Seattle Superintendent sums up 2010

Dec 20, 2010, 2:23 AM | Updated: Mar 28, 2011, 3:46 pm

Seattle Schools Superintendent Dr. Maria Goodloe-Johnson reflects on some of the district’s successes in 2010, looks ahead to next year, and introduces their new website in a letter to parents. Following Goodloe-Johnson’s letter, my thoughts on Seattle Schools.

maria webLooking back, 2010 has been a year of progress and change for Seattle Public Schools. We signed a historic teacher contract, which supports quality teaching in every classroom. We received a $12.5 million federal teacher incentive fund grant that is devoted to instructional and leadership excellence at 29 high needs schools. For the first time, the District released individual School Reports, giving families, schools and the community detailed information on the performance of every school, as well as a plan to improve. Finally – thanks to our supportive community – voters approved the $48.2 million supplemental school levy, which will help reduce the number and severity of budget cuts, support teachers and provide classroom materials.

We continue our work on implementing a new Student Assignment Plan that responds to what parents and families have requested. Thank you for your support and patience. We are committed to providing you with a plan that is predictable, equitable and easy to understand.

We’re starting the third year of our strategic plan, Excellence for All, which was approved in 2008 based on extensive community input and best practices nationally, and is aimed at ensuring all students graduate college and career ready.

Looking ahead to 2011, I see the District moving closer to realizing our goal: every student achieving, everyone accountable. Personally, I will continue to focus on Listening, Learning and Responding. This fall, I was able to meet and talk with parents and community members at regional meetings, coffee chats and numerous other events and activities across the District. I was impressed with what our families, parents and students have to say, and I will continue to listen to all the voices of the Seattle community.

I encourage families to stay involved in your student’s learning. Be a volunteer in the classroom, attend school meetings and contact your teacher or principal with any suggestions or concerns. And beginning today I invite you to preview our new District website, designed to provide much easier access to the timely information you need. With your continued support, we have the momentum to provide our children with education as a strong foundation for their futures.

As an education reporter, and a SPS parent, here is my take on accomplishments and challenges:

Seattle Schools avoided a teacher strike while introducing a new evaluation system . The district is lucky voters passed the supplemental school levy, because the teacher evaluation and incentive program relied on that voter request. Will Seattle schools hit us up for another bond or levy amount next year? Another question, has everyone forgotten that Seattle teachers voted “no confidence” in their leader?

As for the student assignment program, sending kids to the closest school to their home is a logical idea. But. What if the neighborhood school isn’t a good one? We’d all like to believe all teachers are great and all schools are wonderful. I’ve seen first hand that is not true – not in Seattle, not in any district.

Controversy of the year was a Nathan Hale parent’s effort to remove Brave New World from the curriculum. That story, incidentally, was the top blog post for MyNorthwest in 2010. In the end, the board voted allow teachers to use the novel if they choose.

Looking ahead to 2011, I’ll be following the one force that might shake up public education across the country – the Gates Foundation.

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Seattle Superintendent sums up 2010