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    Two big shockers for Seattle schools and cops

    The Department of Justice lands, clumsily, on Seattle police, and Seattle Schools Supt. Susan Enfield opts out of the fray. Here's the story behind these two bombshells.

    Susan Enfield, Highline School District Superintendent and former Seattle Public Schools Interim Superintendent.

    Susan Enfield, Highline School District Superintendent and former Seattle Public Schools Interim Superintendent. Seattle Public Schools

    Seattle Police Chief John Diaz

    Seattle Police Chief John Diaz City of Seattle

    Geologically speaking, Seattle sits atop a sunken volcano. Politically speaking, Seattle politics sits atop two semi-dormant volcanoes, police and schools, that burp sour fumes and occasional plumes. Last Friday, they both blew, big time.

    Both are chronic problems that we never seem able to fix in any lasting way, despite blue-ribbon committees and high-sounding reports.  It's rare that they erupt in such spectacular fashion. But at least this way there's a chance for some real solutions and sustained public attention to the root causes.

    What happened in schools, or Mt. SPS, is that the great hope for fixing the troubled administration, in the form of interim Supt. Susan Enfield, stunned her supporters and the reform coalition by saying she would step down next June, when her short contract expires. The decision, unexplained for the most part, almost certainly stemmed from the surprising fall election, where two insurgents got elected, turning the reform coalition from a 5-2 majority into a 3-4 minority. With a split board, Enfield quickly ran up her flag for other employment. Uh-oh.

    As for police, or Mt. SPD, the Department of Justice issued its damning report, after an 11-month probe, saying the local police have "long-standing and entrenched deficiencies" when it comes to use of force against citizens, despite years of such incidents and efforts to reform the department. Mayor Mike McGinn and Police Chief John Diaz immediately fought back, demanding to know more of the DOJ methodology. The fat is finally in the fire.

    Both crises are also opportunities. The School Board might come up with a good new superintendent, one who is not as scarred by recent wars in the district and the bruising current politics of school reform. Those wanting to reform our police department may finally have a federal hammer to force genuine change. The downsides are also easy to see. For schools it would be a descent into bickering, micromanaging by the board, and powerless leadership. For police, it could be a year's-long battle in the courts, airing all the dirty laundry and driving the cops' union into new levels of recalcitrance.

    To start with the police, here's a preliminary overview of the issues and prospects. Seattle has a widely admired system of monitoring alleged and actual police misbehavior. Yet the number of highly visible incidents continues to be high, and if you dig into reports about citizen oversight you find that very often the offending officer has not been following policy (such as use of In-Car Video) or was allowed to gloss over the awkward details in reports to superiors. (An excellent and eye-opening report on many such episodes of wink-wink, half-compliance is in the new report by former Judge Anne Levinson, the civilian auditor of the SPD's Office of Professional Accountability. The language is diplomatic, but the collective impact is alarming.)

    Why have we made so little progress, despite public outcry and numerous reports detailing these bad behaviors? Politicians are afraid of pushing too hard against the politically powerful Police Guild, for one thing. We have not had police chiefs who hammer away at the need to follow guidelines and training, since that would run into police politics and the courts a career-jeopardizing vote of no confidence from the Guild. (When that vote took place against former chief Gil Kerlikowske in 2001, his reform instincts quickly vanished.) The general public has been lulled by numerous high-minded recommendations from citizen committees. Mayors and city councilmembers covet the political support of the Guild. And normally, to get even small concessions from the Guild has meant very big cash concessions in their contracts, a cure not currently available.

    We have ended up with a system of police accountability and professionalism that looks good on paper but is far from ideal. How far from a reasonable standard? That will prove to be the lava-hot question of the coming year. The Justice Department says, "very far." Some examples: SPD officers, when they use force, do so in an unconstitutional manner nearly 20 percent of the time. Resorting to batons is either unnecessary or excessive 57 percent of the time.

