NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Friday, December 16th, 2011

Seattle Public Schools to get a chance for a fresh start with Enfield’s departure

Inter­im Seat­tle Pub­lic Schools Super­in­ten­dent Susan Enfield, who took over man­age­ment of the state’s largest school dis­trict after the board oust­ed Mon­i­ca Good­loe-John­son back in the spring, announced today that she will “nei­ther seek nor accept” the per­ma­nent posi­tion of super­in­ten­dent, which means she will depart­ing the dis­trict mid­way through 2012 when her cur­rent con­tract expires.

Enfield, who pre­vi­ous­ly served as the dis­tric­t’s chief aca­d­e­m­ic offi­cer, did not elab­o­rate on the rea­son­ing behind her deci­sion, say­ing sim­ply that she was leav­ing for “my own per­son­al and pro­fes­sion­al rea­sons”.

Her announced exit fol­lows the depar­tures of board mem­bers Steve Sundquist and Peter Maier, who vot­ers replaced last month with Mar­ty McLaren and Sharon Peaslee. Incum­bents Sher­ry Carr and Har­i­um Mar­tin-Mor­ris were reelect­ed.

Seat­tle Pub­lic Schools will now like­ly con­duct a nation­al search for a new per­ma­nent super­in­ten­dent, pos­si­bly begin­ning next month. Who­ev­er the board selects will be the dis­tric­t’s fourth leader in half a decade.

Enfield is at least leav­ing on her own terms. Her three pre­de­ces­sors (Joseph Olchefske, Raj Man­has, Maria Good­loe-John­son) were uncer­e­mo­ni­ous­ly shown the door after the com­mu­ni­ty lost con­fi­dence in their abil­i­ty to lead.

Enfield­’s sup­port­ers may lament her depar­ture, but we think it’s an oppor­tu­ni­ty for a fresh start. Seat­tle Pub­lic Schools already has a new­ly reshaped board as a result of the just-con­clud­ed Novem­ber gen­er­al elec­tion. Now it will be get­ting a new chief exec­u­tive as well — some­one who was not part of Maria Good­loe-John­son’s irre­spon­si­ble and unac­count­able admin­is­tra­tion.

Melis­sa West­brook sug­gest­ed last week that it seems the dis­trict is enter­ing a new era. We cer­tain­ly hope so. The dis­trict needs lead­er­ship that tru­ly lis­tens to par­ents, teach­ers, and espe­cial­ly stu­dents. It needs lead­er­ship that makes thought­ful, well-researched deci­sions backed by com­mu­ni­ty input, not just advice dis­pensed by so-called “edu­ca­tion pro­fes­sion­als”. How about let­ting young peo­ple have a say in what’s best for young peo­ple, for a change? That’s what we’d like to see.

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