Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Dr. Heath Morrison launches plan to strengthen CMS

Dr. Heath E. Morrison announced eight key goals to move Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools forward at a Nov. 26 event marking his first 100 days as superintendent.

In a presentation titled The Way Forward, Dr. Morrison emphasized the importance of community participation in strengthening CMS, including the creation of 22 task forces to identify ways to achieve the eight key goals.

"As a district and as a community, we recognize that Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools has established a very strong foundation but is not yet great," he said. "We want to create the schools we need for the future, not the schools we remember from the past."

Dr. Morrison said that he and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education were committed to improving every school and providing more choices for parents and students.

"We want our local schools to be schools of choice," he said. "Every single school in CMS needs to be a school that we can be proud of. These goals will help us make that happen."

The eight goals are:
· Goal 1: Accelerate academic achievement for every child and close achievement gaps so all students graduate from CMS college- or career-ready.
· Goal 2: Ensure an effective teacher in every class is led by an effective principal in every school served by quality support staff, by supporting the professional development of all employees.
· Goal 3: Cultivate innovative partnerships with parents/caregivers and the community to provide a sustainable system of wraparound support for all children.
· Goal 4: Continuously nurture a self-renewing culture of high engagement, customer service and cultural competency.
· Goal 5: Establish a comprehensive performance-management approach that ensures data-informed and evidence-based decision-making for students, schools and the district as a whole.
· Goal 6: Strengthen and expand our portfolio of educational choices for students to foster creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship.
· Goal 7: Increase technology integration to support inspired learning and teaching.
· Goal 8: Communicate proactively and purposefully to strengthen public trust and establish CMS as the preferred K-12 choice.

CMS will begin work on the goals immediately, Dr. Morrison said. Some parts of the goals will take time and planning to achieve; others can begin sooner. He also emphasized the need for community engagement as CMS begins the work.

"We want community and employee input into the decisions we will make to further these goals," Dr. Morrison said. "So we are convening the 22 task forces with CMS staff, parents and the community. Each task force will look at one component of a goal and how best to achieve it."

Rigorous curriculum is a key component in making sure all students graduate with a meaningful diploma, he said. CMS also needs exceptional leadership in classrooms and in schools, as well as a high level of parent involvement.

"Our brand is not what we say it is – it's what people say about us," he said. "We want CMS to be the preferred K-12 option for parents and we're going to strengthen our schools to make that happen. There is a lot of amazing work that is being done in our schools every day, and we want to build on that foundation to move CMS from good to great."

Dr. Morrison said that the future of CMS is an important factor in the economic development of the larger Charlotte-Mecklenburg region.

"CMS is part of the economic engine that fuels our region," he said. He pointed to research showing that tomorrow's workers will need to be creative, innovative and entrepreneurial to succeed.

Workforce analyses have shown that:
· The need for complex communication skills has increased 14 percent
· The need for expert thinking and problem-solving has increased eight percent.
At the same time, he said, those analyses also show that the demand for other skills has declined:
· Routine manual skills: demand decreased three percent
· Non-routine manual skills: demand decreased five percent
· Routine cognitive skills: demand decreased eight percent

"To prepare our students for tomorrow, our schools will have to change," he said. "Great public schools are constantly improving and changing – and that is what CMS needs to do."