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    Posted Mon, Dec 19, 8:38 a.m. Inappropriate

    This is a very helpful analysis and overview David. There's a repeated pattern in Seattle. We do national searches and bring in much-heralded leaders from elsewhere. They run into a combination of localism, entrenched (often veiled) power and a dis-empowering suspicion of leadership. The outside professional/ reformer/ leader is either sent packing, or chooses to leave after being beat up for a couple years. It's a predictable but not very productive pattern. The tenacity with which we cling to it suggests a sort of addictive behavior. Meanwhile the "national search" (apparently favored by new school board members) is costly and puts things in limbo for a long time. An alternative would be someone with local roots and credibility but with a larger perspective and wider world of experience, hence your suggestions of Norm Rice or Bob Watt for the schools. There must be others as well. But in any event, entrenched power in unions (police and teachers), is a tough match for a single person be it a police chief or school superintendent, even if they are able to assemble a solid team.

    Posted Mon, Dec 19, 8:45 a.m. Inappropriate

    I wonder if Dr. Enfield just looked in every nook and cranny of SPS, and given Seattle's well-won reputation for passive agressive behavior, decided she wasn't ever going to be successful here. I will stand on the word 'adult.'


    Posted Mon, Dec 19, 9:43 a.m. Inappropriate

    Good article on two chronic political issues, one curable and the second not. The police problem can be cured with a strong infusion of political will to stand up to the bullying of the Guild. But since that kind of courage isn't part of the Seattle culture, the default setting is to fix it via a federal court order -- or by negotiations under threat of federal action.

    The school problem should be read in the context of the companion Times piece on immigrants who speak African languages at home excelling native-born African-Americans on standard tests. The gap was 11% for both math and English proficiency -- yes, English! It is unrealistic to expect the school system to fix problems that are rooted in the deficiencies of the home environment and family structure. Ultimately the community must do that for itself. So, strictly speaking, the superintendency is designed for failure; no one with any sense is likely to want the job unless the school board and superintendent share realistic expectations about what can be achieved and how to go about it. The current ideological warfare over control over the board will need to be resolved before any such workable consensus can emerge. Until then, the district can search to the far ends of the galaxy for the perfect superintendent candidate. It won't do any good.


    Posted Mon, Dec 19, 11:30 a.m. Inappropriate

    Here we go again! One step forward and two steps backward.


    Posted Mon, Dec 19, 1:11 p.m. Inappropriate

    Re the Seattle Police

    I believe that the Seattle Police in the vast majority are fine cops who do the right thing. There are also a few rotten apples who do not. This is a fact in any organization. I am not going ot get down on the majority of cops who do a good job. The bad minority should and must be dealt with.

    I think a lot of this controversy is complements of the media whose mantra appears to be "if it bleeds it leads" I am tired of that and for the most part ignore the media as biased because they seek stories to satisfy the public demand for blood n guts.

    I propose the media every night and on every TV channel run 5 features where cops did the right thing. Same for printed media.


    Posted Mon, Dec 19, 1:21 p.m. Inappropriate

    @leitmotif: There are also a few rotten apples who do not. This is a fact in any organization.

    Very true. However, in most organizations the bad apples are disciplined, fired, or sued. In the Seattle Police Department, they rarely face any consequences at all.


    Posted Mon, Dec 19, 3:40 p.m. Inappropriate

    " Seattle School Board races have to be treated like Seattle City Council races, ..." Heaven forbid.


    Posted Mon, Dec 19, 3:41 p.m. Inappropriate

    Re: School Board

    Many Seattle citizens may not know who are the reformers on the School Board and who are not. They may simply have voted against incumbents because of all the schools financial issues that seem to be in the news fairly regularly. Enfield may have resigned due to the new Board composition, but is it just coincidence that she resigned the day after the news came out that the School District has a $50 million headquarters building, but no plan to pay the debt?--at least that's the way the story was presented in the SEATTLE TIMES.

    Posted Mon, Dec 19, 7:55 p.m. Inappropriate

    Prior to 2007 there had never been a school board candidate that spent over $40,000 to get elected. In the 2007 election the Times predicted as much as $50,000 might be spent to win a seat. The Reform Bloc four spent $500,000 with Peter Maier spending over $160,000.

    It sounds as if Mr. Brewster favors an Oligarchy over a Democratic Republic. "and a budget of several hundred thousand dollars. (Sundquist and Maier each spent about $68,000 in losing; respective victors Marty McLaren and Sharon Peaslee spent $26,000 and $14,000.)"

    Perhaps Mr. Brewster should further explain his support for TfA and so many other Ed Reform items that he apparently prefers. Apparently Maier's spending of 5 times what Peaslee spent was insufficient to gain him victory.

