Good signs on school plan

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 26, 2014

A mobile learning device in every student’s hands by 2015-16. Ninety percent of students reading at or above grade level by 2017. A commitment to provide extraordinary education everyday.
Elements of Dr. Lynn Moody’s new strategic plan for Rowan-Salisbury schools are beginning to emerge, and they sound promising. The items mentioned above demonstrate emphasis on technology, high goals and deep commitment. Rowan-Salisbury needs all that and more. Many students need to make dramatic strides forward in a short amount of time if they’re to succeed in this global economy. That calls for big ideas — and effective implementation — from the entire school system. Moody seems to be pushing for just that.
Since joining the system as superintendent last fall, Moody has been working on a strategy for improving student performance, soliciting input from outside the school system as well as within, and pulling her team together to hammer out a new vision. The first step was owning up to some grim statistics. As a whole, Rowan-Salisbury students are lagging their peers across the state and nation. Everyone — teachers, families, businesses, government and other institutions — will have to work together to turn the situation around.
Moody unveiled three basic elements at Monday night’s school board meeting:
n Vision statement: “Where every day, everyone discovers and achieves the extraordinary.”
n Mission statement: “To inspire and provide opportunities for innovative and engaging learning.”
n Motto: “E3: Extraordinary Education Everyday.”
Those are simple, clear messages, and the plan to carry them out is eagerly awaited. Literacy will be job No. 1, according to what the superintendent said Monday. She intends to unveil the entire plan in May.
Meanwhile, it’s good to remember some of the insights shared last week during Salisbury City Council’s retreat. “The bigger the idea, the more likely it is you’ll get it done,” former Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin told one luncheon gathering. She said she learned that lesson after working with other mayors and council members and being mayor herself, in situation after situation. The bigger the idea, she said, the more people she could get energized about making it happen. That didn’t mean executing the idea would be easy, cheap or simple, she said. But it did mean people would get behind you and help make your vision a reality.
It’s hard to have big ideas in an environment where budget issues can beat you down, and Rowan-Salisbury has had its share of those. So have county commissioners, council members and just about every government entity you can think of. The post-recession new normal is still very lean.
But it’s good to see school leaders look at the big picture and develop a genuine strategy for boosting student achievement. We look forward to hearing more.