of Seattle might find this last comment odd, but our former superintendent had to be told repeatedly to at least pretend like she cared what any of us thought.

Oh, and class size does matter with Mr. Enoch unlike someone else who we got to know. According to the Valley Sentinel, Board Decides to Maintain Class Sizes:

The San Ramon Valley Unified School District Board of Education unanimously approved a recommendation to maintain existing class sizes in grades Kindergarten through 3rd grade at 26 students, while lowering class size in 9th grade English and Math classes from 28 to 26.

“I am very pleased that we are able to avoid increasing class sizes for the coming year and that our Board members agreed that this is the best decision for students and teachers,” said Superintendent Steven Enoch.

Steven Enoch has my vote.

The school board will be voting tomorrow on who our next superintendent will be. Please contact our school board representatives and provide your comments and opinions.

You can contact all of them in one e-mail at schoolboard@seattleschools.org.

Dora

Post Script:

There is an article in Education Week titled Taking Charge of the Parent-Teacher Conference that provides additional insight into Mr. Enoch’s thinking as an educator.

3 comments on “The superintendent candidates for Seattle Public Schools: The good, the bad and the ugly

  1. seattleducation2011
    June 5, 2012

    Thank you David.

    Dora

  2. David Domincki
    June 5, 2012

    Wow! This can be one particular of the most useful blogs We’ve ever arrive across on this subject. Basically Great. I’m also a specialist in this topic so I can understand your hard work.

  3. I'm diggin' it!
    April 26, 2012

    Way to show the dichotomy between the good and the ugly. Thanks Dora!

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