AAPS’ Strategic Response to ‘Choice’, ‘Any Time, Any Place’ Reform Efforts
At our Board meeting last night, we spent over 4 hours discussing our strategic plan. Much of this discussion was in the format of an update on how we are doing executing our strategic objectives. This effort involves many from within, and outside of, our district. Our strategic plan involves the community – in creating it, modifying it and in engaging with community members to execute it. Much work is involved in implementing a fairly ambitious plan: individualized and personalized learning plans and differentiated instruction, exceeding international standards, global relevance/competitiveness, etc. The complete list of strategic objectives can be found here: http://www.aaps.k12.mi.us/aaps/about/strategies_and_results
Despite this work, our strategic plan needs to stay alive and relevant – keeping AAPS competitive in a changing environment. With traditional public schools high on the GOP attack list in Michigan, I had to ask, ‘How are we responding to our new threats? How will we ensure parents have a comparison in the context of the new terms they will be bombarded with (choice, any time, any where, etc.)?’
The response I received to this question was reassuring. It is unfortunate that our local media does not cover these kinds of things; only what is likely to be most controversial (for example, 4 hours was spent on our strategic plan; an hour on our contracting policy – the only topic covered in today’s articles since this would likely create more of a stir than hearing that we’re making good progress on our strategic plan). So here is the other 4 hours of the Board’s work – and some good news:
We have been reprioritizing our IT infrastructure so that we can leverage technology to offer broader courses than what we might otherwise be able to offer in the context of yet another year of $20M reductions in operating costs (thank, again, Rick Snyder). We will be in a position to preserve robust course offerings – not by a cyber-school-no-teacher approach, but by leveraging our excellent teachers across the district. This is welcome news – and a lot of work on the part of our administrative and IT folks. While we thought we could stick to our original implementation priorities, it is good to see our team be creative and responsive so that we can offer creative solutions when we need to.
Dr. Green and Dr. Arthur Williams (Huron High School Principal) also shared recent good news about how word is getting out about the ‘value’ of the education that the AAPS provides. Earlier in the day yesterday at a Rotary Luncheon, William Clay Ford, III gave a keynote address to the group about the quality education his sons had received in the AAPS. His older son is at Princeton, and a younder son is a Senior at Huron on his way to Dartmouth next year. He touted the amazing opportunities available to his children and the high quality education they received through the AAPS. Certainly he could send his children anywhere (Rick Snyder’s daughter is attending Green Hills for her senior year). And he certainly did not have to discuss his views on the value he believed was available in the AAPS – but he did. I am sharing this story to make more people aware of real people’s experience with our district.
On the same day, we received word that one of Huron’s students was selected as a finalist in Intel’s Science Talent Search. This is a very competitive and prestigious search. Lilia Popova, the finalist, is the only one from Michigan this year, out of 40 finalists across the US from an initial semi-finalist pool of 1700. She will be competing for a top prize of $100,000. The announcement can be read here: http://www.societyforscience.org/document.doc?id=444
These examples just happen to focus on Huron due to the meeting last night. Similar successes occur regularly across all of our buildings at all levels.
Maybe traditional public schools aren’t working. Maybe they don’t offer choice. But maybe they do….
We offer over 250 online courses, college credit from surrounding colleges and universities including the University of Michigan, many AP and AC courses, magnet programs, alternative high schools, international baccalaureate programs, technical and certified programs. We also have one of the US’ top ranking music programs (Grammy recipient more years than not recently), we host the USA Hockey development team program, we prepare successful athletes that go on to compete at all levels. I am only touching on a couple of items here in an effort to showcase:
- High quality education
- Robust and excellent arts, music and athletics
- Diverse student population
- Highly educated and engaged community environment
- Curious and inspiring students, teachers and staff
I was happy to hear the response to my questions regarding our strategic planning work, and state efforts that will require a continued strategic response. We have much work to do. We have to do better – and survive another huge budget deficit.
I need families and our community to become even more engaged. I hope that families will continue to push and demand more of the AAPS, while they also work hard to support and defend the great value that public education provides. The continued cuts to K12 education and super-highway for for-profit charter schools with no quality expectations are threatening the viability of traditional public schools.
Get involved. Pay attention. Help us do better. Be part of the solution.