Manhas has left the building

Seattle Schools Superintendent Raj Manhas will resign, effective the end of the school year.

“After careful consideration, I have decided that this year will be my final year as superintendent of Seattle Public Schools,” he said. “This is a personal decision I have made in the interests of my family.”

Manhas’s resignation is in the interests of all of our families, I’d say. As my regular readers know I was quite involved this summer in a campaign to save my daughter’s school from closure, and while we were ultimately successful the entire experience left a very bitter taste in my mouth. The more I learned about the closure process the more I grew disenchanted with both the school board and the district administration. While I do not doubt Manhas’s intentions, I completely lost confidence in his ability to lead the district.

Perhaps the best decision of his three-year administration was the one he made today — to announce his resignation far enough in advance so as to give the board time to conduct a proper search for his replacement. After the failed leadership of both Manhas and his immediate predecessor Joseph Olshefske, I think it is time for the board to stop hiring bean counters, and search for a true education professional.

Comments

  1. 1

    Steve Schwartz spews:

    as obe example, when did anyone read about academic success in the SPS?

    For many years Garfield was (and AFIK still is) the top achieving school ion many metrics IF YOU CORRECT FOR SOCIO_ECON factors. Lids in tio programs there outscore similar kids at Lakeside.

    Why isn’t this mentioned? The reason is that politcally the Balck comminity ios amazingly active in the schools and the mantra is that all kids are equal. To folks like this, Garfield is an anathema.

    A great man, Amin McWashington, was principal at Garfield and was literally hated by many for his drive to help all kids, including the top of the class, achieve. I even had the director of curriculum, Alice Houston, tell me that it was not worth the effort finding bright black kids because, she claimed they do not exist.

    Is money an issue? Sure. But there is also a contradiction when the District is obviuoulsy headed back toward a geographic segregation mdoel and at the same time it makes absurd claims that the qulaities of individual schools do not matter. This contradiction, and the ability to raise tax $$, requires a lot more credible leadership.

    1. We need to replace the board .. either make the District a city agency or PAY the board. Or both!

    2. All parents shuld have charter school options.

  2. 2

    eponymous coward spews:

    I don’t think it’s just Manhas. The whole board’s stuffed full of ditherers who won’t make tough decisions for fear of offending anyone, or who’ll pander as needed.

    Look, the Seattle School District is going to have to consolidate schools and make some tough choices. They can either put their back into it and do it from reasonably objective criteria, or they can fiddle and watch Rome burn.

    This is a poisonous environment to come into, and the last nationwide search flubbed miserably. I’m not convinced this one is going to go any better.

  3. 3

    Doctor JCH Kennedy, ESQ spews:

    Report: U.S. Army translator kidnapped. [………………..OK, Nuke one Mooooooooslim city a day until the soldier is returned, starting with the largest cities in Iran. Then Syria. Perhaps Mecca? Anyway, I figure after 4 or 5 Moooooooooslim cities are turned to glass, the young man will be returned unharmed.]

  4. 4

    rhp6033 spews:

    Gee, now that I think about it, I wonder what control the Seattle School District really has over it’s budget? It cannot control its revenue (income). It cannot control teacher salaries or benefits, that is subject to collective bargaining with the teacher’s union, and as Marysville found out, causing a teacher’s strike is a good way to lose your job. That only leaves facilities staff, administrator salaries/benefits, and utilities and repair bills. You can put off facilities maintenance and repair only so long.

    Seems to me its just another symptom of the lousy tax and funding system in our state.

  5. 5

    uptown spews:

    Best thing to happen to the Seattle School District in 3 years.

    And yes they do need to close some schools, but not at the cost of losing more middle class students to private ed. They need an education professional who will look at what works and what does not, and then go with what works. All of this needs to be done out in the open so we all know why the changes will be made.

    They also need to start attracting students back to the Seattle system.

