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Morrison's vision for CMS: Innovate, create, recruit

Superintendent’s vision for CMS: Encourage principals, parents to shape competitive schools

More Information

  • Morrison draws praise for CMS plan
  • Your Schools: A glimpse at CMS reform details
  • Morrison's plan
  • Morrison's presentation
  • CMS branding video
  • More information

    Morrison’s plan

    Selected items from Superintendent Heath Morrison’s 100-day report. Read the full plan at www.cms.k12.nc.us

    Academics

    • Boost early childhood education.

    • Create a personalized plan for each student.

    • Increase enrollment in advanced courses.

    • Keep increasing graduation rates.

    • Measure graduates’ success in college and careers.

    Choice

    • Explore adding magnets, schools on college campuses, K-8 schools, evening hours, on-site day care and specialized programs for nonmagnet schools.

    • Strengthen and expand career-tech courses.

    • Develop “a menu of strategies” for low-performing schools.

    Educators

    • Work with colleges and groups such as Teach for America to boost recruitment.

    • Improve performance evaluations and create compensation that rewards talent.

    • Create opportunities for teachers to advance and keep developing skills.

    Partnerships

    • Work with community groups and families to promote literacy.

    • Increase private donations and grants.

    • Put wellness clinics and coordinators into schools.

    Safety

    • Promote a comprehensive anti-bullying campaign.

    • Ensure consistent discipline standards at all schools.

    Diversity

    • Train all CMS staff to understand the cultures of students and families.

    • Bolster the CMS diversity office.

    • Make sure school staff reflects student diversity.

    Data

    • Improve the way data is gathered, shared and reported.

    • Identify key measures of success and use them in new CMS school progress reports.

    • Review all tests to “focus on teaching and not testing our way to the top.”

    Technology

    • Expand access and use of technology, including virtual learning and classrooms that combine online and in-person instruction.

    • Use technology to help top teachers reach more students.

    • Establish a digital portfolio of each student’s work.

    Communication

    • Provide more information about how decisions are made and money is spent.

    • Expand positive CMS news through news releases, CMS website, CMS-TV and social media.

    • Devise marketing plans for the district and each school “to competitively position CMS as the preferred K-12 option.”


  • Key themes

    →  More educational choices for families.

    →  Education plans tailored to each student.

    →  Better use of technology, including online learning.

    →  Stronger partnerships with parents and community.

    →  Better system for finding and keeping top educators.

    More details, 4A


  • More information

    CMS task forces

    Each group will be co-led by a CMS employee and a community member, with about a dozen members. They will meet from January to June.

    • Closing the achievement gap

    • Extended learning opportunities

    • Early childhood

    • African American males

    • Limited English proficient students

    • Special education

    • Gifted students

    • College/career readiness

    • Professional growth

    • Compensation

    • Parent engagement

    • Community/faith partnerships

    • CMS Foundation

    • Culture and shared values

    • Cultural competence

    • Accountability

    • Process/system improvement

    • Choice, alternatives and magnets

    • Higher education partnerships

    • Technology/blended learning

    • Public trust, marketing and branding

    • Time, capital and resource management



More magnets, alternative schools, digital education and career-prep classes are part of Superintendent Heath Morrison’s vision for making Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools more successful and competitive.

He announced the plan to about 1,200 invited guests at the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center in uptown Charlotte Monday.

Morrison said schools can’t stick with tradition in a world that’s changing so fast and demanding more of graduates. He said he’s calling on principals and parents to help create schools that families will choose over private, charter and home schooling.

“Parents want a plethora of choices,” he said, “and we have the opportunity to offer that.”

The event marks roughly 100 days since he started the superintendent’s job in July.

Though CMS is the nation’s 18th largest district, with about 144,000 students in preK-12, Morrison called for each student to have an individual plan for academic success. He compared it to getting an individual diagnosis and treatment plan from a doctor: “Why would we expect any less from our public education system?”

His plan calls for beefed-up efforts to reach students who traditionally struggle – including African-American males, students learning English and those with disabilities – and to deal with low-performing schools. But he said the district must focus equal attention on reaching high-fliers and students in the middle.

With charter schools expanding and private schools plentiful in the Charlotte area, Morrison said in an interview before the event that it’s essential for CMS to expand its menu, with schools that combine online and in-person learning, offer different hours, work with local colleges and offer special themes such as aerospace and robotics. He said he expects each principal to know how many students his or her school is losing to competitors and craft a plan to make the CMS school a top choice.

Morrison said he wants to keep the current student assignment plan, which assigns all students to a nearby school but offers magnets and other options.

His plan would increase the options, he said, without losing the guarantee of a seat in what he calls “local schools.”

“I’ve always believed that choices are good,” he said. “It’s competition, but it’s good competition. We’ll try to get our market share, but we’ve got to earn it.”

Speed vs. study

The 2013-14 magnet lottery begins in January, so new offerings won’t be ready until 2014-15. Morrison said he wants to engage employees and community members in shaping important decisions, including what they want from their schools.

Dozens are being invited to work on 22 task forces focused on issues ranging from gifted students to public trust to family engagement. Membership will be announced in December, and everyone will have a chance to talk with those advisers in town hall meetings that start in January. Their work will help shape the 2013-14 budget.

But not everything can wait, Morrison said.

“There is a fierce urgency now,” he said. “We’re going to launch some things right away.”

Among the immediate changes: He plans to get more students into Advanced Placement classes and bring consultant Glenn Singleton in to talk to principals and executive staff about the role of race in academic success.

The two are related: Morrison said he has already learned that CMS, like many other districts, has a disproportionate number of nonwhite students whose PSAT scores show they’re ready for college level work but who aren’t enrolled in the high school classes that offer it.

The talks about race will be difficult, he said, but educators must confront attitudes that may be unintentionally holding students back. “Too many organizations take a pass on those conversations,” he said. “In our school district we will not do that.”

Schools and community

Recruiting, developing, rewarding and keeping top teachers and principals is a key point in Morrison’s vision.

Most of the points outlined Monday are ones that have been widely discussed, not only by Morrison but by state and national leaders: Improve performance evaluations. Create a better compensation model that rewards talent. Do a better job of recruiting, including people who studied education and those coming from other paths.

Some of the specifics are likely to come from state lawmakers, while others will evolve after Morrison gets the CMS board’s approval in December. The goal is to use his vision to revise the district’s five-year plan.

Morrison is also calling on community agencies, houses of worship, businesses, higher education and individual to work with CMS to boost literacy, including among adults, and improve early childhood education. As he has before, he pledged to do a better job of helping everyone understand the CMS decision-making process.

CMS pride

Morrison’s plan calls for a “CMS Pride” campaign among employees and an increase in “positive CMS news,” bolstered by a stronger district Web presence, revival of CMS-TV and better use of social media.

He said before the meeting that changes in CMS’ image must come from reality, not just marketing. Some schools suffer from an undeserved bad reputation, he said, but others really have problems. Principals and district leaders must understand the difference.

“Either fix the misinformation or fix the issue that’s causing people to leave,” Morrison said.

In his public presentation, Morrison concluded with a call for “our community to rally behind Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.”

“There is nothing Charlotte-Mecklenburg can’t do when it puts its collective will behind it,” he said.

Helms: 704-358-5033
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