Before moving to Seattle in 2005, I lived in Charleston, South Carolina (where the Gullah word, kumbaya comes from), where I witnessed the school district’s search for — and eventual selection of — a new Superintendent for the Charleston South Carolina School District. Her name was Dr. Maria Goodloe-Johnson. She talked about accountability, and diversity, and improving students’ education, all of which Charleston sorely needed.
Some of my neighbors did not like her, though. I kept hearing “she’s black” or “she’s a woman” or “she’s a black woman” until finally, the worst of all “a black woman living in sin.”
The Charleston Post & Courier quoted parents bemoaning the fact that the Superintendent was a terrible role model for the kids, who didn’t know she wasn’t married until those parents got all vocal about it in the press. It made me sick. (I can’t find any of those old Post & Courier articles, the archives are busted, but you get a hint of it in this 2007 Seattle P-I piece).
So I was excited to see Dr. Goodloe-Johnson on the list of candidates to serve as Seattle’s Superintendent a couple of years ago. I thought, “At least here, she won’t seen as a black woman living in sin. Maybe the locals will give her shot, based on how she does her job.”
And maybe they did. It’s hard to tell. I do not have children in the Seattle Public Schools.
Again, I will quote the neighbors. A shopper at Wally Pets told me that Seattle doesn’t like anyone authoritative, anyone who doesn’t allow group think (surveys, parents meetings, etc) to rule the day. “No kumbaya.” Another shopper explained that Seattle doesn’t “need no academic” who didn’t work her way up through the Seattle Public Schools.
Regardless, a group known as the “Seattle Shadow School Board” is calling for a No Confidence vote for Dr. Goodloe-Johnson at the July 16th school board meeting where a proposal to extend Dr. Goodloe-Johnson’s contract will be considered.
The No Confidence language/petition is available here. Some of the points on the petition are rather ambiguous, leaving me with more questions than I came with. Examples:
- Whereas the Superintendent’s New Student Assignment Plan will result in increased racial and economic segregation, and… (Are you sure about that?)
- Whereas the Superintendent allowed Seattle Public Schools to give out the names of parents and teachers to a public relations firm for a politically-motivated survey carried out by a commercial enterprise, and… (Got any sources to go with that one?)
- Whereas the Superintendent’s performance management plan relies on MAP testing purchased from the NWEA, of which organization the Superintendent is a board director, and (And!?)
- Whereas the Superintendent is a member of the board of directors of the Broad Foundation, which lobbies for and financially supports the privatization of public education via charter schools across the nation, and… (Again, And!?)
- Whereas the Superintendent’s poor management resulted in laying off, then rehiring needed teachers, and… (I suppose the economy & budget cuts didn’t have anything to do with this one?)
- Whereas the Superintendent’s poor judgment resulted in the need to open five schools just six months after closing five schools/programs, which mismanagement will cost the District an estimated $48M, rather than saving $3M in closures, with the added subsequent effect of shuffling staff, resources, equipment and children around the District, and… (I’m sure there’s more to this. Different locations, yes?)
If you’ve got kids in the Seattle Public Schools, or if you care about our education system and how it fuels our future, it’s time to catch up and decide for yourself:
The Seattle Public Schools community blog has more information, there is some recent background about her upcoming performance review on the Seattle Weekly blog and Seattle Public Television have some videos, as well.