  6. 7

    Mike Webb Sucks spews:

    I don’t think it’s just Manhas. The whole board’s stuffed full of ditherers who won’t make tough decisions for fear of offending anyone, or who’ll pander as needed. Commentby eponymous coward— 10/23/06@ 2:19 pm

    So EC, you are a moonbat; putting moonbats in congressional positions will do what? Ditherers who won’t make tough decisions for fear of offending anyone, or who’ll pander as needed.

    Well said my moonbat opponent!

  7. 8

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    I don’t follow school issues closely, but Seattle enrollment has been declining for years, and state funding is based on a per-pupil formula. There’s only so much $$$ in the pot, and the district can’t spend more than it has. Closing underutilized buildings seems an obvious way to cut. If not that, then what? How do you balance the budget?

    Yes, Goldy, I get your point about focusing on education instead of accounting when choosing the district’s leadership. But you can’t sweep the money issues under the carpet. They have to be dealt with, and unpleasant as it is, bean counting is a management priority and a necessary skill. In my opinion, the district needs both strong education leadership, and strong budget leadership. The problem is that it’s had neither.

  8. 9

    skagit spews:

    Doing away with the school board is already being actively considered by several . . .

    Sorry to disagree but stable funding is very much an issue. It may be in tandem with others but is certainly not inferior to them.

  9. 11

    skagit spews:

    BTW, if anybody is interested in watching the last contentious school board meeting, it is aired on channel 26 for the final time on Wed. at 8 pm. It went unusually long and was attended by a lot of activists.

  10. 12

    Mike Webb Sucks spews:

    Yes, Goldy, I get your point about focusing on education instead of accounting when choosing the district’s leadership. But you can’t sweep the money issues under the carpet. They have to be dealt with, and unpleasant as it is, bean counting is a management priority and a necessary skill. In my opinion, the district needs both strong education leadership, and strong budget leadership. The problem is that it’s had neither. Commentby Roger Rabbit— 10/23/06@ 2:32 pm

    Furball: The problems stem are you moonbats. Ec said it very well. Dithering fools (moonbats) who pander! Funny how that is!

  11. 13

    skagit spews:

    They need an education professional who will look at what works and what does not, and then go with what works. All of this needs to be done out in the open so we all know why the changes will be made.

    They also need to start attracting students back to the Seattle system.

    Commentby uptown— 10/23/06@ 3:19 pm

    Education professionals don’t know much about administration. The average length of stay for superintendents is something like three years. . . wonder why? Attracting students back? Seattle does it by have so-called “gifted ed” which is what brings kids back. There’s a little problem with diversity that middle-class white parents don’t seem to like very much.

    Of course, this means a different funding model than a strick “per student” distribution of funds from Olympia.

    Commentby rhp6033— 10/23/06@ 3:43 pm

    Wondered when you were going to get to funding . . . all those other nice thoughts mean nothing without reliable and sufficient funding.

    Ah, but think of all the lovely condos that can be made from all those school buildings.

    By the by…one smoldering little ancillary issue is that if the school board and the city get their way, we’ve seen the last of the University District Farmers’ Market in the University Heights parking lot. Seems there are some plans afoot for “highest and best use” there.

    Commentby ArtFart— 10/23/06@ 4:08 pm

    And about time. Queen Anne is still District owned as is West Queen Anne and they should stay investments and not be sold. They should command top dollar for the school district. Selling them is a quick fix . . . invest for the long term. Not sure about Briarcliff over on Magnolia but hopefully turn that into a profitable investment as well. Absolutely schools should not be subsidizing day cares, community centers and other needy organizations. The school distict is a needy organization.

    Actually, what the Seattle Schools need is a take-no-prisoners authoritarian who will ignore all the squishy, feel-good, NIMBY Seattle interest groups and focus like a laser beam on getting the largest improvement in quantifiable metrics for the least possible money. Someone like John Sanford, a ex-military man who was at first hated for his rigidity, then loved for his acomplishments.

    Yes, John Stanford was admired. He had detractors but he was decisive and authoritarian. The best thing he did, in my opinion, was get people in the administration to answer the damn phone. Stanford was teacher friendly as well as teacher demanding.

