Sunday, October 27, 2013

Cognitive Dissonance: Finding What You're Looking For

There have been a lot of comments, particularly during the last Board of Education meeting, stating that we should look at the Strategic Plan more closely.  I suggest each of you do this.

Read the comments of Michelle Russell, the new Chief Talent Officer, in the Montclair Times:  "While she emphasized that she’s not trying to ‘throw the school district’s guidance counselors under the bus’, Russell said that instructions students are getting from some of the counselors may be playing into their decisions about what classes to take.  We’ve received complaints from parents, particularly about the imbalance between CGI and CSJ and how students are counseled into particular programs,’ said Russell.  ‘This is unacceptable and something we need to interrupt.  Coming in as a new person [to the school district] I don’t understand how we’re telling our kids ‘oh’yeah, if you’re white you go into CGI and if you’re black you go into CSJ. 

Watch the comments at the most recent Board meeting, particularly by the latest shill, former mayor Jerry Fried.  "They [his children] were not inspired by many teachers and were let down by many, many situations, particularly things like guidance, overall guidance, there were many many areas that fell short.  Having a strategic plan, and see how it works, adjusting it as it as it goes, is the way, the only way to go."

Now, lets look at the strategic plan about the SLC's and guidance:

SLC's:  By June 2015, all MHS Small Learning Communities will meet the agreed upon criteria for an effective small learning community. 

Strategy:  Compile research on effective Small Learning Communities to share with parents, students and teachers to inform the development of criteria for effective Small Learning Communities (including a diverse student population) and a plan for additional community supported SLCs.)

Anyone notice how how Russell's comments are a solution looking for a problem that is articulated in the strategic plan?  Anyone also notice that there are no facts to back up Russell's comments.  A la Montclair resident Stephen Colbert, why have facts when you can reason with your gut.

Now let's look at guidance:

Guidance:  By June 2015, 80% of students and parents will rate guidance services (including contact time, four-year programming, annual scheduling) as effective or highly effective. 

And how is this going to be accomplished?  Let's look at the 3 strategies to accomplish this?

*Complete a map of course offerings
*Determine if magazine ratings should be a focus of MHS school improvement
*Form a committee of teachers, parents and students to revise the program planning guide.

That's it.  This is the strategic plan for improving the guidance that their chosen spokesman and party giver Jerry Fried says has let so many down.  

And the most amazing thing:  These strategic plan objectives and strategies were developed with not a single discussion between Central Support and a single teacher counselor or lead teacher or supervisor in either the SLC's or the guidance department in the entire tenure to date of the superintendent and her administration.  

You read the strategic plan and tell me that you think it is a thoughtful plan to improve the high school and the other schools in Montclair.

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