Thursday, January 22, 2009

RAS Future Priorities - A Work in Progress

Here is a portion of a previous blog string that seems appropriate as we look forward to a better and stronger school district. Especially since I kept hearing occasional comments by board members about how our new found windfall could be used for new or innovative programs. I do not believe this is what the tax payers want. My perception is that they want good school report cards and lower taxes. Therefore, how can RAS stop experimenting with curriculums and start following the lead of other successful districts in order to put those curriculum/program dollars in the classroom, in the bank or in the taxpayer's pockets?

The Strategic Plan is a great start, however we need to decide the relative priorities. It currently promises everything to everyone, and we just can't afford that. As usual, these are my viewpoints and they are likely to have errors or inconsistencies. They are not meant to insult, offend or blame anyone, however they will hopefully make some of the undiscussable topics in our district discussable. This is the only way they can be resolved. As always, dissenting and supporting comments are encouraged.

"Hey Folks, The RAS community and schools are worth fighting for and that is why my family is still here, however don't stick your head in the sand and say that things are great. Also, don't blame the realtors for a widely held perception that has been created regarding buying a home in the RAS district. We have created our own problems and only by acknowledging them can they be overcome.

Here are some key improvements that I think need to be made to start overcoming those widely held perceptions:
  • all schools need to pass AYP/improve report cards, no exceptions. These goals are set based on the schools current performance, they should be attainable.
  • though less than 5%, all teachers, counselors, etc that are consistently deemed poor performers need to be removed from the classroom/roles. (ie you know, those teachers that the parents year after year warn new parents about)(lose homework, can't maintain discipline, disorganized, temper outbursts, etc) Their presence disheartens the parents and other teachers, and it is likely the poor teacher would be happier in another profession/role.
  • administration personnel must demand and actively support teachers in maintaining classroom and common area discipline. It is not a racial/diversity thing... Parents must know their kids are in a safe and effective learning environment. No fights in the halls, no kids throwing desks, etc. One incident spreads ripples of rumors and bad press.
  • the community must consistently fund/support the district schools. No one wants to deal with continuous discord and uncertainty in the district.
  • elective programs and niceties come only after meeting the above criteria. They are nice to have, however parents want basic academic results and a good learning environment first.

Accomplishing the above will be difficult, however it must be done if we want to replace the common perception that is held by most non-RAS folks I know. (Oh, you go to RAS... too bad...) Parents do have the right and obligation to do what is best for their kids, and they need to balance this with how much they are willing to give to support the community... The folks who choose to fight for the community need to eliminate the problems to encourage folks to come, or stay. That is the challenge we face."

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