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SOMSD BOE: Don't Rush Into Changes That Will Dramatically Impact Our Children's Education

This petition had 174 supporters

The School District of South Orange and Maplewood has presented a new Strategic Direction that calls for transformative changes to all of our district’s classrooms. The Board of Education plans to vote adoption of the new Strategic Direction on February 16 and implement the associated changes beginning August 2016. The proposed new mission statement promises to create a “learner-centered environment,” a term for which the district has not provided a definition. Although not defined, a learner-centered environment has specific meanings associated within the educational context and this implementation will significantly alter our curriculum and how our classes are taught. Our community is completely unaware of the magnitude of these changes.

We believe the timeline associated with this extremely important undertaking is significantly rushed and urge the Board of Education to reconsider this timing and the process itself.

We call upon the district and the Board of Education to undertake a vetting process which not only illustrates these potential changes, but more importantly, provides empirical data supporting why these fundamental changes will benefit our students, before holding this important vote.

We believe this vetting process should also explore alternative paths to improve our educational system beyond adopting a learner-centered environment.

We strongly urge the Board of Education to modify the mission statement and Strategic Plan to include the fundamental concepts of academic excellence and content rich curriculum. We do not understand why these central tenets of education are not included in the new vision.

Given the academic disruption caused by the recently abandoned IB experiment and our adoption of the needed Equity and Access policy, we believe the haste and lack of rigor associated with the Strategic Plan is rash and ill-advised.

We think the district and the Board of Education should highlight what they believe to be the main deficiencies associated with our schools, identify multiple solutions aimed at curing each deficiency, enumerate the benefits and risks associated with each cure and describe how the success or failure associated with each measure will be reviewed and judged.

We, the undersigned, call upon the Board of Education to halt this Strategic Direction process as it stands and incorporate these vital changes before moving ahead. We speak for ourselves and the countless members of our community who are unaware of the changes associated with the Strategic Direction.

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