School Superintendent Parvin Ahmadi and her colleagues began the process of updating, revising and rewriting the district's strategic plan last October in a series of meetings with parents, city, civic and business leaders. After much deliberation, the district's governing board agreed on several core beliefs, a vision and a mission statement. Once a draft of the plan was in place, more discussion meetings -- or "listening campaigns," as Ahmadi called them -- were held to seek further input from the community. Again, educators met with many community groups, including students and district staff, who shared with their expectations of public education in preparing students for the 21st century.
Through the campaign, the district heard from constituents about the critical importance of developing the "whole child" as it continues to push for academic rigor and high academic achievement. This requires a holistic view of 21st century teaching and learning strategies that combine a discrete focus on outcomes (a blending of specific skills, content knowledge, expertise and literacies) with multi-dimensional abilities, required to survive in a global economy. After all, problem-solving, collaboration, cooperation, communication, creativity, organization, technology fluency, self-direction and social responsibility will be required of our students when they enter the workforce.
The key components of "strategic planning" include an understanding of the school district's vision, mission, values and strategies. This is no different than in today's highly competitive business environment where old-style budget-oriented planning methods are insufficient. Businesses, as well as school districts, must engage in strategic planning that clearly defines objectives and assesses both the internal and external situation to formulate strategy, implement the strategy, evaluate the progress, and make adjustments as necessary to stay on track.
The Pleasanton district's new strategic plan addresses the next five to 10 years. It promotes academic goals, instruction and decisions being made in these very tough economic times, even the physical environment at school sites to reflect long-term goals. It also reflects the community's high values in academic achievement, calling for students to be empowered to think critically, be engaged in the community, collaborate with others and value diversity. We agree that in providing learning that is innovative, irresistible, creative, relevant and rigorous, this solid, community-created strategic plan will guide us in this quest.