by Christopher Paslay
Currently, the Philadelphia School District has five Core Beliefs:
1. Children come first.
2. Parents are our partners.
3. Victory is in the classroom and facilitated by a strong instructional leader.
4. Leadership and accountability are the keys to success.
5. It takes the engagement of the entire community to ensure the success of its public schools.
To make these beliefs a reality, the District has initiated a strategic plan called Excellence, Equity & Accountability 2014. The purpose of this plan is to achieve the following three goals:
1. Educational excellence for every child and eliminating differences in achievement between students based on race, ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status, area of residence, home language, or program placement.
2. An equitable allocation of resources based on the needs of individual schools and students.
3. Accountability for all adults within the District.
These three goals are both admirable and ambitious. All children deserve a quality education, and there should be equitable resources allocated to schools and students based on individual needs.
However, there is one issue that needs to be addressed: Goal #3 (Accountability for all adults within the District) is not consistent with two of the District’s Core Beliefs. In other words, the third goal does not make “parents our partners” (Core Belief #2) nor does it require “the engagement of the entire community” (Core Belief #5).
To keep goal #3 consistent with the District’s Core Beliefs, it should read, Accountability for all adults within the District and the community. This way, the District won’t limit its focus on only one part of a very complex education equation, and it can both encourage and develop the resources of parents and community leaders.
Although the District has done an excellent job initiating conversation with parents and the community through roundtables, the District must take that final step and hold them accountable for stepping-up and genuinely becoming our partners.
I know the District’s Core Belief’s are more than just spoken words (I know I take them to heart every single day in the classroom), and I have faith that eventually, when the community is formally made a part of the District’s strategic plan, the Core Beliefs of our school system will truly become a reality.