    The school board is held hostage by people like Goldy who have their sacred cows. I guess even liberals can’t restrain themselves when it comes to their own special interests. A very good and diverse community panel including John Warner of Boeing attempted to solve the problem . . . if the school board can’t support that kind of assistance, they should all be voted out of office next term.

    Those of you who are about to scream “racist” should re-read the local newspaper articles noting that the east side is now demograpically more diverse than Seattle. So the east-side manages to achieve better results with a less wealthy, more diverse population for less money. Perhaps Seattle has something to learn?

    Commentby David Wright— 10/23/06@ 5:11 pm

    May be more diverse, but they don’t have the entrenched pockets of poverty and diversity. I think – thought not sure – that the eastside is more integrated. If I’m wrong, let me know. Seattle’s entrench racism may be impossible to alter . . .

    Seems to me its just another symptom of the lousy tax and funding system in our state.

    Commentby rhp6033— 10/23/06@ 5:31 pm

    Now you’re talking. Also, we have a very rich population . . . isn’t it amazing that we are refusing to pay for the best education money can buy?

    Raj is too nice. He cares a lot but he can’t fight . . . it is not in him to do that. Goldy is looking for a scapegoat here and I resent that because he thinks he’s so liberal. Horsepuckey.

  12. 14

    rhp6033 spews:

    The Seattle School District’s problems would not be solved by closing and consolidating schools. A school is not an “engine”, which can be turned on and off, or run faster or slower, to meet demand. It is more like a living creature, where it takes time for the school administration, teachers, parents, and students to create a fourishing learning environment.

    I learned this from my experience with my own kids, when their elementary school was closed for a year for remodeling. It took at least three years after it was re-opened for things to really be running relatively smoothly again, and even then there were quite a few bumps in the road. Among the problems was that with the PTSA effectively dismanteled, and it taking a couple of years for it to find its voice again, the new principal pretty much did her best to make sure it was “under her control” while she got her ticket punched in preperation for moving on to higher administrative duties.

    The supposed savings from school consolidation, when you take into account the costs involved, were minimal. The best course of action would be to take the opportunity to create lower class sizes which would improve performance and create a demand which would draw more families back into the district. Of course, this means a different funding model than a strick “per student” distribution of funds from Olympia.

  13. 15

    Popeye spews:

    I agree that this isn’t Raj’s fault, and he and we are all better off when he leaves. The District has had a dysfunctional culture for at least twenty years, probably longer. Part legislative prescription of curriculum (Did you know that the idiots in Olympia prescribe a hand washing curriculum that takes 1/2 of a day from each second grade class? There are more than 150 such pieces of idiocy in the RCW.), part refusal to fund education rationally (Income tax, anyone?), and part our social denigration of education, there really isn’t anything the Board or the Superintendent can do in the short term. The WASSL was, I think, the last straw that effectively drove quality education out of the Seattle system.

  14. 17

    Doctor JCH Kennedy, ESQ spews:

    Dear HA. ORG Democrats, Thank you for your contribution to the DNC. . Each year, tens of thousands of people from across the country make the decision to support the Party and Democratic candidates. Today you stood up and added not only to the Party’s available resources, but to the larger sense of community and civic responsibility that we as Democrats stand for.

    As part of that community, a Democratic donor agreed to match your contribution today. Their information appears below, and you have the opportunity to send a message to the person who is matching you. If you like, you can exchange information and build a longer-lasting relationship — or, you can move on without sending a message at all.

    Again, thank you for your support.

    Your contribution has been matched by:
    Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan

    A message to you from the person who matched your contribution:
    With Democrats in charge of the Congress, America will run like dogs from Iraq. What a glorious day for jihad that will be! Defeat the infidels. Vote Democratic in ’06! [hehe, JCH]

  15. 19

    Leftout(of their minds!) spews:

    Goldstein is all about the politics of personal destruction.
    This gentleman is merely another notch on Goldstein’s belt.
    The problem is….who will now want this job???
    Perhaps Goldstein ought to apply!