    Mr. Brewster is there any chance the public might actually be more informed on some education issues than you?

    Posted Mon, Dec 19, 8:28 p.m. Inappropriate

    Oh, so now the reform bloc and their "new-economy" backers (sounds better than the 1%) are the underdogs?! That's rich.

    As for your year-end fund drive, my check's in the mail...


    Posted Mon, Dec 19, 9:15 p.m. Inappropriate

    re: SPD. You call Burgess informed and Harrell's leadership substantially weaker on Council Public Safety? I beg to differ. Burgess and his cop background allowed the problem to proliferate. Harrell has already shown social justice leadership with his body camera proposal. With Harrell's leadership I look forward to a council committee that will be stronger on public safety.

    re: SPS. You know some, but not enough. Ed Reform was not part of the election 4 years ago. Morris from The Alliance and Korsmo from LEV and the national PAC Stand for Children woman Campion just became opportunistic afterward, making a natural alliance with the business community. The business community simply wanted what they perceived to be "adults" on the board, and that's what they got. The board looked great the past 4 years. Unfortunately it completely failed in its oversight duties. Don't take my word for it. Go re-read the multiple damning state audits.

    Everyday voters don't give a damn about Ed Reform philosophy. They do give a damn about criminality and years of poor management downtown. The only reason the other 2 members of the last board survived in the last election was as follows: One race had a candidate with an unfortunate reputation for combativeness (not saying she was - just that was the rep) and ran against the strongest of the 4 board members (Carr) who those in the know understood was NOT a fan of Goodloe-Johnson, which was redeeming to Carr's candidacy. Carr also who did much better late in her term acting on the concerns of the community. The other surviving board member and the darling of ed reform on the board is Martin-Morris - who worked with LEVite turned lobbyist Lisa Macfarlane to do a backroom deal to get TFA into town. That gave him substantial behind the scenes boosts from the LEV and Alliance and Stand groups against challenger Buetow. As well, he rode the coattails of his "diversity" which he brought up endlessly in debates. Liberal Seattle voters clearly wanted diversity on the school board (despite the fact that Martin-Morris's credentials at turning his diversity into powerful policy are limited at best.)

    Don't look for $100s of $1000s of dollars to buy a new school board next time around. Seattle voters are getting smarter about the idea that business might try to "buy" itself a board. Especially as exploiting a loophole on allowable campaign financing is a putrid use of democracy, and with strong leadership in state legislature, may well be a thing of the past by the next election. The populace also seems to be rejecting The Seattle Times, which used to be a leader on education opinion. Lynne Varner wrote editorial after editorial explaining that the only "right" choice in the past election were the 4 incumbents, and voters staunchly ignored her, prefering instead to look at the reality on the ground in SPS.

    Another thing that may be history by the next election? The arrogance and hubris of those in the ed reform movement who believe they are the only "leaders" who have answers for our children. Many of their proposed "fixes" have already shown to be failures at the national level. In addition, the generally nasty tone of the aforementioned triad of leaders from Alliance, LEV, Stand simply does not sit well with an increasing number of Seattleites. Those 3 groups need reform at the leadership level as much as SPS also needs it at the administrative level.

    Posted Mon, Dec 19, 11:20 p.m. Inappropriate

    Tianna, that's it in a nutshell.


    Posted Mon, Dec 19, 11:33 p.m. Inappropriate

    First, it is clear from this and other stories you have written that for some reason you are a supporter of the "reform" education movement. You are an analytic type of guy...why do you think the reform folks have a clue what is needed to improve education? They are all for assessments but don't deal with deficiencies of the core curricula. In Seattle, weak math curriculum (fuzzy, discovery approach) have crippled kids education. Have you researched this ? There is massive empirical proof (including results at Mercer Middle School) that indicate the problems with the current curricula. Regarding the election, so you think that changing two of SEVEN members of the school board was enough to scare Susan Enfield? It is clear that she had enough support to have remained in her position--are you suggested that she pulled out because she didn't have a uniformly supportive board? If that is true, what does than say about her? The election showed that many were unhappy with the corruption in the district and the lack of oversight of the "reform" board you support.

    Posted Tue, Dec 20, 8:03 a.m. Inappropriate

    Gee, I wish there were a nice way to say this, but there really isn't.

