Several months ago, the Gilbert Public Schools Governing Board approved spending $100,000 on a consultant to help them achieve “World Class Students, World Class Teachers, and World Class Graduates.”
How would you approach these achieving these stated goals? Would you identify your baseline? Identify world class models and measure yourself against them, working on areas of weakness to strengthen them and to bring yourself to a higher standard?
According to world class consultant Ken Hein, of HeinSight…before the fact! you gather together a bunch of “stakeholders,” pick each others’ brains, interview other “stakeholders” in the community, and categorize their recommendations into a voluminous strategic report that basically doesn’t tell you anything you didn’t already know.
Gilbert Watch got hold of the 74-page report, which included Internal Factors, External Factors, SWOTS, MAPP terms/usage, Environmental Scan Categories, Threats.
What threats have the “stakeholders” identified that stand in the way of Gilbert Public Schools’ "world class" status?
• The TEA Party;
• Conservative State Legislators;
• The “new” conservative members of the GPS School Board. (Not named, but they could only be Shane Stapley
and Staci Burk.)
• A “divided’ school board (rather than a rubber stamp school board that it used to be);
• Charter Schools;
• Low salaries when “everybody else” is getting pay increases.
Yes! It is threatening to be held accountable….especially when you’ve never had to account for anything in your bureaucratic life.
Taken directly from the report is a sampling of some of those world class, cutting edge ideas and "wandering generalities" sure to help students compete in the global economy:
GPS Internal Factors Page 12
Make students feel welcome, respected, and engaged.
Ensure students and parents treat faculty, staff with respect and civility.
Utilize all-day Kindergartens as cost-effective daycares directed at dual working families.
Study the demographics of families that are moving into town and what types of communities from which they are coming.
Introduce adult education programs so parents can be informed and play an appropriate role in the educational process.
Offer successful approaches to teaching English as a second language, providing effective instruction in the content areas, integrating these students socially and culturally. In addition, provide counseling, career and technical skills. If the district doesn’t offer it already, preschool education should be considered to help these students become ready for school.
External Factors, Page 13
More prevalent than social and cultural trends is the movement to more conservative values. The Tea Party and
their very conservative politics to cut rather than invest are what seem to drive the town and school district.
Those running for office are doing so as a personal agenda and not in the interest of their constituents. Their
primary focus is on cutting salaries and administrative costs which are already lowest in the state. Unfortunately
apathy of among Gilbert voters is quite high. People in the district do not turn out in large numbers to vote
which makes it easier for people with specific interests to win a school board election.
GPS Prioritized SWOT Analysis: Threat, pages 11-14
A state legislature and local legislator who do not support public education (poor attitude toward
public education) coupled with budget constraints via changes in state appropriations may make
it difficult to address needs. There is a lack of predictable revenue stream that may impede
Charter, private and online schools continue to gain traction. They offer smaller class sizes and
more conservative views. Many people believe magnet schools address the needs of a few and
are not cost effective.
Three years without a pay raise and not much hope for the immediate future. If this trend
continues, it will be a real threat. Morale is very low and effective teachers are leaving GPS
because they can receive more compensation from other districts or schools. Hard working
school employees are receiving no pay raises along with increased health costs with more
responsibility and accountability.
Micro-management in the administrative area by the Governing Board. The new members of our
Governing Board are becoming a threat to changes in our district. They seem to desire to
question decisions even after all the questions have been answered. Their divisive attitude could
undermine moving forward on important aspects of a Strategic Plan.
GPS has a divided School Board. As a result, the group is unable to make clear decisions or act
on the recommendations of the strategic plan, and students are the most affected, with cuts to
music, sports, career counseling and library programs, not to mention larger class sizes.
The political climate encourages charter schools that are not well regulated.
So, there you have it folks. The schools want more money, and don’t you dare stand in their way.