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Updated at 1:45 p.m. Tuesday

The Evanston/Skokie District 65 School Board is seeking public feedback on the draft of a new mission statement for the district.

At its monthly “working” board meeting Monday night, Chief Strategy Officer Maria Allison presented the following mission statement for the board’s consideration:

“Through the collective efforts of students, educators, family and community, we will inspire and prepare each student to achieve academically, grow personally, and contribute positively to our global society by providing an engaging and enriching educational experience in a creative and collaborative environment. Every Child, Every Day, Whatever It Takes.”

Other than questioning the meaning of the word “we,” individual members of the board Monday night appeared to be in favor of the proposed wording.

But they asked that the new statement be posted on the district’s website to facilitate the receipt of feedback from the district’s various stakeholders. An administration spokesperson said Tuesday that the statement would be posted on the website on Wednesday.

They set Sept. 9-26 as the period for receiving public comment, with the results being reported back to the board at its October 20 meeting. 

Agreement on the district’s mission is the first step in the development of the district’s new three-year strategic plan.

Charles Bartling

A resident of Evanston since 1975, Chuck Bartling holds a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and has extensive experience as a reporter and editor for daily newspapers, radio...

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16 Comments

  1. How to be a good American citizen?

    One of the most important objectives of our public school system besides the "three R's" is to instill the rights and responsibilities of being an American citizen.  The new mission statement (and the last one as well) made no mention of how our young students should contibute to a country founded on self evident principles. A country that Lincoln called man's last "best hope of earth".

    Why our school administrators, faculty, school board and parents fail to acknowledge what our country stands for and instead gives perference to a "global society" is beyond me. Can the new mission statement at least include both as compromise?

    1. Written by liberals

      Because it was written by liberals  Political correctness on full display to selectively NOT mention America in that context. Part of our education system that has eroded to extinction… Called Civics.

      It subscribes to the Leftist contention to "knock America down a peg", to blame our country for the ills of the world and domestically.  To portrait America as unfair.

      It's been on display for 6.5 years now.  And it is, frankly so unAmerican.

      1. Civics, for sure

        Civics has not been taught in the past 40 years, which is horrid. Teach the students about their civic responsibilities – it's important to do first.

        Leftist? America's past 50 years has been one of aggression – none of which were prompted by attack or direct threat to the homeland (9/11 being a notable exception). While we have been also responsible for policing the world and supporting "good" regimes, we've had out share of the other and due to our military power, we've been guilty of a fair amount of hegemony.

        But I agree, to get back to the point. Civics is a critical thing to teach otherwise how will our children grow up to know how this mess works (or doesn't)?

        1. Peace through strength

          There is only peace through strength. You can not have peace through weakness.

          We saw that with Lord Chamberlain and now we are seeing it with Obama. 

          America met communism with equal aggression during the Cold War.  A perfect comparison between communism and  capitalism could be seen in Post WW11 Germany. West Germany fared so much better than communist East Germany.

          Just as in war, you never know how many people were saved when you put out of action those with the intent to kill others.

          "We know that peace is the condition under which mankind was meant to flourish. Yet peace does not exist of its own will. It depends on us, on our courage to build it and guard it and pass it on to future generations. George Washington's words may seem hard and cold today, but history has proven him right again and again. "To be prepared for war," he said, "is one of the most effective means of preserving peace." Well, to those who think strength provokes conflict, Will Rogers had his own answer. He said of the world heavyweight champion of his day: "I've never seen anyone insult Jack Dempsey." – Ronald Reagan.

          Agreed on teaching civics.

  2. No foreign language, no global society contribution

    D65 administrators say they want to provide an education so that students can "contribute positively to our global society."

    However, D65 does not offer foreign language instruction at the elementary grades for every student. A lucky few get to enroll in TWI program. 

    So how can D65 "inspire and prepare each student to achieve academically, grow personally, and contribute positively to our global society" when it doesn't offer foreign language instruction at the elementary level when students can more easily learn another language?