  16. 21

    Steve Schwartz spews:

    I think it is good that manhas is leaving but hope someone goes outside the educator world for his replacement. Look at Jo Klein in NY or our own all to brief experience with an ex Army General.

    The schools need tough leadership to close down the huge and dysfunctional interest groups that have driven the schools for many years and ply to the only thing that matters to most parents .. oportunities for ALL kids, including the middle class that now sends their kids to Bush.

    The money issue is a false issue. The real issue is having a superintendent with the credibiity to convince uber-activists … like Goldy .. that the changes they are making are for the best.

    Of course a lot of the problem is our :citizen” school board. “citizens?” … only if you mean largley incompetent folks wiht enough free tme to work for the Distict and make no income. Refrom migh begin with doing away with the board and making the District a city function. Give the city ocuncil something useful to do.

  17. 22

    skagit spews:

    Thank god for troll-censor. I get so tired of scrolling past so many stupid people. I’ve noticed some threads have been a little more interesting lately.

    MWS: You are the parody.

  18. 23

    Doctor JCH Kennedy, ESQ spews:

    New market high!! Congratulations to President Bush [BTW, over 60% of American families own equities, directly or indirectly!] For those of you Dem libs who don’t, fuck you!!

  19. 24

    skagit spews:

    BTW, Goldy is no “uber-activist.” He sort of went along for the ride and got what he wanted . . . And he should be ashamed given is so-called liberal roots which should demand commonwealth over “my wealth.”

  20. 25

    ArtFart spews:

    In a crisis situation, many people tend to assume that any change will inevitable be for the better. It remains to be seen whether that will be the case here.

    Manhas inherited something of a mess. I don’t know whether he made things much better.

  21. 26

    eponymous coward spews:

    So EC, you are a moonbat; putting moonbats in congressional positions will do what? Ditherers who won’t make tough decisions for fear of offending anyone, or who’ll pander as needed.

    Well said my moonbat opponent!

    Right, because no liberal in the entire history of humanity ever made a tough decision.

    It’s close to Halloween. You must be dressing up your arguments as straw men, right?

  22. 27

    skagit spews:

    I’m beginning to think the problem with schools is parents! The school board is spineless . . . nobody can please the number of masters in education. We who work in it are servants . . . nothing more. And until all the masters get their acts together, nothing will succeed.

    You still need a stable funding source. That should be obvious on its face. I am for vouchers . . . everything student should have choices.

  23. 28

    Mike Webb SUCKS spews:

    Goldie does censor comments. Awww poor Goldie, he removed my comment parody. It hit home huh Goldie? Awww poor Goldie.

  24. 29

    ArtFart spews:

    Ah, but think of all the lovely condos that can be made from all those school buildings.

    By the by…one smoldering little ancillary issue is that if the school board and the city get their way, we’ve seen the last of the University District Farmers’ Market in the University Heights parking lot. Seems there are some plans afoot for “highest and best use” there.

  25. 31

    Thomas Trainwinder spews:

    This is awful.

    He’s a very smart manager.

    This leaves Seattle kids in a terrible situation.

    What reasonable superintendent would ever want to work in Seattle?

    And, more importantly, what kind of superintendent would this mealy board hire?

    Sad…sad…sad

  26. 32

    David Wright spews:

    Actually, what the Seattle Schools need is a take-no-prisoners authoritarian who will ignore all the squishy, feel-good, NIMBY Seattle interest groups and focus like a laser beam on getting the largest improvement in quantifiable metrics for the least possible money. Someone like John Sanford, a ex-military man who was at first hated for his rigidity, then loved for his acomplishments.

    If we can’t get that, the north quadrents should secede. We could have an eastside-quality district for less money than we spend now if we didn’t have to waste time and money on the school board’s activist agenda.

    Those of you who are about to scream “racist” should re-read the local newspaper articles noting that the east side is now demograpically more diverse than Seattle. So the east-side manages to achieve better results with a less wealthy, more diverse population for less money. Perhaps Seattle has something to learn?