April 03, 2007
Seattle School District nominates non-finishers as Superintendent finalists
The Seattle School District has announced two finalists for the Superintendent position -- Charleston, SC Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson and Philadelphia Chief Academic Officer Greg Thornton.
Thornton has been at the Philadelphia post less than three years and in his previous district for only 2 years. Goodloe-Johnson has held her job only three and a half years and is barely half-way through her 6-year "Plan for Excellence".
The Seattle School Board is such a sewer of idiocy that it's hard to imagine that many qualified people would even want to apply for the job, but you'd think that the Board would want a Superintendent who's had a track record of substantial accomplishments over time, or at least finishes what they start. Unless that's too much to expect in public education.
Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at April 03, 2007
06:00 PM | Email This
Interesting. Thirty-nine of Goodloe-Johnon's district's 80 schools recently had ratings of unsatisfactory or below average which has had her on the state's hot seat. Thornton's district has financial problems and serious disciplinary problems.
But heck, this is Seattle. We'll be told to celebrate the hiring of one of these two regardless of their histories.
They were only asked two questions in their interview:
1: Do you think adding more money via higher property taxes would turn the Seattle School district around?
2: Do you think adding more money via higher property taxes would turn the Seattle School district around?
If they answered No and No - They were eliminated from the position.
If they answered Yes and Yes - They were accepted into the Seattle School District, with massive raises to boot.
If they answered Yes and No, or No and Yes, they were sent to the King County election department for a senior position.
4. Looks like Dr. Thornton received his Doctorate from an online University in Florida and his bio is pretty skimpy about where exactly he has worked for his "26 years in education". But, at least he lists something for his doctorate, which is more than Dr. Gooloe-Johnson seems to do....oh well, I'm sure it will all work out just fine! Nothing that a bit more money and diversity won't fix! Just don't look behind the curtain...and don't worry about those test scores!
These two finalists were probably the best of a small number who would even bother to apply to for a job with a school district having the reputation that Seattle does.
I agree that their resumes seem a bit on the thin side but in many instances it's the attitude & enthusiasm that counts, rather than the useless education courses & the lack of quantifiable results in other positions.
Sometimes a person just has to find his or her niche in order to make a difference. Lets fact it, the district at this point can hardly afford to be too choosey plus their previous choices have not worked out too well in the past.
Maybe it's time to try a different tack & try for a new direction. Of course, a different school board would also help. Get rid of the dinosaurs and try to get new blood on the board; that will help a new superintendent more than book learning.
Can't beat a hyphenated name female w/ an hispanic first name.
Go Seattle, go...
1. The average length of time that a super is in a district now is 24 to 36 months. There are few that reach the five year stage. It is a revolving door. The career plan is to leave town before you are run out of town.
2. Sups are held accountable for results, but in
fact have little real power:
a. Hire and fire - NYC studied how long and
how much time it took to get rid of criminals
and ped1files: about 3 years and $250,000 per
teacher. Locally, the lamestream Times is
trying to open the files on coaches and others
but the WEA is fighting them.
b. Budgets are highly regulated
c. Schools are a highly regulated industry as to
school terms and days
d. Adversarial stakeholders like:
These interests may sometimes align, but often
Here is my mantra, the insitutional structure is broken and cannot be fixed. We need competition in education. I understand the district has an excellent health plan and the next sup can get valium and other meds before they leave in about 28 months.
8. SuziH is right.
This is probably the best they could do.
What decent Administrator would apply for this job? They are totally hamstrung by the WEA, a gutless Board and "activist" parents like KLOWNstein who are self-absorbed...."it's all about me!!!".
Frankly, I think the only choice is a Black, Female. The Seattle PC crowd would be reluctant to publicly criticize her too much.
I moved out of Seattle years ago before our kids went to school. Seattle Public Schools---they are a sewer.
REAL competition is the only way to improve them.
I thought this Youtube video would about summarize our public school education system. It is played to the backdrop of the 'Daisy Ad'.
Just so you know; most superintendents aren't lifers. They usually serve between 3-5 years (you can look it up).
Maria is not a Hispanic name. It's a name used in many countries like Germany, Austria, Italy, Greece. What a moron.
Seattle schools are NOT a sewer. We have many, many great schools in our district. In fact, if you ask most parents (really, go ask any public school parent on the street), they will overwhelmingly tell you, they like their school but hate the district management.
Dr. Thorton has School Stat which is a tracking system to keep principals informed on how their schools are doing. Dr. Goodloe-Johnson seems to be well-liked in her district and completed special training to be a superintendent (not a lot do).
Why don't you suspend judgment until you know more?
Kind of like Darcy Burner padding her resume by being on Ames Lake Board, westello?
I don't think well-liked should be a criteria for this type of management job.
If I were one of the public school parents you stopped on the street and asked my opinion of Seattle Public Schools, I'd tell you they are a cesspool. Though there are a few teachers I like, I feel an overwhelming disdain for the district and all of the schools my kids have attended within it.