    Maybe D65 admins think the world only speaks English. 

    1. One of D65’s Major Failings
      Agreed. D65 has ignored the gaping hole of foreign languages in its curriculum for years.

      Why does D65 have a mission statement that professes to be focused on contributing to our “global society” when D65 fails to equip the vast majority of its students to speak the languages of the world?

      I thought that just maybe with Hardy Murphy out of the way, someone at D65 would finally step up and propose doing something about starting foreign languages in elementary school.

      How about offering a choice of Spanish, Mandarin and Arabic with each student picking one?

  3. It depends on what the definition of “We” is

    That mission statement sure does sound pretty.  After I read it I got such a warm and fuzzy feeling that I felt faint!  "Every Child, Every Day, Whatever it Takes".  So after it becomes official (that is after the board decides what the word "We" means) each and every child in district 65 will have a future so bright they will have to wear shades (I'm quoting a song here).  May I suggest that when the board finally can figure out the definition on "We" that they make sure it includes the word P-A-R-E-N-T(S)!

    1. “We” is defined

      From my perspective, in the proposed D65 Mission Statement, "We" is defined as STUDENTS, EDUCATORS, FAMILY, and COMMUNITY.

      In order for all students to be succcessful and realize their potential, a joint and collaberative effort is required. My interpretation (yours and others may differ) is that STUDENTS have a personal responsibility for their education – they are the ones who have to attend school, listen and pay attention in class and do their homework – an education cannot be given to them.

      EDUCATORS are critically important for all students – starts at the top with the superintendent who establishes the culture which filters down to administrators, principals, support staff, and of course teachers. Anyone who has had children in D65 likely understands the critical role a teacher plays in encouraging, motivating, and enabling all children to flourish and learn. Outstanding teachers are cherished since they enable all students to learn – it's extremely difficult work, the extra effort that many teachers exhibit makes a huge difference and is appreciated.

      FAMILY provide the support at home, prepares their children for school and sets expectations for academic achievement. Notably, the Mission Statement incorporates a more inclusive term, FAMILY instead of just parents, because the reality of today's family structure is different than the traditional 2 parent household. D65 appears to recognize that in addition to Mom and/or Dad that Grandparents, Aunts and Uncles, Cousins amongst others can play an important role and influence the educational experiences for students.

      COMMUNITY is another group that can provide support and assistance to students who need extra help or don't have the resources at home. Evanston is fortunate to have many, many organizations including Evanston Community Foundation, YMCA, YWCA, Family Focus, Y.O.U. , Connections for the Homeless, ESCCA, Youth Job Center, Faith communities, City Government, etc. I'm pleased to see the Mission Statement directly incorporates the COMMUNITY in order to provide resources to all kids who need some extra help. 

      As one poster commented, the Mission Statement is "So many words." But with the appropriate leadership, the Mission Statement becomes ingrained into the District and broader Community and magical results can happen. The student who needs clothes goes to ESCCA and feels comfortable at school. The teacher helps a struggling student learn how to read, and then read critically and write, and new doors open for this student. Families who were previously disengaged realize that the greater Evanston community wants their child and all children to succeed, and they provide extra encouragement to their children to take their school work seriously. Community members realize that the positive culture and direction that D65 is heading and decide to volunteer.

      Yes, the Mission Statement is "So many words" but hopefully with the new leadership provided by Dr. Goren new actions will be taken and positive results will be realized for all students.

      So far, so good – District 65 is heading in the right direction.

       

      1. It’s the 4th paragraph

        The 4th paragraph of the article states "Other than questioning the meaning of the word "We"…leads me to believe that at this point the board members do not totally agree as to who "We" encompasses.

        1. Back to School

          Maybe the board needs to return to grade school for approving a mission statement that they don't understand.

          That is what makes the D65 school board so scary.

      2. Education and the libraries

        When people scream about the actual closing of the south branch (which people later snuck back in to the system) and possible closing of the north branch, the cries were about all the youth that needed a place to study and access books.

