Goodloe-Johnson responds to critics

Jul 28, 2010, 2:45 AM | Updated: Mar 28, 2011, 3:46 pm

For months some Seattle parents and teachers have criticized the leader of the largest school district in our state. The Superintendent of Seattle Schools hasn’t responded to her critics until now.

goodloe johnson“I’m tough on issues, but I don’t think I’m tough on people,” says Dr. Maria Goodloe-Johnson in an exclusive interview with 97.3 KIRO FM. “If leadership is a challenge around providing what’s best for our kids, then that’s okay. Because it’s not okay for some students not to be doing well.”

Groups of parents, teachers and even two Seattle School Board members say Goodloe-Johnson does not include the community before making decisions on big issues.

It’s hard to know exactly how many people in the district are concerned about the superintendent’s leadership and decision making process. Teachers at about a dozen schools say they’ve taken “no confidence” votes in their leader. An unscientific parent survey conducted online found only 13 percent of those who responded were satisfied with Goodloe-Johnson’s performance.

While people are buzzing about the superintendent, she says they’re not talking to directly to her.

“Did they talk to their principal, did they talk to the executive director, have they emailed me? I would be very curious about how they have posed a question that they feel like hasn’t been listened to,” she says.

Goodloe Johnson is a data-driven educator who has made several changes over the past three years. Everything from the curriculum, to how kids are assigned to schools, and the way they’re tested. Change, she acknowledges, makes people uncomfortable.

“You don’t get things done if people don’t understand what you want done and we don’t have a lot of time. It’s not like we have 10 years,” says Goodloe-Johnson. “Students, every single year, don’t get another opportunity for that classroom at that level to learn and so I think I should be tough on that. I have a daughter. I don’t want her, or any other child, to lose out.”

It’s not likely that she’ll be increasing her popularity with teachers any time soon. This fall she’s planning on evaluating teachers in a new way. Under the current system, educators either met expectations, or don’t meet expectations. The new system is a four-tier evaluation tool that will detail what it means to score at level one, two, three or four. It will hold teachers more accountable for student performance.

“I’m being held accountable by the board, the system has to be held accountable, we have to be held accountable. I expect for all kids that the teachers hold themselves accountable for growth,” she says.

Will the new evaluation system further hurt her ability to work teachers? The Seattle Education Association is in the process of negotiating a new contract now, with a vote set for September 2nd. The superintendent thinks most teachers are doing exceptional work and will welcome having more specific evaluation standards and support.

Goodloe-Johnson does hear her critics. This fall she’ll get feedback from a group of high school students and will begin holding meetings with parents. She’ll use the “coffee chats” to respond to parents’ concerns and questions in person.


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Goodloe-Johnson responds to critics