Superintendent Heath Morrison on Friday outlined a vision of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools in 2018 where all students have a personal plan for their education, bolstered by an online portfolio that showcases their skills.
Under his plan, families would have plenty of choices without leaving public schools, and CMS would earn a national reputation for honoring its teachers.
About 150 civic leaders, volunteers and educators gathered at the Booth Playhouse in uptown Charlotte to hear Morrison present the five-year strategic plan for CMS and think about ways to support it. Morrison said the community must be part of creating an education system that can keep up with a fast-changing world and develop “the best workforce of anywhere, any school district in the entire country.”
Among the invitation-only crowd were volunteers who served on 22 task forces that helped Morrison and the school board chart the next five years. “We reached deep out into this community,” Morrison said. “We asked, ‘What are we doing well?’ We asked, ‘What could we be doing better?’”
CMS is holding two public meetings this month to present the plan to anyone who’s interested.
Last week the school board approved a list of measures that will be used to chart progress. One goal, on academic achievements, sets a target of increasing the number of students graduating in four years from 81 percent last year to 92 percent by 2018. Other targets would raise average SAT scores from 996 to 1010 and increase the students completing advanced classes from 44 percent to 60 percent.
Morrison mentioned that data Friday, but he focused on the bigger vision and how everyone can help.
Bishop Claude Alexander Jr., senior pastor at The Park Church, told the crowd that families, businesses and communities are strengthened by good public education: “Everybody wins. But in order for everybody to win, everybody must be in the game.”
Alexander said the faith community can support CMS by reinforcing “a culture of academic achievement and professional excellence,” working to reduce violence and providing volunteers and resources.
Charles Bowman of Bank of America urged employers to offer their staff paid time off to volunteer in schools. “For a little bit of investment,” he said, “you can get a big return.”
Morrison said successful students must master the four C’s: communication, collaboration, creativity and critical thinking. “They will not be measured on end-of-course assessments,” he said, but they’ll be vital for successful adult lives.
The crowd applauded when Morrison talked about making CMS a place like Singapore and Finland, which are known worldwide for treating teachers “as heroes.”
But the superintendent may have been upstaged by Marion Carson, a Pineville Elementary fifth-grader who opened by singing the national anthem a capella. He got applause and cheers when he finished, and again when he paraded off the stage behind the Myers Park High JROTC color guard, reaching up to high-five their commander.
Helms: 704-358-5033; Twitter: @anndosshelms
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