So, finally, after all of the anticipation, we finally get a look at the Superintendent's Strategic Plan, and it turns out to be nothing but a wish list.
All we see is this insipid powerpoint presentation full of bluster and posing, but completely without any meaning or relevance. Nearly every one of the 19 slides is tragically flawed in some way, but the sum is less than the parts. There is no plan in this "plan" - only goals. That's it? She took a year and had to listen to "hundreds of internal and external partners, critics and stakeholders" (I can't help wondering who these hundreds were - no one I know) to determine... what? That we need to ensure excellence in every classroom, strengthen leadership throughout the system, and build an infrastructure that works well? She needed a year, a crowd of experts, and a stack of studies to reach that conclusion? Pardon me if I'm not impressed.
And how does she propose to ensure excellence in every classroom? By doing a better job of teaching (math and science in particular), by giving the students frequent assessments, and by helping struggling schools. Wow. They must have listened to hundreds of people and consulted with experts, because there is no way that somebody could think of that on their own. How else could anyone have come up with this idea that we'd improve education if the teachers did a better job? And who would have thought that the schools would be better if the supervisors at the headquarters actually reacted when they were in trouble? This is truly a testament to the awesome power of collective wisdom.
And how are we going to strengthen our leadership? That's easy: "hire the best teachers and principals". So this old plan that we were following, the hire-them-at-random-regardless-of-their-qualifications plan, that isn't working out? Hire the best! Man, I wish I'd thought of that. Then, get this, the new plan says that the district should support them. What a crazy idea! Finally, evaluate their performance. This is truly revolutionary. Who ever heard of an employer who evaluates their employees? It's inspired!
The last piece, building an infrastructure that works well, is equally insightful. What a great idea - an infrastructure that works.
In short, the strategic plan boils down to this: the district leadership has to start actually doing their jobs. They have to actually choose effective curricula - instead of the crap they've been adopting like Everyday Math and CMP2. They actually have to manage their staff, instead of allowing them to do or not do whatever the hell they want. And they actually have to get up off their fat asses and react when things go wrong. That's the big strategic plan.
Ask yourself this - why aren't these things already in place? Over and over, in case after case, the answer will distill down to this: the district leadership and central office staff aren't doing their jobs.
And, of course, as always, the community engagement portion is re-defined as public relations and tacked on to the end as an afterthought.
Is anybody seeing anything of merit in this document? Does anyone sense any strategy or planning in this strategic plan? I'm not seeing it.
Worst of all, this plan will provide the cover for even more delays and deferrals while they study and plan, while they set goals and build matrices. While they fiddle as Rome burns.