    David Brewster's every conclusion about Seattle Public Schools is wrong and it always has been. This article demonstrates his inability to connect facts to conclusions.

    Mr. Brewster refers to Dr. Enfield as the District's "great hope for fixing the troubled administration". Gee, Mr. Brewster, why didn't four years of a Reform Board and a Reform Superintendent fix the troubled administration? Because Mr. Brewster is wrong. The Reformers didn't fix the problem because they are part of the problem, not the solution.

    Mr. Brewster concluded that Dr. Enfield's decision to withdraw herself from consideration as the District's long-term superintendent "almost certainly stemmed from the surprising fall election". He writes this despite Dr. Enfield's own statement that the election had nothing to do with it. So now Mr. Brewster knows Dr. Enfield's heart better than she does herself and he's calling her a liar. Here's another possibility: Mr. Brewster is wrong.

    Mr. Brewster, rather tellingly, wrote that "two insurgents got elected" to the Board. Mr. Brewster, don't you know that one perspective's "insurgents" are another prospective's "Freedom Fighters"? And the perspective that sees them as Freedom Fighters are the local population, while those who see them as insurgents are the foreign occupiers. I guess we know which camp you are in.

    Mr. Brewster writes that Dr. Enfield isn't interested in working at the District if the Board isn't dominated by Reformers. Ah, so now he is not only calling her a liar but cowardly and weak. How could we allow a prize like this to get away?

    Mr. Brewster is concerned that the School District will descend "into bickering, micromanaging by the board, and powerless leadership." but he has no real rationale for that fear. There is no reason to believe that the new Board will micro-manage. We can, however, expect the new Board to perform their management oversight responsibilities, which the previous Board abdicated. In fact, the previous Board abdicated all of their duties and utterly failed to perform in any way at all. It is the primary reason that they deserved to be thrown out of office. The leadership for this new-found emphasis on management oversight isn't coming from the two newly elected Board members; it is coming from the re-elected incumbent, Director Carr.

    Mr. Brewster's conclusion about the recent election is hard to fathom. He seems to believe that money will make the difference, but that conclusion cannot be supported by the facts. In the four races this year the candidates who far out-spent their opponents won two and lost two. The obvious conclusion is that money didn't matter. Mr. Brewster is so focused on the races lost by Mr. Sundquist and Mr. Maier that he doesn't appear to notice the races won by Ms Carr and Mr. Martin-Morris.

    The "populist coalition" that supported the challengers are not "strange bedfellows" at all. They are all people with an actual stake in our schools. The Reform movement, however, are all finger puppets of a single hand, The Gates Foundation, which has no stake in our community or our children. Let's remember, once again, that this year's election was a tie. The locals won two and the Gates Foundation won two. This represents balance.

    Mr. Brewster tries to make us as confused as he is when he claims, on one hand, that the Sundquist Board elected in 2007, was "deliberately recruited from people who know how to be boards for a billion-dollar company" while acknowledging, on the other hand "a series of management fiascos on its watch." The Board that he thought was so good was, in fact, a disaster. He doesn't see it because he does not connect the facts with the conclusion. To the rational readers, however, it is obvious. Unlike him, we are actually paying attention. Mr. Brewster writes, almost comically, that the Sundquist Board "may have given Dr. Maria Goodloe-Johnson too much autonomy". Ya think?

    In a brilliant display of revisionist history, Mr. Brewster claims that it was "the previous, meddlesome board that drove out Supt. Raj Manhas in 2006." First, Raj Manhas was no prize. Read the CACIEE report written by the blue-ribbon commission that Mr. Manhas assembled. The entire first half of the report describes how Mr. Manhas utterly failed to do his job. Second, the superintendent works for the Board, not the other way around. If the superintendent and the Board do not agree, it is the superintendent who needs to change, not the Board.

    Mr. Brewster writes that the Education Reform movement "has not presented a compelling local case". In truth, the Education Reform movement has not presented a compelling case anywhere. Their solutions do not prove effective. Their ideas don't work. Not here. Not anywhere. That's why Seattle citizens remain un-convinced. The problem isn't in Seattle; the problem is in the poor quality of the Reform solutions.

    Mr. Brewster's remarkable blindness is most on display when he fails to recognize himself in Dr. Enfield's characterization of "adult issues, egos and politics". He has written about nothing else.

