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Want to pull the rug out from everyone by limiting public input into what is suppose to be a democratic process? Submit a proposal to make an interim superintendent permanent the day before Thanksgiving and force a vote by board members the Wednesday after the Thanksgiving holiday.
To follow are events that led to this week’s questionable action by School Board President Sharon Peaslee.
Our former superintendent, Jose Banda, decided to return to Sacramento after a brief stint with our school district. Nyland was appointed interim superintendent until candidates for superintendent were to be interviewed by various groups and organizations and vetted by the district and school board.
No one has vetted Larry Nyland and I and others have not had an opportunity to research his background.
In terms of Nyland’s record so far as the Interim Superintendent, there has been a major data breach of private information of 7,500 special education students. That was followed by an apology made by the Nyland with no action items presented. Then there was the signing of an agreement with Bill Gates for a preK-3 experiment to the tune of $750,000 which will, of course, include assessments (testing) and the tracking of student information from preK through high school and beyond. The program is for 20 students in a three year period at $250,000 per year. Nyland signed the agreement three months before it was presented to the school board for approval. This was a clear end-run around the school board. Whether Nyland didn’t understand the ramifications of signing such a document or standard district/legal procedure, it reflects his lack of competence or understanding of the bigger picture when Bill Gates is involved in anything that is pertinent to public school education.
And yet Peaslee thinks Nyland is a good idea?
What’s the rush anyway? Why the big hurry to make Nyland the permanent superintendent?
There is a timetable in place to begin the superintendent search in January. Parents Across America Seattle was planning to reach out to parents and ask them what they wanted in a superintendent. We all felt this was an opportunity to work together on determining who would take on such an important position within our city.
School Board President Peaslee has determined that it would save time and money to not do a thorough search and vetting for the right superintendent.
Well, I and others think it’s worth it. It’s also worth public input. So far, if Peaslee has it her way, the public input will last about an hour on Wednesday between 4:00 PM and 5:00 PM, just as working parents are still…working.
Besides what I mentioned above, another red flag is the fact that the Alliance for Education likes Nyland. Nyland is their guy. For more on the Alliance for Education, see The Lines of Influence of Education Reform. Here is an excerpt about the Alliance:
In some places on the chart we note certain amounts of money. The reason for that is that some of the sums that we discovered were finite and some were not. For instance, the Gates Foundation is basically the Alliance for Education‘s bank. Whatever the Alliance needs, it seems that the Gates’ Foundation just cuts another check by providing a grant for a specific purpose. I suppose that it helps that the Gates’ Foundation’s headquarters are located in Seattle and not far from the Alliance for Education offices, just a stone’s throw away.
For more on Bill Gates see Bill Gates and the Gates Foundation.
What Peaslee is doing is reminiscent of what Dr. Goodloe-Johnson did in 2008 when proposing to close schools a few days before the holidays which allowed for little input by the public. Because of that, she was able to further her agenda of dismantling choice in Seattle by closing the gems of the Seattle School District at the time, the alternative/option schools and later cutting off transportation to those schools, laying the groundwork for “choice” in charter schools.
Are we back to that sort of leadership?
Money, and the carrot of power and promotion, talks.
If you want to ensure you have input into the conversation and decision-making process, you can either attend the school board meeting on Wednesday December 3rd at 4:00 PM at the Stanford Center to testify or send an email to all the board members. Their addresses are:
If how the district is run is important to you, please share your comments with the board members.
Here is a sample letter that can be used as a template and revised to fit your thoughts and opinions:
Dear Director (Board member’s name here),
I am concerned about the lack of due process in selecting a superintendent for Seattle Public Schools, a position that is of great importance in our city. All parents, teachers, students and citizens need to have a voice in what they want to see in a superintendent and a proper vetting process is is necessary. This process has been the way we have selected superintendents in the past and I see no reason to veer from that path now.
Another concern is the fact that Dr. Larry Nyland did not go through the proper channels and rather made an end-run around the board to approve the acceptance of $750,000 for a pre-K through 3 Gates grant with many strings attached. Those strings include assessments, testing, of preschool children and the sharing of personal student information.
Do we want a superintendent that does not respect the democratic process?
There is no need to circumvent the procedure for selecting a superintendent which includes community input and proper vetting. It does not require much in terms of budget, particularly if we look at educators who are local and can bring loyalty and stability to our school district. The cost could be much greater if the established process is not followed.
For these reasons, let’s continue with the selection process as originally agreed to by the board and carefully look at individuals who want to be responsible for our school district and the education of our children.