I can't quite afford private school for both my kids next year, but I can tell you I'm so desperate to get my kids out of Seattle Public Schools, that I've considered 1) breaking my lease and fleeing to the suburbs, 2) bribing my ex-husband to take one of the kids (he lives in another district), 3) trying to juggle home-schooling with my full-time job, and 4) letting my older son quit school (it's just a social experiment anyway; reading, writing, and arithmetic are secondary).
I did look up the stats on sups, its called dissertation. The revolving door of sups is just in the last 10 years. Guess what, there is a corrolation between the rise and entrenchment of teachers unions and the decreasing longevity of sups. In the recent past it was not unusual for them to serve longer than five years.
What sups are currently facing is pretty close to an impossible job. They are held accountable for student achievement and unlike a CEO of most corps don't have the tools to accomplish that objective because their powers are quite limited.
It really doesn't matter what color the sup is in Seattle, the situation is such that they are being set up to fail. Riley, a Caucasian man, of the Eastside district probably could have had the job, if he wanted it. I wonder if he looked at the books, negotiation timeline for teacher contracts, considering the SEA is now affliated with the AFL-CIO, and the tests scores from the academic achievement department and decided to give it a pass. It is certainly easier to set up a person of color to fail, after all parents of color who are screaming about disproporionality can now scream at one of their own.
The district has some intractable issues, the north side divide. Perception may be true or not, but if enough people believe it, it takes on its own kind of reality.
1. The north side divide
a. More voters in the north of the district
b. Population of children increasing in
the south of the district
2. The increasing number of children of color
and immigrant children
a. language issues
b. issues of poverty
c. fractured family issues
3. Increasing number of special needs children
because parents move to Seattle for services.
4. One levy does not make a trend, but the level of public support
Yes, Westello I have done the research, but the revolving door is recent.
1. Write a form letter which can be sent to
private and parochial schools inquiring
about scholarships and how to apply. Take
it to Kinkos or other copier and mass
mail to all schools in your area. Mass mail
2. Put the info on an Excel sheet and apply
to appropriate schools
A lot of parents uncover resources by going to the
library and finding their own scholarships and grants. Good luck on doing what is best for your child.
15. "Why don't you suspend judgment until you know more?"
Because that would require them to follow the words of Christ ("Judge not..."), and to act in a conservative way.
Without judging, I only observe that no one here appears to post in a conservative manner. Only Pharisaical.
I mean, I assume every single one of the critics either home schooled their kids, or sent them to private schools, right? Or, if they stayed in public schools, they volunteered to help, yes?
Or are they only willing to bitch about things in the abstract (hard to believe there are many actual parents here, and not people making ideological points), and not do
How many have you have run for school board? How many of you have voted for school board?
Pharisees. Which is what my beloved Republican party has been reduced to.
Suzihomemaker and Clean House have it right. This school district is such a mess that anybody who is foolish enough to apply won't have much of a resume. Seattle is reaping what they have sown.
My feeling is that Seattle has become just a minor stop for someone who wants to pad their resume and their bank account before they move on in a few months.
But what can Seattle expect? The whole situation is out of control. Screaming, violent parents without any perspective for the greater good with leftist lesson plans and policies that cripple students for a lifetime.
Laszlo Toth, Jr:
First, although I am not a theologian, you are missing the part of the Scripture which taken in complete context means that there are standards, but ultimately the comparison is based on the Perfect One, because we are sinners, we fall short and therefore need Him. I believe that is correct theology. Secular progresives often use the section you quote to justify their behavior.
Second, although conservative, I am an indie and not pubbie. I have a doctorate and have studied education issues. Now, let's get down to the meat of this issue. Society is expecting sups to be miracle workers and raise achievement scores, deal with issues of disintigrating families and the impact of societal on education, teachers unions, and other stakeholders. But, society has not given them the tools and authority to really do the job.
Try and fire an incompetant. It is easier to move them from school to school like the Catholic Church did with pedophile priests.
The question is not so much these current sup sacrifices to an out-dated institutional structure. The question is given where we are now given the needs of the society, the population of school children in public schools, and the needs of modern education for society - does this large school district and school board structure work anymore? Otherwise the revolving door of sups will become the insitutionalized norm
18. Seattle is getting what it brought on its collective self by continuing to elect education dilettantes and neighborhood activists, who are in lockstep with the SEA and WEA, to the school board. Brace yourselves, there will be no substantive changes, only higher taxes with which to pay more to maintain the deplorable status quo.
#14 WVH on advice to Cinda -- stop gaming the system...the local Catholic schools do not have scholarships -- the funds for helping lower income CATHOLIC students comes from the pew-sitters pocket book, and who expect their money to be used to help local CATHOLIC children in need, and from the (over-worked) teachers whose pay is substantially below that of their public school counterparts.
I will let you in on a little "holy-water cooler" secret -- regardless of what Father Big Heart or Sister Mary Rosary say, many of the front-line private school teachers don't want your child if they have been in a public school for more than three years -- first the child is usually a year or more behind the regular class, and second many public school transfers have real behavioral issues.
