Summing up the Harford Education Leadership Conference held in April, co-host Harford Business Roundtable for Education outlines what it calls “reasonable expectations” for the future of Harford County Public Schools. Among these expectations, that all students are challenged to meet their potential and that mainstream education is treated as a privilege; curricula and educational programs must be demonstrably effective, and educators must be removed when they do not meet measurable performance standards.
This is the last in a series of reports on the 2010 Harford Education Leadership Conference published by The Dagger.
HBRT Focus Areas
After a great deal of reflection and analysis of the work group feedback, the HBRT Executive Committee believes that the stakeholders as well as our elected/appointed leadership communicated a “consensus” on certain positions they felt strongly about for the future of our education system. They are:
Every student should be challenged to meet his or her potential: While there should be equality in access and opportunity to an education, it is the education systems responsibility to identify the capability of each child and to help them fully realize their own, individual potential.
Mainstream education is a privilege: Every student and every student’s family must be invested in his or her own education and conform to the norms of the school community in order to remain a part of that community. Respecting “individuality” must be tempered with the education system’s duty to a) ensure that no student interferes with another’s learning and b) develop good citizens.
Schools are part of our overall society: While the Board of Education, County Council and County Executive each have separate and distinct authority and responsibilities for public education, these functions cannot be acted on independently. School successes and failures are shared by all. Collaboration between the school system, the various government agencies and all stakeholders in the community is essential. This collaboration needs to be constant and not driven only by budget or election cycles.
Curricula and educational programs should be proven effective: The education system must be able to ensure that the programs it implements are effective and be able to objectively demonstrate that effectiveness. Curricula also need to be developed efficiently. HCPS should explore what works in other systems and rely less on internally developed programs.
Technology is only a tool: Virtually every career choice requires that employees have a mastery of various technologies. Moreover, technology can be used to increase the effectiveness of school operations and the management of educational programs. Technology is also expensive and prone to early obsolescence. Administrators must be prudent in making decisions on which technologies to introduce and invest in only those that can be sustained over time.
Teachers and administrators must have accountability: The community recognizes the value of professional educators. The education system must support good teachers and administrators with appropriate compensation and effective professional development programs. Effective teachers should be treated with the respect due every professional. They are also entitled to objective and comprehensive feedback on their performance. But in the end, accountability tools must be introduced and educators who cannot, or will not, meet measurable performance standards must be removed.
The HBRT Executive Committee believes these are reasonable expectations and is committed to working with all of those in leadership positions to advance these as a means to improving student achievement.