So what to make of this:
None of the six school board members present or even Superintendent Fred Sanderson, professional educator and highly paid administrator, could give the mission statement last week when quizzed by a conflict manager at a training session.
They might get a pass on not remembering the statement word for word - but not to come up with the gist of it?
What does this shocking failure mean?
For starters, if the board members and superintendent don't know what their mission is, how are they going to accomplish their mission?
As conflict manager Dr. Richard Voyles told the board and superintendent: "This is a huge problem." He said, "the mission statement is everything. You can do all the strategic planning you want, but unless that strategic plan leads to and creates a mission statement, you don't know where you are going."
How right he is.
As a public service and a reminder to the school board and the superintendent, for future reference, here is the Cobb school district's mission, per the CCSD:
"To provide an academically rigorous, caring and safe educational environment in partnership with families, students and the community."
And this is the vision statement of the district:
"All children will receive the respect, encouragement and opportunities they need to build the knowledge, skills and attitudes to be successful, contributing members of a global society."
Incidentally, the new strategic plan adopted by the board for 2009-14 is described as "A Plan for a Renewed Focus and Commitment to Excellence," and it contains the mission and vision statements in the third and fourth paragraphs.
Remember, this is the strategic plan that, instead of raising the bar for Cobb students, left out the "raising." Cobb's target SAT score of 1538 for this year is the same as the 2006 score. Worse, the 2014 target of 1548 for Cobb is below those for school districts in Cherokee, Fulton and Forsyth counties and the city of Decatur.
While trying to remember their mission, which is tough enough, school board members and the superintendent might also read the fifth through eighth paragraphs of their strategic plan - under the heading, "Board of Education Academic Priorities."
In student achievement, the plan calls for "measurable gains/growth as measured by national and state test scores," for the board to "utilize community in decision making," and for "annual performance assessment of Superintendent/Service Providers/Board to include an independent evaluation."
That fits with member Alison Bartlett's recent call for an outside efficiency audit of every district department.
If the school board and superintendent want to follow their strategic plan, they should raise the bar on SAT scores and get that annual performance assessment of the superintendent, service providers (including legal counsel) and board with an independent evaluation.
And give priority to their own "academic priorities."