Seattle Style?

And I’m not talking about flannel or the Fleet Foxes.  Per this post the other day, the new teachers’ contract was approved in Seattle.   And the teachers’ union there is griping about Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson’s style.  Wow. It’s the same thing they say about Michelle Rhee!  Yet Goodloe-Johnson, who is an Aspen Institute Fellows classmate of mine,  is basically the anti-Rhee in terms of her style.   So it kind of makes you again wonder if this isn’t more about resistance to change in general than a question of style?   As Woodrow Wilson said, “if you want to make enemies, try to change something.”

7 Replies to “Seattle Style?”

  1. “Resistance to change.”

    Yes, that is something we can all agree on.

    Here is one factor in education that has proved to be extremely resistant to change: For many years the least experienced teachers have been sent to the most challenging schools. This was true when, as a young woman right out of college, I was given a fifth grade class in the “inner-city” of Cleveland. It is still true today as many young, inexperienced college grads are sent to the neediest schools in the country.

    Teachers and university researchers know how critically important it is to have highly-qualified teachers in our lowest performing schools. We’ve known for many years that the teacher is the most critical variable in the school, so why do we persist in sending inexperienced people to these schools? Why are teachers and professors ignored when they call for higher standards for urban teachers?

    Perhaps it’s the money. It would probably take higher salaries to encourage these highly effective teachers to apply to low-income schools. Some people say that if these people don’t choose to teach in these schools, why encourage them to go there? I’ve found that once these teachers experience the satisfaction of teaching high-needs students, many decide to stay in these schools.

    So let’s all join together in asking for one change that will surely benefit poor kids: Let’s call for experienced teachers with proven track records of success for our low-achieving children.

  2. By proven track records of success, you mean that they have advanced student learning as measured on actual tests right?

    Because if you just mean “have been teaching for a long time,” no thanks. My kids last year had a 20 year veteran and a 2nd year teacher, respectively. The 2nd year teacher was better. I’m pretty sure assessment scores would prove it, too. If you think we should take the teacher who advances student learning the most and pay him/her more to teach in tough schools, then definitely. but if you want parents to pretend that the veteran teacher and give her more money absent evidence of how good he/she is, count this parent and taxpayer out.

  3. Linda/Retired Teacher you understand that teachers unions are among the biggest obstacles to what you are proposing thanks to all the work rules and contracts.

  4. Edconsumer:

    Yes, I think we should take teachers who advance student learning the most, place them in our toughest schools, and pay them more.

    Just Wondering:

    Many people believe as you do that “the unions” are the biggest obstacles to a quality education for everyone. Before I tell you where I place most of the blame, here is a story I’ve told before:

    My son’s roommate at Harvard wanted to be a high school Spanish teacher like his dad. For his first two years he insisted that “I’ve always wanted to be a teacher and that’s what I’m going to be.” However, the really smart people around him continued to pressure him to rethink his goals. Basically they said, “A brilliant young man like yourself can do so much more than be ‘just’ a teacher.” The young man was finally convinced that he could do “better” and so he is now doing something else.

    What caused the young man to change his mind? He encountered well-educated American men and women who harbor disdain and even contempt for our nation’s teachers and they had a negative effect on his desire to be a teacher. Some people might say “Well he didn’t want to be a teacher that badly” and that is true to some extent. However, his story is sadly common in our country. We’ve known for a long time that our best students do not become k-12 teachers.

    Do you have this attitude? If so, it’s likely that you would never be a teacher. It’s also likely that your sons and daughters would not choose to be teachers. If you are an outspoken individual who likes to express his opinions of teachers in public, it’s likely that there are relatives, neighbors, friends and people in the Blogosphere who have decided not to become teachers because they’ve heard your message that teaching is not anything worth doing. They know that “the unions” is an acceptable term for “the teachers.” Obviously “the unions” are teachers.

    So it is my opinion that the primary reason the United States has a less-than-stellar school system is the fact that many of our citizens do not value the people who teach children. This is the biggest obstacle that we face in improving our schools.

    Don’t be part of it.

  5. And the teachers’ union there is griping about Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson’s style.
    From the article, it seemed teachers were griping too.

  6. Goodloe-Johnson released her SERVE proposal mid-negotiations, worked with conservative think tanks to get the media riled up, has mismanaged the district into 20 audit findings, and is about to ruin the MAP test for everyone in the state.

    This is not a superintendent worthy of any sort of praise.

  7. Another One Bites The Dust:
    Maria Goodloe-Johnson dismissed as Seattle schools superintendent

    Goodloe-Johnson, who was hired in 2007, will be paid a severance package of $264,000 — a year’s base salary — plus an estimated $9,800 in benefits.

    Kennedy would receive $87,500 in salary — half his annual base pay — and about $4,900 in benefits.

    Hundreds of people packed the meeting room at the district’s headquarters, with speakers denouncing the district for misspending public funds and losing the trust of parents and others.

    Neither Goodloe-Johnson nor Kennedy have been directly implicated in a state Auditor’s Office report released last week that detailed corrupt activity in the district’s small-business contracting program. But an outside attorney hired by the district to review management’s actions concluded that both knew enough about those problems that they should have acted.

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