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Boost achievement and unify community

Educators, public will be keys to CMS superintendent’s plan

In May, shortly after he was hired as Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools superintendent, Heath Morrison said he would listen first, then talk about how to guide CMS to new levels of student achievement.

On Monday, he will do the talking many in this community have been waiting for: Morrison is expected to present his strategic plan for CMS. He talks about his vision on today’s viewpoint page as well.

Of course, he has telegraphed many of his goals and much of his direction for the state’s second largest school system over the past 100 days. In visits to schools, speeches before organizations and business leaders and at intimate gatherings with teachers, parents and others, he has been clear about his intentions of focusing laser-like on ensuring that all students learn to their potential, and leave CMS well-prepared for life after school – in the workplace, military or an institution of higher learning. His consistent refrain has been to have a school system that doesn’t simply improve the graduation rate, but does it in a way that makes students’ diplomas meaningful.

He has also made clear that he views highly effective educators – teachers in particular but principals and other educators too – as keys to making higher achievement for all students possible. He has wisely already taken some steps, responding to one of the studies he commissioned by booting the human resources chief and reassigning the communications’ head after problems were detailed in those departments. Tackling failings in human resources aggressively is particularly important if Morrison hopes to recruit and keep the very best educators to enable higher student achievement.

Morrison also has signaled that he will place renewed focus on parent involvement and community engagement. He created a new assistant superintendent’s post to oversee partnerships and public engagement.

Also, Morrison has been refreshingly frank in talking about the need to confront cultural, racial and ethnic issues that impact a child’s ability to learn and educators’ abilities to teach. Confronting all the possible factors that impact a child’s success or failure in school is the only way to adequately tackle them. If school leaders – and the rest of us – can effectively tackle those issues, we all benefit.

We look forward to seeing the details of how Morrison plans to guide CMS to achieve those and other goals. We hope the plan is lofty and bold. We also hope his outreach, strategies and commitment will be able to do something that has been so far illusory – unify this community behind our schools, and get all its differing constituencies invested in its success.

Morrison is no magician. He can’t achieve anything alone. So, as he rolls out his strategy for improving our schools, now would be a good time for each of us to think about how we can help make such improvements a reality.

In the end, a strategic plan is a roadmap. To achieve its goals requires work and commitment of people. Educators are key to that success but they’re not the only ones. From students to parents to politicians to the taxpaying public, we must do our part as well.

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The Charlotte Observer welcomes your comments on news of the day. The more voices engaged in conversation, the better for us all, but do keep it civil. Please refrain from profanity, obscenity, spam, name-calling or attacking others for their views.

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