        Why then are the branches only open past 6 p.m. one day a week if they were meant as places to study?  Perhaps someone has numbers, but I suspect the students are involved in sports, music, drama pretty much up to 6 p.m. or just want to get home. If they wanted to study later, they pretty much have to go to the main library.

        As with many of the mission plans, board/community saying they need this or that program, when it actually comes to something real and substantial, the "talk" is soon forgot.

      3. A school district’s mission

        A school district's mission statement should not imply that the district needs parents and community in order to achieve its goals. Parental and community support is important, but parents and community members are not employed by or accountable to the District. I'm also opposed to students being implicated as responsible for the District's mission. 

         In short, the District's mission is the DISTRICT'S mission. As such, it should articulate what the district is in the business of accomplishing; the long-term goals that, if met, signify success; and the purpose of school as the District sees it. This is distinct from a District Vision, which expresses what we would see if the mission were carried out and, if possible, a real and detailed picture of exemplary performance. (See Wiggins & McTIghe, Schooling by Design).

        Thomas Paine, in your explication, you are confusing the purpose of a mission statement with a delineation of stakeholder roles and responsibilities. There are a number of school district's with both, as well as clear statements about what characteristics and skills graduates of the district will ideally manifest.

        The current mission statement draft is a mangled mess–a run on sentence stocked with vapid platitudes, woefully short on actionable and measureable verbs, likely to satisfy fans of the current Board and leadership who have never seen exemplary school district mission statements.

        I'm distressed by the so-called "process" for developing this draft. It is described accordingly on the D65 website:

        The draft mission statement was developed based on stakeholder feedback collected during the superintendent search process and through Dr. Goren’s community and school outreach since joining the district in May. In addition, members of the Board of Education and the Superintendent’s Leadership Team reviewed and offered input on the proposed statement. 

        This is a sloppy way to draft a new mission statement, especially when (to my knowledge) there was/is no rationale provided by the Board for comissioning a new one and when the feedback gleaned from the Superintedent search surveys was not solicited under the new Superintendent or given by stakeholders in response to questions about either the current mission or any new mission. I'm curious about whether all employees of the District, as agents who would actually get behind and carry out the mission, asked directly for input and given a draft before it was released to the community? I'm guessing no.

        P.S. The last part is a motto, slogan, or catchphrase (borrwed from the well-known motto of Sanger Unified School District in CA) and would work as a banner on the District web page, should it ever be upgraded from it's outdated version. But it doesn't belong in a mission statement proper. 

         

        1. Audience for mission statement

          I agree with what you have written.

          If this mission statement is to guide employees of the District, it seems far afield from their fundamental work,  which is teaching and learning.

          If it is to guide the Board, it seems to encourage the Board to shift responsibility, as officials charged with policy and fiscal oversight,  to parents and the "community". 

          The statement seems too cumbersome to be understood or actionable.

           

  4. So many words, little action

    It sounds like the same old platitudes and I suspect the same will be said about the results.

    Have they been working without a 'Mission' all these years ?   A Mission should probably be an evolving structure but anyway they are just words.  In the end it will probably be a 'touchy-feeley' document filed away while the Board says 'look at the wonderful job we did' and then go back to shuffling papers.  Where is the action ?  Where are the real improvements ?  Where is the education that has every student prepared for college and/or a 'knowledge based' job.

    1. The current mission statement

      The new mission statement would replace the following, which is currently posted on the district's website:

      "Educating each student to succeed in and contribute to our global community by cultivating creativity, compassion and the pursuit of excellence."

  5. Interesting mention of civics

    Interesting mention of "civics" because the programs from CASEL, Goren's previous organization, are the only ones that teach civic responsibility in the schools. The global culture that exists for our young people, and will be for their future, is one in which jobs they will be competing for will be against other young people from all over the globe. Our democratic values of life and liberty are being adopted by successful countries all over the globe. Our economic values of prosperity and enterprise are, too. This is what "global" means in the 21st century. 

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