The Elephant in the Room: Why can't Seattle keep a school superintendent?

The city has had seven superintendents in the last 10 years. In this first installment of our new podcast, Steve Scher talks to education activists about the churn.

The city has had seven superintendents in the last 10 years. In this first installment of our new podcast, Steve Scher talks to education activists about the churn.

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I've teamed up with Crosscut on a new podcast series called "The Elephant in the Room." It's a place where my guests and I get to talk — at length — about questions that Pacific Northwesterners don't like to talk about. Like Elephant #1: Why can’t Seattle hold on to a school superintendent?

As you probably know, 'ꀨthe city is in the market, yet again, for a super. The person who replaces former School Superintendent Jose Banda will be the seventh superintendent in almost a decade. 'ꀨIn general, urban school superintendents have the staying power of losing NFL coaches. The average tenure is 3-4 years. So, why the revolving door?

Are the professionals in these positions set up to fail? Is even focusing on this top level leadership issue merely obscuring the real factors that determine a child's success in a Seattle public school classroom?

That's what I talked about with my guests Zithri Ahmed Saleem, Yalonda Gill Masundire and Kimberly Mitchell, all active citizens with kids and grandkids in Seattle Public Schools:


 

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Zithri Ahmed Saleem is a Garfield High School graduate. He is currently the director of program strategy at the Technology Access Foundation (TAF), which serves students of color and under-served communities.

 

 

 

 


 

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Yalonda Gill Masundire is the co-president of Community Parents For Public Schools (CPPS). She is a longtime community activist in southeast Seattle whose grandchildren attend Seattle public schools.

 

 

 

 

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Kimberly Mitchell is a former Teach For America teacher who served as a vice principal in Seattle Public Schools. She is the founder of Inquiry Partners, and a special assistant to the dean of the University of Washington's College of Education. Her children are enrolled in Seattle public schools. 

 

 

 

Here's what we all had to say. Grab some coffee, or a beer, and listen in. (If you prefer reading, download the transcript here.) And if there are any elephants you'd like us to talk about in future podcasts let us know in the Comments area below or by emailing editor@crosscut.com, subject line: ELEPHANT.



  

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About the Authors & Contributors

Steve Scher

Steve Scher

Steve Scher, former host of KUOW-FM's Weekday, is currently a Scholar in Residence at Town Hall and host of Crosscut's "Elephant in the Room" podcast.