Clear Fog Blog

Political musings from Warren E. Peterson

A Bonus for the Seattle Schools Superintendent

Posted by Warren Peterson on November 30, 2009

The Seattle School Board has one employee, the Superintendent. Currently that is Dr. Maria Goodloe-Johnson. Is she worth $264,000 in base salary plus $28,400 of other compensation plus bonuses? Apparently so since that is the pay package the School Board agreed to give her. As part of her contract she may also earn an annual bonus up to $26,000 if she meets or exceeds specific goals set by the School Board. This year the Board evaluation of her performance resulted in a bonus of $5,280. She earned it. She should keep it.

The Seattle Times thinks otherwise. By their reckoning, she should forgo her bonus as a token recognition of the school system’s budget shortfall. She should set the example in these hard economic times for all highly paid public officials. Actually the Times went beyond that praising Director Haricum Martin-Morris for not accepting the balance of the $50 per meeting stipend allowed for Seattle School Board members. Does the Times expect this of all the Board members regardless of what it costs them to serve? Mr. Martin-Morris works for a company that gives him paid time off to serve on the Board. Not every member is so fortunate.

Should Superintendent Goodloe-Johnson or Director Martin-Morris choose to voluntarily contribute to the Seattle Schools, fine, that is their choice. But the Times is out of line pressuring them to give up what is rightfully and contractually theirs. Charity is personal, public or private by the wishes of the donor, but it should not be coerced.

God loves a cheerful giver.


One Response to “A Bonus for the Seattle Schools Superintendent”

  1. I was at a loss for words when I first found out that Sundquist had actually proposed to offer our superintendent basically a Christmas bonus.

    The superintendent closes schools for a savings of $3M just to go through the motion of re-opening five schools due to, oops, over enrollment that at least one of her departments, run by one of her recruits, Brad Bernatek, already knew was happening. And her other person, our CFO who she brought with her from Charleston, couldn’t put two and two together to figure out that we shouldn’t rif the teachers due to the over enrollment that was happening last spring.

    She rif’s teachers just to bring most of them back but we still lost a lot of great teachers and all of our invaluable counselors who provided students with summer and after school employment opportunities and information about jobs after graduation and different colleges. She splits apart and in the process weakens the APP program, marginalizes or closes our best educational programs, alternative schools, and doesn’t lose a wink of sleep at night.

    And all of this causes turmoil within the school communities and distracts our students from the task at hand, learning.

    I have yet to see our superintendent do anything that deserves basically a year end bonus.

    Dr. Goodloe-Johnson already gets paid more than the governor or mayor. She’s got a $700/month car allowance and $20,000 goes into a retirement fund for her. This woman seems much more about the money than she does our kids.
    And if Mr. Sundquist thinks that this is a good introduction to the idea of merit pay, he is wrong.
    See below.
    Merit pay is an idea that is closely associated with charter schools and is a reiteration of the No Child Left Behind Act.

    Basically, it requires that teachers pay be based on how well their students perform on a standardized test. For our students, it could be the WASL or a similar test. With the No Child Left Behind Act, teachers and staff were pressured to teach much of the class work to the standardized tests. With so much focus on the test, many other parts of knowledge building, creativity and understanding of subjects and their synthesis with other knowledge had to take a back seat. For many students, teaching to a test meant that they were not able to reach their full potential which would have been far beyond the level of the tests.

    No one wins in this situation.

    Part of the fallout also is that if a teacher’s pay is based on how well their students test, many teachers will want to teach in a school where they know that the students will perform better. Those schools are, for the most part, not the minority schools.

    Some students do not perform well on standardized tests for many different reasons and yet a teacher’s pay can be tied to that student’s performance. High stakes testing also puts pressure and stress on the students who become burdened with the thought that they need to perform well on one test. The test becomes a focus with little opportunity to explore and have fun learning, creating and synthesizing new thoughts and ideas.

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