    Mr. Brewster writes that the causes of Dr. Enfield's resignation is "murky", though earlier he claims to know that it was rooted in the recent election. He writes that the previous board should have awarded her the job, another error by the board directors that he thinks are so wonderful. He gives credit to Dr. Goodloe-Johnson for the new teachers' contract despite the fact that her meddling in the negotiations nearly tanked the whole thing. Thank goodness her "force of will" was swept aside before it caused a teacher strike. There is no "local backlash" to Reform. There is a national realization that the Reform movement is empty, that their solutions don't work for children, and that the entire effort is driven by a few wealthy individuals seeking to privatize public education.

    Mr. Brewster is wrong in most of his facts and all of his conclusions. But let's remember that this is guy who presumed, on June 16, that all four school board directors would be easily re-elected "An Election Likely to Ratify Strong Councils" http://crosscut.com/blog/crosscut/20372/An-election-likely-to-ratify-strong-councils/

    Why does anyone give this guy any credence at all?


    Posted Tue, Dec 20, 8:07 a.m. Inappropriate

    Mr. Brewster wrote this horribly wrong article in June:
    "An Election Like to Ratify Strong Councils" in which he predicted the easy re-election of the four board incumbents.

    Why does Mr. Brewster have any credibility with anyone?


    Posted Tue, Dec 20, 10:37 a.m. Inappropriate

    "The decision, unexplained for the most part, almost certainly stemmed from the surprising fall election, where two insurgents got elected, turning the reform coalition from a 5-2 majority into a 3-4 minority. "

    Nope. First of all, as Coolpapa points out, Enfield said her decision had nothing to do with her leaving. I believe her.

    Second, I believe she has another job lined up and would have had to set it into motion BEFORE the election results.

    Third, "insurgents", really? First they are the dreaded "activists" and now insurgents. Have you met Mary McLaren or Sharon Peaslee - they are not insurgents. They are two bright women who ran great campaigns against incumbents who were tone-deaf and refused to admit their own faults. Don't blame the voters for listening to the new voices.

    I believe this district will survive and may even do better. I believe we should hire from within because what we need now - especially for our hard-working staffs at our schools and the hard-working staff at headquarters - we need trust and calm. I believe we do have the talent to get it done from within from people that staff know and trust.

    As for ed reform, that train is slowing down. People are starting to see and understand that charter schools, overall, do NOT perform better (and sometimes worse) than traditional schools. Teach for America is a costly distraction. The reformers can think up all the new groups they want; people are not dumb and know when they are being snowed with nonsense.

    As for the future, well, never waste a crisis and I believe this time of reckoning may just get our district on more solid ground and moving forward. It would help if outside groups and big money would get out of the way and let our teachers and staff get the hard, intimate working of teaching our children get done.


    Posted Tue, Dec 20, 11:47 a.m. Inappropriate

    Commenters, read woofer (someone I seldom agree with). If the children had love good training at home this problem would diminish by 80%. A child has learned a lot by age five.


    Posted Tue, Dec 20, 12:02 p.m. Inappropriate

    I wish the people calling for more money for school board elections, would just walk down the street and cut that big check directly to their neighborhood schools. Both of my children (middle and high school age) cannot bring books home from school to study, as there aren't enough to go around all the classes. Put the money where it is really needed, please.

    Or the people lamenting low test scores would all show up at the after-school tutoring programs, we always need people there, and that would help scores improve more than anything, some one-on-one instruction.

    I was never wild about Susan Enfield, her decisions about math, TFA and firing Mr Floe were three strikes I had a lot of trouble getting past. But I respect her enough that I believe she made the decision to move on from SPS in her and her family's own best interest. Not because she is running away from the super-scary Marty McLaren and Sharon Peaslee. Please, give the woman some credit.


    Posted Tue, Dec 20, 12:53 p.m. Inappropriate

    Be nice if folks who rant here, issuing all kinds of sweeping judgements, would use names other than "coolpapa,"whatever that is, or "enh," etc. Mr. Brewster signs his articles. So should the responders.

    Posted Tue, Dec 20, 1:54 p.m. Inappropriate

    As far as I can tell, coolpapa just took Mr. Brewster apart piece by factual piece. Complaining that he did so anonymously doesn't exactly constitute a substantive rebuttal.