I call BS on that Lew.
I was just debating that very subject with my stockbroker who had her kids attend private school. She says they are starting to suck because there are no nuns.
WVH, thanks for the kind words of advice, but I'll probably find a way to cough up the money without help. I take pride in pulling my own weight. If I can't get at least my youngest son into private school, I'll flee the city.
Lew, I guess I've got to get thicker skin if I want to post on message boards; your comments hurt.
WVH@13- Do you have any evidence to blame the recent turnover of superintendents on the strength of teacher unions? Is the teachers' union really stronger than it was 10 or 20 or 30 years ago?
If you look at the specific reasons why the last few Seattle superintendents have left, there are many guilty parties, but the unions don't appear to be among them. The unions may need to be reined in, but when you blame them for everything, it sounds more like your ideology speaking than actual analysis.
24. How does a candidate with recent ethics violations (Thornton) that prompted disciplinary action from his current employer make the short list for the Seattle superintendent job?
I will have to dig into my dissertation research, but I do have a conference report and there is a manuscript which I don't know if it has been published. Both look at the effect of unions on education achievement and I remember a footnote or something regarding the effect on superintendents. My aren't we secular progresives getting a bit touchy. My comments were general, I don't think that I specifically referred to Seattle. After all, John Stanford unfortunately died too soon. I really can't blame that on the union.
I would have to dig through boxes of research, but here are some resources.
Brown Center on Education Policy. (2000). Teachers unions: Do they help or hurt
education reform? Retrieved April 18, 2000 from
Kerchner, C. T., & Koppich, J. E. (1993). A union of professionals: Labor relations
and education reform. New York, NY: Teachers College Press, Columbia
Loveless, T. (Ed.). Conflicting missions? Teachers unions and educational reform.
Washington DC: Brookings Institution Press.
You secular progressives have a sense of human that is similar to the Bolsheviks.
Catholic schools are not the only alternative in Seattle. It is my understanding and I know children that have received scholarships from both Bush and Lakeside. If one has a talented child and they score high on tests, there are resources available. The procedure is similar to what many kids do for college, ask around to see what is available.
You don't have to worry about developing a thicker skin to post here. Just say what you want to say, if people don't agree, so be it. I wish you every success in doing what is best for your children. Don't let the geezers get to you.
Don't want to get sent to the corner for spelling violations:
You secular progressives have a sense of humor that is similar to the Bolsheviks
29. You will be quite pleased with Greg Thorton as your super.....please help yourself to him. :)
Maria Hyphen lady candidate; so where did she get her PhD?
that said, Seattle school district should be lucky to get anyone w a degree, so i guess its not that material to the debate.
i feel sorry for the person who wins
I feel sorry for any person who is a big city sup these days. The job is close to impossible. Big cities face many of the same problems:
a. Increasingly public school populations consist
of poorer children and no matter what the color
of the child, poverty presents certain
b. Families are increasingly fractured and
support for families is not there.
c. Increasing populations of immigrant children
who have language and culture adjustment
d. A societal distain and lack of appreciation
of education. Jaywalking was on last night.
Ignorance in the society is breathtaking
e. A society that demands a high level of
These sups are expected to be accountable, but they exist in a highly regulated environment and
Bruce have at it when I make this next statement, unions don't help sups to be accountable for achieving student academic achievement. We are now at a point that the individuals who populate the potential sup pool have invested so much time in education that this is their career until they retire. What we now have is a revolving door of sups who last about three years in a job. It is now becoming the insitutional norm that they last about three years. I don't want to put words in Westello's comments above, but they seem to think this is the new normal. My question is should this revolving door be the new normal?
The insitutional structure of large school district with a dysfunctional school board and regulation which strangles innovation at the local school level does not work. It does not and will not serve the population of kids in public schools. If the society wants to hold these folks accountable, they need poswers to hire and fire all staff.
I actually read the Charleston plan. It is not bad. The question I have is why is she leaving before implementation is complete. Was there intractable push back from a stakeholder(s) and won't the same thing happen here?
with a new chief, will they craft a new official definition of 'racism' like the last one?
or will we (gasp) learn our boring 'times tables' and other non-sexy practical stuff like the Classics or critical/analytical thinking without all the p.c. Every-Ethnicity-but-American-Culture-Day Celebration crap?
time will tell. not holding breath on this one. another smiley Sims figurehead not held to final account. tie this new person's salary to results. increments of 20% for failure/success. no pain no gain. then i'll believe their sales shtick.
west at 10--tracking systems are great--so is being well liked. sounds like KC elections. neither pay the rent in terms of FIXING PROBLEMS & PROVEN RESULTS.
the time for "suspension of judgement" is long past. any grocery clerk that cant bag properly is fired. same with 'buck stops here' leaders.
libs cry 'buck stops' at a sitting President or other opposition leader. so, it's fair for all. edu leaders too. same for T. Bergerson.