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Scrutinizing the Strategic Plan

My school district has a strategic plan. I imagine that most school districts have one — maybe have to have one? I read our strategic plan when it was in draft form a few years ago; I re-read it recently, as I was musing about the purpose of education.

I agree with Karen Glass’s formulation of the purpose of education:

Education, as conceived in our earliest records and understood through many centuries, was never about intellectual achievement alone, or even primarily. The development of the intellect was meant to serve in the formation of good character, and good conduct was the desired end of wise thinking.

Consider This, page 21

Now, here’s the mission statement of my public school system:

The Sharon Public Schools strives to provide an educational community that nurtures each student on their unique journey to be lifelong learners and caring and engaged citizens of our world.

Sharon Public Schools District Plan 2018-2021

It’s weird…the mission statement almost mirrors what Glass says, but then it doesn’t at all…it’s kind of like Newspeak. They want to “provide an educational community” and “nurture” students, but they don’t actually state that they want those students develop competency in core subjects and master a canon of ideas and books. The plan lists 4 “strategic objectives,” followed by 22 “strategic initiatives” and 21 desired “outcomes,” and almost none of that content actually relates to teaching children about their world, or teaching them how to think. There’s a lot about “cultural competency,” diversity, equity, and inclusion — which is all well and good, but what about taking responsibility for intellectual achievement?

The other thing that’s weird about the strategic plan is that it wants students to be “caring and engaged citizens,” and it focuses a lot on interpersonal values like teamwork and acceptance, but it’s silent — agnostic? — on the development of other virtues. What about gratitude, humility, and resilience, to name just a few?

Once again, I feel out-of-sync with my public school system.😔

Categories: Educational Philosophy

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