    Posted Tue, Dec 20, 1:57 p.m. Inappropriate

    I am westello.

    Melissa Westbrook
    Seattle Schools Community Forum blog


    Posted Tue, Dec 20, 1:57 p.m. Inappropriate

    ...and you'll have to forgive me if I don't think that the fact that Mr. Brewster tirelessly carries water for the Gates Foundation - which is big supporter of the so-called reform movement and just happens to be a major Crosscut funder - is exactly coincidental.

    As my old poli sci professor used to say, ya gotta dance with them what brung ya....

    Posted Tue, Dec 20, 2:32 p.m. Inappropriate

    Coolpapa (the well-known handle of education blogger Charlie Mas) may have gone on a bit, but this is a particularly weak piece of writing/thinking from Mr. Brewster that deserves a great deal of criticism. It's hard to know where to start, but I'll leave it at five points.

    1. None of the incumbents raised enough money this year to afford the luxury of polling. Nor did they have enough cash in the kitty to do anything substantial with the information that polling would have provided. Mr. Brewster's lack of knowledge of how local campaigns work is showing.

    2. Mr. Brewster's fondness for describing his political opponents as "weak" is just tiresome. The incumbents simply hadn't done a good job over the past four years and city voters rightly rejected two of them. Marty McLaren was a very strong candidate who ran an excellent campaign and Sharon Peaslee did enough despite a very low budget to edge a weak incumbent.

    3. The ed reform backers outspent their opponents, but lacked people power: hardworking campaign volunteers, supportive parents, etc.

    4. I'm still waiting for an argument as to why the departure of mediocre fill-in Susan Enfield was any great loss. This is a woman who has wandered from job to job every couple years and seems to have left her last pre-Seattle position under a cloud.

    5. Lastly, most board incumbents worked very hard, especially Peter Maier, to win re-election to their seats, with money aplenty from the education reform billionaires. Nobody took anything for granted, they just got beat by better candidates. If the corporate ed reform forces of Gates and the 1 percent go after Betty Patu and Kay Smith-Blum, the same activists (not "insurgents," Mr. Brewster) will be back for that fight.


    Posted Tue, Dec 20, 3:36 p.m. Inappropriate

    Ditto to everything Mannix says, and one more thread to add. While campaigning for Marty McLaren, I would ask people directly if they weren't damned sick and tired of downtown and Eastside corporate suits wanting to run Seattle Public Schools through their proxies on the School Board.

    The answer was a resounding yes, and people were grateful that someone was putting it in such blunt terms, because that thought had been in the back of a lot of people's minds.

    Look for it to continue, David. You and your billionaire buddies aren't quite as popular, or as universally admired, as you might think you are. Especially when the lot of you don't seem to know a damn thing about public education.


    Posted Tue, Dec 20, 4:04 p.m. Inappropriate

    Dear "Bubbleator," whoever you might be, I don't find too much "fact" in the "cool papa'" response, but rather some sweeping conclusions, I.e. "There is a national realization that the Reform movement is empty, that their solutions don't work for children, and that the entire effort is driven by a few wealthy individuals seeking to privatize public education."
    Who knew - must have missed its utter failure. It seems a rant rather than an argument. But obviously there are sincerely held views re what works in education; I would assume, though, that they can be made without negative taunts (there's more than enough of that in national politics). That said, my only gripe with anything here - god knows people will differ on something as important as education - is the use of handles instead of names. If I'm going to take someone seriously, I'd like to know who they are.

    Posted Tue, Dec 20, 4:25 p.m. Inappropriate

    Ah, Mr. James, you obviously don't have a blog. Charlie and I write for a blog - every single day. If you want feedback, you'll have to take it as you can. Some people might work for SPS and cannot use their names for fear of retribution. Some people just don't have the courage of their convictions. Some people are just timid.

    Charlie very credibly blew holes in Mr. Brewster's editorial and most of what he said can be traced through all kinds of media sources.

    That there are those of us in Seattle unwilling to be led by the nose by big money or ed reform - you call us anything you like. But the majority of voters spoke in the elections. (And note, it was not a "sweep the bums out" mentality, otherwise all FOUR would be gone.) No, the voters did their own thinking. No one was tricked. Now the fact that the CEO of the Gates Foundation contributed to all four incumbents while not contributing to the races over in Bellevue (where he actually lives) should tell you something. Money cannot buy school board races.

    The people who know this district, really know it, are not going just stand back and watch it all unfold. We are fighting back and well, the Board has two new members. Teach for America is a miserable failure here (only 9 and the UW's College of Education wanted 35-50).

    Keep the public in public education. That's just what we are doing and the powers that be hate it.


    Posted Tue, Dec 20, 4:53 p.m. Inappropriate

    Dear Mike G James,

    Fact 1: "Discovery Math" at the high school level used in Seattle and Bethel has been a serious under-performer as measured by the End of Course Algebra assessment given to students who just completed an Algebra course. The scores of Seattle's and Bethel's Low income 9th graders were far inferior to same classification of students in Clover Park SD and Spokane (which use Holt)..... Everett uses Discovering also and their results were poor as well.


    Fact 2: The use of Teach for America corps members in Seattle was fraudulently presented by the Superintendent. The claim was made that this was a move to close achievement gaps.

    Yet ...
    a) ... the WAC 181-79A-231 legally required careful review of all options to close achievement gaps was never performed
    b) ... The Board authorized the Superintendent to apply for conditional certificates for TfA corps members.... this application claimed that the WAC required "Careful Review" of all other options to TfA had been performed. Submitting a false claim is known as fraud.
    c) ... The legal appeal of the Board decision authorizing the Superintendent to commit fraud.

    Notice of appeal filed on October 21, 2011 =>

    Enfield performed a similar act in regard to the $800,000 New Tech Network contract. As CAO she produced a highly flawed action report to apparently mislead rather than inform. It did not match the contract but the board approved it anyway ... apparently the Reform Bloc four were too busy voting YES to read the contract. This was appealed and within a week Enfield produced a different Action Report that was still highly flawed.

    The Reform Bloc four voted in favor again ignoring substantial evidence that the NTN schools were under-performers. Martin-Morris told a story about an NTN school in North Carolina which he claimed was doing a fine job.

    Researching results from NC revealed the School was in the bottom 19% of schools in NC and spending more money on a more advantaged population to get the same or worse results that its neighboring district high school.

    in documents submitted for the second NTN appeal, Enfield submitted a document to the court that was not what it claimed to be.

    The height of Enfield's concentrating on pushing the reform agenda and missing the relevant facts ......
    came when She and Martin-Morris and Sundquist went on a visit to New Tech Sacramento.

    The plan was to visit a STEM school ..... but upon arrival they learned the school was NOT STEM.

    Enfield'd action report claimed that 2/3 of NTN schools were STEM ... fact was only 10 out of 41 were STEM and there were ZERO NTN STEM schools in California.


    Research shows that TfA when used in situations with an adequate supply of fully certified teachers normally lowers results for students. See Julian V. Heilig's academic journal articles of the peer-reviewed research on TfA.

    The use of TfA in Seattle has been seen in other Districts without a teacher shortage. It is known as replacing veteran teachers with low cost replacements to save money.

    I hope that my comments are detailed enough for you.

    If you need clarification, just write.


    Posted Tue, Dec 20, 5 p.m. Inappropriate

    Bravo, Dan Dempsey and Westello AKA Melissa Westbrook - real names and facts to work with. Thank you.

    Posted Tue, Dec 20, 7:06 p.m. Inappropriate

    Wow, dollars for democracy. Thanks for letting me know about yourself.

    Why is Enfield leaving? Your guess is as good as mine. I suspect you are just repeating words of others and blaming our two newly elected board members. However, here is the truth -there are 5 other board members, I suspect the majority of the board would have voted to retain Enfield. We'll never know..it appears Enfield has chosen to take another job.

    As members of the public like to throw blame our new board members for Enfield's departure, let me tell you about another little fact. Goodloe-Johnson spent a couple of years creating and funding a non-sustainable Strategic Plan. The district never created a multi-year budget because it wasn't sustainable (especially during historic cuts to education). Last year the district was forced to begin dismantling the same plan Goodloe Johnson set up..and Enfield supported. This year, much more of the plan would need to be dismantled. So, Enfield would not have the ability to fund the type of structure she felt she needed. Could this have played a role in Enfield's decision? Possibly. The district has already stripped our classrooms dry. With the exception of Maier, Martin Morris and Sundquist, I can't think of another director that would be willing to further strip our teachers, principals and students of resources.


    Posted Tue, Dec 20, 8:40 p.m. Inappropriate

    Yes, the Raikes couple, residents of Bellevue donated $20,000 total for the four incumbents' campaigns. With their net worth, they can just buy the School Board, City Council, and the Statehouse in the next election and still have money left to fix our crumbling buildings, pay our teachers salaries, buy textbooks, and provide a nutritious lunch for needy students.


    Posted Tue, Dec 20, 10:30 p.m. Inappropriate

    You are correct Barney, not only did the Raikes couple provide funding for incumbents- they also paid for Teach for America to come to Seattle Public Schools. http://kuow.org/program.php?id=24501 Teach for America (TfA) typically goes to areas of the country that lack teachers. These individuals are straight out of 4 year colleges and receive a quick 5 week course before becoming the teacher of record. Seattle does not lack teachers. As a matter of fact, there are about 90 teachers applications for a single position. TfA is another ed. reform tactic that has never closed the achievement gap.

    Yes indeed, reformists think they can buy our public schools.


    Posted Wed, Dec 21, 7:30 a.m. Inappropriate

    Thank you Mr. James for your valuable contributions to the conversation.


    Posted Wed, Dec 21, 9:57 a.m. Inappropriate

    Hi there "Coolpapa," AKA Charlie Mas. Glad to be of service.
    Your sarcasm aside, these findings will interest anyone weighing in on the performance of Seattle schools over the last few years: 5 Seattle schools on state's list of lowest achievement http://mobile.seattletimes.com/story/today/2017052174/track-ip_news

    A way to go, it seems.

    Posted Wed, Dec 21, 11:01 a.m. Inappropriate

    I don't know why you presume sarcasm, Mr. James. There is no tone of voice here other than the one you apply. If you hear sarcasm, it is because you inserted it.

    Do you regard the appearance of five Seattle schools on the list as an indication that something is going badly in the District? If so, then Mr. Brewster is wrong and we should be glad to be rid of Dr. Enfield and two Board incumbents. Doesn't the presence of these schools on that list reflects their work?

    For my part, I do not think much of such lists or even the idea of successful schools, struggling schools or failing schools - at least not based on student pass rates on state tests. The determinants of those test scores are largely outside the school and outside the school's control. While I do think that there are things that the schools and the District could be doing to provide students with more motivation to achieve, that has not been a focus of Education Reform (the kind supported by the Gates Foundation, the Broad Foundation, and their various puppet organizations). More Education Reform won't deliver improved results because it does not address the causes of the current results.


    Posted Wed, Dec 21, 11:20 a.m. Inappropriate

    I certainly understand Mr. James desire to know the full legal name of the originator of any statement. After all, without that, the statement would have to be judged on its own merits. We know to believe articles published in the New York Times and to dis-believe articles published in the Inquirer based on where they are printed, not by the content of the article.

    Wouldn't it be horrible to read an anonymous comment, agree with it completely, and later learn that it was written by someone on the other side of some political divide? Better to know who wrote it so we could know, in advance, whether to agree with it or not, whether to find merit or find fault in it, and whether accept claims or challenge them.

    Doesn't Mr. Brewster make as many or more "sweeping judgements" in his rant as you claim I made in my critique? Shouldn't he be held to a similar standard? In fact, shouldn't Mr. Brewster also be held responsible for the rules for anonymous comments here at Crosscut? If Mr. James doesn't care for the rules he should direct his concern to those who make them, not those who follow them.


    Posted Fri, Dec 23, 2:53 p.m. Inappropriate

    Without a doubt, the comments on Crosscut add immense value to the readership. The authors sometimes may feel a bit in the hotseat, but that's ok - it is their job to write something, anything, that makes people think.

    Anonymous comments are exactly as Coolpapa says: it means the comment must be judged entirely by its' own merits.

    I am continually dismayed at the intrusion of Facebook into commenting programs chosen by various news/publishers. Using FB to control comments diminishes the quality of every discussion I have read, and I find myself losing interest in the articles in those publications.

    Thank you, Crosscut, for allowing the anonymous tradition of opinions to continue. It is valued and appreciated.

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